The American president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, had long given the green light for the CIA to plan the elimination of Lumumba, according to Madeleine Kalb in her book, Congo Cables, published by Macmillan in 1982 and based on leaked State Department cables.
Kalb wrote that Robert Johnson, a member of the US National Security Council, testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee in 1975, revealed that during a meeting of the NSC on 18 August 1960, “President Eisenhower said something – I can no longer remember his words – that came across to me as an order for the assassination of Lumumba.”
Minutes of the NSC sub-committee on covert operations of August 1960 were more categorical: “It was finally agreed that planning for the Congo would not necessarily rule out ‘consideration’ of any particular kind of activity which might contribute to getting rid of Lumumba.”
On 26 August 1960, says Kalb, Richard Bissell, the CM special operations chief, asked his special assistant for scientific matters, Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, to prepare biological materials for possible use in the assassination of “an unspecified African leader” … Gottlieb arrived in Kinshasa on 26 September but the plan eventually failed.
Gottlieb later told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he had dumped the poison in the Congo River on 5 October, because the CIA station chief in Kinshasa had been unable to find a secure enough agent with the right access to Lumumba, and also because there were concerns about the potency of the poison which should have been put into Lumumba’s food or in his toothpaste.
The American author Adam Hochschild revealed in his book King Leopold’s Ghost that President Eisenhower had personally given his approval for the assassination of Lumumba.
According to Hochschild, “Richard Bissell later said: ‘The president would have vastly preferred to have him taken care of some way other than by assassination, but he regarded Lumumba as I did, and a lot of other people did, as a mad dog… and he wanted the problem “dealt with”.’ After being arrested and suffering a series of beatings, Lumumba was secretly shot in Elisabethville in January 1961. A CM agent ended up driving around the city with Lumumba’s body in his car’s trunk, trying to find a suitable place to dispose of it.”