120. Editorial Note

In an April 23, 1965, letter to Assistant Secretary for Far Eastern Affairs William Bundy, Ambassador Howard Jones stated that he was “privy to plans for a coup here and write you to inform you of the possibility.” Jones stated that he had informed only one other person in Djakarta, Edward E. Masters, the head of the Embassy’s political section, “because any indication that USG even knows about this could be the kiss of death not only to the effort itself, but to those involved.” Jones also told Bundy, “to play safe, I informed my contact that the U.S. Government can in no way participate in any effort of this kind. I nevertheless conveyed clearly my own sympathy with his objectives.” Jones went on to explain that the tentative plans contemplated action in late May or June when Sukarno was out of the country and suggested that Bundy might want to share this information with the President. He told Bundy, “I should caution that we do not yet know how seriously the plans are to be taken.” Jones assured Bundy that his information was based on “personal contact with one of the leaders of the coup group which represents important civil and military elements.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Indonesia, Vol. IV, Memos, 3/65–9/65)

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs Leonard Unger sent this letter to McGeorge Bundy at the White House suggesting that “he should be aware of this and you may wish to alert the President, although the information contained is obviously far from firm.” (Memorandum from Unger to McGeorge Bundy, May 3; ibid.) There is no indication that the President was informed.

As it turned out, Jones’ information proved to be “far from firm.” Jones left Indonesia on May 24, 1965. On May 25 Jones cabled the Department of State from Bangkok in telegram 1879, that “plans referred to in my letter maturing slowly” and that “earlier it appeared as though some action against Sukarno government might be attempted while he was out of the country within the next weeks. This, it now develops, will not happen because people involved have not been able to move fast enough. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, PER JONES, HOWARD P.)