14. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Thailand 1

113614. Ref: Bangkok’s 9168.2 Subj: Response to Fulbright Allegation of Secret Thai-U.S. Agreement.

Summary.

1. Sen. Fulbright has alleged both publicly and in top secret memorandum to the Secretary that U.S. has secret agreement with Thailand [Page 27]much broader than any publicly-known commitment. Department will continue inform you of significant press coverage and other public developments. Top secret reference is to Project Taksin military contingency planning. We plan both public and top secret response. End Summary.

Public Response

2. McCloskey held to same non-commital line July 9 as he used July 8 (State 112736).3 However, rather than allow speculation to build up, we hope we can make clarification at regular Department press briefing July 10. Statement has not yet been fully cleared, but represents careful study and evaluation of pertinent documents and other material. Would appreciate your immediate comments on whether it would cause any significant problems with Thais.4 Also request you talk with appropriate RTG leaders, explaining how matter has arisen, reassure that as our intended public statement makes clear our SEATO commitment remains unchanged and urge calm public posture in order to help put to rest in interest of all.

Suggested Statement

3. “Our commitments involving the defense of Thailand are defined by the SEATO Treaty of 1954. These were restated in the RuskThanat Communiqué of 1962. There is no defense commitment to Thailand going beyond that Treaty. We believe Senator Fulbright refers to contingency military planning. For more than a decade we have participated in formulating contingency military plans involving the defense of Thailand. This planning involves no further commitment.”

Fulbright Letter to Secretary

4. Senator Fulbright has also sent Secretary a letter5 and top secret memorandum on, inter alia, our commitments to Thailand. Memorandum: 1) expresses concern over growing influence of DOD in foreign policy; 2) notes statement in recent Department letter to effect that our contingency planning, both multilateral and bilateral, is simply normal activity undertaken pursuant to SEATO Treaty commitment and does not enlarge that commitment; 3) refers to existence of [Page 28]“COMUSTAF Plan 1–646 and subsequent plans” and provides summary; 4) claims that such plans lead the other party to believe that U.S. has firm commitment—already made in accordance with our constitutional processes—to specific action involving use of substantial military forces; and 5) argues plan already given partial effect by the stationing of 40,000 Americans in Thailand. Summary of “COMUSTAF Plan 1–64” included is full direct quotation of Top Secret June, 1965 “Hoopes Report” on military assistance reappraisal pages V–35 through V–37.7

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 560, Country Files, Far East, Thailand, Vol. I. Top Secret; Immediate. Drafted by Linwood Starbird (EA/TB); cleared by Cross and Brown (EA), Dennis Doolin (OASD/ISA), Robert McCloskey (P), and Davis R. Robinson (S); and approved by Green.
  2. Telegram 9168 from Bangkok, July 9, requested a full text of the Fulbright letter and an opportunity to comment on it. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, DEF 4 THAI–US)
  3. Dated July 8. (Ibid., PPB 9 US)
  4. See Document 15.
  5. Senator Fulbright sent Rogers a June 5 letter concerning U.S. commitments to Thailand. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, SEATO 3 THAI) Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations William B. Macomber, Jr., responded to Fulbright on behalf of the Secretary in a June 27 letter, stating that U.S. obligations existed under Article IV (1) of the SEATO Treaty without any extension. (Ibid.)
  6. Senator Fulbright contended that the Thais might believe that the United States had committed itself to take specific action involving substantial use of American troops through the Taksin contingency plan, known also as Project 22 or by its DOD acronym, COMUSTAF 1/64. The Department of State had tried to assure the Senator that both it and the Thai Government agreed that military contingency plans did not affect commitments and were only operational details to be used if, as, and when agreed upon. Furthermore, Fulbright insisted upon seeing a copy of the plan, rather than having a briefing on it, as the Department of Defense proposed. On July 29, Fulbright renewed his request to the Department of State for text of COMUSTAF Plan 1/64. The text of Fulbright’s July 29 letter to Acting Secretary of State Elliot Richardson is in the Congressional Record, August 8, 1969, p. S9504. The Department of Defense continued its resistance to providing a copy of the plan as Richardson informed Fulbright several days later. The text of Richardson’s letter, August 4, to Senator Fulbright is ibid. On August 8 Fulbright stated unequivocably on the Senate floor that the Department of Defense offer of a briefing in lieu of the text of the plan was not acceptable. (Ibid., pp. S9503–S9505) On August 19 Kissinger informed Laird that he had spoken with President Nixon about the contingency plans and that “they should be looked at only at the Pentagon.” Also the Senate Committee could only see the Thai plan “and no others are to be shown.” (Notes of a telephone conversation, August 19, 11:30 a.m.; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 360, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)
  7. Printed from an unsigned copy.