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U.S. Correspondents Restricted in Vietnam

May 4, 1963 - A potentially explosive document in the hands of a House subcommittee is reported to lay down Administration guidelines for restricting movements of American correspondents covering the war in South Vietnam. Sources familiar with the document, a message to Frederick Nolting, the American ambassador in Saigon, said it contains two main points on how to deal with U.S. newsmen. (Pictured below is David Halberstam, New York Times Vietnam correspondent.)

1. Keep them away from areas where fighting is being done entirely or almost entirely by U.S. troops.

2. Keep them away from any area which will show the extent of President Ngo Dinh Diem’s failure to attract the full allegiance of the South Vietnamese people.

Pledged to secrecy, the House subcommittee on foreign operations and government information plans to hold closed hearings on the directive later this month. At issue: Is the document properly classified as a “confidential” military secret, or is it being covered up because it might embarrass the Kennedy Administration’s relationship with the authoritarian Diem regime? The document, signed by Secretary of State Dean Rusk, is more than a year old. But it is still in effect. The House subcommittee is conducting a wide-ranging inquiry into censorship and charges of “news management.”


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