89. Memorandum for the 303 Committee1


  • Status Report on Covert Operations in Support of Veterans, Labor, Youth and Students and Information Media in Vietnam

1. Summary

In the veterans field, our work consists of an on-going program of covert support and financial assistance [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] in training organizers at the provincial, district and village levels with the object of forming Vietnamese veterans into a non-governmental channel of communication between the central government and local areas. The subsidy also provides for maintaining the [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] headquarters staff in Saigon.

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In the labor field, we provide covert financial assistance and advice to the Vietnamese trade union movement through the Vietnamese Confederation of Trade Unions (CVT). In addition to supporting the national headquarters of CVT in Saigon, we support organizers who provide the connective tissue between Saigon and the CVT’s provincial and district councils. We also direct support to the [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] which provides us unique access to the small holder who works his own land.

In the youth and student field, our efforts have been devoted to channeling the energies of youth and students into constructive lines in support of the war effort and away from destructive dissent and political agitation. Because of the diffuse target, we have been forced to work through a variety of organizations such as [3 lines of source text not declassified]. CIA funding of [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] internationally was recently compromised. However, there had been no direct use of [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] in Saigon since June 1966. Our activities in this area range from financial support to the [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] monthly magazine, to an as-yet unrealized program of providing provincial youth hostels for high school students from outlying areas.

In the domestic media field, we continue to use seven separate agents to influence local public opinion through the planting of information and articles in the vernacular press.

The foregoing activities were reviewed and approved initially by Deputy Ambassador Johnson in April 1965 as implementation of the actions listed in the 12-point CIA Action Program, NSAM #328.2

In the field of political party work, we provide a small monthly subsidy to a ranking official of the Revolutionary Dai Viet Party to permit expanded circulation of the Party’s monthly theoretical journal. This subsidy is provided on condition that the journal will emphasize the importance of overt party activity as contrasted to the Dai Viets traditional clandestine modus operandi.

2. Coordination

Currently, coordination in the field is effected through the political minister-counselor who is kept informed on developments. In Washington coordination is maintained with Assistant Secretary Bundy and other appropriate officers of the Bureau of East Asian Affairs. The most recent authority for these programs in contained in the 12-point CIA Action Program, approved by NSAM 328, 6 April 1965. Predecessor activities were a part of the Covert Annex to the Vietnam task force Action Program endorsed by the Special Group in June 1961.

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3. Review of Effectiveness and Accomplishments of Operations

As noted above, the requirements for these programs stemmed from NSAM 328 and earlier approvals of CIA station programs [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. Previous developments were reviewed in the Status Reports of the 12-point program until these reports were discontinued in August 1965.

[1 paragraph (15 lines of source text) not declassified]

In the labor field, we have worked in much the same fashion, providing the means whereby the Confederation of Vietnamese Trade Union (300,000 members) is capable of maintaining its position as a responsible and independent spokesman for Vietnamese labor in its dealings with the central government. Although not as badly tainted by the Diem era, the CVT faces considerable domestic opposition from management, splinter union groups envious of its dominant position, and occasionally the government which is uncertain as to whether it wants to tolerate the existence of an uncontrolled power center. More recently, we have concentrated significant support on the revitalization of [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] again a remnant of the Diem era which had been stifled by government control and direction, but which offers the only non-government means of reaching the agricultural small holder and persuading him that he has a stake in the future of Vietnam.

In the youth and student field, we have made less headway, partly because of the many different Vietnamese organizations and groups that are involved in this general area. In an effort to reduce the problem to more manageable size, we have stimulated the growth of the [1–1/2 lines of source text not declassified] which serves as a point of reference if not direction of a wide variety of youth activities. Through [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] we have supported the training of university students for peace corps type work in local areas. We have also managed to stimulate considerable interest in the building of youth hostels in various provincial capitals so that high school students will have a place to stay when they come from surrounding, and frequently VC-controlled, areas to study. For various reasons, this program is not yet underway, but it offers considerable promise of being able to provide low-key indoctrination for the students while staying at the hostels.

In the media field, we continue the routine, day-by-day, process of attempting to influence local public opinion through placement of material in an assortment of local media. In addition to spot items of immediate tactical value, this material ranges from educational articles on local constitutional development to commentary on international issues relating to Vietnam.

In respect to political party work, the first issue of the Dai Viet theoretical journal to appear since the beginning of the subsidy contained three articles dealing with the importance of open party activities.

  1. Source: National Security Council, Records of the 303 Committee, Vietnam, 1965–1969. Secret; Eyes Only. No drafting information appears on the memorandum. At the bottom of the first page of the memorandum is the handwritten note: “Noted by the Committee principals on 7 April 1967.”
  2. For text of NSAM No. 328, April 6, 1965, see Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. II, Document 242.