75. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State1

40830. Subject: Security Breach. communiqué

I regret to inform you that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, following Thieu’s meeting with the National Security Council, called in the Ambassadors of Korea and Thailand, and then the Chargés of Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines, at 12:00 and 12:30 respectively, to report to them as troop contributing countries that South Viet-Nam and the United States are considering a bombing cessation.
When Thieu told me of this I expressed shock that this action had been taken at this juncture. When Thieu realized that this action had been taken prematurely, he said that they were not being told very much, only that there might be some developments along these lines.

I sent Berger immediately to talk to the Foreign Minister, who came out of his meeting with the three Chargés. Thanh said that he had already revealed the information and Berger asked him to inform the Chargés and then the Ambassadors, that the information he had imparted was already known, and only known, to their Heads of State. It was very important that they do not cable this information to their Foreign Ministries or other persons in the governments, but hold it for the time being in view of the delicacy of the talks. The Foreign Minister said he would do this. He would also call the two Ambassadors.

I followed up by calls to the Thai and ROK Ambassadors, both of whom gave me their word that they would not send any message. We are seeing the three Chargés urgently to impress on them the need to [Page 211] refrain from sending messages. My main concern is the Filipino, Bartolome.2 Suggest you consider informing Marcos.

I cannot account for Thieu’s instruction to the Foreign Minister to call in the TCC representatives. At my seven o’clock meeting this morning he said he would at some stage call in the TCC representatives, but I never dreamed that he would move in this fashion, since I made it clear that we did not have the results of the private meeting, and that the TCC would be informed as soon as we did have the results and were taking action. I had impressed on him at each meeting that only the Heads of State of the TCC countries had been informed of what was going on (I did not mention our omission of Marcos), and that the whole matter was of the highest sensitivity.

Many rumors now circulating here about bomb cessation as a result of lull in the fighting, return from Paris to Hanoi of Le Duc Tho, editor queries to local correspondents during last two days, and now my seven o’clock and then noon meeting with Thieu.

All this together with the possibility of a leak, makes me wonder how long we will be able to keep situation quiet. Our contingency planning for any press questions would be to note that these are only speculative rumors and that we have no comment.3

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Memos to the President/Bombing Halt Decision, Vol. I [2 of 3]. Secret; Immediate; Nodis; HARVAN/Double Plus. Received at 4:57 a.m. In an attached covering note transmitting a copy of this telegram to the President, October 16, 8:30 a.m., Rostow wrote: “Bunker’s full account of how the leak occurred in Saigon. As you see, the story converges with Le Duc Tho’s movements and the surfacing of the lull.” The notation “ps” on the covering note indicates that the President saw it and the attached telegram.
  2. Philippine Ambassador to the Republic of Vietnam.
  3. In telegram 257010 to Saigon, October 17, the Department transmitted the following instructions from the President to Bunker: “The leaks out of Saigon—which continue—are a cause of the greatest concern to the President. They generate in the United States enormous confusion and pressure. They may very well interfere with the possibility of carrying forward a successful negotiation at a critical stage. You should, therefore, tell Thieu that we may not be able to give him as much notice should the negotiating process bring us to a moment of decision, unless better communications security prevails.” (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, A/IM Files: Lot 93 D 82, Miscellaneous Top Secret Cables) Karamessines sent two CIA memoranda to Rostow and Rusk, October 18 and 19, which reported Thieu’s concern over having to deal with the NLF on an equal basis and Ky’s recommendations that Thieu extract as many concessions as possible at this time. (Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-207A, DDO Files, Folder 1)