91. Summary of Conclusions of a Special Coordination Committee Meeting1


  • Title II S2525


  • The Vice President
  • A. Denis Clift
  • Marilyn Haft
  • State

    • Warren Christopher, Deputy Sec
    • Lee Marks, Deputy Legal Counsel
  • Defense

    • Stanley Resor, Under Secretary For Policy
    • Deanne C. Siemer, General Counsel
  • Justice

    • Attorney General Griffin Bell
    • John Harmon, Asst Attorney General
    • Ken Bass, Attorney Advisor
  • NSA

    • Admiral Bobby Inman, Director
    • Daniel Silver, General Counsel
  • White House

    • Zbigniew Brzezinski (Chairman)
    • David Aaron
    • Robert Lipshutz
  • NSC

    • Samuel M. Hoskinson
  • CIA

    • Admiral Stansfield Turner
    • Frank Carlucci, Deputy Director
    • Anthony Lapham, General Counsel
  • JCS

    • Lt. General William Smith
  • FBI

    • Judge William Webster
    • James E. Nolan, Special Asst to the Asst Director
  • OMB

    • Arnold Donahue, Chief Security Branch National Security Division


The SCC met to begin its consideration of the issues raised by Title II of S2525. The Legislative Charters Working Group had prepared an alternative draft and a series of issue papers.2

The Vice President spoke first to the question of general approach. He felt that the Working Group had gone about the problem in the wrong way. Rather than presenting its recommendations, the Working Group should have presented more clearly defined options. The SCC and the President were being asked to decide too many things rather than just to address the really major issues. Finally, the Vice President opined that the Working Group draft did not face up to realities on the Hill where it would be greeted with an explosion. The SCC had a responsibility to advise the President on the political environment as well as on the substantive issues.

The Attorney General said he was of much the same mind as the Vice President. He also expressed his strong concern that the Attorney General’s role was reduced by the Working Group draft.

Mr. Christopher said he also had much the same reaction. He felt an overall disappointment with the mood and approach of the Working Group draft. It failed to draw on experiences of recent years and the abuses that had occurred. It was virtually without standards in such critical areas as covert action. He opined that it might be regarded as a negotiating document by some but, in fact, did a disservice to the Administration.

Mr. Resor felt that there were some real limitations in the Working Group’s draft but, on the whole, it was a workable job. In his opinion, the issue papers presented some real choices.

Admiral Turner said that nothing had frustrated him more than this project. He had tried hard to find a coherent concept for charter legislation but feared we would come up with a “mess of pottage.” He felt that it was necessary to first go through all the details and then step back and look at whether it all makes sense and the environment on the Hill. The question of where charter legislation would fit in the hierarchy of other controls must also be faced.

Judge Webster felt that the Working Group’s effort was constructive and an adequate basis for proceeding to decisions.

[Page 406]

Mr. Lapham, as Chairman of the Working Group, explained that the Working Group draft did not represent a consensus view and was only a reference point. The basic work of the Working Group was to examine Title II of S2525, pull out the major issues and put down the alternatives. They had gone out of their way to present both pros and cons.

Dr. Brzezinski opined that an intermediary step was necessary before the SCC considered the issues and made its recommendations to the President. A small group of senior officials (Messrs Aaron, Carlucci, Resor, Lipshutz and a representative of the Attorney General) should meet to identify (a) the issues on which agreement already exists and (b) the few major issues that require SCC consideration and Presidential decision. With the exception of Admiral Turner, all agreed that this was a proper approach. The Admiral felt that the SCC principals should do this job themselves on the basis of the existing issues papers and Working Group draft.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, 1977–1981, Box 99, SCC 119, Intelligence Charters, 11/27/78. Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room.
  2. Title II of S. 2525 was entitled Intelligence Activities and Constitutional Rights. The alternative draft was not found. Hoskinson and Kimmitt forwarded the working group’s paper to Brzezinski and Aaron under cover of a November 22 memorandum. (Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, 1977–1981, Box 99, SCC 119 Intelligence Charters, 11/27/78)