100. Memorandum for the Special Group1


  • Covert Action in the Congo

1. Problem: To strengthen the personal position of Prime Minister Cyrille Adoula as the national leader, and of his closest colleagues as a group, in order to endow the Adoula Government with sufficient political stability to resist leftist pressures aimed at its overthrow and to bring about a successful, peaceful settlement with the Government of Katanga leading to unification of the Congo.

2. Assumptions: That it is in our interest to bring about the unification of the Congo by peaceful or moderate means, under the leadership of the present Government, rather than an attempted forcible unification under leftist leadership in cooperation with the Soviet Bloc and at the expense of a major United Nations failure.

3. Facts and Discussion: The formation of the Adoula Government on August 2, 1961, following the reconvening of the Congolese Parliament, halted for the moment the strong bid for power by the extremist forces led by Bloc-supported Antoine Gizenga and representing the Lumumba mystique. However, the Adoula Government contained two major weaknesses: (1) Katanga representatives did not participate in its formation and Katanga’s reintegration into the Congo did not ensue, and (2) Gizenga and a number of his key colleagues obtained important positions in the Adoula Government, introducing a disintegrating and irresponsible force. Reintegration of Katanga is necessary for the future economic viability of the Congo, and only peaceful integration can avoid the destruction of Katanga’s economic base and the plunging of the Congo into a chaos from which only the Bloc could profit. Attempts by the United Nations Operation in the Congo (UNOC) to bring about Katanga reintegration by combined police action and negotiations has met with failure due in large part to the untimely death of Secretary-General Hammarskjold. Pressure on Adoula and Tshombe to negotiate by the U.S. and other governments has likewise had no success. Popular pressures fanned by the leftists in both Leopoldville and Stanleyville threaten to force the Adoula Government either to take all-out military action (almost certain to be abortive) against Katanga or to resign in favor of the extremists, in either of which eventuality we may expect [Page 131] to see a rapid deterioration of public order and sharply increased influence of the Bloc. This situation has been exacerbated by Adoula’s rather colorless and unaggressive personality plus his and his colleagues’ absorption with the problems of the daily administration of the government. The extreme opposition, not burdened with responsibility for the success of the government, has been active in undercutting Adoula’s position.

4. Conclusions: Prime Minister Adoula and his close colleagues must obtain in the immediate future new sources of strength and expert political advice if they are to remain in power as a moderating and moderate force. Should the Adoula Government be forced to relinquish power or to succumb to extremist policies, the following consequences are likely to ensue quickly: (1) accession by an extremist government committed to a military solution of the Katanga problem, (2) discrediting of the UNOC, (3) a rapid deterioration of internal security leading to chaos, and (4) the ascendency of the Bloc as a major influence in the Congo leading to the possible establishment of a Soviet base of power there.

As our Government is committed to the support of UNOC, normal unilateral aid mechanisms are not usable in the Congo. Hence effective measures must be undertaken by covert means.

5. Action Recommended: It is recommended that the following actions, which have in substance been proposed jointly by the Chief of Mission and our Leopoldville representative, be authorized to enhance the political image of Prime Minister Adoula domestically and internationally and to furnish him and his closest collaborators with a base of domestic power sufficiently strong to permit the Government to continue in power as a moderate force, friendly toward the United States, and with the ability to achieve a satisfactory solution of the Katanga problem:

a. Encourage the formation of an Adoula-led political “cartel” designed to bring about the coalescence of the disparate and domestically uncommitted politicians, leading to the eventual forming of a new, cohesive national political party with bases throughout the provinces. Such action, if successful, would assure Adoula of Parliamentary support.

b. [11½ lines not declassified]

c. [7 lines not declassified]

d. Endeavor to organize in support of the Adoula Government significant “mass” organizations, [3 lines not declassified].

e. [3 lines not declassified]

f. Assist General Mobutu, moderate Chief-of-Staff of the Congolese National Army, to retain the loyalty of key officers.

[Page 132]

6. Budget: It is recommended that authority to expend up to [dollar amount not declassified] be granted for the implementation of this program.2

  1. Source: National Security Council, Intelligence Files, Subject Files, Congo, 1960–1965. Secret. There is no drafting information on the memorandum.
  2. The NSC minutes of the Special Group meeting on November 22 record that the proposal to support Adoula and his associates was approved. The Chairman said he would inform higher authority, i.e., the President. (Ibid., Special Group—Minutes and Approvals—1961) At a meeting on January 9, 1962, attended by CIA and Department of State representatives, CIA reported point by point on the status of the program approved on November 22, indicating modest progress in the face of much difficulty. See Document 104.