148. Memorandum For the Record1 2


  • Heroin Traffic: Meeting of October 24

Mr. Kissinger called a meeting in the Situation Room at 11 a.m., October 24, to consider the joint report prepared by the Under Secretary of State and the Attorney General (a list of participants is attached). Mr. Kissinger opened the meeting by stressing the Presidents conviction that heroin traffic must be stopped at our shores, and also that speedy action is needed taking into account foreign sensitivities.

At the suggestion of the Attorney General, Mr. Ingersoll reviewed his cooperative efforts with the French narcotic control authorities since May. He expects to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Director of French Central Police during his visit to Paris in early November. Amb. Johnson discussed reasons why it is difficult to reduce opium growing, especially in South East Asia: the crop has a high cash value, is easily transported, and is grown often in areas outside effective governmental control (or with the involvement of government officials). It is difficult to offer a substitute crop which has similar qualities, and accordingly we should not be too optimistic about effective control methods. Amb. Johnson reported that Secretary Rogers this morning established a new position of Special Assistant to the Secretary (Harry Schwartz) to deal with the international aspects of the narcotics problem.

The Attorney General and Mr. Ingersoll commented that the UN efforts have not been too successful (in part due to insufficient funds), although the 1961 Convention on Narcotic Drugs has been of some help. Mr. Kissinger and Assistant Secretary (Treasury) Rossides suggested that the possibility of linking our concern with opium and heroin production to economic interests of certain countries, such as Turkey, should not be ruled out.

Mr. Moynihan commented on the historic nature of the meeting, since, until now, this issue had never been made a serious object of US foreign policy. He felt it was important to recall that the USG efforts to control narcotics had failed for fifty years. Underlining the urgency of the problem, he suggested that the narcotics trade has been in the hands of [Page 2] criminal elements but soon would fall to Americas middle class. The conclusion, he suggested, was immediately to stop Turkeys opium crop.

Mr. Ehrlichman stressed the President’s strong interest in early and demonstrative results, especially with respect to Turkey and France. The President is prepared to accept some risk of irritating foreign governments to achieve this national objective. Mr. Kissinger suggested that arm-twisting may antagonize governments and thus reduce the chances of successful control; it probably would be better if it were not made to appear as if they had yielded to US pressure. Following a brief discussion of how opium is exported from Laos, Mr. Kissinger asked CIA Director Helms if clandestine methods could be employed to make export efforts too dangerous. Director Helms replied affirmatively.

Mr. Kissinger recommended that the participants at the meeting constitute a Task Force, and that a working party be established under State’s leadership. The working party should prepare a report to the Task Force containing a detailed action program relating to the following: specific measures to end the Turkish opium crop no later than summer 1970; action to ensure that heroin production is eliminated in France; a diplomatic scenario should be included and fully integrated with domestic programs. The report should be in the hands of the Task Force within one week, with a view to providing a Task Force report to the President immediately thereafter. All participants agreed with Mr. Kissinger’s recommendation, and Amb. Johnson designated Harry Schwartz as the State representative on the working party. Each Task Force member will notify State of his representative for the working party. It was agreed that Defense should be included on the Task Force and working party.

Arthur Downey
[Page 3]

Participants in Meeting Friday, October 24, at 11 a. m.

Heroin Traffic

White House

Henry A. Kissinger, Chairman

Mr. Sonnenfeldt

Colonel Haig

Arthur Downey

Mr. Moynihan

Mr. Ehrlichman

Bud Krogh, Assistant to Ehrlichman


Attorney General Mitchell

John Ingersoll, Director, Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs

Under Secretary for Political Affairs Johnson

Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Eugene Rossides

Assistant Secretary of Health, Dr. Roger Egeberg

CIA Director Helms

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 357, Subject Files, Narcotics I. Confidential. Sent for information.
  2. In a meeting of senior officials, the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger re-affirmed the President’s conviction that heroin trafficking must be stopped at the nation’s shores. Administration officials considered the joint report from Secretary of State Rogers and Attorney General Mitchell and reported on their current efforts. The group constituted themselves as a Task Force under Department of State leadership.