148. Memorandum From the Assistant to the President for Congressional Liaison (Moore) and the White House Congressional Liaison Aide (Thomson) to President Carter 1




Senators Weicker, Matsunaga and Hodges gave strong speeches in support of the Treaties on the floor today. We have drafted letters from you thanking them. Senator Sarbanes skillfully managed the debate most of the day.


Senator Melcher now wants the understanding we gave him on operation and maintenance after the year 2000 incorporated in the Neutrality Treaty as an amendment. Bob Thomson explained the problems with that. Sol Linowitz will call him tomorrow to try to talk him down from that position. We will keep you informed.2


Senator Allen’s amendment calling for a military presence after the year 2000 will be our first big vote on amendments. Defense and State are preparing talking points and position papers. We are urging Senators to vote “no”. We must go all out on this first big test vote. We may need some calls or a letter to the Leadership from you. The vote could occur by Friday.3 Senators Byrd and Baker may well have to offer an understanding requiring the U.S. to begin negotiations with Panama in 1995 for a defense agreement. Baker could be a problem here.4


We briefed Senate staff today on the three-part UPI article that ends Tuesday.5 The Star is carrying it locally. We did not go into the [Page 384] classified material, but we did reassure them that the Administration had provided all relevant documents to the Intelligence Committee.


The Majority Leader remains convinced the closed session will last only one day.6 We hope he is right. Senator Dole has indicated privately he will attempt to drag it out to at least a second day. Today, at least 6 conservative Senators spent several hours in the Intelligence Committee reviewing documents in preparation for tomorrow.

  1. Source: Carter Library, Office of Congressional Liaison, Frank Moore’s Subject Files, Box 39, Panama, 2/20/78–2/13/79. No classification marking. Carter initialed the top-right corner of the memorandum.
  2. Carter wrote in the right margin: “No.”
  3. February 24.
  4. Carter underlined “problem” and placed a question mark in the right margin.
  5. February 21. The UPI story covered alleged ties by Torrijos to drug trafficking. A February 21 Washington Post article reported that two UPI reporters covering the story were called to the White House to hear complaints about the article. (Karen DeYoung,“White House Complains to UPI: Article about Torrijos and Drug Traffic is Challenged,” p. A13)
  6. See footnote 6, Document 146.