Partial Transcript: Why don't you just start from the beginning?
Segment Synopsis: Read describes his path to becoming Executive Secretary and Special Assistant to Dean Rusk. He shares some of his duties and provides a brief history of the office. Read comments on his relationship with Dean Rusk.
Keywords: Brubeck; George Marshall; Marine Corps; State Department; communications
Partial Transcript: Did you ever get in trouble with my dad...?
Segment Synopsis: Read says that Rusk knew how to filter important information and deal with short term crises. He mentions President Kennedy's American University speech, recalling that the test ban proposal precipitated his living in the White House and monitoring cables for the next two weeks. Read recalls corresponding with various foreign policy experts to find answers to Dean Rusk's questions.
Keywords: Russia; Soviets; communications; private information
Partial Transcript: It sounds like you were very involved in the procedural aspects of how my dad operated.
Segment Synopsis: Read comments on Dean Rusk's discipline and discretion in analyzing crisis information. He recalls the Gulf of Tonkin incident, commenting on Rusk's reaction and William Bundy's pre-formulated Gulf of Tonkin resolution. Read mentions Rusk's insightful interpretation of a message from the Moscow hotline.
Keywords: CINCPAC; Johnson; Llewellyn Thompson; Russia; interception
Partial Transcript: ...other incidents I recall: one was probably in the fall of '63...
Segment Synopsis: Read talks about tensions during the blockade of Berlin, a false alarm regarding a Chinese attack on the U.S. Navy, a rogue American missile headed for Cuba, and a U.S. fighter jet that crashed in Manchuria.
Keywords: Checkpoint Charley; East Germany; Gulf of Tonkin; NMCC; Operations Center; Russia; Soviet; ballistic missiles; communications; crisis diplomacy; foreign relations; public relations
Partial Transcript: Let me use another line of questioning here.
Segment Synopsis: Richard Rusk and Benjamin Read contrast Dean Rusk, a reticent man with a great poker face, to former Secretaries of State including the more communicative Dean Acheson and the inconsistent Henry Kissinger. Read describes his own role as a conduit between different departments as he attempted to determine and share what Rusk was thinking. Read postulates that Rusk was secretive in order to protect his privileged relationship with the president and also as a result of his personality type.
Keywords: Bundy; Lucius Battle; Rostow; Tuesday luncheons; debriefing; information; memory
RICHARD RUSK: Well, where do we start?
READ: I am in your hands. It's hard to know.
RICHARD RUSK: I could let you free-lance it or ask you a bunch of questions. Ihave a bunch.
READ: Why don't you start with the questions?
RICHARD RUSK: Why don't you just start from the beginning? Incidentally, youwere in the Marine Corps Reserve during the war. Where did you serve?
READ: South Pacific, and then in China for a year, which was an interestingexperience. I was a buck sergeant back in those days.
RICHARD RUSK: I'll be darned. I went into the Marines right after high school.00:01:00
READ: I first met your father in early '63 when my predecessor in that job,[William H.] Bill Brubeck, who was then special assistant to your father and Executive Secretary of the State Department, called and asked if I would be interested in becoming his deputy. He made it clear that he was going to be moving on in two or three months. I said I would. I had been on the Hill for four or five years as legislative assistant to the senior senator from Pennsylvania, Joseph S. Clark, but I had not met your father before then. Bill, who I had not known that well either, and I became acquainted when we were both 00:02:00working for the Kennedy campaign back in 1960.
RICHARD RUSK: Briefly, what did your duties entail? Summarize your jobs roughly.
READ: In the earliest weeks I was Deputy Executive Secretary to Brubeck. And Ihad minimal contact with your father. Bill left In about May of 1963, and I then accepted Secretary Rusk's offer to become Executive Secretary and Special Assistant to him. It is the Secretariat which processes all of the papers to and from the Secretary, the then Under Secretary, and the top three or four officers of the Department. The Secretariat is also responsible for communications with the other departments and the White House to and from the State Department, other than, obviously, the private communications of the Secretary. It was a 00:03:00group of about a hundred or so people.
RICHARD RUSK: You were the filter in the Department?
READ: That's right. The "official bottleneck" as I used to call it. The officehad been set up by George [Catlett] Marshall, who of course was your father's role model, I guess you could call it with today's terminology. When he came over from having been Chief of Staff to be Secretary of State in the forties, he was appalled to find that people were bringing in pieces of problems to him, not in proper sequence or in any sense of priority.
RICHARD RUSK: You're talking about George Marshall?
READ: Yes. So he ordered a Secretariat set up which was to, in effect, performthe functions that he had gotten use to having the Joint Staff perform during the war. It grew. I think it was set up in '49 and had various lives in that first decade, but it had grown to roughly a hundred people. By the time I 00:04:00arrived on the scene the operation center, which had just been newly set up, was a part of it.
RICHARD RUSK: Even though you did not have much contact with my dad then, whatwere your initial impressions? Be as candid as you can.
READ: I was awed by your father initially. As I said, I was not seeing him thatmuch on a day-to-day basis--
[break in recording]
READ: Your father, as is everyone else in that job, was spread thin in terms oftasks that have to be performed between waking and going to sleep. When I was still a deputy contacts were minimal, and it was very hard to feel acquainted. But when Brubeck moved on to the White House just two or three months after I 00:05:00arrived and your father asked me to take on the job as principal "traffic cop" on the floor, I started to have daily contacts with him.
RICHARD RUSK: This was '63?
READ: Yes. May of '63. From then on, of course, it was a very closerelationship that matured over the years: one in which we saw a great deal of each other at any time of day under every sort of condition until the end of his tenure in the Department. I think back on it as a relationship that I treasure and value very much.
RICHARD RUSK: I suppose you knew him as well or better than anyone there?
READ: Well, I am not so sure that is true. He had some old friends, like George[C.] McGhee, of course. By that time I guess George had gone to Germany. But 00:06:00there were others who had known him. He had known [Lucius D.] Luke Battle, and I think you have already seen Luke?
RICHARD RUSK: That's right. I saw him yesterday. Is the word circulating that Iam in town?
READ: Luke is an old friend and we were at a dinner party together last night.But it is very hard for a Secretary of State to have time for personal relationships in that job, as everyone knows. He had not brought a phalanx of people with him as other Secretaries had done, so I guess the people who were on a day-to-day contact basis were the ones who got to know him best.
RICHARD RUSK: I am trying to visualize the job as the special assistant. Youwere in charge of the written traffic: the cables, the things that he saw. What about phone calls, scheduling, the meetings, the whole gamut of input/output there? 00:07:00
READ: Yes, it is a bit more complicated than that in terms of organizationbecause the Secretary and Under Secretaries each have their own personal staffs. I had a role in their selection, so I related to them in sort of an oversight capacity. But there were certain things that I would handle directly. I would not usually get involved in scheduling things or the detailed operations that the assistants in each of the offices would have.
RICHARD RUSK: Did you ever get in trouble with my dad for either failing toshow him something that he should have seen or either giving him more than he had to see?
READ: Oh, innumerable times. I would not say it was trouble because he wasenormously patient with that sort of thing, but you can never be satisfied when 00:08:00you are in that sort of a job that you have the right amount of information in the right form and priority. If you were complacent about it or happy about it, you would not be doing a good job.
RICHARD RUSK: As a general question: Do you think that he himself had a goodhandle on what he needed to see, as opposed to what was unimportant detail?
READ: I like to think so. And yet I say it with a feeling of real inadequacy ina number of respects. In that sort of a job you are always fighting the problems of the immediate as opposed to the mid-run and long-run, and the latter invariably tend to get too shorted as you look back with the luxury of hindsight.
RICHARD RUSK: The long-range plan and the analysis?
READ: Yes. You carve out that time from immediate pressing demands. Theproblems of press and Congress and visitors and travel are all just pushing the 00:09:00immediate and tend to crowd out the others unless you take great pains. I was very fortunate in terms of getting an early feel for the job in terms of relationships with your father and George [Wildman] Ball and the others. I think within a week of the time that I succeeded Brubeck, President Kennedy made his American University speech offering the test ban to the Soviets--
RICHARD RUSK: Behind our house?
RICHARD RUSK: I wasn't even there.
READ: And by a set of coincidences I got to be sort of the chief cook andbottle washer in that operation.
RICHARD RUSK: When in '63 did you take over?
READ: Sometime in May. I can't pinpoint exactly. At any rate, when the test bandelegation left, [William] Averell Harriman, who had been sworn in for his 00:10:00twentieth job at the same time I was sworn in for my first job, came back from the White House after getting his final instructions from Kennedy and said then, "The President wants complete control of the traffic to and from that delegation and does not want to endanger something that he places this much importance on," or leaks or that sort of thing. So he said that he wanted the executive secretary of the Department to live in the Department for the next ten days or two weeks, and do whatever it took to assure privacy for communications about the negotiations.
RICHARD RUSK: Are you talking about the Test Ban Treaty?READ: Yes. So I found myself in the extraordinary position that whenever a cable started coming in with a slug word "BAN" out, I would be called down to the communications center and I would be the only one authorized. I would take it up to show directly to the Secretary and Under Secretary. Other people, like the CIA [Central Intelligence Agency] director and head of Arms Control, would have to come to my office to read the thing because it was in single copy. By 00:11:00the end of the day, with all those people having innumerable other duties, we fell into the habit during that ten-day period of going over to see the President and summarizing what had come in and what needed doing in way of instructions. It was a marvelous experience, because I would come back with envelopes stuffed in all of my pockets with Kennedy notes, Rusk notes, and [Robert Strange] McNamara notes, and take a deep breath and write the cables that they had more or less thought they agreed on, and sign all their names at the bottom and send the thing out. It was an extraordinary period in my life.
RICHARD RUSK: I heard Kennedy had the habit of jotting down things on scraps of paper--
READ: Illegible as hell.
RICHARD RUSK: And at the end of the day the secretaries would have to dump hispockets out and try to figure out what he said and did. Is my dad the same way in that regard? 00:12:00
READ: To a much lesser degree. I would frequently come in in the morning and Iwould find a whole set of chits from Evelyn [N.] Lincoln, Kennedy's secretary, that Kennedy would have dictated the preceding night saying, "Where is that ship that went through the Panama Canal heading towards Brazil?" or "What do we know about center left coalitions in Italy?" And obviously you would be farming these out to people who could give the answers, but it was an indication of his enormous and telescopic interest in foreign affairs. When you go through that sort of a ten-day period you get broken in in terms of personal relationships very happily and very thoroughly.
RICHARD RUSK: It sounds like you were very involved in the procedural aspectsof how my dad operated. Maybe you can comment briefly on how well you think he handled that. What was unique to Dean Rusk about his style of operation that you 00:13:00clearly recall? In what ways did it work and in what ways didn't it work?
READ: He was enormously disciplined in the way he absorbed and tookinformation. He was fond of saying, "Whenever we are asleep two-thirds of the world is awake and causing mischief." And indeed it was. And always when you are serving up information, analysis, the way we were in that job, you're always struggling because you are dealing with a kaleidoscopic situation that you see imperfectly and incompletely, particularly in crisis situations, and you have to be just terribly concerned with limitations of your vision and understanding of the events that were transpiring. Your father had a very good feel for that. By the time I arrived on the scene, he knew well the limitations of the first sort 00:14:00of messages you get when a crisis breaks. Some are less experienced in that terrible beat would be much more apt to take the early fragmentation messages at face value.
RICHARD RUSK: An interesting view. Do you recall a specific instance of that?
READ: Yes, I think of the second Tonkin Gulf incident.
RICHARD RUSK: Incidentally, while we're at it, the little anecdotal types ofstories are priceless to me. Those are the types of things that make a book, so whenever one pops in your head let me have it.
READ: In the Tonkin Gulf situation, for instance, I remember we were gettingthese fragmentary reports from military-- 00:15:00
RICHARD RUSK: He was getting the intercepts during that affair?
READ: Oh sure. Well, it was mostly traffic through CINCPAC [Commander-in- ChiefPacific], originating through fleet units. Intercepts were not really a part of that particular picture. But he showed a very healthy degree of skepticism right from the beginning about what our destroyer on a dark night was observing. I am sure that he must have voiced those concerns when he talked to President Johnson. Obviously, the decision to respond was made anyway, because the President and others were ready and anxious to go.
RICHARD RUSK: Do you have the feeling, as some critics have suggested, thatthat Tonkin Gulf resolution was sitting in the President's hip pocket there waiting for a situation?
READ: [William Putnam] Bundy had a draft as I recall it. We were not lookingfor an incident, certainly, and not to create an occasion to put it forward, but 00:16:00it was there when the incident appeared to have occurred.
RICHARD RUSK: At the same time? What do you mean that it was there?
READ: As I recall it--it's a long time after the event--Bundy had a draft of aresolution expressing congressional support for general governmental actions in Vietnam. Obviously he did not anticipate the precise Tonkin Gulf incident, but the scope of the endorsement had been laid out in an advance to await a serious incident.
RICHARD RUSK: They were probably looking at the idea of a congressional resolution?
READ: Yes, it was sound contingent planning. Then this came along, and itseemed to mostly fit the bill. But I remember many other occasions.
RICHARD RUSK: LBJ, I take it, was more the desk officer on that one, and my dadmore or less went along for the ride on the Tonkin Gulf response. Is that the 00:17:00way you recall it? It wasn't really handled out of the Secretary's office?
READ: Of course it was a Presidential decision, but I remember briefing yourfather before the Tuesday luncheon and then getting debriefed by him afterwards. He handled information in a very intelligent perspective. I remember, for instance, just to pursue that point another round or two, the first time that the hotline spoke in anger or for real was in the dying hours of the '67 Middle East War. For four or five years it had been in place, just transmitting and receiving for a few hours each week. 00:18:00
RICHARD RUSK: Such test messages as, "The Quick Brown fox Jumped Over the Lazy Dog."
READ: Yes, that sort of stuff. And in came a message which was really very,very hairy when you looked at it. It was from the Secretary General of the Soviet Union, and on its face it looked for all the world like, "You call the Israelis off within the immediate future or we are going to take action." It was close to a straight ultimatum.
RICHARD RUSK: Toward the tail end of the Six Day War?
READ: Yes. Again your father took it in perspective. He consulted with TommyThompson, who was a very wise old owl about Soviet relations, and Tommy said--
RICHARD RUSK: Is that Llewellyn [E.] Thompson?
READ: Yes. "This is the sort of thing that the Soviets have done in the past tobe able to show their client states after an event is over." It may be in that category. It would have been so easy for a new Secretary, a new President, to 00:19:00just have gone off and panicked at that point because it was right at the time the Liberty had been sunk. And people were watching fleet movements in the Mediterranean very closely and not knowing quite what the Soviets were going to do, if anything. He knew how to handle that extraordinarily well. He knew how to handle information fast when the occasion called for it. I remember just two other little incidents. Is this trivial?
RICHARD RUSK: No, keep going. No, hell no. We are going to take it all in andwe will edit the tapes and we will send it to you, but I have a lot of tapes and a lot of time. You have to call your own limits on what we can do today. 00:20:00
READ: Two other incidents I recall: One was probably in the fall of '63,probably before the Kennedy assassination. We had been having a series of low grade and not so low grade crises over Berlin. Check points would be blocked and traffic would back up, then they would be let through in a trickle. And this had occurred several times. Once, when [Andrei Andreevich] Gromyko was in town--I can't pinpoint it by month--one of these actions had occurred by the East Germans, obviously with Soviet consent and approval because they did not operate any other way in such a difficult area. It had gone on for quite a while and was getting extremely tense. All sorts of elaborate Allied contingency plans for 00:21:00such occasions were beginning to reach phase one, where you identified the units to make a move down one of the corridors towards Berlin. And of course it was the last thing in the world you wanted to do unless you absolutely had to. But it was right at the point where within hours it would have been a probe with God-knows--what consequences for Central Europe.
RICHARD RUSK: A probe from West Germany down the Autobahn on the ground?
READ: Yeah. And I remember we had an open line from the operations center toCheckpoint Charley in Berlin where this was occurring. And a lieutenant was on the other end telling me, "I think they're getting ready to let us through. We just noticed some car movements." I was able to convey this to your father just 00:22:00before or while he was seeing Gromyko. But it was before he would have had to deliver to him the type of stern message that would have indicated actual western action. But, you know he would absorb that sort of thing instantly and be able to shift gears accordingly. I remember another, but I'm not going to bore you with other instances.
RICHARD RUSK: No, go ahead.
READ: I just remembered another one. One of the most scary times I can recallwas a telephone call I got from the operations center, probably '65 or '66, at the ungodly hour of three o'clock in the morning, or something like that-- 00:23:00
RICHARD RUSK: You were at home?
READ: At home asleep. And the message was the sort of thing that just bringsyou a total adrenaline peak instantly. It was to the effect that two hundred planes had crossed the China border and were on their way toward U.S. Naval units in the Gulf of Tonkin. And you take a deep breath when you get a message of that sort at cobweb hours of the night. And I said, "Call Rusk, call Thompson. Ask them to come in immediately to the Operations Center. I hadn't had to go to that sort of extreme before. I got there first, and the crisis had completely evaporated. It had been either an electronic test game that the 00:24:00Chinese had been pulling or our people had picked up a flight of geese or God knows what it was. But your father's reaction when he arrived a few minutes later was absolutely marvelous. When I told him that we were victims of electronic wizards and the crisis had gone away and we would probably never know why, he just grinned and said, "Go back and get some sleep." So easily--A lesser person could have said, "Goddammit!"
RICHARD RUSK: Good stories; they're well worth recapping.
READ: But he could act so fast, too, on other occasions. I remember anotherharum-scarum story in the very end of the Johnson administration. A controlled missile flight off the Carolinas had gone haywire, and we received a message 00:25:00from the National Military Command Center to the Operations Center that "the missile has gone ballistic and it's heading towards Cuba."
RICHARD RUSK: One of our missiles?
READ: One of ours. I said, "What sort of a warhead does it have." And theydidn't know.
RICHARD RUSK: Could they identify the missile? It was our missile--
READ: It was ours, but they didn't know whether it was an armed warhead.
READ: I mean the person at the NMCC didn't know. Obviously there were peoplethat knew somewhere, but you weren't in communication with them. 00:26:00
RICHARD RUSK: They weren't there. Okay.
READ: I asked what the impact point was likely to be, and they said it couldimpact in Cuba. I remember breaking in on your father, as I had to do so many, many times, to tell him this grisly tale. He said "I will call [Anatoly F.] Dobrynin. You contact the Swiss, who were an intermediary power representing our interests in Cuba at the time, and tell them it's an accident." And he did, and I did, but the thing overflew the island and went in the drink and was never heard of, thank heavens, again. But, you know, you live with that sort of stuff.
RICHARD RUSK: Jesus! Now that's not on the record anywhere. Would that beclassified information?
READ: I haven't any idea whether it is or not.00:27:00
RICHARD RUSK: All right we'll take a look at that before we put this in ourcollection somewhere. I'm sure the Department could advise on that. But what type of missile was it?
READ: It was probably just a damn drone, you know. But the first informationwas "a missile has gone ballistic."
RICHARD RUSK: What part of the country was it fired from?
READ: It was off the Atlantic shore. Probably off the Carolinas somewhere, offGeorgia; and it was heading in the wrong direction. It happened so many times when you--
RICHARD RUSK: Any other details worth recounting about that one story?
READ: Not really.
RICHARD RUSK: Did my dad get hold of Dobrynin?
READ: I'm not sure. It was lunch time.
RICHARD RUSK: I'll have to ask my dad.
READ: --It's over, but your life is shortened considerably when you go throughthose incidents. 00:28:00
RICHARD RUSK: Especially living in a nuclear target like Washington, D.C.
READ: I'm trying to remember if he was involved in another occasion like that.Two unarmed fighter planes were flying from Okinawa down to a base in Thailand, around the China perimeter of course, when one plane got in trouble. We were actually patched through at the OP Center to one of the pilots. He said that the pilot of the other plane had apparently blanked out. They had gained cruising altitude, whatever that was, and he saw the head of the pilot in the other plane had dropped to his chest and the plane did a U-turn and was heading straight north towards the Shantung Peninsula in North China. The pilot we were speaking 00:29:00to tried everything: he tried a wind under wingtip to wake the guy up. Obviously he'd had a heart attack or something had gone wrong with his oxygen or goodness knows what.
RICHARD RUSK: It wasn't just a question of falling asleep.
READ: No. We had no communications with Peking at this point. We didn't wantthem to scramble.
RICHARD RUSK: What year would this have been?
READ: Mid-sixties is as close as I can place it. The only way we knew to getthrough was through [Richard W.] Reuter, if you can believe it, because we had heard that the English news service was received in the foreign ministry on a regular basis.
RICHARD RUSK: So much for non-recognition of Red China.
READ: Exactly. And it was one of these desperate situations where you neededcommunications and just didn't have them, and you were just helplessly watching 00:30:00something unfold. As I say I've forgotten--Obviously it's the sort of thing you would alert fairly high up the line on. I just can't remember at the moment if we engaged your father while that tragedy was unfolding; probably not, because there was nothing that could be done.
RICHARD RUSK: What happened to the plane?
READ: It disappeared. It went into Manchuria and was never heard of again. NoChina planes scrambled. It obviously crashed, ran out of gas.
RICHARD RUSK: Was there public notice of that?
RICHARD RUSK: Never was? Hmm. Interesting. You're telling me some good stories.
READ: Well, they're just stories--
RICHARD RUSK: Let me use another line of questioning here. Lucius Battle saidthat--of course he had worked as Executive Secretary for Dean [Gooderham] Acheson as well as my dad. I asked him to contrast the two Secretaries.
END OF SIDE 1
BEGINNING OF SIDE 2
RICHARD RUSK: --And Luke Battle said one thing very clearly, and that is DeanAcheson told him everything: exactly what he had said to the President. He would 00:31:00come back and tell Battle what went on and they'd write out memos of conversation, memos of phone calls, the whole works. My dad was far more, almost secretive with that stuff. He wasn't nearly as open with what had been discussed at the highest levels with his assistants. You know, Battle didn't have the same degree of access to what was in his mind. And it didn't bother him so much as Assistant Secretary for, what was it, Educational and Social Affairs, because my dad let him run his own show and there wasn't much need for consultation. But it did affect his job as Executive Secretary. Why don't you comment on that? And did you have that same degree of problem with knowing what was in my dad's mind?
READ: Yes, I did from time to time. It got less with the years.00:32:00
RICHARD RUSK: Less of a problem?
READ: With the years. Maybe it was your father's nature, I don't know. I'vealways attributed it in my own mind, to your father's absolute unwillingness to let distance grow between himself and the President, which would have added to the President's burdens. Other people in the bureaucracy and press are so attuned to what leadership has to say and do and quick to build on any differences, real or imagined. I would prepare, for instance, in the Johnson years, the agenda and the back-up for the weekly Tuesday luncheons that President Johnson would have with Secretary of State and Defense and the National Security fellow. And frequently that would involve calling over to Walt [Whitman] Rostow and saying, "What do you have on your mind? What do we have on 00:33:00our mind?" getting Joe [Joseph A.] Califano [Jr.] at the Defense Department to see if McNamara had anything. And then you'd get the back-up for the expected agenda. Sometimes it would just choke a horse: It was just too much. Your father was terribly tolerant in getting these chunks of paper much too late, frequently, because he just couldn't force the--
RICHARD RUSK: Did he have a habit of reading things like this? [turns pages quickly]
RICHARD RUSK: Taking pictures, you know, not reading. They noticed that inDavidson College. He had that reputation.
READ: Well, thank goodness! It's a marvelous asset with the volume of stuffthat's thrown at you as Secretary. But, I would sit with him when he would get this stuff, tell him where some of the bear traps were, and he would ingest it 00:34:00on his own. Sometimes with late items I would ride with him to the White House, ride with him to there from the Hill, wherever you could catch him at that point in the morning. And of course after the lunch I would go in and say "What happened?" and he would usually give a succinct sort of action summary of what had happened. Frequently it would be bare bones. And it was partly the attribute which I described of not wanting distance to develop between himself and the President, and partly it was just simply the pressure of time. You'd be halfway through a debriefing and the phone would ring or something would come along and you just wouldn't have a fuller chance.
RICHARD RUSK: What would be the distribution of that action summary: Secretaryof State and that was it, or Secretary and you?
READ: I would make notes, I would send action and information items indifferent directions. I would orally brief the tinder Secretary and that sort of 00:35:00thing. But very often, when I'd gotten an ambiguous reading or when I thought it was of sufficient importance to try to get the fullest reading possible, I would call Rostow or Bundy and one of McNamara's assistants.
RICHARD RUSK: Rather than my dad?
READ: No, after talking to your father.
RICHARD RUSK: After talking, when it was still not quite clear in your mind?
READ: I'd get a triangulation on what they'd said. And frequently the three ofthem would have very different understandings, which is human nature. I mean, you hear what you want to hear sometimes, particularly when you're going at great speed.
RICHARD RUSK: Would you walk out of my dad's office after that initialdebriefing, not quite knowing what had taken place or what was in his mind, having done whatever follow-up you could and still walking away uncertain?
READ: No. Normally he would give me what you needed to get for a reading on agiven issue, but there were times when you needed more in order to give the bureaucracy guidance on what they needed to know, and either he would not have 00:36:00time to give it, or I couldn't get it out of him, or I would do these triangulations to try and get a more precise understanding. I developed a profound mistrust of how people's electrochemical brain sets can play tricks on them in terms of conversations and observations of common fact. The more you can deal in paper, the safer you are In terms of important information.
RICHARD RUSK: Did you ever confront him or point out to him the difficultiesyou were encountering and what was his response?
READ: Yes, I think he could understand the problem. Sometimes he would help bycalling the others to iron out differences, but we both knew that the pressures 00:37:00would be just as great, if not greater, next week. There were many times when I wished that he would share more, not just with me, but with others, because they would come to me and say, "What does he really think?" And I could give them only the summation or a sort of a synopsis line. So, often you can--when there aren't disadvantages--you could get people's cooperation better by giving them a fuller debriefing. But that was not his style of operating. He would not spend time chitchatting about what he said and about what someone else said, and so on and so forth. 00:38:00
RICHARD RUSK: Would there have been any other reason for him doing that otherthan wanting to protect his privileged relationship with the President? Would anything else have figured into that?
READ: His own makeup is obviously very reserved, reticent to indulge inpersonalities, although sometimes he needed a grasp of personalities to understand the real dynamics of the situation. But many times it was his strength. I saw enough of Henry Kissinger during that period to know the innumerable difficulties we had because he would be telling one thing to one person and another thing to another person and he would meet himself coming around a corner time after time by the end of his period as Secretary. Your father never had that trouble. There was an integrity about what he said publicly, privately, and to different parties that stood him in awfully good 00:39:00stead in that tough period.
RICHARD RUSK: Let me ask you this: Can you recall specifically when that reallyhurt, when that trait of people not knowing what was in his mind really hurt policy, where it was clearly damaging?
READ: No, I don't recall having any specifics in mind, but I know that it was aproblem, a genuine problem: one that recurred. I felt the frustration that many others would bring to me about him in this respect. The morning staff meetings where the secretaries and all of us would come in, and you would have a room of thirty or forty people, he would give very little, he would receive, but he was not a giver on such occasions. 00:40:00
RICHARD RUSK: I gather that my dad had many strengths and many fine qualities,and as his son I'm as aware of that as anyone, but his reticence was a serious deficiency and it did affect the operation of the Department such as you have suggested there. Do you recall the reactions of other people? I remember there was one guy who claimed that he could read Dean Rusk on a basis of his facial expression, a little nervous tick.
READ: There were none--(laughing)
RICHARD RUSK: A good poker face, huh?
READ: A marvelous poker face. I got to know some of those characteristics. Iwould go in with something that I thought was terribly urgent and he would be on something more urgent, and I would--By the third or fourth or fifth year I knew when not to say anything until he finished what he was doing. But he was remarkably good at not showing petty reactions to anybody. And that is a 00:41:00tremendous tribute because you have every provocation in the world to do so. You hear skullduggery by his friends and foes of the most unbelievable sort. Frequently when I would bring some of these tales of skullduggery back to him, he would simply give me a quizzical look or raise an eyebrow. He didn't need to do more than that.
RICHARD RUSK: Didn't pick up on it, huh?
READ: We would clearly be appalled by certain things, and words were not verynecessary. I might relate one case which I hope would not be used.
RICHARD RUSK: Do you want it on the tape?
READ: Let's take it off the tape.00:42:00
END OF SIDE 2