The Foreign Relations of the United States series presents the official documentary historical record of major foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity of the United States Government. The Historian of the Department of State is charged with the responsibility for the preparation of the Foreign Relations series. The staff of the Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, under the direction of the General Editor of the Foreign Relations series, plans, researches, compiles, and edits the volumes in the series. Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg first promulgated official regulations codifying specific standards for the selection and editing of documents for the series on March 26, 1925. These regulations, with minor modifications, guided the series through 1991.

Public Law 102–138, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, established a new statutory charter for the preparation of the series which was signed by President George H.W. Bush on October 28, 1991. Section 198 of P.L. 102–138 added a new Title IV to the Department of State’s Basic Authorities Act of 1956 (22 USC 4351, et seq.).

The statute requires that the Foreign Relations series be a thorough, accurate, and reliable record of major United States foreign policy decisions and significant United States diplomatic activity. The volumes of the series should include all records needed to provide comprehensive documentation of major foreign policy decisions and actions of the United States Government. The statute also confirms the editing principles established by Secretary Kellogg: the Foreign Relations series is guided by the principles of historical objectivity and accuracy; records should not be altered or deletions made without indicating in the published text that a deletion has been made; the published record should omit no facts that were of major importance in reaching a decision; and nothing should be omitted for the purpose of concealing a defect in policy. The statute also requires that the Foreign Relations series by published not more than 30 years after the events recorded. The editors are convinced that this volume meets all regulatory, statutory, and scholarly standards of selection and editing.

Structure and Scope of the Foreign Relations Series

This volume is part of a subseries of volumes of the Foreign Relations series that documents the most important issues in the foreign policy of the administrations of Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford. The volume documents U.S. national security policy from 1973 to 1976, [Page IV] covering Nixon’s abbreviated second term in office and the subsequent Ford administration, and should be considered a companion to another volume in this subseries, National Security Policy, 1969–1972 (volume XXXIV). Readers interested in the larger context in which the formulation of national security policy during this period took place should consult the volumes in the Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, subseries on the Soviet Union (volumes XV and XVI), China (volume XVIII), and Foundations of Foreign Policy (volume XXXVIII, Part 1). Readers interested in the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks should consult Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXXIII, SALT II, 1972–1980; for other arms control initiatives, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–14, Part 2, Documents on Arms Control, 1973–1976. For the U.S. defense relationship with Europe, readers should consult Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–15, Part 2, Documents on Western Europe, 1973–1976 and Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXXIX, European Security, 1969–1976.

Focus of Research and Principles of Selection for Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume XXXV

This volume documents the Nixon and Ford administrations’ formulation and implementation of national security policy primarily vis-à-vis the Soviet Union and, to a lesser extent, the People’s Republic of China. It also documents intelligence and its role in the policy process, as well as the Ford administration’s efforts to bolster U.S. telecommunications security. Finally, the volume presents documents on the Hughes Glomar Explorer, the centerpiece of a secret mission organized by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to raise a Soviet submarine sunk in the Pacific Ocean.

The first three chapters of the volume deal with the formulation and implementation of national security policy by the second Nixon administration and by the Ford administration, a topic documented by the records of the White House, the National Security Council, the Department of Defense, the CIA, and the private papers of Henry A. Kissinger, the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs from January 1969 until November 1975 and Secretary of State from September 1973 until January 1977, and James R. Schlesinger, Secretary of Defense from July 1973 until November 1975. Chapter one focuses on the Nixon administration’s handling of national security policy. Distracted by the unfolding Watergate scandal, neither Nixon nor Kissinger took as active an interest in this area as they had during Nixon’s first term in office. The President nevertheless began his second term by outlining—in meetings with Elliot L. Richardson, Secretary of Defense from January to May 1973; the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Department of State and administration officials; and various lawmakers—his views on the importance of maintaining a strong defense posture, primarily to provide [Page V] him with bargaining chips in arms control negotiations with Soviet premier Leonid I. Brezhnev. As the documents indicate, the Nixon administration reached a number of major decisions, including ones to overhaul U.S. Asian and nuclear strategies, the latter moving from massive retaliation toward limited nuclear employment options, as specified in National Security Decision Memorandum 242, January 17, 1974.

The second and third chapters examine national security policy under the Ford administration, whose activities in this area accelerated during the presidential election year of 1976. The United States’ defense posture relative to that of the Soviet Union became a resonant issue during President Ford’s quest for the Republican presidential nomination against former California Governor Ronald Reagan, his closest competitor, who charged that the administration had allowed the nation to slip behind while focusing on détente. As the documents show, Ford adopted a tough public stance on defense, declaring that, under his watch, “the United States will never become second to anybody, period,” and submitting increased defense budgets to Congress. Once Ford secured the nomination, his administration initiated major studies of the nation’s civil defense posture and its overall military strategy. To handle such defense issues, the administration created the Defense Review Panel (DRP), a National Security Council subcommittee chaired by Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense from November 1975 until January 1977. The DRP was a reconstituted version of the Defense Program Review Committee, which had become moribund after being highly involved in national security matters throughout the first Nixon administration and into early 1973. Just before leaving office in January 1977, the Ford administration reached several important policy decisions, including one regarding naval shipbuilding, a topic under review since early 1973. Also, on January 20—the day of incoming President Jimmy Carter’s inauguration—President Ford signed National Security Decision Memorandum 348, the first major overhaul of U.S. defense policy and military posture since 1969.

The fourth chapter deals with a closely related topic: the U.S. intelligence community’s estimation of Soviet and, to a lesser extent, Chinese military capabilities. Since the mid-1960s, the Soviet Union had greatly increased its capabilities, narrowing the once-large strategic gap between it and the United States. A decade later, Soviet capabilities had increased to the point that the question became whether Moscow sought strategic parity or superiority relative to the United States. As the documents show, a debate raged within both the Nixon and Ford administrations regarding Soviet intentions, the accepted assessment of which would go a long way toward determining the appropriate U.S. defense posture. The CIA’s National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) 11–318–74, November 14, 1974, reiterated earlier estimates that the So[Page VI]viets probably sought no less than equality with the United States plus “some degree of strategic advantage,” if possible. Critics charged that the CIA’s estimates, including NIE 11–318–74, consistently underestimated Soviet capabilities and misinterpreted Soviet intentions. According to the documents, the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) led the charge, recommending to President Ford in August 1975 that an experiment in competitive analysis be undertaken to subject the intelligence community’s methodology and assumptions to rigorous examination. PFIAB’s proposal called for a team of outside experts—subsequently nicknamed “Team B”—to produce its own “competitive” Soviet estimate based upon the same data used by national intelligence officers—“Team A”—in reaching their official one. Each team released its report at the very end of 1976, both of which are printed herein. In addition to finished intelligence, previously classified records generated by the White House, PFIAB, CIA, and the United States Intelligence Board (USIB) illuminate this important and controversial episode in intelligence history. In addition to the Team A/Team B controversy, a number of other important issues are documented in this chapter, including national net assessment, estimates of Soviet defense spending, and their attendant methodological challenges.

Chapter five documents the Ford administration’s efforts to improve the security of U.S. telecommunications in the wake of reports that the Soviets were intercepting the calls of key Washington officials. PFIAB took an especial interest in this episode, concerned that classified and/or sensitive information would be further compromised. The Ford administration issued a number of decision memoranda instituting short- and longer-term measures to rectify the problem.

The sixth chapter documents the Hughes Glomar Explorer’s secret mission to raise a sunken Soviet submarine, documented by previously classified records of the CIA, the USIB, the White House, and the 40 Committee, the National Security Council subcommittee responsible for covert operations. In March 1968, a Soviet Golf 11-class submarine suffered an internal explosion and sank on a routine patrol mission in the Pacific Ocean. The Soviet Union subsequently conducted a fruitless search for the downed submarine. The United States located it in August 1968 and surveyed the crash site. In 1970, USIB Chairman Richard Helms made raising the submarine a high priority because the ballistic missiles, nuclear warheads, and cipher materials that it contained would provide valuable insights into Soviet military technology and cryptography. The 40 Committee charged the CIA with the mission to recover the entire submarine. It took several years to develop the sophisticated technology required, a process overseen by the CIA’S Office of Science and Technology. As the documents show, firms owned by [Page VII] billionaire industrialist Howard Hughes and a defense contractor actually built the hardware: a ship, the Hughes Glomar Explorer; an enormous barge to hold the recovered submarine; and a capture vehicle, which consisted of gigantic claws designed to descend below the water’s surface and to raise the vessel from its great depth. The cover story developed was that the Hughes Glomar Explorer was being built for Hughes’ private commercial venture to mine manganese nodules located on the ocean floor. The ship’s first mission, approved by President Nixon on June 7, 1974, was only partially successful. Amidst preparations for a second mission, press reports in March 1975 exposed the operation and blew its cover. As a result, the Soviet Union became aware of the Hughes Glomar Explorer’s actual purpose, a factor that weighed on Ford administration officials’ minds as they considered whether or not to proceed with the planned second mission. On March 28, 1975, Director of Central Intelligence William Colby argued that it was “inadvisable to undertake a second mission” due to the operation’s exposure. On June 5, the 40 Committee met and concluded that the program should be terminated. On June 16, President Ford officially approved the committee’s recommendation to discontinue the operation.

Like all recent Foreign Relations volumes in the Nixon-Ford subseries, the emphasis of this volume is on the formulation of policy, rather than its implementation. Regarding national security policy, the key players in the policymaking process were the White House, the National Security Council, the Department of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Central Intelligence Agency, with input from the Department of State; on certain issues, the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and the United States Intelligence Board also played important roles.

Editorial Methodology

The documents are presented chronologically according to Washington time. Memoranda of conversation are placed according to the date and time of the conversation, rather than the date the memorandum was drafted.

Editorial treatment of the documents published in the Foreign Relations series follows Office style guidelines, supplemented by guidance from the General Editor and the chief technical editor. The documents are reproduced as exactly as possible, including marginalia or other notations, which are described in the footnotes. Texts are transcribed and printed according to accepted conventions for the publication of historical documents within the limitations of modem typography. A heading has been supplied by the editors for each document included in the volume. Spelling, capitalization, and punctuation are retained as found in the original text, except that obvious typographical errors are silently corrected. Other mistakes and omissions in the docu[Page VIII]ments are corrected by bracketed insertions: a correction is set in italic type; an addition in roman type. Words or phrases underlined in the source text are printed in italics. Abbreviations and contractions are preserved as found in the original text, and a list of abbreviations is included in the front matter of each volume. In telegrams, the telegram number (including special designators such as Secto) is printed at the start of the text of the telegram.

Bracketed insertions are also used to indicate omitted text that deals with an unrelated subject (in roman type) or that remains classified after declassification review (in italic type). The amount and, where possible, the nature of the material not declassified has been noted by indicating the number of lines or pages of text that were omitted. Entire documents withheld for declassification purposes have been accounted for and are listed with headings, source notes, and number of pages not declassified in their chronological place. All brackets that appear in the original text are so identified in footnotes. All ellipses are in the original document.

The first footnote to each document indicates the source of the document, original classification, distribution, and drafting information. This note also provides the background of important documents and policies and indicates whether the President or his major policy advisers saw the document.

Editorial notes and additional annotation summarize pertinent material not printed in the volume, indicate the location of additional documentary sources, provide references to important related documents printed in other volumes, describe key events, and provide summaries of and citations to public statements that supplement and elucidate the printed documents. Information derived from memoirs and other first-hand accounts has been used when appropriate to supplement or explicate the official record.

The numbers in the index refer to document numbers rather than to page numbers.

Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation

The Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation, established under the Foreign Relations statute, reviews records, advises, and makes recommendations concerning the Foreign Relations series. The Historical Advisory Committee monitors the overall compilation and editorial process of the series and advises on all aspects of the preparation and declassification of the series. The Historical Advisory Committee does not necessarily review the contents of individual volumes in the series, but it makes recommendations on issues that come to its attention and reviews volumes as it deems necessary to fulfill its advisory and statutory obligations.

[Page IX]

Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act Review

Under the terms of the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act (PRMPA) of 1974 (44 USC 21 11 note), the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has custody of the Nixon Presidential historical materials. The requirements of the PRNIPA and implementing regulations govern access to the Nixon Presidential historical materials. The PRMPA and implementing public access regulations require NARA to review for additional restrictions in order to ensure the protection of the privacy rights of former Nixon White House officials, since these officials were not given the opportunity to separate their personal materials from public papers. Thus, the PRMPA and implementing public access regulations require NARA to formally notify the Nixon Estate and former Nixon White House staff members that the agency is scheduling for public release Nixon White House historical materials. The Nixon Estate and former White House staff members have 30 days to contest the released of Nixon historical materials in which they were a participant or are mentioned. Further, the PRMPA and implementing regulations require NARA to segregate and return to the creator of files private and personal materials. All Foreign Relations volumes that include materials from NARA’s Nixon Presidential Materials Project are processed and released in accordance with the PRMPA.

Declassification Review

The Office of Information Programs and Services, Bureau of Administration, conducted the declassification review for the Department of State of the documents published in this volume. The review was conducted in accordance with the standards set forth in Executive Order 12958, as amended, on Classified National Security Information and other applicable laws.

The principle guiding declassification review is to release all information, subject only to the current requirements of national security as embodied in law and regulation. Declassification decisions entailed concurrence of the appropriate geographic and functional bureaus in the Department of State, other concerned agencies of the U.S. Government, and the appropriate foreign governments regarding specific documents of those governments. The declassification review of this volume, which began in 2007 and was completed in 2014, resulted in the decision to deny 7 documents in full, excise a paragraph or more in 22 documents, and make minor excisions of a paragraph or less in 53 documents.

The Office of the Historian is confident, on the basis of the research conducted in preparing this volume and as a result of the declassification review process described above, that the documentation and edito[Page X]rial notes presented here provide an accurate and comprehensive—given limitations of space—account of National Security Policy, 1973–1976.


The editors wish to acknowledge the assistance of John Powers and other officials at the Nixon Presidential Materials Project of the National Archives and Records Administration (Archives II), at College Park, Maryland. The editors wish to acknowledge the Richard Nixon Estate for allowing access to the Nixon Presidential records and the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace for facilitating that access. The editors thank Donna Lehman, Helmi Raaska, Geir Gundersen and the rest of the staff of the Gerald R. Ford Library at Ann Arbor, Michigan. Thanks too go to Daniel Sanborn and Evan Coren of the National Security Council. The editors also acknowledge the many archivists—especially David Langbart, Marvin Russell, and Michael Hussey—at Archives II who provided able research assistance in Department of State and other official records. Special thanks are due to the Historical Staff of the Central Intelligence Agency, who were extremely helpful in arranging access to the files of the Central Intelligence Agency. John Earl Haynes and Ernest Emrich of the Library of Congress were responsible for expediting access to the Kissinger Papers and to the Schlesinger Papers. The editors were able to use those papers with the kind permission of Henry A. Kissinger and James R. Schlesinger. The editors would like also to thank Sandy Meagher for her valuable assistance in expediting the use of files of the Department of Defense and to Michael Waesche of the Washington National Records Center at Suitland, Maryland for arranging the actual research of those files.

M. Todd Bennett collected the documents, made the selections, and annotated the documents under the supervision of Louis J. Smith, then Chief of the Europe and General Division, and Edward C. Keefer, then General Editor of the Foreign Relations series. Chris Tudda coordinated the declassification review, under the supervision of Susan C. Weetman and Carl Ashley, successive Chiefs of the Declassification and Publishing Division. Erin Cozens did the copy and technical editing. Do Mi Stauber and Associates prepared the index.

Stephen P. Randolph, Ph.D.

Bureau of Public Affairs
March 2014