247. Memorandum From the Special Assistant for Vietnamese Affairs, Central Intelligence Agency (Carver) to Director of Central Intelligence Helms 1
- SAVA Black Book Submission
1. During your absence, things were generally quiet in our area but there were three matters which merit your attention and of which you should be aware.
A. Dealings with Dr. Kissinger
2. On Thursday afternoon, 21 December, we sent down to the White House two copies of the memorandum entitled “Hanoi’s Game and Current Game Plan,”2 with the final paragraph emended (and improved) per your suggestion. The staff must have relayed it by some sort of LDX system because Henry called me (from Key Biscayne) at my home around 2000 that evening. He had obviously read the piece with some care and professed himself grateful for it, though he clearly did not welcome its conclusions. We talked over the phone for a good half hour, covering (several times) most of the matters raised in the memo. I explained again—as tactfully as possible under the circumstances—how Hanoi’s near term strategy was focused not on achieving any settlement per se, but on exploiting the October draft and last fall’s developments as a vehicle for torpedoing our relations with the GVN. Whether or not Henry accepted this was not entirely clear. He kept hammering away at the line of “assuming this is so, what do we do about it.”
3. Reflecting on our conversation stimulated me to write the attached memo entitled “Notes on a Possible U.S. Game Plan,”3 which I scribbled at home, showed General Walters and got typed up at the office on Saturday (23 December). I took it down to the White House, planning simply to drop it off. Henry, however, was there and ushered me into his office while he sat down and read through my prose. There then ensued close to an hour of sometimes brisk discussion. Basically, he did not like the proposal because (he said) we simply could not offer another draft that in any way resembled October’s draft or (rather) [Page 905] October’s approach. We had to take an entirely new tangent making an entirely different sort of proposal if we were to consider trying the route I outlined—for example, a very simple proposal sticking solely to military questions and eschewing all political issues. I explained (again, several times) why—though there might be excellent reasons for rejecting my suggested line of march—that particular tack was a non-starter, given Hanoi’s interests and mind-set. We broke up with Henry sticking, unchanged, to his position and I to mine. Our parting was cordial, however, since as I left he gave me a bottle of Israeli champagne from a case Golda Meir had sent him for Christmas. I have not heard from him since.
[Omitted here is discussion of an intelligence source in Saigon and of Carver’s briefing the incoming Director of Central Intelligence, James R. Schlesinger, on Vietnam.]