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267. Memorandum of Meeting1

PRESENT

  • The President, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Attorney General

SUBJECT

  • Cambodia/South Vietnam

The subject meeting was held in the Oval Office of The President on Tuesday, April 28, 1970, commencing at 10:20 a.m. and lasting for approximately twenty minutes.

The President stated that the purpose of the meeting was to advise those present of the decisions he had reached with respect to the developing situation in South Vietnam and Cambodia. The President further stated that he had had the subject under constant consideration for the past ten days and had taken into consideration all of the information provided by the Director of Central Intelligence, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Admiral McCain and his staff at the briefing in Hawaii. The President further stated that, in arriving at his decision, he had taken into consideration the positions taken by the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense in opposition to the use of U.S. Forces in Cambodia and the fact that Dr. Kissinger was leaning against the recommendation of such use.

The President further stated that the previous day he had made certain inquiries of Ambassador Bunker and General Abrams. The President [Page 905]read his communication to Ambassador Bunker and the Ambassador's reply received late Monday evening.2

The President further stated that, based upon his review of the general Cambodian situation, he had decided not to change the current U.S. position with respect to military assistance to Cambodia or his authorization for the ARVN operation in the Parrot's Beak. The President further stated that he had decided to confirm the authorization for a combined U.S./GVN operation against COSVN headquarters in Fish Hook in order to protect U.S. Forces in South Vietnam. The President expressed the opinion that the COSVN operation was necessary in order to sustain the continuation of the Vietnamization Program and would possibly help in, but not detract from, U.S. efforts to negotiate peace.

The President further stated that he had taken into consideration, in arriving at his decisions, the probable adverse reaction in some Congressional circles and some segments of the public. The President further stated that, in order to establish the record of the events leading to his decisions and the advice he had received concerning the subject matter thereof, the previous evening he had dictated a tape which included the contrary recommendations of the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense.3

At the close of the President's statements he left the Oval Office to attend another meeting in the Cabinet Room. There was no discussion of the subject matter of the meeting by the others in attendance during the presence of the President.

JN Mitchell
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President's Office Files, Box 3, Memorandum for the President, Beginning April 26, 1970. Top Secret; Sensitive. Kissinger describes this meeting in White House Years, p. 502, and prints it on p. 1485. On April 27 at 5:34 p.m., Kissinger told the President that it was Mitchell's view that Laird and Rogers had to know that the President was considering the attack on COSVN, noting that Laird waylaid Mitchell and warned against it. Nixon asked if Kissinger had talked to anyone besides Mitchell. Kissinger replied he had talked to Helms and Wheeler who would support the move into the Parrot's Beak. The President then stated that Rogers briefed him on his testimony before Fulbright: “One thing certainly happened: Rogers is selling the Parrot's Beak to the Senators since we moved into the COSVN thing.” Kissinger agreed with the President that they would “take heat” for the decision. The President responded: “You take the heat if you don't do anything. You take it for the Parrot's Beak, COSVN. Rogers and Mansfield will attack us for COSVN. If we lose the whole thing, what will they say?” Kissinger replied that “Vietnamization is a failure.” Nixon replied: “We are not going to lose that way.” (Transcript of telephone conversation between Nixon and Kissinger, April 27; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 363, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)
  2. Documents 265 and 266.
  3. Not found.