244. Editorial Note

The White House announcement on Friday, November 5, 1971, of the reorganization of the intelligence community (footnote 2, Document 242) came as a surprise to two senior Democratic members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Stuart Symington (D–Missouri) and its chairman, J. William Fulbright (D–Arkansas), both of whom publicly complained about the failure of the administration to consult the Congress. (Symington was also a member of the Armed Services Committee, which had a subcommittee on Central Intelligence chaired by Senator John Stennis (D–Mississippi).) A telephone conversation between Kissinger and Symington sometime in the morning of November 11, 1971, went as follows:

“K: For somebody I like so much you keep going after me.

“S: It’s not you; it’s the policy. You know that.

“K: I know. You are a good friend and when we are all out of here you will still be. I’m calling about the intelligence reorganization. First, you are absolutely right; I don’t know why there was no Congressional consultation before. This wasn’t done in my shop. My shop was part of the study … but that is no excuse. What I am going to do is to ask George Shultz to come up and see you next week when he gets back in town to explain the Office of Management point of view. Secondly, the purpose of this reorganization wasn’t to enhance my office, but to give [get?] other members of the committee to state their aims. I can levy requirements now on behalf of the President; I don’t need a committee to do that. It, if anything, limits me personally, but the major test of it isn’t what it does to me. My role is marginal; it actually tends to enhance the role of Helms.

“S: Here is where we got off the track. Friday night it began to get around. People came to me and asked what was going on. I hadn’t seen anything and I said I didn’t know about it. That’s embarrassing to have to say that, but you know this committee hasn’t met once this year, and that has got to be changed. So I’m awakened in the morning by an early call from a reporter and I have to say I don’t know anything about it. Then I read the morning paper. I came to the office. I called CIA and asked to speak to Helms. He was out of the country. There was no one there who would talk with me. I got upset about it. I got home and finally there was a call, and there was a member of the CIA staff who was kind enough to deliver the White House press release to me at my house on Saturday afternoon. I said ‘what does it mean?’ He said, ‘we don’t know. Henry, you can’t run a railroad like that. By that time I was getting calls from all over my state.’

“K: I don’t know what Helms told his people, but he was fully informed, as was the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. We ran it [Page 548] through the intelligence community many times. But the members of the committee should have been informed. There’s no excuse for it. And I’m not finding fault with what you said.

“S: I know you well enough to know you wouldn’t have. There’s no one in the Executive Branch I respect more than you. But if these people there aren’t going to tell us what is going on, who is going to?

“K: I will have Shultz give you a briefing.

“S: What about my suggestion that Stennis call his committee together and give it to all them.

“K: Right. Because we ought to try to keep intelligence from being controversial if we can avoid it.

“S: Marchetti (?) said there is steadily increasing pressure … My closest friend was Truman’s legal advisor. He left plans which assured that it couldn’t be administered by the military. Then out comes this general who is a nice guy but as military as they come, who is going to operate it and Helms to coordinate it, and you’ve got a committee with the Joint Chiefs … and they go off to the races.

“K: Helms … to maintain control. If Helms is only coordinator then it’s not doing its job. I would complain about that. Some people thought of moving Helms out of the CIA; I urged very strongly that he stay.

“S: He won’t be a figurehead.

“K: No. We want him to have more of a voice in military intelligence.

“S: I spent more time with some people on Saturday—so it wasn’t a jumping off of mine.

“K: No, you are not immoderate. These are reasonable concerns of a serious man. And I’ll do what I can to get a briefing for the committee.

“S: And if the committee doesn’t want it, then I want it for the Foreign Relations Committee.

“K: They should have it.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 370, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File. All ellipses are in the source text)

On the same morning at 10:40 a.m. Kissinger called Senator Fulbright:

“K: Two things I’m calling you about. You made some comments about the intelligence reorganization. I agree with you that the committee should have been briefed. This was a slip-up. It was done mostly in the Office of Management and Budget, and the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board was involved. What I would like to do is when George Shultz comes back—he is out of town now—have him come up and brief you and Senator Symington. My role has not been enhanced by this at all.

[Page 549]

“F: It reads that way.

“K: I know it does. And you are not unjust in your comments. Now reports have come to me on behalf of the President. We have got a committee of all the consumers, State and anyone interested, to establish broad guidelines. But the test is whether Helms, his staff and the boards reconstituted for him can get a hold on it and get an integrated approach. It’s not to increase White House influence. You didn’t make a big case of it, so I’m not complaining. George Shultz is out of town. Are you will to receive him next week to get a run-down on what his intention was?

“F: Sure. Certainly. Glad to.

“K: The second reason I’m calling is if you ever feel like having lunch, breakfast, or a meeting with me alone so I can answer any questions you might have which are harder to answer in the larger group, I am at your disposal.

“F: Good, thank you. A free lunch. I’ll take you up on it.

“K: I’ll even come to the Hill and let you take me.

“F: When I get this foreign aid off my chest I will be able to. They have me here from 9:00 in the morning until 8:00 at night. But it’s almost over now; we are on the floor with it right now.

“K: I will let you go, but whenever you feel you have the time, let me know and I’ll do it wherever it’s most convenient for you.” (Ibid.)