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280. Memorandum From the Senior Military Assistant (Haig) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

Please note the item on page 2 of the Daily Staff Summary attached (Tab A).2 I am very disturbed at the way the entire Spanish problem has been handled. I am especially concerned about the way Sonnenfeldt as an individual has handled this and interpreted the operative aspects of the problem.

At Tab B are two memoranda from Hal3 which confirm the type of bias to which I refer.

As you know, from the outset State has been strongly opposed to the continuation of bases in Spain. This fundamental bias subsequently became distorted and became an anti-military campaign, resulting in leaks to Fulbright and Symington and Flora Lewis.4 It included a character assassination campaign against General Burchinal. My own assessment is that Hal Sonnenfeldt shares State’s bias in the issue.

The coup de grâce was made during the week prior to the Spanish visit when an originally agreed upon aid package was drastically reduced by a Packard-Richardson-State cabal, then officiously dumped in the lap of the Spanish delegation in the form of an ultimatum.5 There is no doubt in my mind that this was a well-orchestrated, tightly-controlled effort on the part of those who are most anxious to terminate our base rights in the Spanish area.

Since that time, Hal has been reporting that all was not well, but again he has distorted the facts by inferring that the negotiations are off the track because this time the military in Spain have tried to garner all the benefits of the U.S. assistance package for themselves. Hal has implied that this is the root problem in the breakdown. The facts, in my [Page 867]view, are clearly depicted in the report at Tab A. They confirm a conscious effort to scuttle the negotiations and have very little to do with the peripheral smoke which laces Hal’s two memos to you.

I recommend you call Richardson on this problem to insure that the issues are again reviewed by the Under Secretaries Committee. Perhaps a Presidential letter to Franco would help.6

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 706, Country Files—Europe, U.S.-Spanish Base Negotiations. Secret.
  2. Not printed. The relevant portion reads: “Spanish Foreign Ministry Officials told Embassy Madrid the atmosphere surrounding the base negotiations has changed for the worse. The Spanish claim this is due to US use of press leaks, severe press and congressional criticism of the Spanish Government, and our ‘pressure tactics’ approaching a virtual ultimatum. Consequently the officials are reappraising the entire situation and are not prepared to sign an extension under the present uncertain and ambiguous conditions.”
  3. At Tab B, not printed, are April 23 and 24 memoranda by Sonnenfeldt.
  4. Senator J. William Fulbright (D–AR), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Senator Stuart Symington (D–MO); and American journalist Flora Lewis.
  5. See Documents 277 and 278.
  6. Kissinger wrote in the margin: “Let’s do a memo for the President of issues and find out his wishes. Can’t be interested in losing bases. In memo state formal situation then list analysis of possible reasons for collapse.” No memorandum by Haig was found. A memorandum to the President drafted by Sonnenfeldt, May 12, was not forwarded. A covering memorandum to Kissinger recommending its signature is annotated: “return to Sonnenfeldt OBE.”