83. Memorandum From Secretary of State Vance to President Carter 1

[Omitted here is information unrelated to Panama.]

3. House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee Meeting on the Panama Agreement: Ellsworth Bunker and Sol Linowitz appeared before the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee today for almost four hours in open session. Contrary to pre-arrangement, Committee Chairman Murphy did not move into executive session after our witnesses’ statements had been concluded.2 The Committee was predominantly hostile—so much so that some of the members may have detracted from their own cause by their shrillness. Sol was subjected to attacks on his previous business associations in Panama, with implications of conflict of interest. Following the departure of our witnesses, Admiral Moorer testified against the treaty.3

The principal adverse spokesmen were Chairman Murphy, and Congressmen Hubbard (D-Ky.), Snyder (R-Ky.), Dornan (R-Calif.) and Bauman (R-Md.). Our principal supporters were McCloskey (R-Calif.) [Page 255] and Oberstar (D-Minn.) (speaking for Panama Canal Subcommittee Chairman Metcalf). Chairman Murphy intends to hold an executive hearing at an early date.

I am attaching as an addendum some of the main points of attack with the gist of the replies.4

[Omitted here is information unrelated to Panama.]

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 18, Evening Reports (State), 8/77. Secret. Carter initialed the top of the memorandum.
  2. In the left margin Carter wrote: “Murphyis an unadulterated ass. It’s better to minimize our contacts with him.”
  3. Admiral Thomas E. Moorer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1970–1974), said to the Committee that he had “yet to see any solid justification advanced as to why the United States should willingly sacrifice the strategic advantages afforded to us by our possession of the Panama Canal.” (Murrey Marder, “House Opponents Mount Attack on Panama Treaties,” Washington Post, August 18, 1977, p. A1)
  4. Attached but not printed.