A Note on Sources

What made these Kissinger transcripts available are the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and other federal statutes and regulations requiring declassification and release of historical documentation. Nothing in The Kissinger Transcripts is drawn from Henry Kissingerís papers held by the Library of Congress. Although they are the most comprehensive set of official records on Nixon-Ford-Kissinger national security policy, Kissinger deposited them at the Library of Congress in 1977 only under the condition that they would not be available to the public for twenty five years or five years after his death, whichever came later. While the most comprehensive set of Henry Kissingerís papers are unavailable, copies of Kissinger transcripts, reports to the President, and the like are held at various government repositories, including the National Archives (which holds Nixon-Kissinger National Security Files), the Gerald Ford Library, the State Department, and the National Security Council. The Archiveís targeted FOIA requests to the State Department, declassification requests to the Nixon Presidential Materials Project and the Gerald Ford Library, and dogged research at the National Archives are the source of the materials in The Kissinger Transcripts.

Omissions in Henry Kissingerís Memoirs

Henry Kissinger used his copies of memoranda of conversations extensively while writing his memoirs of the Nixon years, White House Years (1979) and Years of Upheaval (1982). The Kissinger Transcripts show that he was very careful about what he included and excluded. Rather than contradicting his memoirs, the transcripts add much information that Kissinger deliberately left out of the record. The biggest omission is the extraordinary degree to which Nixon and Kissinger tilted U.S. policy toward Beijing, to the point of offering the Chinese sensitive intelligence information on Soviet military deployments, in their effort to cement a "tacit" alliance against the Soviet Union. The other "sins of omission" rather than "commission" fall into three critical areas: 1) material that would seriously irritate or disappoint friends and allies, such as the Japanese, the Taiwanese, and the Germans, 2) evidence of just how far Kissinger was willing to deceive and manipulate Soviet interlocutors like Dobrynin, or 3) information that remained officially classified at the time, e.g., the existence of satellite reconnaissance programs.