92. Memorandum From Director of Central Intelligence Turner to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • Intelligence Charter Legislation

Your memorandum of 6 December 19772 requested that I assume primary responsibility for the coordination of the Administration’s efforts to develop an authoritative position, subject to review and approval by the Special Coordination Committee (SCC) and the President, concerning the multitude of issues presented by the six substantive titles of S.2525,3 the first attempt at intelligence charter legislation introduced by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI). In [Page 407] response to that charge and in an effort to give direction and shape to this process, I requested on 7 April 1978 that the agencies and departments concerned join in the formation of a “senior charter legislation working group” to be chaired by my General Counsel.4

That group began its deliberations almost immediately and by 22 May 1978, the major issues and alternatives in Titles IV, V and VI (the entity charters for CIA, FBI, and NSA, respectively) had been identified, reviewed by the SCC 5 and approved by the President, and each entity began, and has continued, direct negotiations on its particular charter with the SSCI staff. In the interim between the SCC review of the entity charters and the President’s approval of the SCC decisions in that regard, the working group began its review and assessment of Title I, dealing with the general organization and responsibilities of the intelligence community and senior officials with intelligence functions. The process of review and analysis by the working group, SCC consideration and resolution of issues, and Presidential approval and resolution of remaining issues, was completed on 3 October 1978,6 and the Administration position on Title I was presented to the SSCI on 1 November 1978.7

Following the SCC deliberations concerning Title I, the working group began its review of the remaining Titles II and III. These titles, along with certain provisions of Title I which had been reserved for later treatment, had been foreseen as the most difficult and most important since they attempt to impose an elaborate framework of detailed restrictions and limitations on a multitude of varied intelligence activities. The working group, as you know, completed its review of Title II and presented a detailed issues and analysis paper to the SCC for its meeting on 27 November 1978.8 At that meeting the SCC determined that a higher level group should be formed to review the working group product and attempt to resolve and narrow the outstanding issues which appeared to be presented in this regard by S.2525. To this end a “senior charter legislation task force” chaired by David Aaron, [Page 408] and composed of representatives from CIA, Defense, State and Justice has been organized and has begun this review process.

It appears to me to be essential to the development of sound intelligence charter legislation that there be minimal confusion in the lines of responsibility and that the Administration’s resources be marshaled most efficiently to achieve that purpose. Accordingly, and since it has served its purposes, I believe the “senior charter legislation working group” should be disbanded at this time. In this way there will be no question but that the members of that group and the agencies they represent are now responsible for supporting the NSC and the Aaron task force in this regard in whatever way may be deemed necessary and appropriate by that entity. At such time as it may be deemed advisable, the working group is subject to revival or reorganization. In addition, I will be available to perform a central, coordinating role once again should that appear to be necessary.

Stansfield Turner 9
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, 1977–1981, Box 101, SCC 127 Intelligence Charters, 1/24/79. No classification marking.
  2. Not found.
  3. The seven titles of S. 2525 were: I, National Intelligence; II, Intelligence Activities and Constitutional Rights; III, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance; IV, Central Intelligence Agency; V, Federal Bureau of Investigation; VI, National Security Agency; VII, Miscellaneous Amendments and Effective Date.
  4. Turner sent his April 7 memorandum, “S. 2525—Proposed Intelligence Charter Legislation—Organizational and Substantive Considerations,” to Vance, Blumenthal, Brown, Bell, Schlesinger, Lance, and Brzezinski. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Subject Chron, Intelligence (Charter Legislation) 2/77–5/78)
  5. See Document 84.
  6. Brzezinski reported Carter’s decisions on Title I in an October 3 memorandum to Mondale, Vance, Brown, Bell, Lance, Jones, and Turner. (Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, 1977–1981, Box 12, PD 17 [6])
  7. Not found.
  8. See Document 91.
  9. Turner signed “Stan Turner” above this typed signature.