13. Action Memorandum From the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations (Jenkins) to Secretary of State Vance1

Call to Congressional Human Rights Leaders

In the attached memorandum, we recommended you meet with Congressional human rights leaders. However, from your schedule it is apparent it would be difficult to arrange this meeting before mid-March.2 As we do not wish to lose the chance to have an early meeting with these Congressmen to solicit their ideas, I suggest you ask Warren Christopher to hold the meeting as soon as possible in your stead. So there is no misunderstanding that Mr. Christopher is acting on your behalf, I strongly recommend you make a personal call to Cranston, Fraser and Kennedy before you leave to inform them you have asked Mr. Christopher to get together with them.

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1. That Warren Christopher meet with Congressional human rights leaders on your behalf.3

2. That you call Cranston, Kennedy and Fraser before your trip to inform them of this.4


Action Memorandum From the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations (Jenkins) to Secretary of State Vance 5

Meeting with Congressional Human Rights Leaders

Principal congressional Members interested in human rights, Don Fraser in the House and Senators Kennedy and Cranston in the Senate, although pleased by the Administration’s public stance on human rights, are becoming increasingly restive about not being consulted on how it will be put into practice. This restiveness will increase if, lacking a full understanding of what the Administration proposes to do in the human rights field, they judge program levels for security assistance as the sole indicator of our human rights policy. I suggest an early meeting with them before your Middle East trip.

I believe the meeting should be an exploratory session. You could reiterate the Administration’s commitment to human rights without getting into specifics and draw the Congressmen out as to the ideas they have in the area—and they have many. In the process we would hope to reassure them of our determination to move on this matter. We would also hope to channel their energies into a constructive search with us for effective ways to bring about improvements in the protection of human rights, and to steer them away from a sterile sniping at [Page 42] security assistance levels. (Fraser has already been in touch with Lucy Benson, obviously because of his concern about decisions on Security Assistance. She will meet with him, but avoid discussing the Administration’s position on Security Assistance levels.)

If you agree, we will arrange for the preparation of a briefing book covering, among other things, (a) a willingness on your part to be selective in assigning Ambassadors to those countries with human rights problems and, further, to instruct all Ambassadors on the importance of human rights to this Administration; (b) a study currently in process by S/P to look thoroughly into the human rights area and explore methods by which we can have the greatest effect on human rights violators; (c) the possibility of using international forums to gain support for human rights observance; (d) possible support for the international covenants on economic, social and cultural rights, on civil and political rights, and on the genocide treaty.


That you authorize me to arrange for a meeting with the above-named Congressmen before you leave for your Middle East trip.6

  1. Source: Department of State, Bureau of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, 1976–1977 Human Rights Subject Files and Country Files, Lot 80D177, PGOV—Congressional. No classification marking. Sent through Christopher. Drafted by Swift; concurred in by Wilson and Derian. An earlier draft is ibid.
  2. There is no indication that such a meeting took place. The Secretary visited Israel (February 15–17), Egypt (February 17–18), Lebanon (February 18), Jordan (February 18–19), Saudi Arabia (February 19–20), and Syria (February 20–21). For the Secretary’s remarks and transcripts of press conferences during this trip, see Department of State Bulletin, March 14, 1977, pp. 209–23.
  3. Cahill initialed Vance’s approval of this recommendation on February 11. A stamped notation reads: “Feb 14 1977.”
  4. Cahill initialed Vance’s disapproval of this option on February 11. A stamped notation reads: “Feb 14 1977.” At the bottom of the memorandum, Christopher wrote: “*1) Question trying to meet with all three together. 2) Know all of them quite well, so your call may be unnecessary. 3) This might be occasion to introduce Derian to Cranston & Kennedy.”
  5. Limited Official Use. Drafted by Pezzullo; concurred in by Wilson. Ortiz initialed the memorandum. A notation in Cahill’s handwriting on the first page of the memorandum reads: “Treat as original.”
  6. Cahill placed a check mark on the disapproval line and added: “no time before trip. H to resubmit at later date. JCahill 2/9.”