To the Editor:

In his fascinating account of U.S.-China normalization, Patrick Tyler makes a series of statements relating to the documentary record of the Ford administration that requires correction ("The (Ab)normalization of U.S.-Chinese Relations," September/October 1999).

First, I was not Henry Kissinger's deputy at that time. Kissinger was secretary of state and I was national security adviser, so he had no authority whatsoever over the disposition of presidential records in the White House.

Second, I did not "order" empty safes as I left office. There was -- and is -- a standard, nondiscretionary procedure in the White House for document disposition. In the National Security Council (NSC), presidential documents (which were in the NSC files because I, as national security adviser, was a presidential staff member) were sent to the presidential library, and NSC documents were sent to the Federal Repository in Warrenton, Virginia. My only role was to ensure compliance with that compulsory procedure, which was the same process that governed the end of the Carter, Reagan, and Bush administrations. To the best of my knowledge, there was no shredding of documents destined for the presidential library or the Federal Repository.


National Security Adviser to Presidents Ford and Bush