Topic: Personal relationships with Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy.
Interview Date: October 5, 2003.
[In response to the extent of Dr. Baker's work and relationships with Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy.]
WILLIAM O. BAKER: Well, it turned, of course, out that Kennedy was very much more intimately. Yes, Eisenhower, much the closest. But it is interesting that Kennedy got very much personally involved. Now, you covered all that in the sense of his foundation of the science and technology institution had a very large intelligence component and Kennedy was very active, very personably forthcoming on that. And he took a lot of pride in that. I remember Land and I were his special missionaries.
And every time there would be a head of state, I remember, the president of Australia, in this, or what ever they called it there at that time, and also a couple of other European countries. He insisted that Land and I go with him on to the third floor living quarters of the White House. So he would receive these visitors there and then proceed to tell them about us, you see, and want us to talk to them. So, he was very friendly indeed about the whole deal.
However, in terms of really fundamental understanding of the what we had to do and how the system was working, I'd say that Eisenhower was the leader. And Eisenhower, of course, knew so well the machinery and what you had to do to in the other branches of government to get things done, that he was uniquely qualified to do that. So he was very close.