Spilling the Beans

In response to:

Nixon and the Arms Race: How Much Is "Sufficiency"? from the March 27, 1969 issue

To the Editors:

It is amusing to watch the pundits waste space discussing the meaning of “sufficiency of arms” [I. F. Stone, NYR, March 27, 1969]. A definite answer was given by Deputy Defense Secretary David Packard. When reminded that the President had used the term, and asked what it meant, Mr. Packard answered: “It means that it’s a good word to use in a speech. Beyond that, it doesn’t mean a God-damned thing.”

This was reported as a WP dispatch in the International Herald Tribune, June 18, 1969, page 1, but does not seem to have been printed in major US papers. It is of course customary for high government officials to use words only for public relations purposes, and to keep the public confused. It is unusual to see someone up there actually spill the beans like Packard.

Serge Lang

University of California