185. Memorandum for the Record1


  • Minutes of the Meeting of the 303 Committee, 5 February 1969


Mr. Henry A. Kissinger (Chairman), Mr. U. Alexis Johnson,

Mr. David Packard, and Mr. Richard Helms

Mr. Robert P. Mayo and Mr. C. W. Fischer were present for Item 1.

Mr. Cord Meyer and Mr. [name not declassified] were present for Items 1, 2, and 3.

Mr. William Trueheart was present for the entire meeting.

The Chairman opened the meeting with some general remarks before commencing discussion on the agenda items. Deriving from these remarks, it was agreed:

that each Tuesday, 10:00 a.m. will be reserved for the 303 Committee meeting2
that a systematic review of all current on-going activities will be undertaken for the information of the Committee principals. This is not to interfere with presentation of new proposals requiring consideration
that in the future, covert actions before the Committee will be subjected to an annual or other specified time review, or be approved subject to a specific termination date
that future covert action proposals will contain a section describing the possible consequences of disclosure of the operation and contingency plans therefor.

[Page 376]

The Chairman stated that in his discussions with the President, the President had demonstrated an interest in the origin of covert action proposals and asked that the Committee undertake to identify those major national objectives which can be usefully supported by supplemental covert actions and to generate proposals for this purpose.3 It was made clear that covert action proposals are to be supplemental to and in support of overt Government activities. There are to be no covert actions for the sake of having covert actions. There was unanimous agreement with this thesis.4

[Omitted here is discussion of 4 agenda items.]

Frank M. Chapin
  1. Source: National Security Council, Nixon Intelligence Files, NSC Files, 303/40 Committee, Minutes, 1969. Secret; Eyes Only. Prepared by Chapin on February 6. Copies were sent to Johnson, Packard, Helms, and Mayo (item 1 only).
  2. Minutes for meetings of the 303 Committee and its successor, the 40 Committee, are ibid. There are minutes for 18 meetings in 1969, 19 meetings in 1970, 17 meetings in 1971, and 3 meetings in 1972. Also included are records of “telephonic approvals”: 1 for 1969, 3 for 1970, 11 for 1971, and 24 for 1972.
  3. Written in an unidentified hand in the margin next to this sentence is the following: “is concerned above all that covert actions support overall national objectives. He wants a general plan & not depend only on local conditions.”
  4. In the second part of a telephone conversation with Attorney General John Mitchell, February 5 at 6:05 p.m., Kissinger reported as follows:

    “President and HAK wondered whether the AG might be willing to serve on the 303 Committee, which is in charge of covert activities of the USG overseas. It would be a way to keep him connected with our foreign policy operations. HAK told him it meets once a week, Tuesdays at 10:00, and its function is to approve new operations which CIA is to undertake, and to review old ones. He said the President wouldn’t insist on it if the AG’s schedule is too full. Attorney General said he would certainly like to attempt to do it. HAK said he would make sure AG got briefing book the day before and, if he agrees, he would send Frank Chapin by to bring the AG up to date. If AG could spare a half hour, Chapin could tell him what it is all about.

    Mitchell agreed to try it, and HAK said the President would be very pleased if he would find it possible to do so.

    HAK said, ‘We’ll see you next Tuesday at 10:00. We meet in the Situation Room.’ He pointed out that the AG would be the senior member of a group which is at the deputy level, but that didn’t bother the AG.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 359, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)