51. Editorial Note

As Jon Howe, a National Security Council staff member, recalled in a memorandum to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs, Henry A. Kissinger: “When the offensive initially began, Secretary Laird’s office refused to pass timely reports to your office and appeared to be attempting to create an impression that things were not as grim as they might seem.” (Memorandum from Howe to Kissinger, April 26, 1973; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box TS 55, Geopolitical File, Vietnam, Summary, 1972–73) Because the White House needed accurate and up to the minute information to formulate policy, President Richard M. Nixon signed a memorandum, dated April 3, 1972, to Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird, with a copy to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, stating the following: “During the remainder of the current North Vietnamese offensive all reports from COMUSMACV will be transmitted immediately upon receipt in Washington to the White House for my personal review. Effective immediately a briefing officer from the Joint Chiefs of Staff will be designated to brief me or my Assistant for National Security Affairs at hours designated by my Assistant for National Security Affairs.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 231, Agency Files, Defense, Apr–Jul 1972, Vol. 17) The first briefing occurred on April 3. (Memorandum of conversation, April 3, 9:16–9:40 a.m.; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box TS 43, Geopolitical File, Vietnam, Briefings, Apr.–Aug. 1972)