409. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1


Possible item for Thursday. Before I left, I had a direct pitch from Tshombe via Struelens for money to help his election campaign. Tshombe then put it to Godley. Our best guess is that he’s looking for a sign of personal support. Though he can use the money, it’s probably not vital.

The biggest risk is further charges of making Tshombe a US puppet if Africans find out. [1½ lines not declassified] We’d also have to be careful not to give suspicious Kasavubu the idea we’re backing Tshombe to unseat him. In fact, Godley opposed CIA’s original proposal for aid to both separately because he didn’t want to involve us in that squabble.

However, Godley argues the risks would be worth taking and the money well spent if we could cement the TshombeKasavubu relationship and stave off the mess we’d have if they fell out in the heat of election maneuvering. So he would agree to a [dollar amount not declassified] total for both (plus a [dollar amount not declassified] contingency fund) if he can get firm assurances that Tshombe and Kasavubu will each support the other’s continued tenure.

Soapy is nervous about being involved, but Fredericks [less than 1 line not declassified] would go ahead on Godley’s conditions. They fear that Tshombe will, in Bantu fashion, read a negative answer as a sign that we’re turning away from him. They’ll take it up with Harriman and, if he approves, bring it to your group.

I share Soapy’s wariness, but think we can have the best of both worlds if we play our cards right. If we stick closely to Godley’s conditions (which serve both men) and they don’t come through, we still get some credit for the offer. If they agree, we’re a step closer (even allowing for holes in their promises) to keeping as effective drivers as we’ll find at the wheel.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Congo, Vol. XI, Memos & Miscellaneous, 1/65–9/65. Secret.