Donald Rumsfeld’s White House memos are his gift to the world. Freely available on his website rumsfeld.com, he also publishes them to nurse four-decade-old office grievances in his books. If you accidentally happened to steal Donald Rumsefeld’s parking spot at the Piggly Wiggly believe me, he remembers–he took note of your licence plate number and he’s waiting, like a smiling mamba coiled up in the corner, for the perfect moment to reveal your transgression.
The memos are often one long stream-of-consciousness Ginsbergian howl, like this beauty from 1974. The new President Gerald Ford had just pardoned Richard Nixon, and Nixon’s Chief of Staff Alexander Haig objected to Ford’s ex-press secretary Jerry terHorst (who had resigned because of the pardon) telling The New York Times:
“Nixon’s preoccupation with Watergate had magnified Haig’s authority in the White House and the executive branch of government. For most of the final Nixon year, as Haig himself would agree, he was the acting President of the United States.”
Haig himself didn’t agree. “This is going to get dirty,” he ranted to his successor, “And I’ll blow the place wide open if I have to and it’ll be a goddamn bloody mess and no more of these second-rate people around the President are going to challenge my integrity and devotion to my country.”
“MEETING WITH THE PRESIDENT
October 9, 1974
11: 00 a. m. to 12:00 Noon
I said I didn’t want to get in the subject with him but I did feel that he should know that I received a phone call on 10/4/74 from Haig on the pardon and that Haig had said that it was going to get dirty and I will blow the place wide open if I have to and it’ll be a goddamn bloody mess and no more of these second rate people around the President are going to challenge my integrity and devotion to my country and I’ve got Nixon, Garment, Buzzhardt, Ziegler and others with me and I’ve got verbatim records and I’ll do it… I stopped Haig and said, Look, I’ve taken enough and that he was very friendly to me. I said I didn’t want to get in to the subject and that I thought the President ought to be aware of it. A. Because Haig obviously called me so I would tell the President about it, B. Because I felt the President ought to be aware of Haig’s comment that he has ‘verbatim records.’ The President started to discuss it with me and I said, look, Mr. President, I don’t need to get into it– I simply wanted you to be aware of that message.”
When the Center Held: Gerald Ford and the Rescue of the American Presidency, Donald Rumsfeld, Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2018.
Oleg Gordievsky served as the KGB rezident and bureau chief in London from 1982 to 1985. He escaped from Moscow in the summer of 1985 after his status as an agent of the British Secret Intelligence Service was revealed. In Britain, he begged his handlers and Prime Minister to extract his family from the Soviet Union.
10 DOWNING STREET, THE PRIME MINISTER,
7th September, 1985
Dear. Mr. Gordievsky,
I was very touched by your message and by your understanding about how difficult the decision about your family was for us. It was entirely natural to do everything possible to enable your family life to continue. But we had to face up to the reality of the kind of people with whom we are dealing and the fact that their values are very different from ours.
Our anxiety for your family remains and we shall not forget them. Having children of my own, I know the kind of thoughts and feelings which are going through your mind each and every day. But just as your concern is about them, so their concern will be for your safety and well-being.
Please do not say that life has no meaning. There is always hope. And we shall do all we can to help you through these difficult days.
Perhaps when the immediate situation has passed we may meet and talk. I am very conscious of your personal courage and your stand for freedom and democracy. I should very much like to have the benefit personally of your unique experience and your thoughts on the way we can help those who have never known the things which we in the West take for granted.
You will be very much in my thoughts and I send you my best wishes.
National Archives, PREM 191647.
“Mrs. S. Worts of Islington, London, writes:
‘I feel I must write to tell you about what a wonderful drink Bengers is. I have been buying it each week and found not only do I get a night’s sleep but am also free from colds this winter…
I had a nervous breakdown some time back and tried many types of tonic but this has really improved my health.’
What is so special about Bengers?
Just this. At times when you feel too sick, too weak, too jaded or tired to face your food you can always take Bengers. It cheers you, relaxes you, and gives you all the nourishment of a good light meal, just when you most need it.”
Advertisement in Good Housekeeping (UK edition), April, 1960.