Scope and Content
Description (Excerpt from Douglas Pike's Introduction in The Bunker Papers): When President Lyndon Johnson, in the spring of 1967, asked Ellsworth Bunker to become his ambassador in Saigon, then the largest and in some ways most important American embassy in the world, Bunker stipulated as one of his conditions for acceptance that he always have direct access to the President. It was agreed this access would take the form, in part, of a weekly (later, monthly) "back channel" cable from Bunker to the President. Such messages by-passed the standard distribution system within the U.S. government's communication network that included the State Department, the Pentagon, and the CIA (although these agencies and others did receive copies of the cable after the delivery to the President). The intent of the "back channel" message was to assure a direct Bunker-to-President link that no one could short-stop. It was a singular arrangement in the intracommunication process within the U.S. government. Scope: (Excerpt from Douglas Pike's The Bunker Papers) In all there were ninety-six such messages from Bunker to the President, the first dated May 3, 1967, and the last May 5, 1973. Collectively, they form a historical documentation of extraordinary value. They are, by far, the most detailed chronological accounting of events, particularly within the South Vietnamese governmental and political scene, that we are likely to get. They cover the key years marked by the Buddhist demonstrations, the "government by coup d'etat" period, the rise of the political fortunes of generals Nguyen Cao Ky and Nguyen Van Thieu, the 1968 Tet offensive, and the launching of the Paris talks. Box 1 of the collection contains copies of the originals numbered as they appear in the published account and in chronological order. Box 2 contains copy of the material as it became ready for publication. Box 2 also contains Pike's correspondence regarding the publication of the book. Note: (Excerpt from Douglas Pike's The Bunker Papers) In 1988, the University of California's Institute of East Asian Studies, under the Freedom of Information Act, obtained copies of the original telegrams. The Institute's Indochina Studies Project proposed publication as a contribution to the scholarship of America's involvement in the Vietnam War and as a lasting tribute to Ellsworth Bunker, one of the great and truly humane American ambassadors of this century. Subsequently, publication was made possible by a generous grant from The Asia Foundation, headquartered in San Francisco.
Finding Aid, Undated, Douglas Pike Collection: Other Manuscripts - Ellsworth Bunker Papers, The Vietnam Center and Archive, Texas Tech University. Accessed 27 Feb. 2015. <http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/virtualarchive/items.php?item=1790000000>.
Pub. Credit Line
1790000000, Douglas Pike Collection: Other Manuscripts - Ellsworth Bunker Papers, The Vietnam Center and Archive, Texas Tech University