169. Editorial Note

In his diary entry for January 16, 1972, President’s Assistant H.R. Haldeman noted that Secretary of State Rogers called him that afternoon and “said I have a preemptory memo from Henry [Document 168] [Page 340] and I won’t take it. I have orders from the P[resident] and I’m following those. I thought we had an understanding here that this was a two way thing. The theory is that the P has announced his policy, the State Department’s carrying it out. He doesn’t mind checking with Henry if Henry agrees to check with him too, and now he wants to talk to the P about it. He thinks it’s hurting the whole situation. I raised the question of why the NSC wasn’t in the meetings with the Israelis and he said they’re not there because they’re not supposed to be in operations, especially about the Middle East. He says we’ve been doing this for three years, and it’s worked well. Why should we change it now.” Moreover, Rogers stated, “the P knows all about the Israel stuff, that he has memos from the P about what he should do. That the policy in the Middle East has been good, and he will not have Henry second guessing him all the time. He’s happy to keep the P fully advised. Says the meetings he’s had with Rabin were pursuant to a directive from the P. He doesn’t want the thing to end up as if State is withholding things. The main thing is that K doesn’t keep Rogers advised at all on what he’s doing. For instance he knows nothing about the Russia and China trips except what Al [Haig] told him the other day. Therefore, he will disregard the instructions from K, he’s not working for K.” (The Haldeman Diaries: Multimedia Edition)

During an Oval Office meeting with the President the next day, January 17, Haldeman recounted in detail his telephone conversation with Rogers. Haldeman then commented, “One basic fallacy in this is the principles that Rogers operates on, which is—he goes back to when we first came into office—is that the NSC has nothing to do with operations— that it’s supposed to be a policy body but not an operating body. Now, there was some mumbling of that theory in the early days but it rapidly changed after about an hour after we got into office, and it’s ludicrous to pretend that.” Haldeman continued, “we’ve got to put it to Bill to a certain degree. I think we’ve got to make the point to Bill that he does have to keep you posted and that he keep you posted through Henry. It’s ridiculous to argue otherwise.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Recording of conversation between Nixon and Haldeman, January 17, 1972, Oval Office, Conversation No. 648–4)

Haldeman made the following entry in his diary for January 18: “Then met with the Attorney General, about the KRogers problem. Brought him up to date on a flap from over the weekend as a result of Henry’s directive to Bill. We agreed that we have to change Rogers’ view that the NSC is for policy only and not for operations. And that we have to deal with the point that Al Haig raises of Rogers’ fundamental misconception that if some matter is in the NSC and the SRG then it’s K’s responsibility, otherwise everything else is State’s, and therefore, they cut out State’s reserve, and they misconstrue the whole purpose of the NSC system. We had Henry and Haig join us to lay [Page 341] down the rules to them after Mitchell and I agreed that the only way to solve this was a memorandum from the P to both Rogers and K [Document 170], that would both repeat the K directive, at least the contents of it, but in better form and would instruct K (that would go to and then instruct K) to keep Rogers filled in at the P’s direction.” (The Haldeman Diaries: Multimedia Edition)