289. Memorandum for the Record by Director of Central Intelligence Turner1


  • Conversation with Dr. Brzezinski, 28 May 1980 [portion marking not declassified]

[Omitted here is material unrelated to Iran.]

2. On Iran, I asked for his reaction to our covert action paper that I gave him last week. He said he thought it was a reasonable paper. He had Gary Sick staffing it and would come back to us in writing. I told him I needed a little more guidance on Bakhtiar and Oveisi. The essence of his response was very much what my attitude has been on this—keep the pot stirred; do not give substantial backing or direction, however, that does not preclude giving either modest advice or money.

I described the “jerga” that will take place in Paris shortly. [1 line not declassified]

3. I expressed a bit of concern that the “Saunders paper”2 was in effect being carried out as a policy even though we had not discussed it in the SCC meeting when it was presented. He acknowledged that we were more or less moving by default in this case but he didn’t think there was anything else we could do at this time.

I expressed our continued reservations on the possibility of any good for the hostages coming out of the present semi-negotiations or [Page 791] the actions of the Majlis. He agreed but said there was a lot of optimism around about the West German approach. I pointed out we had not been clued in on this other than a brief reference to it at this morning’s meeting.3 He said it came in a recent NODIS from Stoessel.4 The message indicated there was a suggestion that the hostages might be released within three weeks.

[1 paragraph (15 lines) not declassified]

4. I talked also about the rescue operation planning and how much support we should give to it.5 His response is that it is not a dead option but that we might have to look at it also in the event we come to an impasse on negotiations. We are going to have to make our own judgment as to how much of our effort we put in that direction. Basically, I think we have to go along with the DoD’s requests but we’ve got to be rather selective, i.e., DoD will cook up all kinds of options and be happy to have us explore each in great detail. We’ve got to hold back until their enthusiasm calms down enough to know which option is worth looking at seriously. We’ll also have to be pretty tough-minded on what we are uniquely equipped to do for them and what they can really do themselves. In short, we must cooperate. We can footdrag, we can not volunteer, and we can insist that there be some signs of seriousness and a reasonable probability of success behind proposals that we expend much effort in supporting. [portion marking not declassified]

[Omitted here is material unrelated to Iran.]

Stansfield Turner6 Director
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Office of the Director of Central Intelligence, Job 81B0012R: Subject Files, Box 15, Folder 43: DCI/DDCI Memrecs/Memos/Agendas of Brzezinski/Aaron Meetings January–December 1980. Secret.
  2. See Document 273.
  3. Reference is to the Special Coordination Committee meeting that took place that morning at 9:30 a.m. The Summary of Conclusions of this meeting does not discuss the West German approach. (May 28; Carter Library, Brzezinski Donated Material, Box 14)
  4. Telegram 10010 from Bonn, May 27. (Department of State, Records of David D. Newsom, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Subject Files, 1978–1981, Lot 81D154, Iran NODIS Cables May 1980)
  5. A May 20 internal CIA memorandum to Turner, assessing the damage resulting from the rescue mission, concluded that a second rescue attempt was severely compromised. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, General Odom File, Box 27, Iran Damage Assessment 5/80–6/80)
  6. Robert Gates signed for Turner.