200. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of Defense Laird and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

K: Hello.

L: Henry, on this three day business I haven’t really gotten any authority to continue going on this.2 I assume the plan is to continue strikes when they are authorized.

K: Absolutely, there is no three day thing. It is indefinite.

L: But the maximum B–52 effort was limited to three days.

K: But what conclusion do you draw from that?

L: That in the memorandum I have on my desk3 the President doesn’t give me authority to go beyond that.

K: Absolutely not, this was supposed to be kept going.

L: If tacair clears up they can take some of those bridges in the buffer zone.

K: Absolutely, but with smart bombs. We can’t have any over-flying of Chinese territory.

L: We can bomb with smart bombs but we can’t have any over-flying of China.

K: Right. But make sure we don’t get into China.

L: Yes, I will do everything I can to make sure they don’t get into China.

K: And keep them 10 miles from the border.

L: Maybe 5.

K: OK. 5.

L: Tomorrow we are going up to 129 B–52’s again. We didn’t lose any of the planes …

K: Good.

L: The other day the one that landed, the plane was shot up, the others of the crew are wounded, but the pilot is dead. So there are two planes that cannot be repaired or replaced but it’s the crews I am interested [Page 758] in anyway on these things. And tomorrow we will probably lose about 2. I figure with about every 150 sorties we lose about 2.

K: Keep this going up until Christmas. We are not flying on Christmas.

L: It might be just as well to fly the B–52s … and make sure over Hanoi and Haiphong and then out.

K: After tomorrow.

L: We are putting 129 over Hanoi and Haiphong tomorrow and then marking 30 of them for that continuously and use the others for B–52in the north.

K: Let me get back to you on that.

L: Tentatively let me put it out that we show we can plan something. We are getting some requests for Laos. I would like to put a few over there because Godley is beginning to complain. He said there are some tanks over there.

K: OK.

L: Not tomorrow but the next day. The air should clear tomorrow. They are getting a helluva message over there.

K: Let me talk to the President. Let me get back to you in a couple of hours.

L: Well, let me know by noon tomorrow.

K: Right.

L: But if the weather clears we don’t have a problem.

K: OK, Mel.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Box 17, Chronological File. No classification marking. The conversation took place on a “secure phone.” All blank underscores are omissions in the original.
  2. The initial authorization was for three days of airstrikes on the Hanoi-Haiphong area. See Document 184.
  3. See footnote 3, Document 176.