21. Memorandum From C. Fred Bergsten and Harold H. Saunders of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

  • SUBJECT
    • Request for Presidential Appointment with Oil Executives

The memorandum at Tab I2 recommends that the President not honor the requests of the Chairmen of the Standard Oil Companies of Indiana and New Jersey to see him, but that you and Secretary Rogers see them instead. The requests were transmitted via Secretary Kennedy,3 who makes no recommendation on them.

The oil men are concerned:

  • —that high Administration officials, including you, will not see them;
  • —that sufficient weight is not being given to their insights on Middle Eastern policy;
  • —that the Task Force on Oil Import Control may not consider their interests sufficiently;
  • —that Israeli oil drilling in the Gulf of Suez will bring another crisis.

On this last point, the State Department has been unable to make any impression on the American sponsor of the Israeli project, John King. After a conversation with the President, King—who is a large Republican contributor—has implied that the President is not opposed to the project. This has tied State’s hands. It may require a word from the President—or a Treasury threat to invoke Foreign Assets Controls—to stop King. (Saunders will handle that in a separate memo.) A Presidential [Page 65]meeting with John Swearingen and Ken Jamieson would not help do so.

We suspect that the oil men mainly want to see the President because they fear the outcome of the study on oil imports.4 The President has generally avoided receiving pleaders on this issue, and I think he should continue to do so. Peter Flanigan, who is the chief White House liaison with the Task Force, concurs.5

However, their insights on overall Middle Eastern policy could be helpful and they should not continue to be avoided by all of the leading Administration officials.

Recommendation

That you sign the memorandum at Tab I, recommending that the President not see the oil men but that you and the Secretary of State do so instead.6

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, Subject Files, Confidential Files, Box 63, [CF] TA 4/Oil, 1–20–69 to 2–28–70) No classification marking. Sent for action. A handwritten notation reads: “OBE—Return to Harold Saunders.”
  2. Attached but not printed is an undated draft memorandum.
  3. Kennedy had met with 17 oil executives at the home of Representative George H.W. Bush (R–Texas) on November 10. Kennedy reported on the meeting in a November 17 memorandum to Nixon. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, Subject Files, Confidential Files, Box 63, [CF] TA 4/Oil 1–20–69 to 2–28–70) In his November 12 note to Kennedy, Bush stated he was “appreciative of your telling them how I bled and died for the oil industry. That might kill me off in the Washington Post but it darn sure helps in Houston.” (Ibid., NSC Files, Box 1241, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, Middle East Oil)
  4. Kennedy wrote in his November 17 memorandum that the companies were “very much concerned about any change in oil import quotas. They are working on this through the Governors of various states, as well as with direct appointments with members of your Cabinet Committee.” He also noted that the Standard-New Jersey and Standard-Indiana Chairmen wanted an appointment with Nixon to discuss Middle East developments. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, Subject Files, Confidential Files, Box 63, [CF] TA 4/Oil 1–20–69 to 2–28–70)
  5. Flanigan felt such a meeting would be “inappropriate” as Nixon had declined to meet with governors of either the producing or consuming states to discuss the oil import issue. (Memorandum from Flanigan to Staff Secretary, November 20; ibid.)
  6. Kissinger did not sign the memorandum. He sent a short note to Nixon stating that he had already informed the executives that Nixon’s schedule made a meeting difficult, but added, “on second thought, however, I believe that while there is no strong substantive reason for you to do so, an appointment would be desirable in view of their importance.” Nixon checked the disapprove line, but Haldeman wrote a note indicating that they should join an already scheduled meeting with Robert Anderson and John Mc-Cloy on the Middle East. (Ibid., Box 5, [CF] CO 1–7 Middle—Near East 1969–1970) The meeting took place on December 9 at 11:37 a.m. Rockefeller, Jamieson, Warner, Anderson, and McCloy were present. (Memorandum from Dwight Chapin to Kissinger, December 2; ibid.) The talking points for this meeting are Document 24.