Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Robert E. Barbour
BARBOUR: Oh sure; that was a possibility although it became much more acute under Kissinger. We were overtly involved with them then; I think we were giving them scholarships and money for the insurgents, money for medicines and education through foundations. I don't think there was anything covert going on though I am not sure. Indeed overtly and politically and psychologically we gave them lots of moral support. Our European Bureau was trying to maintain the line that Portugal was an ally, a member of NATO, and we couldn't go around subverting it.
Q: How did this play with the African Bureau?
BARBOUR: We always worked it out; but we had various devices which are no longer possible. I am sure you are familiar with them. If you wrote a telegram it went on the green sheet of paper, which was the original and the one from which the encrypted telegram was sent. So what you did was, you wouldn't send the original around to your adversaries for clearance, you would send a carbon and say, “We have to have it back in three days.” No return, send it anyway. Of course, that was rather high handed and didn't work very often. Then, as happened once under my predecessor when a telegram was sent for clearance and the Africans added a paragraph and then sent it, you would draw a line from the last word all the way down to the bottom of the page so that nothing could be added. We always worked it out. Sometimes we had to take our compromises up to Soapy Williams in his office late at night, but again with Mac Godley and Matt Looram, who are very intelligent people, and in the UN, I think Mike Newlin was there, we always worked it out.
Q: How major a factor were the Azores at that time?
BARBOUR: That was one of the things we didn't want to jeopardize. It certainly was not a factor in our relations with Portugal, they didn't wave it at us, saying you behave or out you go.
Q: That came later on, didn't it?
BARBOUR: It has never been an issue as far as I know.
Q: Were there any negotiations?
BARBOUR: Not during the time I was there. There were periodic negotiations and I did some later on but not at that time.