162. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • Psychological Warfare Operations Against North Vietnam and North Vietnamese Forces in South Vietnam

In accordance with your request, following is a report on the psychological warfare operations now under way or in the planning stage against North Vietnam and North Vietnamese forces in South Vietnam.


A. Under Way

  • —144 million leaflets have been or are being printed. Three separate texts are included, directed at North Vietnamese forces and the civilian population in the North. They inform the readers of your May 8 speech, and call on North Vietnamese soldiers and civilians to press for peace on the basis of your proposals and stress the theme of severe setbacks to North Vietnamese forces.
  • —Of these leaflets, 15.7 million have been dropped in three separate areas of South Vietnam (see map at Tab A) since May 11.2 These leaflet drops are continuing.
  • —600,000 leaflets were dropped over Hanoi by F–4 strike aircraft at 2400 Washington time on May 18.

B. Projected

  • —Dissemination in the next day or so of a minimum of 10 million leaflets has been directed by CINCPAC within the area of the Red River Delta and contiguous territory. 5 million more are to be disseminated by wind-drift in the North Vietnamese panhandle.
  • —Preparations are being made to use B–52’s for mass leaflet dissemination.
  • —Leaflet operations are being considered on-going, and materials will be updated as appropriate.

Radio Broadcasting

A. Under Way (Overt)

  • VOA has doubled its programming to North Vietnam since May 8. It now broadcasts five hours daily during prime evening time (6–11 p.m.), using five transmitters with strong medium and short wave signals. The last two hours of a million watt, medium-wave transmitter are beamed directly at Hanoi. There has been no jamming.
  • VOA’s signal has been upgraded further for beaming into North Vietnam by renting satellite transmission facilities.
  • —Programming has consisted of your May 8 speech, official U.S. Government statements, coverage of the restrained Chinese and Soviet reaction to the mining, reportage of favorable U.S. opinion polls on your actions,3 and war correspondent reports emphasizing the positive side of the military situation in the South from our standpoint.
  • —The GVN General Political Warfare Department’s Voice of Freedom is broadcasting 20 hours daily to North Vietnam (1100 to 0700 hours, Hanoi time). Content has emphasized South Vietnamese resistance, the support of South Vietnam’s allies, and North Vietnamese casualties.

B. Projected (Overt)

  • —Widespread dissemination in North Vietnam by air-drop of simple, one-channel radios is being investigated. Some stocks are believed to be on hand, and more can be ordered.4
  • —Refining of VOA programming to increase effectiveness will be undertaken. For example, favorable military information which up to now has not been broadcast due to its classified nature will be declassified.5
  • —Friendly foreign radio broadcasters which are believed to have substantial North Vietnamese audiences (e.g., BBC and Radio Australia) will be requested to include favorable, but accurate, accounts of [Page 590] the military situation in South Vietnam and of foreign reactions to our military measures which are disadvantageous to North Vietnam.

C. Under Way (Covert)

—Existing black and grey CIA assets (Radio Saigon, Voice of Freedom, and other black and grey stations in both South Vietnam and Laos) are concentrating on carrying the message to North Vietnamese troops and the civil population in the North that dissension exists, popular morale is poor, and that criticism of the regime is widespread.

D. Projected (Covert)

  • —A plan has been drafted for setting up an intensive, “Tokyo Rose” or “Axis Sally”-type 24-hour a day broadcasting effort against North Vietnam. The basic pitch will aim at the people over the heads of the top leadership, and will have a very simple theme: the war is madness and continues only because of the blind ambition and insane policies of this top leadership. The announcers will be persons who speak the North Vietnamese dialect.
  • —To gain audiences, the programming will be made against a background of carefully selected musical entertainment, spot news conveying an aggregate message of North Vietnamese defeat, and accurate information about such matters as killed or captured North Vietnamese soldiers and areas where the population will be affected by communications cuts.6
  • CIA communications specialists are already working with their counterparts in the military service and the Defense Department to arrange for transmitters, determine optimum broadcast frequencies, and resolve the many technical problems this project poses.
  • —Consideration is being given to the possibility of using a ship-borne transmitter if necessary. The U.S. Navy communications ship “Blue Ridge” has been offered by the JCS for this purpose.


  • CIA has a covert program underway to convince the top Hanoi leadership that the U.S. Government is in clandestine communication with a high-level dissident faction within the North Vietnamese Party apparatus.7
  • —The first phase of this program involves “leaking” through a trusted agent in Vientiane the alleged word of an American official that “there are some people in Hanoi who also want to end this stupid [Page 591] war” and “thank God not everybody on the Central Committee is crazy.”
  • —“Evidence” will then be provided from a variety of sources and agents to develop the legend that the U.S. Government is in secret contact with a dissident faction in the North Vietnamese hierarchy. It might even be said that it was this faction which recommended the mining of Haiphong as the only tangible way to break the power of the hardliners in Hanoi.8
  • —The effects of this disinformation program could be significant—tensions and suspicions within the already-paranoic Hanoi leadership might increase, and the unity of this leadership might be weakened.


(All of the measures below are under study for early implementation)

  • —Air-drop of empty parachutes, radios, and other equipment in various parts of North Vietnam to suggest airborne agent insertions.
  • —Placement of rubber life-rafts and associated equipment on North Vietnamese beaches to suggest sea-borne agent insertions.9
  • —Collection of sea-borne assets and deployment along the North Vietnamese coast to suggest that amphibious assaults are impending.
  • —Actual launching of small, commando-type operations along the North Vietnamese coast.10
  • —Location of the Radio Hanoi and Liberation Radio transmission facilities in North Vietnam, and inclusion of these facilities on regular USAF target listings.

All of the foregoing operations (with the exception of the disinformation program) are being coordinated by the Indo-China Ad Hoc Committee which is chaired by Ambassador Sullivan. Its members include senior representatives of State, CIA, OSD/ISA, the JCS, USIA, and the NSC Staff. The psychological warfare program is being handled at this level to assure rapid decisions and implementation of agreed actions. Under this committee, an intensive effort is now under way to develop more steps to increase the impact of our total psychological warfare program. Regular progress reports will be submitted to you.

Following your telephone conversation with General Haig on May 17,11 we have undertaken a major effort to rejuvenate and energize all [Page 592] facets of our psychological warfare. Themes will be broadened to encompass those facets of the program included in your May 18 memorandum to General Haig.12 General Haig has spoken personally to Director Helms, Ambassador Sullivan, Admiral Moorer and all other key officials associated with this program and General Haig is confident that dramatic improvements will follow.13

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box TS 5, Chronological File, May 1972. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. Haig initialed for Kissinger. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.
  2. Attached but not printed. The map of Vietnam showed that 1,000,000 leaflets were dropped north of Hue on May 11; 2,350,000 in the Highlands west of Kontum and Pleiku on May 13, 15, and 16; and 12,350,000 in the An Loc area north of Saigon on May 10, 12, and 15.
  3. The President underlined the phrase beginning with “reportage” and ending with “actions,” and wrote in the margin: “good.”
  4. In the margin beside this paragraph the President wrote: “good.”
  5. President Nixon underlined the last five words in this sentence and after it wrote the following: “(put out that French report on Hanoi morale).” He was referring to the report submitted by Ambassador Godley based on material the French Chargé in Vientiane had provided. See footnote 2, Document 155.
  6. In the margin beside this and the previous paragraph the President wrote: “good.”
  7. In the margin beside this paragraph the President wrote: “good.”
  8. The President highlighted this sentence and wrote in the margin: “good.”
  9. In the margin beside this and the previous point the President wrote: “good.”
  10. In the margin beside this point the President wrote: “good.”
  11. See Document 155.
  12. Document 160.
  13. In the margin beside the last sentence of this paragraph the President wrote: “good.” At the top of this page Nixon handwrote instructions to Haig as follows: “ AlInclude: 1. More B52s & more carriers are on the way—(double the present number). 2. Regular stories of casualties in South. 3. Heavy play on Soviet Summit. 4. Drop a lot in Hanoi itself (at time we don’t bomb). 5. Warn more escalation is coming if they don’t settle. (R.N.—out of control etc)”