The National Security Archive recently published a collection of transcribed telephone conversations taped secretly by Henry Kissinger during his term as national security advisor under Richard Nixon. Unbeknownst to his colleagues, Kissinger taped his ingoing and outgoing phone conversations and had them transcribed by his secretary. When he left office in 1977, Kissinger took the transcripts with him claiming they were “private papers”. After years of legal actions, Freedom of Information Act requests, and careful cataloguing and indexing, the National Security Archive has released the transcripts—more than 30,000 pages—to the public for the first time.
The set sheds light on every aspect of Nixon-Ford diplomacy, including U.S.-Soviet détente, the wars in Southeast Asia, the 1971 South Asia crisis, and the October 1973 Middle East War, among many other developments. Kissinger’s many interlocutors include political and policy figures, such as Presidents Nixon and Ford, Secretary of State William Rogers, Governor Nelson Rockefeller, former Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, and Soviet Ambassador Anatoli Dobrynin; journalists and publishers, such as Ted Koppel, James Reston, and Katherine Graham; and such show business friends as Frank Sinatra.