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


  • Operations against North Vietnam

Director Helms recommends that CIA phase out paramilitary action operations against North Vietnam and requests agreement in principle to develop deception and disinformation operations against the North Vietnamese (CIA memorandum at Tab A).2

(1) Phase-Out of North Vietnam Paramilitary Operations

These started at my request in early 1970. Twenty-two paramilitary teams have been infiltrated from Laos in shallow penetration of North Vietnam. Ten teams failed completely. Twelve shot their rockets towards the enemy target; however, no damage assessment reports were obtainable. The program has cost over $3 million and the results have been minimal in both military and psychological terms. While the Agency has a capability for deeper penetrations, the difficulty of obtaining good low-level photography and the increasingly effective [Page 217] North Vietnam antiaircraft capability make the selection of landing sites for helicopters risky. The use of [less than 1 line not declassified] helicopter crews would add a major political risk.

(2) Development of Deception and Disinformation Operations against North Vietnam

North Vietnam is particularly susceptible to a carefully orchestrated covert disinformation program. The Agency believes it has the channel to convincingly move such deception material to the North Vietnamese. Close cooperation with the NSC Staff will be needed to ensure consonance with Presidential policy and the negotiating situation between the U.S., North Vietnam, the People’s Republic of China and the USSR. Mr. Helms proposes the assignment of a member of the NSC Staff to work with the Agency to develop the actual scenarios for the deception and disinformation themes, examples of which are outlined in the memorandum at Tab A.

Mr. Helms believes the deception/disinformation program has the potential for causing North Vietnam much more difficulty at much less risk than the minor paramilitary harassment achieved by CIA’s operations to date. The objective of the proposed program is to make a negotiated settlement more attractive in Vietnamese eyes.


That the paramilitary action operations against North Vietnam be discontinued.
Agreement in principle to develop a series of deception and disinformation operations against North Vietnam and the appointment of an NSC Staff Officer to work out the scenarios with CIA.3
  1. Source: National Security Council, NSC Intelligence Files, Subject Files, Vietnam, 17 Jan 72–2 Oct 73. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Sent for action; Outside System. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.
  2. Printed as Document 37. A notation on the copy of the attached memorandum indicates the President saw it.
  3. Nixon initialed his approval of both recommendations.