252. Action Memorandum From the Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs, Department of State (Wilson) to the Under Secretary of State for Security Assistance (Maw)1 2

Report to Congress on Section 502 B

The Problem

We have now completed our review of bureau submissions regarding the human rights situation in all countries scheduled for U.S. security assistance to determine the possible application of Section 502 B of the Foreign Assistance Act. That review indicates that there are a number of countries in which serious problems exist regarding violations of human rights and many others where there are difficulties of varying degrees of magnitude.

In those instances where problems were found to exist that seem serious enough to warrant possible invocation of the provisions of Section 502 B, the question has been asked whether the substantial reduction or termination of security assistance would be compatible with other important United States interests and whether such action would in fact be effective in improving the human rights situation in the countries concerned.

In every case the question was asked whether alternative courses of action would be more effective in coping with existing human rights problems or whether means should be found to distance ourselves from particularly repressive regimes. Where appropriate, steps taken by the U.S. bilaterally or multilaterally were reviewed and recommendations were made regarding further U.S. initiatives, if any.

The results of this study, so far as the most serious problem countries are concerned, were summarized in your memorandum of May 3, 1975 to the Secretary (attached) on which decisions are still pending.

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In the meantime we are faced with the question of how we should present the overall results of our study to the Congress. The committees expect an accounting on this subject in conjunction with the presentation of the proposed FY 76 program some time within the next few weeks, and several members have written letters asking specific questions. Some sort of report is undoubtedly necessary in view of what has been said previously to the committees and should probably be delivered before the Congressional presentation opens. The question is the degree of specificity and detail which may be desired or required and the extent to which the report can or should be classified.

In any event, it is clear that administration witnesses can anticipate a series of questions in depth during the hearings from members of the Congress interested in the human rights situation in particular countries. Some of the answers can probably be given in executive session if necessary, but the bulk of the testimony will undoubtedly be taken in open session or subsequently released in unclassified form.

A variety of options for structuring the report are open to us in principle: They range from a brief report on each country to a completely general report which leaves specific country questions on human rights to the testimony of administration witnesses, for whose use individual country papers must be prepared in any case.

Decisions Required

Four options, one with variants, are listed below in descending order of specificity. If you will indicate your approval or disapproval, we will proceed to draft a report along the lines indicated by your decision.


A separate report on each country receiving security assistance as defined in Section 502 B would be prepared and submitted to Congress, summarizing U.S. interests in the country which give rise to U.S. security assistance, stating the factual situation regarding human rights in that country and the measures being taken by the U.S. either bilaterally or multilaterally to persuade the government in question to address serious problems found to [Page 3] exist (see model on Korea, attached). Parts of the report could be classified as appropriate. Each report would note whether the nature or extent of U.S. security assistance could be expected to affect the human rights situation one way or the other. It would explain the decision reached by the administration with respect to security assistance resulting from the study if serious human rights problems were found to exist and the rationale for maintaining close or distant relations with the regime in power.


  • -Would provide a clear and frank summary of the facts and the conclusions reached, thus satisfying the expectations of Congress.
  • -Would put countries concerned on notice and show Congress that the U.S. is seriously concerned with violations of human rights anywhere and intends to pursue the subject even if U.S. security assistance to the country may be continuing.
  • -As indicated by reactions to administration testimony on Korea and the Philippines, is not likely to be too badly received in the countries concerned.


  • -Could be expected to leak even if given in classified form, causing difficulties in countries where there are special sensitivities regarding what they would call U.S. interference in their internal affairs.
  • -If no action is taken in all or most cases to reduce or terminate security assistance, Congress is likely to use such a report to justify harsher measures in the future than are called for in Section 502 B.
  • -Would volunteer much more than we are minimally required to do in the way of reporting.

APPROVE: [CEM initialed]
DISAPPROVE: _________

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Variant A

The same but report only on those countries receiving grant assistance or FMS credits, not straight FMS.


  • -Much the same as Option 1 but reduces exposure by reducing materially the number of countries formally reported on.
  • -Can be justified on grounds that sales are not really aid but essentially commerce.


  • -Would be seen by Congress as an attempt to evade the intent of Section 502 B as exemplified in its broad definition of security assistance.
  • -Would evoke new arguments on the nature and advisability of the FMS program such as reopening questions of arms sales to Latin American and African countries.

APPROVE: _________
DISAPPROVE: ___________

Variant B

The same, but limit the report to countries receiving grant assistance.


  • -Further reduces the number of countries reported on.
  • -Further differentiates security assistance from the FMS program.


-Same as Variant A but intensified.

APPROVE: _________
DISAPPROVE: __________

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Variant C

The same, but report only on those countries where there has been a specific inquiry by individual Congressmen, making the report in the form of responses to individual members of the Congress delivered as far as possible in advance of the presentation to Congress of the FY 1976 security assistance program. (Senator Cranston has questioned giving aid to 57 countries with authoritarian regimes, concentrating his fire on ten of these, while other Congressmen have concerned themselves with lesser numbers.) Witnesses could then draw on these responses as appropriate during the hearings.


  • -Might have the effect of concentrating attention on human rights issues rather than security assistance, although Fraser’s and Javits’ inquiries are specifically directed at Section 502 B.
  • -Cranston has been promised a reply in any event, and this would accomplish several objectives at once.


  • -Broadens the list of countries to include several who receive economic assistance only and several where the authoritarian nature of the regime is the only issue, not serious violations of human rights. (Cranston can perhaps be replied to more generally after the basic determination is made on how to respond under Section 502 B.)
  • -Would bring other elements of the assistance program under fire (economic loans, e.g.).

APPROVE: ______________
DISAPPROVE: ___________

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A report would be prepared which describes in detail the process followed in making the study, including copies of pertinent instructions to the field, and the review process in Washington. It would summarize types of problems found to exist and types of action being taken to meet them without mentioning countries by name, except to list those where little or no difficulties were found. It would point out the need to address problems on a case by case basis, and offer to answer any specific questions during the course of the Congressional presentation - preferably in executive session. The country figures, which are classified in any event, would speak for themselves in terms of our conclusions.


  • -Would be responsive to the desires of Congress in part and possibly eliminate a great number of countries from further consideration.
  • -Would assure countries with good records of continuing U.S. support.


  • -Introduces the problem of trying to categorize countries, raising questions on why some were included or excluded.
  • -Publicly stigmatizes those countries not appearing on the “clean” list, roiling sensitivities without improving the situation,
  • -Would not be regarded by Congress as being fully responsive to its desires.
  • -Does not provide basis for response to Congressional inquiries on individual countries.
  • -Still may volunteer more than is necessary.

APPROVE: ____________
DISAPPROVE: ____________

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Prepare a report as in Option 2 omitting the list of “clean” countries, but conclude with a listing of those countries where “serious” problems were found to exist (presumably the seven of the May 3 memorandum) and give a frank justification for continuing security assistance in spite of them, which could be handled where necessary on a classified basis. Explain that countries not on the list did not in our judgment fall within Section 502 B.


  • -Would meet minimal requirements of Section 502 B and in effect constitute the explanation of “extraordinary circumstances” justifying continuation of security assistance called for in Section 502 B.
  • -Would avoid characterization or explanations in any but the most serious cases, giving rise to problems with only a handful of countries.
  • -Would probably be accepted by the countries concerned in the same fashion Korea and Philippines have accepted administration reports to the Fraser sub-committee on the human rights situation there.


  • -Involves a categorization of countries which singles out certain ones as serious offenders when others may be marginal and left unscathed.
  • -Could have a major political fallout in the reaction of the government concerned without commensurate improvement in the basic human rights situation; in fact, could have the effect of intensifying problems, including human rights problems, in these countries.
  • -If no reductions or terminations of security assistance are involved, this would be the type of report read by Congress as the administration’s disregard of its desires as expressed in Section 502 B, though some explanation as to why the administration disagrees could be included.

APPROVE __________
DISAPPROVE: ____________

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A report would be prepared as in OPTIONS 2 and 3 but there would be no lists of countries and no mention of specific countries by name other than to note perhaps that public hearings had already been held on Korea and the Philippines, and possibly attaching Habib’s statement of June 24. The report itself would be unclassified but would state that administration witnesses would be prepared to answer specific questions during the presentation on an individual country basis. The conclusions would be self-evident by virtue of the concurrent submission of adjusted country program figures.


  • -Avoids categorization of countries by degree of seriousness of human rights problems.
  • -Could be justified as meeting at least the minimal expectations of Congress, while at the same time volunteering nothing unnecessary in the current presentation.
  • -Would cause the least commotion, at least for the present, among countries which might be singled out for criticism.


  • -Will not be regarded by Congress as responsive to its expressed desires appearing in Section 502 B since the report would not make any findings on specific countries and would offer no explanation of extraordinary circumstances. If coupled with country figures which show no reductions and in some key cases increases in security assistance, may give rise to Congressional demands for new legislation with much stricter requirements or materially lesser amounts of money or both.
  • -Does not respond to specific country inquiries of members like Fraser, Hamilton, Cranston, Kennedy, and Javits, although these could be taken care of separately.
  • -Could lead to subsequent intensified questioning of administration witnesses, including persistent questions on specific human rights problems to the Secretary or the Department’s lead witness.

APPROVE: ____________
DISAPPROVE: ___________

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That you indicate your preference above.

  1. Source: Ford Library, James M. Wilson Papers, Box 6, 5/75–8/75. Confidential. Drafted by Wilson. Concurred in by Lewis, Richardson, Runyon, Sirkin, and Austin. Option 1 was approved by Maw on July 10. There were no attachments appended to this document, but a May 3 memorandum from Maw to Kissinger, discussed options regarding foreign aid for the “most serious group,” Chile, the Republic of Korea, Brazil, Indonesia, the Philippines, Spain, and Uruguay. (ibid.)
  2. Wilson proposed several options about how to configure human rights reports for congressional review. Maw approved preparation of detailed, analytical, individualized country reports.