498. Memorandum From the Chief of the Africa Division, Directorate for Plans, Central Intelligence Agency (Roosevelt) to the Deputy Director for Plans (FitzGerald)1


  • Kinshasa Station Contact with Mobutu and [name not declassified]

1. CIA’s relationship with Mobutu and [name not declassified] dates back to pre-Congolese independence (1960) contacts between Devlin and a number of Congolese nationalists in Brussels. The relationship has been strengthened by seven years of close and continuing contact in Kinshasa since independence. Mobutu and [name not declassified] have become accustomed to and to some degree dependent on the informal channel to the U.S. Government thus provided. On a number of occasions, Mobutu has sought an extension of Devlin’s tour in Kinshasa (most recently in a conversation with Under Secretary Katzenbach) and has said that after Devlin leaves he will expect to maintain close contact with his successor, [name not declassified].2

2. Mobutu and [name not declassified] would interpret the termination of this relationship—particularly if termination were more or less coincident on Devlin’s departure—as evidence of a desire on the part of the U.S. Government to disengage from the close and friendly relations that have characterized dealings between the governments of the two countries for most of the period since 1960. Mobutu’s regime is essentially a personal one. Relationships between non-Africans and Africans are essentially of a personal, non-institutionalized nature. Since Mobutu has himself personally appealed for a continuation of the relationship, he would almost certainly interpret its termination as evidence that forces within the U.S. Government hostile to him personally had [Page 728] gained strength. He would also almost certainly identify Ambassador McBride with these hostile forces, since the termination would occur shortly after the Ambassador’s arrival in Kinshasa, and since the only way the termination could be explained to Mobutu would be to tell him that orders to this effect had been received from Washington.

3. From a more parochial point of view, the termination of the Station’s contact with Mobutu under these circumstances would immediately be reflected in a weakening if not a rupture of the [less than 1 line not declassified] relationships established [less than 1 line not declassified], relationships that would play an essential role in planned efforts to improve our coverage of the Bloc target in Brazzaville and to provide adequate coverage of the Soviets when they reestablish themselves in Kinshasa. The end of the Mobutu relationship would also probably remove what has amounted to a protective umbrella over Station [less than 1 line not declassified] operations in the Congo, [1½ lines not declassified].

4. Thus it is our conviction that such a termination would have serious adverse effects on U.S. Government relations with the GDRC. On the other hand, a continuation of the present relationship, carefully coordinated with the Ambassador in the future as it has been in the past, would avoid any such adverse effects while providing the Ambassador with a useful additional means of explaining U.S. policies and bringing U.S. influence to bear on the GDRC.

Archibald B. Roosevelt, Jr.
Chief, Africa Division
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency Files, [text not declassified], Vol. II, [text not declassified]. Secret.
  2. In telegram 0952 from Kinshasa to CIA, March 14, the Chief of Station reported that he told Blake that Mobutu was planning to make a formal request that his recall to Headquarters be delayed until November. Blake then told him that it had been decided at the “highest levels” that after the Chief of Station’s departure, CIA must terminate all contacts with Mobutu and [name not declassified]. Noting that Mobutu was already suspicious concerning the reasons behind his scheduled departure, the Chief of Station said that the Station believed the Department of State edict represented a serious error in judgment which could jeopardize CIA’s whole position in the Congo, the position of the new Ambassador (whom Mobutu would almost certainly blame for the decision), and even overall U.S.-Congolese relations. The Chief of Station pointed out that Mobutu had been in regular and close contact with CIA for nearly 7 years and might not permit CIA contact to be maintained at subordinate levels. (Ibid.)