78. Editorial Note

On December 28, 1970, while Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Henry Kissinger was in San Clemente preparing the Second Annual Report on United States Foreign Policy, President Richard Nixon was in Washington raising concerns about Kissinger’s conduct of the “confidential channel” with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin. During a telephone conversation with the President that evening, Secretary of State William Rogers reported on his meeting with Dobrynin earlier in the day. Nixon then called H.R. Haldeman, the White House Chief of Staff, to discuss the relationship among Kissinger, Rogers, and Dobrynin. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily [Page 242] Diary) Although no record of either conversation has been found, Haldeman wrote in his diary that Nixon was worried “that Rogers is aware of what Henry’s doing with the Russians. While Henry thinks he’s operating secretly, he’s not really.” Haldeman continued:

“The P feels that Henry’s got to open up the fact of his secret channel, so that Rogers knows about it and we have some more candor in this whole thing, because the problem now of playing it two ways poses a very bad situation for the P. For example, on the past trips [to Paris], Tony Lake, who’s now working for Muskie, was with Henry, so he knows all about them, yet Rogers doesn’t know about it. There’s a good chance that this will come out, which would be a very embarrassing thing. Also on the Ivanov problem, it was hard to explain to Rogers that Henry had been making an independent deal with Dobrynin. The P feels Henry’s got to realize he’s not a secret-type person, that the things he does do come out; so, we either have to get along with each other, or we’ll have to change one of the people involved. He summed it up by saying the whole situation now poses a major problem for the P, because Rogers knows that K’s meeting with Dobrynin. Maybe the thing to do is to tell Rogers that both he and Henry have to meet with Dobrynin independently, and both of them should understand this. To do this we have to get K and Rogers together, especially as we approach the possibility of a meeting with the Russians.” (Entry for December 28; Haldeman, Haldeman Diaries: Multimedia Edition; see also Haldeman, Haldeman Diaries, page 226)

Nixon instructed Haldeman to “have a talk” with Kissinger’s deputy, Alexander Haig, Jr. According to Haldeman’s handwritten notes, Nixon further reported that “Dob[rynin] talked to R[ogers] today re summit.” “K is taken in by Dob re secret channel,” Nixon told Haldeman. “[He] doesn’t really have it.” Nixon, therefore, wanted Haig to “keep things away from K.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, Staff Member and Office Files, H. R. Haldeman, Box 42, H Notes, Nov. 10, 1970–Dec. 30, 1970, Part II)

The President met with Haldeman and Haig in the Oval Office the next afternoon. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary) As Haldeman reported in his diary: “We had quite a long discussion of the KRogers problem as the P reviewed it with me yesterday. His real concern here is that he can’t go on having Henry conduct operations independently of Rogers without Rogers’ knowledge.” “The P told Haig he was going to have to help handle this whole thing,” Haldeman added, “and that he was counting on him for that.” (Entry for December 29; Haldeman, Haldeman Diaries: Multimedia Edition)

Nixon also called Rogers that morning to review the recent conviction and death sentence of two Soviet Jews, Mark Dymshits and Edward Kuznetsov. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, [Page 243] White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary) According to Haldeman:

“The other item that came up today was the whole flap on the Jewish protest in this country regarding the planned Russian execution of two Jewish hijackers. The activity today consisted mainly of Rogers meeting with some of the complainants and making contact with [Mayor John] Lindsay, [Senator Jacob] Javits, etc., to lay out our line, which is that we’re working behind the scenes to try to save the lives of the people, but we’re not going to make a big political play out of it as those people are doing. Rogers is taking a hard line on this, as he has on several things recently, and this may greatly improve the overall Rogers situation.” (Entry for December 29; Haldeman, Haldeman Diaries: Multimedia Edition)