31. Memorandum From the Counselor of the Department of State (Sonnenfeldt) to Secretary of State Kissinger1


  • Jackson Amendment

Perle called late last night to say that to follow up the President’s telephone conversation with Jackson yesterday,2 Jackson will write the [Page 80] President a letter detailing the advantages of Jackson’s waiver approach. Perle claimed that after the phone conversation it was still not clear whether the President was against affirmative Congressional action because of fears of delays and the introduction of extraneous considerations or whether he opposed it in principle. If it was the former, Jackson would make clear that all concerns could be taken care of through the language of the amendment. It would be made clear that Congressional action would have to be on the same criteria used by the President in making his own judgments (i.e., the terms of your exchange of letters). Perle said if the President’s objection was on principle, then there was probably an unbridgeable gap. I said that as I understood it the President was opposed to affirmative Congressional action as a matter of policy. Perle said Jackson would in any case write a detailed explanation of the advantages of doing things his way.

Perle also said that their lawyers would change one point in their proposed amendment, to make it absolutely clear that the first Presidential waiver would not require any finding of Soviet compliance with the terms of the letters.

Perle also confirmed that Jackson would talk to Meany on Thursday.3

Meanwhile, Eberle has sent you, Haig, Timmons and Scowcroft a memo (Tab A)4 to the effect that he wants to take over the Title IV issue and settle it this week. He wants to negotiate a deal whereby the President would send his annual determination to continue MFN to House Ways and Means and Senate Finance where it would lie for 90 days and, failing negative action, MFN would continue for another year. In the event of a negative decision by either committee, it would then be submitted to the Floor. Until the appropriate house votes, MFN would continue.

Eberle requested authority to proceed by Wednesday morning but I gather Scowcroft is trying to reach him and fill him in on the latest President–Jackson phone conversation.

Perle professed to be upset by the press leaks and said they must stem from Executive Branch briefings of Jewish leaders.5

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 8, Trade Bill, Sept–Dec 1974. Eyes Only.
  2. See footnote 4, Document 30. No other record of the telephone conversation between Ford and Jackson has been found.
  3. September 12.
  4. Dated September 9; attached but not printed.
  5. In another memorandum to Kissinger on September 10, Sonnenfeldt further reported: “I called Perle this afternoon and told him that the President objects to Jackson’s waiver procedure on policy grounds and that this is a firm position. Perle said he would report this to Scoop and assumed that this made a letter to the President explaining the advantages of the procedure pointless. I said that was correct.” (National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 8, Trade Bill, Sept–Dec 1974)