002-025

Date: 
Wednesday, April 21, 1971 - 4:59pm - 5:02pm
Participants: 
Richard Nixon, William Saxbe
Location: 
White House Telephone
Listen: 


 

President Nixon: Hello?
Operator: Senator [William B.] Saxbe [R-Ohio].
President Nixon: Hello?
William Saxbe: Yes.
President Nixon: Bill?
Saxbe: Yes, sir.
President Nixon: I just wanted to thank you for your—I didn't get to see it, but I—just looking at my news summary, and I saw your comments on the morning show, and I'm grateful. 1 I hope you don't catch too much hell for it.
Saxbe: I won't. [President Nixon laughs.]
Saxbe: No, I think that—
President Nixon: Well, I followed you while you were out there. How long—you were gone about how long?
Saxbe: Ten days.
President Nixon: Ten days. It's really worthwhile. You know, you-–
Saxbe: It gives you an insight on-–
President Nixon: Yeah.
Saxbe: —what's going on especially in Laos-–
President Nixon: Yeah.
Saxbe: —because nobody can believe that.
President Nixon: Mm-hmm. I have asked, and I would appreciate if you would do this, you know—and I know you get [unclear], but if—and, if you could give a full report to [National Security Adviser] Henry Kissinger on it, so that we can-–
Saxbe: I will be happy to.
President Nixon: And then after you finish we can—I'd like to get a little feel of it myself. He'll—
Saxbe: [with President Nixon assenting] One of the difficulties that I had talking about Laos is that it's—I'm sure you're familiar with—what's going on there is just very unusual.
President Nixon: Yes, of course [laughs]. We know. [chuckling] You don't even talk about it on the phone.
Saxbe: Well, that was classified and I was limited on what I could say. But I think that [U.S. Ambassador G. McMurtrie] Godley is doing about all he can do.
President Nixon: He's a good man. He's a good man. And a decent man, too, you know?
Saxbe: A decent man and he's thrust into an unusual position for a diplomat.
President Nixon: And you want to remember, too, Bill, that Laos is something that [U.S. Ambassador At Large W. Averell] Harriman set up back in 1962, that this has been going on, that we made the first disclosure of it last year in March, and that we're doing everything we can to wind the damn thing down, and if there weren't 50,000 North Vietnamese in there, there'd be no problem.2
Saxbe: And don't forget about 14,000 Chinese.
President Nixon: Yeah. Yeah. I—yeah. Up there in that road thing, that's the kind of thing I'd like to get a little fill-in. Well, I'll have Henry give you a call when you—and if you'd fill him in, I'll appreciate it.
Saxbe: I'd be happy to.
President Nixon: Fine.
Saxbe: Thank you for calling.
President Nixon: Fine. And get a little rest.
Saxbe: Thank you.
President Nixon: Right.
 
1 Commenting on allegations that the U.S. Air Force had destroyed many Laotian villages, Saxbe said that radar allowed pilots to specifically target enemy troops and avoid civilians. (↑)
2 Nixon is laying the blame for the North Vietnamese infiltration via the Ho Chi Minh Trail through Laos on the shoulders of Harriman, who negotiated the 1962 Geneva Accords regarding Laos. (↑)

Original tape courtesy of the Nixon Library. This transcript is a working draft. Please let us know if you find important errors.