124. Memorandum From William Odom of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • Counterintelligence: Embassy Moscow

Sam Hoskinson asked me to set down some points on Embassy Moscow for the SCC agenda2 on counterintelligence.

The Problem

The embassy in Moscow has traditionally been neglected and made an easy target for the Soviets. Moreover, its potential as a training and reporting outpost has been woefully unexploited, a point made by George Kennan in his recent book.3 The general management policy and the budget level for that embassy are not greatly different from those for our embassies in other countries. That means hiring of as many local nationals as possible. It means very little in the way of selective recruiting for assignment to Moscow. And it does not allow the rigorous interagency indoctrination for new staff personnel before they depart the U.S. for Moscow. As a consequence, we look and act very amateurishly as an embassy in Moscow. Even the best professionals on the staff have no option but to go along because the resources are not available for changing the situation.

[1 paragraph (3 lines) not declassified]

Toward a Solution

We are now in the early stages of building a new embassy in Moscow. That is the occasion for rectifying the situation if we choose to exploit it. To do so would require the following:

—An SCC decision to implement an upgrading program during the construction phase.

—An interagency backstopping group (CIA, State, DOD, and NSC) for providing the coordination and the level of emphasis necessary to break the old habits and policies, [1 line not declassified]

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—An additional Congressional appropriation of funds to carry the greater costs of construction and staffing. (Zablocki and Slack would probably be very cooperative on this.)

—[1 paragraph (11 lines) not declassified]

—[1 paragraph (3½ lines) not declassified]

Benefits and Consequences

—[1 paragraph (2½ lines) not declassified]

—[1 paragraph (13 lines) not declassified]

—[1 paragraph (6 lines) not declassified]

—We would give the impression to other countries, not least the Chinese, that we are serious in Moscow. Many of my diplomatic acquaintances in Moscow used to reveal despair over learning how amateurishly we go about our business there.

—This is the natural underpinning for the efforts you have made to force the Soviets to give Mack Toon greater access to the Soviet leadership in Moscow.4

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, General Odom File, Box 32, Moscow Embassy: 3/77–8/79. Top Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. Sent totally outside the system. A copy was sent to Hoskinson. Inderfurth also initialed the memorandum. An unknown hand drew an arrow to the subject line on the front of the memorandum and wrote: “Included in briefing book.”
  2. The agenda for this meeting was not found.
  3. Reference is presumably to The Cloud of Danger.
  4. Bartholomew wrote below this paragraph, “Sam Hoskinson & I agree completely with this. Reg.”