177. Backchannel Message From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig) to the Ambassador to South Vietnam (Bunker)1

WHS2074. The steps in the program you outlined in your Saigon 00972 represent a major effort toward achieving the President’s objectives in the massive psychological campaign he has ordered directed against the North Vietnamese, both in the South and in the North.

In Henry’s absence, I wanted to take this opportunity to explain further the President’s thinking. He is convinced, based upon reporting from all sources, that North Vietnam including the government, the people and the NVA, is now highly susceptible to psychological pressure, more so than at any time in the past. The combined effects of the President’s strong reactions in bombing intensively and widely over the North and mining of all potential sources of imports from [Page 640] the sea, the extraordinary losses inflicted on the NVA in the South by the massive application of U.S. air power, the enormous and fully publicized reinforcement of air power and naval gun fire capabilities, the effects of his visits to Peking and now to Moscow, and the obvious failure of the NVN/VC efforts to undermine the GVN and generate any significant uprising or even dissent, are clearly taking their toll. He therefore believes strongly that we must undertake immediately the most intensive no-holds barred psychological campaign against the North to exploit every possible opening, however small. The fact that these exist is underlined by your Embtel 7919.3 This report has served to reinforce the strongly held view that the DRV can be reached and significantly affected by the intensive psychological effort which is already in process on all fronts. Indeed, the themes for part of the campaign already in process in other areas were aimed at precisely situations described in Saigon 7919.

When the President directed that this effort be given top priority, he insisted that every asset available be brought to bear and that anything additional required be made available immediately. In this connection he directed the Director of CIA to undertake a greatly expanded black and grey radio campaign with high power and aimed at the NVA in both the North and South, and urban and rural population and government cadres in the North, to sow the maximum possible doubt and confusion. This particular facet of the campaign is a significant part of a much broader black effort which is already underway. He has assumed that this radio operation will be on the air shortly on a 24-hour basis carrying programming which could not be handled in any other way but which will dove tail with the other broadcast systems. It is important, therefore, that this activity have available to it equipment of high power and any necessary resources for the accomplishment of this mission. It was with that thought in mind that Henry assured you in WHS 2071 that any resources which you needed would be made available.4

The President is aware of the superb efforts you are already undertaking and appreciates them. The organizational arrangement which you have established will strengthen the program enormously and provide the means for coordinating the special CIA effort with all of the other aspects of the program there.

Warm regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 414, Backchannel, Backchannel Messages, To Amb. Bunker—Saigon, 1972. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusive; Eyes Only.
  2. Backchannel message 97 to Kissinger, May 27, summarized the psychological warfare campaign already underway against North Vietnam. (Ibid., From Amb. Bunker—Saigon, 1972)
  3. Not found.
  4. Backchannel message WHS 2071 to Bunker, May 23; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 993, Alexander M. Haig Chronological Files, Haig Chron, May 21–31, 1972.