72. Minutes of a Washington Special Actions Group Meeting1


  • Vietnam


  • Chairman
  • Henry A. Kissinger
  • State
  • John N. Irwin
  • William Sullivan
  • Defense
  • Kenneth Rush
  • Warren Nutter
  • R/Adm. William Flanagan
  • JCS
  • Adm. Thomas Moorer
  • CIA
  • Richard Helms
  • William Nelson
  • William Newton (for Mr. Helms’ briefing only)
  • NSC
  • Maj. Gen. Alexander Haig
  • Richard Kennedy
  • John Negroponte
  • Mark Wandler


It was agreed that:

  • —Ambassador Porter should leave Washington on Wednesday and arrive in Paris on Thursday.2 If he has anything to say to the press, he should do so in Paris.
  • —No attempt will be made to correct the false impression in the press about the areas of North Vietnam being bombed by B–52s.
  • —The State Department will prepare a draft reply to the letter from Thai Foreign Minister Thanom.
  • —Dr. Kissinger will raise the issue of basing B–52s on Okinawa with the Japanese during his visit to Japan next week. Adm. Moorer will prepare a position paper for Dr. Kissinger.
  • —The State Department will check to see if the VOA has stepped up its Vietnamese broadcasting and if it is following the Administration line.
  • —The telegram on preparations for the resumption of a leaflet campaign in North Vietnam should be sent out tonight.
  • —The end-of-tour and reinlistment bonuses for Thai irregulars will be increased to 8,000 Baht ($380) per man.
  • —We will look at the issue of Helilift Support for Forces in Laos when we get the letter Secretary Laird sent on this subject to Secretary Rogers.

[Omitted here are briefings by Helms and Moorer on the military situation.]

Mr. Kissinger: If the North Vietnamese don’t succeed now, I don’t see how they will be able to do so later on.

Adm. Moorer: I agree—and that’s why we are taking this action. To stop it, though, you have to do something at the Hanoi level, not the Danang level.

Mr. Irwin: If we break the back of the offensive and the North Vietnamese pull back, do the South Vietnamese have the capability to chase them?

Adm. Moorer: Sure they do.

Mr. Irwin: We won’t have the situation, then, that we had in the Civil War, when Grant didn’t follow-up.

Mr. Kissinger: You’re talking to the wrong guy. On the political side, I talked to the President. He wants us to tread a thin line. He doesn’t want us to say anything about conditions under which we will or will not resume negotiations. He wants our basic posture to be ominous, and he doesn’t want us to get into public debates or to protest our peaceful intentions.

We should say the record is clear about who broke off the negotiations. We have asked for serious negotiations, something we have never had in four years. There is no question about who used four months to build up forces and supplies for an offensive while we tried to talk. The President doesn’t want us to say we are ready to go back to the negotiating table at any time. Nor does he want us to specify conditions under which we will go back.

Mr. Sullivan: I spoke to Porter. He would like to stay through Tuesday and arrive in Paris on Wednesday.

Mr. Kissinger: I think it might be better if he leaves on Wednesday and gets to Paris on Thursday. Then there is no question about a possible meeting.

Mr. Sullivan: He can do that.

Mr. Irwin: Yes. It is better for him to go back Wednesday.

Mr. Kissinger: Good.

Mr. Sullivan: Porter also said he doesn’t want to speak to the press.

Mr. Kissinger: Do you mean the press here?

Mr. Sullivan: Yes.

[Page 235]

Mr. Kissinger: We won’t let him say anything here. If he wants to say something he should do it in Paris. This is the President’s view, too.

[Omitted here is discussion of inaccurate press reports about B–52 bombing of North Vietnam, press policy, use of B–52s from Thailand and Okinawa, leaflets for North Vietnam, Thai irregulars in Laos, and helicopters in Laos.]

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box TS 78, National Security Council, Committees and Panels, Washington Special Actions Group, Mar. 1971–Apr. 1972. Top Secret; Sensitive. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room.
  2. April 13.