352. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) and Secretary of State Ad Interim Rush 1

K: Hello.

R: Good morning, Henry.

K: Ken, a number of things. I’m told over here, I don’t know how true it is, that Kubisch went up to the Committee to brief them yesterday.2

R: He did, yes.

K: We didn’t have any idea of what the hell he was going to say and it has the tendency of pushing everything into the White House again which is the favorite pastime of every department in town.

R: Yes, as a matter of fact I didn’t even know he was going myself. He told me what he said when he came back.

K: Well, but we have to know these things when he goes.

R: Right.

[Page 911]

K: Now unless he said that we knew about it 12 to 14 hours ahead of time, that we expected it Monday, it happened Tuesday3 and he informed the highest authorities. Now this may or may not be true. If he did it certainly didn’t penetrate to me.

R: He didn’t tell me he said that.

K: That’s what Ziegler tells me all the newspapers have.

R: I haven’t seen the newspapers but what Kubisch told me was that we knew nothing about it; that we had not been told about it and it came as a complete surprise to us and that the turnaround of our destroyers and submarines took place after the thing started and when we found out about it. So there’s something wrong here somewhere, Henry.

K: Right. Well, now at the briefing today I think we can express regret at the personal fate of Allende.

R: Yes, we worked out some language on that. I thought it was to go out last night saying that we regretted the death of Allende—we regretted the loss of lives including particularly the death of the Head of State, Allende. And just let it go at that.

K: Yeah, we can say that.

R: Right.

K: And we can also say we do not support revolutions as a means of settling disputes but this—that is perfectly consistent with what we did here.

R: Right.

K: We didn’t support it. Now I am also told that people are raising the issue of Davis coming back here.

R: Who’s coming back?

K: That Nat Davis was back here to talk to me—our Ambassador.

R: They raised that question and the answer is?

K: I think the answer is that I asked for him three weeks ago when I was appointed4 and we left it up to him to pick the time.

R: This is right.

K: When it was least likely to be disturbing to the conduct of his mission and that’s another good proof that we didn’t know anything about it.

R: As a matter of fact that’s exactly what I told them to say that the fact that he came back when all those large numbers of Ambassadors [Page 912] that you requested three weeks ago and that he picked the time shows that we knew nothing about it.5

K: Exactly.

R: We’re on the same beam there, Henry.

K: Good. Now.

R: This statement as to what Kubisch said must be wrong because he came back from that and told me at once what he had said.

K: Right. Of course it’s an absurd situation where we have to apologize for the overthrow of a hostile government—of a government hostile to us.

R: I know it is, but I think so far—I haven’t seen this thing about what Kubisch said he knew about it ahead of time.

K: Ziegler just mentioned it to me; I haven’t seen it myself.

R: This would be a statement by some Senator who heard him—what happened was Gale McGee called together about eight Senators, Javits, Church, all the doves and he brought them together to prevent their going overboard on accusing us with regard to Chile or making bad statements. When Kubisch went up, Gale McGee had this group together. Kubisch, he thinks, convinced them that we had nothing to do with it at all. He had some very searching questions from the doves, from Church; Javits was a help and Javits I think was agreeing with helping Gale McGee. That overall it was a real plus and it just suddenly came up, Henry, and he went up and told me about it when he came back.

K: Ok. Well, no, he did the right thing.

R: He did the right thing and he said the right thing. He did no wrong, he said the right thing.

K: Good. Make sure that they don’t shift it into this building because I didn’t know that a coup was coming at any particular date. We’d been hearing coup rumors for a year.

R: Absolutely, and Kubisch said that we knew nothing about it. We meaning the White House, the State Department, everything.

K: Right. OK. Many thanks.

R: OK, Henry.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 369, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File. No classification marking.
  2. Kubisch testified before the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs, Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Excerpts of his September 12 testimony are in an undated paper, Document 141, Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–16, Documents on Chile, 1969–1973.
  3. September 11.
  4. On August 22, President Nixon announced at a press conference that he would nominate Kissinger to be Secretary of State to fill the vacancy created by Rogers’s resignation. (Public Papers: Nixon, 1973, pp. 710–711)
  5. Both White House and Department of State spokesmen issued statements on September 13 acknowledging that the United States knew of rumors of the coup but denying that the United States knew in advance when it would occur. (Bernard Gwertzman, “U.S. Expected Chile Coup but Decided Not to Act,” New York Times, September 14, 1973, p. 1)