The Foreign Relations of the United States series presents the official documentary historical record of major foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity of the United States Government. The series documents the facts and events that contributed to the formulation of policies and includes evidence of supporting and alternative views to the policy positions ultimately adopted.
The Historian of the Department of State is charged with the responsibility for the preparation of the Foreign Relations series. The staff of the Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, plans, researches, compiles, and edits the volumes in the series. This documentary editing proceeds in full accord with the generally accepted standards of historical scholarship. Official regulations codifying specific standards for the selection and editing of documents for the series were first promulgated by Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg on March 26, 1925. These regulations, with minor modifications, guided the series through 1991.
A new statutory charter for the preparation of the series was established by Public Law 102–138, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1992 and 1993, which was signed by President George Bush on October 28, 1991. Section 198 of P.L. 102–138 added a new Title IV to the Department of State’s Basic Authorities Act of 1956 (22 USC 4351, et seq.).
The statute requires that the Foreign Relations series be a thorough, accurate, and reliable record of major United States foreign policy decisions and significant United States diplomatic activity. The volumes of the series should include all records needed to provide comprehensive documentation of major foreign policy decisions and actions of the United States Government. The statute also confirms the editing principles established by Secretary Kellogg: the Foreign Relations series is guided by the principles of historical objectivity and accuracy; records should not be altered or deletions made without indicating in the published text that a deletion has been made; the published record should omit no facts that were of major importance in reaching a decision; and nothing should be omitted for the purposes of concealing a defect in policy. The statute also requires that the Foreign Relations series be published not more than 30 years after the events recorded. The editor is convinced that this volume, which was compiled in 1993, meets all regulatory, statutory, and scholarly standards of selection and editing.[Page IV]
Structure and Scope of the Foreign Relations Series
This volume is part of a subseries of volumes of the Foreign Relations series that documents the most important issues in the foreign policy of the 5 years (1964–1968) of the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson. The subseries presents in 34 volumes a documentary record of major foreign policy decisions and actions of President Johnson’s administration. This volume presents the documentary record of U.S. policy toward Laos, in many respects a second front of the Vietnam war. Laos was also a secret war fought in obscurity until the 1970s. While the war in Laos is no longer secret, it is still very much overshadowed by Vietnam. The fighting in Laos and Vietnam were clearly closely connected, but the Foreign Relations series has chosen to cover them in separate volumes. This editorial decision is justified because the Johnson administration drew a distinction between its extensive operations in Vietnam and its efforts to support the Royal Lao Government against the Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese. Reinforcing this separation was the presence of U.S. Ambassadors in Laos determined to maintain control and supervision over the U.S. military effort in Laos in the face of efforts by military commanders in Vietnam to strike the enemy wherever he was regardless of national boundaries. Thus the U.S. campaign to interdict supplies moving down the portions of the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos became the point of most friction between the diplomats and the soldiers. As much as Vietnam and Laos were separate operations, they were of course closely interconnected, and this volume should be read in conjunction with Volumes I–VII, Vietnam, 1964–1968. In addition, Volume XXVII, Mainland Southeast Asia; Regional Affairs, presents related documentation for Thailand, Cambodia, and the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization that helps to explain events and policy in Laos.[Page V]
Principles of Document Selection for the Foreign Relations Series
In preparing each volume of the Foreign Relations series, the editors are guided by some general principles for the selection of documents. Each editor, in consultation with the General Editor and other senior editors, determines the particular issues and topics to be documented either in detail, in brief, or in summary.
The following general selection criteria are used in preparing volumes in the Foreign Relations series. Individual compiler-editors vary these criteria in accordance with the particular issues and the available documentation. The editors also tend to apply these selection criteria in accordance with their own interpretation of the generally accepted standards of scholarship. In selecting documentation for publication, the editors gave priority to unpublished classified records, rather than previously published records (which are accounted for in appropriate bibliographical notes).
Selection Criteria (in general order of priority):
- Major foreign affairs commitments made on behalf of the United States to other governments, including those that define or identify the principal foreign affairs interests of the United States;
- Major foreign affairs issues, commitments, negotiations, and activities, whether or not major decisions were made, and including dissenting or alternative opinions to the process ultimately adopted;
- The decisions, discussions, actions, and considerations of the President, as the official constitutionally responsible for the direction of foreign policy;
- The discussions and actions of the National Security Council, the Cabinet, and special Presidential policy groups, including the policy options brought before these bodies or their individual members;
- The policy options adopted by or considered by the Secretary of State and the most important actions taken to implement Presidential decisions or policies;
- Diplomatic negotiations and conferences, official correspond-ence, and other exchanges between U.S. representatives and those of other governments that demonstrate the main lines of policy implementation on major issues;
- Important elements of information that attended Presidential decisions and policy recommendations of the Secretary of State;
- Major foreign affairs decisions, negotiations, and commitments undertaken on behalf of the United States by government officials and representatives in other agencies in the foreign affairs community or other branches of government made without the involvement (or even knowledge) of the White House or the Department of State;
- The main policy lines of intelligence activities if they constituted major aspects of U.S. foreign policy toward a nation or region or if they provided key information in the formulation of major U.S. policies, including relevant National Intelligence Estimates and Special National Intelligence Estimates as may be declassified;
- The role of the Congress in the preparation and execution of particular foreign policies or foreign affairs actions;
- Economic aspects of foreign policy;
- The main policy lines of U.S. military and economic assistance as well as other types of assistance;
- The political-military recommendations, decisions, and activities of the military establishment and major regional military commands as they bear upon the formulation or execution of major U.S. foreign policies;
- Diplomatic appointments that reflect major policies or affect policy changes.
Sources for the Foreign Relations Series
The Foreign Relations statute requires that the published record in the Foreign Relations series include all records needed to provide comprehensive documentation on major U.S. foreign policy decisions and significant U.S. diplomatic activity. It further requires that government agencies, departments, and other entities of the U.S. Government engaged in foreign policy formulation, execution, or support cooperate with the Department of State Historian by providing full and complete access to records pertinent to foreign policy decisions and actions and by providing copies of selected records. Many but not all of the sources consulted in the preparation of this volume have been declassified and are available for review at the National Archives and Records Administration. The declassification review and opening for public review of all Department of State records no later than 30 years after the events is mandated by the Foreign Relations statute. The Department of State and other record sources used in the volume are described in detail in the section on Sources below.
Focus of Research and Principles of Selection for Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, Volume XXVIII
The editor of volume XXVIII developed eight areas of specific focus for the selection. (1) Formulation of policy in Washington on providing U.S. support for the air and ground war in Laos either by U.S. support of Lao Armed Forces or by U.S. direct actions. (2) U.S. policy decisions in Washington in conjunction with U.S. officials in Laos to support the neutralist Souvanna Phouma government against both its right-wing and Pathet Lao opponents. (3) Unsuccessful efforts to reach a new negotiated settlement on Laos to replace the failed Geneva settlement of 1962, especially through the influence and good services of the Soviet Union. (4) The campaign to interdict logistical supplies traveling down the Laos portion of the Ho Chi Minh Trail destined to support Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces in South Vietnam and the bureaucratic battle for control of the ground intelligence on and harassment of these interdiction operations that was fought between the Ambassador in Laos and the Military Assistance Commander, Vietnam. (5) The Central Intelligence Agency’s support and direction of Meo (H’mong) and other tribal anti-North Vietnamese guerrillas. (6) The intelligence assessment controversy over the amount of North Vietnamese infiltration down the Ho Chi Minh Trail and the effectiveness of U.S. interdiction efforts. (7) The campaign by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara to apply technology to the campaign against infiltration and to apply appropriate technology in the controversy over whether jet aircraft or propeller driven aircraft were more suited to the warfare in Laos. (8) The establishment and then the loss to North Vietnamese forces of U.S.-manned site 85 at Phou [Page VII] Pha Thi, the major navigation aide in northern Laos for the bombing campaign against North Vietnam.
The documents are presented chronologically according to Washington time or, in the case of conferences, in the order of individual meetings. Memoranda of conversation are placed according to the time and date of the conversation, rather than the date the memorandum was drafted.
Editorial treatment of the documents published in the Foreign Relations series follows Office style guidelines, supplemented by guidance from the General Editor and the chief technical editor. The source text is reproduced as exactly as possible, including marginalia or other notations, which are described in the footnotes. Texts are transcribed and printed according to accepted conventions for the publication of historical documents in the limitations of modern typography. A heading has been supplied by the editors for each document included in the volume. Spelling, capitalization, and punctuation are retained as found in the source text, except that obvious typographical errors are silently corrected. Other mistakes and omissions in the source text are corrected by bracketed insertions: a correction is set in italic type; an addition in roman type. Words or phrases underlined in the source text are printed in italics. Abbreviations and contractions are preserved as found in the source text, and a list of abbreviations is included in the front matter of each volume.
Bracketed insertions are also used to indicate omitted text that deals with an unrelated subject (in roman type) or that remains classified after declassification review (in italic type). The amount of material not declassified has been noted by indicating the number of lines or pages of source text that were omitted. Entire documents withheld for declassification purposes have been accounted for and are listed by headings, source notes, and number of pages not declassified in their chronological place. The amount of material omitted from this volume because it was unrelated to the subject of the volume, however, has not been delineated. All brackets that appear in the source text are so identified by footnotes.
The first footnote to each document indicates the document’s source, original classification, distribution, and drafting information. This note also provides the background of important documents and policies and indicates whether the President or his major policy advisers read the document. Every effort has been made to determine if a document has been previously published, and, if so, this information has been included in the source footnote.
Editorial notes and additional annotation summarize pertinent material not printed in the volume, indicate the location of additional documentary [Page VIII] sources, provide references to important related documents printed in other volumes, describe key events, and provide summaries of and citations to public statements that supplement and elucidate the printed documents. Information derived from memoirs and other first-hand accounts has been used when appropriate to supplement or explicate the official record.
Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation
The Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation, established under the Foreign Relations statute, reviews records, advises, and makes recommendations concerning the Foreign Relations series. The Advisory Committee monitors the overall compilation and editorial process of the series and advises on all aspects of the preparation and declassification of the series. Although the Advisory Committee does not attempt to review the contents of individual volumes in the series, it does monitor the overall process and makes recommendations on particular problems that come to its attention.
The Advisory Committee has not reviewed this volume.
The final declassification review of this volume, which was completed in 1997, resulted in the decision to withhold 1.4 percent of the documentation selected. Two documents were denied in full. The remaining documentation provides an accurate account of U.S. policy toward Laos during this period.
The Information Response Branch of the Office of IRM Programs and Services, Bureau of Administration, Department of State, conducted the declassification review of the documents published in this volume. The review was conducted in accordance with the standards set forth in Executive Order 12356 on National Security Information and applicable laws, which was superseded by Executive Order 12958 on April 20, 1995.
Under Executive Order 12356, information that concerns one or more of the following categories, and the disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause damage to the national security, requires classification:
- military plans, weapons, or operations;
- the vulnerabilities or capabilities of systems, installations, proj-ects, or plans relating to the national security;
- foreign government information;
- intelligence activities (including special activities), or intelligence sources or methods;
- foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States;
- scientific, technological, or economic matters relating to national security;
- U.S. Government programs for safeguarding nuclear materials or facilities;
- cryptology; or
- a confidential source.
The principle guiding declassification review is to release all information, subject only to the current requirements of national security as embodied in law and regulation. Declassification decisions entailed concurrence of the appropriate geographic and functional bureaus in the Department of State, other concerned agencies of the U.S. Government, and the appropriate foreign governments regarding specific documents of those governments.
The editor wishes to acknowledge the assistance of officials at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library of the National Archives and Records Administration, especially Regina Greenwell and Charlaine Burgess, who provided key research assistance. The editor also wishes to acknowledge the assistance of historians at the Central Intelligence Agency, particularly Scott Koch; officials at the Department of Defense, especially Sandra Meagher; at the National Defense University, Susan Lemke in particular, officials at the Center for Military History, the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, and other officials of specialized repositories who assisted in the collection of documents for this volume.
Edward C. Keefer collected, selected, and edited the volume, under the general supervision of former General Editor Glenn W. LaFantasie. Vicki E. Futscher and Rita M. Baker did the copy and technical editing and Barbara-Ann Bacon of the Publishing Services Division oversaw the production of the volume. Junee Oneida prepared the index.
Bureau of Public Affairs