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Newly Published Documents Cover the Vietnam War Peace Process “Chennault Affair” also called “Nixon’s October Surprise”

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Newly Published Documents Cover the Vietnam War Peace Process “Chennault Affair” also called “Nixon’s October Surprise”

On October 31, 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced a halt to the bombing of North Vietnam. Johnson believed this would result in peace talks to end the Vietnam War. At the time, Johnson knew that some supporters of the Nixon campaign, chiefly Anna Chennault, were secretly communicating with the South Vietnamese Government in an effort to affect their approach to a peace process.

Anna Chennault was a Chinese-born Republican fundraiser and widow of U.S. Major General Claire Chennault, who led the World War II Flying Tigers.  Records of FBI wiretaps show that Chennault phoned South Vietnam’s ambassador to the United States Bui Diem on November 2 with the message “hold on, we are gonna win.” When he learned of the back-channel communications, President Johnson called the effort “treason.” However, he never made the information public, fearing damaging the presidency as well as having to admit that he used government agencies to spy on Chennault and the South Vietnamese. In addition, Nixon denied involvement in the efforts.

On January 2, 2017, The New York Times reported that historian John A. Farrell, a biographer of Nixon, had found a memo written by H.R. Bob Haldeman of a conversation with Nixon, that some interpret as proof that he was cognizant of Chennault’s actions.

BACM Research - has announced the publishing of a research collection covering these events available at:

The collection contains Johnson and Nixon White House, FBI, CIA, NSA, NSC and State Department files, oral history transcripts, and audio recordings of President Johnson phone conversations related the “Chennault Affair.”

Highlight from this primary source collection includes:

The X-File removed from the White House by Walt Rostow. The White House file on the Chennault matter was maintained by National Security Advisor Walt Rostow,  at the end of the LBJ Administration he removed from the White House and kept it in his personal possession.

Handwritten notes dated Oct. 22, 1968,  by Nixon aide H.R. Haldeman - Notes taken during a phone conversation with Nixon. They include Nixon’s orders to “Keep Anna Chennault working on” South Vietnam, and also separately under the heading Bombing Halt, Nixon is noted as saying: “Any other way to monkey wrench it? Anything RN [Richard Nixon] can do.”

An audio recording of a phone conversation between LBJ and Richard Nixon, LBJ recounts the intelligence he has received concerning  Chennault’s contact with the South Vietnamese.
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 Vietnam War
 President Richard Nixon
 President Lyndon Johnson

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