306. Memorandum for the Record1


  • Minutes of the Meeting of the 303 Committee, 7 October 1965


  • Mr. Bundy, Ambassador Thompson, Mr. Vance, and Mr. Richard Helms
  • Ambassador Graham Martin was present for Item 1
  • Mr. Joseph Smith was present for Item 1
  • Colonel Ralph D. Steakley was present for Item 2
  • Mr. John Waller was present for Item 3

1. Thailand—Covert U.S. Government Financial Support to Thai Elections

A rather detailed discussion took place of the proposal to provide covert support to the Thai government for elections projected for autumn 1966. Ambassador Graham Martin noted a change requested by Assistant Secretary William Bundy in the language of the proposal. Ambassador Martin emphasized the importance of keeping together the leaders who have established some cohesion in recent months after the promulgation of a constitution in January 1966 following which political parties would be legalized and an electoral campaign organized. By beginning now and literally building a democratic electoral process from the ground up, reinsurance of a stable pro-Western regime in an anchor land in Southeast Asia was envisaged.
The Committee members expressed strong sympathy for the purpose but did not gloss over the risks and difficulties in successfully conducting such an operation on a covert basis. Ambassador Martin believed that the number of witting Thai officials could be kept to a figure of six. The proposed [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] would constitute perhaps a third of the total cost.
Mr. Bundy stated that the proposal would first have to be presented to Secretary Rusk and later to higher authority.2 It was hoped that these steps could be taken before Ambassador Martin returns to Bangkok later in the month. Ambassador Martin indicated that he felt he could respond [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] that the U.S. [Page 657] favored assistance in principle and would hope to provide support on a scale which had not yet been determined.

[Here follows material unrelated to Thailand.]

Peter Jessup
  1. Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, 303 Committee, 10/14/65. Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted by Peter Jessup.
  2. Rusk approved “in principle” on November 5 and Johnson reviewed the proposal on November 11 at his ranch and gave his endorsement. (Memorandum from Koren to William Bundy, November 17; ibid.)