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

6616. Ref: State 0829692 and 082970.3

1.
I am profoundly concerned about Jack Anderson “revelations” reported in reftels. Earlier stories based on charges by Congressman Wolff and others have been unfortunate but we have at least been in [Page 352]a position to present our side of the story as I recently did in a public release with regard to narcotics (Bangkok 6400). While Thai Govt was and continues to be deeply disturbed about press and Congressional accusations and finds it hard to make distinctions between Congress and administration, nevertheless we have managed thus far to avoid serious damage to our working relations.
2.
New “revelations”, however, appear to be unmistakably attributable to Executive Branch documents or conversations with Executive branch personnel privy to this and other missions’ reporting on events and conversations in Thailand. I realize that this should come as no surprise to me since apparently Jack Anderson has access to whatever he wants in Washington today. I hope, however, Department appreciates what impact of coming stories likely to be on our relations here and on our capacity to influence RTG actions and programs and to secure RTG acquiescence or cooperation in programs essential to us.
3.
I also question whether, given Anderson’s motivations and mode of operation, we can afford to seem to be acknowledging “rumors implicating high Thai officials” and to be asking for substantiation. Actually, some months ago I asked all elements of this mission to give high priority to investigating rumors that top Thai leaders were involved in narcotics traffic. No evidence has come to light implicating any one at the NEC level. We are continuing to collect evidence on lower level4 involvement but even here we lack much firm information.
4.
I hope Whitten was given facts to put Anderson “information” on narcotics in perspective and also effort was made to persuade Whitten that “revelations”, particularly if they seem to be attributable to U.S. intelligence agencies and U.S. missions abroad, are virtually certain to jeopardize working relations laboriously developed with RTG and which are only means we have to bring about effective control of narcotics traffic.
5.
“Revelations” about Phu Kwang, including judgments about Thai performance, snide comments about Praphat, reference to internal Mission discussions about B–52s and CS which have been contained for the most part in Secret or Top Secret, Nodis or Exdis messages will persuade Thais against any possible effort on our part to dissuade them that their conversations with us and the confidential information they provide us about their own situation and actions are available to the press. It will also convince them that this Mission holds views of such a critical and unfriendly nature that frank and friendly relations characteristic of our past association will be hard, if not impossible, to continue. Consequences of this when we are daily asking RTG for new favors and privileges should be clear to anyone.
6.
Action requested:
A.
Explain to Whitten, and if necessary to Jack Anderson, the situation regarding the narcotics traffic and that the Thai, in cooperation with us, are taking steps to restrict that traffic; that we have no information on the alleged atrocities in para 2 of State 082969; that the U.S. did not help plan Phu Kwang; that CS is a normal MAP item; and that this operation, despite its problems, has its positive side.
B.
Keep out of the hands and away from the ears of the U.S. press sensitive communications from this Mission.
Unger
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 23 THAI. Confidential; Immediate;Limdis.
  2. Telegram 82969 to Bangkok, May 11, reported Anderson staffer Whitten’s report that he had documents that indicated Operation Phu Kwang was jointly planned by U.S. and Thai Governments, failed despite commitment of “crack” first division, and that General Evans had gone to Unger conveying Thai request for B–52 strikes to support RTA operations but that Ambassador had “wisely” declined. (Ibid.)
  3. Telegram 82970 to Bangkok, May 11, reported Anderson’s allegations that some top Thai Government leaders were involved in drug trafficking and corruption. (Ibid.)
  4. See Document 162 and footnote 3 thereto.