235. Memorandum From the Senior Military Assistant (Haig) to the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1
I just wanted to leave you with a list of actions which I interpreted as directives from today's meeting with the President, yourself, Helms and Cushman.2
[1 heading and 4 paragraphs (10 lines of source text) not declassified]
Concerning Laos, the President decided the following:
- He wants maximum B–52 and tactical air strikes in support of the Royal Laotian forces. (Laird has been told this on countless occasions and I thinking he is so doing. In any case, the directive concerning the level of B–52 and tactical air support in South Vietnam and Southeast Asia in general [see Vietnam item #3]3 should ensure that the overall wind down does not cripple these operations.)
- He ordered the movement of the second Thai battalion into Laos and the readying of a third battalion, if required.
- The President indicated that he wanted not only the AK–47's but the 1,000-man packs without being specific as to numbers provided to the Cambodian Government.
- He favored covert airlift under CIA.
- He wanted CIA to actively search out additional initiatives which could be taken in the covert field to support the Cambodians.
- He wanted CIA to get the word out abroad, if not here at home, that the US was prepared to intervene militarily in the event Hanoi initiates direct attacks against Phnom Penh.
- The President raised the problem of the blockade of Sihanoukville. I think Mel Laird should be asked to prepare a formal [Page 823]plan in the event the President decides to implement such a contingency. This should be easy since they have been around the horn on it several times, but we should have a formal plan here.
- The President mentioned that he had ordered attacks against SAM targets in North Vietnam. (As you know, Laird is moving as slowly on this as he can short of refusing to obey the President's instructions. I recommend that you call Laird directly and then have Jon Howe or Winston get Capt. Robinson to check out whatever answers are provided by Secretary Laird.)
- The President indicated that a level of 200 casualties per week in Vietnam would constitute a basis for direct air action against North Vietnam.
- The President instructed you to prepare a directive immediately to Secretary Laird which would require that he maintain the current level of tactical and B–52 air activity in support of operations in Southeast Asia for the next four months. As you know, this is a tricky question and if we give Laird any leeway he will reduce sortie levels regardless of the instructions that he is given. For this reason, I think you should not only provide him the instructions in writing but face him eyeball to eyeball on this issue. You should also provide the Chairman, JCS with a copy of your written instructions to Laird so that we will have some kind of a check on his future actions. Winston is drafting a directive which I think you should also discuss with Larry Lynn without telling Larry that you did not use his memoranda on this subject to get the President's approval for the action being taken. Incidentally, Larry is still working on his financial memorandum which I think could prove to be the most important single paper in the NSC at the moment.
CIA Activities World-wide
1. The President told Helms that he wanted a major step-up in CIA covert activities world-wide and further that Helms should focus on stirring up problems for the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. CIA action programs should be imaginative and include broadcasts and other covert actions.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 506, Country Files, Far East, Cambodia, Vol. III, 10 April 1970–23 April 1970. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Not initialed by Haig. A note on the first page reads: “John Howe; OBE.”↩
- Nixon, Kissinger, Helms, Cushman, and Haig met from 3:40 to 5:10 p.m. in the President's office in the Executive Office Building. Kissinger remained alone with the President until 5:35 p.m. (Ibid., White House Central Files, Daily Diary)↩
- Brackets in the source text.↩