5. Memorandum From the Military Assistant-Designate (Haig) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs-Designate (Kissinger)1


  • Processing of Information and Intelligence for the President-Elect

Within the limited time available and the restrictions imposed by a temporary lack of access, I have reviewed the information system currently employed to keep the President and the Special Assistant abreast of the current worldwide situation.2 Summarized below are the principal impressions gained from this review:

  • —Information and intelligence are now fed to the Special Assistant and the President on an “as available” basis, depending on the degree of urgency of the information and the time at which it arrives at the White House Situation Room. Under the current system, the President receives his initial daily briefing in writing. At 6:30 a.m. each morning, he receives the printed CIA Daily Brief, the CIA printed update on the situation in North Viet-Nam, the printed Morning Staff Summary and the printed Joint NMCC–DIA Operational Intelligence Brief. There has been no formal briefing as such. The President also receives each evening the printed State Evening Summary and, when prepared, the State Department Daily Activities Report. All other informational material is furnished during the day as required and as dictated by its degree of urgency. Normally, information is provided by Mr. McCafferty to the Special Assistant with or without covering memo. The Special Assistant in turn forwards it to the President. The nature of the information provided through this system is varied and is both refined and raw. Material received in the White House Situation Room includes (a) cables from all sources (6–700 per day), (b) hard copies of Departmental messages (12–1500 per day), and (c) an average of 5 NODIS messages and 25 EXDIS messages per day. A variety of other informational data including press reports written with each memoranda and reports are also forwarded. Mr. McCafferty and his staff sort out all source material for the Special Assistant which they [Page 20] feel would be of interest to either the President or the Special Assistant. Where additional information is required, Mr. McCafferty’s staff initiates the action to obtain this from the reporting agency. When required, covering memoranda are prepared. During crisis situations information is channeled directly to the President with copies to the Special Assistant. Specifically, the White House Situation Room and its staff function to support the Special Assistant and the President. (I have been informed that on occasion data required by substantive NSC staff officers has not been available and some refinements may be called for in this area.)
  • —The system employed by the President-Elect should be totally responsive to his personal requirements and tailored to his personal schedule. Due to the heavy flow of vital information, I believe the President should receive both written and, at least initially, oral information and briefings. I also believe that where possible, all information provided to the President should be channeled through the Assistant to the President except during non-business hours when anything provided to the President should be provided simultaneously to the Assistant to the President. (You may wish to insist that clearance be obtained from you prior to the relay of off duty emergency information to the President. This is a problem which should be discussed with the President’s Military Aide and the President.) Because reading is an essential part of his informational flow, I would recommend that we retain a reading package to be made available to the President as he desires at the earliest time each morning. This should be followed later in the morning by a briefing presented by you which would be designed primarily to comment on and interpret the reports which he has received, supplemented by any other informational data which has crystallized over the period. Obviously, this briefing will be both informational and operational in the sense that you should comment on key events over the preceding period but also discuss actions which have or should be triggered by these events. In sum, your briefing will undoubtedly become a business session introduced by a summary of key events. I would anticipate preparing notes for your use at these daily meetings. Also on occasion you may wish to be accompanied by Mr. McCafferty or other experts together with illustrative material when the situation dictates.
  • —It is apparent that the system devised for the President-Elect should include consideration of the role that the Military Aide will play in the processing of information. Under President Johnson, Military Aides have been isolated from substantive information and emergency notification to a large extent. I do not believe that Mr. Nixon will continue with this system and will expect Colonel Hughes to be generally cognizant of the run of current information. Consequently, I would suggest that the system adopted be coordinated with the Military Aide to insure that his needs will be met at the outset so as to preclude ad [Page 21] hoc adjustments which might work to our disadvantage. Hopefully, his access to certain written information will suffice.
  • —I would propose few changes in the White House Situation Room initially and would continue to exercise Mr. McCafferty’s current system. Except as noted above, I should be included in the information distribution system prior to the time that it reaches your desk with the assurance that delays will not occur and with the assurance that in my absence, the material will go straight to your desk or in an emergency situation directly to the President. In order to make this system most effective, I should be located in the West Wing, either through the construction of a small office in the main reception room or the occupation of the room which is now occupied by Mr. Schwartz.
  • —Keeping the President informed will be one of the most pressing responsibilities of the Assistant to the President, and the system established initially will unquestionably be modified with experience and as the President’s wishes and modus operandi become clearer. Of major concern in this area is the requirement to prevent being “scooped” by the Departments and members of the Cabinet. Timely information invariably results in substantive reactions and the Assistant to the President must be the primary point of contact with the President. Since, in this sense, information is power, the Departments will undoubtedly attempt to hold back information and intelligence from the Situation Room in an effort to strengthen the hand of their Secretary. Movement in this direction will take the form of legitimate efforts to “restore the authority of the Departments in the interest of required decentralization.” These efforts cannot be tolerated and will require firm handling at the outset of this Administration. Related to this phenomena will be efforts to screen out at Departmental level so called “raw” information and intelligence. This can be expected from CIA and the intelligence community at large. It is essential that multisource reports and estimates continue to be furnished to the NSC so that you will be fully aware of divergencies in this critical area and so that you can be the President’s broker when conflicting estimates exist.

A.M. Haig, Jr.3
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1319, NSC Unfiled Material, 1969. Confidential; Eyes Only.
  2. Haig recounted his hiring and first months as Kissinger’s Military Assistant in his memoir, Inner Circles, pp. 189–202. Roger Morris, an NSC staff member at the time, discussed the same subjects at greater length in his biography, Haig: The General’s Progress (New York: Playboy Press, 1982), pp. 97–105 and 112–117.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.