Panama


518. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Read) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), Washington, January 25, 1969.

The Department of State reported that the new Panamanian Government showed little concern that the actions it took could damage its relations with the United States. The Department of State stated it was encouraging the return to constitutional government, maintaining a satisfactory working relationship, and assuring continued National Guard cooperation in protecting the Panama Canal.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 2 PAN. Confidential. Drafted on January 24 by Guthrie; and cleared by Sanders and Vaky. Robert Brown signed above Benjamin Read’s typeset signature. SNIE 84–69, January 30, provided additional information on Panama and concluded that “relations with the U.S. are likely to be somewhat strained throughout the period of military rule. We think the officer corps of the Guardia has become more nationalistic over the last couple of years, yet we doubt that the new regime will encourage blatant anti-Americanism, for fear it could not control an aroused populace.” (Central Intelligence Agency, NIC Files, Job 79–R01012A, Box 373, Folder 2, Situation in Panama)


519. Memorandum From the Acting Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Walsh) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), Washington, February 20, 1969.

If Ambassador Aleman raised the question of treaty negotiations, the Department of State suggested that President Nixon tell him that it would be difficult for the United States and Panama to discuss new treaties until Panama returned to constitutional government.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 17–1 PAN–US. Confidential. Drafted by Parker. JW Davis signed above John Walsh’s typeset signature. Also enclosed but not published is a biographical sketch of Aleman. No memorandum of their conversation has been found, but according to the President’s Daily Diary, the President, Mosbacher, Vaky, and Aleman met on February 21 from 10:04 to 10:16 a.m. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary)


520. Information Memorandum From the Acting Assistant Secretary of Inter-American Affairs (Vaky) to Secretary of State Rogers, Washington, March 7, 1969.

Acting Assistant Secretary Vaky noted that a power struggle in the Panamanian National Guard had resulted in the exile of four officers to the United States. He concluded that opportunistic Panamanian politicians might attempt to take advantage of the instability in the nation by stirring up future dissension in the Guard.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 15 PAN. Secret. Drafted on March 6 by Guthrie.


521. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rogers to President Nixon, Washington, July 15, 1969.

Secretary of State Rogers reviewed the Panama Review Group’s terms for initiating Panama Canal negotiations. The most important topics included the issue of negotiating with the unconstitutional government in Panama City, the findings of the Atlantic-Pacific Interoceanic Canal Study Commission, and the expiration of U.S. rights to the Rio Hato Military Training Area.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 790, Country Files, Latin America, Panama, Vol. 1, January 1969–February 28, 1970. Secret. Rogers’ signed WPR above his typeset signature. Neither approval nor disapproval was checked, but the President indicated his approval in Document 524. Attached but not published is the enclosed memorandum.


522. National Security Decision Memorandum 22, Washington, August 27, 1969.

This NSDM directed the following action: the National Security Council Inter-departmental Group for Latin America (NSC–IG/ARA) was to replace the Panama Review Group as the organization that formulated and implemented policy towards Panama, and the Canal. The Panama Review Committee would continue to be responsible for the coordination of information and proposals relating to Panama, and United States-Panamanian relations.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 364, Subject Files, Box 363, NSDMs, Nos. 1 through 50. Secret. A copy was sent to the Chairman of the JCS, the Secretary of the Army, and Robert Anderson, the Special Representative for United States-Panama Relations. National Security Action Memorandum (NSAM) 296 is published in Foreign Relations, 1964–1968 volume XXXI, South and Central America; Mexico, Document 414.


523. Report Prepared by the Governor of New York (Rockefeller), Albany, August 30, 1969.

In this 12 page report, Rockefeller discussed his meeting with the Minister of Foreign Relations and recounted his meeting with President Torrijos. Rockefeller concluded that the Panamanian Government had very young, able, Cabinet leadership, and that Torrijos wanted to sign a new set of Panama Canal Treaties. Rockefeller also stated that the United States needed more politically skillful representatives in the nation.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 802, Country Files, Latin America, Latin America General, Rockefeller, Report on Conversations with Latin American Leaders, May–July, 1969. Confidential; Personal. Nixon dispatched Rockefeller to Latin America to confer with leaders in the region.


524. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to Secretary of State Rogers, Washington, September 3, 1969.

President Nixon requested a review of the U.S. stance regarding the Canal Treaties that included, first, the objectives of the 1967 draft treaties, and, second, U.S. interests and objectives in concluding new treaties.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–169, NSSM Files, NSSM 86. Secret. Rogers’s July 15 memorandum to the President is published as Document 521. A summary of the review requested by the President is referenced in the source note to Document 530.


525. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon, Washington, December 18, 1969

President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger discussed the recent unsuccessful attempt to overthrow President Torrijos. Because Torrijos suspected that the United States was involved in the coup attempt, it reinforced his existing mistrust of the U.S. Government. Kissinger concluded that U.S. officials should attempt to shape Torrijos’s attitudes so the Panamanian leader would act in a more pro-U.S. fashion.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 790, Country Files, Latin America, Panama, Vol. 1, January 1969–February 28, 1970. Secret. Sent for information. Written on the document was “ret’d [returned],” which was stamped December 22.


526. Memorandum From Viron P. Vaky of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), Washington, December 29, 1969.

National Security Council staff member Vaky reported to President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger that President Torrijos believed that members of the U.S. Army Intelligence Unit in the Canal Zone were involved in the December 15 attempt to oust him from power. The Department of State instructed the U.S. ambassador to inform Torrijos that an investigation of the matter would be quickly initiated.

Source: Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 790, Country Files, Latin America, Panama, Vol. 1, January 1969–February 28, 1970. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. Kissinger wrote on the top of the page, “Do memo for Pres conclusion: I shd [should] talk to [Melvin] Laird that this info comes to WH [White House] as matter-of-course. Al [Haig]—Check on army intelligence—this sounds very circumstantial.” In the margin next to the first sentence of the last paragraph, Kissinger wrote, “Why?” In the margin next to the last sentence, he wrote “and [illegible].” Attached but not published was telegram 4158 from Panama City, December 27; and telegram 407 from Panama City, December 27. Kissinger summarized this memorandum in a December 30 memorandum to the President, but there is no indication the President saw it. (ibid.)


527. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs (Hurwitch) to Secretary of State Rogers, Washington, January 2, 1970

Deputy Assistant Secretary Hurwitch informed Secretary of State Rogers that U.S. Army personnel may have been involved in a coup attempt in Panama on December 14–15. Hurwitch also stated that on December 9 the Army withheld intelligence information from the U.S. Embassy on coup plotting for 72 hours.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 23–9 PAN. Secret. Drafted by Grove. On January 26, Kissinger informed Laird and Helms that President Nixon wanted them to ensure that intelligence is passed to policymakers as quickly as possible, and he wanted a report on recommendations for improving intelligence collection in Panama. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 332, Subject Files, Review of Intelligence Activity.) (Secret) Laird and Helms recommended in a memorandum to the President, dated February 25, that non-essential duplication of intelligence activities should be eliminated, and coordination of intelligence activity should be improved. (Central Intelligence Agency, Executive Registry, Job 80–B01086A, Box 15, Folder 2, P–17 Panama) (Secret)


528. National Security Study Memorandum 86, Washington, January 2, 1970.

President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger directed the National Security Council Inter-Departmental Group for Inter-American Affairs (NSC–IG/ARA) to prepare a study of U.S. interests in agreeing to new canal treaties with Panama. He emphasized that the study should analyze policy options, whether any objectives of the 1967 treaty proposals should be revised, and the internal situation in Panama.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–43, Review Group, NSSM 86, Panama Canal, 3/13/70. Secret. A copy was sent to the Chairman of the JCS and the Director of Central Intelligence. The President approved the drafting of the NSSM in a December 30, 1969 memorandum from Kissinger. (Ibid.) Kissinger’s September 3, 1969 memorandum is published as Document 524. A summary of the NSC–IG/ARA review is published as Document 530.


529. Telegram 10581 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Panama, January 22, 1970, 2238Z.

The Department of State instructed Ambassador Sayre to ask Foreign Minister Tack when Panama would complete its review of the 1967 Canal Treaty drafts and when it wanted to resume treaty discussions.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 33–3 CZ. Confidential; Limdis. Drafted by Grove and Hurwitch; cleared by Anderson; and approved by Meyer. A copy was sent to USCINCSO.


530. Paper Prepared by the NSC Inter-Departmental Group for Inter-American Affairs, Washington, January 27, 1970.

The National Security Council Interdepartmental Group for Inter-American Affairs (NSC–IG/ARA) provided two basic options available to the United States for negotiation with Panama over the Panama Canal: maintain the existing treaties and negotiate interim measures providing substantial benefits to Panama, or use the 1967 draft treaties as a starting point for negotiating new treaties.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–169, NSSM Files, NSSM 86. Secret.


531. Memorandum From Viron P. Vaky of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), Washington, February 19, 1970.

National Security Council staff member Vaky reported to President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger that a Department of Defense report found that, even though the 470th Military Intelligence Group in the Canal Zone had been collecting intelligence information between December 14 and 16, 1969, there was no evidence of Military Intelligence Group participation in the coup attempt in Panama on December 15.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 790, Country Files, Latin America, Panama, Vol. 1, January 1969–28 February 1970. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Sent for information. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicated that Kissinger saw it. The February 14 memorandum from Froehlke to Kissinger has not been found. In a February 3 memorandum from Undersecretary of the Army, Thaddeus R. Beal, to Laird, Beal confirmed that the U.S. military was not involved in the December 15, 1969 coup attempt. However, Sayre and Mather “believe that there was a failure of times dissemination of intelligence gather by the 470th and that the way in which it has operated with agents in the GN has to be changed.” Mather stated that because the GN was so closely involved in Panama’s political affairs, intelligence gathering would have to be more circumspect. (Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–76–067, 81, Panama 1970)


532. Minutes of an NSC Review Group Meeting, Washington, March 13, 1970, 2:35–3:40 p.m.

The National Security Council Review Group discussed options presented by the National Security Council Interdepartmental Group for Inter-American Affairs (NSC–IG/ARA) and directed that Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Inter-American Affairs Robert Hurwitch prepare a memorandum for President Nixon recommending comprehensive negotiations for new Canal treaties, spell out the choices for the negotiations, and include discussion of the timing.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–111, SRG Minutes Originals, 1970. Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room. The participants discussed the January 27 NSC–IG/ARA report. A portion is published as Document 530. According to a March 26 covering letter from Davis to Kissinger, Hurwitch’s memorandum to the President would be submitted by April 3. The memorandum is published as Document 533.


533. Memorandum From the NSC Inter-Departmental Group for Inter-American Affairs to President Nixon, Washington, April 6, 1970.

The National Security Council Inter-Departmental Group for Inter-American Affairs (NSC–IG/ARA) reviewed the key issues for the United States in writing new Canal treaties with Panama. The NSC–IG/ARA focused on the following concerns: canal capacity, sovereignty, control and defense of the Canal, jurisdiction, the timing of the transfer, and economic benefits of the Canal for Panama.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–169, NSSM Files, NSSM 86. Secret. NSSM 86 is Document 528. Attached is an annex titled, “NSC/IG–ARA Response to NSSM–86.” A portion of that annex is published as Document 530.


534. Memorandum From the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Packard) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), Washington, May 4, 1970.

The Department of Defense recommended that the U.S. Government maintain exclusive control over the Canal and assume total responsibility for defense of the Canal. Enclosed is a 2 page paper titled “Views of the Department of Defense on the Issues Outlined in the Response to NSSM 86.”

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–216, NSDM files, NSDM 64. Secret Enclosed but not published is an April 23 memorandum from Moorer to Laird.


535. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon, Washington, June 1, 1970.

After summarizing a National Security Council Inter-Department Group for Inter-American Affairs (NSC–IG/ARA) paper on the Canal, President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger recommended Presidential guidance for future negotiations. Kissinger suggested that the U.S. Government maintain control over Canal operations and its defense; recognize reasonable Panamanian aspirations for more influence over Canal management and a greater share of the economic benefits of the Canal; and seek the right to build a new sea level canal or enlarge the present Canal.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–216, NSDM, NSDM 64. Secret. Sent for action. Tab A is published as Document 536. Tab B is published as Document 533. Tabs C through E are not published. Tab C is an undated appendix “Key Issues—Panama Canal,” and Tab D is a letter from Burns to Woods, dated April 21, asking that the President’s Secretary give Nixon the enclosed views of Walter Williams and Roger Cake, both members of the Panama Canal Board.


536. National Security Decision Memorandum 64, Washington, June 5, 1970.

President Nixon stated that the U.S. Government should be prepared to discuss fundamentally new treaties with Panama regarding the Canal.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 363, Subject Files, NSDMs, Nos. 51–96, April 1970–December 1970. Secret. A copy was sent to the Chairman of the JCS, the Director of the CIA, and Ambassador Robert Anderson, Special Representative for U.S.-Panama Relations. The paper in response to NSSM 86 is published as Document 533.


537. Telegram 2278 from the Embassy in Panama to the Department of State, June 17, 1970, 1445Z.

The Embassy reported that it had told President Torrijos that the Nixon administration sought exploratory talks on new Canal treaties. Torrijos stated his first priority was a treaty system that reduced friction between the United States and Panama and avoided the problems of the of the 1967 treaty drafts.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 33–3 CZ. Secret. Copies sent for information to the Governor of the Canal and to USCINCSO.


538. Memorandum by the Office of National Estimates, Central Intelligence Agency, Washington, October 1, 1970.

After summarizing Panamanian politics and relations with the United States, the Central Intelligence Agency concluded that the outlook for successful negotiations on the Canal treaties was likely to remain bleak for some time.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–216, NSDM Files, NSDM 64, Secret. Coordinated with representatives of the Office of Current Intelligence, the Office of Economic Research, and the Directorate of Plans. Kissinger wrote on the cover, “Vaky—Please give me brief memo on where we stand on Canal issue. Should have summary for Pres. before Sunday. Also I need to know how we propose to move. What happened after Review Group last year?” At the bottom of the cover page, written in an unknown hand was “Done 10–24–70.”


539. Memorandum of Meeting, Washington, October 25, 1970, noon.

Presidents Nixon and Lakas both agreed that if new Canal treaties could be worked out, both would try to convince their respective governments to approve them.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 33–3 PAN. Confidential; Limdis. The meeting was held in the Oval Office. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Nixon, Nachmanoff, and Lakas met from 12:09 to 12:40 pm. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary).


540. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon, Washington, October 26, 1970.

President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger recommended that the Atlantic-Pacific Interoceanic Canal Study Commission release its report in its own name to the public on December 1. Kissinger further recommended that the White House announce that the President received the report for study at the recommendation of the Commission.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 792, Country Files, Latin America, Panama, Atlantic-Pacific International Ocean Canal Study Commission, Vol. 1, 1971. Secret. Sent for action. Kissinger initialed approval for Nixon. Attached to this memorandum was a note to Kissinger in which Vaky stated, “I would hope you could clear for the President. I have however prepared a memo for him in the event you wish to take it up with the President; you may decide to do this because Anderson may try to appeal directly with the President.” Kissinger approved for the President on October 29.


541. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon, Washington, January 9, 1971.

President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger recommended that President Nixon ask the Under Secretaries Committee to review a report by the Atlantic-Pacific Canal Study Commission, consider its implications for the U.S. position in treaty negotiations, and call for submission of a strategy for negotiations by next month.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–216, NSDM Files, NSDM 64. Secret. Sent for action. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it. Nixon initialed his approval of the recommendation. Attached but not published are Tabs A and B. Tab A is a classified letter from the Atlantic-Pacific Canal Study Commission and Tab B is the December 1 Commission Report. Tab C is published as Document 536.


542. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to the Chairman of the National Security Council Under Secretaries Committee (Irwin), Washington, January 18, 1971.

President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger conveyed President Nixon’s instructions to the Under Secretaries to review the Canal Study Commission’s report, to consider the implications of the report for the U.S. position in the treaty negotiations, and to prepare recommendations for the U.S. Government’s negotiating strategy.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–169, NSSM files, NSSM 86. Secret. A copy was sent to the Secretaries of State, Defense, and Treasury; Director of OMB, Secretary of the Army, Chairman of the JCS, the DCI, and the Special Representative for Interoceanic Canal Negotiations. Kissinger did not sign the memorandum.


543. Telegram 1443 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Panama, January 27, 1971, 2310Z.

The Department of State sent the Embassy a Panamanian position paper on renewed treaty negotiations.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL PAN–US. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by Grove, cleared by Carson, approved by Crimmins.


544. Memorandum From Arnold Nachmanoff of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), Washington, February 17, 1971.

National Security Council staff member Nachmanoff recommended that President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger approve for President Nixon the text of Special Representative for U.S.-Panama Relations Anderson’s reply to Ambassador de la Ossa. The letter states that for the United States the defense and efficient operation of the Canal are very important, and suggests further discussions be held.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 792, Country Files, Latin America, Panama, Atlantic-Pacific International Ocean Canal Study Commission, Vol. 1, 1971. Secret. Sent for action. Haig initialed for Kissinger and initialed his approval for Kissinger. Attached but not published are Tabs A and B. Tab A is the draft letter to de la Ossa and Tab B is a February 10 letter from Anderson to Nixon. The final version of Anderson’s letter to de la Ossa was not found.


545. Special National Intelligence Estimate 84–71, Washington, February 18, 1971.

This 10 page estimate, titled “Panama and the Canal Treaty Negotiations,” reviewed key political and economic events in Panama during President Torrijos regime, and concluded that Torrijos will demand more concessions for Panama than were contained in the 1967 treaty drafts. For the Panamanian leader, the key issues were jurisdiction over the Canal and a substantial increase in economic benefits for Panama.

Source: Central Intelligence Agency, NIC files, Job 79––R01012A, Panama and the Canal Treaty Negotiations. Secret.


546. Memorandum From Ashley C. Hewitt of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), Washington, March 5, 1971.

National Security Council staff member Hewitt summarized five studies and reports about the Panamanian Government leadership as well as the Canal negotiations. Hewitt predicted that President Torrijos would demand major concessions in the areas of legal jurisdiction in the Canal Zone and a greater share of the economic benefits.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 792, Country Files, Latin America, Panama, Atlantic-Pacific International Ocean Canal Study Commission, Vol. 1, 1971. Secret. Sent for information. Kissinger initialed the first page of the document. Attached but not published at Tab A is a January 29 CIA Working Paper, “Panama Canal Negotiations: Torrijos vs. the US.” Tab B is published as Document 545. Attached but not published at Tab C is a report on Torrijos and at Tab D, telegram 1473, February 26, from the Canal Zone. Tab E, telegram 1020 from Panama, March 4, is not attached.


547. Memorandum From the National Security Council Undersecretaries Committee to President Nixon, Washington, June 10, 1971.

In this 5 page memorandum, the Undersecretaries Committee presented their recommendations for negotiating new Panama Canal treaties. This report identifies those cases in which the recommendations from the Department of State and Defense differ and focuses its analysis on the following issues: the possible duration of a new agreement, jurisdiction, control, and defense over the Canal, canal capacity expansion, and potential economic benefits.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–261, Under Secretaries Committee Memorandum File, Under Secretaries Study Memorandums, U/SM 97–99. Secret; Exdis.