The Indianapolis Star reports that recently released snippets from Nixon-era phone conversations with Henry Kissinger include the following:
U.S.-Soviet tensions were peaking over the Arab-Israeli war, and British Prime Minister Edward Heath's office called the White House just before 8 p.m. to ask to speak with Nixon.
Kissinger: "Can we tell them no? When I talked to the president, he was loaded."
Brent Scowcroft, Kissinger's assistant: "We could tell him the president is not available and perhaps he can call you."
Kissinger said Nixon would be available in the morning….
Kissinger's familiar relationship with the longtime ambassador from the Soviet Union, Anatoly Dobrynin, was apparent in their conversations.
Dobrynin: "I heard that you were sitting with a very nice girl . . . and I guess I have her picture?"
Kissinger: "Oh, yes?"
Dobrynin: "In the calendar. I think she was on this Playboy calendar."
Kissinger: "Oh-h-h-h-h, you're a dirty old man."
Dobrynin: ". . . she's a real nice girl."
Kissinger: ". . . she's very attractive. I hope she isn't a nice girl."
The Wash Post version of the story includes this more serious and disturbing exchange:
The transcripts include several episodes that appear at odds with Kissinger's version of events, such as his claim that Washington had nothing to do with the September 1973 military coup in Chile that toppled the democratically elected, leftist government of Salvador Allende. "We didn't do it," Kissinger told Nixon, "I mean we helped them. [unintelligible] created the conditions as great as possible."
Peter Kornbluh, a Latin America specialist at the National Security Archive, said the passage appeared to mark an acknowledgment by Kissinger that U.S. policy paved the way for the coup that brought Augusto Pinochet to power. "It's diametrically opposed to the account he provides in his memoirs," Kornbluh said.
There are some 20,000 phone transcripts that Kissinger gave to the Library of Congress in 1976, stipulating that they remain closed until five years after he croaked. He turned them over to the National Archives in 2002, after legal action by the National Security Archive, the anti-government-secrecy nonprofit mentioned above (yes, the name is confusing in this and every context). After vetting them for security and privacy concerns, almost all were released yesterday, says the Post.
The National Security Archive site is well worth killing a few hours at. Check it out here. Like The Smoking Gun and The Memory Hole, it's a treasure trove of weird, wild, and interesting links that range from documents and photos of the fateful meeting between Nixon and Elvis Presley to an in-depth look at the international context of the Cold War to exposes of Pakistan's immense aid to the Taliban and "adolescent mujahid."