221. Memorandum for the Record1


  • Minutes of the Meeting of the 40 Committee, 7 March 1972


  • Mr. Kissinger, Mr. Rush, Mr. Irwin, Admiral Moorer, and Mr. Helms
  • Messrs. William McAfee, Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Thomas Karamessines, and [less than 1 line not declassified] were also present.

Italy—Ambassador Graham A. Martin’s Proposed Italian Election Program

Mr. Kissinger: Graham Martin wants to put [less than 1 line not declassified] and supporting organizations for the Italian election in May. The two basic questions therefore are: Do we want to put this money in, and how do we dispense it? What do you think, Dick?

Mr. Helms: If I may, I will defer to Tom Karamessines, [less than 1 line not declassified]

Mr. Karamessines: I can explain our relation to the program but should point out that this is Graham Martin’s program. We have not been intimately consulted . . .

Mr. Kissinger: Oh, you want me to be the fall guy. How is this money to be spent?

Mr. Karamessines: I have reviewed the Martin program with him but am not in a position to provide absolute details. The general thrust is both good and healthy. I discussed the implementation [4 lines not declassified] Martin has set a specific figure. Any drastic reductions will cause him to reargue his case. He believes that he is getting the CDU 2 to work together. He was pleased with their efforts in the presidential elections but insists on total flexibility in how he spends the funds.

Mr. Kissinger: He doesn’t lack self-confidence . . .

Mr. Karamessines: [5 lines not declassified]

Mr. Kissinger: How do we answer the classic argument that caused us to cut off the funding a few years ago, i.e., that there should be enough money within Italy? [less than 1 line not declassified]

Mr. Karamessines: I can’t answer about [less than 1 line not declassified] puts his dough across the spectrum. He just can’t be counted on.

[Page 731]

Mr. Kissinger: And other [less than 1 line not declassified]

Mr. Karamessines: They have never put in very large infusions. On the other hand, the [less than 1 line not declassified] will use much more money than we can give them.

Mr. Kissinger: How exactly will it be used?

Mr. Karamessines: I just can’t tell.

Mr. Kissinger: We’ll know after it has been spent . . .

Mr. Irwin: We should ask Martin for more details; for example, re the PCI . . .

Mr. Kissinger: I note that CIA sees real risks of exposure.

Mr. Helms: Yes, it will be the trick of the week to pass [less than 1 line not declassified] in four weeks.

Mr. Kissinger: What would we say if caught?

Mr. Karamessines: The answer is not to be caught in the passing.

Mr. Rush: I have to question the efficacy of this program, whether the money will land in the pockets of individuals and how well the ambassador understands the political system there. I’m also deeply concerned about the risk of exposure . . .

Mr. Helms: Theoretically, the Italians should be able to handle campaign financing themselves—that’s why we withdrew—but they don’t really ever come through.

Mr. Karamessines: The President told Martin to stop the slide to the left. The infusion will be direct evidence of U.S. concern.

Mr. Kissinger: We would be glad to spend [less than 1 line not declassified] in Chile if that would make any difference.

Mr. Karamessines: We want a residual carry-over to enable us to work with the center parties in the future.

Mr. Kissinger: Do we have the money?

Mr. Karamessines: No.

Mr. Helms: We call on the Reserve through OMB and are required to notify Ellender and Mahon.3

Mr. Kissinger: What would Ellender say?

Mr. Helms: I don’t know.

Mr. Irwin: In spending the money, Martin has said he would be conservative and judicious as in the past. He may not use it all. He has asked for our trust on that basis and with certain caveats and how he [Page 732] expects to handle the Socialists, we would support it. But I hadn’t heard of having to go to Congress.

Mr. Helms: Sometimes they are satisfied with notification. But if they seek details we brief them.

Mr. Kissinger: We probably should give Martin what he asks for but insist on more detail.4

Mr. Irwin: Agreed.

Admiral Moorer: I think it’s worthwhile to go ahead. We can’t allow Italy to go left with the U.S. role in NATO—that would be a disaster.

Mr. Rush: I’m quite simply worried about the effectiveness. I’d be reluctant to authorize but would go along with a consensus.

Mr. Kissinger: I think we must take this to the President.5

Mr. Irwin: I think it is a red herring to say it might go like Chile. Chile was a quite different situation.

Mr. Karamessines: You’re right, but any drift could lead to polarization.

Mr. Kissinger: Then there is the spectre of a Popular Front . . .

Mr. Karamessines: If there’s any substantial reduction, Graham Martin should probably come back.

Mr. Kissinger: No. We should either do it or not. The amounts are not that significant.

Mr. Helms: There’s really no time to fool around.

Mr. Kissinger: Jessup, prepare a memo for the President and Mr. Irwin can get answers to the questions raised here. I’ll get an answer from higher authority by Thursday.6 You can tell Martin that the “basic tilt” is in favor . . .

The basic questions are:

(1) What will he spend money for; we need a breakdown with allocations.

(2) Contingency plans in case of exposure.

(3) [1½ lines not declassified]

(4) If adequate Italian funds exist, won’t USG funds be diverted improperly?

What do you think, Mr. [name not declassified]

[Page 733]

Mr. [name not declassified]: Ambassador Martin has advertised USG interest. This influence is the factor that counts. This gesture has symbolic and psychological importance in Italy.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Italy.]

Peter Jessup
  1. Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Records of the 40 Committee, Minutes. Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted on March 8.
  2. Karamessines was referring to the Christian Democratic Party of Italy rather than the Christian Democratic Union of West Germany.
  3. Senator Allan Ellender (D–LA), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Representative George Mahon (D–TX), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
  4. This view together with a series of questions regarding the specific uses of the money requested was sent to Martin in telegram 39403 to Rome, March 8. (Central Intelligence Agency, DO/EUR Files, Job 90–01383R)
  5. A memorandum outlining the proposed operation was forwarded to the President on March 8. The President approved the operation on March 10. (Ibid.)
  6. March 9.