259. Circular Telegram From the Department of State to Certain Posts1

497. Ref: Leo’s 1039.2 Joint State/USIA message. While Department completely shares views expressed by Emb Leo re importance African leaders understanding true nature rebel leadership and dissension within its ranks, we believe it most important that we guard against creating impression that US undertaking campaign to discredit rebels either for its own reasons or because we not confident African ability form valid judgments their own.

Although we recognize that members OAU Ad Hoc Commission will indulge in much self-seeking and wishful thinking re rebel leadership, we believe that more responsible members will be at pains protect position GOC and wish examine for themselves true facts re rebel movement. In this connection Dept assumes Bochley–Davidson press conference at Addis Ababa and widely publicized recent statements by Gizenga, Gbenye, Olenga, et al are already known to most African leaders. We believe these statements speak for themselves without necessity for US drawing inferences therefrom for benefit OAU members. In short, we believe that rebel leaders themselves doing good job of discrediting themselves if their statements are widely circulated and that US is in strongest posture by staying in background and avoiding risk of being charged by radicals with effort sabotage commission’s efforts at national reconciliation by seeking discredit rebels.

We assume moreover that GOC will be making clear to Commission in strongest terms its own appraisal of rebels. While GOC assessments will undoubtedly be suspect, particularly to radicals, we would hope that they would at least underline importance of Commission visiting rebel areas and assessing leadership on spot before becoming too deeply into national reconciliation. Believe US and Congolese objectives will be most effectively served by encouraging such visits to rebel areas.

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Department has no objection to posts responding discreetly and selectively to requests from friendly African governments by furnishing bio data or even appropriately generalized appraisals of rebel leaders and their “movement”. Also make available rebels public statements if appropriate. Posts should, however, avoid anything resembling campaign.

USIA may use selectively straight factual reporting on rebels through VOA, wireless file, etc. and posts should be sensitive in utilizing such material to avoid appearance of a U.S. campaign.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 THE CONGO. Confidential; Priority. Drafted by Palmer and Strong; cleared by Lewis in USIA, Harriman, Carl H. Peterson in AF/P, and Tasca; and approved by Palmer. Sent to Accra, Addis Ababa, Algiers, Bamako, Bangui, Brazzaville, Brussels, Bujumbura, Bukuvu, Cairo, Conakry, Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Elisabethville, Freetown, Kampala, Khartoum, Kigali, Lagos, Leopoldville, London, Mogadiscio, Monrovia, Nairobi, Ouagadougou, Paris, Tunis, Yaounde, and CINCMEAFSA for Ramsey.
  2. Dated September 11. (Ibid.)