Chuỵện xưa tích cũ mùa ôn dịch,thiên/nhân tai
The Documents?/tài liệu
Document 01CIA, Information Report, “Ngo Dinh Nhu Comments on Buddhist Infiltration by Viet Cong…,” July 24, 1963 1963-07-24 Source: John F. Kennedy Library: JFK Papers: National Security File; Country File, b. 198, f.: “Vietnam, 7/21-7/31/63.”
CIA Saigon Station Chief John Richardson met with Ngo Dinh Nhu for a conversation that focused primarily on the evolving Buddhist crisis. Nhu commented that the South Vietnamese military officers, many of whom were Buddhist themselves, started off in sympathy with the Buddhists following the uprising that occurred in Hue on May 8. Since then, however, some officers turned against the movement once the political aims of some Buddhist leaders became more apparent, blaming the Diem government for being ineffective in dealing with the problem. In a meeting with Nhu, some officers went so far as to express interest in taking part in a coup. Nhu claimed he was prepared to join them – which could have been an effort to unmask the coup plotters and their grievances rather than a genuine statement of support.
Document 02JFK tape of meeting with Lodge, August 15, 1963. 1963-08-15 Source: JFK Papers: Kennedy Tapes, Tape/Conversation 104/A-40/004Audio recording of President John F. Kennedy conversation with U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam, Henry Cabot Lodge, August 15, 1963
Document 03Transcription of Kennedy-Lodge meeting tape, August 15, 1963 1963-08-15 Source: JFK Papers: Kennedy Tapes, Tape/Conversation 104/A-40/004; transcription by Luke Nichter.Newly appointed U.S. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. met with President John F. Kennedy alone in the Oval Office for his farewell meeting prior to leaving for Vietnam. Lodge began with a summary of his conversation the night before with Than Thi Nam Tran, wife of Vietnamese Ambassador to the U.S. Tran Van Chuong, and mother of Madame Nhu. Kennedy and Lodge discussed the kinds of challenges Lodge was likely to face upon arrival, and how he proposed to deal with the Diem government. Kennedy became more specific when he said, “The time may come, though, we’ve gotta just have to try to do something about Diem, and I think that’s going to be an awfully critical period.” While never directly speaking about a “coup,” Kennedy signaled that he was willing to accept regime change under certain circumstances. Lodge warned how difficult it could be to control such an event, noting that Madame Nhu’s mother believed that she, along with Diem and Nhu, were “all going to be assassinated.”
1963-08-20 Source: LBJ Library: Ball Papers, b.7, f.: “Vietnam I (1/15/62-10/4/63.”While Lodge was still in transit to Vietnam, Diem declared martial law and his military forces raided the Buddhist pagodas that were believed to be sheltering those behind the latest anti-government protests. While Diem had promised outgoing U.S. Ambassador Frederick Nolting that he would make no such move against the Buddhists, Harriman and Ball were no longer sure of Diem’s intentions. Diem and Nhu seemed to desire to present Lodge with a fait accompli regarding the Buddhists upon his arrival in Saigon.
Document 05CIA, Information Report, “Ngo Dinh Nhu’s Statements on the Government Actions …,”, August 23, 1963 1963-08-23 Source: JFK Papers: NSF: Country File, b. 198, f.: “Vietnam 8/21-8/30/63.”Ngo Dinh Nhu explained to U.S. officials the series of events that led to the pagoda raids and the declaration of martial law. Nhu claimed that Ngo Dinh Diem himself approved the pagoda raids against the Buddhists in response to demands made by South Vietnamese army officers for Diem to deal with recent political agitation in Saigon. Nhu suggested that he was not a central figure in the actions undertaken against the Buddhists, although he was in support of them. Nhu thought it would take involvement by the United States to seek an end to the present crisis.
Document 06Thomas L. Hughes, “Thomas L. Hughes, notes of conversations with Mike Forrestal and Roger Hilsman…,” August 24-28, 1963 1963-08-24 Source: Thomas L. Hughes Papers, Courtesy of Thomas Hughes.Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research Thomas L. Hughes made notes of White House conversations with National Security Council staff member Michael Forrestal and Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs Roger Hilsman during August 24-28, 1963, which he referred to as “coup planning week.” Vietnam took up most of the discussions, including criticism of Nhu’s explanation for the series of events that led to the pagoda raids – which Forrestal said was “what he wanted us to hear.” They agreed that the Diem government could not survive another 12 months. Forrestal also commented, without further elaboration, that others had not been privy to the “latest Lodge-JFK private communications. The implication is that Mike [Forrestal] is.”
Document 07CIA, The President’s Intelligence Checklist, August 24, 1963 1963-08-24 Source: CIA electronic reading room; declassified July 24, 2015.The President’s Intelligence Checklist for August 24, 1963 concluded that Nhu is believed to be behind the recent antagonism against the Buddhists and the imposition of martial law in Saigon. At the same time, there was infighting within the ranks of the South Vietnamese army officers, and the latest turmoil is likely to be only the first phase in a new wave of instability. Compare this redaction with the one on page 626 of Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, v. III, Vietnam, January-August 1963. Government Printing Office 1991).
Document 08State Department, Cable, Saigon 340, [Lodge’s initial meeting with Diem], August 26, 1963 1963-08-26 Source: JFK Library: John Newman Papers: “Notebook, August 24-31, 1963.”Newly arrived U.S. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. held his first meeting with South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem on August 26. According to Lodge’s report of the two-hour discussion, many of the points he raised were nearly verbatim with those he discussed with Kennedy on August 15 – including the importance of U.S. public opinion, the role of Madame Nhu, and the recent unrest in Saigon. Lodge told Diem that he knew little about Vietnam but hoped to advise him on American affairs.
Document 09Joint Chiefs of Staff, Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities, Memorandum for the Record, “Meeting at the White House, 1600, 27 August 1963; Subject: Vietnam,” August 27, 1963 1963-08-27 Source: National Defense University: Maxwell D. Taylor Papers, Vietnam, Chapter XXIII, T-172-68.Compared to other versions of Memoranda of Conversation of an August 27 meeting between Kennedy and his aides following William Colby’s briefing, this rendition by Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Victor Krulak on behalf of the Joint Chiefs of Staff illuminates new details. Secretary of State Dean Rusk proposed that regular meetings of the group be conducted similar to the Cuban Missile Crisis meetings of the Ex Comm. While Colby emphasized that Saigon had stabilized, Kennedy asked numerous questions about the likelihood of success should the disaffected generals move forward with a coup attempt. Compare this to Items 6 (audio), 7 and 8 of E-book 302, December 11, 2009.
Document 10NSC Notes, Bromley Smith handwritten notes of White House meeting, August 28, 1963, Noon. 1963-08-28 Source: LBJ Library: Bromley K. Smith Papers, b. 24, f.: Meetings on Vietnam, August-November 1963.”In a follow-up meeting the next day, another briefing by William Colby summarized the scene in Saigon. The discussion that followed is remarkable for the unanimity that had developed among nearly all of Kennedy’s advisors against Diem. While the forces at the disposal of the coup plotters remained inferior to those commanded by Diem and Nhu, if the U.S. were to back a coup attempt it was important that it was successful. By the end of the meeting, Kennedy asked for a cable to be sent to Lodge and Harkins to get their appraisal whether a coup could be successful. Compare this with Items 9 (audio), 10 and 11 of E-book 302, December 11, 2009.
Document 11Joint Chiefs of Staff, Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities, Memorandum for the Record, “Meeting at the White House, 1200, 28 August 1963; Subject: Vietnam,” August 28, 1963 1963-08-28 Source: National Defense University: Maxwell D. Taylor Papers, Vietnam series, Chapter XXIII, T-172-69.In Krulak’s record of the same meeting (Document10), figures like Robert McNamara, George Ball, Averell Harriman were more forceful figures – with the latter most going so far as to say that the U.S. will lose South Vietnam if there is not a successful coup to topple the Diem government. McNamara and Ball also agreed that there was much to do to prepare for a coup; once the U.S. agreed to back it, the major challenge was to see that it was successful. Former Ambassador Frederick Nolting seemed to be the lone dissenting voice, arguing that Diem was the only figure who could hold South Vietnam together. Compare this with Document 10 here, and Items 9 (audio), 10 and 11 of E-book 302.
Document 12NSC, Notes, Bromley Smith handwritten notes of White House meeting, August 28, 1963, 4 PM. 1963-08-28 Source: LBJ Library: Bromley K. Smith Papers, b. 24, f.: “Meetings on Vietnam, August-November 1963.”Bromley Smith again took notes of another meeting held that afternoon. Kennedy reported that Lodge and Harkins said that the generals in Saigon did not seem very enthusiastic for a coup. While in support themselves, Lodge and Harkins did not feel as though U.S. support had gone so far that the only option was to have a coup. There was still time to pull back. Kennedy said his two top officials in Saigon should build up the coup forces, since at present it did not look as though they could successfully topple Diem. Harriman again said that the U.S. would lose South Vietnam if the coup fails, which was necessary because the political situation was bound to disintegrate further under Diem. Compare this with Document 11 here, and with Items 9 (audio), 10 and 11 in E-book 302.
Document 13CIA, Memo, “Sequence of [CIA] Contacts with Vietnamese Generals, 23 August through 23 October, 1963,” October 23, 1963 1963-08-23 Source: Assassination Records Review Board release, document 177-10001-10466.Tucked away in Roger Hilsman’s papers, a portion of which were deposited later at the Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library, was a CIA-created timetable of Agency contacts with South Vietnamese generals from August 23 through October 23. One can see the flurry of activity in August, during the first serious discussion of a coup shortly after Lodge’s arrival in Saigon. Following that there is a relative lull, then contact picks up again in early October when the coup forces were more potent and prepared to make their final push.
Document 14State Department, Cable, Saigon 371, [Kattenburg meets with Diem], August 29, 1963 1963-08-29 Source: JFK Library: John Newman Papers, “Notebook, August 24-31, 1963.”Deputy Director of the Office of Southeast Asian Affairs, Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs, Department of State, Paul Kattenburg met with President Diem for three hours on August 28. Diem said that the Buddhist uprising had been resolved. Kattenburg reported he was hardly able to speak more than once or twice in what was primarily a one-sided monologue by Diem – who said he was “ready to die” even while vigorously defending the policies of his government over the previous months.
Document 15CIA, Information Report, “Views of Ngo Dinh Nhu on Possible Reduction in Foreign Aid and on ‘Provocative Acts’ by Foreigners,” September 12, 1963 1963-09-12 Source: (JFK Papers: NSF: Country File, b. 199, f.: “Vietnam 9/11-9/17/63, CIA Reports.”On the evening of September 7, Ngo Dinh Nhu called a meeting of all senior South Vietnamese military commanders in the Saigon area. Nhu spoke out in response to signals that the U.S. planned to cut foreign aid, dismissing the speculation by saying that South Vietnam had sufficient reserves to operate for twenty years. At the same time, Nhu ordered soldiers to fire upon Americans and other foreigners involved in acts intended to be hostile toward South Vietnam.
Document 16State Department, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Memorandum, Thomas L. Hughes to Roger Hilsman, “Our Views on the Make-up of a New Government in Vietnam,” September 14, 1963 1963-09-14 Source: JFK Library: Roger Hilsman Papers: Country File, b. 4, f.: “Vietnam 9/11—9/20/63 [II]As the fall progressed in Washington, numerous lists were drawn up of South Vietnamese leaders who could potentially replace the Diem government. These lists frequently overlooked Vice President Nguyen Ngoc Tho, who would ordinarily have been Diem’s constitutional successor. Another consistent theme among American planners was that there was no clear frontrunner, and it was unclear whether the next government would be civilian or whether it would share power with the military for a time.
Document 17State Department, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Memorandum, Thomas L. Hughes to Dean Rusk, “The Problem of Nhu,” September 15, 1963 1963-09-15 Source: National Security Archive: George McT. Kahin donationThe following day, Hughes wrote to Secretary of State Dean Rusk on the subject of Nhu. While a popular proposal in Washington had been to somehow separate Diem from Nhu, Hughes explained why it would be difficult to achieve that: Diem and Nhu were more inseparable than ever. At the same time, there was a growing view within the South Vietnamese government that Nhu was “disliked, hated, feared, or distrusted at all levels in the bureaucracy, the military establishment and urban elite circles.”
Document 18CIA, Cable, Saigon 1445, [Conein meets with Tran Van Don], October 5, 1963 1963-10-05 Source: JFK Papers: NSF: Country File, b.200, f.: Vietnam 10/6—10/14/63, CIA Reports.”After a September lull, the coup plotters in Saigon began to strengthen in early October. On the morning of October 5, Lucien Conein, acting as intermediary, met with Gen. Duong Van “Big” Minh. While Minh said he did not expect U.S. support for a coup, he wanted to ensure that no effort would be made to thwart a change in government. In addition, Minh said it was vital that American foreign aid would continue to flow after a coup. In reviewing the different ways to achieve a change in government, “assassination,” Minh said, “was the easiest plan to accomplish” – although he disavowed any political ambitions himself.
Document 19CIA, Cable, DIR 73661, [DCI directs withdrawal of recommendation on assassination], October 6, 1963 1963-10-06 Source: Center for National Security Studies FOIA request.Once American policymakers became aware that the coup plotters considered assassination a potential part of their plan they proceeded very carefully. Officials in Saigon, especially Conein, who acted as intermediary with the coup plotters, were instructed to listen to their plans but to avoid having any input or recommending any specific option – especially regarding assassination.
Document 20U.S. Senate, Church Committee, Record Notes, [Regarding McCone comments on assassination and Conein meeting with Duong Van Minh], June 29, 1975 1975-06-29 Source: Assassination Records Review Board release, document 157-10014-10227.According to recollections by DCI John McCone, made in the course of interviews conducted by the Church Committee in 1975, he met with President John F. Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy on or around October 5 after Conein reported that Big Minh discussed a possible assassination plan. McCone said he discouraged Kennedy from supporting a coup unless a suitable replacement for Diem was identified. McCone said he felt that Kennedy agreed.
Document 21CIA, Cable, Saigon 1896, [Conein meets with Tran Van Don, angry at General Harkins], October 23, 1963 1963-10-23 Source: JFK Papers: NSF: Country File: b. 204, f.: “Vietnam Subjects: Top Secret Cables (Tab C) 10/3-10/27/63.”After Conein had provided assurance to Big Minh that the U.S. would not thwart a coup, General Tran Van Don asked Conein why General Paul Harkins, Commander, U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), said the day before that it was the wrong time for a coup and that the planners should desist in their efforts. According to Conein’s report to CIA Headquarters, he did not address Harkins’ comments but assured Don that Lodge would speak to Harkins.
Document 22State Department, Cable, CIA channel, Saigon 1906, Henry Cabot Lodge to Dean Rusk, [Confrontation between Ambassador Lodge and General Harkins], October 23, 1963 1963-10-23 Source: JFKPapers: NSF: Country File: b. 204, f.: “Vietnam: Subjects: Top Secret Cables (Tab C) 10/3-10/27/63.”Lodge spoke with Harkins on the afternoon on October 23. Harkins, a long-time friend of Lodge’s from their upbringing in Massachusetts and shared time in the U.S. Army, expressed regret for his remarks and said he would inform Don that his comments did not reflect official U.S. Government policy.
Document 23CIA, Cable, Saigon 1925, [Conein meeting with Tran Van Don], October 24, 1963 1963-10-24 Source: JFK Papers: NSF: Country File, b. 204, f.: “Vietnam: Subjects: Top Secret Cables (Tab C) 10/3-10/27/63.”On the morning of October 24, Don saw Conein at Tan Son Nhut airport. Don reported that Harkins clarified that his remarks about the non-desirability of a coup were inadvertent. They agreed that the coup plotters would deal only with Conein in the future.
Document 24State Department, Memorandum of Conversation, “Viet-Nam,” [White House meeting, October 29,1963, 4 PM 1963-10-29 Source: JFKL: Roger Hilsman Papers, b. 4, “White House Meetings 8/26/63-10/29/63, State Memoranda.”In a meeting between President Kennedy and his top advisors, even at that late hour they seemed divided over a possible coup. Colby said the coup forces were roughly equal in strength to those that remained loyal to Diem. Attorney General Kennedy said he did not think a coup made sense in terms of U.S. policy objectives, while Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara echoed concern about the effect a coup could have on war progress. Rusk said that a cable should be sent to Lodge to assess the proposed coup and whether the U.S. should try to more actively exert influence. Compare to Documents 18 and 19, and the audioclip in the E-book of November 5, 2003.
Document 25CIA, The President’s Intelligence Checklist, November 1, 1963 1963-11-01 Source: CIA electronic reading room.The President’s Intelligence Checklist for the morning of November 1 began with an update that a coup had begun in Saigon. While it was too soon to know the outcome, it appeared that Big Minh had gained the backing of all major combat units. While Diem had not yet surrendered, the coup plotters planned to set up a civilian government as soon as the coup was over.
Document 26President Ngo Dinh Diem’s Handwritten Notes [with English translation], November 1, 1963 1963-11-01 Source: Courtesy Luke A. Nichter.In an extraordinary series of notes made by Diem during the coup from his bunker under Gia Long Palace, discovered by Luke Nichter in November 2016 at National Archives II in Ho Chi Minh City, Diem struggled to regain control. Hoping that forces from the south would liberate Saigon, as had occurred during the coup attempt in 1960, Diem ordered all armed forces and paramilitary units to “rise up to join me in fighting off the traitors.” Diem would be killed within a matter of hours.
Document 27CIA, The President’s Intelligence Checklist, November 2, 1963 1963-11-02 Source: CIA electronic reading room.The President’s Intelligence Checklist for the morning of November 2 led with the deaths of Diem and Nhu in the wake of what appeared to have been a successful coup. While the details of their deaths were inconclusive, the mood in Saigon was jubilant. Categories: Third World and Decolonization
Wars and Conflicts Regions: Southeast Asia Events: Vietnam War, 1954-1975 Project: Vietnam
President Kennedy meets with newly-appointed Ambassador to South Vietnam Henry Cabot Lodge. Oval Office, August 15, 1963 (Photo: Abbie Rowe; JFK Library, AR8072-A).
Vice President Johnson, Ngo Dinh Diem, and Ambassador Frederick Nolting in South Vietnam’s Presidential Palace in 1961 (Wikipedia).
CIA operative Lucien Conein, who was a liaison to the generals leading up to the coup, in an undated photo from the 1960s (Credit: William J. Rust; from Rust’s article on Conein in Studies in Intelligence (cia.gov).
General Tran Van Don, one of the coup plotters and a point of contact for CIA operative Lucien Conein (generalhieu.com).
Lodge was the first diplomat to meet with LBJ as president. He had returned to consult with JFK about the coup, learned while en route that Kennedy had been killed, and instead briefed LBJ while still in his EOB office (along with Dean Rusk, Robert McNamara, and George Ball). (Credit: LBJ Presidential Library).
Ngo Dinh Nhu, brother of President Diem, and Madame Nhu. Nhu was killed along with his brother on November 2, 1963. Photo undated (peacehistory-usfp.org).
The Archive is indebted to Dr. Roland Popp, researcher at the Swiss Military Academy ETH Zurich, for Documents 9 and 11.
 Thomas L. Hughes, telephone interview, September 12, 2020.
 Rufus Phillips, Why Vietnam Still Matters: An Eyewitness Account of Lessons Not Learned. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2008, pp. 183-186.
 State cable, DepTel 412, EYES ONLY, September 15, 1963. Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, v. IV: Vietnam, August-December 1963. Ed. Edward C. Keefer. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1991, p. 212 (hereafter cited as “FRUS” with page number).
 Accounts of the CIA meetings with General Khiem on September 16 (CIA Saigon cable 0940) and 26 (Saigon cable 1222) appear in FRUS, IV, pp. 239-240 and 291-292.
 Joint Chiefs of Staff Memorandum, General Maxwell D. Taylor and Secretary Robert C. McNamara-President John F. Kennedy, October 2, 1963. FRUS, IV, pp. 336-346.
 CIA Saigon cable 1385, October 3, 1963, ibid., p. 354.
 CIA, Saigon cable 1447, October 5, 1963, cited in Thomas L. Ahern, CIA and the House of Ngo: Covert Action in South Vietnam, 1954-1963. Central Intelligence Agency: Center for the Study of Intelligence, 2000 (declassified February 19, 2009), p. 195.
 This quote appears in the Church Committee’s interim report on Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders (p. 221), as well as the note card we present here, compiled by committee staffer Rhett Dawson on June 29, 1975. The quote has been used in virtually every account of the Diem coup written since that time. I have been unable to find the claimed McCone quote in any contemporary record. Similarly, Alleged Assassination Plots quotes two CIA cables sent to Saigon, respectively, on October 5 and 6, of which only the latter message seems to exist in the public domain (DIR 73661, here presented as Document 19). Neither message, nor the McCone quote, appears in the Foreign Relations of the United States for example, and only the October 6 cable is in a study the agency’s Inspector General subsequently did of the Diem coup.
 Document number deleted, October 28, 1963, FRUS, v. IV, p. 449.
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