14. Memorandum From Madeleine Albright of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • Foreign Policy Meetings with Congressional Leaders

The SFRC and the HIRC have 53 members. In addition, there are members of the Armed Services, Appropriations, and Intelligence Committees on both sides of the Hill who have an active interest in foreign policy. Furthermore, there are a number of Members who do not have specific foreign policy responsibilities, but are important and interested, i.e., Kennedy, Muskie.

You obviously cannot establish a close working relationship with 60+ people. I do think, however, that with a concerted effort and systematic meetings you can make a dent. The Members could be divided into the following groups: 1) the influentials, 2) the comers, and 3) those who by virtue of seniority or committee membership should not be ignored.2

Your relationship can vary from close consultation, mutual respect to comfortable communication. You should be able to call any Member and feel that the message you have to give is not only heard, but also understood. The Member calling you should have the same feeling.

Before I outline some possible formats and topics, I would like to make some general comments. I am sure you have heard them before, but at least not from me.

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Having just come from the Hill, I can assure you that Senators and Congressmen are just as concerned about their schedules as you are. Their days are jam-packed and, if it is possible, they are even less in control of their time than you are. They are really at the mercy of the Floor schedule.

For the most part the Members think of themselves as important policymakers. They believe that their constant contact with constituents gives them a more realistic perspective of American public opinion than appointed officials of any level. In any meeting that you have, you will find that as important as imparting information is listening to what the Members want you to hear and respecting their opinions. One point to keep in mind is that at least as far as the Senate is concerned, many Members have run for President or thought about it. They are not easily awed—at least not visibly. Also, many of them have a lot of Washington experience. From my Muskie experience, I can tell you that he does not just want to be stroked, he wants his advice to carry some weight.

I know from various contacts with you over the years that you like to feel that you have accomplished something during a meeting. You will rarely have that feeling after one encounter—it is a slow process of building mutual confidence.


In considering types of meetings, one point must be kept in mind, getting a large group together in most cases is counter-productive. A Chairman or Senior Senator will not want to meet with you in a group. Junior Senators and Congressmen could come in groups of 5 or so.

Alternative Formats

1. Wednesday morning breakfasts, 8:30–9:453

a. A good time to get Members on their way to the Hill.

b. Suitable for groups and could be scheduled in advance.

2. After work meetings in your office

a. Timing on this is difficult because votes often bunch up at the end of the day.

b. This could be most spontaneous and useful for one on one discussions.4

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3. Meetings on the Hill

a. One on one meetings.

b. Ask one Senator or Congressman to host and select the group or topic.5

4. Social

a. If it would be useful, I would be delighted to give a series of dinner parties. If I can guarantee your presence, I think we can produce most anyone. We could mix Senators, journalists, and opinion leaders.6

6. Use the Presidential box to invite Members to Kennedy Center.7

7. Tennis games.


The point is to find subjects which are not so immediate that you find yourself lobbying and not so long range that you are perceived as conducting a seminar with Members who cannot understand why their time is to be taken now. You have to keep in mind that the Members are being briefed on the subjects with which they have to deal and they are being bombarded with information in Hearings. What you should try to do while seeking their advice, is put the information in some type of framework for them.

In the last few weeks I have been talking to the NSC staff about the issues which they see as priorities. I have also talked to people on the Hill, and a meshing of interest produces the following possible topics, which must be fleshed out:

1. NATO—in the context of East-West relations


3. East Asian Policy—China, Korea, Japan

4. Current assessment of human rights policy

5. North-South issue/U.S. relations with developing countries

6. Cuban involvement in Africa

7. Rhodesia

8. Latin America in North-South context8


So you can have some idea of what time frame we are talking about, the balance of 1978 can be viewed in four or five blocks of time, legislatively.

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1. April 17–May 26 6 weeks
2. June 5–June 30 4 weeks
3. July 10–August 16 5 weeks
4. September 11–October 1 3 weeks
5. The Balance Election and post-election

During the April/May period action is concentrated in committee. This is the time that the Members are in their most intensive information-gathering period. June will be taken up with Appropriations bills. The four week July/August period will be spent on legislation passed by the other House and Conference Reports.


If it is possible I would like to be notified when you get an invitation from a Member.9 Not that I want to control your life, but it will give me a chance to prepare some background for you on his interests and recent concerns. I have begun talking with key aides of each member in an effort to compile up-to-date profiles. Also, it has come to my attention that the so-called Danforth group which you agreed to meet with, per Rick,10 was earlier rejected because no one had the chance to put the two requests together. (See Tab A)11 If possible, it would be useful for me to attend the meetings with you so I can follow up.12


The following are just a list of possible first meetings to get your reaction. I have not had a chance to talk with Frank Moore about them; nor have I had a chance to talk with Trudy and Jerry13 about the meetings you have had this past year.

1. Meet with Alan Cranston—either in his office or in yours. Cranston is the best vote counter in the Senate, which is why he was named Whip. The problem is that Byrd likes to do his own tally and Cranston is less visible than was predicted. He is popular with his colleagues and very easy. I think it would be useful for you to sit down with him and lay out the Administration’s security concerns and ask his advice about how to accomplish our program and whom to see. His advice on SALT strategy would be invaluable. (Once you have talked to him we should set up other meetings on SALT.)

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______ Set up meeting

______ Not interested now


2. Invite Senator Church to come to talk after work. As soon as Panama is over,15 I think it would be useful for you to sit down with Church to discuss U.S. security interests. He missed the President’s meeting on the Middle East and the briefing on the trip.16 His staff called to say that he was upset about no notification on the Neutron bomb.

______ Set up meeting17

______ Not interested now


3. Arrange breakfast meeting on NATO with group of Junior Senators to include Culver, Hart, Biden, Leahy. (Nunn belongs in the group but you are planning to meet with him separately.)

Set up meeting18

Not interested now


4. Revive Danforth/Nunn invitation. They wanted you to talk about Soviet-Cuban military intervention in Africa.

______ Set up meeting19

______ Not interested now


5. Invite Senator Inouye for after work chat. As Chairman of subcommittee on Foreign Operations of Appropriations, he is in a very important spot and you should get to know him well. He is most interested in East Asian policy. Furthermore, specifically we have been alerted by Senator Mathias that Inouye be briefed on the Middle East and peace negotiations so that he can be knowledgeable and help us hold the line at $1 million in FMS in FY 79. (Quandt conveyed this message and is asking State/CIA for an analysis of the Israeli economy.)

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______ Set up meeting20

______ Not interested now


6. Resurrect meeting with Congressmen Maguire, Downey, Tsongas, and Markey on Africa. We really have put them off on this too long. I have checked and they are a group of upcoming activist Members worth listening to.

______ Set up meeting21

______ Not interested now


7. Check on availability of Presidential box and begin inviting House sub-committee Chairmen.

______ Set up meeting

______ Not interested now


8. Arrange dinner party with Senators Stevenson and Bayh and others.

______ Set up meeting23

______ Not interested now


9. Senators Heinz and Weicker are great tennis players.

______ Set up meeting

______ Not interested now24


If you approve of any of these possibilities, I shall check them out with Frank.25 Also, I want to ask him if there are any Senators he thinks need to be seen immediately before or after the Panama vote on Tuesday.26

I have deliberately waited on the East Asian policy meetings until after I am somewhat clearer on the direction we are going in. But keep in mind that the Foreign Relations Committee is holding a hearing on aid to Korea May 1.

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Professional and Business Groups

I have begun to check on these groups and shall give you more information later.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Box 84, Subject Chron, Congress, 1–6/78. Administratively Confidential. Brzezinski wrote at the top of the memorandum, “Good memo. ZB.”
  2. Brzezinski drew a line in the margin adjacent to this sentence.
  3. Brzezinski checked number 1.
  4. Brzezinski checked number 2b.
  5. Brzezinski checked number 3b.
  6. Brzezinski double checked number 4a.
  7. Brzezinski checked number 6.
  8. Brzezinski wrote in the margin adjacent to these points, “Middle East?”
  9. Brzezinski underlined the words “from a Member” and wrote in the margin, “OK—tell TW.” Trudy Werner was Brzezinski’s personal assistant.
  10. Rick Inderfurth.
  11. Not attached.
  12. Brzezinski placed a check mark in the margin adjacent to this sentence.
  13. Presumably Jerry Schecter.
  14. Brzezinski did not select either option. Under “Comments,” he wrote, “have met with him several times.”
  15. A reference to the Panama Canal treaties, which were signed in September 1977, but were not ratified until April 18, 1978.
  16. A reference to Carter’s trip to the Middle East January 3–4, 1978.
  17. Brzezinski checked this option.
  18. Brzezinski checked this option. Albright wrote in the margin, “Apr. 26—8:30–9:45 or May 3.”
  19. Brzezinski checked this option.
  20. Brzezinski checked this option. Albright wrote, “?? Thurs—6:00–6:30.”
  21. Brzezinski checked this option. Albright wrote, “Ricki, alternate Wed” and “Wed May 10—2–3.”
  22. Brzezinski did not check either of the options. Under “Comments,” he wrote, “find me some dates.”
  23. Brzezinski checked this option.
  24. Brzezinski checked this option.
  25. Presumably Frank Moore.
  26. April 18.