140. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Moorer) and President Nixon1


CJCS:—This is Admiral Moorer, I am returning the President’s call.

OPT [Operator]: Thank you, Admiral, just a moment. There you are.

CJCS:—Good morning, Mr. President.

Pres:—I just wanted to tell you we are depending on you to see that we don’t flub this one and, particularly, zero in. Do not go to secondary targets. We are going to get rail lines, POL, secondary planes, power plants and airfields, but there is no damn excuse now. You have what the military claimed they never before got authority to do.2

CJCS:—We are going to do it Mr. President, I thought that was a magnificent talk.

Pres:—I understand you called last night.

CJCS:—And wrote you a note this morning.3

Pres:—Do any good with Stennis?4

CJCS:—Yes, sir. I had Stennis and most of the Armed Services Committee this morning.

Pres:—Able to get him? We need Stennis if we can get him.

[Page 523]

CJCS:—I think I can get him working on several I thought it might be a little hostile, perhaps, but in fact my hearing this morning was two and a half hours and was very good.

Pres:—Very good.

CJCS:—Thank you sir, you can depend on us.

Pres:—Carry on!

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 218, Records of the Chairman, Moorer Diary, July 1970–July 1974. Top Secret.
  2. Less than 5 hours after talking to President Nixon, Admiral Moorer met in his office with what he called the “Target Gang” after which he wrote the following: “We laid on strikes for the following day to interdict the rail lines and lines of communication near Hanoi/Haiphong primarily between the cities and the Buffer Zone and coming south.” Moorer told the “gang” this was the beginning of a “long interdiction program.” (Moorer Diary, May 9, 5:35 p.m.; ibid.)
  3. Not found.
  4. Moorer had testified that morning before the Senate Armed Services Committee, chaired by Senator John C. Stennis (D–MS). The Senators seemed especially concerned about whether the United States might attack enemy vessels along North Vietnam’s coastline. Later Moorer told members of the WSAG: “I was before the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier today, and they asked me what we would do in certain circumstances. I think I fudged the answers well enough. I told them that I would not say what we would or would not do.” (Minutes of Washington Special Actions Group Meeting, May 9; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–116, Washington Special Actions Group, WSAG Minutes (Originals) 1–3–72 to 7–24–72)