165. Editorial Note

Following a discussion in the Oval Office on December 22, 1971 of the Charles Radford-Joint Chiefs of Staff pipeline, the following exchange took place between President Nixon and his Assistant H.R. Haldeman:

Haldeman: The worst thing about it is you start, which we’ve managed to avoid, maybe too much, you start getting paranoid. You start wondering about everything, and everybody, and—

“President: I know. Well, don’t be too damned sure of anybody. Don’t get too sure of anybody.

Haldeman: You can’t be.

“President: I’m never sure of anybody. The reason I am so closemouthed is, did you notice I haven’t [unintelligible] that—let me put it [unintelligible]. Do you not now see why I don’t have staff meetings?

Haldeman: Damn right.

“President: You agree?

Haldeman: Oh yea.

“President: Do you think I’m right?

Haldeman: I sure as hell do.

“President: I don’t have staff meetings. I’d rather—I know it would charge up the staff for me to sit around and talk to them direct, but who knows. First, without evil intentions some would leak.

Haldeman: That’s right.

“President: Beyond that there might be somebody in there, like a little guy like this, that’ll get it all. But the end thing, I tell you whenever there’s anything important you don’t tell anybody. You know, it’s really tough. It’s tough. We don’t tell Rogers, Laird, anybody. We just don’t tell any son-of-a-bitch at all.

Haldeman: It’s a horrible way to have to work, but it’s essential.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Recording of conversation between Nixon and Haldeman, December 22, 1971, Oval Office, Conversation No. 640–3)