President Ford said that his recent Cabinet reshuffle was not the result of personality or policy differences, but of a normal de sire to build his own team instead of relying on holdovers from the previous Administration. This explanation of the Halloween Shootout simply won’t wash.
All the new Ford appointees, Donald Rumsfeld, George Bush, and Elliott Richardson, were also Richard Nixon appointees and were actually closer to Nixon than the men they replaced: James Schlesinger, William Colby, and Rogers Morton. It was on the basis of a close personal friendship that Nixon persuaded Rumsfeld to resign from the wealthiest and safest Republican Congressional district in the coun try in order to take an uncertain presidential appointment.
George Bush was in such high favor that Nixon seriously consider ed selecting him as his 1968 vice presidential running mate, before deciding at the last minute to choose Spiro Agnew. Nixon gave Elliott Richardson the unique personal honor of appointment to three different Cabinet posts: HEW, Defense, and Attorney General.
Ford’s Cabinet shakeup can best be explained as just another move by the master power-broker, Henry Kissinger, to fire anyone who devi ates or dissents in any marginal way from his policy of detente-at any-price.
Thus, Kissinger arranged the humiliating dismissal of ambassador Gerard Smith as chief of our SALT Delegation after Smith released a public statement forecasting that the 1972 SALT Agreements might jeopardize “U.S. supreme interests” and that we might have “a basis for withdrawal from the [SALT]Treaty.”
During Richard Nixon’s Administration, Kissinger successfully checkmated Secretary of State William Rogers and Secretary of De fense Melvin Laird so that they were Cabinet officials in name only, with Kissinger exercising the real power. When the time became ripe, Kissinger himself moved into Rogers’ job, and Kissinger put his then-protege, James Schlesinger, into Laird’s job.
Kissinger arranged the similarly abrupt and humiliating firing of Defense Secretary Schlesinger after Schlesinger permitted the release of a Defense Intelligence Agency report which clearly proves that the policy of detente has been hurtful to America and highly ad vantageous to the Soviet Union, militarily, economically, and tech nologically.
This report, written by Lieutenant General Daniel Graham, who also departed abruptly from the Pentagon, states: “Soviet detente policy has facilitated Soviet strategic nuclear expansion and the cancelling out of U.S. superiority •••• As viewed in Moscow, detente has clearly accelerated the shift in the correlation of world forces in the Soviets’ favor.”
When the Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci. interviewed Kissinger a couple of years ago, he told her that he secretly thinks of himself as a cowboy riding alone into town to get his man. The notches in the butt of his gun could appropriately represent the bringing do1m of some of the top oJ:ficials in Washington.