33. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1
- Status of the Ivanov Case
Attached is a fact sheet prepared by Art Downey which summarizes the current status of the Ivanov case.2 I have not made any contacts with Justice on this issue until you have had an opportunity to assess on your own the complexities of this long-standing problem area. I am informed that the Soviets have opened this case with the United States government on at least seven prior occasions and that they never fail to do so whenever the opportunity arises.
The current situation with the summit and détente on the horizon and the two U.S. generals in a hostage configuration again provides a propitious opening for the Soviets. Because of the case’s linkage with wire tapping evidence, the Cassius Clay issue and the horrendous implications of this case to our Constitutional laws, I am confident that John Mitchell will take the hard line as Justice has continually done despite a drumbeat of pressure from State over the years.
My concern is that if we were to try to shake Ivanov loose we would be succumbing to future blackmail of this kind and would provide an incentive for the Soviets to pick up innocent U.S. citizens in return for proven Soviet spies. Therefore if we were to move, it should only be after our two generals have been released. I am also concerned that the Soviet response to the summit initiative does not justify our taking this action which would only confirm obvious Soviet suspicions that we are slobbering for a summit—an attitude generated by events [Page 131] of the past two weeks which must have the Kremlin hierarchy puzzled if not totally flabbergasted.3
That we do not stir the waters on this controversial case without a sizeable quid pro quo and that we hold this issue in abeyance until we need something from the Soviets beside the release of generals or sweet music in the wake of the Gromyko visit.4
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 490, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1970, Vol. 3. Secret; Sensitive. According to another copy, Haig drafted the memorandum. (Ibid.)↩
- In a memorandum forwarding the status report to Haig on October 28, Sonnenfeldt argued: “While I do not know what is in play at the moment, I strongly urge that any thought of exchanging Ivanov for the Generals should quickly be abandoned: Ivanov just happens to be a real spy, in contrast to the accidental intrusion of the Generals’ light aircraft; having secured the release of Ivanov by linkage to the Generals, (after years of unsuccessful diplomatic approaches), the Soviets would be given the incentive to hold American tourists, etc., the next time they want us to release another spy; there may be fairly strong (and righteous) resistance within the Justice Department to any such suggestion.” (Ibid.)↩
- In a note to Kissinger on October 29, Haig noted “a little clarification of Soviet views on the Ivanov case.” On the basis of an attached telegram (6440 from Moscow, October 28), Haig reported: “As you can see, what they are pressing for is to have Ivanov released on bail so that the United States will not have to compromise on the constitutional principle. Obviously, he will never return.” Kissinger initialed the note. (Ibid.)↩
- Kissinger indicated neither approval nor disapproval of this recommendation. He instead wrote the following response on the first page of the memorandum: “Issue was not a trade of Ivanoff for 2 generals but a general contribution to détente.”↩
- Secret; Sensitive; Outside System.↩