Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Richard L. Stockman
STOCKMAN: The ambassador at that time was Tuthill.
Q: Jack Tuthill.
STOCKMAN: Yes. You probably know him better than I. He came out of the European area.
Q: He had this program that was called Operation Top Seek which was trying to reduce the size of our embassy, which he claimed had grown just like Topsy. How did this impact on the communication section?
STOCKMAN: I think it impacted in several ways. I think your question is “Would we be able to carry our workload and still reduce the work force?” In actual fact before I had left in 1968 the planning of this Topsy Operation had been pushed forward to a certain point where positions within the communications room were already identified for reduction. What types of positions? Well, they were truly luxury by today's standards. There was a messenger or two who literally drove around the streets of Rio delivering message traffic to USAID, the Peace Corps, etc. The only operation inside the embassy at that time was USIS. The others had their own separate buildings in Rio and were huge operations, particularly USAID.
What other impact? Well, I think it did consume a great deal of his time in planning this and convincing Washington that this situation had gotten out of hand. Certainly he had the classic example of a huge bureaucracy of federal employees in Rio. The very attempt to move the operation to Brasilia put just that much more focus on who was essential and who wasn't. And needless to say I think that was the beginning of downsizing, at least of State in a big time way.
Q: Were you well accepted in Rio?
STOCKMAN: Well, the embassy was such a large operation there that quite honestly there was very little embassy social life to which we were invited. Perhaps one or two occasions a year. I recall one reception where astronauts were there. They were celebrities in those days. That would be one example. Perhaps Thanksgiving and an occasional function of a dignitary.
Q: It was such a big embassy.