147. Memorandum From the Acting Secretary of State (Johnson) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1 2


  • Shah of Iran’s Desire to Obtain Services of Maj. Gen. Hamilton Twitchell, USA (Ret.)

Over the past three months the Shah of Iran has repeatedly and insistently raised with Ambassador MacArthur in Tehran his strong desire to have Major General Twitchell, retiring Chief of the U.S. Military Advisory Mission to Iran, be a member of a Stanford Research Institute group which the Government of Iran is retaining to supply advisory, consulting and analytical services in civil and military engineering and management systems. The Shah has expressed great confidence in Twitchell’s capabilities and the contribution he can make to Iranian development in these important fields.

Ambassador MacArthur has strongly supported this proposal, pointing out that in addition to the Shah’s great interest, we can expect General Twitchell to have an important and favorable influence on the direction of Iranian military purchases.

I have over several weeks discussed this matter with Secretary Laird, General Westmoreland and others in the Department of Defense. Secretary Laird has taken exception to the Shah’s request on the grounds that Twitchell’s [Page 2] employment would be in violation of the intent of the U.S. Constitution and could raise questions of conflict of interest. He feels such employment could create a vulnerability in terms of Congressional sensitivities to the U.S. advisory, role abroad and to hostile media alert for opportunities to discredit the U.S. military. Secretary Laird has accordingly ruled against approval.

We do not dispute the contention that the foregoing considerations should be taken into account in reaching a decision on this matter. We feel, however, that the excellence of our relations with Iran and the Shah personally, is of overriding importance and that we should be responsive to his request. We believe possible Congressional criticism could be countered on the grounds of our helping an important and staunch friend. There are precedents of employment of former U.S. military advisory officers in foreign countries and the Department of Defense Directive 1005.3, Section VII, provides for an exception to the prohibition of such employment with the approval of the Secretary of the appropriate military department.

Ambassador MacArthur has predicted that if he does not receive satisfaction the Shah will make a direct approach to the President. It is also possible that the Shah may raise the issue with the Vice President during his visit to Iran for the 25th Centenary celebrations.

We think this arrangement would be in the national interest, and propose that the Secretary of Defense approve an exception to the Directive by the Secretary of the Army.

U. Alexis Johnson
Acting Secretary
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 15 IRAN. Confidential; Limdis. In an October 20 memorandum, Eliot notified Sisco that Laird had asked his General Counsel to devise a system in which Twitchell could work for the Stanford Research Institute on whichever Iranian contracts the Counsel deemed appropriate, and advise the Shah in this capacity. (Ibid.)
  2. Johnson summarized the dispute between State and Defense over whether General Twitchell should be allowed to accept employment with the Government of Iran.