Ch. 3. Libya


36. Letter From the Ambassador to Libya (Newsom) to the Country Director for Northern African Affairs (Root), Tripoli, March 27, 1969

Newsom advised Root that he had successfully distanced the United States from previous U.S. commitments to assist the succession of the Crown Prince. Newsom went on to discuss the U.S. interest in maintaining a positive relationship with the new Prince.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967—69, POL LIBYA—US. Secret; Official; Informal. The referenced Airgram A—72, March 28 from Tripoli, is not printed. (Ibid., POL 15—1 LIBYA).


37. Memorandum From Harold Saunders of the National Security Council Staff to the Special Assistant to the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Lake) for the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), Washington, September 2, 1969

In this memorandum, Saunders advised Kissinger of a coup staged by a group of young military officers, who had proclaimed the Arab Republic of Libya. Saunders then offered a brief discussion of the political complexion of the new government, the Libyan monarchy's response to the coup, and possible U.S. strategies in dealing with the new government.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1239, Saunders Files, Libya, 1969. Secret. According to a September 2 exchange between Jon Howe and Harold Saunders, the message was sent to Kissinger in California. (Ibid., Box 738, Country Files, Africa, Libya, Vol. I) Similar reports on Libya were contained in Bureau of Intelligence and Research Intelligence Note 625, September 1 (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1967—69, POL 23—9 LIBYA) and Intelligence Memorandum 2216/69, September 1. (Central Intelligence Agency, DI/OCI Files, Box 13, Job 79—T00829A)


38. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (Newsom) to the Acting Secretary of State (Richardson), Washington, September 4, 1969

Newsom summarized an African Inter-Departmental Group working paper on U.S. options in Libya. He recommended that Washington maintain diplomatic relations with the new regime and coordinate the timing of recognition with the British.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967—69, POL 23—9 Libya. Secret. Sent for action. Drafted by Robert Allen, Jr. (AF/N); cleared by Root and John Stevenson (L). The tabs are attached but not printed. Richardson approved the recommendation, and wrote, “These steps should be simultaneous, I think. ELR” On a September 5 memorandum from Newsom to Richardson, conveying word of London's intention to recognize the Libyan regime on September 6, Richardson approved a recommendation to follow suit. (Ibid.)


39. Intelligence Memorandum, Washington, September 16, 1969

This 9 page CIA paper, titled “Implications of the Libyan Coup: Some Initial Thoughts,” examined the nature of the new regime and the future of Libyan politics; the effect of this new government on western military facilities and petroleum interests; and outlined the larger consequences this coup would have on the larger Arab world.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1239, Saunders Files, Libya, 1969. Secret. Prepared in the Office of National Estimates, Central Intelligence Agency. It was discussed with representatives of the Office of Current Intelligence and the Office of Economic Research, who were in general agreement with its judgments. In the September 10 research memorandum RAF 18, Denney furnished Rogers with information on the leaders of the Libyan Revolutionary Command Council. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1967—69, POL 15 Libya) Another Central Intelligence Agency memorandum released in September, ER IM 69—125, assessed the importance of Libyan oil to the United States and its allies. (Central Intelligence Agency, OER Files, IM 69—125)


40. Telegram 158075 From the Department of State to the Embassies in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco, September 17, 1969, 2104Z.

In this 4 page telegram, the Department provided guidance to Embassies in pro-western, moderate Arab states which had voiced concern over the lack of American reaction to the Libyan coup.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 23-9 LIBYA. Secret. Drafted on September 12 by Root and Newsom; cleared by L, S/S and AF; and approved by Richardson. In telegram 5131 from Tunis, September 2, the Embassy reported the comments of Foreign Minister Bourguiba Jr., who, recalling the Mossadeq case, said he hoped we and UK could in effect ‘bring the King back.’ I pointed out some of problems involved in action such as this.” (Ibid.)


41. Memorandum From the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon, Washington, October 1, 1969

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 738, Country Files, Africa, Libya, Vol. I. Secret. Sent for information.


42. Telegram 1134 From the Embassy Office in Benghazi to the Department of State and the Embassy in Libya, October 30, 1969, 1750Z.

Foreign Minister Saalih Mas'uud Buwaysiir presented Ambassador Joseph Palmer with a note calling for discussions to terminate the American presence at Wheelus.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, DEF 15 LIBYA—US. Secret; Immediate. It was repeated Priority to London and to USCINCEUR, CO 16th AF TORREJON, CINCUSAFE, and CO 7272 FTW Wheelus AB. A translation of the note was sent to the Department in telegram 1133 from Benghazi, October 30. (Ibid.) Due to the distribution of Libyan ministries in several cities, the U.S. Embassy also had offices in Benghazi and Baida. According to an October 10 memorandum from Acting Secretary of State Richardson to Nixon, the exfiltration cases were incidents in which U.S. employees at the Wheelus base smuggled two Libyans out of the country. (Ibid., POL LIBYA—US)


43. Memorandum From Harold Saunders of the National Security Council Staff to the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), Washington, November 17, 1969

Saunders notified Kissinger that Secretary of State Rogers and Secretary of Defense Laird had cleared a note to the Libyans indicating that the United States was prepared to begin talks on withdrawal of U.S. military facilities, and hoped that training could meanwhile resume.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 738, Country Files, Africa, Libya, Vol. I. Secret. Sent for information.


44. Memorandum From Robert Behr and Harold Saunders of the National Security Council Staff to the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), Washington, November 20, 1969

The memorandum summarized the attached NSC paper, titled “Possible Alternative Pressures on Present Libyan Regime.” The 9 page paper detailed U.S. economic interests in private oil investment; outlines possible strategies to employ in discussions with the new regime; and analyzes options both for and against those strategies.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H—71, WSAG Meeting, Libya and Lebanon, 11/24/69. Top Secret. Sent for information. Attached but not printed are the annexes to the NSC paper.


45. Minutes of the Washington Special Actions Group Meeting, Washington, November 24, 1969, 3:03-5:18 p.m.

Over the course of this meeting, the group weighed different options presented in a contingency paper for negotiating with the new Libyan Government, focusing specifically on the issues of U.S. oil interests, the base at Wheelus, and possible covert intervention.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H—114, WSAG Meeting, Libya and Lebanon, 11/24/69. Top Secret; Sensitive. The meeting took place in the Situation Room of the White House


46. Telegram 3684 From the Embassy in Libya to the Department of State, December 11, 1969, 1010Z

RCC Chairman QADHAAFI, after surviving an attempted countercoup involving Minister of Defense al-Hawwaaz and Minister of the Interior AL-HAASI, hinted that the coup leaders had help from Washington and London.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 23-9 LIBYA. Secret; Immediate. It was repeated Priority to Algiers, Benghazi, London, Paris, Rabat, Tunis, CINCEUR, CINCUSAFE/LAS/GER, WHEELUS, OACSI/DA/WASHDC, and CO/EUCOM/FLDELEMENT/USAFAC/FRANKFURT. In telegram 206436 to Tripoli, December 12, the Department directed the Embassy to refute the allegation of involvement in the strongest possible terms. (Ibid.)


47. Memorandum From Harold Saunders of the National Security Council Staff to the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), Washington, December 11, 1969

Saunders transmitted negotiating instructions on the Wheelus base prepared by State and Defense.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 738, Country Files, Africa, Libya, Vol. I. Secret. Sent for action. A note on the memorandum indicates Haig approved it. The notes on the attached December 11 memorandum from Johnson to Kissinger reads: “Word received by phone that Mr. Packard concurs. H.H.S.”; “O.K. Haig for HAK 2/12/69”; and “Cleared cable with Jan Barbieri, S/S, 2100-2/12/69. SS.” The instructions were transmitted in telegram 206408 to Tripoli, December 12. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, DEF 15 LIBYA—US)


48. Telegram 3711 From the Embassy in Libya to the Department of State, December 13, 1969, 1355Z.

Ambassador Joseph Palmer recommended a contingency statement in case the meetings of a U.S. official with one of the coup plotters should be exposed.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 23-9 LIBYA. Secret; Immediate. It was repeated immediate to Benghazi. In telegram 3622 from Tripoli, December 3, Palmer had recommended a negative reply to Minister of Defense HAWAAZ, who had requested American assistance in his struggle against other elements within the Libyan Government, so as “to preserve our future relations with whichever faction may come out on top of the possible power struggle here.” (Ibid.) In telegram 201909 to Tripoli and Benghazi, December 4, the Department concurred, adding “we would hope not to foreclose possibility future contact with HAWAAZ as may later be appropriately selected.” (Ibid.) [text not declassified] (Ibid.)


49. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (Newsom) to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Johnson), Washington, December 23, 1969

Newsom advised Johnson to prepare to deflect domestic criticism for the U.S. agreement to withdraw from Wheelus on June 30 at a time when ties were growing between Libya and Egypt.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, DEF 15 LIBYA—US. Secret. Drafted by Blake. Sent for information. The text of the agreed minute, not printed, was sent to the Department in Airgram A—278, December 29. Intelligence Note 869, December 19, advised Rogers that, at QADHAAFI's invitation, two Egyptian army units had been deployed to Libya's two major cities. (Ibid., POL 23-9 LIBYA)


50. National Intelligence Estimate 36.5-69, Washington, December 30, 1969

The 8 page report examined the short-term prospects for Libya, emphasizing issues likely to affect U.S. interests, particularly western military installations, oil policies, Libyan arms negotiations with the Soviet Union, and Arab-Israeli “matters.”

Source: Central Intelligence Agency, NIC Files, Job 79—R01012A, Box 369. Secret; Controlled Dissemination. The Central Intelligence Agency and the intelligence organizations of the Department of State, Defense, and NSA participated in the preparations of this estimate. The Director of CIA submitted this estimate with the concurrence of all members of the USIB with the exception of the representatives of the AEC and FBI who abstained on the grounds that it was outside their jurisdiction.


51. Telegram 169 From the Embassy in Libya to the Departments of State and Defense, January 26, 1970, 1346Z.

In this 6 page telegram, Ambassador Joseph Palmer recounted his January 25 conversation with Prime Minister Mu'ammar al-Qadhaafi, in which QADHAAFI aired his views on the future of the U.S. military programs in Libya and Palmer tried to clarify some points of contention.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, DEF 12-5 LIBYA. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Repeated to USCINCEUR, CINCUSAFE, 16TH AF TORREJON, WHEELUS AB, Benghazi, London, and Paris. The reftel is telegram 7024 to Tripoli, January 15. (Ibid.) In telegram 12659 to Tripoli, January 27, the Department instructed the Embassy to avoid the implication that Libya's request for ammunition would be received routinely or favorably. (Ibid.)


52. Memorandum From the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon, Washington, undated

Kissinger outlined 6 tenets that would form the basis of the United States continuing relationship with the Libyan Air Force, based on the recommendations of Ambassador to Libya Joseph Palmer and the Departments of State and Defense. The memorandum recommended a shift in the relationship to plan for possible future instability in the region.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 738, Country Files, Africa, Libya, Vol. I. Secret; Exdis. Sent for action. The President approved the recommendation. According to a covering sheet, the date of the memorandum was February 12. In telegram 25239 to Tripoli, February 19, the Department transmitted the outline for a new U.S. relationship with the Libyan Air Force. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, DEF 1 LIBYA—US)


53. Intelligence Memorandum 490/70, Washington, February 13, 1970

The 6 page report assessed the revolutionary government of Libya as it effected the staying power of the present regime and outlined the directions in which the leaders appeared to be moving.

Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DI/OCI Files, Job 79—T00830A, Box 2. Secret; Noforn. Prepared in the Office of Current Intelligence of the Central Intelligence Agency, and coordinated with the Office of Economic Research, the Office of National Estimates, the Office of Strategic Research, and the Clandestine Service.


54. Memorandum From the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon, March 20, 1970

Kissinger presented the President with the proposal for action to influence the Libyan Government to adopt policies consistent with U.S. objectives and minimize those policies inimical to them.

Source: National Security Council Files, Nixon Intelligence Files, Libya. Secret; Eyes Only. Sent for action. Tab A is not printed. Nixon approved the recommendation on March 23.


55. Telegram 724 From the Embassy in Libya to the Department of State, April 13, 1970, 1428Z.

Ambassador Joseph Palmer reported that the Revolutionary Command Council was reviewing its basic foreign policy decisions with the United States. Based on U.S. policies on the Arab-Israeli dispute, one of the contending factions was arguing that the United States was a “lost cause” and should be written off.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL LIBYA—US. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. The LARAF commander pressed the Embassy for a decision on the F—5s in telegram 723 from Tripoli, April 13. (Ibid., DEF 12-5 Libya) Palmer's follow-up comments were sent to the Department in telegram 734 from Tripoli, April 14. (Ibid.)


56. Memorandum From the Special Assistant to the Deputy Director for Plans of the Central Intelligence Agency through the Deputy Director for Plans (Karamessines) to the Director of Central Intelligence (Helms), Washington, April 16, 1970

This memorandum outlined a discussion between the Special Assistant to the Deputy Director, Ambassador David Newsom, Deputy Assistant Secretary Rodger Davies, David Blee, and Archie Roosevelt concerning the issue of whether to uphold the U.S. contract to deliver a number of F—5 aircraft, which predated the September revolution, or defer delivery in the interests of the Option 1A operation. Ultimately, the group concluded it would be best to defer delivery.

Source: National Security Council Files, Nixon Intelligence Files, Libya. No classification. The attachment is not printed.


57. Telegram 70798 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Libya, May 9, 1970, 1748Z.

Secretary of State Rogers instructed Ambassador Joseph Palmer to inform the Libyan Government that while no decision had yet been made about the F—5 sale, the United States was prepared to accept five Libyan pilots for F—5 training.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL LIBYA—US. Secret. Drafted by Palmer; cleared by J, AF, AF/N, NEA, L, PM, DOD/ISA, SAFUSI, and Joint Staff; and approved by Rogers.


58. Intelligence Brief INRB 131 From the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Denney) to Acting Secretary of State Richardson, Washington, May 27, 1970

While acknowledging that Libya might revoke the concessions of individual oil companies, the 3 page report concluded that the nationalization of the oil industry as a whole was unlikely.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, PET 6 LIBYA. Secret; Noforn; Limdis. Drafted by Bazil W. Brown, Jr. (INR/Africa); cleared by Harrop. For more on the oil negotiations in Libya, see Foreign Relations, 1969-72, volume XXXVI, Energy Crisis, 1969-1974.


59. Letter From the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Johnson) to the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Packard), Washington, June 2, 1970

Johnson asked Packard to review the current instructions for terminating the U.S.-Libyan Economic Assistance agreement, which indicated that the United States had in fact overpaid Libya for the use of the Wheelus base.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, AID (US) 4 LIBYA. Secret. Drafted by Suddarth and Elizabeth Verville (AF/N) and cleared by PM, L, AF/N, and H. Enclosures are not printed.


60. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary (Eliot) to the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), Washington, June 12, 1970

Eliot sent Kissinger an informal memorandum reporting that in an official ceremony on June 11, the Wheelus commander had turned over the base to the Libyan Air Force.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 738, Country Files, Africa, Libya, Vol. I. Confidential. In telegram 1510, June 27, Ambassador Joseph Palmer took the Deputy Prime Minister to task for the criticism the Libyan Air Force Commander had leveled at Washington during the turnover ceremony, causing Palmer to boycott the remaining events. JALLUUD assured Palmer that he and other RCC members had had no prior knowledge of what Farjaani intended to say. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL LIBYA—US)


61. Letter From the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Packard) to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Johnson), Washington, June 26, 1970

Packard recommended against Johnson's suggestion that the United States admit to owing further payments for Wheelus.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, DEF 15 LIBYA—US. Secret. The attached letter is printed as Document 59.


62. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (Moore) to Acting Secretary of State Johnson, Washington, July 2, 1970

Moore recommended that Ambassador Joseph Palmer be given authority to terminate the U.S.-Libyan agreements currently in force.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, DEF 15-4 LIBYA—US. Secret. Sent for action. Drafted by Suddarth and Bray; and cleared by Blake and Salans. The attachments are not printed. The detailed instructions (Tab A) were sent to Tripoli in telegram 105547 on July 2. (Ibid., POL LIBYA—US) The formal notes of termination of outstanding U.S.-Libyan agreements were transmitted to Tripoli in telegram 106573, July 4. (Ibid.)


63. Intelligence Memorandum 531/70, Washington, July 31, 1970

This 6 page report examined arms supplies and suppliers to Libya since the 1969 revolution.

Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DI/OCI Files, Job 79—T00830A, Box 6. Secret; Noforn. Prepared in the Office of Current Intelligence of the Central Intelligence Agency, and coordinated with the offices of National Estimates, Strategic Research, and Economic Research, and with the Directorate of Plans.


64. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rogers to President Nixon, Washington, August 5, 1970

Rogers alerted the President to the implications of the introduction of Soviet weapons into Libya.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 739, Country Files, Africa, Libya, Vol. II. Secret.


65. Memorandum From the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon, Washington, August 12, 1970

Kissinger recommended that the President reject Secretary of State Rogers' suggestion for a meeting with Ambassador Joseph Palmer.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 739, Country Files, Africa, Libya, Vol. II. Secret. Sent for action. No action indicated, but a note on the covering memorandum indicated that Saunders contacted the Ambassador to express regrets. Tab A is not printed. Tab B is printed as Document 64.