216. Memorandum From Secretary of Defense Brown to President Carter1


  • Significant Actions, Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense (March 31–April 6, 1979)

[Omitted here is information unrelated to Panama.]

Panama Canal Treaty Legislation: As Cy mentioned this morning, there are some problems with the legislation emerging from committee to implement the Panama Canal Treaty. Particularly objectionable are the costs of employees transferred to DoD; payment of all implementing costs before the contingent treaty payment to Panama; loss of significant benefits to canal employees; Congressional control of property transfers; and the requirement to continue the U.S. minimum wage for all employees (Commission and DoD) throughout the duration of the treaty. We are launching an effort, in coordination with State, to deal with these issues on the House floor. There are other political problems in the legislation, but these I believe can be managed administratively. On the DoD cost package issue, Charles Duncan has recommended to Zbig that we stand fast on the initial2 planning figures; let Congress take credit for a $205 million cut by putting the retirement costs in the toll base; and publicly demonstrate the likelihood of much lower costs in the out years. I agree with this approach.

[Omitted here is information unrelated to Panama.]

Harold Brown
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Agency File, Box 5, Defense Department: 3–4/79. Secret. Carter initialed the top-right corner of the memorandum. Brzezinski forwarded the memorandum with Carter’s notation to Brown under an April 9 covering memorandum. (Ibid.)
  2. Carter underlined “initial” and placed two question marks in the left margin.