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Nixon planned to go after israelis { May 27 2004 }

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Nixon hit the bottle during Arab-Israeli war
May 27, 2004

WASHINGTON -- As his presidency unraveled, Richard Nixon was too ''loaded'' to take an urgent call during the Arab-Israeli war and joked about bombing Congress during impeachment hearings, according to transcripts of foreign policy chief Henry Kissinger's phone calls.

With the Watergate scandal bearing down, Nixon also pushed ideas that Kissinger feared could start a war, according to phone calls among more than 20,000 pages of transcripts released Wednesday.

On the night of Oct. 11, 1973, just days into the Arab-Israeli war and with the United States and Soviet Union on a seeming collision course, British Prime Minister Edward Heath tried to reach Nixon by phone to discuss the crisis.

''Can we tell them 'No'?'' Kissinger asked his assistant, Brent Scowcroft, who had told him of the request from 10 Downing Street. ''When I talked to the president, he was loaded.''

''We could tell him the president is not available and perhaps he can call you,'' Scowcroft replied.

Kissinger said Nixon would be available in the morning.

In March 1974, a month after the House voted to press ahead with impeachment proceedings and five months before Nixon resigned, Kissinger fretted about the president's state of mind in a phone call with White House aide Alexander Haig.

''I am calling you about something the president said this morning which rather disturbed me,'' Kissinger said. ''He was in a rather sour mood.''

''Yes, that is conceivable,'' Haig said.

Kissinger went on to complain that Nixon was being too tough on Israeli allies and ''has been just waiting for an opportunity to lay into them. ... Now I tell you if he goes publicly after the Israelis, he might as well start a war.''

Haig said Nixon was, ''just unwinding,'' and mentioned that the president had told him to fetch the ''football'' -- the briefcase with the codes to unleash nuclear weapons.

''For what?'' Kissinger asked.

''He is going to drop it on the Hill,'' Haig said. ''What I am saying is, don't take him too seriously.''


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