14. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Ford1


  • Next Steps on Letter to Senator Jackson Regarding Soviet Emigration and the Trade Bill

Jackson’s office has now sent a memorandum commenting on our last draft of the proposed letter of understanding (Tab A). The memorandum, in which Senators Javits and Ribicoff concur, makes all the points we had anticipated from contacts with the staff.

Basically, Jackson still wants more specificity in the recital of actions the Soviets must not take in the future to prevent emigration or to harass and punish those seeking to emigrate (for example, he is especially insistent on including the cessation of the use of parental consent as an obstacle);

He wants more explicit assurances that the fact that a potential emigrant holds or held security clearances will not be used for a prolonged period or indefinitely to prevent him from leaving;

He wants to eliminate a reference to emigration in accordance with Soviet laws and regulations (since we do not know their detailed and total content);

He wants our proposed procedures for making inquiries and lodging appeals with the Soviets to apply to all the assurances rather than only the first (not an unreasonable proposal);

He wants a clear understanding on numbers, even if it is not included in the formal letter;

He still wants to use a waiver procedure rather than reformulating Title IV2 in a way that would permit a trial period for MFN and credits (Jackson’s staff, however, suggests that he might accept an effective [Page 35] date some 3–6 months after enactment so as to permit the Soviets to show at least a trend of compliance).

Jackson further wishes to have some additional interpretive statements, including an agreement on numbers, incorporated in an additional letter from himself which a further letter from us would endorse as corresponding to our understanding.

Jackson is also concerned about the trial of Viktor Polsky which is to begin August 15. Polsky is a leading dissident, organizer of emigration and himself an applicant for emigration since 1968. He has been charged with a traffic violation (Tab D). Jackson wants us to tell the Soviets to be lenient and permit Polsky to leave.

In oral comments, Jackson’s staff emphasized his concern with having something about “good faith” written into the letter—Soviet good faith as much as the Administration’s. This is intended as pressure on the Soviets but presumably would serve also to protect the Senator with his constituency.

Jackson also wants to cover the East European problem which Title IV at the moment lumps with the USSR. His proposed criterion for permitting MFN and credits to East European countries is action by them on our Representation Lists (which we submit periodically to obtain emigration of persons we consider US nationals and other hardship cases).

Jackson would like us to redraft our letter in the light of his comments and, preferably, to see it before the next meeting.3

Next Steps

While the tone of the Jackson memorandum (and his staff) is more reasonable than in the past, the totality of his requirements still takes us [Page 36] well beyond what would be tolerable for the Soviets or feasible for us to make commitments on.

Still, there may be points on which our last letter could be improved to take account at least of the ostensible concerns of Senator Jackson. Thus, in the end there is probably little difference between various possible formulations for articulating the performance standards. Jackson himself says he can live with “we are satisfied that.” There is also merit in making our commitment to undertake representations apply to all the issues rather than only to that of punitive action. There would also be advantage in trying to get a private understanding on numbers.

In terms of our strategy in this exercise, it may well be desirable to have one further round of drafting to demonstrate our determination to settle this issue.

Accordingly, at Tab B, there is a redraft of the letter to Jackson. Its main new elements are the following:

—To finesse the problem of how to formulate our assurances and expectations, the second paragraph (“To advance the purposes . . .) has been changed to become a general introduction to all the specific points, using the phrase “we are satisfied that . . .” The individual points are then stated as flat assertions.

—One of the references to “existing laws and regulations” in the first point has been deleted;

—The recitation of punitive actions in the first point has been made to sound less inclusive and more illustrative (“such as, for example,”);

—The obstacles generally mentioned in point two are now amplified though still without further specificity (“obstacles of the kind frequently employed in the past”);

—In point three the matter of informing persons with security clearances of when they will be let go has been made more affirmative;

—A new sixth point has been introduced to make the appeal procedure that we may utilize applicable to all the points in the letter, rather than only the first; the language would allow us to raise indications of obstruction and harassment not specifically enumerated in the text. (This is to protect against new forms of obstruction, etc., and to cover points only mentioned generally in the text);

—There is no explicit reference to a number but only to an increase in the rate. (An understanding of what would be regarded as numbers consistent with the criteria and practices cited would be subject to a separate understanding.)

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—The final paragraph has been rewritten to include our position that the Trade Bill must somehow permit trade to go forward. (This problem will have to be finally settled in the redraft of Title IV.)

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Europe and Canada, 1974–1977, Box 16, USSR (1). Eyes Only. All tabs are attached but not printed. In a covering memorandum to Ford on August 15, Haig suggested: “You may wish to scan this before this morning’s breakfast.” A note on both memoranda reads: “The President has seen.” Although no drafting information appears on the memorandum from Kissinger, Sonnenfeldt forwarded it to him on August 12 with a recommendation that he review the package and “indicate any changes you wish to have made and any other material you may wish to have prepared for your next meeting with the Senators.” Kissinger approved the memorandum without revision. (National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 9, Trade Bill, August 1974) See, however, footnote 3 below.
  2. That is, Title IV of the Trade Bill.
  3. In a memorandum to Kissinger on August 12, Sonnenfeldt reported that Jackson wanted to see “any new draft of the proposed letter” before his meeting with the President. (National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 9, Trade Bill, August 1974) Two days later, Sonnenfeldt raised the issue with Kissinger again, noting that “Jackson and the others are worried about coming to a possible meeting with the President tomorrow unprepared (i.e., without having seen our latest draft).” (Ibid.) According to Kissinger’s Record of Schedule, Sonnenfeldt called him at 12:43 p.m., presumably to discuss the draft letter. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 439, Miscellany, 1968–76) Later that afternoon, Sonnenfeldt sent a draft to Kissinger with the following covering note: “This is the revised version of the letter to Senator Jackson containing the changes you wanted. This text should be substituted for the undated one in the Presidential package at the Tab marked ‘B—New Draft of Letter.’ It is being delivered to Jackson, Ribicoff and Javits.” Sonnenfeldt wrote “done” in the margin, indicating that the previous draft had been replaced as an attachment to the memorandum for the President. (National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 9, Trade Bill, August 1974) Despite the instructions described above, the revised draft letter was not added to the memorandum for the President.