257. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Ford
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Vietnam.]

[President reads the Martin cable.]2

President: I think he has to tell the contractors and civilians to get going. We can’t be responsible for their delaying to get the dependents out. I can understand the official American numbers.

It is not helpful to have a typhoon coming.

Kissinger: We can get out at any time. We have to believe his figures because he is the guy on the ground.

President: What worries me is, while he has given the figures, he always ends up higher. I don’t like that.

[Page 898]

Kissinger: I agree. He has not carried out orders and hasn’t. I think we should say the President approves but it’s the second time he has approved one. There can be no equivocation on this figure. The President wants all non-essential contractors and non-government people moved out. Those who stay after the 1090 figure is reached will stay at their own risk. The press should slim down to an absolute minimum.

President: If he is down to 1090 and non-essentials the day after, when is the final evacuation?

Kissinger: Whenever we trigger.

President: I would give him a final figure—what would the number be of contractors, etc. by Saturday3 morning.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Vietnam.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 11, Chronological File. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Oval Office. All brackets, except those indicating omitted material, are in the original.
  2. Martin outlined the evacuee situation in backchannel message 734 to Kissinger, April 24. (Ibid., Backchannel Messages, Box 3, Martin Channel, April 1975, Incoming, 2) In backchannel message WH50757 to Martin, April 24, Kissinger wrote: “The President has read your cable with substantial approval and appreciation. With respect to the planned reduction to 1090 by Friday night, I want you to know that the President pointed out that the figure 1090 (1100) was one he had directed you to reach by Tuesday evening your time and that he had so briefed the congressional leaders. He says he must insist on reaching your proposed level of 1090 by Friday night Saigon time.” (Ibid., Outgoing, 3) Friday was April 25.
  3. April 26.