263. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of State Kissinger and the Director of the Special Interagency Task Force on Evacuation of Refugees From Indochina (Brown)1

K: I have just gotten one of Martin’s backchannels to me. He wants to slow down the evacuation because it is such a mess in Guam.2

B: He can’t do that. Even if Clark and Guam are overwhelmed. We have 12,000 at Clark and more at Guam.

K: Don’t put these figures out.

B: I haven’t. There are thousands more on the way.

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K: I thought he was bluffing me. That means we have gotten 25,000 or more out.

B: Right. Say, Martin hasn’t answered the telegram we sent asking for his feelings and what the high risk options are, etc., yet.3 It is near panic at the airport and they have no control over the situation, especially the issuing of certificates. What appears to be happening is that Americans are walking down to the planes with their Vietnamese friends and saying get on. 15 to 20% of the people have no papers and there is no proof that they are high risk at all.

K: What can we do?

B: Nothing. Martin can’t control the situation, because he can’t be at the airport.

K: Can’t anyone?

B: There are people who are trying to at the airport, but it is difficult. Everybody is taking care of friends, maybe they are sorting them somehow. But it is close to chaos. There is also a difficulty with California. I talked to Jerry a couple of days ago.4

K: Is he against it?

B: No, but the Federal Government hasn’t done anything for California and with their high unemployment etc., he is saying it will be difficult. His impression is that we want to dump Vietnamese on them. It is a political problem. I have Weinberger set to call him today and talk to him. He will say that we will try to be helpful but we are going to have to start moving groups to the U.S. We need some place in the U.S. to hold them until we can let volunteer agencies move them on. I have talked to the airlines and asked them if we can have free passages on planes because there is no money within the U.S. to move them.

K: Yes. It is a nightmare.

B: It is not going to come out very nicely. One of the things I wanted to say in the WSAG is how many people do we want to get out?

K: How many do you think?

B: 5 to 10 thousand more. If we could move them from Saigon to ______, we could alleviate a lot of pressure.

K: Let me think about it.

B: O.K. Also think about Hawaii or the possibility of moving them now directly to the States. We will talk about it.

K: O.K.

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B: Defense has got to cooperate. Weinberger is calling Schlesinger and telling him to give the Army a good name for once by letting them take an active part in the refugee movement. They are bucking us again. We need to let people use military bases as the next staging area to let the volunteer agencies have time to pick them up. It should work just like the Hungary thing.

K: O.K.

B: Thanks sir.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 388, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File. No classification marking. Blank underscores indicate an omission in the original.
  2. Document 260.
  3. See footnote 2, Document 261.
  4. Governor Jerry Brown of California.