35. Editorial Note

In telegram 0162 to the Central Intelligence Agency, October 22, 1960, the Station in Leopoldville reported that Joseph Mobutu was considering another coup with the objective of a full takeover of the government and the neutralization indefinitely of President Joseph Kasavubu and Patrice Lumumba. However, both the Station and the Ambassador believed such a move would fail and would lead to failure of the program to support moderate anti-Lumumba leaders. Seeking a solution that would be acceptable to Mobutu as well as to other moderate leaders and public opinion yet would coincide with U.S. policy, the Station proposed a program, with the concurrence of the Ambassador, based on Mobutu’s remaining in the background as the strong man. (Central Intelligence Agency Files, Job 78–00435R, DDO/ISS Files, Box 1, Folder 4, [cryptonym not declassified] Ops)

Immediately upon receiving telegram 0162 the Agency discussed the proposal with the Department of State at the bureau level and reported back in telegram 07606, October 22, that the initial reaction was [Page 47] not at all unfavorable but since it involved basic U.S. policy toward the Congo it would require clearance at least by the Secretary of State. (Ibid.) In an October 24 memorandum Bronson Tweedy submitted the proposal to Joseph Satterthwaite, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and requested his approval to discuss it with Mobutu. (Ibid., Job 76–00366R, DDO/ISO Files, Box 1, Folder 7, Congo, 1960–1969, Part 1)

In telegram 0192 from Leopoldville to CIA, October 26, the Station reported that the anti-Lumumba leaders, believing they commanded a parliamentary majority, were organizing a new government, and Mobutu planned to open parliament by the end of the month. The Embassy, however, was convinced that the anti-Lumumba leaders did not have a majority. Thus, it was urgent that the Station obtain approval of the proposal in Leopoldville 0162 along with authority to make tactical changes and work through others if Mobutu was not willing to play the part outlined for him. The anti-Lumumba leaders were all anxious to return to power. The Department of State must realize that the Embassy and Station were not able to control events, the telegram stressed, and if they did not have a program such as that proposed, they could not even influence the outcome of events. Even with a program it was not certain they could control events but they would have a much better chance of achieving their objectives. If the anti-Lumumba leaders opened parliament and failed to get a majority, pressures for Lumumba’s return would be almost irresistible. (Ibid., Job 78–00435R, DDO/ISS Files, Box 1, Folder 4, [cryptonym not declassified] Ops)

The proposed program was considered by the Special Group at its meeting on October 27. See Documents 37 and 38.