30. Letter From Secretary of Defense Brown to Secretary of State Vance 1

Dear Cy,

As you know, the Policy Review Committee meeting of 26 January on the Panama Canal negotiations has resulted in an interagency coordinated effort to conclude a new treaty this year.2

You will recall that one of the principal topics during the meeting concerned the need for Defense to participate fully in legislative and public affairs programs associated with both the negotiation and ratification of a new treaty. Accordingly, I have directed a thorough review of possible DoD resources and programs to ensure that we will be prepared to do our part in providing to the public, the Congress and the media, information and our views concerning defense interests in the Panama Canal.3

The DoD supports a new treaty relationship with Panama which will ensure that defense interests in the Canal are fully protected. I therefore plan to issue at the appropriate time a public statement demonstrating my personal support for the negotiations.4 Other Defense officials will be heard from on this issue during the coming months. Additionally, our legislative affairs office will be working closely with yours. This should ensure that we will have a coordinated preparation for the expected ratification hearings, and that the Congress and the public are fully informed.5


Harold Brown
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Official and Personal Files of Ambassador at Large Ellsworth Bunker, Lot 78D300, Box 4, Panama Public + Congressional Educ. Secret. The letter was forwarded to Hodding Carter on April 7 under a covering memorandum from Bunker. (Ibid.) Vance’s initials are stamped on the letter.
  2. The meeting took place on January 27. See Document 6.
  3. In a March 29 memorandum to the secretaries of the military departments, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, assistant secretaries of Defense, assistants to the Secretary of Defense, and the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Brown outlined how Defense should prepare for public inquiries on the Panama Canal treaties and communicated Defense’s responsibility to provide relevant information to the public, Congress and the media. (Washington National Records Center, 1977 Country Files: FRC 330–80–0035, Panama Canal 1977 092 Jan–Sep)
  4. Not found.
  5. Vance highlighted this paragraph and wrote in the left margin: “good. Should be coordinated w. H. Carter.”