88. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to Secretary of Defense Laird 1


  • Transfer of Security Assistance to the Defense Budget

In checking further on the matter that you raised last Thursday2 I find that the facts appear to be as follows:

During the protracted struggle over the Foreign Assistance Bill in October and November ′71, members of the NSC staff encouraged General Counsel OSD, the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (L.A.) and OASD/ISA to reexamine the option of a shift in funding of security assistance to the Defense bill. They were subsequently informed that actual legislation was being drafted to achieve that shift by the DOD General Counsel.

Your letter of 24 November to Director Shultz proposing the shift was shortly followed by negative recommendations from the Department of State and OMB.3 Both expressed reservations over the possible loss of management control over the program and a diminution of State’s foreign policy role in the program.

NSC staff then convened a series of meetings in December attended by the DOD General Counsel and OMB to consider the effects of such a switch on management control. It was concluded from that analysis that management control would be enhanced by the shift and that the foreign policy role of State would be fully protected.

Your memorandum for the President of 23 December was presented to him with the comments of State, OMB and the NSC staff.4

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During the period following 23 December, General Counsel, OASD/ISA, and Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (L.A.) were informed that a decision was pending and no action should be taken until the President acted.

On 31 January the President approved your recommendation in principle and directed Clark MacGregor to consult Congressional leadership. On 4 February Chairman Hebert told MacGregor he strongly supported the shift and would fight for it.

On 7 February Bill Timmons and Tom Korologos met with Senator Stennis to enlist his support.5 He advised them that a shift would now require a separate amendment since DOD had already sent up the procurement bill on 22 January and it had been introduced. He felt that in those circumstances he should not take on the added burden. Timmons and Korologos had gone to the meeting believing that a hold remained on the DOD bill pending the President’s decision, and they apologized for their being so ill-informed. There being no possibility of making the shift without Stennis, the matter was therefore dropped.

Throughout the period described above the attitude of the NSC staff toward the shift was favorable6 and this was reflected in all White House contacts on the Hill. In retrospect there seems to have been a regrettable breakdown in communications between the White House and OSD during the month of January.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 324, Foreign Aid, Volume II 1972. No classification marking. Forwarded to Kissinger under cover of a March 14 memorandum from Kennedy and Lehman, who noted that “if we allow Laird’s interpretation to become the common wisdom then we will pay a heavy bureaucratic price in the future” and recommended Kissinger sign the memorandum to Laird. Also attached is a March 17 memorandum from Haig to General Pursley transmitting the memorandum.
  2. Presumably March 9. In their March 14 memorandum (see footnote 1 above), Kennedy and Lehman provided Kissinger with a copy of a March 3 memorandum from Laird to Kissinger on “Statutory Restraints on Security Assistance,” on which, they noted, Laird “scribbled a dig implying that the White House was responsible for the failure of his attempt to shift security assistance to the DOD budget.” Laird’s handwritten note on his March 3 memorandum reads: “Henry—Regret my recommendations could not be accepted to remove limitations and change administration of MAP and Military Credit Sales—.”
  3. See Document 77.
  4. Not found, but see Document 80.
  5. A February 7 memorandum from Timmons to the President reports on this meeting. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 324, Foreign Aid, Volume II 1972)
  6. In their March 14 memorandum to Kissinger (see footnote 1 above), Kennedy and Lehman noted that everyone at the White House except Shultz favored the shift and that all contacts on the Hill with members and staff had been favorable. In a February 3 memorandum to Kissinger for a February 4 meeting with Irwin, NSC Staff Secretary Davis reminded him of the State Department opposition and the cogent arguments in its favor. If Irwin raised the issue, she suggested that Kissinger point out that the reorganization might be the only way to get favorable treatment of the security assistance program on the Hill and protect the policy roles of the President and Secretary of State. (Ibid., Box 40, HAK/Irwin mtgs October 70)