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Howard H. Baker, Jr. Oral History Project MS 2740 INTERVIEW: Frank Carlucci PLACE: Offices of Carlisle Group Washington, D. C. DATE: February 6, ...

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Howard H. Baker, Jr. Oral History Project

MS 2740

INTERVIEW: Frank Carlucci PLACE:

Offices of Carlisle Group Washington, D. C.

DATE:

February 6, 1997

BOX 4, FOLDER 31, 32 INTERVIEWER: This is an interview with Secretary Frank Carlucci in the offices of the Carlisle Group in Washington, D. C. The date is February 6, 1997, and the interviewer is X. It’s a pleasure to meet with you this morning, sir, to talk a little bit about Senator Howard Baker. When did you first get to know Senator Baker, do you recall? FRANK CARLUCCI: I think I may have first met him during the Carter period. I was Deputy Director of the CIA -- Central Intelligence -- and Howard was then…I guess he was Majority Leader. I:

He was Minority Leader during that period of time.

FC:

Minority Leader. And I can remember meeting him at one session in the White House…I think that may have been the first time I had met him. We may have seen each other at various social occasions, but I certainly didn’t know him well.

I:

At that period he had a long-standing interest in intelligence issues. He had served on the Senate Intelligence Committee at some point.

FC:

Well I’m sure I had testified before him. Probably on several occasions. Because I had served in any number of government agencies.

I:

Yes. Yes.

FC:

But testifying is different than knowing him.

I:

Do you recall anything specifically about your reactions to him during that period of time? Or impressions about him as a public figure…a senator?

FC:

Just that I had heard good things about him. I knew that he was a very easy person to talk to.

I:

Did you have much in the way of direct dealings with him when you were in the Defense Dept. during Reagan’s first term? My understanding is that…

FC:

No. He was not on any of our committees. He was on the United Services Committee or the Appropriations Committee. So he wouldn’t have had a lot of ___________, Cap Weinberger, but I did not.

Howard H. Baker, Jr. Oral History Project

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I:

Yes. I think there was an extensive interaction involving Secretary Weinberger and Senator Baker particularly on budget issues.

FC:

Well, I did not interact directly with him on budget issues.

I:

Were you surprised when the announcement came down in March of 1987 that he was coming to the White House as Chief of Staff?

FC:

No. In fact, I’m the one that broke the news to Don Regan, if you’ve read Don Regan’s book. He doesn’t have the full story, but I had heard that the President was going to nominate Howard, and the morning of the day that it happened, I asked Don Regan if he’d had any news about this…did he know that Howard Baker was going to be his successor. And he said, “No. I know nothing about it.” And I said, “Did anybody talk to you?” and he said, “No.” And subsequently it was announced on CNN that afternoon that Howard Baker was going to replace Don Regan. And the Directory of White House Personnel, Bob Tuttle, called me, and he said, “Frank, you’ve got to do something.” And I said, “What do I have to do?” And he said, “I don’t think anybody’s talked to Don Regan. I don’t think the President has talked to Don Regan.” And I said, “What are you calling me for? I’m not in the personnel business.” He said, “You’re the right staff person in the White House.” So I went down and …first I called the President, to make sure he hadn’t talked to Don Regan, and he said, “Oh my goodness, I forgot to do that.” And he said, “What do you think I should do?” And I said, “Well, let me go down and talk to him.” Well, to make a long story short, Don Regan exploded … and that’s when he dictated the one-sentence letter that he resigned. So, yes, I knew Howard was coming in, and what I didn’t know was that nobody had bothered to tell Don Regan about it.

I:

A slight oversight. When you first learned he was coming in, what that a surprise to you?

FC:

No. I thought he was a logical choice. I had no particular problems with Don Regan, but I was happy to know that Howard was coming in.

I:

What do you recall about the first few days of Senator Baker’s service in the White House in relation to what you were involved in? I’m sure you had conversations about the National Security operation, and how he would relate to that, etc. What do you recollect about those talks?

FC:

Well, inevitably, don’t forget that we were in a hot-house atmosphere … in the wake of Iran Contra. I had fired 60% of the National Security staff, and I had reorganized the whole thing. I brought in Colin Powell as my Deputy. And part of the issue that had led to the Iran Contra debacle … at least according to the Tower Commission … was the effort of the chief of staff to assert himself in the National Security area. And the Tower Commission had recommended very strongly that the National Security Advisor be put directly to the President … have direct access to the President. And in fact I had made that a condition of my coming in to take the job. But that was all fairly clear, but given the focus on the NSC at that time, it was also logical that somebody coming in would

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want to find out what’s going on and want to assert himself in that area. So initially there was a … I guess I’d say there was a sorting out of brawls. We had to decide how we were going to live together. And we came to an agreement that I would have that access … all the access I wanted with the President, but every time I went in I would let Howard know, and he could come in … which did not trouble me at all, because the meetings with the President, he was by and large very helpful. And I think there was a shakedown period of probably 3 or 4 weeks until Howard got to know me and vice versa, and we developed mutual confidence. Thereafter, I had absolutely no problems. I can remember one time we were out at Santa Barbara, and it was August … a slow month. But we … Nancy Reagan had said, “No messages to the President for a whole week. No phone calls … no messages.” And Howard and I looked at each other, and said, “I guess we’re the president … together.” And we developed that kind of very easy relationship. So after the breaking period, I can’t remember a single instance of friction. In fact, Howard would make some very useful suggestions. One that he made early on, he said, “Frank, I can see that you guys are heading for serious negotiations with the Soviet Union. You need to begin getting the President up to speed. Why don’t you bring in some people that he respects … and have them brief him.” And I said, “That’s a good idea.” And we ran some names by the President, and some he liked and some he didn’t like. And so he went through a series of meetings, together with the President, and Howard let me handle all that … but it was his idea. I thought those kinds of communications were very useful. I:

Would you describe for me your practice in regard to meeting with the President? What were the regular meetings, and in what kinds of circumstances would you have special meetings with the President?

FC:

Regular meetings occurred every day. The format was for Howard and Ken Duverstein, who was his Deputy, to be with the President … I believe it was from 9:00 to 9:15 … and go over political matters or whatever it is that I supposed they wanted to deal with … domestic matters, defense issues. And then Colin and I would come in and brief the President on national security issues. I would tell the President what had transpired over the evening … what problems we had … what issues we were facing. And on occasion I would use that meeting to get some decisions. Ad hoc meetings would include meetings on everything from arms control issues, where we had to resolve disputes between principal agencies, to quick meetings of the NSC … like when I discovered that our embassy in Moscow was bombed. Or the crisis in Poland or wherever it might be. But usually when I’d go to see the President, Howard would come in, but on rare occasions.

I:

How frequently did you have formal meetings of the National Security Council during your time there?

FC:

Well, the National Security Council is a very unweoldy [sic] body, and when you have a formal meeting of the National Security Council, you’ve got a cast of thousands, and you’ve got a lot of major agencies, and you’ve got a lot of strap hangers. So you’re talking about 30 or 40 people in a room, you’re talking about programming all those things, so … they weren’t terribly useful as a decision-making mechanism. We tended to have meetings of the what we called the National Security Planning Group, the NSPG …

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a much smaller group that could consist of the secretary of state, secretary of defense, chairman of the joint chiefs, chief of staff … national security advisor. Of course, he was Cramden. I think the head of AFTA … depending on the meeting. And I think maybe they brought the secretary of the treasury in, as needed. And we would tend to have those meetings much more frequently … I’d say they were possibly even twice a week, and the President would generally attend those meetings. There was an issue between George Schultz and me about who would be chairman in the absence of the President. And George had an objection to having the National Security Advisor chairman, because the National Security Advisor was not a confirmed official, although that didn’t particularly bother me. I solved that problem by bumping the meetings down a notch to deputy secretaries and even calling them jerks. They tended to use the deputy secretaries’ meetings quite extensively. I:

When you had meetings of the Planning Group, could you characterize for me the role Senator Baker would play in those discussions?

FC:

Well, the moderator was generally me … and after me, Colin Powell. We’d give the agenda items, and assign the person to do the agenda. Howard would come in frequently on the issues … both from the point of view of substance, and from the point of view of the politics of it. It was certainly not only useful, it was essential to have him in meetings. We needed somebody in there who provided that link between policy and politics. And he would play that role.

I:

Could the same be said of other types of meetings in which he was involved … and in planning to ___________ on policy matters, etc.?

FC:

Well, he was Chief of Staff. Howard would always offer a very useful political perspective. I was always pleasantly surprised at the degree to which he and I generally agreed. Surely his judgment on politics was much better than mine. But we generally would see eye-to-eye on when we needed to contact the Hill, and whom we ought to contact, and what our approach ought to be.

I:

Let me take you a step back. You referred to your …

FC:

But there were other kinds of meetings … like when we got into the fire fight with Iran and took out some oil rigs, and we met up in the President’s quarters … 2 or 3 of us. But Howard was always included in those.

I:

Did I understand that … at least for a period of time, you had breakfast meetings with Weinberger and Schultz at 7 a.m.

FC:

Uh-h, no. I started luncheon meetings with Weinberger and Schultz, and I think Howard came to those. When I moved over to Defense, Schultz suggested that … there was some tension between Schultz and me when I was National Security Advisor. George objected to the strong wall for the National Security budget. He wanted to be Executive Secretary. He’s got all his books; it’s not secret.

Howard H. Baker, Jr. Oral History Project

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I:

You have an historic tension between people occupying the ___________.

FC:

Yes. I may have quoted George … he might be seeing ambassadors … he might be traveling … and I just said, “I’m not going to pay any attention to him.” So he had gone a couple of times to the President. At one point he said he was going to resign because of it. And the President said to me, “You ought to solve this.” So George and I got together. And by then we knew inside that I was going to move to Defense, and George suggested that when I got to Defense, that we have daily 7 o’clock meetings in Colin’s office … just George, Colin, and me … no substitutes … no staff work. And that proved to be a rather successful initiative. We did that. Howard was not in those meetings. They were strictly on national security issues, and we didn’t regard it as a decisionmaking meeting, although a lot of decisions came out of that process. In fact, they were very useful … worked very well.

I:

Did you or any of your staff attend any of Senator Baker’s meetings? I understand that he had an early morning meeting daily with his inner circle.

FC:

We didn’t go to his inner circle meetings. He generally had a working White House staff meeting. He would sit one end of a long table in North ___________ Room and I would sit at the other. And we’d generally make a report on national security issues.

I:

My understanding of the basic purpose of those meetings was basically to inform the White House senior staff as to what was going on … what was expected … what the President would be doing that day, etc., etc.

FC:

Right. Yes.

I:

What the message was, if there was a …

FC:

Yes. The White House has had those kinds of meetings.

I:

Right. To go back a couple of steps, I neglected to ask you about your efforts to revamp the National Security operation in the White House. Were your charges pretty much all in place by the time Senator Baker came?

FC:

By and large. In fact they were undertaken in advance of the Tower Commission report … which then recommended that I do what I already started to do. When I saw the Tower Commission Act, I completely re-organized the NSC. But I did not waste any time doing it … my experience has been the faster you do these things, the better off you are. It’s never pleasant to fire people, but it had to be done. And the organizational structure was … there’s only one word for it … incomprehensible. So I had to get clear lines of command and authority, and I also wanted to put in general counsel … there was no full-time general counsel who was able to spot problems. But by the time Howard got there, the new structure .. I don’t want to say it was functioning effectively, but it was up and moving, at least.

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I:

To what extent was Senator Baker and his staff people connected with the preparation and flow of the paper involved in National Security decision-making?

FC:

Well, to the extent that they saw everything that went to the President. They didn’t get involved in our internal processes, and they didn’t want to . And I wouldn’t want them to. I don’t think that’s terribly workable. We worked very closely together on the President’s speeches, when they touched on national security issues. I, myself, am not particularly good at that, so I turned it over to Cohen, and Gold worked extensively with Griscom and Duverstein on speeches.

I:

What was Senator Baker’s practice in … what was the nature of his working relationship with, say, Secretaries Weinberger and Shultz? I can imagine the possibility of awkward situations arising when the chief of staff receives a call from one of the secretaries that might be considered to bypass …

FC:

That ___________ arms agreements … both Schultz and Weinberger, when I was asked to be National Security Advisor, the President didn’t pay tribute to my skills, whatever they might be … he said that he was asking me because I was the only one that George Schultz and Casper Weinberger could agree on. And I had good relations with both. And they didn’t attempt to bypass me and go to Howard. That would have been futile, anyway. And I think the essence of being a good National Security Advisor is to be certain the process is not only fair, but is perceived to be fair … and I think that George and Cap felt they had the access they needed to the President, and they each had one hour a week … I guess George had 2 hours a week of his choosing. He could say anything … bring up any subject he wanted to the President. Howard and I would sit in. Cap had the same kind of meetings. So they had all the access they needed … and the kinds of issues they were dealing with could best be handled by the NSC. Now that’s not to say they didn’t work with Howard on political questions … sure they did, but Howard always brought me in on it.

I:

Can you describe for me, or indicate to me the situations of policy problems you were involved in, in which Senator Baker got most deeply involved? I know, for example, he was certainly involved in regard to Central American policy … on the Hill particularly.

FC:

Yes, because that’s where the war was hotter on the Hill than it was in Central America. Yes, he got involved, and although it was partly my instigation, because I came in believing that this was essentially a political problem, and that we had to organize some kinds of coalitions here in the United States … to support effectively the President and his policies … and very little work had been done on that. And I tried to put some of that together, and then I hesitated, and I said, “My God, that’s what got us in trouble in the first place … that’s not my job. Political coalitions are Howard’s job.” So I spoke to Howard, and he began doing some things. And he later brought in Loeffler (?), which frankly I … he did get a little crosswise on that one, because I had been working to put together a coalition up on the Hill, and I’d gotten Bob Graham and some moderate Democrats to come along with us. And when Howard brought in Loeffler, Loeffler made

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a beeline for Jim Reich, and then produced the so-called Reich Plan which scuttled my coalition. But the President liked the Reich Plan, and I frankly did not. And I think that’s probably the only time that there was any kind of fight between Howard and me … but we didn’t thoroughly see eye-to-eye on that … the Reich Plan. I really tried to work with Jim Reich and David Bonior … in fact, once the Reich Plan came out, I was charged with implementing it, and spent an awful lot of time talking with both Reich, Bonior, and to a lesser extent with Jim McClellan (?), but was never able to … let me put it this way … I had trouble working with them. I:

I can imagine. They had very firm views on certain key points, I understand.

FC:

Well, they also had a direct relationship with the Sandanista circumstances.

I:

While on Central America, were there other areas of special interest to him in which he played a notable role?

FC:

Well, he tended to get involved in Germany, because he had know Gentscher (?), and Gentscher (?) had come to see Howard fairly frequently. And our relationship with Germany was critical, particularly after we began to negotiate with the Soviet Union. Also Germany’s receptance [sic] of the INF Treaty was a big issue. And the President and Kohl, while their relationship was cordial, it wasn’t close … like Margaret Thatcher’s and Ronald Reagan’s was. So we had to spend a lot of time working that circuit. And Howard was in this on Germany, and he was helpful. Howard’s control … that was too much a job for almost anyone, including myself … but Howard would sit in on the arms control __________. I remember one time when the Pope was visiting, and we were waiting for him in a hotel room in Miami, and I said to Howard, “I hate to do this, but I’ve got to get some decisions out of the President on arms control.” And so for one hour Howard and the President sat there with glazed eyes while I walked the President through … steamy ___________ government air conditioning ___________ … through some of the more pressing (?) arms control decisions. But then Howard was there. He’d make a comment on … when I’d say, “Well now, Cap takes this position, and George takes this position, and Mr. President, I think this is the position you ought to consider.” And Howard would comment on whether he agreed with that or not.

I:

How would you describe the relationship between Howard Baker and Ronald Reagan?

FC:

Before I answer that question directly, I would prefer that you see the Reagan chapter in Ronald Reagan’s book. Whatever you may think of Nancy’s book, that chapter is interesting. Because she described him quite well … as somebody who was very congenial, but you’re always feeling a little distance between Ronald Reagan and you. He loves to tell jokes, and he’s unfailingly pleasant. He’d wave at every secretary as he walked down the hall, and they all loved him. But you were never quite sure where Ronald Reagan’s emotions or sentiments were. He had a way of concealing those. Within that context, Howard had an excellent relationship with Ronald Reagan. Frankly, it’s hard not to have a good relationship. Howard … he and the President swapped jokes not to the extent that Don Regan swapped jokes with the President, but Howard … he

Howard H. Baker, Jr. Oral History Project

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learned pretty quickly that he could come up with jokes. The President liked jokes … the President told jokes … and I wasn’t wasn’t [sic] very good at jokes. But they … I think it was a very good relationship. I:

I said part of Senator Baker’s job as Chief of Staff was to help President Reagan when it came time to make a decision in regard to some matter … including in the national security foreign policy.

FC:

Yes. Oh yeah, he’d … invariably when I’d made a recommendation to the President, Howard would say, “I agree with that,” or … I can’t remember when he’d said, “I disagree.” He’d say, “I think Frank’s right,” or some sympathetic views for the President. And that’s a good and appropriate role. I had no objection to his doing that.

I:

In such discussions, would President Reagan direct questions to Senator Baker?

FC:

In those kinds of meetings, President Reagan didn’t tend to ask a lot of questions. Generally the questions he would ask would be directed at me as the presentor [sic] of the National Security ___________. Or he might react and say, “Well, Howard, I agree with you.” But it wasn’t the … Ronald Reagan was not like Jimmy Carter … he didn’t want to absorb every piece of data that you brought in to him. He tended to make a lot of his decisions by … you’d get the sense of it, he’d make his decisions by instinct … but he’d have extraordinary judgment. At least I always felt that 95% of the time he’d want my advice.

I:

I’m in the process of talking with Jim Kuhn … do you recall Jim, and in regard to presidential decision-making, he said, “One of President Reagan’s complaints … always … at least to him, was they give me too much. They sent me too much paper. I don’t need all that.” And this jives with what you are saying about a kind of intuitive …

FC:

You’d send a paper, and he’d get it back with his initials on it, but you never really knew … you just had to assume he’d read it and approved it. But I always tried to keep the paper short, but you can’t. After all, the U.S. government is big ___________.

I:

And complicated. In his book, Colin Powell refers to what he calls Reagan’s passive management style in regard to decision-making. And as you know, ties this to an anecdote involving you and he when…

FC:

Tries Colin ___________ I don’t think we signed on until November…

I:

Something like that. How did Senator Baker handle that passive management style?

FC:

Well, there was only one way to handle it. And that is to come out of a meeting, and try to determine a) what you think the President said, and b) if he wasn’t clear, do you go back in, or do you assume that the decision would be X in light of what we know about the President’s policies. And so we would have those discussions fairly frequently. The important thing that we were conscious of … and Colin and I discussed this … I didn’t

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discuss this with Howard because I think it came naturally to him, was that we had to be careful that we didn’t do what some of our predecessors did, and abrogate presidential decision-making authority unto ourselves. We were very conscious that we had to do what we’d think the President wanted done … not what we’d think was best for the country automatically. I:

Were you usually able to make the correct call?

FC:

Well, I don’t recall in any instance when the President said, “You screwed up.” He was not that kind of man, anyway. There were some things where he was taken by surprise. The Dept. of Justice decided to give Kurt Waldheim a Visa without bothering to tell the President. At least they announced it to me, in which case it was my fault for not telling the President. He was unhappy about that. And he called the attorney general on the carpet. But I don’t recall any decision where he said, “You screwed up.”

I:

How would you compare, based upon the limited amount of time you had to observe Don Regan and Howard Baker as Chiefs of Staff, in terms of style … particularly in relation to their areas of responsibility?

FC:

Don Regan is much more of a business managerial style … crisp, strict lines of authority … take no prisoners … say it the way it is … don’t put up with fools lightly … kind of decision-maker. And he said it like it was a few too many times for Nancy Reagan, too. But he could be curt … could also be very congenial, too. Howard Baker operates much more from a consensus style … a politician style … and we have to work this out by getting people together … words of compromise. How do we solve this problem?

I:

Was Cran Montgomery in evidence at all in the White House?

FC:

No, he was ambassador to Amman (?).

I:

He was out of the country. OK. Do you have any particular images of Baker at work as Chief of Staff when you think back to that period of time?

FC:

Well I thought that’s what we’ve been talking about.

I:

Well, some anecdote that you haven’t related that is also there in your recollection about Baker.

FC:

Well, I think one of the most interesting things is when I look at the depositions on this is the first Ross Perot episode which has led to George Bush’s undoing, and when I first came in. I found that our Vietnam policy was very confused, because Ross Perot was getting involved in the POW issue to the consternation of the State Dept., and he personally attacked Dick Jarman (?) and the CLD, and I had called Perot and said, “You’re attacking the wrong guy … ___________ lay off,” and he told me to go to hell. And then at the White House ___________, but within a very short period of time. And the President was still in Bethesda recovering from surgery, and I went out there. It was

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one of my first meetings with him, and the subject of the Vietnam POWs came up, and the President said something about Ross Perot. Well, not knowing the full background, I said, “Well, Mr. President, I suggest you have nothing to do with Ross Perot.” [sic] And we need to get him out of this business.” And he said, “Well, I thought he was being helpful.” And he [sic] said, “There’s no way he can be helpful. We can have only one policy for POWs. And our policy is that the Vietnamese need to do the right thing on humanitarian grounds, and shouldn’t be trading and negotiating for the remains of our servicemen.” And he said, “Perot is a negotiator.” And I said, “I’ll get you a negotiator.” And that’s how Jack Bussey (?) got the job. I picked Jack because once again he was the only guy that Cap and George could agree on. So I ran the ___________ with presidential authority, and Howard Lesless … Howard was in the committee meeting while this was going on, and he shared my view of Ross Perot. And I called Ross Perot in and said, “Ross, we’d like you out of the Vietnam business.” And I also told him ___________, and once again, Ross Perot told me to go to hell. And then I ___________ I had known Ross Perot, so anyway, I said, “OK.” And he did this, and so we prepared the cue cards with Howard’s blessing, and we had a meeting with the President. And the President went through the cue cards, and simply said, “Ross, you’ve done a great job, and we thank you. Now here’s your gold watch, and now we can get on with our business.” Which was the craziest thing for a President to do, because Perot was doing the fundraising for the Reagan library. And Perot, according to Howard, walked out of the office, and went to Howard, he said, “I think that the President just told me to get out of the Vietnam business, Howard.” And Howard said, “Ross, you heard right.” And that’s when Perot exploded at Senator H. Garbridge ___________, and said, “Never speak to me again.” And subsequently, during the Bush campaign, Howard told me that Perot called him and said he was getting all kinds of flack on the Vietnam POW issue, and he was going to refer the press to Howard and me, because we were the ones that caused the whole thing. We had quite some fun and games with Ross Perot. He finally, at least politically, he blamed George Bush for all this, and poor George Bush had very little to do with that. I:

In reference to Vice President Bush, what was your perception of the Bush-Baker relationship?

FC:

It was good. George, as Vice President, did not tend to say much about it. Now I don’t know what he said to the President alone … they had pretty good lunches alone. But in the meetings, he was … NSPG meetings … and when I described the attendance there, obviously the Vice President was there … he was generally quiet. I would go in periodically with him, and he attended the meetings in town. He attended the 9:00 and 9:15 meetings with the President … I should have mentioned that. And when I wanted political advice or had some problems with George, I’d sometimes go in and see George Bush … George Schultz, that was. But the way that White House operated, and in fact I’d had experience with previous presidents … the way most White Houses operate … the vice president does not play a strong ___________ role. There’s no way you can. Howard included him. My thought was … I’m going to have to …

I:

A couple more questions. Did your dealing with the White House when Baker was Chief

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of Staff change in any way when you moved over to the Dept. of Defense, and what was the nature of your working relationship with Baker in that new role? FC:

Very cordial. No problems. In fact, I think by any standards, if you look at books like Don Oberdorfer’s book and some of the others, you get a very effective national security policy in the last year or two of the Reagan Administration. After all, that’s what led to the end of the Cold War … we successfully negotiated that. It was one For vote, one Nay vote. And true, the President was ___________, so we decided we had to be more cohesive between us … Howard, George Schultz, Colin Powell and myself. We really had to drive this process, because we had it to face. And we’d keep Howard informed … as I say, we didn’t attend the board meetings, but it was … whenever I needed political help, I’d always felt free to call Howard, but I could really do anything I wanted by giving him a call, so I didn’t … in fact, my relationship with the White House was so good that I didn’t even use my hour a week with the President. I’d go in and just performed and talked for 10 mins. and say, “I don’t…” With one funny session. As you may know, I dreamed up this idea that they call a black … exclusive pictures (???). And I heard a little bit, but they ___________. And I knew not to consult with Sam Nunn, Les Aspin, and a few other people on the Hill, I decided to go ahead with it. But I decided ___________, so I went. It was pretty sensitive, so I thought I’d go over and tell the President. So I went over and said, “Mr. President, I just wanted to let Congress start closing military bases.” And I could see the President just looking at me like I was a peasant, and I said, “Well, don’t worry, Mr. President. I’m going to do it in a way that won’t hurt you politically.” And Howard was in there, and he said, “Yes, I know what Frank’s doing, and it’s OK, Mr. President.” But that’s the way he handled things.

I:

What kind of overall assessment could you provide me as to Baker’s impact as Chief of Staff during that roughly 15 months in which he served?

FC:

In terms of making the process work, achieving political goals, I give him A+. It was superb … no doubt about it. If we address some of the big strategic issues as well we might, probably not. That was very hard to do in the last few years of the second term of the President … particularly when the Gulf was changing as fast as it was … We had so much stuff on our plate. But I thought he was an absolute model of a Chief of Staff.

I:

Well, with that, let me thank you for your time this morning, and a fascinating conversation.

FC:

OK, X.

END OF TAPE