67. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) and Secretary of Defense Laird1

K: I had an opportunity to talk about the Stennis matter with the President. He doesn’t want Cambodia in there.2

L: I will talk to him then and see what we can do.

K: He has no intention—you know his theory.

L: He said perhaps after the election that if Cambodia was strong it would be a reason for compromise.

K: He was very strong on it.

L: We will take that position but we may get beat. Stennis thinks he has to do it. I will tell him we will oppose it.

K: Want me to call him?

L: No. I will tell you if we have to go beyond that.

K: The President is going to call us all together in the next day or two and he will tell Rogers himself.

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L: Wait until Wed.3 Things leak like a sieve. Even your meetings.

K: I was outraged.

L: No one over here even knows about those meetings.

K: It’s awful and makes us look to the Russians like we are putting the arm on them.

L: We put out a battle statement over there and they have for years.

K: He doesn’t want it any more.

L: We can’t stop it.

K: Some people are keeping their own tally.

L: They have always done it but they are always wrong. When the deaths come out this week it will be 32—not 41. These reporters report on deaths and add totals and always come out wrong.

K: Will you get that straight. If they could be discredited—

L: Our reporters know it. They are always wrong. We can keep telling them our official report is on Thurs.4 Our report will be 32.

K: One other point, there was some feeling over here that Adm. Mack on commenting on the pot thing took a hardboiled attitude. “Sure, what are they going to do?” instead of showing concern.

L: I agree. I took care of that. The whole thing is bad.

K: They want to be sure we show concern about that.

L: I want to talk to you about the S. Vietnamese government on that. We have evidence that high officials in the SVN Government are involved in that. I don’t know how to handle it. One is visiting here next week. I have shut off the investigators.

K: We will talk about it.

L: It would be bad if it focused.

K: I will see you soon.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Box 7, Chronological File. No classification marking.
  2. On November 13 at about 6 p.m., Laird called Kissinger to inform him that Senator Stennis wanted to include in the new Appropriations Act language prohibiting U.S. combat ground troops in Cambodia in addition to Laos and Thailand, as was the case in the 1969 Appropriations Act. Kissinger responded: “The President never committed himself not to going back in. He doesn’t intend to, but he doesn’t want the other side to think we won’t.” Kissinger told Laird he would check with the President. (Ibid.)
  3. November 18.
  4. November 19.