Richard Nixon and Henry A. Kissinger on 15 June 1971


Transcript

Edited by Ken Hughes, with Kieran K. Matthews and Marc J. Selverstone

After the President reiterated his decision to prohibit all White House officials from speaking to the New York Times in retaliation for its decision to publish the Pentagon Papers, the national security adviser informed him of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme’s comments on the leak.

Henry A. Kissinger

The Swedish prime minister [Olof Palme] has popped off, too. We’ve just got a press ticker. I talked to [William P.] Bill [Rogers] about it.[note 1] William P. Rogers was secretary of state from January 1969 to September 1973.

President Nixon

The Swedish prime minister?

Kissinger

He said that this proves that it was a war prepared by deceit, that the American government has undermined democracy, and it must withdraw unconditionally from Vietnam. I told Bill we have to call our ambassador back, and he’s going to make a recommendation something to that effect tomorrow morning.

Twenty-two seconds excised by the National Archives and Records Administration for national security reasons.
President Nixon

But, you know, now, isn’t that a hell of a damn thing?

Kissinger

Yeah.

President Nixon

"It proves the war—" But also it shows that that’s part of the conspiracy, in my opinion.

Kissinger

Oh, yeah.

President Nixon

He wouldn’t otherwise pay any attention to it. Somebody got to him. Henry, there is a conspiracy. You understand?

Kissinger

I believe it now. I didn’t believe it formerly, but I believe it now.

President Nixon

[Unclear] there is. The fellow who has leaked the papers, whether it’s [Leslie H.] Gelb or the RAND Corporation guy, he’s in conspiracy.[note 2] Leslie H. Gelb was director of policy planning and arms control for International Security Affairs at the Department of Defense from 1967 to 1969. Neil Sheehan’s a bastard.[note 3] New York Times reporter Neil Sheehan obtained a copy of the Pentagon Papers from Daniel Ellsberg. The Times began publishing stories on the top secret Defense Department history on 13 June 1971. I’ve known him for years.

Kissinger

Oh, yes. [Unclear]

President Nixon

Terrible son of a—why [unclear]

Kissinger

And then—well, the whole syndrome—[Clark M.] Clifford, the New York Times, the veterans—they don’t all happen at once by accident.[note 4] Clark M. Clifford was a Washington lawyer; adviser to presidents Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson; and chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board from 1963 to 1968. Clifford served as secretary of defense from March 1968 to January 1969.

President Nixon

Yeah.

The conversation then turned to a proposed congressional resolution saying that if Hanoi released American prisoners within 60 days, the U.S. would withdraw from Vietnam nine months after that. Kissinger said Hanoi would never agree to that.

Cite as

“Richard Nixon and Henry A. Kissinger on 15 June 1971,” Conversation 521-013 (PRDE Excerpt A), Presidential Recordings Digital Edition [Chasing Shadows, ed. Ken Hughes] (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2014–). URL: http://prde.upress.virginia.edu/conversations/4006737