51. Minutes of the 40 Committee Meeting1


  • Various—see summary of conclusions


  • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
  • State
    • Mr. U. Alexis Johnson
  • Defense
    • Mr. David Packard
  • JCS
    • Lt. Gen. Richard T. Knowles
  • CIA
    • Lt. Gen. Robert E. Cushman
    • Mr. Thomas Karamessines
    • Mr. William Nelson2
    • [name not declassified]2
    • Mr. David Blee2
  • NSC Staff
    • Mr. Frank M. Chapin
    • Col. Richard T. Kennedy
    • Mr. Keith Guthrie
[Page 138]

[Omitted here is the summary of conclusions and sections unrelated to Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty.]

Dr. Kissinger: Now we can turn to Radio Free Europe.

(Mr. Nelson left and Mr. [name not declassified] joined the meeting at this point)

Dr. Kissinger: (to Mr. [name not declassified]) Do you want to present your findings?

Gen. Cushman: The paper was prepared by the State Department.3

Mr. Johnson: This is a monumental piece of work. It is a very fundamental question that we face. In 1961 we had a task force on this that came out almost in the same place. At that time nobody listened to the task force.

Mr. Karamessines: In 1967 there was another task force.4

Mr. Johnson: There are two issues. First, do we think that RFE and RL are worth preserving? Second, what do we have to do to preserve them? Do we want to move away from CIA funding as matter of preference or only so far as we are forced to do so? The third question is what direction we go if we are forced to drop CIA funding.

Dr. Kissinger: Another problem is the question of relocation and modernization. This is an issue between us and the Germans.

Mr. Johnson: On Question 1, we would say that RFE and RL are worth preserving. On Question 2 we would prefer things to remain as they are. The existing system has worked well. Whether we have to answer question 3 depends on whether we are forced to make changes by Senator Case. We have been made unable to change his position. He professes to be in favor of maintaining RFE, and he also says he is willing to consider various means to provide overt funding. He has a new bill which represents some movement on his part, but it still has lots of bugs. In addition Senator Fulbright has called hearings for April [Page 139] 28, and we will need a position by that time. The first alternative for [new types of funding]5 is something on the order of what Case is proposing. This would involve a mixed public and private corporation for which Congress would appropriate the money. The corporation would pass this along to RFE and RL. The second proposal is to set up RFE and RL as a public corporation and make a direct appropriation to them.

Dr. Kissinger: Would this be a one-time appropriation?

Mr. Johnson: No, appropriations would be made annually. A third proposal is a direct appropriation to one of the existing agencies for example, the State Department. We object to this because it would make these radio stations a government institution. It would not be possible to separate them from VOA.

Dr. Kissinger: We would be stuck with responsibility if RFE and RL took a more aggressive line.

Mr. Johnson: Yes. This would give us problems diplomatically.

Dr. Kissinger: This defeats the purpose of RFE and RL.

Mr. Johnson: I am getting some information about the Public Broadcasting Corporation. It may provide a useful precedent. My own feeling is that we canʼt make a decision without further exploration with Congress. We have never talked about this with them, except with Senator Case and [Rep.]6 Ogden Reid. If we want to explore overt funding, we would have to talk with the leadership to see if anything is feasible. If there appears to be no feasible alternative, we can go back to Senator Case and say: “Overt funding means the death of RFE. Yet, you say you want to keep RFE, so letʼs stay where we are.”

Alternatively, we can say to him that we have found a possible feasible course which we are prepared to support.

There are two real alternatives: a cut-out corporation and one supported by direct appropriations. Secretary Rogers made the point that since it is well known that RFE is being funded by the U.S. Government, why not turn it into a public broadcasting corporation with funds appropriated directly? Marty Hillenbrand thinks this would create difficulty for Germany, Spain and Portugal. They like a cut-out arrangement.

Mr. [name not declassified]: This is easier for them. It helps if there is no line item in the budget.

Mr. Karamessines: In creating a corporation we need not confine its responsibilities to the two radio stations. It could also handle other activities.

[Page 140]

Dr. Kissinger: A single corporation could also reduce the number of pressure points against the U.S. Government. I know the line between the two alternatives is a thin one.

Mr. Johnson: I am inclined to think that this thin line is important.

Mr. [name not declassified]: The radios themselves opt for direct funding.

Dr. Kissinger: Why do they prefer that?

Mr. [name not declassified]: No one would be looking over their shoulders.

Mr. Johnson: What about the problems with the host governments?

Dr. Kissinger: [With direct funding]7 how would we distinguish the two radios from VOA? What is the rationale?

Mr. [name not declassified]: We can point out to the boards of directors the problems involved in keeping RFE and RL separate from VOA. As for a rationale, the boards are looking at the precedent of the Public Broadcasting Corporation.

Mr. Packard: How much private funding does Radio Free Europe receive?

Mr. [name not declassified]: One million dollars.

Dr. Kissinger: If there is an item in the budget, how do we avoid getting stuck with responsibilities for the broadcast? If the Russians raise hell and Dobrynin comes to see the Secretary, the mere fact that the station is not administered by the State Department will not help.

Mr. Johnson: A cut-out would remove the radios one more step from the State Department.

Mr. [name not declassified]: We donʼt favor direct appropriations. However, the boards of directors do.

Dr. Kissinger: I think they just want people off their backs.

Mr. Johnson: I am not clear in my own mind as to how the boards are appointed. Ostensibly, how is it done?

Mr. [name not declassified]: The RFE Corporation selects the directors.

Mr. Johnson: Who is the Corporation?

Mr. [name not declassified]: Gen. Clay.

Mr. Packard: It is a self-perpetuating corporation.

Dr. Kissinger: Does Radio Liberty have a different board?

Mr. [name not declassified]: Yes, it does. There is no overlapping. The Radio Liberty board is less active.

Mr. Johnson: [1½ lines not declassified]

[Page 141]

Mr. [name not declassified]: [1 line not declassified]

Mr. Johnson: [1 line not declassified]

Mr. [name not declassified]: [1 line not declassified]

Mr. Johnson: [1 line not declassified]

Mr. Karamessines: [1 line not declassified]

Gen. Cushman: (to Mr. Johnson) [1 line not declassified]

Mr. Johnson: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Mr. Karamessines: [1 line not declassified]

Gen. Cushman: [1 line not declassified]

Mr. Johnson: [2 lines not declassified]

Mr. [name not declassified]: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Dr. Kissinger: The new proposal calls for fifteen directors of whom only three would be appointed by the President.

Mr. Johnson: That is the Case proposal.8 That is not what we are suggesting.

Dr. Kissinger: Are we all agreed that the present situation canʼt be maintained?

Mr. Johnson: We wonʼt be certain until we take soundings on the Hill.

Gen. Cushman: However, I wouldnʼt make any bets on being able to keep the status quo.

Mr. Johnson: If the present situation continues, CIA will maintain its links with the organization.

Gen. Cushman: Senator Case seems determined to blow that arrangement out of the water.

Mr. Karamessines: Fulbright is also. In addition there are the problems with the Germans.

Dr. Kissinger: We would have the German problem in any event.

Mr. Karamessines: They prefer a non-CIA fig leaf.

Mr. [name not declassified]: But they insist on a fig leaf.

Dr. Kissinger: The only thing that would help the Germans—and then only slightly—would be a cut-out. This would be better for them than State Department or public control. My own feeling is that in any event this will only hold for one to two years. They wonʼt let RFE and RL stand in the way of Ostpolitik. (to Mr. Karamessines) Do you think that CIA involvement is particularly a problem for the Germans?

[Page 142]

Mr. Karamessines: Yes, now that it has been the subject of a public statement by a U.S. Senator. However, Brandt has said that he wonʼt let these pressures keep us from working out a solution.

Mr. Packard: What is the budget?

Mr. Karamessines: $36 million for the two organizations.

Dr. Kissinger: (to Mr. Johnson) I agree that we should undertake extensive consultations to see if there is support for the existing arrangement or any alternatives.

Mr. Karamessines: Do you want this to be done jointly by the State Department and the White House?

Mr. Johnson: Why have the White House involved at this stage?

Mr. [name not declassified]: We canʼt carry the ball on this.

Dr. Kissinger: (to Mr. Johnson) I think you should do it. If a Presidential call at the right moment will help, that can be arranged.

Mr. [name not declassified]: Should Clark McGregor be involved at some point?

Dr. Kissinger: Clark can help. However, I donʼt want to get involved.

Mr. Johnson: Senator Russellʼs passing has complicated the situation. He kept the dogs off for many years.

Dr. Kissinger: Who handles this now?

Mr. Johnson: Senator Ellender.

Dr. Kissinger: He is mad at me because I havenʼt looked at his home movies. We have now set a time, but he wants to check the list himself to see that all the senior personnel are there.

Mr. Karamessines: Do we need a cut-off date?

Dr. Kissinger: I donʼt think we can settle this before the new fiscal year. We need another year under the present management. This is the first point we should get across to Senator Case.

Therefore, we conclude that the status quo can probably not be maintained, though we will take soundings to see if it might be possible. Management by the State Department is rejected. A direct appropriation is not what is wanted. The real choice is between a cut-out and the status quo. (to Mr. Johnson) You will make some inquiries on the Hill?

Mr. Johnson: In talking about this I will need to be clear on how the board is to be appointed.

Dr. Kissinger: I suggest that the State and CIA have their legal people develop some ideas on how a new corporation would look. Then we should meet before a proposal is made on the Hill. What is needed is an alternative to the Case bill.

Mr. Karamessines: Is Senator Case holding up hearings expecting an answer from us on his bill?

[Page 143]

Mr. [name not declassified]: He told Marty [Hillenbrand]9 that he wants an answer by April 1.

Mr. Karamessines: If we are responsive, perhaps we can fend off his proposal.

Dr. Kissinger: Why not get this done by this time next week? As soon as it is approved, State can start Congressional consultations.

I donʼt think we need to raise the relocation and modernization question at this time.

Mr. [name not declassified]: The only thing is that we are on the hook to Brandt. We talked rather vaguely to him in October about needing at least two years.10

Dr. Kissinger: You could tell him that we are committed to getting some work done on the legal status of the stations.

Mr. Karamessines: He will hold for that.

Dr. Kissinger: I agree.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty.]

  1. Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, 40 Committee Files. Top Secret; Eyes Only; Nodis. The meeting took place in the conference room of the Western White House.
  2. Not present for entire meeting. [Footnote in the original.]
  3. Not present for entire meeting. [Footnote in the original.]
  4. Not present for entire meeting. [Footnote in the original.]
  5. Not found.
  6. Apparent reference to the Katzenbach Committee (see footnote 2, Document 28).
  7. Brackets in the original.
  8. Brackets in the original.
  9. Brackets in the original.
  10. See Document 50.
  11. Brackets in the original.
  12. See Document 49.