155. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and the President’s DeputyAssistant for National Security Affairs (Haig)1
P: What’s the evening report? Anything new?
H: No, sir. It’s been weirdly quiet today. At An Loc we haven’t word [heard?] they have linked up but they are on the verge of it. Attacks have broken off completely there.
P: Are they continuing to hit them there?
H: The sorties are at 1260.
P: How about Kontum?
H: The Kontum attack should break within the next 48 hours. Abrams said units are all in position now.
P: Does he know where they are?
H: No, except that communications anticipate that. I think we are doing quite well. An Air Force General told the Chairman this morning he feels the tide is just turning. We sensed that 3–4 days ago. From the captives. The general appearance is they are hurt badly.
P: One part—I am going to write a memo on it and I want you to follow up on it. I don’t think Helms’outfit is probably doing the maximum in terms of the propaganda they are doing.
H: This is done by an Interdepartmental Group run by State. CINCPAC and MACV actually do it. Millions of leaflets have been dropped.[Page 577]
P: Are they playing the dirty tricks game? We have to mislead them. Don’t tell the truth.
H: CIA has the black broadcast threatening invasion.
P: One point in making a major effort is to get the prisoners to come over. Tell them their homeland is finished.
H: We have a report from a Frenchman from Hanoi who said, thought the control is still good, there are signs of shortages.2 People are bringing in the bodies killed in air strikes and putting them in the City Hall.
P: Where would these people have been killed? In the north?
H: In Hanoi from the air strikes. The port is in very bad shape.
P: Apart from the mining?
H: Yes, sir. From the air strikes. And this is a pretty reliable guy. Godley gives him high credit. They are in firm control, but there is a stronger sense of disillusionment. They are very concerned about their families. The families are concerned about what has happened to the young. We are trying to stress that in the theme of the leaflets—that the people are devastated.
P: Indicate to Helms that the President ordered doubling of the B–52’s. The President ordered another 100 to come in from Europe. Let them get a little frightened. We don’t do anything from the NSC group. But we have been terribly weak on the propaganda side. This is war! You remember George Creel in World War I and the silly OSS did well at times.3 I feel this is the time now if the tide of battle is turning to pour in the propaganda.
H: Yes, it’s very important to do it up north where there are heavy losses. I think we may see some increase in sapper attacks and terrorist activity starting Friday.4
P: Because of Ho Chi Minh’s birthday?
H: Yes, in the Delta and III Corps.
P: Are the guys on alert to that?
H: Yes, sir.
P: You remember you told me about that C5A, was it?, carrying ammunition. Why not put 20 B–52’s in that general area? If they pull this sort of thing, show they will be hit. What was that—a rocket attack?[Page 578]
H: We didn’t know whether it was artillery, mortar, or what—it was a lucky hit on the plane. That airfield in Kontum is under heavy fire.
P: Abrams is hitting that area around it?
H: They broke up an attack yesterday with B–52’s. Attacks by fire are continuing.
P: Well, we are doing everything we can. Tell them on the propaganda side I really want to see by Friday noon before I leave what new ideas they can come up with on propaganda. What new things they can suggest. We want to be sure to pour terror into the hearts of the enemy.
H: I did have a memo being prepared now.
P: I want new ideas. Have them work all night. This is not routine business. The guys in that plane—seven are dead. Let these bastards back here work all night.
H: I will get on it right now.
P: Apparently Vogt is doing a good job.
H: A superb job.
P: Okay, thank you, Al.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 999, Alexander M. Haig Chronological Files, Haig Telcons, 1972 [2 of 2]. No classification marking.↩
- The French Chargé in Vientiane showed the report to Ambassador Godley who read it and sent his summary to Washington in message 3777 from Vientiane, May 17. (Ibid., Box 550, Country Files, Far East, Laos, Vol. 9)↩
- George Creel directed the U.S. Government’s propaganda effort in World War I; the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) ran intelligence and clandestine operations in World War II.↩
- May 19.↩