Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"He's a Procurement Officer"

On models of civil-military interaction:

CJCS Admiral Thomas Moorer: The flow shifts back and forth. And it’s very difficult, almost impossible, to run that from Washington. And so far as the reports to you are concerned, let me tell you right now, that if I am directed to give the reports you will get them precisely when you ask. But I am not running this reporting business. And I am passing the information up to the Secretary of Defense and it’s being run from up there, but it’s—
President Richard Nixon: Right. I am directing you—
Moorer: If you want me to do it, I can do it—
Nixon: I am directing you, and if the Secretary of Defense raises the questions, I am directing you. I have to have them directly, and they must be unsanitized. And also when an order goes, it’s got to go from me. The Secretary of Defense is not Commander in Chief. The Secretary of Defense does not make decisions on these kinds of things—
Moorer: I understand that, Mr. President—
Nixon: He’s a procurement officer. That’s what he is and not another goddamn thing. And from now on this has got to be done this way. So under these circumstances we can go. Now, getting back to this thing, let’s see what kind of an excuse is being developed here.
Hat tip to Carl Prine. My initial thought regarding this snippet is that Nixon is acting entirely appropriately by exercising his authority, but that he's inviting some danger by undermining the authority of the Secretary of Defense. Of course, the relationship between SecDef, President, and CJCS was different before Goldwater-Nichols. Thoughts?

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