172. Memorandum From Arthur T. Downey of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1 2


  • Heroin Task Force

Attached at Tab A is a summary record of the June 9 Heroin Task Force meeting which was chaired, in your absence, by Dr. Moynihan. A copy is being furnished to Dr. Moynihan, at his request and with General Haig’s concurrence.

The meeting surfaced an apparent strong feeling on the part of Dr. Moynihan, Deputy Attorney General Kleindienst and Assistant Secretary Rossides that more direct bilateral pressure should be applied to the Turks. Mr. Richardson forcefully reviewed the extreme importance of maintaining Turkey as an ally, and made the point repeatedly that further US pressure on the Turks could topple the Demirel Government. Mr. Richardson also defended the performance of Ambassador Handley. Following the meeting, General Haig and I discussed the situation of the Task Force and its Working Party (chaired by Harry Schwartz), particularly in the light of Mr. Richardson’s new appointment.

[Page 2]

Tab A

Meeting of June 9, 1970, at 3 pm

The White House Task Force on Heroin met for 75 minutes in the Roosevelt Room. The meeting was chaired, in Dr. Kissinger’s absence, by Dr. Moynihan; a list of participants is attached.

* * * * *

Summary Conclusions

The State Department will cable Embassy Ankara and request an assessment of how the Turks are complying with their commitment to buy up the entire current poppy harvest. In addition, Ambassador Handley will be instructed to consult with Prime Minister Demirel to reach agreement on the scope and nature of the expected Turkish announcement at the CCMS meeting.
NATO countries should be advised of our strong interest in assuring that the CCMS meeting on June 18 is productive, and that all contribute. No mention will be made of the US-Turkish arrangements to those countries not already informed.
As Chairman of the Task Forces Working Party, Mr. Schwartz will prepare a list of areas in which we might apply pressure on the Turks; this should include things we could do to the Turks, for the Turks, and things we could withdraw from them.

* * * * *

Summary Record

At the Chairman’s request, Mr. Richardson reviewed and brought up to date the points in his memo of May 19. He concluded that the decision was made to open a multilateral channel because that would enable the Turks to move faster toward elimination of opium production than in response to direct bilateral US pressure. The CCMS meeting is a vehicle to create a forum for the Turks to announce further measures as well as to move toward a wider international conference on the entire drug problem. Mr. Kleindienst asked if this was considered the best approach solely because of the political problems within Turkey. In response, Mr. Richardson said this was the result of the very limited bilateral US pressure which could be used as leverage with the Turks; to press harder would be counterproductive. Also, the move to the multilateral would enable other countries to bring [Page 3] pressure on the Turks, and would enable the Turks to be in the company of others in taking its own steps.

After a brief discussion of the arrangements for the CCMS meeting, the Chairman raised the question of the proposed world ban on opium, as outlined in Mr. Richardson’s memorandum. Mr. Finch commented that at this time there is really no effective substitute for opium, and that there would be a host of domestic problems relating to such a position (including the various state laws on the subject). Dr. Egeberg expanded on these comments, noting that his preliminary soundings in the medical community revealed very stiff opposition to any such suggestion. Opium is used in twenty different medical preparations by 2-4 million people per year, and there is no effective substitute for its pain-killing and euphoric qualities. The Chairman suggested that, while it would be useful to raise the question generally in the CCMS meeting, it probably would not be productive to take further soundings within the US at this time. In discussion later in the meeting, Mr. Finch and Dr. Egeberg agreed, and Mr. Finch said that HEW would provide medical advice to Dr. Moynihan for the CCMS meeting.

Mr. Kleindienst emphasized that forceful action was needed with respect to the Turks and other countries; that at the moment these countries considered it in their interest not to eliminate production. Mr. Rossides picked up this theme, noting the corruption in opium traffic in Turkey. He referred to Secretary Kennedy’s view that next year the AID program for Turkey should be held up if there was not satisfactory improvement in the situation. Following the Chairman’s expression of concern that the Turks might not in fact be collecting the entire poppy harvest, Mr. Rossides suggested that the Defense Department consider working closer with the Turkish military on the opium problem. Mr. Richardson thought this suggestion was worth pursuing.

The Chairman referred to a recent conversation he had with the President on the status of the heroin elimination efforts, and also noted that he was unhappy with the apparent lack of vigor with which Ambassador Handley was pursuing this matter. Mr. Kleindienst said we needed a very active Ambassador in Ankara. Mr. Richardson said he was satisfied with the Ambassador’s performance, and that the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister both emphasized to him that the Ambassador had been persistent on the opium question. Further, the Demirel Government would fall if it appeared that he responded to direct US pressure on this. Mr. Kleindienst asked if that assessment assumed that, if Demirel falls, the next government would not be as friendly toward the US. Mr. Richardson said that was correct, unless the generals take over.

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The Chairman asked Mr. Richardson to describe the commitment the Turks have made to us. Mr. Richardson said it was not very clear: at a minimum they will reduce the number of provinces for 1972 to one; at a maximum, elimination in 1971; and the middle ground would be reduction in 1971 to one province. They have been evasive, but they promised some action at the CCMS meeting. (There was a brief discussion of the degree of interest held by the other NATO countries, and of the possibility of suggesting a survey of the narcotic problem in the NATO armed forces.)

Mr. Kleindienst opined that the CCMS would not accomplish anything, that the meeting would merely deplore the problem and agree to meet again. Mr. Richardson reviewed the strategic importance to the US of a strong Turkish ally, and the delicate political balance within Turkey. Rhetorically, he asked whether Mr. Kleindienst had any alternative suggestions as to how better to accomplish the task of eliminating the opium problem.

The Chairman concluded the meeting by summarizing the conclusions noted above.

[Page 5]


White House Dr. Moynihan
Mr. Blaney
Mr. Ehrlichman
Mr. Krogh
General Haig
Mr. Downey
State Mr. Richardson
Mr. Schwartz
Justice Mr. Kleindienst
HEW Mr. Finch
Dr. Egeberg
Treasury Mr. Rossides
Mr. Liddy
Defense Admiral Mack
Mr. Bartimo
CIA [name not declassified]
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 357, Subject Files, Narcotics II. Confidential; Sensitive. Sent for information. A copy was sent to Saunders. Kissinger wrote the following note at the bottom of the page: “What conclusion did you reach or may I not know? HK.”
  2. Downey transmitted to Kissinger under a covering memorandum a summary record of the June 9 Heroin Task Force meeting.