352. Backchannel Message WH 42950 / Tohak 49 From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to Secretary of State Kissinger 1

Please pass to Bremer/Gompert for the Secretary.

Saigon 635

October 28, 1975

To: General Scowcraft

From: Ambassador Graham Martin

1. Next following message gives text of message from Bill Colby and my reply thereto, which are self explanatory.

2. If I didn’t have complete faith in Bill Colby, and if I didn’t know that he has brand new chaps in the agency in charge of Europe and Italy, I would really think whoever framed Colby’s message to me and Volpe was trying to set me up. The funny thing is that, were it not against U.S. interests to do so, nothing would delight me more than to testify fully and most completely about my tour in Italy, including most particularly the political action program. Never has an Ambassador had such a simple instruction: halt the drift to the left in Italy and nudge it back to the center if you can. Never was there such a unanimous conclusion by the experts that it couldn’t be done. Yet I did just exactly that. And if it had not been for the leak in Washington, it was done so smoothly, that the American hand never appeared. The fact that it was all thrown away after I left, cannot change the fact that it was done.

3. All this is really beside the point, which is that it would simply not be in U.S. interests to permit an internal Italian feud openly involve us. There is the added point that it is wholly unnecessary if we act as I suggest in the message to Colby. Walters can walk it back. No one in Rome mission can, and the clumsy wording of the joint message to me and Colby is psychologically an open invitation to the staff of a frightened man to start leaks in an effort to insure public understanding it all happened before Volpe arrived. If Henry must act on this, I suggest you do not await his return to inform him of my recommendations.

[Typeset Page 1077]

4. Warm regards and happy Veterans Day.

  1. Summary: Scowcroft forwarded a message from Ambassador to Vietnam Graham Martin, the former Ambassador to Italy.

    Source: National Security Council Files, Ford Intelligence Files, Italy—GRF 1974–1977. Secret; Immediate; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. From 1971 to 1972, Martin personally directed a [dollar amount not declassified] covert operation program in Italy. (Backchannel message WH42951/TOHAK50, October 28; ibid.)