449. Telegram From the CIA Station in Saigon to the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow), Secretary of State Rusk, Secretary of Defense McNamara, and Director of Central Intelligence Helms1

CAS 6462. 1. Review Buttercup files indicates need for expansion our report re briefing, preparation and first launch of Buttercup-2 and Sau Ha on 17/18 December.

2. During final briefing of B–2 evening 17 December he informed that this mission would probably be more risky than his last since there had been general step up military activity in area within triangular points of Ben Suc on east, Cu Chi on west and Dau Tien on north. With this in mind [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] proposed that: [Page 1133]A) though B–2 and not Sau Ha was the emissary between us and B–1, might be prudent have Sau Ha sit in on final discussion and briefing re our response and related matters; B) Sau Ha also carry copy (Vietnamese and English language versions) of our written response to

B–1 which had been photocopied, miniaturized and concealed in back cover of Vietnamese notebook small enough to be carried in shirt pocket. B–2 readily agreed, noting that on his first trip into zone he came close to getting zapped by allied artillery fire called in by spotter plane; in addition B–2 felt that given the established relationship of trust between B–1 and Sau Ha, Sau Ha’s impressions, opinions, experiences and reporting would go long way towards removing any doubt in B–1’s mind re objectivity and reliability of B–2 in role of intermediary.

3. Thusly both Sau Ha and B–2 carry our written response plus verbal commentary/discussion to other side. In addition being able confirm each other’s statements especially re Madame B–1, one or the other, if not both, should get through with our message.

4. New subjects: A. Since departure B–2 and Sau Ha from Saigon on 18 December we have moved Madame B–1 into new safe house where she has [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] female staffer (linguist) as companion; in addition two other [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] linguists and/or [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] meet with her almost every day for general discussions which leads into elicitation session on her, her husband and family, background and their role with the Viet Cong, etc. These conversations have reaped interesting insight into her and her husband’s thinking, motivation, personal problems, plans etc. B. Though unlikely it possible that we may have to move Madame B–1 along either through “disputed” area SVN or onto Cambodian soil to get her back to her side. With this in mind have locally fabricated SVN identity card plus Cambodian alien registration document either of which we will issue to her just prior to her launch. She insists that she knows no route into MR–4 and would be equally helpless in getting through to COSVN; however she did live in Phnom Penh and says she retains some Khmer language facility. C. Madame B–1 well understands that she has no “role” nor “mission” and that she is being simply released as was her old friend Sau Ha. However, whenever we find her in a receptive frame of mind we have discussed with her possible advantages of face to face secret talks between her husand and/or other responsible Viet Cong officials and a representative of U.S. Government. We have suggested that if she wishes to do so she could mention this to B–1 when she rejoins him and add that in our view these unofficial meetings could be held in a third (unspecified) country or even in SVN at a place where the U.S. could guarantee the safety and security of the Viet Cong reps; in this context she has been informed that the Dau Tien/Ben Cui region [Page 1134]looks close to the ideal since it is militarily quiet, VC abound in the proximity and there are no ARVN elements or GVN check points for the Viet Cong reps to concern themselves about. She has promised to relay this personally to her husband and has the personal hunch that he just might be interested when he hears of the sincerity and reliability of our side as demonstrated to her and Sau Ha.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–7 VIET S/BUTTERCUP. Secret; Nodis; Buttercup; Exclusive; Via CAS Channels. Received at 4:45 p.m.