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Conversation: 459-002

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Start Date: Saturday, February 27, 1971 2:35 PM

End Date: Saturday, February 27, 1971 4:57 PM

Participants:

Nixon, Richard M. (President)Butterfield, Alexander P.Haldeman, H. R. ("Bob")Kissinger, Henry A.[Unknown person(s)]Bull, Stephen B.Laird, Melvin R.Helms, Richard M.Sisco, Joseph J.Rogers, William P.Haig, Alexander M., Jr.Moorer, Thomas H. (Adm.)Ratliffe, Walter B. (Lt. Col.)

Recording Device: Oval Office

Full Tape Conversation Start Time: 00:21:29

Full Tape Conversation End Time: 02:40:36

459-002.mp3

NARA Description:

On February 27, 1971, President Richard M. Nixon, Alexander P. Butterfield, H. R. ("Bob") Haldeman, Henry A. Kissinger, unknown person(s), Stephen B. Bull, Melvin R. Laird, Richard M. Helms, Joseph J. Sisco, William P. Rogers, Alexander M. Haig, Jr., Adm. Thomas H. Moorer, and Lt. Col. Walter B. Ratliffe met in the Oval Office of the White House from 9:35 am to 11:57 am. The Oval Office taping system captured this recording, which is known as Conversation 459-002 of the White House Tapes.

Nixon Library Finding Aid:

Conversation No. 459-2

Date: February 27, 1971
Time: 9:35 am - 11:57 am
Location: Oval Office

The President met with Alexander P. Butterfield and H. R. (“Bob”) Haldeman

     The President’s schedule
          -Astronaut dinner
               -Attendance
                      -Guest list
                            -Social Office
               -Ronald L. Ziegler’s view
                      -President’s role
               -Tricia Nixon
               -Julie Nixon Eisenhower
               -East Room
               -Seating arrangements
                      -The President
                      -Astronauts
                      -The Vice President
                      -William P. Rogers
                                               2

                           NIXON PRESIDENTIAL MATERIALS STAFF

                                       Tape Subject Log
                                          (rev. 9/08)



                     -John B. Connally
                     -Dr. Edward E. David, Jr.
                     -David Packard
               -William L. Safire
                     -Hole-in-One Club
                     -Alan B. Shepard, Jr.
               -Awards
                     -President’s view
               -The President’s remarks
               -Citations
                     -William A. Anders
                     -The Vice President
               -Children
           -Camp Hoover
               -Butterfield
               -Peter M. Flanigan’s visit
               -Robert H. Finch
               -Condition of camp
               -Furniture
               -Possible visit by the President
               -Major General James D. (“Don”) Hughes
               -Possible visit by the President
                     -Difficulties

Butterfield left at an unknown time after 9:35 am

           -Florida trip
                 -Thelma C. (Ryan) (“Pat”) Nixon
           -Camp David
                 -Upcoming schedule
           -Trip to Florida
                 -Weather

Butterfield entered at an unknown time after 9:35 am

           -Hughes’ report on Camp Hoover
               -Recommendation

Butterfield left at an unknown time before 9:46 am

           -Weekend activities
               -Church
                                              3

                           NIXON PRESIDENTIAL MATERIALS STAFF

                                     Tape Subject Log
                                        (rev. 9/08)



                 -Camp David
                 -Florida
                       -Forthcoming trip
                 -Camp David
                       -Presidential work schedule
                 -Forthcoming National Security Council [NSC] meeting
           -Victor Lasky
                 -Interview with the President                        Conv. No. 459-2 (cont.)
                 -Book
                       -Lasky’s research
                 -Proposed interview with the President
                       -Questions
           -Fiftieth anniversary of Reader’s Digest
                 -Possible White House dinner
                       -DeWitt Wallace
                       -Announcement
                       -Lila (Acheson) Wallace
                 -Attitudes
                 -Arrangements

Butterfield entered at 9:46 am

     Morning schedule

Henry A. Kissinger entered and Haldeman and Butterfield left at 9:47 am

     Laos (Lam Son)
          -Military situation
                -Army of the Republic of Vietnam [ARVN]
          -Briefing
          -Attitudes of military
          -General Creighton W. Abrams, Jr.
                -ARVN airborne forces
                -Strategy
          -ARVN military
                -North Vietnamese forces
                -Kissinger’s assessment
                -News reports
          -Kissinger’s meeting with Anatoliy F. Dobrynin
                -Soviet position
                      -North Vietnam
                -Soviet view of Cambodia and Laos operations
                                             4

                         NIXON PRESIDENTIAL MATERIALS STAFF

                                    Tape Subject Log
                                       (rev. 9/08)



          -Cambodian operation
              -Reports
                   -ARVN
                   -North Vietnamese casualties

An unknown woman entered at an unknown time after 9:47 am

                                                           Conv. No. 459-2 (cont.)
******************************************************************************

BEGIN WITHDRAWN ITEM NO. 1
[National Security]
[Duration: 2m 20s ]


     MIDDLE EAST

The unknown woman left at an unknown time before 10:06 am


END WITHDRAWN ITEM NO. 1

******************************************************************************


     Laos (Lam Son)
          -Marines
                -Reinforcement
                      -Airborne forces
                -Tactical movement
          -Supply routes
          -Military situation
          -Strategy
                -Supply routes
                -Tchepone
                -ARVN forces
                -Timing
          -President’s view
                -North Vietnamese supply routes
                -Rationale
          -Casualties
                -North Vietnamese
                                                  5

                          NIXON PRESIDENTIAL MATERIALS STAFF

                                      Tape Subject Log
                                         (rev. 9/08)



               -B-52 Strikes
               -Tactical proposals
          -Future prospects for success
               -ARVN
          -Media coverage
               -October 7th speech
               -John D. Ehrlichman
                     -James B. (“Scotty”) Reston                      Conv. No. 459-2 (cont.)
                     -Democratic briefings
                     -Kissinger’s forthcoming conversation with Reston

[The President talked with Haldeman at an unknown time between 9:47 am and 10:06 am]

[Conversation No. 459-2A]

          -Ehrlichman’s call to Reston

[End of telephone conversation]

          -Reston’s reaction to Laos operation
               -Kissinger’s previous conversation with Reston
                     -Cambodia
                     -The President’s policy
               -Reaction of European press
                     -Henry Brandon
               -Media coverage
                     -Kissinger’s view

Haldeman entered at an unknown time after 9:47 am

     The President’s schedule
          -John N. Mitchell
          -Florida
                -Des Moines
                -Charles G. (“Bebe”) Rebozo
                      -Weather in Florida
                      -The President’s decision

Haldeman left at an unknown time before 10:06 am

Stephen B. Bull entered at an unknown time after 9:47 am
                                               6

                          NIXON PRESIDENTIAL MATERIALS STAFF

                                     Tape Subject Log
                                        (rev. 9/08)



     Schedule
          -Forthcoming NSC meeting
               -Melvin R. Laird
               -Joseph J. Sisco
               -Rogers
               -Richard M. Helms
               -General Alexander M. Haig, Jr.
                                                                      Conv. No. 459-2 (cont.)
Bull left at an unknown time before 10:06 am

          -Television

Laird, Helms, Sisco, Rogers, and Haig entered at 10:06 am


******************************************************************************

BEGIN WITHDRAWN ITEM NO. 2
[National Security]
[Duration: 1h 14m 39s ]


     MIDDLE EAST

An unknown person entered at an unknown time after 10:06 am

The unknown person left at an unknown time before 11:21 am


END WITHDRAWN ITEM NO. 2

******************************************************************************


Admiral Thomas H. Moorer and Lieutenant Colonel Walter B. Ratliffe entered and Sisco left at
11:21 am

     Laos (Lam Son) operation
          -Previous briefings
          -Status
          -Congress
                -Rogers
                                        7

                    NIXON PRESIDENTIAL MATERIALS STAFF

                                Tape Subject Log
                                   (rev. 9/08)



     -The President’s forthcoming television appearance
          -Rogers’ forthcoming press conference
          -Strategy
                -US policy
                      -Public relations
                -Abrams
                -Rogers
                                                          Conv. No. 459-2 (cont.)
Cambodia (Chub) operation
    -Military situation
          -Casualties
          -Goals
    -Death of General Do Cao Tri
          -Effect on South Vietnamese forces
          -Military operations
          -General Thomas J. (“Stonewall”) Jackson
                -Gettysburg
    -Importance of leadership

Laos (Lam Son)
     -Military situation
     -Strategy
     -Military operations
           -Ground forces
           -Bombing
     -North Vietnamese forces
           -Casualties
     -Tank Fight
     -South Vietnamese [ARVN] forces
           -Military situation
           -Casualties
     -Military operations
     -Abrams’ plan
           -Airborne troops
           -Marines
           -ARVN reserves
                 -Laird’s view
     -North Vietnamese strategy
           -Troop movements
           -Effect on US strategy
           -General Vo Nguyen Giap
     -US Air Force bombing
                                               8

                         NIXON PRESIDENTIAL MATERIALS STAFF

                                     Tape Subject Log
                                        (rev. 9/08)



               -North Vietnam headquarters
               -Command centers
                     -Problems
         -Intelligence
               -President’s view
                     -Helms’ response
                     -Press accounts
         -Abrams                                              Conv. No. 459-2 (cont.)
               -Unknown ARVN general
         -Ho Chi Minh Trail
               -Decrease in North Vietnamese use
                     -Supplies
                     -Effect on Lam Son operation
                     -Routes
                     -Moorer’s assessment
                     -President’s view
                           -Need for public relations
                     -Intelligence
                     -Goals of Lam Son operation
         -ARVN forces


******************************************************************************

BEGIN WITHDRAWN ITEM NO. 3
[National Security]
[Duration: 5s ]


    LAM SON


END WITHDRAWN ITEM NO. 3

******************************************************************************


         -Demilitarized Zone [DMZ]
              -US strategy
              -North Vietnamese troop strength
              -American troop strength
         -Khe Sanh
                                   9

               NIXON PRESIDENTIAL MATERIALS STAFF

                          Tape Subject Log
                             (rev. 9/08)



      -US troop strength
            -Estimates
            -Roles
-US strategy
      -Effect on North Vietnamese forces
      -Marines
      -Central Intelligence Agency [CIA]
      -Defense Intelligence Agency [DIA]             Conv. No. 459-2 (cont.)
-Infantry role
      -Press account
            -Search and rescue missions
      -Rogers
      -John Sherman Cooper
      -Search and rescue missions
            -Son Tay mission
            -Administration position
      -Press accounts
      -Department of Defense briefing
            -Jerry W. Friedheim
-Press briefing
      -Ziegler
            -Questions and responses
                  -Administration position
                        -Vietnam policy
      -President’s previous experiences
            -Dwight D. Eisenhower
            -Middle East
      -Relations with press corps
            -President’s position
            -Ziegler’s role
                  -Answers to questions on Lam Son
            -Goal of press corps
            -President’s view
            -Abrams
                  -Responses to questions
            -Importance of public relations
      -Theodore S. (“Ted”) Williams
            -Relations with press
            -Denny D. McLain
      -Need for objective coverage
            -President’s position
      -Rogers’ view
                                                10

                            NIXON PRESIDENTIAL MATERIALS STAFF

                                     Tape Subject Log
                                        (rev. 9/08)



           -Laos
                -Abrams
                -ARVN
                     -Need for victory
                          -Terrain
                          -Prisoners
                     -Casualties
                     -South Vietnamese morale                    Conv. No. 459-2 (cont.)
                     -North Vietnamese morale
                          -Laird’s trip

     Press conferences
           -Ziegler
           -Methods of handling
                -President’s position
                      -Responses to questions

     Laos (Lam Son)
          -Objectives
               -Changes
               -Tchepone
               -Ho Chi Minh Trail
                     -North Vietnamese supplies
                          -Decrease
          -Media coverage
               -Laird/Kissinger Experience

     Farewells

     Instructions to Moorer
           -Abrams
                -Report

Kissinger, et al. left at 11:57 am
                                               11

                           NIXON PRESIDENTIAL MATERIALS STAFF

                                      Tape Subject Log
                                         (rev. 9/08)