206. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam 1

77668. Subject: Evacuation. Eyes only for the Ambassador from the Secretary.

I am not at all pleased with the way we are approaching the difficult question of Viet-Nam evacuation. If we lose our composure—be it in Washington or wherever—we will lose much more as well—lives, national dignity and a common sense of confidence that we can manage whatever crises the future may hold. Everyone is under stress. But this need not lead to the disintegration of discipline and clear-headedness that I believe is engulfing us.
I have therefore established the following procedures for dealing with the question of evacuation:
Any orders you receive will come from either me or Brent Scowcroft, and will be so identified.
You are to be informed in advance of steps being contemplated in Washington. You should comment without delay once you have received advance warning that certain measures may be under consideration. To the extent possible, I will make no decisions in the absence of your views.
Once orders have been issued by me you may appeal those instructions to me through Scowcroft before execution. If your appeal fails, you should execute the orders without complaint and without deviation unless extraordinary circumstances on the ground so dictate.
The comprehensive plan for evacuation that I have asked you to submit urgently will serve as the basis of our overall plan and will proceed as outlined by you unless superseded in part or in whole by instructions from me.
  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for East Asia and the Pacific, Box 21, Vietnam, State Department Telegrams, From SECSTATE, Nodis (2). Secret; Immediate; Nodis; Cherokee. Drafted by Eagleburger.