217. Minutes of Washington Special Actions Group Meeting1

  • SUBJECT
    • Middle East
  • PARTICIPANTS
    • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
    • State
      • Kenneth Rush Joseph Sisco
    • Defense
      • William P. Clements, Jr.
    • JCS
      • Adm. Thomas H. Moorer
      • V/Adm. John Weinel
    • CIA
      • William Colby
      • Sam Hoskinson
      • Assistant to the President for Energy Policy
      • Governor John Love
      • Charles DiBona
    • NSC
      • Gen. Brent Scowcroft
      • William Quandt
      • Jeanne W. Davis

SUMMARY OF CONCLUSIONS

It was agreed that:

1) The oil contingency plan, including the draft Presidential speech, should be revised to include some intermediate and longer-term steps required to prevent this emergency situation from arising again.2

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to oil.]

Mr. Colby: King Faisal is upset by the American air supply, but this is only temporary.

Secretary Kissinger: How do you know it’s temporary?

Mr. Colby: He is inclined to blow off emotionally about things, but he usually calms down.

Secretary Kissinger: Did we make a mistake in informing him?

Mr. Sisco: No.

Adm. Moorer: It was better that way.

Secretary Kissinger: May we turn to oil, now.

Governor Love: I have a paper here.

[Page 596]

(Mr. DiBona handed out copies of the paper at Tab B3 to the principals)

Secretary Kissinger: (to Gov. Love) You’ve already learned how to defeat the bureacracy. You hand out a 100–page paper at a meeting when no one has had a chance to look at it.

Gen. Love: Is there any intelligence I don’t know about on the oil companies’ report on Yamani’s statements about a progressive cut-back in oil shipments?

Secretary Kissinger: The oil companies have caused us more trouble than the Arabs. When this is over I am really going out to get the oil companies.

Mr. DiBona: Their report seems to be accurate.

Secretary Kissinger: But did they go out and ask Yamani if they were going to cut back?

Mr. DiBona: This happened in the context of the OPEC meeting. Governor Love: This is nothing new. It came out of the Vienna meeting.

Secretary Kissinger: Can’t we do something about the oil companies? Mr. Rush: The oil people are calling me every day. I’ll call them and calm them down.

Secretary Kissinger: The Israelis have told us they have crossed the Canal with 25 tanks at Bitter Lake and are operating within the Egyptian missile fields.

Mr. Colby: It could be a raid.

Secretary Kissinger: Can they knock out the missiles with this kind of operation?

Mr. Colby: It depends on what’s around.

Adm. Moorer: On how many tanks the Egyptians use to oppose them.

Secretary Kissinger: We have no reports of any substantial breakthrough. Let’s go ahead on oil.

Governor Love briefed from the paper at Tab B.

Secretary Kissinger: (to Mr. Clements) Were you involved in this too?

Mr. Clements: Superficially; I hadn’t seen the final draft. When the Governor is finished I want to comment on some aspects.

Governor Love: If any of this is going to work, we have to create the feeling that there is a real problem—a crisis. The President has to [Page 597]take the lead and he and some of the rest of us have to take some actions to lead the way. We are proposing a Presidential speech.

Mr. Clements: The only shade of difference between us on this is the degree of emphasis we put on rationing. I don’t think the President can rally the country and bring about any real response on a voluntary basis without saying that we are doing these things now, we are hopeful that they will help, but rationing is inevitable.

Secretary Kissinger: What would we gain by saying that?

Mr. Clements: You would prepare the people for what’s coming later.

Secretary Kissinger: Could we say that rationing is inevitable unless people cooperate with the other steps?

Mr. Clements: That might do the trick.

Secretary Kissinger: Is the State Department on board on this?

Mr. Sisco: Yes, our people have been working with Governor Love.

Mr. Clements: We should also stress the intermediate steps—things we should do over the next one, two or three years. We must start these things now. Within this intermediate timeframe, we need to start new pipelines, stimulate exploration and development—

Gov. Love: This paper is designed to respond to the immediate problem within a time frame of this winter.

Secretary Kissinger: On rationing, I lean more toward not biting the bullet in the first speech. But he should use the crisis and say we must work all-out so that we never get ourselves in this position again.

Mr. Clements: That’s my point.

Mr. Rush: We need a strong, affirmative program so as to avoid it happening again.

Gov. Love: Also, it’s good for the President to have something to rally people around with. We need to get a sense of urgency.

Secretary Kissinger: We will all study the paper by tomorrow. This looks to be a good first approximation, but we will give it formal consideration tomorrow.

Mr. Clements: May we ask John (Love) to include some intermediate things.

Secretary Kissinger: Aren’t they here? They should be. The speech should make four points: 1) what is the crisis? 2) what do we do now? 3) what are our next steps? 4) what as a nation can we do to be sure we are never blackmailed in this fashion again? Then we’ll go to the Congress and ask for what we need and we would have a chance of getting it.

Mr. DiBona: Most of the intermediate things are already up with the Congress.

[Page 598]

Secretary Kissinger: Then we’ll get them to speed up.

Gov. Love: We might even need something almost like War Board controls plus an energy bank so we can look at our capital bank.

Secretary Kissinger: Let’s draft a speech. Let’s use this crisis creatively—use it to say “never again.” (to Gov. Love) Can you draft it?

Gov. Love: Yes.

Mr. Rush: Completely aside from the Middle East crisis, we should have these programs going.

Gov. Love: The present situation aside, we would never have gotten enough more oil out of Saudi Arabia.

Secretary Kissinger: You put a man in a monopoly position and he will squeeze you. The Saudis would still squeeze us if Israel disappeared tomorrow. Under these circumstances, when they don’t need the money, they’re better off to keep their oil in the ground. With inflation it will be worth more later.

Gov. Love: I have to be on the Hill at 11:00 tomorrow morning to meet with (Congressman) Hebert on the Elk Hills matter, so if the WSAG meeting could be at another time.

Mr. Colby: I have to be on the Hill tomorrow morning too, to get our budget.

Secretary Kissinger: We’ll meet in the afternoon.

(Governor Love and Mr. DiBona left the meeting)

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to oil.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–117, Washington Special Action Group, WSAG Meeting Minutes (Originals) 10/2/73–7/22/74. Top Secret; Sensitive; Codeword. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room. The minutes are printed in full in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXV, Arab-Israeli Crisis and War, 1973, Document 191.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 219.
  3. Attached but not printed at Tab B is duplicated material available at the October 14 WSAG meeting, Document 214, with the addition of Love’s October 15 memorandum to Kissinger containing an oil contingency action plan; see footnote 2, Document 215.