53. Summary of Conclusions of a Special Coordination Committee Meeting1


  • Afghanistan and Grenada (S)


  • The Vice President
  • Major John Matheny
  • State

    • David Newsom, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
    • David Mark, Deputy Dir, INR
  • OSD

    • Admiral Daniel Murphy, Deputy Under Sec. for Policy
  • JCS

    • Lt. Gen. W.Y. Smith, Ass’t. to the Chairman
    • Lt. Gen. John Pustay, Ass’t. to the Chairman
  • DCI

    • Admiral Stansfield Turner
    • Frank Carlucci, Deputy Director
    • [name and title not declassified]
    • *[name and title not declassified]
  • Justice

    • John Harmon, Ass’t AG, Office of Legal Counsel
  • OMB

    • James McIntyre
    • Randy Jayne, Assoc. Dir. for Nat’l Security & Int’l Affairs
  • White House

    • Zbigniew Brzezinski, Chairman
    • David Aaron
  • NSC

    • Donald Gregg, Notetaker

* Present for Item 2 only.


The Chairman summarized previous discussions on aid to Afghanistan dissidents and recalled that CIA had been approved to undertake a probe to determine what support to the dissidents was feasible. He called on the DCI to summarize. (S)

The DCI stated that ties with Afghanistan dissident leaders had been established in Pakistan. It is CIA’s judgment that monetary support for food, clothing, and medical supplies is critical if opposition to the Taraki regime is to be sustained throughout the winter. Pakistani [Page 156] support to the dissidents appears to be tailing off. The DCI stated that a modest amount of aid can be funneled directly to Afghanistan dissident leaders in Pakistan. (TS)

Discussion ensued as to how the money would be handed out and spent. CIA responded that the money would be doled out incrementally and that accountings would be sought and impact and feedback would be looked for. All the goods (food, medical supplies, and clothing) are to be purchased in Pakistan. (S)

Turning to CIA option 1, the DCI stated that the [less than 1 line not declassified] has had an existing radio that sends a strong signal into Afghanistan.2 The CIA probe had reached the conclusions that Afghanistan language broadcasts to the largely illiterate insurgents would provide a rallying point now lacking. The broadcasts would soon be attributed to [less than 1 line not declassified] and would appear to be commercially purchased time on the [less than 1 line not declassified] broadcast. Broadcast tapes would be made in the United States and shipped to [less than 1 line not declassified] for playing. The [less than 1 line not declassified] have not yet been sounded out as to their willingness to participate in this effort. (S)

Following discussion a consensus emerged to take the following steps:

[Page 157]
1 To approve Option 2, spending at first the [amount not declassified] now in the CIA budget [less than 1 line not declassified] as necessary.3 It was agreed that the Pakistan government would be informed of our support to the Afghan dissidents but that the CIA operation would be conducted unilaterally. (S)
2 CIA is authorized to explore with the [less than 1 line not declassified] government its reaction to utilization of its broadcasts into Afghanistan. (Option 1) (S)
3 CIA was also given approval to expand psych efforts to support the insurgency and to unite the Afghan dissidents. Authorization was also given to work with an existing Pakistani agent asset with ties to Afghanistan dissident groups. (S)
4 Options 4 and 5 (which were defined as alternatives, and not separate options) will be considered after Pakistani reactions and other political fallout are taken into account.4 (S)
5 It was also agreed to tell the government of Saudi Arabia of the US decision to give covert non-military support the Afghan dissidents. The Saudis will also be encouraged to put some of their own funds into similar covert aid projects. (S)

CIA was asked to draft a Presidential Finding which would cover implementation of the first five options of the CIA proposal on a step-by-step basis, with as much flexibility built into the plan as possible.5

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Afghanistan.]

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council Institutional Files, 1977–1981, Box 104, SCC–172, 6/26/79, Afghanistan and Grenada. Top Secret. Drafted by Gregg. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room. Tabs A–G are attached but not printed.
  2. Attached but not printed at Tab B is a memorandum from Gregg to Brzezinski, June 25. Option 1, entitled “Psychological Operations,” called first for approval to “establish an international ‘Voice of Free Afghanistan’ radio capability for the insurgents from a third country,” noting that Afghan insurgents needed “regular and dependable” radio access to the general population, which was 90 percent illiterate. The erection of a transmitter facility was estimated to take 18 to 24 months at a cost of [amount not declassified] per annum, and with adequate deniability for the United States. Second, Option 1 called for approval to “assist the insurgents to expand and distribute their recorded and printed propaganda,” at a cost of [amount not declassified] and with minimal risk of linking the program to the United States.
  3. Attached but not printed at Tab C. Option 2, entitled “Material Support,” called for “cash payments to the insurgents,” arguing that cash support might not be as efficient as food and material distribution, “but it should enable them to survive the approaching winter and maintain the momentum of their struggle.” The paper further noted that the funds would be used by rebels to ensure tribal loyalties, and that “accountability may be difficult, but it is judged that most of the funds will be expended for needed supplies.” At a projected cost of [amount not declassified], the option predicted moderate risk of linking cash payments to the United States, given that it was likely the Pakistanis would learn of the program. Pakistan might “overlook” the program, given the “variety of individuals and countries who have been approached for funds by the insurgents and who might locally be the source of financial support.” Finally, the paper surmised an element of deniability because all non-lethal goods “could be rationalized on humanitarian grounds.”
  4. Attached at Tabs E and F, respectively. Option 4, entitled “Humanitarian Support,” called for approval to use “a third country as a front for providing humanitarian aid to the insurgents.” The paper proposed that countries such as Saudi Arabia, Oman, or Egypt might act in such a capacity, given that “politically, this may be more acceptable to Pakistan than becoming directly involved with the U.S. in insurgent support.” On the other hand, “U.S. control of the program would be reduced” with participation of a third country, “which may intimate the ultimate source of such support to the Pakistanis,” which could in turn result in complications that might deprive the Afghan insurgents of support in the time frame they required. At a cost of [amount not declassified] (divided among medical supplies, food, clothing, transportation, and cash to insurgent leaders), the option posed moderate risk of linking the United States to the program. The USSR and DRA might take notice of such involvement, but if not, Soviet reaction would be minimal and Pakistan “would be able to maintain deniability.” Option 5, also entitled “Humanitarian Support,” called for approval to “provide humanitarian supplies to the insurgents through the Government of Pakistan.” The objective and cost were identical to Option 4, while the projected risk of Option 5 was slightly lower, and if Pakistan agreed to act as a conduit to the insurgents “this option would likely be the most efficient means of providing such support.” Option 6, attached but not printed at Tab G, was not discussed at the SCC meeting. It called for approval “to provide limited military supplies to the insurgents through the Government of Pakistan,” at a cost of [amount not declassified] and with moderate to high risk of exposure.
  5. The SCC meeting led to two Presidential Findings on Afghanistan, both signed by Carter on July 3. The first, whose scope covered Afghanistan, provided authorization to “support insurgent propaganda and other psychological operations in Afghanistan; establish radio access to the Afghan population through third country facilities;” and “provide unilaterally or through third countries as appropriate support to Afghan insurgents, either in the form of cash or non-military supplies.” The second finding, whose scope was worldwide, provided authorization to “expose the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and its leadership as despotic and subservient to the Soviet Union” and to “publicize efforts by the Afghan insurgents to regain their country’s sovereignty.” (Carter Library, Staff Office, Counsel, Cutler, Box 60, Central Intelligence Agency Charter: 2/9–29/80)