20. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of State Rogers and the Presidentʼs Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

R: I wanted to talk about that goddam message from our people in Dacca.2 Did you see it?

K: No.

R: Itʼs miserable. They bitched about our policy and have given it lots of distribution so it will probably leak. Itʼs inexcusable.

K: And it will probably get to Ted Kennedy.

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R: I am sure it will.

K: Somebody gives him cables. I have had him call me about them.

R: Itʼs a terrible telegram. Couldnʼt be worse—says we failed to defend American lives and are morally bankrupt.

K: Blood did that?

R: Quite a few of them signed it. You know we are doing everything we can about it. Trying to get the telegrams back as many as we can. We are going to get a message back to them.

K: I am going in these [next] two days to keep it from the President until he has given his speech.3

R: If you can keep it from him I will appreciate it. In the first place I think we have made a good choice.

K: The Chinese havenʼt said anything.

R: They talk about condemning atrocities. There are pictures of the East Pakistanis murdering people.

K: Yes. There was one of an East Pakistani holding a head. Do you remember when they said there were 1000 bodies and they had the graves and then we couldnʼt find 20?

R: To me it is outrageous they would send this.

K: Unless it hits the wires I will hold it. I will not forward it.

R: We should get our answers out at the same time the stories come out.

K: I will not pass it on.4

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to South Asia.]

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 367, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File. No classification marking.
  2. See Document 19.
  3. Reference is to the speech Nixon delivered to the nation on April 7 on the situation in Southeast Asia. For text, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1971, pp. 522–527.
  4. In his memoirs Kissinger writes that the dissent cable from Dacca pointed up a dilemma for the administration. “The United States could not condone a brutal military repression,” and there was “no doubt about the strong-arm tactics of the Pakistani military.” He explains the administrationʼs decision not to react publicly to the military repression in East Pakistan as necessary to protect “our sole channel to China.” As a result of the cable, President Nixon ordered Consul General Archer Blood transferred from Dacca. Kissinger conceded that “there was some merit to the charge of moral insensitivity.” (White House Years, p. 854)