233. Memorandum From the Deputy Special Assistant for Vietnamese Affairs, Central Intelligence Agency (Horgan) to Osborne Day of the National Security Council Staff 1


  • Points To Be Covered In Report To The President About PPOG Activities
I think it might be useful if you make clear that the PPOG objective has not been grandiose but a vague attempt to change North Vietnam’s policies. The military effort directed against North Vietnam is intended to change their policies and I have seen the psychological warfare effort as an adjunct to the military effort without which the psychological moves would be wasted. The objective from the beginning has been to create pressure on the North Vietnamese administrative apparatus at as many levels as possible. We set ourselves the limited objective of adding to North Vietnam’s worry list, complicating their lives to the maximum extent possible.
The clearest indication of our success is the 5 August Hanoi directive from the office of the premier setting out tasks to be accomplished in order to combat the U.S. psychological warfare effort. Included in these tasks is the necessity to re-establish mobile information teams at the village, district, province and city echelons. This is a clear admission of administrative pressure put on the DRV, in that they have had to form teams to combat our program.
General achievements of PPOG in the 30-odd meetings since its founding on 20 May2 have been to organize the United States Government so that the various agencies and departments can be highly responsive to the psychological situation.PPOG has forged a working relationship with the Saigon Psyops Task Force. A good morale exists in Washington and Saigon in an area where apathy was the order of the day. Finally, we have unchained the energy and imagination of the U.S. Government and conducted a truly world-wide overt and covert campaign.
Specifically, PPOG has among its accomplishments the resumption and reorganization of the leafletting target against North Vietnam. Starting on a crash basis, we have been able to refine the program to the point where we think we are getting maximum mileage [Page 821] from it if Hanoi’s screams are any indicator. In the area of radio broadcasting, we have stepped up and improved all existing facilities such as VOA and VOF (which includes the innovation of broadcasting of POW names) and we have also developed an entirely new radio voice (Radio Mother Vietnam) which is now broadcasting fifty-five hours per day. The radio themes have improved. On the one hand, they are more forceful and hardhitting; while on the other hand, they are more subtle and on target.
There are several tactical successes for PPOG also. We started the drum roll on the dikes when the problem was only a small cloud on the horizon. We were able to stay on top of Hanoi’s propaganda and even anticipated their move to the point where the overall U.S. Government looks very good now. The dike issue was something of a chess game which we appear to have won at this point. Another tactical success has been in highlighting North Vietnamese atrocities, reinforcing the “blood bath theory” which is a major North Vietnamese vulnerability in the international arena. A third tactical success came through orchestrating a world-wide message to North Vietnam that the invasion of the South had stripped away the myth of southern guerrilla uprisings and had cost them their international support.
PPOG has also found the time to go over everyone’s psychological activities with a magnifying glass looking for ways to improve. ARVN activities have come in for re-examination as have our own and our friends’activities in Cambodia and Laos. In addition, we have mounted numerous pressure operations and spread rumors to add to the fan.
We will continue to operate with straightforward plays—two or three yards in a cloud of dust waiting for the North Vietnamese to fumble. There are two areas where we would like to be able to move ahead but are constrained by policy consideration. (1) The use of the China theme, i.e., the détente with the U.S. is probably the most demoralizing single factor which we can use. Every North Vietnamese propaganda film I have ever seen which treats of the development and history of the Lao Dong Party has at least one picture somewhere of Chou en-Lai and theoretical reference to Mao tse Tung’s works or an integral part of the Communist mythology of North Vietnam. We are really losing an opportunity and shooting ourselves in the leg when we restrain ourselves from disseminating the facts in this case. We do not have to embroider or interpret. A picture of President Nixon and Mao tse Tung together has a devastating effect on the North Vietnamese. 2) Archie Bunker—In the directive which I mentioned earlier, one of the tasks for the cadre is “steadfastly maintain the state-built radio network and maintain and develop radio relay stations for cooperatives where conditions permit” as a countermeasure to our activities. Hanoi is relying heavily on Radio Hanoi as the only legitimate [Page 822] voice to be listened to by the people of the North. I believe the time has come to take out the voice and for a short time substitute our own which now will have a maximum debilitating effect throughout the administrative apparatus. Furthermore, when we publish our 21st Plenum communiqué,3 the genie of peace will be let out of the bottle, if only temporarily, and while no one can foresee the consequences of this move, at a minimum, the cadre and Party structure will have to get the genie back in the bottle with a major undertaking at a time when they are already strung out from the Ca Mau peninsula to the Chinese border under bombardment and blockade and with some cracks appearing in their morale. I do not know what arguments have been advanced against Archie Bunker,4 but I feel if we could hear them, we could show them to be based on misconception.
John P. Horgan
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Files of the Deputy Director for Intelligence, Job 80–B01673R, Box 2, Psychological Operations Group Minutes. Secret; Sensitive.
  2. The PPOG held its first meeting on May 20. (Memorandum for the record, May 22; ibid.)
  3. See Document 261.
  4. See Document 206.