194. Memorandum for the Record1


  • 40 Committee Meeting, 22 January 1975, 11:00 AM

Members Present:

  • Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Henry A. Kissinger, Deputy Secretary of Defense William P. Clements, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Joseph Sisco, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs George Brown, and Director of Central Intelligence William E. Colby.

Also Present:

  • Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, William G. Hyland, Albert Hall (Item 1 only), William Nelson (Item 2 only), and William Wells (Item 2 only).


Dr. Kissinger asked Mr. Colby to summarize the status of MATADOR.

Mr. Colby reviewed the earlier operation, the preparation for a second, and the fact that since [less than 1 line not declassified] the primary target becomes [less than 1 line not declassified] Since an additional $20 million has been spent, and $5 million will be spent this month, we are talking about an expenditure of only about $25 million more to complete the job. He indicated that there was some dispute over whether a deep water test should be conducted before attempting a second operation, and that he was against such a test because there would be too little of a “weather window” left in which to complete the operation before it would have to be carried over for another year.

Mr. Clements said he favored the test because it was designed to prove the system which failed.

Mr. Colby said the test would leave only about two weeks of “weather window.”

Dr. Kissinger said that we have to decide two things: One, whether to do a second operation or not, and two, whether to risk failure or schedule deep water tests. What we find in the tests won’t help next year.

[Page 893]

Mr. Clements said that if the test revealed things that need correction, the corrections could be made and then we could go on with a better chance for success.

General Brown said that another consideration is that if we go to the area for a second time and have a failure we will attract more Soviet attention.

Mr. Clements declared that we can’t go another year; security risks will be too great.

Mr. Colby said another matter was that he had to go to the Vice President and his Commission on CIA because of the Howard Hughes connection.

Dr. Kissinger protested that there was no connection with domestic spying—that this was clearly a foreign intelligence operation. He said he would clear this with the Vice President. The Commission’s charter is to determine whether the CIA spied on Americans.

Mr. Colby said the Commission’s charter covered CIA activities in the U.S.

Dr. Kissinger said Mr. Colby could not go before the Commission.

Mr. Colby said he would go to the Vice President and ask for an exemption. He is familiar with this pattern. He asked for a list of addresses of our domestic installations and I asked permission to leave a couple out.

Dr. Kissinger asked Mr. Colby to make sure that General Scowcroft knew of his discussions with the Vice President. He foresaw no problems there. Some of the Commission’s staff members insist that they want to write books; they’ll have to fire them, of course. But you can’t put stuff like MATADOR before them.

General Brown said that Mr. Colby was expendable, but the system was not.

Mr. Colby said he recognized that, and he thought that he would have to resign sometime—simply declare that he could not continue to perform as DCI and maintain his obligations to preserve security if he had to reveal everything.

Dr. Kissinger said the deep water test question would mean that a second operation would have to wait another year if there was a major equipment failure. But am I correct that everyone here is in favor of a second attempt except State?

Mr. Hall said DIA was against it because the intelligence gain was minimal and going back again to the same area would trigger Soviet interest.

Mr. Sisco said he thought that risks were greater, the costs do not justify the marginal return, and he is more against going ahead now than he was before.

[Page 894]

General Brown opined that the Soviets would probably think we were unprofessional if we did not go after this target.

Dr. Kissinger said he could understand the risks if the target were in the middle of Murmansk Harbor, but it is in the middle of the Pacific, the open sea.

Mr. Hyland said the Soviets would seize upon any incident.

Dr. Kissinger said if the Soviets wanted an incident they would react, but would they want an incident?

Mr. Sisco repeated that he thought the risks were greater and very exploitable—that the Soviets would really explode. Also, the expense is simply not defensible.

Mr. Clements said that if we were being asked to approve $250 million now, the gain couldn’t be justified, but most of the money has already been spent and we are talking about $25 or $30 million to complete the job and therefore we ought to go ahead.

Dr. Kissinger said he thought the original approval was unanimous.

General Scowcroft said the $250 million wasn’t all lost, was it?—couldn’t the ship be used for another target or some other use?

Mr. Colby said it might be used for mining and there was the hope that after we were through the ship could be sold for $40 or $50 million.

Dr. Kissinger said he foresaw no problem in justifying to the American public this attempt to obtain Soviet [less than 1 line not declassified] and that warranted taking some Soviet risks.

Mr. Hyland said we wouldn’t spend $60 million for Soviet [less than 1 line not declassified]

Mr. Colby said we were only talking about $30 million and that he would gladly give that [less than 1 line not declassified]

Dr. Kissinger asked what the alternative was.

Dr. Hall said that he had originally opposed the operation but so much had been done that he was in favor of finishing the job.

Dr. Kissinger said he also supported it and asked Mr. Sisco to furnish a succinct statement of his objections so that the matter could be put before the President for decision. He added that the President’s decision was likely to be affirmative.2

[Page 895]

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Project MATADOR.]

  1. Source: National Security Council Files, Ford Administration Intelligence Files, 40 Committee Meetings, Minutes/Approvals, 1975. Top Secret; [codeword not declassified]; MATADOR. Drafted by Ratliff.
  2. President Ford and Kissinger discussed the 40 Committee meeting during their meeting in the Oval Office the following morning (January 23).

    “[Kissinger:] We had a 40 Committee meeting. We can’t conduct covert operations. Colby is a disaster and really should be replaced. Colby is shellshocked—he wanted to testify on AZORIAN because it was a domestic operation. He said he would work it out with the VP—I said it was none of the VP’s business.

    “The President: That’s stupid.

    Kissinger: There are so many people who have to be briefed on covert operations, it is bound to leak.

    “There is no one with guts left. All of yesterday they were making a record to protect themselves about AZORIAN. It was a discouraging meeting. I wonder if we shouldn’t get the leadership in and discuss it. Maybe there should be a Joint Committee.

    “The President: I have always fought that, but maybe we have to. It would have to be a tight group, not a big broad one.

    Kissinger: I am really worried. We are paralyzed.”

    (Memorandum of Conversation; Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Box 8, January 23, 1975—Ford, Kissinger)