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


  • Jackson Amendment: Perle Reports Jackson’s Rejection of Third Letter

Perle called around 10 a.m. this morning to say Jackson’s reaction to the changed version of the third letter2 had been “predictable.” He considers it an insult and they want to be sure we expect no further response.

I said there should be no doubt this had come from the President. Perle said this had never been in question but even if it had come from the Almighty the answer would have been the same. Perle added that if [Page 136] there had to be a breakdown it could not have come on a better issue than a “last-minute withdrawal” by the Administration from something previously agreed.

I said there had always been an issue about the Administration’s view of Jackson’s interpretations. It had always been made clear that while the Administration stood behind its own letter and while it viewed Jackson’s interpretations as not unreasonable it clearly could not stand behind the latter in the same way it stood behind its own statements. Moreover, you had made explicitly clear that the Administration could not accept the numbers in Jackson’s interpretations. Hence the formulation in the acknowledgment contained in the new version of the third letter.

Perle said Ribicoff and Javits were both “stunned” by what happened.3 I said I found this difficult to believe since I had myself heard Javits say (at the last breakfast I attended on September 18)4 that as far as he was concerned the main thing in the whole deal was that the President would personally hold the Soviets to the no-harassment and no-punishment assurances and stop the trade measures if there was non-performance. I said this Presidential role had in no way changed. Perle said Javits’ comments had just been Senatorial talk from a Republican Senator up for re-election who was relieved he had a new President. They should not be taken seriously and in any case Javits now was outraged and felt let down. Perle said the “poor President” had come into this thing late but he had clearly agreed to the letters at the joint meeting with the Senators5 except only for the item on how soon scientists with security clearances would be permitted to leave. And on this last issue you had indicated in the meeting between the President and Jackson alone6 that it too was settled. I said I found this hard to believe and that in any event you had made wholly clear on September 18 that the Administration did not accept the numbers.

Perle said it was not up to “you” to decide whether you want a Trade Bill; there would be no further response from Jackson. The Senators were stunned as were outsiders who had heard about the devel[Page 137]opments. I asked how outsiders could hear about them. Perle said Max Fisher had been in to see them and he knew about what happened, so they talked to him about it. I said I could not understand how outsiders like Fisher would know about it unless it was from the Congressional end.

Perle said the only purpose of his call was to be sure we understood that there would be no further response. I replied that I would report what he had said.

  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 2, Document 45.
  3. In a memorandum to Kissinger on October 3, Sonnenfeldt reported that he also called both Peter Lakeland and Morris Amitay, legislative aides to Javits and Ribicoff, respectively, and stressed the President’s role in recent decisions on how to handle the JacksonVanik Amendment. Sonnenfeldt added: “Both Lakeland and Amitay said there would be an explosion in the Jewish community over what had happened and charges of bad faith would be hurled at you.” (National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 8, Trade Bill, Sept–Dec 1974) For the full text of the memorandum, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXXI, Foreign Economic Policy, 1973–1976, Document 218.
  4. See Document 34.
  5. See Document 16.
  6. See Document 35.