170. Memorandum From Robert Pastor of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • NSC Position on Canal Implementing Legislation

OMB is coordinating a paper for the President on the implementing legislation for the Panama Canal Commission.2 The central issue is whether any department would be designated a lead agency, and if so, which one.

I have spoken to you about this issue before, and the position I have recommended that NSC be listed as taking is the following: that we should go to Congress requesting Presidential discretion to designate which ever agency he believes is most appropriate. If Congress demands that we designate an agency, then we should choose the Department of Transportation. If Congress pushes us to accept the Defense Department as the lead agency, then we should defer to Congress’ will, making clear that Congress has improved the legislation. I think this strategy would be helpful in getting implementing legislation passed, and the Congressional people with whom I have talked, agree.


That you approve this strategy.3

  1. Source: Carter Library, White House Central Files, Subject File, FO 3–1, Panama Canal, 1. No classification marking. A copy was sent to Albright.
  2. See Document 188.
  3. Brzezinski checked the approve option.