290. Transcript of a Memorandum to the President’s Assistant (Haldeman) Dictated by President Nixon1

[Omitted here is the first part of the memorandum.]

I am attaching to this memorandum a very good memorandum I received from Ehrlichman2 on the intelligence community. Schlesinger’s report3 is brilliant, and must be implemented in a number of directions.

Here, however, you have a very delicate responsibility. What you must do is to convince Henry of the necessity of my appointing Schlesinger as the top White House man responsible for reorganizing the intelligence community and in charge of intelligence activities. It’s of course going to be in Henry’s shop, but Schlesinger must be the man in charge.

I say this for a number of reasons, of which the following are the most important:

The Congress is particularly jealous of its authority in the intelligence field. If they got the impression that the President has turned all intelligence activities over to Kissinger all hell will break loose. If on the other hand I name the new Director of CIA Schlesinger as my top assistant for intelligence activities we can get it by the Congress.
Henry simply doesn’t have the time to spend which is needed, to spend on this project which is needed. The fact that I have been bugging him and Haig for over 3 years to get intelligence reorganized with no success whatever proves that point. For example, just read Schlesinger’s report of 2 years ago and note it has not been implemented in any respect and you can see what the problem is.
Henry cannot move in this field [unclear], due to his very close contact with Haig. Haig with all of his superior qualities is after all a part of the present system.
Hanging over this whole intelligence question is FIAB. It is a prestigious group, but instead of really being independent, being an independent advisory group, it really represents various segments of the status quo in the intelligence community. FIAB will vigorously oppose many of the attempts to reorganize intelligence.

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With all these problems, you can see that it’s going to take some pretty skillful management. I am now suggesting that you sit down at a time when everybody is in a very congenial frame of mind with Kissinger and with Ehrlichman and also with Schlesinger. The four of you then should have it out with regard to how this intelligence problem should be handled. In the meantime Ehrlichman’s recommendation that Ash conduct an independent study with regard to the management side of intelligence is right on the mark. Let’s get that going immediately. Once Ash has his teeth dug into this thing, he should also sit in with the rest of you and develop a recommendation for me on the intelligence matter.

There is one weakness in the Schlesinger memorandum which I want you to have corrected in your discussions. He [unclear] points out that we have to get rid of the overlapping, etc., and particularly to cut down on the enormous expenditures of the Defense Department for intelligence. On the other hand he does not emphasize as much as I would like the need to improve quality as well as reduce quantity of top intelligence people in the CIA itself. The CIA, like the State Department, is basically a liberal establishment bureaucracy. I want the personnel there cut in at least half—no, at least by 35 to 40 percent— and I want a definite improvement in so far as attitudes of those in CIA with regard to our foreign policy. There are some very good men there, but the great majority are the old [unclear] Georgetown crowd. [The last few words before the tape ends are unintelligible.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Oval Office, Conversation No. 828–6. No classification marking. The President dictated the memorandum in the Oval Office sometime between 10:12 and 10:44 a.m. The editors transcribed the portion of Nixon’s remarks printed here specifically for this volume. A copy of the memorandum has not been found. Nixon’s verbal instructions for punctuation and paragraphing have not been transcribed.
  2. Not found.
  3. Printed as the second attachment to Document 229.