93. Memorandum From Director of Central Intelligence Turner to Secretary of State Vance and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • Direct CIA Contact with Shahpour Bakhtiar

1. On 8 December, an officer of this Agency established direct contact [less than 1 line not declassified] with Shahpour Bakhtiar.2 An indirect channel of communications between Bakhtiar and this Agency had previously been arranged in late August, but recently Bakhtiar, because of the critical situation in Iran, reiterated his request for a personal meeting with a CIA officer.

2. During the one and one-half hour meeting with our officer, Bakhtiar said that he believes any viable future government must be slightly left of center and must include elements of the far right and far left in order to control them. He believes Khomeini has three months remaining at most and, as a result, he has been making strenuous efforts to put his organization together. Bakhtiar contended that while it may appear [less than 1 line not declassified] he is not doing much, he has in fact made a lot of progress. Specifically, he professes that:

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a. He has been assembling a “staff” in Tehran to plan for his return. Among the members are military officers who can mobilize large groups upon which he can call for support in time of need.

b. He is planning to return to Khuzestan in about a month if his planning permits.

c. He has established contact with Admiral Madani, Governor of Khuzestan Province and Commander of the Iranian Navy. [3 lines not declassified]

d. He has links to [less than 1 line not declassified] prominent Iraqi Kurdish factions, the [2 lines not declassified].

e. The National Front now completely supports him, and he considers this a solid political development. Karim Sanjabi has allegedly been thrown out along with others who oppose Bakhtiar.

f. His staff in Tehran is now operating a small portable FM station broadcasting cassettes of his speeches.

g. The Iraqis have offered him support in exchange for an agreement that he would not oppose their absorbing Kuwait. Bakhtiar believes that he can make this deal now but subsequently when in power in Iran ignore the part of the bargain concerning Kuwait.

h. [4 lines not declassified]

We lack corroborating evidence that would either confirm or deny that Bakhtiar has made as much progress as he avers. We will continue to check on his actual state of progress.

3. Our officer was also told that Bakhtiar is concerned about his contacts with General Gholam Ali Oveisi, former commander of the Shah’s army. While Oveisi is a highly competent officer and would be very useful to Bakhtiar, he feels that Oveisi’s contacts with Princess Ashraf and supporters of the Shah could cause trouble, and he emphasized that he wants nothing to do with the former royal family. [2 lines not declassified]

4. Our officer then asked Bakhtiar exactly what he wanted from the United States Government. Bakhtiar replied as follows:

a. He would like us to influence other governments to support him. He would like favorable media coverage. He would like us to encourage some governments [less than 1 line not declassified] to provide financial support.

b. He would like us to try and keep the Shah and his supporters from becoming involved.

Bakhtiar said that time is critical because Khomeini will soon fall, creating a political vacuum that must be filled. He said that he is prepared to move and that if he gets the necessary financial support he has a reasonable chance of succeeding. While Bakhtiar’s requests for assistance are modest, we believe from other information that he feels without US support behind him, and without direct US guidance, he has little chance of success. He has said that while he would willingly accept material assistance from other nations, the “brainpower” must come from the US.

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5. I recommend that we obtain SCC and Presidential approval of the covert action finding which is attached [4 lines not declassified].

Stansfield Turner3


Presidential Finding4

Finding Pursuant to Section 662 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, As Amended, Concerning Operations in Foreign Countries Other Than Those Intended Solely for the Purpose of Intelligence Collection

I find the following operation in a foreign country is important to the national security of the United States, and direct the Director of Central Intelligence, or his designee, to report this finding to the concerned committees of the Congress pursuant to Section 662, and to provide such briefings as necessary.

IRAN Conduct propaganda and political and economic action operations to weaken and disrupt the Khomeini regime; make contacts with Iranian opposition leaders and interested area governments in order to establish a broad, anti-Khomeini front capable of forming an alternative government.5
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Office of the Director of Central Intelligence, Job 95M01183R: Policy Files (1977–1981), Box 1, Folder 5: DCI Turner—Eyes Only Files—Various Subjects. Secret; Sensitive. Brzezinski and Turner agreed to show this memorandum and Kalaris’s December 5 memorandum (see Document 85) to Carter, but not to Vance. (Central Intelligence Agency, Office of the Director of Central Intelligence, Job 81B00112R: Subject Files, Box 15, Folder 42: DCI/DDCI/Memrecs/Memos/Agendas of Brzezinski/Aaron Meetings)
  2. At the top of the memorandum, Carter wrote: “Bakhtiar is a dangerous contact if he should imply any US complicity (Kuwait)—be very careful. C.”
  3. Printed from a copy with this typed signature.
  4. Secret; Sensitive.
  5. A handwritten note by Carter reads: “Zbig, Change wording to let it be positive—pro-US & pro-democracy. J.”