WASHINGTON (Mar. 9)
The State Department has launched a probe to determine who leaked the Department secret papers purporting to show that Presidents Nixon and Ford pledged to Arab leaders that the U.S. would push Israel back to its pre-1967 borders and a transcript of Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger’s intimate conversations with Israelis.
Robert Funseth, Department spokesman. volunteered that “insofar as any State Department officials provided Edward Sheehan with information based directly on memoranda of conversation this was unauthorized and a serious error of judgement and disciplinary action will be taken.” (See related story from London in next column.)
Funseth acknowledged that Sheehan, a former U.S. foreign service officer who served in Cairo and Beirut, who wrote a 2100-word article for Foreign Policy magazine on Kissinger’s diplomacy, met with Kissinger perhaps once or twice for about 30 minutes and spoke with others in the Department, but he would not name them. He said he would look into precisely how many times and for how long Kissinger actually met with Sheehan.
Reporters sought to determine why Kissinger was outraged at leaks in Congress of secret papers and charged the results represented “McCarthyism.” but when material reaches the public which is “self–serving” insofar as Kissinger is concerned the Department won’t discuss the subject in detail.
GROSS VIOLATION CITED
Funseth replied that “We won’t take disciplinary action until we believe it is merited.” He said that insofar as Sheehan was briefed on classified information “this is a gross violation.” He said “the Secretary was aware of it and certainly not opposed” to providing Sheehan with information on a background basis, a factor that Funseth noted is frequently done.
Asked who will determine disciplinary action if the Secretary is involved. Funseth said “his superior–the President of the United States.” But Funseth indicated Kissinger was not implicated in revealing secret materials.
Funseth said, “We respect the confidentiality of diplomatic conversations and that remains our firm policy.” When he was asked whether the probe extended to the National Security Council, the Central Intelligence Agencies and Embassies in Washington, Funseth said “My understanding is we are concerned with what happened in this building.”
It was recalled that twice in the past year Ford took the extraordinary action of directing the State Department publicly to rebuke Israel for the reported leakage in the Israeli media of U.S.-Israeli discussions. In the Sheehan article more than a score of extracts of transcribed materials involving Arabs and Israelis were published in which Kissinger’s diplomatic skills are demonstrated.