405. Memorandum From Harold H. Saunders of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1


Attached is the latest on one bit of Congo byplay.2 Just before you and RWK left, Struelens—then just back from Leoville—made a pitch “at Tshombe’s request” for financial support to Tshombe’s election campaign chest.

RWK asked Glenn Fields in CIA for an informal opinion. CIA is willing (though certainly not to the extent of the $3.3 million Struelens [Page 589] mentioned) but defers to State guidance. State hasn’t made up its mind yet, but is wary of getting involved.

The big problem is that Kasavubu’s characteristic suspicions of potential rivals are cropping out again. He fears Tshombe will use the election to unseat him. If we do anything for Tshombe, we’ll want to be sure he’s in good odor with Kasavubu, so we don’t end up backing an ex-Prime Minister. However, if they’re together a little help might be useful in improving our leverage or achieving limited objectives.

The most dangerous immediate consequence of this rift is that Tshombe is afraid to go to the OAU Foreign Ministers’ meeting now sitting in Nairobi for fear Kasavubu will fire him while he’s away. We’ve pulled all the stops to get him there because the African atmosphere is better than at any time in the past six months, and it would be a great loss not to take advantage of it.

If State decides this is a good idea, CIA could probably work on a small scale within its present authority. My feeling is that we wouldn’t want to get involved buying votes for Tshombe on any grand scale (Fredericks believes he has enough money for this). However, it might be worthwhile giving limited help IF Godley has something specific in mind to accomplish by it.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Congo, Vol. XI, Memos & Miscellaneous, 1/65–9/65. Secret.
  2. The attachment is a March 3 memorandum for the record by Saunders stating that Struelens had phoned him at 9:15 a.m. to ask whether a decision had been made regarding Tshombe’s request for financial help in his election campaign. Saunders had responded that the matter would be handled in Leopoldville and that they were sympathetic, although a decision had not yet been made. At 10:30 a.m., Struelens called back to report that Tshombe was leaving for Nairobi that night and would wait for an answer there.