212. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • The Secretary
  • Mr. Robinson, Deputy Secretary
  • Mr. Habib, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
  • Jock Covey (notetaker)


  • Transition

Robinson: I just wanted to talk to you about some of the problems of transition.

The Secretary: Larry [Eagleburger] will do it. The Foreign Service will do nothing. You guys just do your jobs. On January 20th you will shift loyalties to the new President. We will be totally cooperative, but we will be running things until then. There will be no secrets—we will be totally open, but if they want any paper, they will go through Eagleburger.

Habib: We should use the Executive Secretariat as the mechanism and Eagleburger can supervise. I think Eagleburger should be in charge, but they should use the Executive Secretariat to protect you.

The Secretary: The system will be protected by the meticulous execution of the process. We will be totally open, but Eagleburger will be in charge. I will not have those guys dealing directly with our guys.

Habib: This has to do mostly with paperwork.

The Secretary: We will be setting up regular group meetings—a lot like the Africa group meetings and the Executive Secretary will be invited in. But how we work within the Department is nobody’s business. Eagleburger will be the one to deal with Carter—not the Executive Secretary.

Robinson: We are only saying that the Executive Secretary should be dealing in a mechanical sense.

The Secretary: I have no problem with that. If they want a paper on Asia it doesn’t matter if Eagleburger calls EA or if S/S calls EA, just as long as it gets done. But Eagleburger will be the contact.

Why are you all so concerned?

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Habib: We just want to avoid any accusations of “managing” this or of hiding things.

The Secretary: Eagleburger will be publicly in charge. It will be properly done—it is in my interests to do it properly. What do you think I was going to do?

Habib: We just want to protect you from suspicious people.

The Secretary: I am not worried—they are free to have anything in the files. The only question is how to get them read in. But it will be done by someone close to me. If the Secretary of State cannot be trusted to turn over his Department in good order, then we are in very bad shape. But I am telling you, it will be in good shape!

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 329, Department of State, Carter, Jimmy Transition Papers—Chronological File, Feb.–November 1976. Secret; Sensitive; Nodis.