284. Memorandum From the Deputy Director for Plans, Central Intelligence Agency (Helms) to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Harriman)1


  • Stanleyville

1. I share your deep concern about the official and non-official Americans held as hostages by rebel authorities in Stanleyville. The attached report—the first we have received which contained detail—reminds us sharply of the jeopardy in which the Americans find themselves.2 Given the mercurial temperament of the Congolese, the specific anti-Americanism of the Stanleyville rebels based on their conviction that the U.S. is responsible for Tshombe’s attacks against them, and the likelihood of further rebel reverses, we must, I believe, conclude that Americans are in grave danger. Moreover, as Congolese forces move toward Stanleyville during the coming few weeks, the vulnerability of the American hostages will sharply increase.

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2. I know you will agree that this information lends a new urgency to contingency planning for the rescue of the Americans which we and CINCSTRIKE have been conducting. You will recall that we sent a planner to Leopoldville in early September and since then have pre-positioned other personnel and equipment in the Congo. It is our understanding that CINCSTRIKE is preparing to send four officers to Leopoldville to do on-the-ground, detailed contingency planning. We, of course, stand ready to help them in any way we can.

3. We are continuing our efforts to acquire information on the Stanleyville situation and will keep you informed of our results.

Richard Helms
  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harriman Papers, Box 861, Congo (3). Secret.
  2. Attached to the original is intelligence report TDCS DB 315/01019–64, October 14, describing the Congo rebels’ mistreatment of U.S. consular personnel since the fall of Stanleyville. It also reported that Gbenye had told ICRC representative Senn in September that he was afraid he could not control the situation and did not know what the reaction of the rebel troops would be if he released the Americans.