Alexander Haig, Jr., dies on February 20. Haig, Jr., served in several capacities in the Nixon administration, including as Deputy National Security Adviser (1970-73), Vice Chief of Staff of the Army (1973), and White House Chief of Staff (1973-74). He later became Secretary of State in the Reagan∇ administration (1981-82).
Haig appears frequently on the Nixon tapes, and we've put together a selection of notable instances.
We have collected transcripts and summaries of conversations recorded on the Nixon tapes involving or mentioning former Virginia governor Linwood Holton. When he assumed office in 1970, Holton became the first Republican governor of the state since 1874.
On December 1, 2009, President Obama addressed the nation on the issue of troop levels for the war in Afghanistan, announcing that he was sending around 30,000 more troops Afghanistan, a move that amounts to a significant escalation of the U.S. military presence in the region.
Sending troops into harm's way is arguably the most difficult decision a president confronts. The White House tapes of presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon capture remarkably intimate and candid behind-the-scenes views of presidents agonizing over this decision in another war fought in distant lands for complex geo-political reasons.
In this conversation excerpt, domestic policy advisor John Ehrlichman∇ briefed President Nixon on what he viewed as the advantages of relying on Health Maintenance Organizations as a key component of the U.S. health care system, using Edgar Kaiser's Permanente as an example. True HMOs at the time had been devised by health care reformers who hoped to control costs, improve patient care, and facilitate coverage for the uninsured. For Ehrichman, however, the HMO idea represented an opportunity to develop a private sector-based, profit-driven alternative to a national health care proposal offered by Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy (D-MA).
Nixon succinctly endorsed the idea in this conversation, and his administration soon made it the core of what would eventually become the Health Maintenance Organization and Resources Development Act of 1973.
The Nixon Library's June 23, 2009, release of 150 hours of Nixon tapes from January 1973 shed light on a little-known chapter in the history of the Vietnam War. That month, Nixon was desperate to get South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu's agreement to a settlement that National Security Adviser Henry A. Kissinger∇ had negotiated with North Vietnam. Thieu thought Nixon's settlement terms would lead to a Communist military victory, an assessment Nixon and Kissinger privately shared.
The North Vietnamese accepted Nixon's terms in October 1972, but South Vietnam resisted until January 1973. What made the difference then? The threat of a cutoff in aid to South Vietnam spearheaded by Nixon's conservative congressional supporters.
While Kissinger’s "telcons" (transcripts of the adviser's phone calls made by secretaries) previously showed how Nixon orchestrated the threat through two of his prominent Senate supporters on the war, Barry M. Goldwater∇, R-Arizona, and John C. Stennis, D-Mississippi, the telcons left out some revealing statements, such as this one that Nixon made to Kissinger on Inauguration Day 1973: "I don't know whether the threat goes too far or not, but I'd do any damn thing, that is, or to cut off his [Thieu’s] head if necessary."
We have posted a collection of transcripts of conversations involving and directly related to the long Senate career of Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy. Drawing from the JFK, LBJ, and Nixon tapes, it includes calls between the newly elected Senator and his older brother, President John F. Kennedy; calls with President Johnson during the 1964 election campaign while bedridden recovering from a broken back suffered during a plane crash; and President Nixon's efforts to spy on Kennedy in the leadup to the 1972 election.
On November 7, 1972, Richard M. Nixon won reelection in the biggest Republican presidential landslide of the Cold War, getting 60.7 percent of the vote compared to Democrat George McGovern∇'s 37.5 percent. He won the electoral votes of every state except Massachusetts.
John S. McCain III, (1936-) currently a Republican Senator from Arizona and Republican nominee for President in the 2008 Presidential election, was a U.S. Navy pilot during the Vietnam War. In October 1967 he was shot down over North Vietnam, taken prisoner, and held captive as a prisoner of war for five and a half years. His father, Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., was Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Pacific Command (CINCPAC∇) during much of the time his son was a POW.
We've compiled transcripts of the most substantive mentions of the McCain family in the LBJ and Nixon recordings. Given the time period the tapes span, most of these discussions relate to the Senator's father, Admiral John S. McCain, Jr. (1911-1981), who became a four star admiral in the U.S. Navy and served during the Vietnam War as CINCPAC from 1968 to 1972. Senator McCain's grandfather, John S. McCain, Sr. (1884-1945), had also been an Admiral in the U.S. Navy.
Nixon and Kissinger∇ on South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu
The unscripted remarks by Vice President Spiro Agnew∇ were a recurring problem for President Richard Nixon∇. Nixon was particularly unimpressed with Agnew's habit of mixing socially with the press corps, complaining: "I know the press like him. They love to say, 'He's a nice fellow, by God, he'll drink with us.' And I know I'm considered to be very stiff with these bastards. And I will continue to be. I don't believe in getting too close to them. Never let them get too close.
When Nixon sat down for this discussion with Donald Rumsfeld∇, then a counselor to the president, he complained of recently published comments in which Agnew had unfavorably compared African-American leader to authoritarian African leaders--Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, and Joseph Mobutu of Congo.
This clip became the subject of public debate at the time of Rumsfeld's confirmation hearing in January 2001 for the position of Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush.
* Please note that this clip contains offensive language.
In this conversation, Bob Haldeman∇ updates the President on recent press coverage of pro-administration veterans countering the anti-Vietnam War protests of John F. Kerry.
In April 1971, as John Kerry led a demonstration of Vietnam Veterans Against the War in Washington, DC, the Nixon White House sought to discredit him. In this conversation, Nixon aide Chuck Colson∇ told the president that in his opinion Kerry had turned against the war out of political opportunism after he returned to the United States.
In this Oval Office discussion, Nixon and his advisers discuss recent press coverage of the anti-war group, Vietnam Veterans Against the War. They were particularly impressed by the performance of John F. Kerry before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the previous day.
Kerry's testimony had included sharp accusations of what he said were war crimes being committed on a daily basis by U.S. troops with full awareness of officers at all levels of command.
President Nixon met with a group of student body presidents. Neither he nor his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman∇, were impressed. None of the students, Nixon said, measured up favorably against his own time as student body president at Whittier College.