236. Telegram From the Embassy in the Philippines to the Department of State 1

6405. 1. I do not want to clutter up the wires with the obvious, but I do think I would be remiss if I did not report that the recent events started by the New York Times disclosures, the Supreme Court decision, et al, have had a great and injurious impact here. I have had long talks on these matters with both Marcos and Romulo, in each case at their [Page 504]initiative. Their immediate primary concern or course (in this continuing process, which for here, started with the Symington Committee disclosures long ago) is what may yet come out to cause further embarrassment to the GOP, and of course to Marcos personally.

2. As an example, Romulo told me yesterday he was appalled by the publication of the Lansdale Memo in 1961 indicating CIA support of, and implication with, three Philippine organizations, i.e., the Eastern Construction Company, Operation Brotherhood, and Security Training Center. I told him I had not seen that report and had only a hazy recollection as to what two of these outfits were like in 1961. I added, however, that there was certainly nothing sinister in our helping, if we did in fact help, in any of these efforts, as all three in fact were in a good cause. He said he agreed, but it was now being played in the light that it was sinister, and that, especially as two of these endeavors still existed, it could have serious and immediate local repercussions. (Unfortunately friendly and helpful Congressman San Juan is in charge of the Eastern Construction Company.) He said that it was so serious that he had asked for a full study and the Philippine Embassy to send in the complete text of the Lansdale Memo. Fortunately this particular disclosure has not as yet been played in the local press, but I assume that it will be and most probably in a sensational manner.

3. Marcos, in personal conversations, has never come directly to the point, but occasionally phrases he uses could hardly have any other meaning but to reflect concern on his part as to whether my own reporting might be distributed widely and be leaked in Washington. Romulo, more in sorrow than in anger, has gone much further and asked how any nation can have the confidence to converse freely with our ambassadors in the future. He hastened to add that this would be a tragedy, as he did not think American motives bad, but that there would naturally be great mistrust in doing sensitive things with us in the future. He thought Newsweek’s graphic description of Lodge’s last assurances to Diem in Vietnam in the face of what actually happened, would hamper us with every Asian leader for a long time to come.

4. For my part I go through the obvious: that these are only Pentagon Papers, which to the exclusion of all other relevant papers and records of discussions and decisions, leave a very distorted picture, that this has been further exaggerated by the manner of presentation, headline selection, etc. But, of course, there is really no effective answer, and it would be impractical to attempt to portray by cable all the local reactions, very many to me personally, on this subject.

5. But in summary I can say that we have suffered a very great loss indeed as a nation in these events. In my opinion it goes beyond a fear by local and high officials as to how it might affect them personally. [Page 505]The deeper loss of confidence reflects a worry about the U.S. itself, which is considered important by every segment of this country. I am not competent to know what steps we can take that would be effective, but additional search, on the one hand, for ways of assuring others that we have adequate laws to protect the security of our own confidences of state in the field of foreign affairs (and hence those of others), and on the other for ways of proving that we have the national will to tighten our own security, and prosecute under the laws if necessary, seems very definitely in order.

Even more difficult would be the search for forms of reassurance, in the case of Asian nations particularly, that we are on an honest and open course with them, in the interest of their own aspirations as well as our own.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL US. Secret; Limdis. Repeated to Vientiane, Saigon, Bangkok, and CINCPAC.