Response to a Question on American Involvement in South Vietnam, President Kennedy's News Conference, February 7, 1962


Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Volume 2, p. 807


President Kennedy's News Conference, February 7, 1962, Public Papers of the Presidents, Kennedy, 1962, p. 121:

Q. "Mr. President, there seems to be some doubt, at least on the local level and in the region where this is going on, as to the right of the American people and the rest of the world to know the extent of the battle in South Vietnam. Could you tell us, sir, what the situation is there? How deeply are we involved in what seems to be a growing war and what are the rights of the people to know what our forces are doing?"

THE PRESIDENT: "There is a war going on in South Vietnam, and I think that last week there were over 500 killings, and assassinations and bombings and the casualties are high. As I said last week, it is a subterranean war, a guerrilla war of increasing ferocity. The United States, since the end of the Geneva Accord, setting up the South Vietnamese government as an independent government, has been assisting Vietnam economically to maintain its independence, viability and also sent training groups out there, which have been expanded in recent weeks, as the attacks on the government and the people of South Vietnam have increased.

"We are out there on training and on transportation, and we are assisting in every way we properly can the people of South Vietnam, who with the greatest courage and under danger are attempting to maintain their freedom.

"Now, this is an area where there is a good deal of danger and it is a matter of information. We don't want to have information which is of assistance to the enemy and it is a matter which I think will have to be worked out with the government of Vietnam which bears the primary responsibility."


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