My instructions, when I went down to take over the station were, were ah, were clear. We, we were ah, in that public sense, and indeed our first mission was to look after some POWs, but indeed, below that was to be...report what was going on, in this amorphous unknown sort of situation - what was going on?
But at the edge of that, it was categoric and firm. We were to take no actions, no political actions or, or interfere. Take no steps. I think Wedemeyer let the OSS down there with, with some reluctance, and ah, he, he in any case, his requirements of Heppner were, were that firm, and I went down expecting and ah, intending to live up to my instructions.
So we were intelligence reporting, but ah, at the same time, the sense of the Americans' presence there, and...well...this, I ultimately had to leave, and I learned, I, I, I, the reason I had to leave was the complaint that we were inciting revolution. Well I of course was utterly outraged at a charge like that, and that my state department would take it seriously, but ah, ah in any case, in spite of my outrage, we were out quite soon.
But I, I, I learned afterwards about this, this complaint, and I, I, I now see what the French meant when they said that, because indeed we were talking with the locals, albeit not as political agents, but just um, quietly and not drawing attention to ourselves, trying to understand what was going on, what their aspirations were, what the economy was like, all the things, the panoply of things you do when you grove around to try and advise Washington of what's going on.
Well, the very fact that we explored and asked the Vietnamese, "what do you, what's going on, what do you want to do? What ah, what is the structure of this?" Uh, and that we talked to them man-to-man. Or, I say man-to-man, crosswise. Not in the old colonial position, of superior to subordinate, a role that the Americans, any American is not comfortable in.
This very fact ah, gave the as I gather Sainteny, who originated the complaint that led to my removal ah, I can see what he meant. We, we enthused, we gave excitement to we, we ah, the locals. They said, look, here's someone who understands, who wants to understand what our problems are. Ah, and it stimulated and excited them, and ah, indeed, I guess if I'd been there to re-establish colonial control, I would have said ah, let's not have, we know best wha—how to re-establish our control, and let's not get the locals ideas in, cranked in too deeply.