49. Memorandum From Paul B. Henze of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • Cuban Troops in Ethiopia—President’s Desire for Publicity

I had calls from both State and CIA today on the initiative you asked for in the attached memorandum2 and both raise valid points that I suggest you may want to ask the President to consider:

a. When we keep attacking the Cubans and Soviets for sending more troops into Ethiopia—especially when we do so in official statements and declarations of high-level U.S. officials—we make it possible for the Ethiopians who want to think the worst of us and the Soviets who are advising them to claim that we are against Ethiopia’s defending its own territorial integrity. We also give them reason to suspect that [Page 111] we are utilizing our presence in the embassy in Addis primarily to gather intelligence which we then immediately use against them—this fortifies the argument that it would be best to kick us out entirely.

b. Furthermore, on the concrete topic of source protection—our sources, when they hear their information coming back so directly get wary and concerned about giving us more.

CIA suggests that we could be more effective publicizing such information covertly from various places abroad—it calls attention to the same problem without implicating the U.S. Government directly in the action. State would like to see the publicizing of this information stretched out over a longer period of time but also points out that statements such as this seem to go contrary to the conclusions reached in last Thursday’s SCC 3 about not giving each increase in numbers of Cubans or Soviets so much publicity that the press continually concentrates on this subject and dramatizes the problem of the Horn in ways that can generate pressures on the Administration that may eventually become very uncomfortable.

As you know, I am not normally inclined toward passivity on topics such as this, but here I think both CIA and State have a point and the President’s tendency to want to see this sort of thing publicized needs to be tempered by more careful consideration of the unintended consequences as well as the longer-range results we wish to achieve . . .

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Horn/Special, Box 2, Chron File: 2/78. Secret; Sensitive.
  2. Not attached, but see Document 43.
  3. See Document 46.