President Nixon: Hello.
White House Operator: [National Security Adviser] Dr. [Henry A.] Kissinger∇, sir. There you are.
Henry Kissinger: Oh, good.
President Nixon: The second point that—but more important: Laird said that—talked about the amount of stuff we had out there. They have 500, for example, extra helicopter engines, you know.
President Nixon: And they’ve got—he says you just can’t believe what we’ve stuffed into the place.
President Nixon: And I’m just wondering if Laird might be the guy that we could send out there with a “message to Garcia.”
Kissinger: No, Laird is a definite possibility. I thought of the—
President Nixon: You know, he could—
Kissinger: Well, we shouldn’t send anybody—
President Nixon: No, no, nothing ’til you finish the agreement.
President Nixon: When the agreement is finished, Laird goes out. Laird wants to cap his career and he says—you know, he can be goddamn tough and stonewall it and say, “Look, I represent the military. I know the Congress.” Bang. That’s it. Now, either you come along here, or we’re going to go separate. You know? Just might do it. Well, we’ll think about it, but—
Kissinger: There’s a distinct possibility. I think [Deputy National Security Adviser Alexander M.] Haig∇ should go with him if that happens.
President Nixon: Oh, by all means. By all means.
Kissinger: But we’ll have to see where we—
President Nixon: You’ve got to see what comes out with the North Vietnamese.
Kissinger: That’s right, but he—I’ve thought about him as a possibility.
President Nixon: Yeah. OK, fine.
Kissinger: Right, Mr. President.
1 Nixon refers to his plans to make then-Health, Education and Welfare Secretary Elliot Richardson the next Secretary of Defense. (↑)