36. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter1


  • Broadcasting to Muslims (U)

The Summary and Conclusions of the SCC I held on 11 December 1979 to review proposals for expanding and improving VOA and Radio Liberty broadcasts to Muslim audiences as well as two CIA proposals for covert communications assistance to [less than 1 line not declassified].2 [paragraph classification not declassified]

The total yearly cost of all the steps that can be taken immediately is not greater than $10 million dollars. Our task forces in the Persian Gulf area are probably costing this for only a few days’ operation. Longer-range improvements, which would be funded over two or three years, add up to about $70 million. (C)

I am inclined to think that if we had not let our ability to communicate with this part of the world decline over a long period of time by failing to add modest increments of funds regularly, we might not have to be facing such large outlays of money for augmenting our military capabilities in the region. The costs of improving our position in the broadcasting field are extremely modest in comparison, but we have no time to lose in setting about the job. I plan to have my staff monitor everything we are doing in this field closely to ensure that momentum is maintained. (U)

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That you approve the Summary of Conclusions attached at TAB A.3

Tab A

Summary of a Special Coordination Committee Meeting4

SCC Meeting on Broadcasting and Covert Action—
11 December 1979

I held an SCC this afternoon to review proposals of the VOA and BIB for improving and increasing broadcasting to Muslim audiences. We agreed that VOA should develop immediate plans to expand broadcasting in Persian. It will also plan increases in other key Muslim languages as rapidly as possible. VOA and State will give immediate priority to finding a location for building four South Asian transmitters which you approved in March 1977. (I have ordered State and ICA to report why action on these has been delayed for more than 2½ years.) Steps to expand Radio Liberty broadcasts in seven languages to Soviet Muslims will be taken immediately and urgent efforts to lease transmitters in the Middle East will be made. Concrete plans for further expansion of programming capabilities and transmitter power for both VOA and Radio Liberty will be developed by an SCC working group. (C) The meeting also endorsed CIA proposals for covert broadcasting projects in [less than 1 line not declassified].5 (S/Sensitive) CIA also agreed to improve the performance of FBIS. (U)

  1. Source: National Security Council, Carter Administration Intelligence Files, Box I–020, Minutes—SCC—1979. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for action. Brzezinski handwrote the date on the memorandum. Carter wrote “Zbig J” in the upper right-hand corner of the memorandum. Henze sent the memorandum to Brzezinski under a December 12 memorandum; a handwritten notation on that memorandum indicates that Brzezinski hand-carried the SCC Summary of Conclusions and the memorandum to the President on December 13. (Ibid.)
  2. The CIA proposals were not found. In an undated memorandum to Carter, Brzezinski addressed a question that Carter had relating to CIA financing of the VOA and Radio Liberty broadcasting effort. Brzezinski responded: “Without financing the operation, CIA does not feel we can assure ourselves of control over it.” Carter approved the recommendation that CIA finance the operation. (Ibid.)
  3. Carter neither approved nor disapproved the recommendation. However, he wrote underneath the disapproval line: “This is a summary?! I approve the immediate action, but OMB will have to assess for me the other new expansion projects. J.”
  4. Secret; Sensitive.
  5. In a December 14 memorandum to Turner, Brzezinski indicated that Carter had reviewed the December 11 SCC recommendations. (National Security Council, Carter Administration Intelligence Files, Box I–020, Minutes—SCC—1979)