241. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Ford
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

Kissinger: We have three different problems with these groups: a deliberate attempt to destroy Executive authority, to destroy our foreign policy, and to knock down every strong man around you.

What they are doing to the Sinai agreement is unbelievable. It is the greatest achievement since the opening to China and all that is happening is they are pissing all over it.

I am so overburdened that mistakes are made. They asked Sisco if these were Executive agreements. Sisco is energetic but has no judgment. He got the Legal Advisor to say they are legally binding Executive agreements.

We are now facing a coalition of the pro-Israelis, who want to freeze these papers into concrete agreements . . .

The President: I am disturbed about your comment that I am not tough enough in foreign policy.

Kissinger: No, I didn’t mean you. I meant the impression of those around you. We are dominant in the world and at home we are impotent. Don’t misunderstand me, it is not you. But Buchen—let me say the manner in which they talk to the Congress does not inspire respect. Why he has to say we would never withhold a whole document . . .

The President: I didn’t say that.

Kissinger: No, you are just fine. There is not an iota of difference between us. But we shouldn’t promise sweeping things like this—we don’t know what will do.

[He reads from agreement to show that the language leaves an escape clause and there is no binding language.]

If I have to testify on these though, I will have to say either it means nothing or it does mean something. Either one is a disaster.

[Page 852]

The President: Both Committees have this?

Kissinger: Completely. And it has been leaked to the New York Times. But to publish it officially would create a massive problem with the Arabs.

The President: Were you tough with the Committees?

Kissinger: I did not yield, but they are now using delaying tactics. They want Schlesinger to testify and he will be asked about your statement that we will give military assistance to Egypt. He will convey the impression he has been out of it.

The President: I was strong on the Pershing.

Kissinger: Brent told me you were great. Schlesinger knew about the Pershing. He didn’t know about the slip of paper. But he has given away all the easy things now—F–16, tank lasers, accelerating the F–15—leaving you with the sticky issues.

The President: How do we get the Sinai thing through?

Kissinger: They are responding to pressure from home like with Vietnam. And the Jews are trying to knock you off. They want a new guy in the White House in ’77.

The President: Should I demand immediate action? I have told them . . .

Kissinger: I would write Sparkman and Morgan that peace in the Middle East requires action by the end of the week.

The President: I would add Scott, Mansfield, Albert and Rhodes.

Kissinger: It’s not much help in the Committee. But I am not sure that if we don’t win it in a week you maybe should yield.

The President: On my letters?

Kissinger: No. Those are safe. You are a victim of Watergate.

The President: Never before has so much been given to the Congress.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to the Arab-Israel dispute.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 15, September 26, 1975, Ford, Kissinger. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Oval Office at the White House. All brackets, with the exception of ones describing omitted material, are in the original.