6. Editorial Note

On February 4, 1969, the National Security Council met in the Cabinet Room at the White House from 10:07 to 11:45 a.m. to discuss several issues, including the crisis over holding the Bundesversammlung in Berlin. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary) In a January 30 memorandum Assistant to the President Kissinger notified Vice President Agnew, Secretary of State Rogers, Secretary of Defense Laird, and George Lincoln, Director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness, that President Nixon wanted a briefing at an NSC meeting on contingency plans for the Middle East, Berlin, and Korea. “The briefing should focus on the provisions of current military plans for U.S. contingency action in these areas,” Kissinger explained. “Although the principal emphasis should be on military contingency operations and related decisions, they should be addressed in their overall politico-military context and include a background overview of current intelligence pertaining to each area.” (National Security Council, NSC Meetings File, NSC Meeting 2/4/69)

Kissinger met Laird and General Earle G. Wheeler, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the Pentagon on January 30 to prepare for the NSC meeting. According to a memorandum of conversation:

“Dr. Kissinger suggested that we have Mr. Helms provide some intelligence on both Berlin and Korea and that the JCS briefings on [Page 13]Berlin and Korea should be brief. Mr. Laird then discussed his forthcoming meetings with Gerhard Schroeder, Minister of Defense, Federal Republic of Germany, and the treatment of the NPT issue at the meeting. It was agreed that he should take the line that this Administration recognizes your problem and that it will not move out bilaterally in the future without clearing with the FRG first.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 220, Agency Files, Department of Defense, Vol. I)

Laird met Schröder in New York on February 1; a memorandum of conversation is in the Washington National Records Center, Department of Defense, OSD Files: FRC 330 74 0045, Box 1, Signer’s Copies, February.

Nixon chaired the NSC meeting on February 4; Kissinger, Rogers, Laird, Lincoln, Helms, and General John P. McConnell, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, also participated. Colonels Elmer R. Daniels, Jr. and Joseph C. McDonough from the Joint Chiefs of Staff gave a briefing on Berlin. No formal minutes of the meeting have been found. Alexander M. Haig, Jr., Kissinger’s senior military assistant, took handwritten notes of the discussion. The notes on Berlin, as transcribed by the editor, read:

“Pres[ident]: You know plans are useless but planning essential— like broken play in football—it works because we’ve thought about it. It’s essential. Never comes up—not the way we planned—but we benefit from this—tell your people.

Laird introduced Daniels. Interdepartmental combined planning central org[anization]. [At this point, Daniels apparently briefed the participants on Berlin.]

K[issinger]: Does this apply to civilian or military access?

“McC[onnell]: We’ve only had this w[ith] military. I’ve seen two— no military plan. Berlin org[anization]—plans for means to reopen.

“P[resident]: Questions?

“H[elms]: My problem is it deals w[ith] Allied access—What about civilian access? This is more complex—Shouldn’t we look at this?

“McConnell: I think Rhine set [?] would work. We’ve just never done it. For example, we had UK civilian aircraft [unclear].

“P: What was last Berlin huff puff?

“Helms: 1965.

“P: No indication that elections won’t make trouble?

“Helms: See none.

“P: Has our psn[position] been made stronger to Soviets?

Rogers: Yes. I told them yesterday this could finish NPT.

“Pres: This is useful. Soviets asked if this is a condition.” (National Security Council, Minutes File, NSC Minutes, 1969 Originals)