60. Telegram From the Embassy in Afghanistan to the Department of State1

6398. Subj: The Future of the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan: Some Thoughts. Ref: Kabul 6396.2

1. (S—Entire text)

2. Summary. I think it very important that those directly concerned with our policy towards Afghanistan read the cable under reference. It is another chilling report about one of our FSNs being tortured. The significance of the incidence however goes well beyond the discomfiture experienced by our employee. It is to that aspect I address this msg. End summary.

3. Our presence in Kabul is, in my view, faced with three perils. The first is, of course, the insurgency and the related possibility of an internal coup, either of which could bring physical harm to members of the small American community.

4. The second danger relates to the brutal intimidation being experienced by our FSNs. Nowhere else in the Foreign Service today, I venture, are our locals being subjected to such gross mistreatment by the host govt. The DRA is obviously bent on penetrating this Mission, regardless of human rights considerations, to develop hopefully “proof” of USG subversive activities. In this they are undoubtedly being assisted by the Soviets. The implications of this DRA policy are [Page 175] worrisome. Not only does it confirm the enmity which Hafizullah Amin has for the United States (the secret police are under his direct control), but it raises a real concern about the safety of our American personnel. As Langley and SY can confirm, this govt is, quite aside from intimidating our employees, also making an all-out effort to plant listening devices in our residences, and we can only assume they have been successful in many instances. The experience too of the Pakistan Embassy here, wherein its Pak employees have been harassed and one abducted (in somewhat mysterious circumstances) shows that the DRA is not above ignoring diplomatic immunities and international standards of decency. In sum, I worry that at some point Hafizullah Amin may arrest one of our American employees, on doctored or circumstantial evidence, in order to “prove” some point of his or hold us hostage.

5. Third, we have a nettlesome problem with respect to the DRA’s apparent determination to reduce the size of this Mission. This is again, I suspect, related to Hafizullah Amin’s semi-psychopathic desire to humiliate and revenge himself against the United States.3 In this msg I do not want to prejudge the outcome, but I am not sanguine we can maintain a Mission of some 45 employees. Needless to say, I do not relish the prospect of presiding over a humiliating, forced reduction of the United States presence by a small and one of the most unsavory govts in the world today.

6. Complicating the above scenario is the still unfinished business of who was responsible for Ambassador Dubs’s death. I do not want in this msg to get into this subject either, but as the Dept knows, we continue to get disturbing reports about Hafizullah Amin’s role in the affair.

7. In sum, I send this msg because I am worried about our presence here, not only for the safety of our Americans but for the honor of the U.S. Govt in the face of Hafizullah’s enmity for us. One of the possible recommendations I am turning over in my mind, and the Dept may wish to mull this over as well, is whether we shouldn’t reduce our [Page 176] staff further, even at the cost of handicapping our ability to serve as a listening post.4

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790388–0115. Secret; Immediate; Exdis; Stadis.
  2. Telegram 6369 from Kabul is dated August 25. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, [no film number])
  3. Three days later, the Embassy reported in telegram 6483 from Kabul, August 28, that “anti-U.S. blasts were the order of the day” during the “International Conference of Solidarity with the People of Afghanistan,” sponsored by what the Embassy characterized as the “Communist front” World Peace Council of Helsinki. Amin gave the keynote speech on August 24, and the conference proceedings, which were published in the local media and thus suggested official Afghan endorsement, included the charge that “armed intervention from across Afghanistan’s borders is entirely the work of the United States” and there was “no support within Afghanistan for this intervention.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790392–1083; a copy of the telegram was also found in the Department of Defense, Afghan War Collection, Box 7, USSR in Afghanistan (August 79))
  4. The United States Mission in Afghanistan had already been reduced the previous month. See footnote 3, Document 55.