180. Memorandum for the Record1

SUBJECT

  • Minutes of the Meeting of the 303 Committee, 11 March 1969

PRESENT

  • Mr. Kissinger, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Packard, and Mr. Helms.
  • Mr. Thomas Karamessines was present for Item 1.
  • Colonel Alexander Haig and Mr. William Trueheart were present for all items.

1. Italy—Covert Political Action Program

a. The Chairman stated that he wished to explain the origin of his request for an oral presentation to the Committee of past covert support to Italian political parties. Initially, [less than 1 line not declassified] had suggested to higher authority that the U.S. Government should take steps to strengthen the [less than 1 line not declassified] Higher authority asked the Chairman to explore further in a private talk [less than 1 line not declassified] just what the latter had in mind.2 In this follow-up discussion [less than 1 line not declassified] made an impassioned plea for U.S. financial support [2½ lines not declassified] He pointed out that Soviet and other communist sources support the Italian Communists at a level in the neighborhood of $2,000,000 per month. [less than 1 line not [Page 626]declassified] did not request support for his own [less than 1 line not declassified] saying that he will assure that they raise local funds adequate to their needs. The Chairman stressed that neither higher authority nor he made any kind of commitment to [less than 1 line not declassified] but higher authority asked the Chairman to explore what would be involved and what benefits might derive from complying with [less than 1 line not declassified] request.

b. Mr. Karamessines gave a detailed briefing on the origins, relationships, funding levels and accomplishments of the Italian covert political support program to various political parties and labor organizations during the years 1948–1968.3 He noted that such support had been drastically reduced in recent years and finally terminated altogether at the end of FY–1968 as it was then felt by the 303 Committee members and higher authority that the Italians were well able to support their own political parties.

c. After some discussion, those present were unanimous that the Italians are still perfectly able to support their political parties and that there is no real justification for resumption of covert funding of these activities.

d. The Chairman asked that CIA prepare a summary paper reflecting the present situation of the political parties in Italy. This paper should cover Soviet and other communist funding, funding sources available to noncommunist parties, the degree of impact that an infusion of U.S. funds might have in line with [less than 1 line not declassified] request, and the negative reaction of the Committee members. The Chairman stated that after this paper had the approval of the Committee he would present the Committee’s recommendation to higher authority.4

[Omitted here is discussion of issues unrelated to Italy.]

Frank M. Chapin
  1. Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Records of the 40 Committee, Minutes. Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted on March 13.
  2. No record of this discussion was found.
  3. See Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, volume XII, Western Europe, Documents 92, 113, 116, 125, and 133.
  4. The CIA paper was not found. Kissinger reported on the Committee’s meeting and conclusions in a March 25 memorandum to the President. In approving Kissinger’s recommendations for no assistance, Nixon wrote: “I doubt the wisdom of such subsidies in the future in any country—It just becomes blackmail.” (Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Records of the 40 Committee, Minutes)