197. Editorial Note

On May 5, 1972, President Nixon met with his Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board from 10:11 to 11:37 a.m. In attendance were Chairman of the Board Admiral George Anderson and board members William Baker, Gordon Gray, Franklin Lincoln, Frank Pace, Franklin Murphy, Nelson Rockefeller, and Gerald Burke, and National Security Council staff member Thomas Latimer. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary) The meeting began as follows:

“The Chairman, Admiral Anderson, stated that the Board was grateful for the opportunity to meet with the President, especially during this very critical and busy period. The members hoped to be able to discuss certain matters that might be helpful to the President in preparing for his forthcoming trip to Moscow. The Board has followed closely the developments in Soviet strategic weaponry as a result of the President’s specific charge upon it three years ago to monitor and assess the Soviet capabilities in this field. The Chairman said that the members were impressed with the continuing, across-the-board growth of Soviet forces in ICBMs, in SLBMs, in various defensive weapons, and, most recently, in the emphasis that the Soviets are placing on improving their command and control systems. This emphasis is illustrated by their efforts in hardening command and control facilities, in creating redundant communications, and in conducting live exercises of the system which involve direct participation by the top leaders of the Soviet Union. The Chairman went on to point out that it was not, however, the intention of the Board at this meeting to summarize intelligence on the Soviet strategic threat but rather to discuss the adequacy of the intelligence on the threat and to offer individual comments on related matters which could be useful to the President in the course of his visit to the Soviet Union.

“Admiral Anderson characterized U.S. intelligence on Soviet strategic capabilities as being generally good insofar as it pertains to field testing of new weapons systems and to strategic weapons deployment. He commented that the community has done a highly commendable job in improving the report formats in which this intelligence is presented. On the other hand, intelligence on laboratory research and development of Soviet weapons systems is inadequate, as is hard information on Soviet strategy, doctrine plans, and intentions. The Chairman reminded the President that last November he had directed the establishment of a Net Assessments group within the NSC staff. This staff, he said, is now being established under Andrew Marshall and, because of the importance of net assessments, warrants the President’s strong support.

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“The President expressed his appreciation for the Board’s continuing efforts in monitoring the adequacy of intelligence on the strategic threat and, in this connection, said that he hoped the Board would get together with John McCloy and the members of the President’s Advisory Board on Disarmament. But the President then enjoined the Board to begin to give equal emphasis to non-nuclear warfare capabilities. Citing the recent introduction into South Vietnam of additional Soviet tactical weapons, the President stated that he was concerned with the adequacy of U.S. conventional weapons, and more particularly with the quality of the weapons we have been providing to our allies. The success of the Nixon Doctrine is largely dependent upon our capability to supply these countries with proper military equipment. He directed the Board to examine very carefully the effectiveness of U.S. conventional weapons systems in comparison with Soviet weapons.”

Thereafter followed reports and discussion on reconnaissance collection capabilities, human clandestine intelligence, economic intelligence utilization, and relative U.S.-Soviet nuclear capabilities in the near-term future. The President concluded the meeting with the following remarks:

“The President commented at length upon the need for the leaders throughout American society to maintain their moral strength and courage in the face of the corrosive attitudes which seem to be pervading many segments of our culture. He made reference to this need in the business community, in the universities, in the communications media, and among those other elements of our society who, by virtue of education and other good fortune, have been given the opportunity to influence heavily the outlook and attitude of their fellow citizens. The President noted that the real strength of America inevitably resides in the average citizen; whether this strength, in turn, becomes greater or lesser is dependent to a critical degree on the ability and willingness of leaders of our society in discharging the moral obligations which have been placed upon their shoulders. The President expressed the hope that the members of the Board, who have such a unique vantage point from which to view the external threats of the United States, will seek in their daily contacts to remind American leaders in all walks of life of the enormous responsibilities they carry, especially in impressing youth on the need to preserve the nation’s strength and moral fiber.” (Memorandum for the record by Burke, May 12; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 277, Agency Files, PFIAB, Vol. VI, Jan.–June (1972)) In an attached May 12 memorandum to Haig that was forwarded to Kissinger, Latimer summarized the meeting. A recording of the meeting is ibid, White House Tapes, Cabinet Room, Conversation No. 100–1.