262. Backchannel Message From the Ambassador to Vietnam (Martin) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

743. Ref: WH50763.2

With respect to para 2 of your message, I have little to add to my 737.3
I have an exhausted staff and I am not repeat not going to reduce the U.S. Government side, either direct hire or contractors, any more as long as you want us to continue with airlift. I don’t know what you mean by “only” thirty contractor personnel have been reduced. Which of the 243 left would you suggest? We need communications, the tugs for E&E. Do you want us to abandon any interest in orphans? If so, I’ll send out the 5 with ICRC. Do you want to tell George Meany we have no interest in getting out labor leaders. If so, I’ll send out the AAFLI guy? Do you want us to be completely without transportation? If so, I’ll send out the Air America 87, who are our last resort when the military get conflicting instructions from Washington. Do you want to send in more Marines? If so, I’ll send out the Mission Warden Force. As far as other categories are concerned, I don’t really know what level we will reach by Sunday night. Attracted by the drama of Big Minh, more reporters are coming back in. With the continuing lack of any military activity, several of the businessmen, we hear, are thinking of returning.
Unless you wish me to advise the GVN to refuse any admission to press and businessmen, the former will grow considerably and the latter a little bit over the weekend. I can ask the GVN to deport some of them, but I would prefer you have someone in Washington do the nominations.
I really think we have about come to the end of the road on any further pressure on us here about the American community. Since you have left the decision to me, I am not going to reduce any more on the [Page 909]American official community. We have notified other Americans that they are now staying at their own risk.
As far as the military pressures on the President are concerned, you might care to inform him that the reports of the SA 2s, which so panicked one of your WSAG meetings,4 and which resulted in the closing of the Saigon airport to American commercial airlines, turns out to be incorrect. What was sighted was several logging trucks full of logs. I think if the President would simply say that the American community has been reducted to the smallest possible number commensurate with our ongoing activities, (principally evacuation of “high risk” Vietnamese, although he should not say this) and the rest of the community is mainly comprised of the American press, which in its best traditions is augmenting its forces somewhat to cover the news, he will be home free and maybe the rest of us will have time again to work on more important problems.
Warm regards.
  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Backchannel Messages, Box 3, Martin Channel, April 1975, Incoming (3). Top Secret; Sensitive; Immediate. Sent with the instruction: “Deliver immediately.”
  2. In backchannel message WH50763, April 25, to Martin, Kissinger wrote: “Still need your estimate of the level you will reach by Sunday night. I gather you anticipate reduction of only about thirty contractor personnel. Must also know what will happen in other categories.” (Ibid., Outgoing, 3) Sunday was April 27.
  3. Backchannel message 737 from Martin to Kissinger, April 25, outlined the status of the evacuation. (Ibid., Saigon Embassy Files Kept by Ambassador Graham Martin, Box 8, Saigon to Washington, April 9–28, 1975)
  4. See Document 256.