This is a conspiracy

Date: 
Thursday, July 1, 1971 - 8:45am - 9:52am
Participants: 
Richard Nixon, Bob Haldeman
Listen: 


President Nixon: I talked to [Charles] Colson. I've done a lot of thinking last night, and I'd like to do some more this afternoon and this evening if I don't have to do something on that July 3 thing. I have a feeling that we have a hell of an opportunity here. Now, you won't get that from anybody else here probably, except for, well, Colson who, of course, sees an opportunity in everything. [Unclear.] But here's why: this is a conspiracy, it does involve these people, and they are not on very good ground in many cases. Also, we now have the opportunity really to leak out all these nasty stories that will kill these bastards. I don't know whether you noticed this morning, but even the [New York] Times, to my great surprise, gave a hell of a wallop to the [John F.] Kennedy thing--”Kennedy and [Ngo Dinh] Diem.1  Agreed?

Bob Haldeman: Yep.

President Nixon: Did the--”

Haldeman: So did the [Washington] Post.2

  • 1. That morning's New York Times included multiple stories covering Pentagon Papers revelations, especially the contention that, as one of the articles put it, "The Pentagon's secret study of the Vietnam war discloses that President Kennedy knew and approved of plans for the military coup d'etat that overthrew President Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963." "U.S. and Diem's Overthrow: Step by Step," New York Times, 1 July 1971, p.1. See also, "Death Knell for Diem," New York Times, 1 July 1971, p.13; "A Challenge for the U.S.," New York Times, 1 July 1971, p.6; "Diem at the Fulcrum," New York Times, 1 July 1971, p.7; Henrick Smith, "Pentagon Papers: Study Reports Kennedy Made --˜Gamble' Into a --˜Broad Commitment'," New York Times, 1 July 1971, p.1.
  • 2. Don Oberdorfer, "U.S. Supported Coup Against Diem," Washington Post, 1 July 1971, p.A1; Murrey Marder, "LBJ Saw de Gaulle as Viet Threat," Washington Post, 1 July 1971, p.A1.

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