149. Memorandum For the Record1 2


  • Heroin Traffic: Task Force Meeting of November 3

Due to the delay of Mr. Kissinger, Mr. Ehrlichman opened the Task Force meeting with a review of the report prepared by the Working Group (Tab A). Mr. Hess said that Mr. Moynihan was not pleased with the report. He thought, for example, that the President should be told that the Turks probably would not agree to plow under the current poppy crop, and that an assessment of what bargaining power we have with the Turks should also be included. He suggested that perhaps special envoys of the President should be employed for negotiating with France and Turkey. Ambassador Johnson and Mr. Ehrlichman thought that it was too early to assess the Turks’ reaction to our proposal. Mr. Kleindienst agreed with the reports recommendations, and stressed the need for a cooperative effort rather than heavy-handed tactics. Based on his experience in Mexico, he suggested that a permanent working level force remain in Turkey and France to ensure that the program was being carried out. Mr. Ingersoll noted that the crop substitution program would have to continue in Turkey to prevent a reversion to poppy planting after the current crop was plowed under. Mr. Rossides expressed his concern that there should not be an Americanization of the world’s drug problems, and that each country should be brought to recognize its own interest in the problem.

After a brief discussion by Dr. Egeberg and Messrs. Ingersoll and Kleindienst, it was agreed that the use of the substitute drug methadone would be an essential initial step in the rehabilitation of addicts, particularly when the heroin imports were cut off. It was also agreed that government-dispensed free heroin was not a viable alternative method. Mr. Kissinger offered the following comments: the due dates for the additional studies (smuggling, intelligence coordination and pre-emptive buying) should be advanced; it would be advantageous for Mr. Ingersoll to visit Turkey; we had adequate leverage with Iran to ensure its cooperation; and, finally, the President’s letter to President Pompidou should seek French cooperation on specific issues and not request merely general support. Messrs. Kleindienst and Rossides suggested that the teams in Paris and Ankara should be chaired by the DCM of the Embassy, as is being done in Mexico, [Page 2] to ensure high level Embassy participation. Mr. Sonnenfeldt noted the value of seeking a contact in the office of the French President and Turkish Prime Minister to ensure their continued interest at the level approximating the White House level of interest.

Since there is a possibility that the programs will not have proceeded satisfactorily by the time of the December and February visits, Mr. Ehrlichman suggested that we must prepare now for that contingency and have ready recommendations for stronger measures. He also thought it would be useful to study the existing treaties on opium production to determine whether there could be a basis for a proposal that if any country, currently permitted to produce opium, could be shown to have abused that right by being passive to illicit production, then that country’s right legally to produce would be forfeited. It was suggested that the Working Party report to the Task Force on that possibility.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the participants agreed to the following specific points: (1) the draft letter to Pompidou would be revised to add the suggestion that he designate a representative from his office to coordinate the heroin control efforts; (2) the letter would also be more specific with respect to the points on which we seek French cooperation; (3) an instruction to Embassy Paris and Ankara would be prepared to formalize an Embassy team to deal on a continuing basis with the problem; (4) the Justice Department will prepare a summary of current US efforts to control heroin traffic and this information will be used by the embassies in explaining the depth of US concern and activity; (5) HEW will explore further contingency planning for rehabilitation of addicts; and finally, (6) Amb. Johnson will forward to Mr. Kissinger the revised report for the President, including the texts of the letters to Pompidou and Demirel and instructions to the embassies.

The Task Force will meet again shortly after the receipt on November 15 of the reports on intelligence coordination and smuggling. The report on pre-emptive buying is due on November 30.

Arthur Downey
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 357, Narcotics I. Confidential. Sent for information. Drafted by Downey. Tab A was attached but not published.
  2. The memorandum communicated the record of first meeting of the Task Force on Heroin Trafficking.