360. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to President Ford1


  • Covert Action Program in Italy

At its meeting on 14 November, the 40 Committee approved a program for covert action in Italy “in principle.” It reaffirmed this approval at a meeting on November 21 at which it recommended initiation of a first phase of the program. This action is being submitted for your review and decision.

Simply put, the objective is to block the Communist Party of Italy (PCI) from becoming the dominant party—the first to win control of a Western nation via the parliamentary system—or a member of a coalition government. The Communists have made significant inroads at the expense of the long-dominant Christian Democratic Party (DC). A major segment of the covert action plan is to improve the DC’s image and standing.

Covert action would be undertaken to:

—Increase contact with and support the democratic parties, especially their younger elements. The DC would be the primary recipient, but also Socialists, Republicans and Radicals.

—Increase contact and support for non-political Italian groups and individuals including media, government, business, professional, farming and labor.

—Urge contacts in Western Europe to support our objectives.

—Denigrate the Italian Communist Party and hamper its activities.

The total program is estimated to cost $4.87 million, but the first phase—which would cover local elections and the DC Congress scheduled in the spring of 1976—is estimated to cost [dollar amount not declassified] Monthly reports would be reviewed by the 40 Committee beginning in January, and the Committee would monitor this operation closely.

[Typeset Page 1108]

OMB recommends that if you approve the $4.87 million, [dollar amount not declassified] be withheld by OMB apportionment action. This would allow the first phase to be implemented, but would await further developments and justification before additional monies are made available. This is particularly important because of the low level of funds available [less than 1 line not declassified] now, and is in keeping with the 40 Committee’s plan to monitor this program. If you approve the total program, funds can be made available by 40 Committee/OMB action, as needed and justified.

At TAB A is a Presidential Finding that this operation is important to our national security—required by law if you approve this operation—which will be followed by the required briefings of six committees of the Congress. Attached to it is a summary of the proposal.

At TAB B is the more detailed presentation which was approved by the 40 Committee.


That you approve the proposed covert action program in Italy at a level of $4.87 million [less than 1 line not declassified] with [dollar amount not declassified] to be withheld by OMB apportionment action subject to 40 Committee approval of requests for release.

If you approve, that you sign the Presidential Finding at TAB A.

  1. Summary: Scowcroft sought Ford’s approval of a covert action program in Italy.

    Source: National Security Council Files, Ford Intelligence Files, Italy—GRF 1974–1977. Top Secret; Sensitive. Outside System. Sent for action. Tab A, attached but not published, is a December 4 Presidential Finding signed by Ford. Tab B was not attached. Ford initialed his approval of Scowcroft’s recommendation on December 4. The proposal, a November 13 memorandum for the 40 Committee that is ibid., was discussed at 40 Committee meetings on November 14 and 21. (Memoranda for the record, November 15 and November 21; both in National Security Council Files, Ford Intelligence Files, 40 Committee Meetings, Minutes/Approvals, 1975 GRF)