98. Memorandum for the Record1
- Report for the President’s file on his meeting with Senators Jackson and Tower on Thursday, July 23 at 4:00 p.m.
The President met with Senators Tower and Jackson to discuss Safeguard vote count and strategy.2 Present, in addition to the President, were Senators Jackson and Tower, Secretary of Defense Mel Laird, Chuck Colson and Ken BeLieu.
After a brief discussion of Senator Jackson’s campaign in Washington, the President began by giving a background on the ABM program, the increased USSR missile threat, what the Soviet buildup means and the importance of the ABM vote to SALT.
The various anti-MIRV amendments were also discussed. The President pointed out that it is interesting to note that the USSR won’t discuss this subject at the SALT.
The President said those of us sitting here in the White House, at this time, have a very momentous responsibility because if we don’t act with vigilance and strength we may see the United States become a second-rate power. Scoop Jackson said second-rate isn’t good enough in today’s world.
The President said, “Let’s get down to the vote count.” It was agreed that we had approximately 50 votes against 48 in the opposition depending whether Margaret Smith was present to vote. Several potential soft votes were discussed. Cotton being one and Anderson another.3
Consensus was that it would be helpful if the President called Cotton. He said, “Oh, I’d just as soon have him down.” I pointed out that Cotton was in New Hampshire and the President said he would call him from California and also have him down later perhaps. (Chuck Colson has sent to San Clemente a telephone recommendation to the President reminding him of the call to Cotton.)
Scoop Jackson said Anderson’s physical situation was such that we couldn’t depend on his memory. He thought the President didn’t [Page 323] have to ask Anderson to the White House; but that a phone call from California would be sufficient. Scoop Jackson will talk to Anderson first and let us know when he thinks the President should call him. (Jackson says today, July 28 that he has talked with Anderson and that the President should not call him until just before the vote.)4
Tower said we have to check with the two Jordan’s. Scoop will check with B. Everett Jordan of North Carolina and Tower will check Len Jordan of Idaho. The President said, “I could call them if you want me to.” And Tower said, “Well, let us check first and we’ll see.”
The possibility of pairing Senator Mundt5 was discussed and considered to be most desirable in order to secure an additional insurance. The most likely possibility would be to pair Mundt with Percy (or perhaps Pearson). Tower is going to pursue this and Scoop is going to talk with Percy on SALT. (Percy has already approached Scoop on the subject of SALT.)
The President suggested that it would be desirable to have Bill Rogers also talk to Percy on the idea of pairing with Mundt. (Dave Abshire has been given this info.)
Both Jackson and Tower said that they would make sure that we had 48 hour notice before the final vote on Safeguard in order to insure Tom Dodd and Dick Russell’s6 presence. Mel Laird agreed we’d need to send an aircraft for them if necessary.
Scoop Jackson brought up the possibility of an executive session and Tower said we might need an executive session in order to use the classified SALT information available within Scoop Jackson’s Subcommittee. The President suggested that maybe the Gerry Smith memorandum on ABM could be used and would have an impact on Percy. Scoop said, “I think the information in my Committee is probably stronger than Gerry’s but in any event if we go to executive session, I think we can emphasize to some of the doubting Thomases the importance of the Safeguard vote on SALT.”
The President asked, “Why is it so difficult to convince some of these Senators of the facts that are so obvious to us?” Scoop responded that some of the opponents are just so pro-Russian that they are actually disappointed and feel that Russia let them down by building more missiles. One had come to him and said, “It just can’t be true that the Russians continued building SS 9’s and SS 11’s.”
Scoop further said that Russian personnel from the Embassy in Washington were all over the Hill probing Senators and Senator’s [Page 324] staffs—not looking for information on hardware but trying to ascertain the state of the Senate’s mind.
Tower pointed out that certain Senate Staffers were in a daily contact with Russian Embassy people and socializing with them.
One of the Senators suggested it would be good if the FBI could take a good look at this. (Chuck Colson to discuss w/Haldeman.)
Laird pointed out that it was not easy to understand why Defense personnel were challenged when they went on the Hill to explain Defense programs and yet no one challenged the Russian Embassy personnel when they lobbied for a foreign power on the Hill. For example, two Defense officers were recently called upon because they had tried to sell Defense programs on the Hill. Laird said, “Why don’t some of our Senators demand the resignation of Soviet individuals who are lobbying on the Hill?”
In discussing Scoop’s staff, Dorothy Fosdick’s strong and staunch support to the President’s program came up. And the President said to Chuck Colson, “Make certain that she gets invited to a social evening at the White House.”
The President emphasized that winning the ABM vote will not only have a salutary effect on SALT but also on the Middle East situation. He said it isn’t a question of being belligerent with Russia, it’s just the fact that the Russians, simply and only, understand strength and conviction. We have to show this.
There was discussion of when the ABM vote should come up and Laird pointed out that it would be good to have it over with before the argument started on McGovern–Hatfield.7 All agreed to this however Tower pointed out that the Democrats control the schedule and we’d have to play it by ear.
Jackson described his Committee amendment on the Mideast (see copy attached)8 and it was agreed that we should get it voted up or down—and on the record.
The President said this kind of a vote at this particular time would be helpful in the negotiations.
He also strongly emphasized that it would be folly, as some recommend, unilaterally to agree to limit ABM without an agreement on ICBM’s and other strategic systems.[Page 325]
There was general discussion on what part the Israeli Ambassador might play. Scoop will talk to the Israeli Ambassador and tell him informally, not for attribution, of Scoop’s amendment and the importance of the ABM vote. He will impress on the Ambassador the fact that the credibility of the U.S. world-wide military posture is in itself a deterrent and has a major impact on the Mideast situation.
The meeting adjourned at 5:05 p.m.
Deputy Assistant to the President
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 879, SALT, SALT talks (Vienna), Vol. XII, July 20–September 1970. Secret.↩
- From July 8 through August 6 the Senate debated the administration’s request for a $759.1 million authorization to begin deployment and continue research on the Safeguard system. On August 6 the Senate approved the request by roll-call votes of 50–51 and 49–51. (Congress and the Nation, Vol. III, 1969–1972, p. 197)↩
- Senators Margaret Chase Smith (R–ME), Norris Cotton (R–NH), and Clinton Anderson (D–NM).↩
- The statements in parentheses at the end of some of the paragraphs, which describe subsequent actions, were apparently added at a later date.↩
- Karl Mundt (R–SD).↩
- Thomas Dodd (D–CT) and Richard Russell (D–GA).↩
- The amendment proposed by Senators George McGovern (D–SD) and Mark Hatfield (R–OR) required the termination of military operations and the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Vietnam by December 31, 1971. On September 21, 1970, the U.S. Senate rejected the amendment by a vote of 55–39. (H.R. 17123)↩
- Attached but not printed is Sec. 501, which stated in part that “in order to restore and maintain the military balance in the Middle East,” the President was authorized to transfer aircraft to counteract military assistance provided by the Soviet Union to countries in the Middle East.↩