Now on Mr. Ambassador on August 24 a telegram was sent to you from Washington. I'd like to read some passages from it.
It said the US government cannot tolerate a situation in which power lies in Nhu's hands. Diem must be given a chance to rid himself of Nhu and his coterie and replace them with the best military and political personalities available.
If, inspite of all your efforts Diem ren, remains obdurate and refuses, then we must face the possiblity that Diem himself cannot be preserved.
And a little while later it says we are prepared to accept the obvious implication that we can no longer support Diem. You may also tell the appropriate military commanders we will give them direct support in any interim period of breakdown of the central government mechanism.
Now on the next day after receiving this, according to the documents, your reply to Washington said that you believed that the chance of Diem's meeting our demands are virtually nil.
Therefore, er, according to this telegram you sent to Washington, you proposed that we go straight to the generals with our demands without informing Diem and you would tell them we are prepared to have Diem without Nhu but it is in effect up to them to decide whether to keep him.
And if I can go on just to one more cable that you sent to the Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, on the 29th of August you say, "We are launched on a course from which there is no respectable turning back. The overthrow of the Diem government. There is no possibility in my view that the war can be won under the Diem administration. Still less that Diem or any member of his family can govern the country in a way to gain the support of the people who count, not to mention the American people. So that I am personally in full agreement with the policy which I was instructed to carry out which is the earlier telegram. The chance of bringing off a general's coup depends on them to
some extent but it depends at least as much on us. We should proceed to make an all out effort to get the generals to move promptly."
Now did this in fact lead us to support the overthrow of the Diem government? How would you explain these telegrams in terms of what we actually did and our responsibility the situation at that time?
I don't remember part of that last part. Ummm my, I do remember my instructions from President Kennedy, which was not to thwart the attempts of certain persons to overthrow the government. Not to help them. Not to assist them in their planning. But not to thwart their attempts to have the coup and as far as I'm concerned that was US government policy because it was given to me personally by President Kennedy.