187. Letter From Director of Central Intelligence Bush to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft)1

Dear Brent:

Enclosed is a summary of the position I am taking on the current impasse involving termination payments under the Angola program. Hopefully, I will be given an opportunity to present it to the Defense Subcommittee prior to the Easter recess.

In that connection, if the occasion presents itself, it would be most helpful if the President could cover this matter with any of the members of the Subcommittee. (Membership list attached).2

We are in the process of pulling together [less than 1 line not declassified] the total listing of all obligations involved. A detailed report on our finding will be transmitted as soon as possible.3

In the event I am unable to persuade the Subcommittee of the merits of our position, it may be necessary for the Administration to proceed without their approval. There appears to be no question of the legality of such action and it is imperative that we fulfill our obligations.

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I would welcome any suggestions on the attached draft.


George Bush 4



As you know, this is a matter that I stepped into while it was in mid-stream. I mention this only to explain that since I had no personal knowledge of this covert action program as it originally developed, it was necessary for me to be briefed on it and the developments leading up to the enactment of the Tunney amendment after I was nominated to the position of Director. We have, of course, taken some steps since I took office, and I have been assured that the steps which we have taken during my tenure were proper and not inconsistent with the Tunney amendment or any other provision of law.

I think we are all generally familiar with the thrust of the Tunney amendment, Mr. Chairman, but let me read the exact language since we are being held to a strict interpretation of precisely what the Tunney amendment stated or implied. As enacted, the amendment states:

“$205,600,000, none of which, nor any other funds appropriated in this Act may be used for any activities involving Angola other than intelligence gathering . . .”

I think it is clear from this wording that this amendment applies only to funds appropriated under the Defense Appropriation Act for FY 1976, the bill to which it was a floor amendment.

Let me point out that eight Committees of Congress, including this Subcommittee, were briefed (in accordance with the Hughes/Ryan amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act), on the President’s Finding with regard to Angola and the fact that the Agency had committed funds in furtherance of that authority and determination. It was stated in those briefings that the funds involved included $31.7 million from the Agency Reserve which had been approved for expenditure in furtherance of that Presidential determination. Those funds were taken from the Reserve account prior to the enactment of the Tunney amendment and therefore certainly were not funds appropriated under the Department of Defense Appropriation for FY 1976.

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As a matter of fact, I have reviewed the House and Senate debate on the Tunney amendment and there were numerous references in that debate to the fact that funds had already been committed, including the $31.7 million, to that program. I think it is clear from that debate that the issue was whether any additional funds should be expended for that program. You will recall, it had been proposed that [1 line not declassified] for future activities in Angola and this was a central issue in the debate on the Tunney amendment. It became clear that the Congress wished to terminate the program without those additional funds being reprogrammed and spent, and, of course, that reprogramming action was never taken. However, I am not aware of any suggestion, in the discussions in the floor debate or in Director Colby’s meeting with this Subcommittee on the 22nd of January of this year that enactment of the Tunney amendment would require withdrawal of any of the $31.7 million. In fact, I believe those discussions made it clear that the $31.7 million had been committed or designated for that program.

As I believe you know, we have spent no funds beyond the $31.7 million that was under discussion at that time. In fact, we were able to divert some of those funds from military support, for which they had originally been designated, to pay for necessary expenses involved in the termination of our covert action program. It is our opinion that our actions have been within the letter and spirit of the Tunney amendment, and I have been so advised by my General Counsel all along the way. As a matter of fact, in diverting some of these funds from the purposes for which they had been committed or designated, we have not only used them for terminating the program in Angola, [1½ lines not declassified]

We will be happy to review with the Subcommittee the precise expenditures which have been made and committed from that $31.7 million, but my greatest concern in this whole matter is the question of our credibility with this Subcommittee. I don’t want any dispute or misunderstanding between me and our oversight committees if it is humanly possible to avoid it. I regret that such a situation has developed and I want to resolve it as quickly as possible. We have issued instructions that no further expenditures are to be made pending a determination on the matter with the Subcommittee. As you know your Investigations Staff is reviewing this issue and our Reserve account generally. I am anxious to know their findings. We will do everything we can to facilitate that review.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Kissinger-Scowcroft West Wing Office Files, Box 3, General Subject File, Central Intelligence Agency, Communications (20). Secret.
  2. The membership list is attached but not printed.
  3. An April 12 memorandum, transmitted by Bush to Scowcroft on April 13, provided details of the termination costs for the Angola covert action program. Costs were broken down into categories of debt owed: within the United States, to foreign organizations and individuals with earlier contracts (involving transportation, supplies, and foreign personnel), and termination payments to foreign leaders and individuals (for liberation movement leaders to “disengage and resettle themselves and their followers”). The total cost for termination amounted to $6,280,615. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 104, Geopolitical File, Angola Chronological File)
  4. Bush signed “George” above his typed signature.