115. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rogers to President Nixon 1 2


  • Actions to Combat International Terrorism

In the six weeks since your creation of the Cabinet Committee to Combat Terrorism much has been accomplished in the areas of coordinating intelligence, establishing precautionary measures, developing contingency plans, seeking congressional support, and securing international cooperation. Much remains to be done, and will be done, but substantial progress has been made.

Coordinating Intelligence. Mindful that prior information is the most effective defense against international terrorism, we have:

  • -- Alerted all foreign reporting posts of the urgency our government attaches to combatting terrorism and urged them to give high priority to collecting and reporting terrorist intelligence.
  • -- Established a procedure- for evaluating the increased flow of information and providing regular reports to the Committee.
  • -- Arranged the installation of secure teletypes between the Immigration and Naturalization Service and all involved agencies, thus speeding the flow of information.

[Page 2]

Precautionary Measures. Visa, immigration and customs procedures have been tightened, as have been measures for protecting likely targets for terrorist attacks. We have:

  • -- Suspended at least until January 1, 1973, the regulation allowing transit through the United States without visa. This suspension applies to every traveller on a non-discriminatory basis. In the past, approximately 600,000 visitors per year were allowed to spend up to 10 days crossing the United States without prior approval or screening. This loophole has been closed.
  • -- Screened over 6,500 visa applications of individuals not personally and favorably known by our embassy personnel abroad. Of these applications: 4 have been refused entry to the United States including a known leader of an international terrorist organization, and 14 others are under study at this time for possible refusal.
  • -- Temporarily increased the coverage of the Secret Service and Executive Protective Service to include: 15 additional foreign dignitaries; 15 additional fixed posts at Washington diplomatic missions; 23 additional UN missions in New York City.
  • -- Together the Secret Service and EPS have, through overtime and cancelled leave, provided augmented protection equivalent to the service of 525 additional men.
  • -- Alerted all post offices and likely targets of the increased letter bomb activities. Of the more than 80 letter bombs known to have been mailed internationally, 6 have been intercepted in the United States by alert customs and postal employees and citizens. None have caused injury except one which exploded prematurely while being examined by a suspicious postal clerk.

[Page 3]

Contingency Planning. If in spite of all our efforts an act of international terrorism should occur within the United States, we are preparing to deal with it as swiftly and as effectively as possible. We have:

  • -- Agreed that whenever federal jurisdiction exists the FBI will be fully responsible for responding to international terrorist acts perpetrated in the United States. All federal Departments and Agencies have indicated their readiness to assist in every appropriate way. Mechanics for prompt response to requests for equipment and men to operate such equipment are being worked out. Should troops be necessary, your authority would be required and obtained in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding between Justice and Defense (April 29, 1969) for the use of troops in an insurrection.
  • -- Appointed an Emergency Watch Group which, along with the Working Group of the Cabinet Committee, will be immediately assembled at the Department of State to provide guidance, coordinate action, and communicate with foreign governments which may be involved.
  • -- Initiated discussions with selected diplomatic missions in Washington to plan specific responses to terroristic threats.
  • -- Developed detailed contingency plans for responding to terrorist acts against United States diplomatic missions or installations abroad.

Congressional Support. The Cabinet Committee has fully supported the actions by Congress which have strengthened federal authority for dealing with terrorism, including:

  • -- Senate advice and consent. to ratification of the Montreal Convention to protect civil aviation from sabotage and other acts of violence and destruction.
  • -- Congressional enactment of PL 92-539 making federal offenses of certain crimes against an additional 140,000 foreign officials and official guests who were not covered previously.
  • -- To provide guidance for the effective implementation of PL 92-539, the FBI has brought together 50 of its senior agents from throughout the country. Meanwhile, the implications of this new law are being brought to the attention of all responsible authorities at the federal, state and local levels.

International Action. The United States has continued to press for international conventions, including those on the protection of diplomats, and effective enforcement of existing treaties designed to assure safety in civil aviation and to prevent the spread of international terrorism. At the United Nations, Ambassador Bush and I have discussed these subjects with many foreign ministers and, although there is continuing reluctance on the part of some nations to support our stand, we will continue to press for swift and vigorous international action. Meanwhile, at an International Civil Aviation Organization Council meeting on November 1 a resolution was passed by a 17 to 1 vote providing for the convening of a world diplomatic conference on air security August 21-September 11, 1973.

Future Work. While much has been accomplished by the Cabinet Committee, combating terrorism is a continuing campaign. We shall keep you informed of our progress.

William P. Rogers
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL 23-8. Limited Official Use. Drafted by Armin Meyer with concurrence from Sisco.
  2. Rogers recounted for the President both domestic and international counterterrorism actions undertaken by the United States.