142. Memorandum From Thomas P. Thornton of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Aaron)1


  • Uganda Aftermath

Bill Odom said this morning that you wanted a draft letter to Mobutu. I am attaching one, but do not have much confidence in it.2 State should be doing this.3 Also, Mobutu was not the only one who gave a hand (Nimeiry actually sent an emissary).4 They should get a pat on the head also.5

The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of evacuation by train if the question should arise again. Let’s keep it in mind.

Ex-Ambassador Melady urges us to urge all Americans to get out of Uganda finally, realizing that many won’t. One way of getting them [Page 375] out is to get in touch with their religious superiors here in the States. (Melady did this in 1973 and got the total down from over 1,000 to 200.) We could also tell Ellerkmann to let them know we think they should leave while the going is good.

Pretty soon, the President is going to have to return to the theme of human rights in Uganda generally. This will be a touchy problem, but we can’t give the impression of (a) caring only about Americans or (b) having been silenced by Amin’s blackmail.

I hope that we are going to let the Enterprise hang around for a few more days until we are reasonably sure that there are no more tricks up Amin’s sleeve.

Who let word of the Seelye mission out?6 That was dumb, especially now that the question is moot.

Melady strongly urges that we make a major effort in the UN on human rights, even though it will be contentious. He reports, incidentally, that there is going to be a big anti-Amin rally in New York on Sunday.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 76, Uganda: 1–12/77. Confidential. Sent for information. A copy was sent to Odom.
  2. Undated; attached but not printed.
  3. Telegram 47709 to Kinshasa, March 3, transmitted a message from Carter to Mobutu, thanking him for his assistance with the situation in Uganda. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770074–0264)
  4. See footnote 7, Document 92. Telegram 47710 to Khartoum, March 3, transmitted a message from Carter to Nimieri thanking him for his assistance. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770074–0245) Similar messages were sent to Habyarimana, Siad, Bokassa, and others.
  5. Thornton placed an asterisk at the end of this sentence and wrote at the bottom of the page “Also, probably, Ellerkmann should get a note from the President!” An unknown hand drew an arrow to this comment and wrote “Draft one.” Telegram 46809 to Bonn, March 3, transmitted a message from Vance to Ellerkmann, thanking him for his assistance to U.S. citizens living in Uganda. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770072–0594)
  6. In telegram 45376 to Mogadiscio, March 1, the Department informed Seelye, who was visiting several African countries, that the United States no longer intended to accept Amin’s invitation to send an emissary to see that U.S. citizens were safe in Uganda, since the meeting between Amin and U.S. citizens was cancelled. Therefore, Seelye should follow his original itinerary. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770070–1058)