34. Minutes of the Principals of the Department of State Staff Meeting1

The meeting was opened by Clark in the Secretary’s absence. AMH was busy preparing for today’s Congressional testimony. Clark had just returned from California where he had completed the last of his judicial responsibilities.

INR gave a summary of Polish activity. Walessa (Solidarity leader) had twice walked out of union councils on the strike issue. Spiers noted that this was like a Greek tragedy with each actor playing out his own role, and slowly rolling toward disaster. The Soyuz ’81 military exercises are scheduled to end tomorrow, and Spiers noted that they no longer pose the real threat. In his view, the danger lies in the enactment of martial law by the Polish authorities, a possibility which Spiers thinks is very likely. He sees the crisis as going to the brink and back too many times.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to the Soviet Union.]

Wolfowitz: Raised the issue of the SNIE (Special National Intelligence Estimate) on Soviet Terrorism Support. (Note: this was requested in January by AMH after he read INR’s piece on same.) Paul says that it is disastrous—typical double-fisted CIA analysis. He noted that it uses the Soviet “terms of discourse”. That is, it distinguishes between support for wars of national liberation, and support for terrorism. It is couched in the CIA’s usual “yes, but” approach, and the only thing that media will pick up on is the “buts”. Even though it is classified “codeword” all expect it to get out.

Spiers noted that the facts are ok (though there are not many of them), it is the conclusions that spoil the work. Paul asked why the agency did not produce just facts, why did they have to fog it up with analysis.

Clark suggested that more State people take a look at it, and try to change it. Spiers cautioned that changing an SNIE to reflect policy preferences is very risky, and he doubted that other agencies would go along with that.

Bud asked if Casey had seen it—he couldn’t imagine that DCI would sell a bad piece. Clark noted that Casey is not always with it, and is almost asleep at many NSC meetings. Clark then convened a round table on the piece for this afternoon, to include Stoessel, Wolf[Page 91]owitz, McFarlane, Spiers, and himself. They will review the piece with an eye towards attaching a dissent, or delaying production, since we asked for the SNIE in the first place.

Burt: Talked about the DIA briefing on Soviet threat to the Gulf, and said he was disappointed with it. Spiers had taken the same data and put together his own brief, and it was much better. Rich suggested that we get this up to the Hill. Clark mentioned that Gen. Jones has asked him about the Gulf briefing in Europe.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to the Soviet Union.]

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Haig Papers, Day File, Box CL 31, March 24, 1981. Confidential.