May 22, 1979 • 2032 • State-Rangoon • 130528

[Editor’s note: This text was released at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1979STATE130528_e.html.]

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STATE 130528
ORIGIN EA-12
INFO OCT-01 ADS-00 H-01 PA-01 ICA-11 DEAE-00 INM-05 CIAE-00 INR-10 NSAE-00 SY-05 MCT-02 /048 R
DRAFTED BY EA/TIMBS:MMEASTON:EVC
APPROVED BY EA/TIMBS:REFRITTS
——————012328 222148Z /65 P

R 222032Z MAY 79
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO AMEMBASSY RANGOON PRIORITY
INFO AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
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E.O. 12065 N/A
TAGS: SNAR, BM, TH
SUBJECT: ANDERSON ARTICLE ON WOLFF TRIP TO BURMA

1. FOLLOWING ARTICLE BY JACK ANDERSON APPEARED IN MONDAY, MAY 21, WASHINGTON POST. BEGIN TEXT:

DRUG KINGPINS PLOTTED TO KILL HILL GROUP THE ASSASSINATION OF REP. LEO RYAN (D-CALIF) WHO WAS GUNNED DOWN BY THE REV. JAMES JONES’ RELIGIOUS FANATICS AT A JUNGLE AIRSTRIP IN GUYANA LAST YEAR, MIGHT REASONABLY HAVE BEEN A LESSON TO STATE DEPARTMENT PERSONNEL RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SAFEGUARDING OF WORLD-TRAVELING MEMBERS OF CONGRESS. BUT FOGGY BOTTOM’S BUREAUCRATS WERE SLOW TO LEARN THE LESSON. SEVERAL CONGRESSMEN ALMOST MET THE SAME FATE AS RYAN’S LAST DECEMBER IN THE STEAMY, GUYANA-LIKE JUNGLES OF BURMA. MERE CHANCE, SAY OUR SOURCES, PREVENTED THEIR

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MASSACRE AT THE HANDS OF COLD-BLOODED KILLERS EVERY BIT AS DANGEROUS AS THE LUNATIC MEMBERS OF JONES’ PEOPLES TEMPLE.

IT SHOULD BE REMEMBERED THAT RYAN’S DEATH — AND THE 900 MURDER-SUICIDES THAT FOLLOWED IT AT THE CULT’S JONESTOWN COMMUNE HOURS LATER — WAS SPARKED BY A CONGRESSIONAL INVESTIGATION OF THE PEOPLES TEMPLE. THE CONGRESSMAN’S CONCERN FOR HIS FORMER SAN FRANCISCO-AREA CONSTITUENTS AND THE FAMILIES THEY HAD LEFT BEHIND LED HIM TO MAKE THE INVESTIGATIVE JOURNEY TO GUYANA THAT RESULTED IN HIS MURDER.

ALTHOUGH THE STATE DEPARTMENT REPRESENTATIVE IN GUYANA DID WARN RYAN AND HIS PARTY THAT THERE WERE RISKS INVOLVED IN HIS TRIP TO JONESTOWN, PRECIOUS LITTLE WAS DONE TO ENSURE HIS SAFETY ONCE HE INSISTED ON PROCEEDING DESPITE THE WARNINGS.

MONTHS LATER, WHEN THE LESSON OF JONESTOWN SHOULD HAVE BEEN DIGESTED BY STATE DEPARTMENT SECURITY EXPERTS, SEVERAL MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE ON NARCOTICS LEFT ON A TRIP TO THE SO-CALLED GOLDEN TRIANGLE OF SOUTHEAST ASIA — THE AREA OF BURMA, THAILAND, LAOS AND VIETNAM THAT IS THE CENTER OF THE OPIUM AND HEROIN TRAFFIC IN THAT PART OF THE WORLD. THIS WAS NO JUNKET. THE CONGRESSMEN WERE GOING TO A DANGEROUS, UNCOMFORTABLE CORNER OF THE GLOBE TO INVESTIGATE THE TRAFFIC IN HARD DRUGS, MUCH OF WHICH ENDS UP IN THE UNITED STATES. THEY WANTED TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE MEN WHO CONTROL THE WORLD’S RICHEST NARCOTICS

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MARKET.

IN AN EARLIER COLUMN, WE IDENTIFIED FROM INTELLIGENCE DOCUMENTS THE INTERNATIONAL KINGPIN OF DOPE PEDDLING -A BURMESE MERCENARY NAMED CHANG CHI-FU.

CHANG’S FELLOW NARCOTICS TRAFFICKERS HAD BEEN EXPOSED BY THE NARCOTICS COMMITTEE, AND THE RELEVATIONS HAD THREATENED TO INTERFERE WITH THEIR BILLION-DOLLAR DOPE OPERATIONS. AS RUTHLESS AS THEY ARE WEALTHY, THE HEROIN MERCHANTS DECIDED TO ELIMINATE CONGRESSIONAL PRESSURE ON THE LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO CRACKDOWN ON THEIR LUCRATIVE TRADE.

THE METHOD WAS TO BE SIMPLE AND DIRECT, SOURCES INFORMED OUR ASSOCIATES JACK MITCHELL AND DALE VAN ATTA: A SMALL ARMY OF MERCENARIES WAS PREPARED TO KILL THE CONGRESSIONAL VISITORS IN BURMA.

THE HOUSE DELEGATION, WHICH INCLUDED REPS. LESTER WOLFF (D-N.Y.), STEPHEN NEAL (D-N.C.), HENRY HYDE (R-ILL) AND ROBERT DORNAN (R-CALIF), WAS TO BE GUNNED DOWN AS THEY WERE FLYING BY HELICOPTER OVER THE BURMESE JUNGLES. ANY SURVIVORS WERE TO BE DISPATCHED BY HEAVILY ARMED GROUND TROOPS FROM THE DOPE MERCHANTS’ ARMY OF MERCENARY BANDITS.

ACCORDING TO CONFIDENTIAL SOURCES, ONLY A LUCKY LASTMINUTE CHANGE IN THE SCHEDULE SAVED THE CONGRESSMENS’ LIVES. THEY LEFT BURMA WITHOUT KNOWING THAT IT HAD ALMOST BECOME THEIR LAST RESTING PLACE. MONTHS LATER THEY LEARNED ABOUT THE WELL-LAID PLOT AGAINST THEIR LIVES. FOOTNOTE: A STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN TOLD US HE COULD NOT PREPARE A STATEMENT BY THE TIME WE WENT TO

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PRESS. END TEXT.

2. THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WERE PREPARED FOR THE MAY 21 NOON PRESS BRIEFING ON A CONTINGENCY BASIS. THEY WERE NOT RPT NOT USED. BEGIN TEXT:

QUESTION: ACCORDING TO JACK ANDERSON, INFORMATION REGARDING AN ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT AGAINST A CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION RECENTLY INVESTIGATING DRUG TRAFFIC IN BURMA WAS NOT TRANSMITTED BY U.S. OFFICIALS TO MEMBERS OF THE DELEGATION UNTIL MONTHS AFTER THE TRIP WAS OVER. WHEN DID THE STATE DEPARTMENT LEARN OF THE PLOT AND WHY DID IT WAIT SO LONG BEFORE INFORMING THE COMMITTEE?

ANSWER: THE U.S. GOVERNMENT DID RECEIVE INFORMATION INDICATING A POSSIBLE THREAT TO THE DELEGATION OF THE HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE ON NARCOTICS TO BURMA IN JANUARY. HOWEVER, THE INFORMATION REGARDING THE POSSIBLE ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT ON CONGRESSMEN WAS RECEIVED BY THE U.S. EMBASSY IN RANGOON ONLY AFTER THE DELEGATION HAD LEFT BURMA. CONGRESSMAN WOLFF WAS INFORMED OF THE SITUATION ON THE NEXT DAY IN BANGKOK, AS SOON AS CREDIBLE INFORMATION WAS RECEIVED.

Q: HOW WAS THE INFORMATION DERIVED AND WAS IT A FAILURE OF THE INTELLIGENCE GATHERING MECHANISM THAT IT WAS NOT RECEIVED BEFORE THE CONGRESSMEN ENTERED THE AREA WHERE THE ATTEMPT MIGHT TAKE PLACE?

A: INTELLIGENCE INFORMATION IS RECEIVED FROM MANY DIFFERENT SOURCES AND EVALUATED AS CAREFULLY AS

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POSSIBLE. HOWEVER, IT IS OUR POLICY NOT TO DISCUSS INTELLIGENCE ACTIVITIES.

Q: IN VIEW OF THE JONESTOWN MASSACRE, DID YOU FULLY APPRAISE CHAIRMAN WOLFF OF THE POTENTIAL DANGERS IN THE AREA?

A: IT IS THE POLICY OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT TO BRIEF CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATIONS FULLY ON ALL POTENTIAL DANGERS THAT MIGHT ARISE ON TRIPS OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES. CONGRESSMAN WOLFF AND THE MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE ON NARCOTICS WERE INFORMED OF THE DANGERS OF THE SITUATION THERE, ALTHOUGH WE DID NOT HAVE THE SPECIFIC THREAT REPORT. MOREOVER, THE CONGRESSMEN WERE ACCOMPANIED ON THEIR TRIP BY HEAVILY ARMED GUARDS OF BURMESE TROOPS TO MEET ANY SECURITY SITUATION WHICH MIGHT ARISE IN TRAVEL TO NORTHEAST BURMA WHERE BANDITS TRAFFICKING IN THE NARCOTICS TRADE OFTEN PRESENT DANGERS.

Q: THE ANDERSON ARTICLE STATES THAT ONLY BECAUSE OF THE CHANGE IN TRAVEL PLANS DID CONGRESSMAN WOLFF AND HIS COLLEAGUES AVOID ASSASSINATION. IS THAT TRUE?

A: PRIOR TO THEIR DEPARTURE FROM WASHINGTON, CONGRESSMAN WOLFF AND HIS COLLEAUGES DID CHANGE THEIR TRAVEL PLANS IN ORDER TO ARRANGE APPROPRIATE OFFICIAL MEETINGS.

Q: DO YOU BELIEVE THIS CHANGE OF SCHEDULE HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE FACT THAT THE ATTEMPT WAS NEVER MADE?

A: WE DON’T KNOW.

Q: THE ANDERSON ARTICLE ALSO ALLEGES THAT A STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN “COULD NOT PREPARE A STATEMENT” BY THE TIME THE ARTICLE WENT TO PRESS. WAS THIS THE CASE?

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A: THE STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICER IN QUESTION REPEATEDLY TOLD THE JACK ANDERSON REPORTER INQUIRING INTO THIS MATTER BY TELEPHONE THAT WE WERE FULLY PREPARED TO DISCUSS THE FACTS ON A FACE-TO-FACE BASIS ON THE RECORD OR FOR BACKGROUND, BUT NOT ON THE TELEPHONE, GIVEN THE SENSITIVITY OF THE INFORMATION. END TEXT.

CHRISTOPHER

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Originally posted on October 23rd, 2020.

Last modified on November 15th, 2020.
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