315. Editorial Note

On February 6, 1970, Fred Bergsten sent Henry Kissinger a memorandum stating that the Gleason case (see Document 312) highlighted the need for establishing guidelines on the new Export Administration [Page 814] Act or “we shall again be faced with ad hoc decisions and wide interagency differences on specific cases.” He added that the Act required a review of export control lists and procedures on licensing requirements. Bergsten reported that the Commerce Department had already put forward a proposal for administering the Act, with recommendations for some relaxation of controls. The State Department position, by contrast, was that the Commerce position exceeded the President’s revised legal authority to restrict exports and desired a more liberal interpretation. The Defense Department, which did not object in principle to the Commerce proposals, wanted a more restrictive interpretation in practice and wanted to bargain with the Soviet Union for some unspecified quid pro quo when deciding on specific licensing cases. Kissinger noted on Bergsten’s memorandum that, rather than meeting with agency representatives to seek a solution, he preferred requesting the agencies to prepare a NSSM-like paper for the President setting out issues and options. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 401, Trade General Volume I)

In a February 18 memorandum to Kissinger, Bergsten proposed sending a memorandum to the Secretaries of State, Defense, and Commerce requesting a paper to the President setting forth the options on 1) the extent of liberalization of the existing export control lists; 2) the standards for decisions on particular license applications; and 3) the procedures to be followed on controversial cases, including the need for referral of decisions to the White House. Kissinger wrote on Bergsten’s memorandum: “Chairman of group? (Commerce) Submit to Asst to Pres.” (Ibid.)

In a February 27 memorandum Kissinger informed the Secretaries of State, Defense, and Commerce that the President had directed the preparation of an interagency paper setting forth the options open to him under the new Act for administering export controls. Kissinger indicated the paper was to be prepared by an Ad Hoc Group chaired by a representative of the Secretary of Commerce and should be submitted to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs by March 9. (Ibid.)

A copy of Kissinger’s February 27 memorandum is attached to the following February 27 typewritten note from Executive Secretary Theodore Eliot to Secretary of State Rogers, which reads: “You will note that the attached memorandum from Henry assigns action on an important foreign economic policy matter to a working group headed by the Commerce Department and would have the working group report to Henry. This is an example of how far we will have to go if we are to put coordinating responsibility for foreign economic policy back in your hands.” (Ibid., RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 73 D 288, Box 839, NSC/MISC)