10. Memorandum for the Record1


  • DCI Meeting with the PFIAB, 6 August 1970
The DCI met with the PFIAB at 1100 hours on August 6th. In addition to the DCI, there were present the Chairman, Admiral George W. Anderson; Ambassador Robert Murphy; Dr. Franklin Murphy; Dr. Edwin Land; Dr. William Baker; Messrs. Frank Pace and Gordon Gray; and Messrs. [names not declassified].
Prior to the meeting the Chairman had asked the Director to comment on the implications of a coalition government in Vietnam and the Director opened his discussion on this subject. Specifically the question was, “What is wrong with Viet Cong in the government?” The Director referred to the experience of the last 25 years with coalition governments involving Communist participation. He pointed out that there are several reasons why the present South Vietnamese government would be most reluctant to agree to representation by the NLF in such a government. Inevitably the Communist representatives in such a government would attempt to take it over. Moreover, as the NLF is simply an extension of the North Vietnamese government, such an arrangement would amount to an agreement to North Vietnamese participation in the government.
Dr. Land wanted to know what the size of the Communist representation would be in the event they were permitted to vote. The answer was that nobody knows precisely. The Director pointed out that Thieu was convinced that he could win an election. He thought that the ratio of Communists to non-Communists might be 60–40 but clarified his statement by pointing out that there is no real way of identifying the Communists or of assessing their strength. He pointed out that the South Vietnamese constitution forbids Communist participation in the government. After some further general discussion it was agreed that Mr. Donohue would pursue the question further at his appearance which was scheduled for the following day.
The Director then addressed the question of our intelligence capabilities for ascertaining the intentions of the North Vietnamese and [Page 18] the Chinese. He pointed out that, because of the structure, security and discipline of the regime in both countries, we have no high level penetrations. He referred to Collingwood’s book, The Defector,2 as a good description of the political environment in Hanoi.
As regards our specific coverage of North Vietnam, the Director described certain audio surveillance operations, using the take from some of these as illustrations of our capacity to monitor North Vietnamese attitudes and intentions. He described a number of other operational programs, including third party activity and a number of access agents. He pointed out that by and large our assessments of North Vietnamese intentions have been accurate. Over the years conclusions about their military and political intentions, particularly as regards their will to persist, have been “on the mark.”
Dr. Baker wanted to know whether the President continues to get conflicting assessments from the Departments of State and Defense. The Director indicated that this is probably true. In answer to a question from Admiral Anderson, he stated that the substance of sensitive intelligence coverage is conveyed directly to the President and the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense.
Ambassador Murphy wanted to know about any indications of dissidence or insurgency in North Vietnam. Assuming the determination of the leadership, he wanted to know how effective its controls were over the population. The Director pointed out that morale had deteriorated somewhat after the cessation of the bombing but that there was no evidence of anything amounting to revolt or insurgency.
Both Ambassador Murphy and Mr. Gray wanted to know whether our penetration efforts would be more successful if we had unlimited funds—if we had all the money in the world, would we be more successful? The Director said that it was hard to tell. Unlimited funds might help. On the other hand, our experience to date has not indicated that money is much of a factor in influencing defections from any of the Communist countries. Speaking of money, the Director pointed out that it is very short and referred to the difficulty the government has experienced in identifying funds for Cambodia.
Dr. Frank Murphy referred to his own experience during his trip through Southeast Asia3 during the course of which he said that conversations with local officials had tended to confirm the Director’s assessment of North Vietnamese policies.

[Omitted here is material unrelated to Vietnam.]

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Executive Registry Subject Files: Job 80–B01086A, Box 3, PFIAB and Annual Reports. Top Secret; Byeman. Drafted on August 7 by [name not declassified], Director of the Office of National Intelligence Programs Evaluation, Central Intelligence Agency. Copies were sent to Helms and Karamessines.
  2. Reference is to a novel, The Defector, by Charles Collingwood (New York: Harper and Row, 1970).
  3. See footnote 2, Document 8.