251. Minutes of Meeting1



  • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
  • StateJohn N. Irwin, II
  • Ray Cline
  • Seymour Weiss
  • DefenseDavid Packard
  • Dr. Albert C. Hall
  • J. Fred Buzhardt
  • JCS—Adm. Thomas H. Moorer
  • V/Adm. John P. Weinel
  • CIARichard Helms
  • Thomas Parrott
  • JusticeJohn N. Mitchell
  • NSC StaffPhilip A. Odeen
  • Andrew Marshall
  • Jeanne W. Davis

Mr. Kissinger: This group has been given the task of providing direction and guidance on the substantive requirements for intelligence and for an evaluation of intelligence products from the point of view of the consumer. I believe there is a lot of preliminary work that needs to be done, and I propose that this be undertaken by a Working Group chaired by a representative of the Director of Central Intelligence, in his new capacity. All the agencies here would be represented. This group would consider what work needs to be done. Budgetary questions will be handled in other groups.

We have also created within the NSC staff the Net Assessment Group which Andy Marshall will direct. Some of the issues, of course, will be brought to this group for an overall look. Our principal purpose today is to see if anyone has any other ideas. I suggest that each [Page 564] agency prepare a statement of what they believe our intelligence requirements should be. If we can have those in ten days, we would plan to meet again in about two weeks. We can look at the requirements and make them the charter for the Working Group. After that has been done and the Working Group commences its operations, this group could meet again in about two months.2 I see no need for this group to meet too frequently. Is that a reasonable approach?

Mr. Helms: Indeed it is. This group need not meet too frequently. At its first substantive meeting, however, it might consider what the government needs in the way of intelligence and what we can do without.

Mr. Kissinger: You all want to give up countries, not intelligence.

Mr. Helms: We can bring suggestions and have them accepted or not accepted. All the right people are in this group and each has a vote.

Mr. Kissinger: I suggest at the next meeting each agency be prepared to state what they think is dispensable. That would be important to determine. There may be no consensus, but that in itself is good to know.

Mr. Packard: I think that’s an oversimplification, but it is an issue that we should address. We can’t just make a list of things, but there are certain things which should be brought up.

Mr. Kissinger: I agree. We obviously can’t decide at the next meeting that X number of assets are no longer needed, but we should look at categories. Tactical intelligence, for example, needs looking at. The Working Group can address these issues systematically.

Mr. Packard: They can prepare a plan of action—what needs to be done. Mr. Kissinger: Both for requirements and for things that might be changed.

Mr. Cline: Are you speaking in terms of subjects or programs?

Mr. Kissinger: I mean what it is we need to know about each part of the world.

Mr. Cline: We’ve got a lot of material on that. But, after agreeing what we want to know about Pakistan, for example, we have to consider whether we want it badly enough to expend the necessary funds and resources.

Mr. Kissinger: We will develop a work program at our next session.

Mr. Helms: There are several references in the paper to tactical intelligence. Senator Ellender wants to get tactical intelligence out of this machinery. He considers it an embarrassment on the Hill, since it increases [Page 565] the size of the intelligence budget and the Congress can’t do anything about it. He wants to put it back in the Services.

Mr. Packard: That’s what we want, too.

Mr. Kissinger: That is certainly a subject to be discussed. I have no fixed view on it.

Adm. Moorer: But the general approach, with its centralized control in Washington, zeroes in on tactical intelligence. It simply won’t work. Field commanders need real-time intelligence, and centralization in Washington just means trouble. We went through this same thing on logistics in Vietnam, and it took us two years to get the responsibility back to the field where it belonged. You create a real danger to combat readiness when you degrade tactical intelligence.

Mr. Kissinger: But this plan doesn’t move tactical intelligence closer to Washington.

Adm. Moorer: There are some moves in that direction.

Mr. Packard: What about the Sosus system—is that tactical intelligence or not? That should be left to the Services.

Mr. Cline: That’s a warning system.

Mr. Kissinger: We believe tactical intelligence should be in the hands of the people who use it. One argument for this organization is that it will help avoid some duplication in the name of tactical intelligence. This doesn’t have to be done here.

Mr. Packard: There are some issues that should be addressed. For example, we have two different groups in Japan and one in the Philippines, all trying to get tactical intelligence on Cambodia.

Mr. Kissinger: We want to find some mechanism to examine the question. I am told some of these recce missions I approve every month are new tracks. I can’t define the existing tracks and I don’t know the reasons for each track. I look for some special situation. I am told some of these requirements were established in the fifties and that no one receives them regularly. I don’t know if that’s true.

Adm. Moorer: It’s not exactly true. I had started all commands on a detailed review of each track with a view to reducing them. This work is almost finished. Then we will come to the point of judging the risks of changes—whether we can accept the risk of overlooking some vital intelligence.

Mr. Kissinger: I remember when the EC–121 was shot down,3 we considered reviewing all the tracks, but it was never done on an independent basis. (to Moorer) Let’s get your report, including some gross judgments on the number of tracks, the reasons for them, etc. Then we can make some political judgments.

[Page 566]

Mr. Packard: Our intelligence mission around the perimeter of the Soviet Union was largely in support of our bomber mission. In the last two years we have greatly increased our capability through COMINT and ELINT satellites. We’ve also increased our photographic ability. We should consider whether the satellites can replace some of our flights.

Adm. Moorer: [3 lines of source text not declassified] I also want to take a strong position on the question of operational control of platforms. NSA is a technical outfit—they can’t control the platforms. These aircraft have other missions—air-sea rescue, some defense, etc. NSA should have SIGINT operational control but not of the platform.

Mr. Packard: You’re talking about the idea of a National Cryptological Command.

Adm. Moorer: I’m just taking advantage of the presence of everyone here to express my views. There is some evidence in the paper that you’re talking about NSA command of the whole operation.

Mr. Kissinger: Let’s plan to meet again in two weeks. Let’s try to have your papers in by a week from Monday (December 13) on your view of the requirements, what areas of possible duplication we should look into, the relation of tactical intelligence. I see no reason why tactical intelligence can’t be broken out of the budget.

Mr. Mitchell: I agree.

Mr. Helms: The Senate is starting to get up tight about this. We’ll have a bad enough time without forcing more dollars into the intelligence basket.

Mr. Kissinger: Since we’re all here, do we have a late report on Mrs. Gandhi’s speech? For the Paks to attack four airfields at dusk doesn’t look like a general Pakistan attack.

Mr. Helms: I agree, but it’s what Mrs. Gandhi is hanging her hat on. It’s just an excuse.

Mr. Kissinger: That’s too irrational. I hate to think what India would do without their tradition of non-violence!

Mr. Cline: The Indians hit back about 15 minutes after the Pak air attacks on the airfields were reported. That’s a pretty fast reaction.

  1. Source: National Security Council, Nixon Intelligence Files, Log Numbered Series, 1971–1973. Top Secret; Codeword. The meeting was held in the White House Situation Room. Davis forwarded the minutes to Kissinger under cover of a December 14 memorandum. (Ibid.) For another record of the same meeting, see Document 250.
  2. The NSCIC did not meet again in 1971 or 1972.
  3. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XIX, Japan and Korea.