118. Memorandum From Lawrence S. Eagleburger of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • An Executive Assistant

Here are my more concise thoughts on the Executive Assistant idea.2

It’s a good one. There is a range of issues and problems which will remain uncovered with the arrangements we have thus far thought about for your immediate office. They include:

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—Liaison of a personal or highly sensitive nature with the others on the Seventh Floor (particularly Rush and his staff, and the Executive Secretary).

—Liaison of a similar nature with other Departments (particularly Defense, and to a lesser degree the NSC).

—Contact at a less than official level with the bureaus, the Inspector General, and once in a while a desk officer, to see what goes on and to give you warning of issues brewing. It’s a form of spying, but if done right could be helpful to you.

—Sensitive political contacts which you don’t want to handle yourself and don’t want Congressional Relations to do.

—Keeping an eye on the promotion and personnel management system to see that good people are moved up, and given the important assignments. You will usually want to have your voice heard early—sometimes you won’t want to weigh in personally if it can be avoided. Thus, the answer may be to use the Executive Assistant. It’s worth looking into.

The job should not get into the Dick Campbell operation; scheduling, movement of paper, etc. should remain with him.

But access will be important (I know, everyone is saying that, but in this case it’s true). The Executive Assistant should be permitted to sit in on most of your meetings (silently), should see most of your telegraphic traffic, and should work closely with Lord, Sonnenfeldt, and Pickering. He will not normally need to travel with you, although you might want him along on occasion. He can also help out on speeches, look into specific issues you want examined, and review staff studies on which you have questions.

In short, he can be another pair of eyes, and an extension of your will downward.

If you decide it’s the job you want me to do, we ought to think about whether it makes sense to keep the NSC title as well. Offhand I doubt it except, perhaps, as symbolic of the interrelationship of the two jobs. Certainly it won’t help Brent much, because the really full-time work is in the Department.

But, putting aside the question of who does it, I think the Rush idea an extremely valuable one.

  1. Source: Department of State, Files of Lawrence S. Eagleburger: Lot 84 D 204, Chron—Aug. 16–31, 1973. Sensitive. Printed from a copy that Eagleburger did not initial.
  2. Acting Secretary of State Rush first suggested to Kissinger the creation of an Executive Assistant position to replace that of the senior staff assistant, whose primary role had been to keep the Secretary apprised of personnel matters in the Department. A study prepared by Executive Secretary Pickering on August 28 and forwarded to Eagleburger the following day, outlined the responsibilities of the new position. The Executive Assistant, unlike the senior staff assistant, would be given more responsibility for “substantive business,” have more personal contact with the Secretary, and serve as liaison with the Secretariat and Deputy Secretary. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, 1970–73, ORG WH) Upon Kissinger’s entry on duty as Secretary of State on September 22, Eagleburger was designated his Executive Assistant.