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Paul Rigby

'Arrogant' CIA Disobeys Orders in Viet Nam by Richard Starnes, Washington Daily News, October 2, 1963

131 posts in this topic

“The most important consequence of the Cold War remains the least discussed. How and why American democracy died lies beyond the scope of this introductory essay. It is enough to note that the CIA revolt against the presidency of John Fitzgerald Kennedy – the single event which did more than any other to hasten its end – was, quite contrary to over forty years of censorship and deceit, both publicly anticipated and publicly opposed.

No American journalist worked more bravely to thwart the anticipated revolt than Scripps-Howard’s Richard Starnes. His ‘reward’ was effectively to become a non-person, not just in the work of mainstream fellow-journalists and historians, but also that of nominally oppositional Kennedy assassination writers. It could have been worse: John J. McCone, Director of Central Intelligence, sought his instant dismissal; while others within the agency doubtless had more drastic punishment in mind, almost certainly of the kind meted out to CBS’ George Polk fifteen years earlier.

This time, shrewder agency minds prevailed. Senator Dodd was given a speech to read by the CIA denouncing Starnes in everything but name. William F. Buckley, Jr., suddenly occupied an adjacent column. In short, Starnes was allowed to live, even as his Scripps-Howard career was put under overt and intense CIA scrutiny - and quietly, systematically, withered on the Mockingbird vine.”

From “Light on a Dry Shadow,” the preface to ‘Arrogant’ CIA: The Selected Scripps-Howard Journalism of Richard T. Starnes, 1960-1965 (provisionally scheduled for self-publication in November 2006).

As far as I am aware, the remarkable example below of what Claud Cockburn called “preventative journalism” has never appeared in its entirety anywhere on the internet. Instead, readers have had to make do with the next-day riposte of the NYT’s Arthur Krock. The latter, it should be noted, was a veteran CIA-mouthpiece and messenger boy.

Dick Starnes was 85 on July 4, 2006. He remains, in bucolic retirement, a wonderfully fluent and witty writer; and as good a friend as any Englishman could wish for.

I dedicate the despatch’s web debut to Judy Mann, in affectionate remembrance.

The Washington Daily News, Wednesday, October 2, 1963, p.3

'SPOOKS' MAKE LIFE MISERABLE FOR AMBASSADOR LODGE

'Arrogant' CIA Disobeys Orders in Viet Nam

SAIGON, Oct.2 - The story of the Central Intelligence Agency's role in South Viet Nam is a dismal chronicle of bureaucratic arrogance, obstinate disregard of orders, and unrestrained thirst for power.

Twice the CIA flatly refused to carry out instructions from Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, according to a high United States source here.

In one of these instances the CIA frustrated a plan of action Mr. Lodge brought with him from Washington because the agency disagreed with it.

This led to a dramatic confrontation between Mr. Lodge and John Richardson, chief of the huge CIA apparatus here. Mr. Lodge failed to move Mr. Richardson, and the dispute was bucked back to Washington. Secretary of State Dean Rusk and CIA Chief John A. McCone were unable to resolve the conflict, and the matter is now reported to be awaiting settlement by President Kennedy.

It is one of the developments expected to be covered in Defense Secretary Robert McNamara's report to Mr. Kennedy.

Others Critical, Too

Other American agencies here are incredibly bitter about the CIA.

"If the United States ever experiences a 'Seven Days in May' it will come from the CIA, and not from the Pentagon," one U.S. official commented caustically.

("Seven Days in May" is a fictional account of an attempted military coup to take over the U.S. Government.)

CIA "spooks" (a universal term for secret agents here) have penetrated every branch of the American community in Saigon, until non-spook Americans here almost seem to be suffering a CIA psychosis.

An American field officer with a distinguished combat career speaks angrily about "that man at headquarters in Saigon wearing a colonel's uniform." He means the man is a CIA agent, and he can't understand what he is doing at U.S. military headquarters here, unless it is spying on other Americans.

Another American officer, talking about the CIA, acidly commented: "You'd think they'd have learned something from Cuba but apparently they didn't."

Few Know CIA Strength

Few people other than Mr. Richardson and his close aides know the actual CIA strength here, but a widely used figure is 600. Many are clandestine agents known only to a few of their fellow spooks.

Even Mr. Richardson is a man about whom it is difficult to learn much in Saigon. He is said to be a former OSS officer, and to have served with distinction in the CIA in the Philippines.

A surprising number of the spooks are known to be involved in their ghostly trade and some make no secret of it.

"There are a number of spooks in the U.S. Information Service, in the U.S. Operations mission, in every aspect of American official and commercial life here, " one official - presumably a non-spook - said.

"They represent a tremendous power and total unaccountability to anyone," he added.

Coupled with the ubiquitous secret police of Ngo Dinh Nhu, a surfeit of spooks has given Saigon an oppressive police state atmosphere.

The Nhu-Richardson relationship is a subject of lively speculation. The CIA continues to pay the special forces which conducted brutal raids on Buddhist temples last Aug. 21, altho in fairness it should be pointed out that the CIA is paying these goons for the war against communist guerillas, not Buddhist bonzes (priests).

Hand Over Millions

Nevertheless, on the first of every month, the CIA dutifully hands over a quarter million American dollars to pay these special forces.

Whatever else it buys, it doesn't buy any solid information on what the special forces are up to. The Aug. 21 raids caught top U.S. officials here and in Washington flat-footed.

Nhu ordered the special forces to crush the Buddhist priests, but the CIA wasn't let in on the secret. (Some CIA button men now say they warned their superiors what was coming up, but in any event the warning of harsh repression was never passed to top officials here or in Washington.)

Consequently, Washington reacted unsurely to the crisis. Top officials here and at home were outraged at the news the CIA was paying the temple raiders, but the CIA continued the payments.

It may not be a direct subsidy for a religious war against the country's Buddhist majority, but it comes close to that.

And for every State Department aide here who will tell you, "Dammit, the CIA is supposed to gather information, not make policy, but policy-making is what they're doing here," there are military officers who scream over the way the spooks dabble in military operations.

A Typical Example

For example, highly trained trail watchers are an important part of the effort to end Viet Cong infiltration from across the Laos and Cambodia borders. But if the trailer watchers spot incoming Viet Congs, they report it to the CIA in Saigon, and in the fullness of time, the spooks may tell the military.

One very high American official here, a man who has spent much of his life in the service of democracy, likened the CIA's growth to a malignancy, and added he was not sure even the White House could control it any longer.

Unquestionably Mr. McNamara and Gen. Maxwell Taylor both got an earful from people who are beginning to fear the CIA is becoming a Third Force co-equal with President Diem's regime and the U.S. Government - and answerable to neither.

There is naturally the highest interest here as to whether Mr. McNamara will persuade Mr. Kennedy something ought to be done about it.

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This is fantastic Paul, much thanks for the posting!

Here's a link to the Krock article, "The Intra-Administration War in Vietnam":

http://home.earthlink.net/~jkelin1/krock.html

I am convinced that the "very high American official...who has spent much of

his life in the service of democracy" was CJCS Gen. Maxwell Taylor himself, who

was in Saigon with McNamara in the days preceding the publication of Starnes

article.

Who else "on the scene" fits the description? Not McNamara. Not Lodge.

The top American military man in Vietnam in '63 was the commanding general

of the U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), Gen. Paul D. Harkins.

Although Harkins fits the description of a "very high American official...who has

spent much of his life in the service of democracy," the reference to the movie

SEVEN DAYS IN MAY seems to reflect a States-side sensibility and insight.

Harkins had been in Saigon almost 20 months at that point.

Also very intriguing is the reference to the CIA colonel, who sounds a lot like

Lucien Conein

Starnes was the 1962 Ernie Pyle Award winner, which goes to America's top

journalist in the fields of the military and foreign policy.

Any chance of contacting Mr. Starnes?

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Thanks for that article. Fascinating!

In a weird way it reminds us how NEW the CIA was. Today you would never see an article like this that distinguishes so stongly between the CIA and the regular military. But the CIA was only created in 1947. It was like a brash teen after a childhood of free reign under Ike. Because of its relative youth Kennedy may have felt that he could control it, a feeling that no president would have today.

We know Kennedy wasn't the only one who thought the CIA was going beyond its charter. What's surprising is how strongly this sentiment is expressed in a newspaper article!

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This is fantastic Paul, much thanks for the posting!

Here's a link to the Krock article, "The Intra-Administration War in Vietnam":

http://home.earthlink.net/~jkelin1/krock.html

I am convinced that the "very high American official...who has spent much of

his life in the service of democracy" was CJCS Gen. Maxwell Taylor himself, who

was in Saigon with McNamara in the days preceding the publication of Starnes

article.

Who else "on the scene" fits the description? Not McNamara. Not Lodge.

The top American military man in Vietnam in '63 was the commanding general

of the U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), Gen. Paul D. Harkins.

Although Harkins fits the description of a "very high American official...who has

spent much of his life in the service of democracy," the reference to the movie

SEVEN DAYS IN MAY seems to reflect a States-side sensibility and insight.

Harkins had been in Saigon almost 20 months at that point.

Also very intriguing is the reference to the CIA colonel, who sounds a lot like

Lucien Conein

Starnes was the 1962 Ernie Pyle Award winner, which goes to America's top

journalist in the fields of the military and foreign policy.

Any chance of contacting Mr. Starnes?

Cliff,

I follow your train of reasoning regarding the identity of Starnes' major source, and can't fault its logic. I do, however, rather prefer Harriman or a member of his circle. I have no evidence for that conclusion other than the Laotian precedent, to which I'll return at a later date.

Many moons ago, when I first contacted Dick, I asked the obvious, inevitable question about the identity of his high-ranking source. His reply was polite, and to the point. I paraphrase: I promised not to, and I won't, ever. Had I been a better researcher, I might - should - have revisited the issue. But I wasn't, and I've so enjoyed the resultant friendship that I leave that task to others.

I will certainly contact him for you and let you know the upshot.

Thanks for that article. Fascinating!

In a weird way it reminds us how NEW the CIA was. Today you would never see an article like this that distinguishes so stongly between the CIA and the regular military. But the CIA was only created in 1947. It was like a brash teen after a childhood of free reign under Ike. Because of its relative youth Kennedy may have felt that he could control it, a feeling that no president would have today.

We know Kennedy wasn't the only one who thought the CIA was going beyond its charter. What's surprising is how strongly this sentiment is expressed in a newspaper article!

Nathaniel,

You're right, the timidity of today's reportage is depressing and contemptible! It would interesting to see a thread that offered as much possible on the extent of Kennedy's attempts to curtail and control the CIA. I have the distinct feeling we have only scratched the surface so far.

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Cliff,

I follow your train of reasoning regarding the identity of Starnes' major source, and can't fault its logic. I do, however, rather prefer Harriman or a member of his circle. I have no evidence for that conclusion other than the Laotian precedent, to which I'll return at a later date.

Many moons ago, when I first contacted Dick, I asked the obvious, inevitable question about the identity of his high-ranking source. His reply was polite, and to the point. I paraphrase: I promised not to, and I won't, ever. Had I been a better researcher, I might - should - have revisited the issue. But I wasn't, and I've so enjoyed the resultant friendship that I leave that task to others.

I will certainly contact him for you and let you know the upshot.

Paul, you are a GREAT researcher!

There is no need to ask Mr. Starnes a question he cannot answer -- I think

all the answers are in his article.

For years I have speculated that the "very high American official...who has

spent much of his life in the service of democracy" HAD to be CJCS Taylor.

I was wrong. Ah, the hubris of unfounded certainty.

Now I'm 100% sure it was the Boston-born Harkins. <_<

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_D._Harkins

Reading Mr. Starnes original article is relevatory. HUGE.

I agree with you that W. Averill Harriman was behind this leak, and I will

so speculate along those lines.

I posit the Boston-born Henry Cabot Lodge was one of Starnes MANY

anonymous sources, along with Gen. Harkins. I think Lodge and all the

other anonymous "officials" and "officers" were using the same playbook

sent in by Harriman to Lodge by way of Boston-born McGeorge Bundy.

The Yankees were cutting the Cowboys off at the pass.

More discussion to follow. Much more.

Please send my regards to Mr. Starnes -- any chance he'd join the Forum?

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Cliff,

I follow your train of reasoning regarding the identity of Starnes' major source, and can't fault its logic. I do, however, rather prefer Harriman or a member of his circle. I have no evidence for that conclusion other than the Laotian precedent, to which I'll return at a later date.

Many moons ago, when I first contacted Dick, I asked the obvious, inevitable question about the identity of his high-ranking source. His reply was polite, and to the point. I paraphrase: I promised not to, and I won't, ever. Had I been a better researcher, I might - should - have revisited the issue. But I wasn't, and I've so enjoyed the resultant friendship that I leave that task to others.

I will certainly contact him for you and let you know the upshot.

Paul, you are a GREAT researcher!

There is no need to ask Mr. Starnes a question he cannot answer -- I think

all the answers are in his article.

For years I have speculated that the "very high American official...who has

spent much of his life in the service of democracy" HAD to be CJCS Taylor.

I was wrong. Ah, the hubris of unfounded certainty.

Now I'm 100% sure it was the Boston-born Harkins. :huh:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_D._Harkins

Reading Mr. Starnes original article is relevatory. HUGE.

I agree with you that W. Averill Harriman was behind this leak, and I will

so speculate along those lines.

I posit the Boston-born Henry Cabot Lodge was one of Starnes MANY

anonymous sources, along with Gen. Harkins. I think Lodge and all the

other anonymous "officials" and "officers" were using the same playbook

sent in by Harriman to Lodge by way of Boston-born McGeorge Bundy.

The Yankees were cutting the Cowboys off at the pass.

More discussion to follow. Much more.

Please send my regards to Mr. Starnes -- any chance he'd join the Forum?

Cliff,

I wish could offer certainty on the subject of who told what to whom and when. I know precious little about Harkins, other than that he a) is much maligned; and B) seems to have taken the US constitution seriously. (You know, those trivial bits about the status of the Presidency and treason.) I find it impossible not to speculate that a) is a direct consequence of B). The history of the period has, after all, been written by the winners.

If you have anything on Harkins that might shed light on the matter, please enlighten me.

As I mentioned earlier, Harriman has long seemed to me the obvious candidate because of his work on the Laos settlement in 1962. Seemingly alone of JFK's senior people, here was a hard-nosed political and bureaucratic infighter who was not afraid to take on the Agency, hitting it hard and repeatedly. In class-obsessed elite America, he had the money, social status and connections to pull rank and not fear the consequences: Angleton never made Skull and Bones, and had to rest content with smearing Harriman as a Sov agent.

Did Starnes know Harriman? Highly likely, as H. was Governor of New York for a large part of the period that Starnes was managing editor of the New York World-Telegram & Sun. I've looked at six years-worth of Starnes' journalistic output, but all of the years fall outside of Harriman's tenure as Governor. Perhaps a study of the years 1955-1958 would yield clues. There are none that I've observed in the period 1960-1965, save one.

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Cliff,

I follow your train of reasoning regarding the identity of Starnes' major source, and can't fault its logic. I do, however, rather prefer Harriman or a member of his circle. I have no evidence for that conclusion other than the Laotian precedent, to which I'll return at a later date.

Many moons ago, when I first contacted Dick, I asked the obvious, inevitable question about the identity of his high-ranking source. His reply was polite, and to the point. I paraphrase: I promised not to, and I won't, ever. Had I been a better researcher, I might - should - have revisited the issue. But I wasn't, and I've so enjoyed the resultant friendship that I leave that task to others.

I will certainly contact him for you and let you know the upshot.

Paul, you are a GREAT researcher!

There is no need to ask Mr. Starnes a question he cannot answer -- I think

all the answers are in his article.

For years I have speculated that the "very high American official...who has

spent much of his life in the service of democracy" HAD to be CJCS Taylor.

I was wrong. Ah, the hubris of unfounded certainty.

Now I'm 100% sure it was the Boston-born Harkins. :tomatoes

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_D._Harkins

Reading Mr. Starnes original article is relevatory. HUGE.

I agree with you that W. Averill Harriman was behind this leak, and I will

so speculate along those lines.

I posit the Boston-born Henry Cabot Lodge was one of Starnes MANY

anonymous sources, along with Gen. Harkins. I think Lodge and all the

other anonymous "officials" and "officers" were using the same playbook

sent in by Harriman to Lodge by way of Boston-born McGeorge Bundy.

The Yankees were cutting the Cowboys off at the pass.

More discussion to follow. Much more.

Please send my regards to Mr. Starnes -- any chance he'd join the Forum?

Cliff,

I wish could offer certainty on the subject of who told what to whom and when. I know precious little about Harkins, other than that he a) is much maligned; and B) seems to have taken the US constitution seriously. (You know, those trivial bits about the status of the Presidency and treason.) I find it impossible not to speculate that a) is a direct consequence of B). The history of the period has, after all, been written by the winners.

If you have anything on Harkins that might shed light on the matter, please enlighten me.

As I mentioned earlier, Harriman has long seemed to me the obvious candidate because of his work on the Laos settlement in 1962. Seemingly alone of JFK's senior people, here was a hard-nosed political and bureaucratic infighter who was not afraid to take on the Agency, hitting it hard and repeatedly. In class-obsessed elite America, he had the money, social status and connections to pull rank and not fear the consequences: Angleton never made Skull and Bones, and had to rest content with smearing Harriman as a Sov agent.

Did Starnes know Harriman? Highly likely, as H. was Governor of New York for a large part of the period that Starnes was managing editor of the New York World-Telegram & Sun. I've looked at six years-worth of Starnes' journalistic output, but all of the years fall outside of Harriman's tenure as Governor. Perhaps a study of the years 1955-1958 would yield clues. There are none that I've observed in the period 1960-1965, save one.

Paul, certainty is indeed elusive in this case, but I couldn't resist poking a little

fun at myself by saying I was "100% certain" about Harkins, after spending 7

years being "certain" it was Taylor. :huh:

Turns out a great deal of my excitement was due to a misreading of Krock's

article. The most explosive quote, concerning a military coup coming from the

CIA and not the Pentagon, which seems to directly implicate Lansdale and Conein

in the plotting of Kennedy's downfall, was attributed by Starnes simply to "one US

official."

Here's how Krock put the most explosive quotes:

(quote on)

Among the views attributed to United States officials on the scene, including one

described as a "very high American official ... who has spent much of his life in

the service of democracy ... are the following:

The C.I.A.'s growth was "likened to a malignancy" which the "very high official was

not sure even the White House could control ... any longer." "If the United States ever

experiences [an attempt at a coup to overthrow the Government] it will come from

the C.I.A. and not the Pentagon." The agency "represents a tremendous power and

total unaccountability to anyone."

(quote off)

These are all different quotes by different guys, and the *money shot*

quote doesn't appear to have been from the "very high American...who

has spent much of his life in the service of his country," which I'd argue

described a military man.

It's a moot point to me, however.

Suffice to say we both feel that Averell Harriman was behind the incredible leaks

contained in Mr. Starnes 10/2/63 article.

No matter who said what, the reference to SEVEN DAYS IN MAY fingers CIA

men in military uniform...

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Paul, certainty is indeed elusive in this case, but I couldn't resist poking a little

fun at myself by saying I was "100% certain" about Harkins, after spending 7

years being "certain" it was Taylor. :huh:

Minor error! I spent the better part of three decades believing I lived in a democracy.

Cliff,

Whether intended or not, your reply had the useful effect of making me take a closer look at any potential Starnes-Harriman link.

In a March 1962 column, Starnes revisited an old foreign assignment, a reminiscence prompted by the death of Abolghassem Kashani, “a procurer of political murder, a dedicated hater of the West, and formerly right bower to ex-President Mossadegh” (“A Precious Old Cutthroat Has Departed,” The Washington Daily News, 23 March 1962, p.23). Starnes had interviewed Kashani in the course of a mid-1951 visit to Iran.

In July 1951, according to Rudy Abramson’s biography, Spanning the Century (NY: William Morrow & Co., Inc., 1992), Averell Harriman had visited Teheran for talks with Mossadegh, an initiative the CIA appears to have striven to wreck or curtail by the timely “discovery” of an alleged assassination plot, reportedly originating in Paris among Iranian Communists, targeting Harriman. The old bruiser appears to have treated the Agency’s concoction, delivered at some unearthly hour for heightened dramatic effect, with the contempt it deserved.

The CIA had first championed Mossadegh as a useful instrument for prising British fingers from control of Iranian oil. It was no more than a bargaining move, however, the prelude to a piece of deal-cutting with MI6 that saw both collaborate on Mossadegh’s ouster. The subsequent agreement was not a restoration of the status quo ante, but instead a means of ensuring MI6/British oil interests had a stake in the new, American dispensation, and thus little incentive to engage in destabilisation work of their own.

More germanely, had the visits of reporter and presidential emissary coincided or overlapped in Teheran in 1951? Did Starnes’ despatches from Iran give evidence of Harrimanian briefings? I don’t know: I lack a detailed chron of Harriman’s career; and I’ve not seen any of Dick’s journalism from that early a period. We may safely assume the CIA investigated both with maniacal thoroughness.

All this duly noted, there remain compelling grounds for dismissing any notion of Starnes as a Harriman client.

Starnes was touring south-east Asia, Laos included, as Harriman’s pursuit of a peace deal over Laos concluded. The reporter’s initial reaction to the Geneva settlement produced some of his most uncompromising and unprepossessing Cold War boilerplate. Four of Starnes’ July 1962 despatches dwelt upon its likely import and failings. All are from the Washington Daily News versions: “Long Shot Chance in Laos,” 18 July 1962, p.31; “Big Question in Laos,” 23 July 1962, p.19; “It Has Been a Painful Lesson in Laos,” 24 July 1962, p.15; and “A Sense of Foreboding,” 28 July 1962, p.11. The latter contained the following:

“In numbed disbelief one learns that W. Averell Harriman, Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, has returned from Geneva proclaiming that the agreement on Laos is a “good” one – one that will work if Khrushchev keeps his word, as Mr. Harriman says he believes he will. Thus another fable is added to the dangerous mythology that is the foundation for much of what passes for American policy in Southeast Asia.

The Geneva agreement on Laos is of the same sorry lineage as the accord establishing (and, mark well, “policing” with an international control commission) the boundary between North and South Vietnam. To believe, as Mr. Harriman says he believes, that the Geneva agreement is good and has a chance of working, one must ignore the history of communist conquest in Indochina, and one must forsake all logic as well.”

It finished with an uncharacteristically McCarthyite/China Lobby flourish:

“Is all this artful stagecraft being done so that six months or a year hence, when Laos is an overtly communist state, when South Vietnam can no longer be saved, when Thailand may herself have begun the dance of death, that our State Department can point to this place and say, ‘Who could have foreseen this? We had every reason to believe the Geneva agreement on Laos would work.’

If indeed this is the rationale for the happy-talk we now hear regarding Laos, then we are confronted with a historical conspiracy containing the seeds of unbounded mischief. For the truth is that the Geneva Pact on Laos is not a good agreement, that it can’t and won’t work, that it may well mark the turning point at which all Southeast Asia was lost to the free world.”

In a column later that year, “Laos Is Lost to the Reds,” 13 October 1962, p.10, Starnes used the Cuban missile crisis as a stick with which to beat the Geneva accord: “The truth is that the Administration tried to hold Laos by running a bluff. It seems unlikely now, when it has been shown that we will not even fight to keep a Soviet base 90 miles from our shores in Cuba, but little more than a year ago there were a lot of otherwise intelligent people who believed President Kennedy would go to war to keep Laos from falling to communism. Mr. Kennedy meant that people should have believed this. ‘No one should doubt our resolution,’ he told the nation on March 23, 1961. If attacks against Laos continued, he warned, ‘those who support a truly neutral Laos will have to consider their response.’”

So much for Starnes as a Harriman groupie – unless we posit an unlikely, elaborate plan of deception – or Kennedy idolater. It was this background, as Arthur Krock explicitly acknowledged, that gave “’Arrogant’ CIA Disobeys In Viet Nam” and its author such potent credibility.

By the late spring of the following year, however, Starnes had accepted the deal and saw its essential (military) merit. In “We Cannot Hold Onto Laos,” The Washington Daily News, 26 April 1963, p.33, he wrote:

“ Mr. Kennedy and his military advisors have digested an expensive and sobering lesson in Laotian geography and culture. The Royal Laotian Army, which we equipped and tried to train, again and again showed all the instinct for combat of a troop of septuagenarian bird-watchers. They were not a match for the hard, dedicated forces of the Pathet Lao, and likely never will be…

This cheerless reality sharply reduces the options, to use a word much esteemed in the White House, available to American policy makers. Is Laos worth what it would take in American men to hold it? The answer here is a resounding and unequivocal no. Not even the most star-happy buck general in the Pentagon would choose to garrison Laos, much less to fight a war there.

It is clear that present American policy in Southeast Asia is one imposed by the hard facts, and not one that is the product of wishful thinking. We cannot in any realistic sense hold Laos; we must let it go.”

Military realism had reared its head in Starnes’ despatches from Vietnam in 1962. In “The Stakes Are High in Viet Nam,” Washington Daily News, 11 June 1962, p.27, we find a direct precedent for this shift in judgement. Note Starnes’ pointed refusal to join in the then, as now, fashionable sport of French baiting:

“ The Viet Cong (communist guerillas control much of this country. At night they dominate all but the biggest population centers and highways. The Vee Cees, as they are universally called here, are well-trained, hardy, resourceful and dedicated communists. It is anybody’s guess how many are operating in Southern Viet Nam now, but an educated estimate might be 23,000 “hard core” troops, plus uncounted thousands of villagers who have been terrorized or otherwise persuaded into serving as porters, spies, support forces.

The French, never lightly regarded as warriors, tried position warfare, tanks and fighter aircraft. They ended at Dien Bien Phu, resoundingly beaten. For the Red irregulars the war never ended. The communists went thru the motions of “agreement” at Geneva to divide Viet Nam into northern (communist) and southern (free), but they never stopped infiltrating, fighting, extending their control and influence over huge areas of south Viet Nam.

No one in Saigon is foolish enough to deny that they have been tremendously successful. They have been so successful that the sounds of mortar fire are not uncommon in the outskirts of the city; so successful that the whole economy of the country is paralysed; so successful that in large areas they have set up provincial administrations and levy taxes.

They have been so successful that it is by no means certain that even the tremendous United States commitment can tip the balance.”

As to Seven Days In May, I think we're confronted with nothing less than a proleptic red-herring, a fictional prophecy designed to prepare a population for an event - and utterly misdirect it as to the who and the how. I mean, the Secret Service as Kennedy's loyal protector? Right, that's plausible.

Knebel was a disseminator of CIA guff before the event; and zealous defender of the official whitewash after it.

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Whether intended or not, your reply had the useful effect of making me take a

closer look at any potential Starnes-Harriman link.

Paul,

This is proving to be a fruitful line of inquiry...Starnes gives all appearance

of fierce independence, which made him a dangerous journalist, indeed.

Setting aside the possibility of Starnes being a Harriman shill leaves

us with a far more speculative position, at least as far as divining the

fine hand of Harriman behind the "Arrogant CIA" leaks.

Starnes frames the issue as a matter of Saigon-based military brass and top

non-CIA diplomatic "officials" venting their frustrations over the CIA's pursuit

of a rogue agenda.

The SEVEN DAYS IN MAY reference posits a covert domestic coup-maker in

the uniform of an American general. Edward Lansdale seems the obvious

first candidate.

The reference to the Saigon CIA man in a colonel's uniform -- Lucien Conein,

obviously.

It's a bit hard for me to believe that the anonymous State Dept "officials"

would implicate CIA men in military brass without a go ahead from the

(true) top guy at State, Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Averell Harriman.

A cursory look at the career of Averell Harriman indicates he had a lot of pull

when it came to "regime change."

http://www.fff.org/comment/com0501i.asp

(quote on)

[u.S. presidential envoy Averell] Harriman paid a call on the Shah before leaving

Tehran, and during their meeting he made a discreet suggestion. Since Mossadegh

was making it impossible to resolve the [Anglo-American Oil Company] crisis on a

basis acceptable to the West, he said, Mossadegh might have to be removed.

Harriman knew the Shah had no way of removing Mossadegh at that moment.

By bringing up the subject, however, he foreshadowed American involvement in

the coup two years later.

(quote off)

Foreshadowed? That's one way of putting it...

And Harriman certainly had a lot of weight when it came to "regime change"

in Vietnam.

Here's Kennedy describing the Diem over-throw three days after it occured:

http://www.whitehousetapes.org/clips/1963_...nam_memoir.html

(quote on)

President Kennedy: Opposed to the coup was General [Maxwell] Taylor, the

Attorney General [Robert Kennedy], Secretary [Robert] McNamara to a somewhat

lesser degree, John McCone, partly based on an old hostility to [Henry Cabot] Lodge

[Jr.] which causes him to lack confidence in Lodge's judgement, partly as a result

of a new hostility because Lodge shifted his [CIA] station chief; in favor of the

coup was State, led by Averell Harriman, George Ball, Roger Hilsman, supported

by Mike Forrestal at the White House.

(quote off)

How much misery would the world have been spared had Averell Harriman NOT

facilitated "regime change" in Tehran and Saigon?

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Whether intended or not, your reply had the useful effect of making me take a

closer look at any potential Starnes-Harriman link.

Paul,

This is proving to be a fruitful line of inquiry...

How much misery would the world have been spared had Averell Harriman NOT

facilitated "regime change" in Tehran and Saigon?

Cliff,

I’ve not read Kinzer’s book, but I will add it to the list. I look forward, among many other things, to his doubtless frank acknowledgement of the CIA’s initial support for Mossadegh. (The Agency even got one of its favourite mouthpieces, Time, to make him man of the year for 1951.)

I find the brief Kennedy recorded extract much more problematic. Was Harriman really in favour of ditching Diem?

Here’s the last public word on Diem from Harriman that I have been able to find. I readily concede my search was not exhaustive. If you – or anyone else reading this - can do better, please don’t hesitate. I’d be genuinely interested in seeing material of a later vintage:

"Diem is being criticized in the cities, but the battle is fought in the villages. And what they need is security. Our surveys show that this is what they want…President Diem is a determined fighter; he is deeply interested in democratizing his regime." [source: Bernard Fall. The Two Viet-Nams: A Political & Military Analysis (London: Pall Mall Press, 1963), p.473, note 31: The Harriman quote is taken from a “panel discussion between Under Secretary of State W. Averell Harriman, Senator Claiborne Pell, and Richard Dudman over WAMU, Washington, D.C., March 8, 1963.”]

Well, perhaps Harriman’s disillusionment with Diem grew as 1963 unfolded. And yet…

Throughout 1963, that much lauded gaggle of reporters – Halberstam, Sheehan, Browne, Arnett et al – had campaigned vigorously, and none too scrupulously, for Diem’s overthrow. Why, then, if Harriman was indeed also such an enthusiastic supporter of the same end, do we find Arnett writing that Harriman “had complained to the editors of the New York Times about the coverage, and was contemplating complaining to AP and UPI” [Live From The Battlefield: From Vietnam to Baghdad: 35 Years in the World’s War Zones, London: Corgi, 1995, p.93]. From the context, incidentally, Arnett places Harriman’s protest in September 1963.

This makes no sense if the conventional wisdom – and the Presidential recording - is true or interpreted conventionally. Unless, that is, there is evidence that Harriman changed his mind in favour of a coup post-September 1963, in which case that redeems one point only to sacrifice another: Harriman could thus not have been the prime mover of the notorious August 24 cable.

Then again, one could argue that Harriman was so outraged at the quality of the claque’s prose that he felt compelled to act in defence of fine writing. This is not quite as facetious as it reads, at least, not to any one remotely familiar with the work of Halberstam in particular.

Or perhaps Harriman was in favour of a very different coup to the one orchestrated by the CIA. Any evidence for that? Oddly, there is. Here’s the Times (the London one) in late August 1963. Writing of the thwarted CIA coup attempt of August 28/29, the anonymous Times hack had this to say: “One novel aspect of this American intervention was that much of it was quite open, if tentative and oblique. If the Central Intelligence Agency is looking for a creature of its own the search is probably not directly connected with the efforts of the White House and the State Department” (“Gen. De Gaulle Offers Aid To S. Vietnam,” 30 August 1963, p.8).

And then we turn back to Richard Starnes. In response to ‘Arrogant’ CIA, the Agency unleashed a fearsome barrage by way of riposte. Much of it is to be found in the pages of its most cherished (and slavish) media asset, the New York Times. Among the contributors manifestly co-ordinated to chip away at different aspects of Starnes’ immensely courageous report, we find, yes, David Halberstam, and Malcolm W. Browne.

Here’s Halberstam doing what he did best - regurgitating a CIA hand-out. Note the extravagant reliance on unnamed “sources” and other variants on the same essential euphemism. He meant “CIA.”

New York Times, Friday, 4 October 1963, pp.1 & 4

Lodge And C.I.A. Differ on Policy

Ambassador and Agency’s Chief in Saigon Clash on Conduct of the War

By David Halberstam

Saigon, South Vietnam, Oct. 3 – Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge and the head of Central Intelligence Agency operations in Saigon do not agree on United States policy for Vietnam.

The Ambassador would be happier with a new C.I.A. chief. [The present C.I.A. chief in Saigon is believed to be John Richardson.]

This is not a problem of personalities. What is involved is in part the traditional relationship, sometimes of rivalry, between the State Department and the C.I.A. In part it involves the problem of whether the C.I.A. should be primarily a straight intelligence network, or have operative functions; whether there should be separate chiefs for intelligence and operations.

It is believed here that Mr. Lodge feels that when a man is assigned to an important and, in this case, difficult operative function, the requirements of that post conflict with the objectivity and disinterest required of an intelligence chief.

There is no evidence that the C.I.A. chief has directly countermanded any orders by the Ambassador. Assertions that he has are denied in all quarters here.

Rather, even amid the current controversy, it is acknowledged that the C.I.A. chief, for more than a year, has carried out the extremely difficult and taxing job of working closely with Ngo Dinh Nhu. In this aspect of his duties he has done a superior job, say the other members of the mission. It is the basic contradiction between this role and that of an intelligence chief that is at stake.

Informants here say Mr. Lodge has told Washington he wants a new chief, and that the C.I.A. is fighting back hard. The matter is believed now resting with the White House.

It is believed here that Mr. Lodge and the C.I.A. chief see this war effort in somewhat different lights. Likewise, they see the proper function of a C.I.A. chief in different lights.

It is also true that in recent weeks in Saigon, as a major re-evaluation of United States policy has been taking place, the American mission here has tended to become the theater, on a small scale, of the traditional conflict in Washington of the Pentagon, the State Department and the C.I.A.

Part of the present struggle over the C.I.A. chief is believed to have a parallel in a struggle by Mr. Lodge against Maj. General Paul D. Harkins to establish himself as the real as well as the nominal head of the American mission here.

At the moment, some sources say, there is a growing effort to make the C.I.A. the scapegoat for the unhappy events of the last six weeks. When Government forces raided Buddhist pagodas on Aug. 21 the C.I.A. seemed confused about what was going on. There followed the demand by Washington that Ngo Dinh Nhu and his wife be pushed out of the Government, defiance of that demand by Ngo Dinh Diem, and Washington’s decision to go along with the regime.

Some persistent enemies of the intelligence agency are accused of using recent events as an opportunity to voice their bitterness against the agency.

Many persons in Saigon contend that in general intelligence operatives here are at the highest caliber, and say they have played vital roles in some of the most successful programs of the complicated counter-insurgency machinery.

undefined

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Paul,

According to these documents, Harriman was not only pro-coup as

of 8/28/63, but he was lined up against the anti-coup US military, the

CIA, and Bobby Kennedy -- Harriman still got his way.

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB101/vn07.pdf

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB101/vn19.pdf

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB101/

Cliff,

Again, many thanks for the apposite links.

On the matter of Harriman’s attitude to Diem’s government.

I would be more persuaded by a detailed account, preferably buttressed by contemporaneous sources, explaining the alleged transformation of Harriman’s view in the course of the summer of 1963. As matters stand, we find utterly conflicting evidence and, to the best of my limited knowledge, no remotely adequate account of why the man who negotiated peace for Laos suddenly turned hawk over Vietnam.

Moreover, it is only on Vietnam, and Vietnam alone, we are invited to believe, that Harriman found himself allied to the CIA, an organisation that loathed his long-since modified views on Russia, his work on the test ban treaty, and his support for an opening to mainland China; and, let us not forget, had actively sought to sabotage the Geneva settlement on Laos. You see the full oddity of what we are routinely invited to believe.

Note, too, the distribution and type of sources for the two conflicting accounts of Harriman’s attitude to Diem. The contemporaneous public record, certainly up to March 1963, finds Harriman determinedly resisting pressure to dump Diem. The official, governmental record, by contrast, released many years later and with the new orthodoxy firmly in place, offers a complete reversal, a reversal which purportedly takes place a matter of months after. This aforementioned orthodoxy, portraying Harriman as Vietnam hawk, is characterised by a number of striking omissions.

First and most revealingly, it invites us to forget the inconvenient fact that attempts to assassinate President Diem began no later than 1957, the year in which Time magazine – yes, that old Agency harridan yet again – denounced Diem as a pinko neutralist with a distinctly under-developed zeal for zapping his fellow-countrymen in the service of Cold War anti-communism. In November 1960, well before Harriman had regained influence or power in White House counsels, the CIA tried to oust Diem in a smaller version of the military putsch that succeeded three years later. The bombing of the presidential palace in 1962 occurred well before Harriman’s alleged switch to pro-coup, anti-Diemism.

However, let us permit for one moment that Harriman was indeed a hawkish opponent of Diem. In that case, and further assuming that Harriman or proxy was the administration insider-source for Starnes’ ‘Arrogant’ CIA, we are faced with the absurd position of Harriman seeking not merely to quieten anti-Diem reporters in this period, but leaking savagely to discredit a Saigon CIA chief, John H. Richardson, who, as the record shows, was entirely in favour of overthrowing Diem no later than August 28/29, 1963.

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Paul,

According to these documents, Harriman was not only pro-coup as

of 8/28/63, but he was lined up against the anti-coup US military, the

CIA, and Bobby Kennedy -- Harriman still got his way.

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB101/vn07.pdf

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB101/vn19.pdf

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB101/

Cliff,

Again, many thanks for the apposite links.

On the matter of Harriman’s attitude to Diem’s government.

I would be more persuaded by a detailed account, preferably buttressed by contemporaneous sources, explaining the alleged transformation of Harriman’s view in the course of the summer of 1963. As matters stand, we find utterly conflicting evidence and, to the best of my limited knowledge, no remotely adequate account of why the man who negotiated peace for Laos suddenly turned hawk over Vietnam.

Moreover, it is only on Vietnam, and Vietnam alone, we are invited to believe, that Harriman found himself allied to the CIA, an organisation that loathed his long-since modified views on Russia, his work on the test ban treaty, and his support for an opening to mainland China; and, let us not forget, had actively sought to sabotage the Geneva settlement on Laos. You see the full oddity of what we are routinely invited to believe.

Note, too, the distribution and type of sources for the two conflicting accounts of Harriman’s attitude to Diem. The contemporaneous public record, certainly up to March 1963, finds Harriman determinedly resisting pressure to dump Diem. The official, governmental record, by contrast, released many years later and with the new orthodoxy firmly in place, offers a complete reversal, a reversal which purportedly takes place a matter of months after. This aforementioned orthodoxy, portraying Harriman as Vietnam hawk, is characterised by a number of striking omissions.

First and most revealingly, it invites us to forget the inconvenient fact that attempts to assassinate President Diem began no later than 1957, the year in which Time magazine – yes, that old Agency harridan yet again – denounced Diem as a pinko neutralist with a distinctly under-developed zeal for zapping his fellow-countrymen in the service of Cold War anti-communism. In November 1960, well before Harriman had regained influence or power in White House counsels, the CIA tried to oust Diem in a smaller version of the military putsch that succeeded three years later. The bombing of the presidential palace in 1962 occurred well before Harriman’s alleged switch to pro-coup, anti-Diemism.

However, let us permit for one moment that Harriman was indeed a hawkish opponent of Diem. In that case, and further assuming that Harriman or proxy was the administration insider-source for Starnes’ ‘Arrogant’ CIA, we are faced with the absurd position of Harriman seeking not merely to quieten anti-Diem reporters in this period, but leaking savagely to discredit a Saigon CIA chief, John H. Richardson, who, as the record shows, was entirely in favour of overthrowing Diem no later than August 28/29, 1963.

Paul,

For what it's worth:

An old girl friend of mine is the daughter of a Diem secret police officer.

She was 13 at the time of the coup. She's Buddhist, and insists that the

Buddhist uprising against Diem in '63 was manufactured by the CIA. She

talked about how the little kids would sneak into the temples even when

they were surrounded. She told me that Diem was negotiating with

Ho Chi Minh to kick the Americans out.

I haven't seen anything concrete in the historical record to confirm this,

other than fleeting references to un-explained "anti-American" activities

by Diem.

Paul, have you come across anything in your research to indicate that

Diem was secretly negotiating with Ho, and might that have played a

part in Harriman coming around to the coup?

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Paul,

A very important topic -- one that I attempted to tackle at the 2005 November In Dallas Conference. You can see my powerpoint presentation here:

http://www.jfklancer.com/dallas05/ppt/conw...ersions.ppt.htm (I don't have the text online.)

Part two contains the work on the outing of CIA agent and head of station John Richardson by Starnes. The leaker was none other than Lodge himself. After reading Richardson Jr.'s book, I contacted him and exchanged emails regarding his father's role in supporting Diem's regime in Vietnam. Richardson Sr., a long time CIA official, seemed to feel Diem was a workable solution -- Lodge did not. The result is now history -- the overthrow and assassination of Diem and his brother. In this case, the CIA did not run this operation, it was run from the State Department.

I learned alot from reading the newspapers and Richardson Jr.'s book. For all these years I thought the Starnes article was a true warning regarding the CIA, and maybe it was in a way, but in this case it was a turf war between Lodge and Richardson. Richardson lost. In fact, I ended my presentation by stating Lodge even moved into Richardson's former home after he was fired.

Best,

Debra

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Paul,

For what it's worth:

An old girl friend of mine is the daughter of a Diem secret police officer.

She was 13 at the time of the coup. She's Buddhist, and insists that the

Buddhist uprising against Diem in '63 was manufactured by the CIA. She

talked about how the little kids would sneak into the temples even when

they were surrounded. She told me that Diem was negotiating with

Ho Chi Minh to kick the Americans out.

I haven't seen anything concrete in the historical record to confirm this,

other than fleeting references to un-explained "anti-American" activities

by Diem.

Paul, have you come across anything in your research to indicate that

Diem was secretly negotiating with Ho, and might that have played a

part in Harriman coming around to the coup?

Cliff,

What a fascinating contact to have made! I agree entirely with your ex-girlfriend. To follow, one of the reasons why. Please bear in mind that the version before you is not the original, but a later, bowdlerised simulacrum, a proposition I'll justify tomorrow night, when I've slept off the effects of last night's extra-cold Guinness. I'll return to your question about Nhu's negotiations with Hanoi then, too.

The Times of Vietnam, Monday, 2 September 1963, pp.1&6

CIA Financing Planned Coup D’Etat

Planned for Aug. 28; Falls Flat, Stillborn

Saigon (TVN) – The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency was financing a planned coup d’etat scheduled for last Wednesday, reliable foreign sources said yesterday.

For some weeks as the Xa Loi anti-government campaign grew, the rumours of coup d’etats became more frequent and abundant. It was well known that the Communists were exploiting the Xa Loi campaign in an effort to topple the Vietnamese Government, and there were constant rumours that C.I.A. was also supporting it.

Now as the story comes out, it is revealed that C.I.A. agents in the political section of the U.S. Embassy, the Public Safety Division of U.S.O.M. and the G2 section of M.A.A.G., with the assistance of well-paid military attaches from three other embassies, had prepared a detailed plan for the overthrow of the Vietnamese Government. The C.I.A. plan, it is said, had the blessing of high officials in the “distressed” State Department.

It is also said Vietnamese authorities seem to be well aware of C.I.A. efforts to help build the political agitation of the “Buddhist Affair” to a point of popular confusion and hysteria which would be fertile ground for the planned coup d’etat of the unofficially official American organization.

Beginning in January of this year, it is reported American secret agency “experts” who successfully engineered the coup d’etats in Turkey, Guatemala, Korea, and failed in Iran and Cuba, began arriving in Vietnam, taking up duties mostly in the U.S. Embassy, U.S.O.M., M.A.A.G., and various official and unofficial installations here. The Vietnamese Government, though seemingly well aware of all this, apparently could not believe such action was possible from allies and at a time with victory so near.

Rumours of their activities with student and religious and other private groups and clubs have long flown around the city. During the period in which U.S. Ambassador Nolting was on leave from May to July, the operators became more openly active, showing themselves in person at Xa Loi Pagoda to confer with agitators there.

But, certain foreign sources say, the young agent provocateurs showed their hands too brazenly in the attempt to prepare the military coup d’etat and revealed the plot. Naively believing the subjects of their bribes were anti-government, they poured money into the pockets of many, the sources say. The money is now spent from a budget which the U.S. Congress has no authority to audit, an affair which may bring much trouble and shame when the U.S. Congress takes a close look. The sources estimate the sum of money spent to overthrow the Vietnamese Government was between 10 and 21 million dollars.

The money was in three banks, it is reported: Bank of America, Hong-Kong-Shanghai Banking Corp., and Bank of Tokyo.

U.S. banknotes under 50 dollar denominations were difficult to change on the black market on Saturday, and black market dealers who accepted small notes gives as much as 4 ps. per dollar less than the going rate of 1065 VN for bills of 50 and 100 dollar denominations.

By Sunday afternoon some black market currency dealers were refusing to buy dollars but were selling them at 1058 VN to the dollar.

The macabre outline of the plot in seven steps bears a sinister resemblance to the Communist tactics:

1) Create unrest and discontent among the masses, provoking “religious”-inspired anti-government sentiment; sow discord among the population.

2) Mobilize youth groups (a function of the C.I.A. agents in U.S.I.S. and U.S.O.M.) particularly the following groups: Boy Scout, Girl Scouts, Buddhist Youth, Buddhist student groups.

3) Buy police, army, labor, and civil servants with three months advance salary and a bonus.

4) Assure government officials that they will be allowed to stay in their present posts if they agree to resign when given the signal.

5) While agitating in the different groups, provoke the government at the same time to commit mistakes such as killing innocent civilians or imprisoning large numbers of particular interest groups such as the youth.

6) When confusion has reached its peak, make sure “representatives” of so-called “representative groups” – e.g., civil servants, army, etc; - present an ultimatum to the President to (a) resign or (B) to send his family into exile.

7) If President resigns, a puppet government must be ready to take over – or a “military junta” prepared to take the reigns of government until elections can be held.

The 24 million dollar “budget” was earmarked, according to the same sources, as follows:

1) Advance salaries for the army, police and civil servants

2) Bonus for the same

3) Further gratifications for the same if necessary

4) Financing of the “Buddhist” organizations

5) Financing of youth movements such as the “Voluntary Youths” (whose financing to date is reported to have come from “American sources”.

6) Propaganda – including payment for “articles” by foreign correspondents in Vietnam

7) Relief – assumed to mean a contingency fund for miscellaneous or unforeseen expenditures

The plan, it is said, was to install a puppet military junta before elections (formerly scheduled for the 31st of August but postponed after martial law was declared). The various and sundry politicians in exile were to be returned to Vietnam to form several political parties and prepare for elections. Nguyen Ton Hoan, at a press conference in New York last week, announced he had a government ready to bring to Vietnam. He is reported to have presented the list to Secretary of State Dean Rusk. Pham Huy Co of November 11 fame is reported also to be in the U.S. ready to cash in a change of governments.

But, Nguyen Ton Hoan’s list – according to several persons on the list – contains (end of page 1) the names of persons who have never even been consulted to give approval for their inscription on the list.

Some weeks ago the Radio Catinat rumor indicated the coup was to come between the 15th and 28th of this month. The Government and Army took action on August 21, but this plan continued, the sources say. The date scheduled for the coup was actually August 28, they report.

On August 29 a military intelligence source was quoted in a foreign wire service dispatch as reporting that President Diem would be stopping in Manila on that day – the 29th – en route to exile in a friendly country. Manila journalists were alerted to be at International Airport to see him on the stopover. Meanwhile President Ngo Dinh Diem was visiting marines on the Saigon River. Apparently the source was not alerted to the actual turn of events, or he leaked the “news” prematurely.

U.S. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge had been due to arrive on August 26. There were unconfirmed reports that the date was postponed to August 29. But, immediately after the August 21 action of President Ngo Dinh Diem and the Army, Lodge received orders to come immediately, arriving in Saigon on August 22.

Certain diplomatic sources in Saigon report that essentially the whole diplomatic corps was aware of the plan in general, if not in detail. All were alerted for the hour of 11pm on August 28, they report. But, at the last moment, it was postponed because the Vietnamese knew about it and were organised to face it and to resist to the end – even if it meant fighting in the streets of Saigon.

A number of foreign embassy representatives have expressed great concern, the foreign sources say, because they knew a coup attempt would result in bloody chaos in Saigon.

President De Gaulle was reported to have been indignant, because he knew the Vietnamese would never give in to such a coup easily and it could only create a situation which would profit the Communists.

But it seemed it was only when the CIA agents saw for themselves that the Tu Vu Thanh (Self-Defense Corps of the capital) of the Cong Hoa Youth – street combat specialists – were really organized to face the coup of the day, that they finally postponed their “coup”. They were well aware, whether they reported it to Washington or not, that in the elections of 57 strategic quarters of the capital, the Republican Youth had victories in 54 of the 57 quarters.

The new Ambassador has made no public declarations since his arrival, but has conferred with President Ngo Dinh Diem and with Counsellor Ngo Dinh Nhu. The Ambassador is faced with a most explosive and delicate situation, which some observers believe may turn out to have been as big a debacle as the Cuban affair. The State Department, they judge, has cut the rug from under Lodge’s feet by speaking so precipitously to “deplore” the Vietnamese Government for action which has proven to have been an extremely wise move. If State Dept. had maintained silence until Lodge had time to send away the agent provocateurs among his personnel here and “fix things up” with the Vietnamese Government before the State Department took an open public position on the actions of August 21, it could have saved much face for itself.

But apparently the CIA operators had so greatly misjudged the popularity and strength of the Ngo Dinh Diem Government that Washington was convinced there was going to be a change of government here.

In the meantime, the U.S. public – through foreign press reports based on U.S. “intelligence” assessments, was readied to accept the planned term of events. Ambassador Nolting’s and General Harkins’ statements of optimism and support have for some months been discredited and toned down by the U.S. press here, often with quotes from junior officers who disagreed with their chiefs.

The CIA crowd has obviously prepared well to undercut any sound Lodge policy which develop as they undercut that of Nolting.

Since the monstrous flub – realising at last that they do not have the Vietnamese people with them – the agitation and plotting continues all the same, both foreign and Vietnamese sources say.

In an effort to revive the “religious” character of the crisis, there is now a reported plan underfoot to murder the Thich Thien Hoa newly appointed head of the Buddhist group; Cao Hoal Sang of the Cao Dai sect; and several leaders of the Hoa Hao sects. Next step would be the assassination of Monsigneur Ngo Dinh Thuc himself which the plotters would term a “reprisal” of non-Catholic patriots.

The Archbishop is indeed feared for his well-known fearlessness and dynamism.

As for Counsellor and Madame Ngo Dinh Nhu, the plotters want only exile for them for the time being, because they know well that if they were murdered it would provoke a bloodbath of reprisals.

A threatening side-issue in the pumped-up “religious” affair is reported to be a campaign to encourage the Highlanders – trained by U.S. Special Forces – to desert the national cause. “Intelligence” sources have for some time been telling the press that “Who controls the Highlands, controls Vietnam.”

The CIA group which is reported to have complete control of U.S.I.S., is said to have gone “underground” and to be clandestinely calling on the Armed Forces of the Republic to demonstrate and to provoke the several-times postponed coup d’etat.

As late as Saturday evening, AFRS radio station was broadcasting 30 second spot lectures on such subjects as “majority rule” and explaining in a sarcastic tone that majority rule meant “respect” for the activities of “minorities”.

On Sunday, one agent said angrily “Nhu won the first round. But just wait for the second round.”

Said one Vietnamese government official – “The U.S. press summaries get to Xa Lol two days earlier than I could get them. I can only think of one source for their information.”

As things appear, the plotters momentarily seem to have abandoned the idea of a coup d’etat, but still cling to the purpose of creating unrest under whatever label they can ????, counting on diplomatic immunity to go on untouched in their activities to topple the Government.

The State Department, now faced with an embarrassing dilemma created by gross errors of assessment of the situation here, has the choice of doing an about face or losing plenty of face – and maybe both.

The millions of Americans who believe in the freedom and national integrity their government preaches are in for a big disillusionment if their government does not soon denounce the sinister cynics who almost turned Vietnam over to the Communists. And some observers on the scene are wondering whether the whole fiasco is a desperate effort of those who helped to lose Cuba for the Free World to try to recoup their loss of face by taking control of Vietnam in time to proclaim her victory as their own.

But this is not the American way, as American citizens have been brought up to understand it. And, once revealed, the American people will without any doubt turn their wrath for this fiasco on those who have betrayed their ideals.

The U.S. Congress – watchdog of the American dream – is still there. And they are not likely to accept lightly the betrayals of all the ideals of which they are the guardians – among the most precious of which is self-determination of peoples in freedom.

There is one more factor in Vietnam’s favor. U.S. Congressmen are also political realists, and it won’t take long for most of them to see the realities of the situation in Vietnam once the facts are placed before them.[/indent]

Paul,

A very important topic -- one that I attempted to tackle at the 2005 November In Dallas Conference. You can see my powerpoint presentation here:

http://www.jfklancer.com/dallas05/ppt/conw...ersions.ppt.htm (I don't have the text online.)

Part two contains the work on the outing of CIA agent and head of station John Richardson by Starnes. The leaker was none other than Lodge himself. After reading Richardson Jr.'s book, I contacted him and exchanged emails regarding his father's role in supporting Diem's regime in Vietnam. Richardson Sr., a long time CIA official, seemed to feel Diem was a workable solution -- Lodge did not. The result is now history -- the overthrow and assassination of Diem and his brother. In this case, the CIA did not run this operation, it was run from the State Department.

I learned alot from reading the newspapers and Richardson Jr.'s book. For all these years I thought the Starnes article was a true warning regarding the CIA, and maybe it was in a way, but in this case it was a turf war between Lodge and Richardson. Richardson lost. In fact, I ended my presentation by stating Lodge even moved into Richardson's former home after he was fired.

Best,

Debra

Debra,

Many thanks for the links.

I do not find the idea of Lodge being Starnes' source inconceivable: As I confessed earlier in this thread, I genuinely don't know who it was.

As for the rest of your post, I disagree fundamentally. Before doing so, however, I owe you the basic courtesy of scrutinizing and digesting your work. There is, perhaps, much I could learn from it. I'll do that tomorrow night when I have regained the feeling in my outer extremities, fingers in particular.

Best wishes,

Paul

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