256. Briefing Memorandum From the Under Secretary of State for Security Assistance (Maw) to Secretary of State Kissinger1 2

Humphrey Sub-Committee Hearings on Human Rights

As part of its hearings on the Security Assistance Bill, the Humphrey Sub-Committee plans to devote its hearing on December 4 to Human Rights. We have been asked to provide an administration witness. Senator Cranston is expected to be the lead witness, supporting his proposed tougher version of Section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act (Tab 1). The administration witness will follow Cranston. An unspecified number of public witnesses will then complete the hearing.

Coincidentally, the Washington Post has filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act (Tab 2) for a copy of individual country studies on Human Rights which were prepared as part of the Administration’s study of human rights in security assistance countries under Section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act. This is the report which we did not send to Congress but is mentioned in the Gwertzman article of November 18 (Tab 3).

We proposed to send Jim Wilson as the principal administration witness to testify in his capacity as the Department’s Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs. His testimony will expand on your own treatment of the subject in your appearances before the Foreign Relations and Appropriations Committees. He will emphasize our sympathy with the humanitarian goals expressed in the legislation, but take issue with the idea that they can be effectively achieved by withholding security assistance. He will advocate quiet diplomacy as an alternative and stress the actions being taken by the administration through these and other means to improve the observance of basic human rights in other countries.

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A major issue is expected to be the release of individual country studies. Cranston’s proposal specifically includes this, and he may insist that he was told last January in his meeting with you that he would receive a report on a country-by-country basis. I have been trying unsuccessfully to see Cranston for the past week but have the impression he does not wish to talk until after the Humphrey hearings.

Wilson will be prepared to respond if necessary that the results of the Department’s analysis of field submissions convinced us that volunteering a formal country-by-country report would be counter productive and damaging to our relations with friendly governments. As a consequence we reconsidered the question of how the report should be handled and now believe it would be unwise to volunteer individual country studies.

If hard pressed on this issue, however, Wilson will be authorized to offer to turn over one copy of the individual two-page country digests (tab 4) to the Committee for its internal use pointing out that parts are classified. (A second copy will then have to be made available to the House Committee in this event.)

With regard to the Washington Post request for the individual country studies, we can probably delay responding until after the hearing, under the law. If, as is likely, we are forced eventually to accede to this FOI request, copies of the country-by-country report should first be furnished to the appropriate committees.

  1. Source: Ford Library, James M. Wilson Papers, Box 6, 9/75–12/75. Confidential. Drafted by Wilson and Goldberg. Concurred in by Michel, Forcier, McCloskey, and Stern. Sent through Ingersoll. The attachments have not been found, but for Tab 3 see The New York Times, November 19, p. 1.
  2. Maw informed the Kissinger of congressional and press actions concerning the human rights aspect of foreign policy.