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


  • Tensions between RFE/RL and BIB (C)

The calm and good sense which have characterized the relationship between BIB and RFE/RL was too good to last. It has been disrupted by a new bout of scheming by the BIB Staff in which Gronouski, unfortunately, has let himself become entangled. (C)

You will recall that Glenn Ferguson some time ago named Bill Buell Vice President in charge of the radios’ Washington Office with the aim of having him concentrate on congressional relations. Though this action was taken in consultation with, and with the blessing of, Gronouski, it was resented by Walter Roberts and his staff. Buell arrived here from Munich a couple of weeks ago and took up his [Page 199] duties. When the BIB met last week the Staff introduced a new draft regulation which requires that any radio contact with Congressmen or Congressional staffs must be cleared in advance with the BIB Staff Director—i.e. Walter Roberts. Gronouski supported the draft but proposed it be studied with implementation to be deferred until the BIB meets again in the summer. Ferguson, Walter and Buell are angered by the regulation and by the way it was introduced. They feel Gronouski has been hoodwinked by Walter Roberts, Tony Shub, etc. (C)

Testifying before the SFRC last week on the radios’ FY 1980 budget, Ferguson and his team found themselves confronted by an extraordinary set of detailed operational questions, some of them of a why-haven’t-you-stopped-beating-your-wife nature which they feel had to have been planted with the Committee Staff by the BIB. (C)

Ferguson called me from New York this afternoon to tell me how upset he is about all this and these same problems (including a good deal more detail) were the main topic of Bill Buell’s personal visit to me this afternoon. (C)

I am surprised that Gronouski would let himself be manipulated by Walter Roberts into causing strained relations with Glenn Ferguson and his team—who are by far the best management group the radios have ever had in their entire existence. And as you and I know well (you emphasized this point in your meeting with Ferguson last June), one of the most important things the radios can do to strengthen themselves is to expand relations with key Congressmen and Senators and gain understanding there. That they are setting out to do this with a clear sense of purpose and a good chance of success is what disturbs the petty bureaucratic mind of Walter Roberts. (C)

I plan to call Gronouski and express concern that the problem has arisen. I hope I can gently talk him out of going ahead with this draft “regulation”. If not, I plan to talk more frankly to him about the unwisdom of letting Walter Roberts harass the competent management we have succeeded in getting into the radios (and it has been your and my doing, as much as anybody’s!) and the need to find other employment for Roberts if he cannot desist from his petty intriguing. One of the most serious aspects of these strains is that so much suspicion and bad blood is developing between Roberts and the Ferguson-Walter-Buell team that it may never be possible to overcome it. (C)

In any case, we simply cannot permit the radios—which have been restored to a remarkable condition of good health—to be reduced by the BIB Staff into a Byzantine mess again. . . In the longer perspective, what all this proves is that the BIB and its Staff are themselves a largely unnecessary layer of management and oversight. When we have built [Page 200] up solid congressional backing, we should move to have them eliminated, relying to the radios’ long-established corporate and management structure as sufficient. (C)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Subject Chron File, Box 112, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/Voice of America: 1–9/79. Confidential. Sent for information. Brzezinski wrote at the top of the memorandum: “I never seen an outfit in which there is more stupid infighting. I’m getting tired of it. ZB.”