Indexed Trove of Kissinger Phone Transcripts Is Completed

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WASHINGTON -- It was April 1972, and American B-52 bombers were pummeling North Vietnam. President Richard M. Nixon got on the phone with his national security adviser, Henry A. Kissinger, for an update on the air assault on the port city of Haiphong. The men struggled to persuade each other that the war might still be won.

“They dropped a million pounds of bombs,” Mr. Kissinger said.

Nixon was pleased. “Goddamn, that must have been a good strike!” he said.

Then the president had a moment of doubt, recalling the dismal experience of his immediate predecessor, Lyndon B. Johnson: “Johnson bombed them for years, and it didn’t do any good.”

Mr. Kissinger reassured his boss, saying: “But, Mr. President, Johnson never had a strategy. He was sort of picking away at them. He would go in with 50 planes, 20 planes. I bet you we will have had more planes over there in one day than Johnson had in a month.”

What the two men said 36 years ago can be known with such precision today because they worked in what was, in retrospect, the golden age of White House taping. Both Nixon and Mr. Kissinger had given secret orders to record their calls, each evidently without the other’s knowledge.

On Tuesday, the National Security Archive, a nonprofit research group at George Washington University, published an online edition of transcripts of 15,000 Kissinger phone calls from 1969 to 1977, fully indexed and searchable for the first time. A selection was posted on the archive’s Web site,, and the full collection is available to subscribers, which include many university libraries.

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