260. Backchannel Message From the Ambassador to Vietnam (Martin) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

741. 1. I am sorry to be late in responding to some of your recent requests, but the tardiness is really your fault. Several times I have suggested you have Brent Scowcroft send me a day-stretcher. He does such a marvelous job working for you he simply has to have several. I’ll settle for a used one.

2. Somehow my present situation reminds me of the chap who had all his staff progressively removed, yet his national headquarter supervisor demanded more and more. Then he got a cable saying his supervisor had been informed the office was dirty. The local man called back, outlined all he was doing, and asked how the hell he could do all that and keep the office clean too. Back came a cable suggesting he stick a broom up his ass so he could sweep up the office as he went about the rest of his duties.2

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3. If you wish, I can ignore, for a while, your cables on numbers which, as you have stated, is a phony issue, and work on reporting on the substantive issues which are of vastly more importance. I do not underestimate the political importance this numbers question has been allowed to assume at home but we are now down to a manageable evacuation of Americans. If I have to, I can handle this through our own resources and ingenuity, even if you take all the Marines and ships away. After all, when we asked for military help in evacuation of MR I and MR II we were refused a couple of choppers on the grounds they were all committed to Eagle Pull in Cambodia. So, using our own resources with no outside help except MSC ships, we got all our Americans out and about all the locals.

4. In any event, the total lack of any preparation for handling the refugees once outside Viet-Nam in the Philippines, Guam, and now Wake will slow us down here in any event. It would be helpful if a bit more of your attention was focused on that end before it becomes even more of a political problem than it now is becoming in Guam.

5. Events here won’t wait. So far we haven’t missed on the local scene. Cables on the other points you have raised will be coming.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Backchannel Messages, Box 3, Martin Channel, April 1975, Incoming (3). Secret; Sensitive; Immediate; Personal; Absolutely Eyes Only. Sent with the instruction: “Deliver immediately.”
  2. In backchannel message WH50765 to Saigon, April 26, Scowcroft replied: “Authorization for broom tied up in Vietnam supplemental. Suggest during interim that a modified shaft be used.” (Ibid., Outgoing, 3)