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Paul Rigby

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

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Anti-Harrimanite! Love it...with the caveat that I think Averell was a big loser on 11/22/63, and had had strong second-thoughts about a plot he'd previously approved.

We agree to differ about Harriman's approval of the coup; but, yes, you're right, he was a significant Washington casualty of both coups, the one in Saigon and the other one.

Andrei Navrozov. The Gingerbread Race: A Life in the Closing World Once Called Free (London: Picador, 1993) [iSBN 0330376368] Try p.332 for a very good joke - one made by Raymond Seitz, no less - about the number 322!

A Skull & Bones thang, no doubt...

The unmistakable number, on which page Professor Winks begins his chapter on Angleton - not a Bonesman - in Cloak and Gown: Scholars in America's Secret War (London: Collins Harvill, 1987).

Yale in-jokes - doing good for American democracy by stealth.

Paul

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He has the best opportunity which there has ever been to do these things. But he can only do them if, in his foreign policy, he ceases to act on the principles of power-politics and the advice of the Central Intelligence Agency, and if, instead, he acts on the principles which have brought him such unparalleled success in home affairs.

Yours, &c.,

Philip Noel-Baker,

House of Commons, July 16.

Noel-Baker's view on who - or rather, what - was running US foreign policy in 1965 was hardly unique. Here's a similar point of view from the same year:

Ronald Segal, “FBI, KKK, CIA,” New Statesman, 3 September 1965, p.324:

Review of 3 books:

1) Fred Cook. The FBI Nobody Knows (Cape, 30s);

2) William Randel. The Ku Klux Klan (Hamish Hamilton, 30s);

3) Wise & Ross. The Invisible Government (Cape, 30s)

Writing of Wise & Ross’ book, Segal observes: “America, indeed, is dangerously near conducting international relations through a secret police all but completely independent of elected authority.”

Galbraith's "take" on the same question, four years earlier:

John Kenneth Galbraith. Ambassador's Journal: A Personal Account of the Kennedy Years (NY: Signet, 10/70), pp.131/2: Diary entry for 1 June 1961:

"I spent the day talking on domestic matters with Walter Heller and James Tobin and with Chester Bowles and Arthur Schlesinger on more general matters. The mood of the Kennedy Administration is not what it was when I left in April. Cuba had a profoundly depressing influence, and everyone worries over the extent to which the soldiers and the CIA are making policy. So do I…

"The fundamental division in American politics is coming to be over foreign policy. On the one hand are the proponents of all kinds of direct anti-Communist action. They have a strong military base in the CIA and the support of the Congressional right wing. On the other side are those who argue for the more complex forms of economic and social defense against Communism. By rejecting armed intervention, they invite the suspicion of being appeasers."

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The Times, Tuesday, 8 October 1963, p.13:

Second leader

An Elusive Agency

President Kennedy’s failure to control the political activities of the Central Intelligence Agency has been one of the more disappointing and mysterious aspects of his Administration. It is to be hoped that his belated recall of MR. RICHARDSON, the head of the C.I.A. mission in South Vietnam, is a sign of a new determination to exert the full political control which the agency so badly needs. Few things damage a country more than if its representatives on the spot appear to be at odds with each other.

The Cuban fiasco provided a unique opportunity to reassess the role of the C.I.A. The evidence of Laos and South Vietnam is that the opportunity was fumbled. (In Laos two years ago the C.I.A. was still opposing the neutralist coalition some time after PRESIDENT KENNEDY had formally endorsed it.) It is important, however, that the C.I.A. should not become a scapegoat for what are often the sins of the Government. Its involvement with NGO DINH DIEM’S family in Vietnam was encouraged by the absence of clear direction from Washington. The American Government was split over the proper policy for Vietnam, and in the resulting cleavage the State Department went one way and some of the C.I.A., with some of the Pentagon, another. There should have been especially keen vigilance over the C.I.A., for it is well known that many members of its staff are out of sympathy with the basic assumptions of the Administration’s policies, as they were not, on the whole, in the days of MR. DULLES.

The difficulty that has always dogged the C.I.A. is that it is basically inimical to American traditions, and the country has been unable to assimilate it. Born out of the shock of Pearl Harbour, it found its present name in 1947. The original intention was that it should confine itself to the collection and evaluation of information, and many think it should return to this pristine state. It outgrew the restrictions almost by accident. The State Department was weak in staff and funds, and American policy demanded methods that were not compatible with normal diplomacy. Gradually MR. JOHN FOSTER DULLES found that he could sometimes act more effectively through his brother ALLEN, then head of the C.I.A., than through his own department. Repeated attempts to subject the agency to Congressional control stumbled on the obvious need for secrecy. Secrecy would disappear in the open arenas of American political life. At the same time the Dulles fraternity inhibited control by the Executive. The result was a new and secret kingdom which combined the collection of information with the formulation and the execution of policy.

After the Bay of Pigs PRESIDENT KENNEDY tried to restore the making of policy to the State Department, local authority to his ambassadors, and most operational responsibilities to the Pentagon. He has had some success with these reforms, but not enough. The recent troubles have already revived demands for more Congressional control, and some increase may be possible. In the end, however, only one person is in a position to exert full control, and that is the President himself.

Kennedy’s decision to back Lodge and recall Richardson was not the first time he had sided with an ambassador at war with his CIA station-chief, as Andreas Papandreou revealed in Democracy at Gunpoint: The Greek Front (London: Andre Deutsch, 1971), p.80:

“Ellis Briggs, the career diplomat who was ambassador at the time” was a “rather straight-laced man” who “had no patience with ‘democratic excesses’ in Greece…during the summer of 1963, it was disclosed that Briggs, testifying before the Senate Security Committee, had admitted that while in Greece he did not have control over the American services. The CIA had bypassed him and, at the request of Queen Frederika, had undertaken a series of projects which it financed by drawing in its secret funds.

“When I read Briggs’ Christmas message I decided to fly to the United States, and protest this unbelievable performance of the American services in Greece. I had hopes that I could be accorded a fair hearing and that President Kennedy would respond to my appeal. But he was in Florida when I reached in Washington. I saw Carl Kaysen…We spent a night talking about the electoral coup [October 29, 1961 – PR], the role of the Embassy, the role of the CIA’s Laughlin Campbell…Not long after my visit, Laughlin Campbell was removed from Athens.”

It is a measure of the CIA’s contempt for Kennedy that Campbell was transferred to Paris (1), a capital in which conviction that the CIA had prompted the Challe putsch was matched only by the belief that Langley was now sponsoring OAS terrorism. Shades of Langley’s decision to send William Harvey to Rome at the height of the Kennedy-backed “opening to the left.”

Writing of the same period in Greece, Peter Murtagh emphasises the clash between Ambassador Henry Labouisse, a Kennedy-appointee, and Campbell. Labouisse had attempted to preside over honest elections; and it was this unprecedented commitment to free and fair elections by a US Ambassador that permitted Papandreou’s Centre Union “to win not one but two elections” (2). Murtagh goes on to note: “Not long before the second general election, a number of Army generals approached the Ambassador. They asked him how the US would react to a coup to forestall a Papandreou victory. Labouisse said the US would be against such a move and cabled Washington with a copy of his answer. The State Department supported his position” (3).

(1) August 1962 – see Peter Murtagh. The Rape of Greece: The King, the Colonels and the Resistance (London: Simon & Schuster, 1994), p.71.

(2) Ibid.

(3) Ibid.

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The Times, Tuesday, 8 October 1963, p.13:

Second leader

An Elusive Agency

The American Government was split over the proper policy for Vietnam, and in the resulting cleavage the State Department went one way and some of the C.I.A., with some of the Pentagon, another. There should have been especially keen vigilance over the C.I.A., for it is well known that many members of its staff are out of sympathy with the basic assumptions of the Administration’s policies, as they were not, on the whole, in the days of MR. DULLES.

Now here's a glimpse of Helms in action in the mid-1960s, inverting the truth of Kennedy's position, and aligning him with the militarists. The Agency, we are to understand, straggled opinionless, but compliant to Presidential wishes, some way behind.

The lucky recipient of this classic piece of Helmsian spin was Cecil King, a once legendary newspaperman now better known as a senior MI5 man up to his neck in the 1968 coup plot to replace Harold Wilson with a "coalition of all the talents" fronted by Mountbatten:

The Cecil King Diary, 1965-1970 (London: Jonathan Cape, 1972), pp.86-89:

p.86: "Am in Washington. First port of call this morning was to see Helms, the head of the CIA…"

pp.87-88: "I said it was widely believed, particularly in Asia, that the CIA pursued a policy very often antagonistic to that of the State Department. He said this was not so, but there had been some appearance of this in Laos at one time: this was due to the fact that the Pentagon and the State Department had followed divergent policies and the President had supported the Pentagon and had instructed the CIA to do likewise."

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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...

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.

Development of the term “third force”: from proud self-description to figure of fear and loathing:

1.RICHARD & GLADYS HARKNESS, "The Mysterious Doings of CIA," Saturday Evening Post, (227), 6 November 1954, p.66: "Besides its spy network, and the open CIA function of research, the agency operates a superclandestine third force…";

2.HARRY HOWE RANSOM. Central Intelligence and National Security (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1958), pp.203-204:

"The CIA: A Third Force?

Quite possibly the ascendancy of CIA to prominence and power in national policy making represents the growth of a third force within the Executive Branch in the production of foreign-military policy," pp.203-204.

3.RICHARD STARNES, "'Arrogant' CIA Disobeys Orders in Vietnam," The Washington Daily News, (Wednesday), 2 October 1963, pp.1-3:

"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," p.3.

4.ARTHUR COOK. Story Unused: A Correspondent in the Far East, 1963-1967 (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1971), p.65: "[T]hey were CIA agents, America's third force and a law unto themselves…"

5.SEYMOUR HERSH. The Price Of Power: Kissinger In The Nixon White House (London: Faber & Faber, 1983), p.425: "The job of assassinating Diem and Nhu fell to Minh's personal bodyguard, who shot both men as they were supposedly being driven to safety…Minh's most significant support came from those elements in Vietnamese politics known as the "legal opposition," of the "Third Force," which included the influential Buddhist groups. The coalition was highly patriotic and far more interested in obtaining the endorsement of the American Embassy than in negotiating a compromise with the North Vietnamese."

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John Kenneth Galbraith. Ambassador's Journal: A Personal Account of the Kennedy Years (NY: Signet, 10/70), pp.131/2: Diary entry for 1 June 1961:

"I spent the day talking on domestic matters with Walter Heller and James Tobin and with Chester Bowles and Arthur Schlesinger on more general matters. The mood of the Kennedy Administration is not what it was when I left in April. Cuba had a profoundly depressing influence, and everyone worries over the extent to which the soldiers and the CIA are making policy. So do I…

"The fundamental division in American politics is coming to be over foreign policy. On the one hand are the proponents of all kinds of direct anti-Communist action. They have a strong military base in the CIA and the support of the Congressional right wing. On the other side are those who argue for the more complex forms of economic and social defense against Communism. By rejecting armed intervention, they invite the suspicion of being appeasers."

The fear of the CIA (and the Pentagon) which gripped the highest circles of the Kennedy administration -described by Galbraith, as we have seen, in a diary published several years later - found contemporaneous expression. One of the most obviously well-informed manifestations appeared in mid-1962 in the course of a Theodore White puff-piece for Dean Rusk and the State Department. The “tense July-August weeks” referred to in the final extract below unsurprisingly coincided with Kennedy’s first, and most concerted, effort to rein in the Langley empire:

Theodore H.White, "Does He Drive Or Is He Driven?", Life (International Edition), 2 July 1962 (Vol.33 No.1): pp.52-59:

p.54: "There is the hidden bureaucracy of the CIA, over which, in theory, the Secretary has responsibility for 'political guidance,' a task which successive Secretaries have not so much bungled as shirked out of simple lack of adequate executive channels to link the two agencies. (In many countries the CIA has more agents than, and 10 times the spending money of, State.)"

p.55: "The pressure of these bureaucracies on high policy sometimes takes on a juggernaut effect; once set in motion by high policy, the bureaucracies seem to acquire a momentum of their own, as if fueled by internal wellsprings of power. No Secretary of State approved the specific U-2 overflight across Russia two weeks before Eisenhower's doomed meeting with Khrushchev in Paris. This was a decision ground out as routine by the mills of the CIA. Nor was it a decision of the Secretary of State, President Eisenhower or President-elect Kennedy to send, a week after the election of 1960, the submarine George Washington, armed with 16 Polaris missiles, on a mission to patrol off the Soviet Union - a dagger at the Russian throat. The decision was ground out automatically by the defense agencies.

But perhaps no episode in recent U.S. history highlights more dramatically how bureaucratic momentum, unless thoroughly controlled, can lead policy to disaster than the decision to invade Cuba last year. The CIA had been training forces fully a year before. Neither Rusk nor Kennedy on coming to power positively initiated the plan to invade; they both were asked whether they wanted to liquidate preparations under way, thus stopping an invasion already plotted, or go through with it. When they reluctantly assented, bureaucracy had won; leadership had failed.

The supreme task in modern democracies is for elected political leadership to control such bureaucracies, to goad them without destroying their morale, to refresh them with new faces and new blood, to resist them when the public good requires that they be resisted. ("You know," said Dean Rusk recently, "even Khrushchev has that problem. At times, when we met at Vienna, he talked about the pressures of his military men and scientists just like a plaintive Western politician.")

It is on this third task, control of America's instruments of foreign policy, that Dean Rusk and John F. Kennedy have been laboring hardest in the past year and a half. In their difficulties the two men have provided not only a new perspective on American power but a fascinating study in two personalities of contrasting experience and background."

p.56: "The low point in relations between White House and State Department was reached in three months - with Cuba. The State Department's Latin American experts were against a Cuban invasion. Inwardly Rusk was against it too. He so stated before the invasion to at least one member of the White House staff. But in the final counsel, as the Joint Chiefs and the CIA pressed forward, Rusk, when asked his ultimate yea or nay, said "yes." After which the President also voted "yes," and the disaster of the Bay of Pigs was ordained."

"What followed was a summer chaos in the mechanisms of American foreign policy, in which it seemed that the Department of State's authority was dissolving. Presidential task forces with diplomatic functions were established outside of State. "

"…the tense July-August weeks…Quietly, one by one, the Cuban, Berlin and Vietnam task forces were drawn back under Rusk's direction at State."

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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...

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.

So what was the CIA’s “Third Force” in Vietnam? The short answer, and the core component, was – the “National Liberation Front.” But wasn’t the NLF teeming with southern Viet Cong? To the contrary: It was full of zealous anti-communists.

George McT. Kahin, "The Pentagon Papers: A Critical Evaluation," The American Political Science Review, Vol. 69 No.2, (June 1975), pp.675-684: See page 682: "One looks in vain for an account of how Colonel Lansdale's group won over to Diem, or neutralized, some of the key military leaders of the two principal southern religious sects, the Cao Dai and Hoa Hoa, through dispensing funds that are generally estimated in the millions of dollars, and finding places for approx 30,000 of their troops in Diem's army…Nor by reading the section on the origins of the insurgency would one know that even as late as the time of Diem's death a probable majority of the NLF's adherents were members of the Cao Dai and Hoa Hoa."

As contemporary press reports reveal, no sooner were Diem and Nhu dead than General Minh made a bee-line for the “NLF” to end hostilities:

From Cable Dispatches, “Peace with Hoa Hao Strengthens Saigon Junta: In Viet Delta – Cheers for Junta,” New York Herald Tribune, 27 November 1963, section 1, p.15:

Hoa Hao, Viet Nam – Gen Duong Van Minh, leader of South Viet Nam’s military junta, was cheered by thousands of members of the militant Hoa Hao sect yesterday when he arrived without a bodyguard to make peace with the rebel religious group.

‘The disastrous policy of the former regime who tried to crush you has ended,’ Gen. Minh said in a speech at this chief Hoa Hao village, 90 miles southwest of Saigon. He was referring to the regime of late President Ngo Dinh Diem which waged war on the Hoa Hao for more than seven years till Diem was overthrown by the junta on Nov. 1.

‘If only we could win over these people we would have five battalions of soldiers,’ remarked Maj. Gen. Ton That Dinh, the Security Minister, eyeing the crowds of young men.

Gen. Minh, accompanied by other members of the junta and Premier Nguyen Ngoc Tho, visited Hoa Hao and the village of Long Xuyen, where the sect is also strong, to formalize an agreement under which the half million members of the Buddhist splinter religious group will support the government.

But negotiations are stalled on the question of bringing the Hoa Hao’s private army into the Vietnamese Army to help fight the Communist Viet Cong. Some Hoa Hao units have already joined the government, but 1,000 other sect soldiers have not done so.”

Hanoi well understood the CIA-origins of the NLF. In response to the “clandestine” radio broadcast in March 1960 announcing its formation - in the form of a proclamation by “Former Resistance Fighters” - Hanoi radio immediately denounced it as a trap. (1) Hanoi also acted militarily in concert with Diem against the NLF: In May 1962, Hoa Hao battalion 104 “was caught in a simultaneous drive by the ARVN and Viet Minh battalion 510.”(2)

(1) Senator Ernest Gruening & Herbert W. Beaser. Vietnam Folly (Washington, D.C.: The National Press, Inc., 1968), p. 186.

(2) Bernard Fall. The Two Viet-Nams: A Political and Military Analysis (London: Pall Mall Press, 1963), p. 355.

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George McT. Kahin, "The Pentagon Papers: A Critical Evaluation," The American Political Science Review, Vol. 69 No.2, (June 1975), pp.675-684: See page 682: "One looks in vain for an account of how Colonel Lansdale's group won over to Diem, or neutralized, some of the key military leaders of the two principal southern religious sects, the Cao Dai and Hoa Hoa, through dispensing funds that are generally estimated in the millions of dollars, and finding places for approx 30,000 of their troops in Diem's army…Nor by reading the section on the origins of the insurgency would one know that even as late as the time of Diem's death a probable majority of the NLF's adherents were members of the Cao Dai and Hoa Hoa."

One man particularly resolved to keep the true role of the Cao Dai and the Hoa Hao in the “NLF” campaign against Diem firmly under wraps was George A. Carver, Jr. The son of missionary parents later to spend much time in China, Carver was talent-spotted at Yale, and reportedly joined the CIA in 1953 (1). In the April 1965 edition of Foreign Affairs, he modestly set out to refashion Vietnamese history in the interests of CIA propaganda against Diem. Predictably, suppression of information was nine-tenths of the lie. The remaining tenth was pure euphemism: “The Cao Dai and the Hoa Hao have emerged from nearly a decade of political insignificance to play influential roles, particularly in the provinces where their adherents are concentrated” (2). In accordance with the Langley fashion of the time, Carver’s farrago insisted the CIA-backed “revolutions” targeting Diem were a) spontaneous; and B) undertaken by the most patriotic elements of the society.

Foreign Affairs, on its “Contributors to this issue” page, described Carver as a “student of political theory and Asian affairs, with degrees from Yale and Oxford,” and a “former officer in the U.S. aid mission” (3) – a description as meaningful as characterising James Angleton as a keen angler with a penchant for orchids, and secreting hooch on riverbanks. Carver’s real career was much more interesting and sheds revealing light on two key aspects of post-Dallas CIA propaganda about who-did-what in Vietnam: the pretence that attempts on Diem’s life began and ended with Kennedy; and the CIA’s self-portrait as dutiful servant of White House policy in the Kennedy years.

In July 1963, Carver had been named as one of two senior CIA officers – the other was Howard C. Elting – who had masterminded a hasty and unsuccessful military putsch against Diem. Carver had served as the case officer of the coup’s domestic political front-man, Dr. Phan Quang Dan (4). The date? 11/12 November 1960, within days of Kennedy’s election.

If the CIA was indeed steadfast for Diem until Kennedy gave the green light in the autumn of 1963, its post-November 1960 treatment of Carver demonstrates it had a somewhat peculiar way of showing it. By the time of Dan’s trial – it was delayed by Diem and Nhu until such time as it seemed useful to expose an earlier set of CIA machinations, the better to reinforce allegations of current attempts – Carver “was assigned to CIA headquarters” where he served in Sherman Kent’s Office of National Estimates as “one of the analysts who could be called upon to write the first drafts of the National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs), as they were called.” In short, then, a position of considerable bureaucratic power.

Prados assures us that though colleagues recalled his “passionate” desire to see Diem toppled, the tone of Carver’s crucial NIE (58-63) of February 1963, “drawn to measure progress in South Vietnam,” was “balanced.” Prados then rather ruins the effect by listing some of its most important conclusions: “At best Carver was saying…the Vietnam struggle would be protracted and difficult due to the many weaknesses of the Saigon regime, including poor morale and leadership, lack of trust, inadequate South Vietnamese intelligence, obvious penetration of the government by Viet Cong spies, and poor tactical use of available troops” (5). This was precisely the kind of boilerplate that was already forming the mainstay of the work of Halberstam, Sheehan et al; and much more dishonest than anything produced by Diem’s defenders in Washington in the same period.

1.John Prados. The Secret History of the Vietnam War (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1995), p.30.

2.George A. Carver, Jr., “The Real Revolution in South Viet Nam,” Foreign Affairs, April 1965, (Vol. 43, No.3), p.399.

3.Ibid., p.386.

4.Prados, op. cit., p.31.

5.Ibid., p.32.

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George McT. Kahin, "The Pentagon Papers: A Critical Evaluation," The American Political Science Review, Vol. 69 No.2, (June 1975), pp.675-684: See page 682: "One looks in vain for an account of how Colonel Lansdale's group won over to Diem, or neutralized, some of the key military leaders of the two principal southern religious sects, the Cao Dai and Hoa Hoa, through dispensing funds that are generally estimated in the millions of dollars, and finding places for approx 30,000 of their troops in Diem's army…Nor by reading the section on the origins of the insurgency would one know that even as late as the time of Diem's death a probable majority of the NLF's adherents were members of the Cao Dai and Hoa Hoa."

One man particularly resolved to keep the true role of the Cao Dai and the Hoa Hao in the “NLF” campaign against Diem firmly under wraps was George A. Carver, Jr. The son of missionary parents later to spend much time in China, Carver was talent-spotted at Yale, and reportedly joined the CIA in 1953 (1). In the April 1965 edition of Foreign Affairs, he modestly set out to refashion Vietnamese history in the interests of CIA propaganda against Diem. Predictably, suppression of information was nine-tenths of the lie. The remaining tenth was pure euphemism: “The Cao Dai and the Hoa Hao have emerged from nearly a decade of political insignificance to play influential roles, particularly in the provinces where their adherents are concentrated” (2). In accordance with the Langley fashion of the time, Carver’s farrago insisted the CIA-backed “revolutions” targeting Diem were a) spontaneous; and B) undertaken by the most patriotic elements of the society.

Foreign Affairs, on its “Contributors to this issue” page, described Carver as a “student of political theory and Asian affairs, with degrees from Yale and Oxford,” and a “former officer in the U.S. aid mission” (3) – a description as meaningful as characterising James Angleton as a keen angler with a penchant for orchids, and secreting hooch on riverbanks. Carver’s real career was much more interesting and sheds revealing light on two key aspects of post-Dallas CIA propaganda about who-did-what in Vietnam: the pretence that attempts on Diem’s life began and ended with Kennedy; and the CIA’s self-portrait as dutiful servant of White House policy in the Kennedy years.

In July 1963, Carver had been named as one of two senior CIA officers – the other was Howard C. Elting – who had masterminded a hasty and unsuccessful military putsch against Diem. Carver had served as the case officer of the coup’s domestic political front-man, Dr. Phan Quang Dan (4). The date? 11/12 November 1960, within days of Kennedy’s election.

If the CIA was indeed steadfast for Diem until Kennedy gave the green light in the autumn of 1963, its post-November 1960 treatment of Carver demonstrates it had a somewhat peculiar way of showing it. By the time of Dan’s trial – it was delayed by Diem and Nhu until such time as it seemed useful to expose an earlier set of CIA machinations, the better to reinforce allegations of current attempts – Carver “was assigned to CIA headquarters” where he served in Sherman Kent’s Office of National Estimates as “one of the analysts who could be called upon to write the first drafts of the National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs), as they were called.” In short, then, a position of considerable bureaucratic power.

Prados assures us that though colleagues recalled his “passionate” desire to see Diem toppled, the tone of Carver’s crucial NIE (58-63) of February 1963, “drawn to measure progress in South Vietnam,” was “balanced.” Prados then rather ruins the effect by listing some of its most important conclusions: “At best Carver was saying…the Vietnam struggle would be protracted and difficult due to the many weaknesses of the Saigon regime, including poor morale and leadership, lack of trust, inadequate South Vietnamese intelligence, obvious penetration of the government by Viet Cong spies, and poor tactical use of available troops” (5). This was precisely the kind of boilerplate that was already forming the mainstay of the work of Halberstam, Sheehan et al; and much more dishonest than anything produced by Diem’s defenders in Washington in the same period.

1.John Prados. The Secret History of the Vietnam War (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1995), p.30.

2.George A. Carver, Jr., “The Real Revolution in South Viet Nam,” Foreign Affairs, April 1965, (Vol. 43, No.3), p.399.

3.Ibid., p.386.

4.Prados, op. cit., p.31.

5.Ibid., p.32.

-----------

Paul, please expand on what you mean by more dishonest. Also are you suggesting that the CIA got some of their August-October 1963 coup people involved in another group to make it look like it was a Kennedy backed group? Any of these people overlap with the 1960 coup attempt group in your view?

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Paul, please expand on what you mean by more dishonest.

Sorry, Nat, I should have been clearer. (Brevity is sometimes, alas, no more than the soul of tiredness…)

I was merely alluding to themes touched upon previously in the thread. Humour me while I revisit them.

We are routinely invited to deride Kennedy, Harriman et al – the small group favouring a political settlement, not a military one, along the lines of the Geneva agreements on Laos – for their hypocrisy. Here’s a group of prize hypocrites, this view would have it, which publicly opposed assassination and coup d’etats until it suited, as, allegedly, in Diem’s case in November 1963. Now here’s that remarkable oddity again.

If this version had any truth in it, its advocates would surely seize upon any pre-coup instances of the peace group’s support for Diem to ram home the charge of hypocrisy. And who could blame them, for their interpretation would be true and justified? Yet for the most part, they don’t. Why the silence?

Well, part of the problem lies in the terms in which Kennedy, Harriman et al defended Diem. As we have seen earlier in the thread, courtesy of the estimable Bernard Fall, Harriman’s defence of Diem on a US radio station in February 1963 was anything but starry-eyed. The peace group did NOT harbour any great illusions about the nature of Diem’s government. Furthermore, what was true in Feb ’63 – that there simply was no viable political alternative to Diem – was as true in November of the year as it was eight months earlier. It was particularly true if, as was obviously the case, Kennedy and the peace faction were continuing to push for the political settlement strategy for Vietnam initiated in earnest at Honolulu in the summer of ’62. Diem was essential to it.

A further crucially important factor constraining the scope of the attack on Kennedy and the peace group is to be found in the propaganda myth erected around the work of the CIA’s press group in South Vietnam, the men used to sell us the Agency view – and plan, for Langley works assiduously, if necessarily covertly, to fulfil its own prophecies, thus appearing infinitely sage – embodied in Carver’s Feb 63 NIE.

Halberstam, Sheehan, Browne, and Arnett, to name but four of the most prominent “salesmen,” were sold to the US people as independent truth-seekers, fearlessly telling it like it was in the face of the best endeavours of a schlerotic, delusional, and pro-Diem foreign policy establishment. Recall that Halberstam boasts that Kennedy personally intervened with his publisher in late October 63 to have him recalled; while Arnett has Harriman seeking his removal a month earlier.

You see the problem at once: If Kennedy and the tiny pro-peace deal faction which he headed really were resolved to dish Diem, why on earth would they be seeking the removal of the very US journalists campaigning most vigorously for that very end? It makes no sense. But it does, I submit, account for the above-noted absence of vigour in unearthing and publicizing the peace faction’s public pronouncements in favour of Diem’s retention. In this specific context, to publicize Harriman’s Feb 63 support for Diem would be to leave the unmistakable suggestion, when allied to Arnett’s revelation that Harriman sought his removal in September 63, of continuity in the peace faction’s position. Now that would never do.

In summary, then, we have an apparently blatant disconnect in the CIA version of who advocated what, when, and for what purposes. But the contradictions are superficial and relatively easily accounted for by chronology and context: CIA propaganda requirements shifted as the year progressed; and, post-coup, necessitated the maintenance of mutually contradictory propaganda positions.

The really malign genius of the CIA’s work on Vietnam 1963 was in the realm of propaganda: the image-work with the Buddhists; and, above all, the campaign to create the impression, via selective leaks to the US press, that the peace faction, not the Agency, was driving the campaign in Washington to remove Diem. That’s the real hypocrisy I had in mind.

I'll come back to your other questions when time permits.

Paul

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One very neglected thread of JFK's search for a way out of Vietnam is that leading through London. Traces are rare - I've found them so, anyway - but they exist. Here's two:

Hilaire Du Berrier. Background To Betrayal: The Tragedy Of Vietnam (Mass.: Western Islands, 1965), p. 238: "Through the labor unions of Western Europe and a London group headed by a certain Labor member of Parliament *, Hanoi was kept informed of the Kennedy team's groping for a way out."

"Today's World Report: Truce Moves Reported In Viet Nam," New York World-Telegram & Sun, (Friday), 25 October 1963, p.6: "LONDON - The government of South Vietnam and Communist North Viet Nam are apparently making exploratory contacts that could lead to a truce, diplomatic sources said. There was no official confirmation…Diplomatic sources said the current moves were believed to be aiming at some sort of truce arrangement with possible wider ramifications."

*My best guess, and it is no more than a guess, would be Philip Noel-Baker. For more on his background, see the following links:

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/PRnoelbaker.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Noel-B...aron_Noel-Baker

David J. Whittaker. Fighter for Peace: Philip Noel-Baker, 1889-1982 (York, England: William Sessions Ltd., 1989), pp.312-315:

Noel-Baker “circled the globe in 1962, visiting Canada, the USA, Moscow and…Peking, Hong Kong, and Tokyo…By the summer of 1965…a letter to The Times…lamented the way in which the American President seemed influenced by military advisers and the CIA*…”

*Philip Noel-Baker, “Letter to the Editor: An Authority Diminished – President Johnson’s Policies,” The Times, Monday, 19 July 1965, p.11. The CIA used a favoured creature of the period, Peter Bessell, to reply in The Times to Noel-Baker. Bessell’s letter appeared on 21 July 1965.

A further potential lead on British involvement in Vietnam peace negotiations came earlier this year from a surprising source – the Cottesloe theatre, London, and playwright Nicholas Wright, whose play, “The Reporter,” took as its subject the career and suicide of one-time star BBC reporter James Mossman.

Mossman’s was a household face in the UK in the early-to-mid ‘60s thanks to his appearances, among other places, on Panorama, BBC TV’s flagship current affairs-cum-investigative reportage programme. Founded in 1953, Panorama’s first editor, Dennis Bardens, was a spy-occultist – pre-war he “joined the bohemian and occult circles gathered round Victor Neuberg, the great disciple of Aleister Crowley” before a spot of “secret service work in Czechoslovakia” in the immediate post-war period (1) – who appears to have bequeathed the programme a tradition it was never to loose, as a front for British intelligence. Among the Brit spooks who wound their way onto the programme was James Mossman, who did “undercover work for MI6” earlier in his career (2).

In the summer of 1963, Mossman was in Saigon, where he witnessed “a Buddhist monk immolate himself, like a charred tottering marionette” (3). The inevitable question – was Mossman there on behalf of his former employer, MI6? And if so, what was his role? Mere observer?

One strong clue as to Mossman’s personal assessment of the political situation in Saigon was offered in a pre-curtain up piece for the Guardian by the playwright himself:

I saw him just once after this, early one evening in the Opera Tavern, off Drury Lane. He was with his lover Louis…It was the night of the American-inspired coup that toppled the Diem regime in South Vietnam. Over-awed, I made a stupid remark about it. Mossman was clearly angry about the day’s events and clearly thought I was an idiot. But he took the trouble to put me straight. I’ve reconstructed some of what he said, as well as I can remember it, in my new play The Reporter (4).

The script of the play appears to be unavailable as yet – has anyone reading this seen the play? And recall Wright’s version of what Mossman said the evening of Diem’s overthrow and murder?

(1)C.A.R Hills, “Obituary: Dennis Bardens,” The Guardian, Saturday, 21 February 2004, p.23.

(2)Kate Bassett, “Theatre: The life and loves of a fatal Englishman,” The Independent on Sunday, ABC section, 25 February 2007, p.15.

(3)Ibid.

(4)Nicholas Wright, “The real Jim,” The Guardian, Saturday Review, 3 February 2007, p.14.

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Paul, have you looked at Chapter 8 of Lost Crusader lately? Its worth giving a second look. There is definitely a lot of ammo in there against the argument that Kennedy-Lodge wanted the coup and the CIA didn't (It is put THAT CLEARLY in Legacy of Ashes, which is STILL in the top 40 at

Amazon,sigh). He seems to imply that the CIA kept a second track open through Conein, and this was the real one. He SEEMS TO ME to imply that

this Conein track was still used in November, although he seems a bit timid in saying so directly. That's my reading; its not the most clearly written, and I'm wondering if this might be deliberate fuzzyness, so as not to lose some invites.

At any rate he seems to imply that Richardson was not the real player in August, and the station chief who replaced him was not the key CIA figure in November. No?

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Paul, have you looked at Chapter 8 of Lost Crusader lately? Its worth giving a second look.

Will do - I got it on inter-library loan, got side-tracked, then skimmed it in indecent haste to avoid the fiscal hammering that comes with late return. From what you say, I missed a trick. Ta for the tip.

At any rate he seems to imply that Richardson was not the real player in August, and the station chief who replaced him was not the key CIA figure in November. No?

Agreed - Richardson was essentially a front-man/blind for the more active players until the late August attempted coup, when the CIA institutionally moved into overt opposition to a negotiated settlement. In this, the August '63 coup followed the model established by the November 1960 effort. There, too, the station chief was not central to the attempt.

So from where was control exercised? Stategically, it had to be Washington (or rather its spookiest suburb) for the post-Dallas changes to US policy in Vietnam had to be readied in advance for integration into the broader post-Dallas narrative.

Tactically? That would have to be Saigon -USOM would be my favoured guess.

Paul

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Agreed - Richardson was essentially a front-man/blind for the more active players until the late August attempted coup, when the CIA institutionally moved into overt opposition to a negotiated settlement.

Paul, on what basis should we conclude that John F. Kennedy was one of

the "active players"?

I'm suggesting, of course, that JFK's footprint on the Diem overthrow was light,

indeed.

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I found this acount of the CIA responding to media revelations of 1967 interesting.

Langley would be forded into high gear in its efforts to cope. Director Helms became a member of the

Katzenbach commission, where he could help limit the damage. Deputy Dorector for Plans Desmond

Fitzgerald kept running ti put out the latest fire. There proved to be lots of work for William E. Colby

too. When President Johnson asked for information on links between the CIA and the Asia Society, it

was Colby's FE division that responded. Colby had a personal interest in the assassintaiton inquiry

(more general CIA assassination plots of foerign leaders N.H.) and whether it included the Diem case.

Colby helped the inspector conclude that the CIA had nhad no role in the those unfortunat Saigon events.

This subjective and helping hand is typical of the way Prados makes strong implications of CIA involvement in the Diem coup, without stating

it too directly. Prados shows similar delicacy in describing the Indonesia in 1965. His approach does give valuable information that contradictst official

accounts, but one definitely has a sense that he is typing very carefully, so as not to shut off future interview. Certainly his account is very very different from the mass-marketed accounts of the Diem Coup that blame only JFK.

It also struck me as interesting that this Diem editing took place in a context of a more general Cliff-Noting of CIA history. There seems to have been a whole lot of editing going on in 1967, when it came to CIA history. I wonder was this editing made any easier by Desmond FitzGerald's untimely Tennis Court oath in 1967?

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