190. Minutes of a National Security Council Meeting1

SUBJECT

  • Presidential Transition

PARTICIPANTS

  • Chairman—The President
  • State
  • Henry A. Kissinger
  • Robert S. Ingersoll
  • Defense
  • James R. Schlesinger
  • William P. Clements, Jr.
  • JCS
  • Gen. George S. Brown
  • White House Staff
  • Jack Marsh
  • Donald Rumsfeld
  • Alexander M. Haig
  • Robert Hartman
  • CIA
  • William Colby
  • NSC
  • L/Gen. Brent Scowcroft
  • Richard T. Kennedy

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to the Hughes Glomar Explorer.]

The President: Yes, I would like to do that, but I think we can do it directly as you suggest, Henry. Bill (to Mr. Colby), what is the latest on our ship project in the Pacific?

Mr. Colby: Well sir, as you know, the tines were damaged when we picked up the sub and we lost [less than 1 line not declassified] However, we have the rest of it inside the recovery ship and the ship has now steamed away from the area. The Soviet tug, which was in the [Page 885]area, has left the area. We are confident that it was only there in connection with its normal servicing of Soviet submarines. Our ship is now steaming on the way to Hawaii. It is very hard to tell what they have, but they have detected some radioactivity. It is possible that material inside the sub was forced forward [less than 1 line not declassified] when the sub broke up. It will probably be as long as 30 days before they really know what they have. [6½ lines not declassified] We think that at least one of the missiles was loose and it may have fallen free, but it will be some time before we know just what the situation is. It is too bad that, with the whole mission having gone so very well, we lost [less than 1 line not declassified]

Secretary Schlesinger: Mr. President, on this AZORIAN project, I note that a number of staff are here and it will be necessary that they all be briefed on the extreme security precautions that must be taken.

Mr. Colby: We have a [less than 1 line not declassified] project which is also underway of which you should be aware. At the present, we have a [1½ lines not declassified]

The President: Is this a [less than 1 line not declassified]?

Mr. Colby: It is a [less than 1 line not declassified] but it has been especially configured for this task. Actually, it is a [less than 1 line not declassified]

General Brown: I would emphasize, however, sir, that although it is a [less than 1 line not declassified] it is a very special operation.

The President: If it’s an old one, I wonder if it could be [less than 1 line not declassified]

General Brown: No sir, it is a [less than 1 line not declassified]

The President: Well, I just wondered because it occurred to me that if they thought we were doing it direct like this [less than 1 line not declassified], [less than 1 line not declassified] I wonder how they would view it. They would really think we are up to something. I am glad it is not [less than 1 line not declassified]

Gentlemen, if there is nothing else, I suggest we adjourn and I thank you all very much.2

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box TS 85, National Security Council, Meetings, Aug.–Sept. 1974. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. The NSC meeting, Ford’s first since assuming the presidency on August 9 following Nixon’s resignation in the wake of the Watergate scandal, took place in the White House Cabinet Room. The minutes are printed in their entirety as Document 40 in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Vol. XXXVIII, Part 1, Foundations of Foreign Policy, 1973–1976.
  2. Ford, Kissinger, and Scowcroft again discussed the Glomar Explorer during their 9:30 a.m. meeting in the Oval Office on September 25. According to the memorandum of conversation, the relevant discussion went as follows:

    “[Kissinger:] One problem with the AZORIAN. I want to [less than 1 line not declassified], as a 40 Committee action. State disagrees. They always have. I haven’t overruled at State. You might want to hear the arguments.

    President: Maybe I should.

    Scowcroft: This is just to take pictures and see the situation.

    President: [less than 1 line not declassified] and we will review the arguments before we authorize a follow-on.” (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversation, Box 6, September 25, 1974—Ford, Kissinger)