365. Note Prepared by Rob Roy Ratliff of the National Security Council Staff1


I was at the White House on another matter this morning and General Scowcroft asked me into his office. He said that the President was concerned about developments in Italy and thought that we ought to take another look at what we might do there to block the communists.

He said the President was aware, of course, that we had suspended the previously approved covert action program, but that a task force should get that out and look at it to see if there is anything there that might be used to help in this situation and that the task force should consider any new initiatives and ideas.

He visualized a meeting as soon as something is ready. He assumed that State and CIA would be the principal ones involved.

I notified Mr. Blee who said he would tell Bill Wells; Ben Evans with the recommendation that someone should inform the DCI; [name not declassified], with observation that if we hold a meeting on this we might be able to add the other pending items to an agenda so that he should get the two other papers he has in the mill over to us asap; [Typeset Page 1118] and Bill McAfee at State to advise him of these developments and to expect to hear from CIA on this subject.

  1. Summary: Ratliff recorded a conversation with Scowcroft on Italy.

    Source: National Security Council Files, Ford Intelligence Files, Italy—GRF 1974–1977. Secret. In an April 6 meeting with Ford and Scowcroft in the Oval Office, Rumsfeld reported: “Italy. There was a conference here in town. The consensus was that Italy could go communist within a few months. We all have said we didn’t see how an Italy with communists in the government could participate in NATO. The question is what we can do. Brent said facetiously maybe a covert operation.” Ford replied, “Why not? If that is what we should do, then we should at least go to the Congress. For us to sit on our hands just because of Congress would be irresponsible.” Rumsfeld responded, “Structure a debate in NATO that a communist government means automatic suspension from NATO. If we lost Italy, we might lost [lose] France, too.” (Memorandum of conversation, April 6; Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversation, Box 18)