Learn about the beta

Sources

Sources for the Foreign Relations Series

The 1991 Foreign Relations statute requires that the published record in the Foreign Relations series include all records needed to provide comprehensive documentation on major U.S. foreign policy decisions and significant U.S. diplomatic activity. It further requires that government agencies, departments, and other entities of the U.S. Government engaged in foreign policy formulation, execution, or support cooperate with the Department of State by providing full and complete access to records pertinent to foreign policy decisions and actions and by providing copies of selected records. Most of the sources consulted in the preparation of this volume have been declassified and the collections are available for review at the National Archives and Records Administration.

The editors of the Foreign Relations series have complete access to all the retired records and papers of the Department of State: the central files of the Department; the special decentralized files (“lot files”) of the Department at the bureau, office, and division levels; the files of the Department’s Executive Secretariat, which contain the records of international conferences and high-level official visits, correspondence with foreign leaders by the President and Secretary of State, and memoranda of conversations between the President and Secretary of State and foreign officials; and the files of overseas diplomatic posts. All the Department’s indexed central files through July 1973 have been permanently transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration at College Park, Maryland (Archives II). The Department’s decentralized office (or lot) files covering the 1969–1976 period, which the National Archives deems worthy of permanent retention, have been transferred or are in the process of being transferred from the Department’s custody to Archives II.

The editors of the Foreign Relations series also have full access to the papers of President Nixon and other White House foreign policy records. Presidential papers maintained and preserved at the Presidential libraries and the Nixon Presidential Materials Project include some of the most significant foreign affairs-related documentation from the Department of State and other Federal agencies including the National Security Council, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Dr. Henry Kissinger has approved access to his papers at the Library of Congress. The papers are a key source for the Nixon-Ford subseries of Foreign Relations.

Research for this volume was completed through special access to restricted documents at the Nixon Presidential Materials Project, [Page XIV]the Library of Congress, and other agencies. While all the material printed in this volume has been declassified, some of it is extracted from still classified documents. Nixon’s papers were transferred to their permanent home at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, in Yorba Linda, California, after research for this volume was completed. The Nixon Library staff is processing and declassifying many of the documents used in this volume, but they may not be available in their entirety at the time of publication.

Sources for Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume VII

In preparing this volume, the editors made extensive use of Presidential papers and other White House records at the Nixon Presidential Materials Project, which proved to be the single most useful collection bearing on the Nixon administration’s management of the Vietnam War and its search for a negotiated peace in Southeast Asia. The collection of most value within the Nixon materials is the National Security Council (NSC) Files. Two files within the NSC Files provided the richest source of documentation: the Vietnam Subject Files and the Country Files for Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Also useful are the Country Files for Thailand, and the special File on Cambodian Operations. Additionally of importance in the NSC Files are the Paris/Talks Meeting Files, which relate to the formal Paris Peace Negotiations both public and private. The records of the Kissinger-Xuan Thuy and Le Duc Tho secret negotiations are in the NSC Files, For the President, China/Vietnam Negotiations, C.D. [Camp David]. A final file on negotiations of note are the private channel talks between Henry Kissinger and Soviet Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin, which are in the NSC Files, President’s Trip File, Dobrynin/Kissinger. Their private discussions often related to Vietnam.

Of next importance are a group of files in the NSC Files. The first are the Backchannel Files. President Nixon and Kissinger communicated secretly with the Ambassador to Vietnam, Ellsworth Bunker, through backchannel messages that did not involve the rest of the bureaucracy. Also in the NSC Files are the Kissinger Office Files, the Subject Files, the Agency Files, the Haig Special and Chronological Files, Presidential/HAK Mem Cons, the President’s Daily Briefing Files, and the Unfiled Materials.

Of similar importance to the files already mentioned are the National Security Council Institutional Files (H-Files), which are part of the NSC Files but are not to be confused with the NSC Institutional Matters File. The NSC Institutional Files (H-Files) contain the minutes of NSC Council Meetings, and such NSC subgroups as the Review Group/Senior Review Group and Washington Special Actions Group. For each set of meeting minutes there are corresponding folders that contain the papers that Kissinger, who chaired all of these groups, used [Page XV]in preparation for the meetings. Also of value in the NSC Institutional Files (H-Files) are the National Security Study Memorandum and National Security Decision Memorandum files, containing the request for studies, the studies themselves, and the decision memoranda resulting from the process.

The White House taping system began operation in February 1971. From that time on, transcribed tapes of Nixon’s office and telephone conversations with senior advisors are significant sources on the decision and policy making process. The most useful collections in the White House Special Files are the President’s Personal Files, especially Memoranda for the President and the Haldeman Files. The Nixon Presidential Diary in the White House Central Files is an essential tool for researchers and is in the White House Central Files, Staff Member and Office Files.

After the records in the Nixon Presidential Materials Project, the Papers of Henry Kissinger at the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress are second in importance. While the Kissinger Papers often replicate documentation found in other collections, especially the NSC File of the Nixon Presidential Materials, they proved valuable and important documents unique to that collection, especially in the Geopolitical File, the file on Memoranda to the President, and the Presidential File. The Papers also contain the records of Kissinger’s telephone conversations, copies of which have been given by Kissinger to the National Archives. These telephone transcripts are a key source that are open at the National Archives and are part of the Nixon Presidential Materials.

The Department of State, Department of Defense, and to a lesser extent the Central Intelligence Agency, strong bureaucratic players in past Vietnam volumes, played a much reduced role under President Nixon and Henry Kissinger, who concentrated policy in their own hands. The files of the Department of State, especially the Central Files are valuable for describing what was happening in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, or at the Paris talks. However, almost no Department of State files trace policy decisions, since the Secretary of State and his department were essentially excluded from the policy process on Vietnam. The Central Intelligence Agency records are valuable for intelligence on Vietnam and the war in Southeast Asia, and the most important intelligence records can be found in the Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files. Collections under CIA custody of note are the National Intelligence Council (NIC) Files, the Records of George Carver, and the DCI Helms and DCI Executive Registry Files. The National Intelligence Council’s publication on intelligence in Vietnam, Estimative Products on Vietnam, 1948–1975, contains a good selection of intelligence estimates on Vietnam for this period. Intelligence Files for the Nixon administration, containing the records of the 40 Committee, cited as under the custody of the National Security Council but [Page XVI]destined for the Nixon Presidential Materials, were useful for covert operations and unconventional warfare.

The Department of Defense and Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird were key players on policy towards Vietnam, but official Defense records did not prove particularly valuable. Laird’s key memoranda are almost always found in the Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files. At the Ford Library, there is a collection of documents that cover Laird’s tenure as Secretary of Defense. His staff chose these Laird Papers at the end of his term as Secretary of Defense with a view to documenting his major decisions. A substantial portion of this collection concerns Vietnam, Cambodia, and POWs/MIAs. The Laird Papers provided a useful mechanism to check against the documentation included in the volume. At the Department of Defense, the office papers of Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, 1970–1974, contain much that is useful on the JCS and policy implementation. More useful and more historically important is Moorer’s Diary for those years and attached documents and transcripts of his telephone conversations. Both the office papers and the Diary are now at NARA.

The following list identifies the particular files and collections used in the preparation of this volume. The declassification and transfer to the National Archives of the Department of State records is in process, and most of these records are already available for public review at the National Archives.

In addition to the paper files cited below, a growing number of documents are available on the Internet. The Office of the Historian maintains a list of these Internet resources on its website and encourages readers to consult that site on a regular basis.

Unpublished Sources

  • Department of State
    • Central Files. See National Archives and Records Administration below.
      • INR/IL Historical Files
        • Historical intelligence files maintained by the Office of Intelligence Liaison in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research and still under Department of State custody.
  • National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland
    • Record Group 59, General Records of the Department of State
      • Central Files
        • DEF 6 CAMB
        • DEF 6 THAI
        • DEF 7 US
        • DEF 19–8 US–CAMB
        • POL 27–7 ASIA SE
        • POL CAMB–US
        • POL 7 CAMB
        • POL 27 CAMB
        • POL 27 CAMB–KHMER
        • POL 15–1 LAOS
        • POL 27 LAOS
        • POL 27–14 LAOS
        • POL US–VIET S
        • POL 14 VIET S
        • POL 27 VIET S
        • POL 15–1 US/Nixon
  • Record Group 218, Records of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
    • Records of Thomas H. Moorer
      • Diary, July 1970–January 1972
  • Nixon Presidential Materials Project, National Archives and Record Administration, College Park, Maryland (Now at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, Yorba Linda, California)
    • National Security Council Files
      • Agency Files
      • Country Files, Far East:
        • Air Activity in Southeast Asia
        • Cambodia
        • Indochina
        • Laos
        • Vietnam
      • Files for the President, Vietnam Negotiations
      • Alexander M. Haig Chronological Files
      • Alexander M. Haig Special File
      • Henry A. Kissinger Office Files:
        • Country Files, Europe, USSR
        • Country Files, Far East, Vietnam: Reconnaissance Flights; Saigon Background
        • Documents; Troop Withdrawal
      • Paris Peace Talks
      • President’s Trip Files
      • Presidential Correspondence
      • Presidential/HAK Memorandum of Conversations
      • Subject Files: Items to Discuss with the President; NSSMs and NSDMs
      • Vietnam Country Files
      • Vietnam Subject Files
    • National Security Council, Institutional Files (H-Files)
      • Policy Papers (1969–1974), National Security Decision Memoranda
      • Review Group/Senior Review Group Minutes
      • Review Group/Senior Review Group Meetings
      • Vietnam Special Study Group Meetings
      • Washington Special Actions Group Minutes
      • Washington Special Actions Group Meetings
    • White House Central Files
      • Staff Members and Office Files: President’s Daily Diary
    • White House Special Files
      • President’s Office Files
      • President’s Personal Files
    • White House Tapes
  • Central Intelligence Agency
    • Files of the Deputy Director for Intelligence
      • Jobs 78–S02150R and 80–T01629R
    • Executive Files of the Director of Central Intelligence
      • Job 80–B01086A
    • Files of the Director of Central Intelligence’s Special Assistant on Vietnam Affairs
      • Job 80–R01720R
    • National Intelligence Council (NIC) Files
      • Jobs 78–T02095R and 79–R01012A
  • Library of Congress, Washington, DC
    • Papers of Henry A. Kissinger
      • Chronological File
      • Geopolitical File
      • Memoranda of Conversations
      • Memoranda to the President
      • Miscellany, Records of Schedule
      • National Security Council, 1969-1976; Committees and Panels
      • Telephone Records: Telephone Conversations
  • National Security Council
    • Nixon Administration Intelligence Files
  • Washington National Records Center, Suitland, Maryland
    • FRC 330, Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense
    • 76–0067/76–0076
      • Secret and Top Secret subject decimal files of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Under Secretary of Defense, and their assistants, 1970
    • 76–0197/76–0207
      • Secret and Top Secret subject decimal files of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Under Secretary of Defense, and their assistants, 1971
    • 74–083
      • Secret subject decimal files of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Affairs, 1971
    • 74–0142
      • Minutes of Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird’s morning staff meetings, 1969–1972
  • Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library, Ann Arbor, Michigan
    • Melvin Laird Papers: Cambodia; POW–MIA; Vietnam
[Page XIX]

Published Sources

  • Bui Diem and David Chanoff. In the Jaws of History. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987.
  • Colby, William. Lost Victory: A Firsthand Account of America’s Sixteen-Year Involvement in Vietnam. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1989.
  • Congressional Quarterly. Congress and the Nation, Vol. III, 1969–1972. Washington: Congressional Quarterly Service, 1973.
  • Council on Foreign Relations. Documents on American Foreign Relations, 1969–1972. New York: New York University Press, 1972.
  • Haldeman, H.R. The Haldeman Diaries: Inside the Nixon White House: Multimedia Edition.
  • Haldeman, H.R. The Haldeman Diaries: Inside the Nixon White House. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1994.
  • Hannah, Norman B. The Key to Failure: Laos and the Vietnam War. Boston and London: Madison Books, 1987.
  • Helms, Richard, and William Hood. A Look Over My Shoulder: A Life in the Central Intelligence Agency. New York: Random House, 2003.
  • Historical Division, Joint Secretariat, Joint Chiefs of Staff. The History of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: The Joint Chiefs and the War in Vietnam, 1971–1973.
  • Kissinger, Henry A. White House Years. Boston: Little, Brown, 1979.
  • National Intelligence Council. Estimative Products on Vietnam, 1948–1975. Washington: Government Printing Office, 2005.
  • Nguyen Cao Ky. Twenty Years and Twenty Days. New York: Steinhard Day, 1978.
  • Nixon, Richard. RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon . New York: Grosset and Dunlop, 1978.
  • Pike, Douglas, ed. The Bunker Papers: Reports to the President From Vietnam, 1967–1973. Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1990.
  • United States. Department of State. Bulletin, 1970–1971.
  • United States. National Archives and Records Administration. Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1970, 1971, and 1972. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1970, 1971.
  • Walters, Vernon. Silent Missions. New York: Doubleday, 1978.