206. Editorial Note

On December 13, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford’s recently-appointed Assistant for National Security Affairs, Lieutenant General Brent Scowcroft, was interviewed by American Broadcasting Company (ABC) television journalist Ann Compton on his new role succeeding Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, for whom he had served as Deputy Assistant since 1973:

“Compton: I would like to ask you how you think the leadership of the National Security Council has changed in character.

“General Scowcroft: It hasn’t really changed in character. There has been a gradual evolution of roles which would take place in any case. When [Kissinger] became Secretary of State, there was a gradual evolution as he became more and more burdened with the duties of State. I have assumed more and more here.

“Compton: You feel then there has been a gradual transition?

“General Scowcroft: Other than the formal transition, there is not much change—a few adjustments but that is all.”

Compton also asked Scowcroft about his relationship with Kissinger and the relationship of Presidents Ford and Richard M. Nixon to the NSC. Scowcroft replied, “It is never easy working for Henry Kissinger. As a matter of fact, it is traumatic. He is a very difficult and demanding person but I am extremely fond of him.”

“Compton: Are your philosophies and view points similar?

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“General Scowcroft: Yes. Our general strategic and philosophic outlook is very close.

“Compton: Because of having worked with him?

“General Scowcroft: They are naturally quite coincident. Maybe they have grown closer, I am not sure. But, we do have our differences.

“Compton: Have any of your thoughts on National Security in general changed or grown or developed in your relationship with him?

“General Scowcroft: All my thoughts have grown as a result of him. He has a gigantic intellect. I have learned and benefited immensely.

“Compton: You came here under President Nixon. President Ford has been here a year now. Has the day-to-day operation of the NSC changed that you’ve noticed?

“General Scowcroft: No.

“Compton: There is a continuation from when Nixon was here?

“General Scowcroft: There have been changes in accommodating to the way Nixon and Ford do business. Nixon liked to read. He liked his operations all written out for him and clearly delineated. Then he would take them home and review them. He liked to make policy decisions on that basis. Ford is more people-oriented. He still likes the option paper but he likes to interchange as well. He is much more inclined to talk it over.

“Compton: Do you sense that Ford has any trouble grasping these concepts? As a Congressman, he didn’t have the national security background that Nixon had. He had, I assume, a greater flow and could grasp more information than Ford could.

“General Scowcroft: In general, that is true. But Ford as Minority Leader got involved in these issues—he was quite conversant with defense matters. Secretary Kissinger or myself would brief him when he was Vice President so he came in with a good general background. Naturally, he still lacked the depth and sophistication that Nixon had but it wasn’t a standing start, either.

“Compton: Has he made up for it since then?

“General Scowcroft: Oh yes, he studies the issues and really does his home work. He is very thorough.”

The memorandum of conversation is in the Ford Library, National Security Adviser, NSC Press and Congressional Liaison Staff, 1973–1976, Box 7, Chronological File, November–December 1975.