493. Memorandum From the Department of State Executive Secretary (Read) to the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow)1


  • Letter to the President from Moise Tshombe

We recommend that no reply be made to the letter to the President from Moise Tshombe of March 9.2

You will recall that Mr. Tshombe, for his own political purposes, has used several methods and individuals to try to establish contact with the President. Any reply to this letter, no matter how innocuous, would lend itself to exploitation by Mr. Tshombe for those political purposes and could thus seriously affect our friendly relations with the present GDRC. The trial of which Mr. Tshombe has written has been concluded, resulting in death sentences for Mr. Tshombe, Colonel Tshipola, who is specifically mentioned in the Tshombe letter, and one other officer and sentences of various lengths for four other people, including Mr. Tshombe’s brother. One officer was acquitted.

At our instruction, before the conclusion of the trial, our Chargé in Kinshasa impressed upon the Congolese Foreign Minister, the necessity of avoiding the kind of kangaroo court procedures and brutal executions which followed the discovery of the pentacost plot in 1966. Nevertheless, with the exception of Tshombe, his brother, and possibly the other civilian involved, Colonel Tshipola and the other officers were essentially tried for a mutiny which resulted in the death of the Congolese Army Commander, Colonel Tshatshi, in Kisangani, as well as other military and civilian personnel.

We believe it serves no useful purpose to make any additional efforts with the Congolese Government concerning an essentially domestic matter. There is little question that the verdict against the two Tshombe brothers is a political one and cannot be justified especially since no true defense was permitted. Both Tshombes are in Europe and [Page 722] it is unlikely that any country would permit their extradition even if the Congolese Government requested it.

C. Brown3
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 30-2 THE CONGO. Secret. Drafted by Schaufele on March 16 and cleared by Palmer.
  2. A typed notation on the original reads: “White House (Mr. Hamilton) agreeable no reply necessary (Judy Stewart to jmj, 5/17/67).” A copy of Tshombe’s letter to the President is ibid.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this stamped signature indicating that Brown signed for Read above Read’s typed signature.