36. Editorial Note

On January 14, 1972, Assistant to the President Henry Kissinger sent a memorandum to Secretary of State William Rogers that reads:

“The President has directed that henceforth meetings with representatives of the Soviet Embassy in Washington on any topic and with representatives of foreign governments on the Middle East situation be cleared with him. In conjunction with these clearances, the President wishes to have a memorandum outlining the objective of the meeting and the manner in which it will be conducted. Following the meeting, the President wishes to have a written memorandum for the record covering the contents of the decision.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL USUSSR)

In his memoirs Kissinger noted that during January “Summit preparation speeded up, and, as usual, they started with an internal [Page 115]row over who would supervise them, Secretary of State Rogers or I. By this time our relations had so deteriorated that there was no longer any pretense that it could be done jointly.” (White House Years, page 1127) The impetus for the January 14 instruction was the growing lack of communication between Kissinger and Rogers which had developed into a “problem.” In his diary entry for January 3, White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman wrote:

“The Attorney General [John Mitchell] had breakfast with Henry this morning, so he had the latest batch of Henry’s input, although I had met with Henry also during the day today. Henry boiled it down to the point that he’s got to have his demands met. First of all, that Rogers has to understand that any attack on K[issinger] by the State Department or any of its people is a direct attack on the P[resident]. Second, that all cables and communications out of State must be cleared at the White House first. Third, that there is to be no communication between State and the Soviets without prior knowledge of the White House and without a memcon afterwards summarizing everything that was discussed. Henry feels these are probably impossible demands, and therefore he’ll have to leave, but he won’t do so until after the Russian trip. In discussing this, the P understood Henry’s view. I went further than the Attorney General and told the P about Henry’s further view that the P had lost confidence in him and that the evidence, at least to Henry, was the fact that the P was constantly trying to butter him up and keep him happy and was not really getting into the nitty gritty of foreign policy anymore. Henry sees this as slippage in his own standing, and that probably is what worries him more than anything else. That, plus the fact that he knows he made the mistake in India–Pakistan and doesn’t know how to cope with it. In any event, the P agreed that we should put the ultimatum to Rogers and agreed with my recommendation that Mitchell and I do it as soon as we get back from San Clemente.” (The Haldeman Diaries: Multimedia Edition)

According to Haldeman’s diary entry of January 10, Kissinger was so upset that he considered quitting by January 27. The next day, Haldeman noted Rogers’ feeling that “Henry has lied to him, and he has admitted it, saying he was lying under orders, and that’s the only time he did lie, but that leads Rogers to distrust everything Henry says.” (Ibid.) On January 13 Haldeman recorded that Nixon wanted Haig “to take a very hard line with Henry” because “it’s better for him to blow now than after Russia, and if we don’t face up to it now he may go off cockeyed during the [1972 Presidential] campaign, as he did in ′68.” (Ibid.) Three days later, Haldeman observed:

“Because K goes in and complains to the P all the time, he gets his way. Rogers doesn’t complain, so he gets left out. He said he’d be glad to sit down together with the P and Henry to work together on this thing. That we’ve got to work it out, but he sees no reason why he should be kept out. He agrees that State people have to be kept out of some things, but not Bill. He says he’s had newspaper people tell him what the NSC people have said to them, but he doesn’t care about that. [Page 116]He says the P knows all about the Israel stuff, that he has memos from the P about what he should do. That the policy in the Middle East has been good, and he will not have Henry second-guessing him all the time. He’s happy to keep the P fully advised. Says the meetings he’s had with [Israeli Ambassador Yitzhak] Rabin were pursuant to a directive from the P. He doesn’t want the thing to end up as if State is withholding things. The main thing is that K doesn’t keep Rogers advised at all on what he’s doing. For instance, he knows nothing about the Russia and China trips except what Al [Haig] told him the other day. Therefore, he will disregard the instructions from K; he’s not working for K. If the P wants to tell him, ‘I don’t want you to know about Russia’ and so forth, at least he’ll know where he stands, but when the P says ‘I want Bill to know everything,’ then he expects to know it, without K screwing it up.” (Ibid.)

In his diary entry for January 16, Haldeman noted that he received a telephone call from Rogers who stated:

“I have a preemptory note memo from Henry and I won’t take it. I have orders from the P and I’m following those. I thought we had an understanding here that this was a two-way thing. The theory is that the P has announced his policy, the State Department’s carrying it out. He doesn’t mind checking with Henry if Henry agrees to check with him too, and now he wants to talk to the P about it. He thinks it’s hurting the whole situation.” (Ibid.)

Haldeman noted in his diary entry for January 18 that he and Attorney General John Mitchell “agreed that the only way to solve this was a memorandum from the P to both Rogers and K” that would propose a process for keeping Rogers informed while at the same time cement White House control over foreign-policy making. In devising the memorandum, Nixon suggested the following additional language (later excised by Haldeman and Mitchell):

“It’s necessary for all of us to consult closely with each other, and it’s imperative that I be informed. I cannot and don’t want to become involved in matters that are not of importance. But on three major issues, China, Russia and Middle East, I want to be totally and completely informed at all times, so I’ve asked Haldeman to set up a procedure under this where I want to see all of the advance notice, and so on. That will keep both of you informed on whatever activities I may undertake independently but I anticipate none at this time. The only winner from our failure to work together would be our enemies both at home and abroad. I hope we can all subordinate our personal considerations for these higher goals.” (Ibid.)

Haldeman added that “both Henry and Mitchell feel it’s ridiculous for the P to subordinate himself in this fashion.” (Ibid.)

In a January 19 memorandum to Rogers and Kissinger, Nixon established a “basic operating procedure” with regard to issues relating to the Soviet Union, as well as China, the Middle East, Cuba, and Chile. He directed that he be informed of and approve any proposed actions [Page 117]taken on these matters beforehand and that all meetings with representatives from these areas be cleared with him in advance. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President’s Personal Files, Box 3, Memoranda from the President, 1969–1974, Memos–January 1972) On January 20 Haldeman made the following notation in his diary:

“Earlier today, right after the Cabinet meeting, I gave Bill Rogers the directive from the P and Henry wanted put out that orders him to notify the P in advance of all meetings with Russians, Chinese, etc., and Rogers obviously didn’t like it very well, and leaped into my office with the Attorney General and we had some discussion of it. He’s making the point that the real problem here, still, is how we make sure that Henry keeps him informed of things. It’s just impossible to get through to him the point that there’s a difference between keeping the Secretary informed and keeping the P informed, but I guess if we keep hammering away it will work out.” (The Haldeman Diaries: Multimedia Edition)