The Secret Team, Part 2
by L. Fletcher Prouty
Chapter 3: An Overview of the CIA
SECTION I: Intelligence versus Secret Operations
WHAT OTHER AGENCY OF THE U.S. GOVERNMENT has ever had as much blame heaped upon it as the CIA? President Truman wrote that it was being interpreted as a symbol of sinister and mysterious foreign intrigue and a subject for Cold War propaganda. Arnold Toynbee wrote: "For the whole world, the CIA has now become the bogey that Communism has been for America." John F. Kennedy said, "Your successes are unheralded, your failures are trumpeted." Tibetans once supported by the CIA had been left to fend for themselves against the Chinese. Hungarians armed and urged to fight on for their freedom were left to fight by themselves. Cubans stranded on the beaches of the Bay of Pigs were left for Castro's jails. Tens of thousands of people who have contributed to Radio Free Europe and to CARE on the assumption that they were private organizations have learned that the CIA was using them for its own devices. And during the summer of 1971, Congress was faced with a ground swell of indignation over the actions of the CIA in the wake of events in Indochina and as a result of revelations contained in the Pentagon papers. The frequently asked questions are: How responsible is the CIA? How is the CIA permitted to operate independent of national policy and of the general standards of conduct expected of the U.S. Government?
In seeking to solve the dilemma of the CIA, it is important from the beginning to understand the intimate language of the Agency and of the intelligence profession. Intelligence professionals become so accustomed to using and living with cover stories, cover language, and code terms that they use them interchangeably with their normal, or dictionary, usage. Thus the outsider has little opportunity to break through this fabric to get to the real thing.
In the beginning, when Roosevelt assigned Donovan to the task of Coordinator of Information, there was a belief that the United States had within its resources reasonably adequate intelligence organizations in the Army, Navy, and Department of State, but that the gross intelligence product was sadly lacking in coordination. As a result, the President felt that he was not getting the best Intelligence. Thus his insistence that the new chief of intelligence should be a coordinator. This view of the role of the Director of Central Intelligence has persisted through the years, and it is still the primary statement of his mission and responsibility as contained in present law.
The other key word is "information". In 1941, President Roosevelt felt that he required coordinated information, and because of certain unacceptable connotations for the profession of Intelligence, the word "Intelligence" was not used at all. It was not too long before that time (1929) that the then Secretary of State, Henry L. Stimson, had downgraded Intelligence, actually that special part pertaining to cryptoanalysis, with the statement: "Gentlemen don't read other people's mail."
The profession of Intelligence always is beset by one characteristic problem. It is a staff function. It is the kind of effort that can succeed only insofar as it is accepted and used by the leadership. If the commanding general trusts his Intelligence people and makes use of their product, he will generally have good intelligence. If a business leader uses his Intelligence people as a real adjunct to his operations and provides them with the resources they need, he will have good Intelligence. And if the President of the United States uses intelligence as intelligence, and demands a really professional product, he will get the best intelligence in the world. But leadership is often prone to disparage the intelligence product. At one time, in 1939, Winston Churchill said the following about Intelligence: "It seems to me that Ministers run the most tremendous risks if they allow the information collected by the Intelligence Department and sent them, I am sure, in good time, to be shifted and colored and reduced in consequence and importance, and if they ever get themselves into a mood of attaching weight only to those pieces of information which accord with their earnest and honorable desire that the peace of the world should remain unbroken."
The profession of Intelligence before World War II was not well thought of, and it was not very good. There can be no question that the two go hand in hand. Had there been more real demand for good Intelligence, there would have been more funds and personnel provided for its support, and as a consequence, intelligence services would have been better. But history is full of incidents citing very poor intelligence service, under Hitler, Stalin, and the Western powers.
I was at Fort Knox, Kentucky, at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor. This attack came as such a surprise and with so little preparation or understanding in the United States Army that although that attack occurred more than four thousand miles away, the Commanding General of the Armored Force headquarters at Fort Knox ordered tanks and heavy guns out in a perimeter defense of Fort Knox and of the U.S. gold reserves that were stored there. No one knew what to expect the Japanese to do next after they had hit Pearl Harbor.
A few years later, during World War II, I was the pilot of a large transport plane being sent on an emergency mission deep into the heartland of Russia from Tehran, Iran. Since this was to be one of the first unescorted U.S. flights deep into the Soviet Union, I was called aside by a military intelligence staff officer and told that the maps he had to give me for the flight were of very little value and would I please keep a careful log of everything I saw as I flew some eighteen hundred miles into Russia in order that mapping information and other data might be improved. Then, as I left this briefing, he more or less apologetically wished me well because I had to find my way into Russia without the aid of reliable maps. Before I left Tehran I managed to obtain the maps that had been used by Wendell Willkie's pilot and had been hand annotated. They were the best available at that time.
It was not surprising, then, that President Roosevelt directed that Colonel Donovan be Coordinator of Information (COI). By 1942, Donovan had made some headway, and the war had become better organized. He had built up the reputation of intelligence activities and he had been successful in refining the problem. At the same time, he had learned that the role of coordinator was unworkable, untenable, and undesirable -- in other words, hopeless. General MacArthur had preempted the intelligence role in the Far East -- that is, those intelligence activities which were not under the control of the Navy -- and the FBI had been given the responsibility for intelligence operations in Latin America. As a result, in 1942 the COI became the Office of Strategic Services, (OSS), and the task of that new organization was broadened to include collecting and analyzing information and planning and operating special services. On that day Donovan no doubt put his intelligence hat on the shelf and concentrated on his first love, special services.
In pursuit of the business of definitions in this most elusive of professions, few terms have been so confused and misused as "special services". These two words simply mean clandestine operations. General Donovan's office was called Strategic Services, and his duties were described as special services. It was all the same clandestine operations. As the intelligence profession has labored through its first quarter-century since World War II, these terms have acquired additional synonyms. Clandestine operations are also known as covert operations, special operations, and peacetime operations or peacetime special operations, and secret operations.
There are two other terms that need clarification here in order that they not be confused with the above. Secret intelligence is the deep penetration of the enemy by secret agents and other devices. It is more specifically clandestine intelligence, as differentiated from the more open and more academic type of intelligence. This leads to intelligence operations, which may or may not be clandestine, but are operations carried out to obtain intelligence, and not operations carried out to achieve a certain objective as a result of the gaining of certain intelligence input data. In the former, the operation is carried out to get intelligence, and in the latter the operation is carried out using intelligence input data.
Then there are secret intelligence operations, which are deeper and more clandestine operations carried out to get deep-secret intelligence data. It can be said that it is the business of secret intelligence operations to get information required in the making of foreign policy that is unavailable through routine and overt intelligence channels.
The fundamental dichotomy that has always divided Intelligence community and which in the long run has given it its bad reputation is that the Intelligence operator just cannot keep his hands and his heart out of operations. This same affliction leaves its mark on the entire community, not just on individual agents. Established for the legitimate business of intelligence, the Agency has become deeply involved in clandestine operations; yet to maintain its status and reputation in the structure of this open government, it must continually give the appearance of being nothing more than an Intelligence Agency while it keeps itself covertly occupied with special operations on an ever expanding scale.
Nowhere has this attempt to be legitimate been more apparent than in the revelations of the publication of the Pentagon Papers. One of the primary objectives of that inner group (who directed the compilation of that fantastic massive reconstruction of the history of the United States' role in Indochina) was, without doubt, to make certain that the role of the CIA always appeared in a most laudable and commendable manner, to be that of an intelligence organization and no more. Thus the product of the intelligence staff has been extracted from the great mass of records available and portrayed most favorably, while at the same time the role of the CIA, special operations, or clandestine organization as a sinister and secret operational activity has been submerged. In retrospect, the CIA, that part which publishes intelligence reports, always appears to have come up with the correct analysis and evaluation.
On the other hand, this review as it appears in The New York Times publication, almost totally conceals or fails to identify the records of the covert activities of the clandestine organizations. When it does present accounts of that action it reveals them under the label of cover organizations either as part of the military establishment or of some other apparatus. Interestingly, the CIA can't help doing both things at the same time, and its leaders are seldom, if ever, concerned with the fact that what they are doing may be at cross purposes. They are duty bound to perform the former and they much prefer to become involved in the latter, secure in the knowledge that their control of security within this country even more than elsewhere is nearly absolute. In fact Allen Dulles and other following DCI's were fully aware of this discrepancy, yet would authorize the publication of intelligence reports saying one thing at the same time they were authorizing clandestine forces to do exactly the opposite.
One aspect of the Pentagon Papers that makes them suspect of not being exactly what they are purported to be, that is, an expose of the role of the Pentagon in the United States' involvement in Vietnam (this is an oversimplified definition of them, but it will serve here) is that they laud the role of the CIA and the overall intelligence community while they disparage the rest of the Government, especially the Pentagon. The following extract is from The New York Times' book of the Pentagon Papers, in an introductory and formative early chapter, page 6:
The Pentagon account discloses that most of these major decisions from 1950 on were made against the advice of the American intelligence community. Intelligence analysts in the CIA warned that the French, Emperor Bao Dai and Premier Diem were weak and unpopular and that the Communists were strong. In early August 1954, for example, just before the NSC decided to commit the U.S. to propping up Premier Diem, a national intelligence estimate warned: "Although it is possible that the French and Vietnamese even with firm support from the U.S. and other powers, may be able to establish a strong regime in South Vietnam, we believe that the chances for this development are poor and moreover, that the situation is more likely to continue to deteriorate progressively over the next year." The NIE continues. Given the generally bleak appraisals of Diem's prospects, they who made U.S. policy could only have done so while assuming a significant measure of risk."
And The New York Times goes on to editorialize: "The Pentagon study does not deal at length with a major question. Why did the policy makers go ahead despite the intelligence estimates prepared by their most senior intelligence officials?"
These brief statements are truly amazing and in some respects may be among the most important lines in the entire New York Times presentation of the Pentagon Papers. They show how deeply the clandestine, operating side of the CIA hid behind its first and best cover, that of being an intelligence agency. How can the Times miss the point so significantly? Either the Times is innocent of the CIA as an intelligence organization versus the CIA as a clandestine organization, a highly antagonistic and competitive relationship, or the Times somehow played into the hands of those skillful apologists who would have us all believe that the Vietnam problem was the responsibility of others and not of the CIA operating as a clandestine operation. Let us consider an example:
A few pages after this statement, the Times version of the Papers tells us that Edward G. Lansdale went to Saigon with a team in August 1954. This date may be one of the correct dates, but the facts are that plans for Lansdale's move to Saigon from Manila, where he had engineered Magsaysay's rise from soldier to President, were laid long before he actually went there with his team. (The author was a frequent visitor to Manila and Saigon from 1952 through 1954 as the commanding officer of a Military Air Transport Service squadron which provided much of the military airlift between those cities in those days, and on more than one flight carried as special passengers members of the Lansdale team, both U.S. and Filipino personnel, to and from Saigon).
These plans, which were made for the development of a United States presence in Vietnam to replace the French after their defeat at Dien Bien Phu and to create a new leader to replace the French puppet, Bao Dai, had been primarily developed by the operational CIA, almost as a natural follow-on of their production of Magsaysay.
Ngo Dinh Diem was a selection and creation of the CIA, as well as others such as Admiral Arthur Radford and Cardinal Spellman, but the primary role in the early creation of the "father of his country" image for Ngo Dinh Diem was played by the CIA -- and Edward G. Lansdale was the man upon whom this responsibility fell. He became such a firm supporter of Diem that when he visited Diem just after Kennedy's election he carried with him a gift "from the U.S. Government", a huge desk set with a brass plate across its base reading, "To Ngo Dinh Diem, The Father of His Country." The presentation of that gift to Diem by Lansdale marked nearly seven years of close personal and official relationship, all under the sponsorship of the CIA.
It was the CIA that created Diem's first elite bodyguard to keep him alive in those early and precarious days. It was the CIA that created the Special Forces of Vietnamese troops, which were under the tight control of Ngo Dinh Nhu, and it was the CIA that created and directed the tens of thousands of paramilitary forces of all kinds in South Vietnam during those difficult years of the Diem regime. Not until the U.S. Marines landed in South Vietnam, in the van of the escalation in 1964, did an element of American troops arrive in Vietnam that were not under the operational control of the CIA.
From 1945 through the crucial years of 1954 and 1955 and on to 1964, almost everything that was done in South Vietnam, including even a strong role in the selection of generals and ambassadors, was the action of the CIA, with the DOD playing a supporting role and the Department of State almost in total eclipse. Thus, when The New York Times asks, "Why did the policy makers go ahead despite the intelligence estimates prepared by their most senior intelligence officials?" it has asked an excellent question, because it must include in the "most senior intelligence officials" the Director of Central Intelligence and others of the Agency. This makes one wonder at what point a man like Allen Dulles stops playing the role of intelligence official and sees himself in the mirror as CIA clandestine commander in chief.
These examples have to make certain aspects of the release and publication of the Pentagon Papers deeply suspect, especially since the man who says he released these vast volumes to the newspapers, Daniel Ellsberg, was ideally suited for this role by virtue of his Vietnam experience with the very same Edward G. Lansdale. No matter what one might wish to believe the intentions of Ellsberg were when he did this, it would be most difficult to accept that he of all people did not know all the facts. And if he did know all of the facts I have described, why did he want to make it appear that it was Pentagon policymakers who went ahead "despite the intelligence estimates prepared by their most senior intelligence officials"? Why has so much care been taken to make it appear that these are papers from the Pentagon that he has dumped on the news media's doorstep? Why has no one made the proper distinction that the majority of these documents were not really Pentagon originated at all, but were originated in, among other places, the CIA (Covert side)? Certainly if his facts, as well as those presented by The New York Times, are right, the CIA (Covert side) was in a much better position to heed its own CIA (Intelligence side) warnings and advice than any other department or agency in Washington.
The answer to these questions becomes obvious. The CIA uses its intelligence role as a cover mechanism for its operational activities. Furthermore it uses its own secret intelligence as an initiator for its own secret operations. This is what pleased General Donovan when President Roosevelt unleashed him with the OSS and it is what has been the driving force behind the hard core operational agents within the intelligence community since that time.
Allen Dulles himself helps us to define General Donovan's new title in 1942 in his own words: "Special Services was the cover designation for Secret Intelligence and Special Operations of all kinds and character." To the old pro the new designation was an important step forward in the evolution of the intelligence profession in the United States. One could almost see him hunching up to his desk to write a few more memoranda to the President about the development of the intelligence services. It was no mistake when Dulles entitled his book The Craft of Intelligence. He was the crafty professional in a fast-growing profession.
During 1943, General Donovan did his best to extend the OSS into all those parts of the world left to him by the Navy, General MacArthur, and J. Edgar Hoover. At one time in 1943 he got a bit overambitious and went to Moscow. There he met with his counterparts in the intelligence profession and was so won over by their good fellowship that he came back to Washington to propose that there be an exchange program between the Russians and the Americans. Donovan proposed that their hand-picked agents be brought to this country to learn all about Intelligence and special operations with Americans, utilizing new techniques and equipment that we had. To those who recall the same General Donovan on countless platforms ranting about the "communist threat" only a few years later, this proposal of his must seem to have been part of a soft-headed era. In any event, others such as J. Edgar Hoover and Admiral Leahy overruled Donovan's gesture of hospitality to the Russians.
The OSS did set up a Guerrilla and Resistance Branch, which operated from Europe to Burma and was patterned after the highly successful British Special Operations Executive (SOE) model. But General Donovan never got over the blows he suffered from MacArthur and Hoover. His wartime disappointment led him on many occasions to recommend that there be a single top intelligence director who would be placed within the immediate Office of the President and that this director be a civilian who would control all other intelligence services, particularly most of the military. By 1944, his views were so firm that he wrote to President Roosevelt:
"I have given consideration to the organization of our intelligence service for the postwar period."
"Once our enemies are defeated the demand will be equally pressing for information that will aid in solving the problems of peace.
"This requires two things: That Intelligence control be returned to the supervision of the President. The establishment of a central authority reporting directly to you."
On careful scrutiny, this is a most unusual memorandum to be written during time of war to the Commander in Chief of the greatest military force ever assembled. First there is the assumption, and perhaps even an implied criticism, that the control of Intelligence was not under the President, or that the President had lost control of that aspect of the military effort world wide. (Later historians may be able to probe the depths of Donovan's feelings about General MacArthur by delving into the meaning of such papers as that memo.) The other veiled criticism was his proposal that the central authority be made to report directly to the President. By this, Donovan hoped that Roosevelt might establish such a central authority, that would be himself, and that he might thereby gain ascendancy over his arch rivals, J. Edgar Hoover, the Navy, and most of all, General Douglas MacArthur.
The germ of these ideas lived throughout the following quarter-century. Even today, there are those who still propose that the DCI be assigned to the immediate Office of the President. The zeal within the "silent arm of the President", as the intelligence service is fondly called by its own, is so strong that they have created a special meaning for the phrase, "the immediate Office of the President". It might generally be considered that the Cabinet is part of this office, but what the Intelligence buffs mean is that the DCI would be above or, to put it more precisely, equal to and separate from the Cabinet. From General Donovan's day down to the present time, it has been the goal of a good segment of the intelligence community to install their Director next to the President. They always claim that the reason for this is so that the President may always have at his elbow the best and most current intelligence available. This, too, is a master cover story. Just like General Donovan and his clan, what they really want is the place at the elbow of the President, unfettered by the Secretaries of State and Defense, in order to have their way with the function of Special Operations. Of course, what follows from this is what would amount to having the ability to make and to control the foreign policy and military policymaking machinery of this country. We shall have more to say about this. It suffices now to point out where and when the seed was planted.
Shortly after the war had ended, President Truman dissolved the OSS. On September 20, 1945, certain functions of the OSS were transferred to the Departments of State and of War. Although the United States did not delay in disbanding her military might as soon as the war had ended, no group was terminated faster than the OSS. Some of the pressure to dissolve this agency came from the FBI, the Department of State, the Armed Forces, the Bureau of the Budget, and from President Truman's own belief that the "fun and games" was over. He felt that there would be no need for clandestine activities during peacetime, and he meant to devote his time to winning a peace of lasting duration for the generation which had fought its way through the worst depression in history and then through the most terrible war in history.
In this rapid divestiture of its clandestine wartime service, only two sections were saved. The Secret Intelligence Branch and the Analysis Branch were tucked away among the labyrinth of the departments of State and War, where a few dedicated veterans labored quietly through a precarious existence to preserve files and other highly classified materials. Had it not been for the professionalism and zeal of this group of responsible men, these files that had been created during the war would have been lost. Had they been lost or destroyed, or most serious of all, had they been compromised, they might have occasioned the deaths of hundreds of agents who had risked their lives for the United States and who lived in constant fear lest they be exposed in their homelands, which had fallen under Soviet control. Fortunately, these records, along with irreplaceable talent, were saved. Thus ended an era of war-time inspired clandestine activity, the contagion of which was sufficient to infect a new generation of intelligence professionals for the next twenty-five years.
1. Sanche de Gramont, The Secret War, New York, G. P. Putnam's Sons, p. 29.
SECTION II: Origins of the Agency and Seeds of Secret Operations
By the end of world war II it was abundantly clear that the U.S. must have a central intelligence authority. The mistakes which were made, more by omission than by commission, by the intelligence community during the war were serious. This country could never again afford the luxury of overlooking the need for reliable intelligence. The witch hunt that took place right after the war in an attempt to fix the blame for the disaster at Pearl Harbor was indicative of the depth of the problem. After the war, it became clear to many that we had seriously overestimated the strength of the Japanese and that we had as a result seriously overrated the task that confronted the Russians in moving their eastern armies across Manchuria against the Japanese at the end of the war.
In addition to these rather obvious criticisms, there was the fact of the atomic bomb. It had been developed in great secrecy under the Manhattan Project; but once it had been demonstrated at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it was no longer a secret. Scientists all over the world would be attempting to solve the bomb's problems, knowing now that it was entirely feasible and practical, and their own intelligence and spy networks would be trying to steal the secrets of the bomb from the United States. This put another serious burden upon the intelligence community.
Not long after the cessation of hostilities, the first measures toward the establishment of a central intelligence authority were announced. Less than six months after the end of the war the President set up the Central Intelligence Group. The New York Times on January 23, 1946, reported that President Truman established a National Intelligence Authority composed of the Secretaries of State, War, and Navy. It was to be headed by a Director of Central Intelligence. The DCI would have at his disposal the staffs and organizations of all government intelligence units, including those overseas, and would undertake "such services of common concern as the National Intelligence Authority determines can be more efficiently accomplished centrally". This provision would enable the Director to operate his own staff for top secret and high priority missions, while utilizing the production of all other Agency staff operations for general intelligence production.
The plan was devised by the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a modification of one submitted by Major General William J. Donovan at the time of the dissolution of the OSS. It deviated from Donovan's suggestion in several important particulars, however. First, it placed the Central Intelligence Group and its Director under the jurisdiction of the Secretarial triumvirate. In the accepted plan this triumvirate retained authority over the Central Intelligence Group instead of placing the Group directly under the President. Second, it provided that operating funds for the organization would be obtained from the Departments of State, War, and Navy rather than directly from Congress as had been provided for by Donovan's plan. As a consequence, the Group was responsible not to Congress but to the Cabinet members making up the top authority. In his directive, the President ordered that "all Federal and foreign intelligence activities be planned, developed, and coordinated so as to assure the most effective accomplishment of the intelligence mission related to the National Security."
Thus, less than six months after the end of World War II, the battle lines for a major internal war had been drawn.
Most of the problems and the failures of the past twenty-five years can be attributed directly to inadequate and improper decisions made during these struggles within the Government during this immediate postwar period and to the impact they have had upon the welfare of this country since that time.
On one side were the tradition experienced planners who believed in the power of this great nation, all who felt that our future course lay in the increase of our own strength and of the beneficent impact of this strength upon the rest of the world. These men believed in the American way of life and in the ability of our economy to cope with world competition and of American diplomacy to plan our course of action wisely and to carry out effective national policy. They further believed in the capabilities of American military might to back up our diplomats and businessmen. To put it bluntly, these men were not afraid of the Communist bogeyman. They respected Communism for what it was, and they respected the power and strength of the Russian people. At the same time, they were willing and ready to plan for a common world future and an undivided world at peace.
The other side, however, wished to create a sort of Maginot Line of intelligence people around the world, separating the Communist world from the Free World. Then they would peer out at the rest of the world through a veil of secrecy plugged in to data inputs of the intelligence gathering sources wherever they were and supported by a military machine in a defense posture, ready for "reaction" at all times. In essence, this latter point of view of foreign policy operations is passive and reactive, implemented not by plan but only by response to the initiatives of others.
This is well stated by Allen Dulles in his book, The Craft of Intelligence: "The military threat in the nuclear missile age is well understood, and we are rightly spending billions to counter it. We must similarly deal with all aspects of the invisible war, Krushchev's wars of liberation, the subversive threats orchestrated by the Soviet Communist party with all its ramifications and fronts, supported by espionage. The last thing we can afford to do today is to put our Intelligence in chains. Its protective and information role is indispensable in an era of unique and continuing danger." The key word, "counter", appears in the first sentence.
This final and summary paragraph of the old master's book is the best sample of the intelligence team's view of how to live in the modern nuclear age. They would have us establish the most extensive and expensive intelligence network possible and then develop a feedback capability that would automatically counter every threat they saw.
Although Allen Dulles does not say it in his book, his concept of Intelligence is about 10 percent real Intelligence and 90 percent clandestine operations. In other words, he would have us busy all around the world all of the time countering "all aspects of the invisible war". By this he means intervening in the internal affairs of other nations with or without their knowledge and permission. (This leads to a serious danger, which will be treated at some length later.) It is what the United States has been doing in an increasing crescendo of events, beginning with such actions as the involvement in Berlin and Iran in the 1940s and culminating in the terrible disaster of Vietnam that began as a major intelligence operation, went on into the clandestine operations stage, then got out of hand and had to become an overt activity during the Johnson era.
Traditionally, the foreign policy of the nation has been planned, and to the extent possible, has been openly arrived at. On those occasions when diplomacy has failed, the armed might of this country has been exploited overtly to back up foreign policy, or in the last resort to accomplish what diplomacy has been unable to do, by going to war. In the view of foreign policy action and the role of Intelligence as stated by Allen Dulles, however, intelligence would be the device used to set foreign policy actions in motion to "counter... all aspects of the invisible war." If this is not clear, he emphasizes, "The military threat in the nuclear missile age is well understood, and we are rightly spending billions to counter it." The idea is that intelligence is the catalytic element that triggers response and that this response will be covert, operational, and military as required.
With the advent of a strong Intelligence community and with the ascendancy of that voice in the higher echelons of the Government, the Government has slowly but positively moved from an active course of following plans and policies to the easier and more expedient course of the counterpuncher. The Government has become increasingly adept at reaction and response. A simple review of what this Government really found itself doing in the Congo or in Laos or Tibet during the sixties would be enough to clarify and support the argument that the Government responded to action inputs and "did something", instead of turning to plans and national objectives, which it did not have. Further support of this thesis that the Government has been weaned away from plans and policy in favor of the easier response mechanism activated by intelligence is apparent in even a cursory look at the degradation of the roles of the once prestigious Departments of State and Defense. Lately, the Army has found new worlds to conquer under the cloak of the Green Berets who operate with the CIA. Even the Air Force welcomes the utilization of the once proud B-52 strategic bomber in a function that is totally degrading -- the blind bombardment of Indochina's forests and wastelands on the assumption that there are worthwhile targets on the Ho Chi Minh trail. The only reason State and Defense can give for what they have permitted themselves to become engaged in is that "the intelligence reports" say the "enemy" is there. No one asks, What is the national objective in Indochina? No one has a national plan for Indochina. We have become counterpunchers without a game plan, and we have become that because we take our cues from raw intelligence data.
In our form of government this is a fairly recent approach. In 1929, when Secretary of State Stimson said, "Gentlemen do not read other people's mail," he was voicing the conditions of another era. We have come a long way since the days of 1929, and nations do read each other's mail because it is easier to do now than it used to be and because the dangers that exist today are much closer to home. We need to know as much as it is possible to learn about Russian capabilities and Russian intent. Total destruction is only about forty-five minutes away.
But there was another reason Stimson made that statement. In an open society we do not develop the same wiles that are necessary in a world in which everyone reads everyone else's mail. Therefore, if you are going to defend yourself by reading the other man's mail, you had better know what he means by what he has written in his letters. He knows you are reading his mail, and he will bluff you right out of the game. And what is more important, we must carry out our own policies in such a way that he cannot keep us from our own goals.
It is this point that looms larger when a government such as ours carries out its foreign and military affairs on a response basis. Such action over a period of time denies us all initiative and leadership and virtually precludes the possibility of bluff or skillful design. One cannot very well bluff or use surprise when he has been set in the pattern of response for twenty-five years. In military terms, the employment of proper tactics and strategy must be tempered by surprise when needed. In the great contest that has been going on between the major powers today, one can see that our course in response to such things as "Communist-inspired subversive insurgency" has cost us hundreds of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives; it has cost the same Communists we proclaim we are "countering" almost nothing. The response method of anything is a trap. The most frustrating and debilitating thing about it is that we have no objectives, no goals. We simply have an inertial drift into whatever direction the men in the Kremlin lure us. It is important to realize that if the highest echelons in government become preoccupied and preempted by intelligence inputs, voluminous reports, and other briefings, they do not have the chance to get planning done to weigh alternatives and to see that policies are effective.
General Donovan and Allen Dulles made a career of trying to have the Director of Central Intelligence assigned to the immediate Office of the President for just the reason outlined above. They wanted to be placed in the dominant position in this Government. They knew that with modern techniques, with modern communications and effective controls, all supported by money and equipment wherever needed, Intelligence was capable of running the Government and its foreign affairs. The Kissinger example is a case in point. This was the danger that the legislators saw in Donovan's early proposal. It is why the President, acting on his own authority, placed the Director under the jurisdiction of the three Secretaries.
To emphasize his intent and to make sure that it would work his way, President Truman directed that "operating funds for the organization would be obtained from the Departments of State, War, and Navy instead of directly from Congress." The Donovan plan had proposed the opposite. If the DCI was required to get his money each year through these other departments, he would be subservient to them and he would carry out their wishes.
These were the surface reasons for this decision. The real reason for this relegation of the DCI to a subordinate position was to prevent the Director and his organization from participating in clandestine operations without the express direction and authority of the Secretaries and the White House. As we have noted, President Truman planned for the CIA to be the "quiet intelligence arm of the President". He and those of his Administration never intended that it become an autonomous operational agency in the clandestine field.
Because of the general secrecy that surrounds such things, this debate did not become public. The establishment of a "National Intelligence Authority" by Truman was considered an interim arrangement. The day after he set up the group, the President announced the appointment of Rear Admiral Sidney Souers as the first Director of Central Intelligence. At the same time, the President established a precedent that has continued to this day, by designating Admiral William D. Leahy to represent him as a member of the National Intelligence Authority. Before his appointment to his new job, Admiral Souers had been the deputy chief of the Office of Naval Intelligence.
It was learned concurrently that President Truman had ordered that "all federal and foreign intelligence activities be planned, developed and coordinated so as to assure the most effective accomplishment of the intelligence mission related to the national security."
The President's directive contained further instructions to the Director of Central Intelligence. They were:
Accomplish the correlation and evaluation of intelligence relating to national security and provide for appropriate dissemination within the government of the resulting strategic and national intelligence.
Plan for the coordination of such of the activities of the intelligence agencies of all departments as relate to the National Security and recommend to the National Intelligence Authority the establishment of such overall policies and objectives as will assure the most effective accomplishment of the national intelligence mission.
A few weeks later, The New York Times published an article by Hanson Baldwin, its Military Affairs columnist, saying: "The establishment of a National intelligence Authority is a very important move. It is more important than the proposed merger of the War and Navy Departments. In all parts of the world today intelligence is most emphatically the first line of defense." This is an interesting use of this term "first line of defense". It appears many times later in the writings and speeches of such men as Allen Dulles and General Donovan. To them, intelligence was not limited to information. It was very much an operational organization and function.
Baldwin went on to say that the new Intelligence Authority under Admiral Souers "will at most just collate and analyze intelligence. Later on it may take over the job of collection of intelligence, and later its agents will supplement the normal intelligence sources of the military services." He added, "The State Department's new Intelligence service under Colonel Alfred McCormick will continue but will probably be somewhat more restricted in scope than it has been." Both of these statements were prophetic and indicate that Baldwin had obtained his information from Donovan-Dulles sources. It was the "party line" that Intelligence would take over the task of collection, whether Congress and the Administration had that function in the law or not.
In the heat of this major behind-the-scenes power play, there was bound to be an explosion. It is quite possible that this development, which occurred during the first week of March 1946, did not carry with it at that time the same significance that it does in retrospect. On the first day of March 1946, General Donovan gave an impassioned and hard-hitting speech before the Overseas Press Club in New York City. He stated that there had been numerous times when faulty and inaccurate intelligence had done great damage to this country's prosecution of the war. But the main burden of his speech concerned the new intelligence Authority. He said that experience had shown that we could obtain tested knowledge only through a coordinated, centralized, civilian directed intelligence service independent of other departments of the Government. Here he was taking a direct slap at General MacArthur and the JCS as well as at the Administration. He agreed that the new Central Intelligence Group established by the President was an advance over anything we had previously had in peacetime, but it lacked civilian control and independence.
Donovan voiced displeasure over any intelligence setup that did not dominate the scene. While Admiral Souers was setting up his new organization, Congress was working on the National Defense Act. The public was interested in and aroused over the provisions of this Act as it pertained to a new Department of Defense. The big word at that time was "unification". Feeling had run strong during World War II that the military services should have been more unified. It was claimed that they would have been more efficient, and there might have been less confusion and waste. At the same time, there were a number of advocates of an independent Air Force. Up to that time, the Air Force had always been a part of the Army. What was called unification at that time seems more like separation today, because the new law, when it was enacted, established a separate Army and Navy and a new Air Force. As we know them today they are still far from unified. In the heat of all this discussion, there was little public airing of the provision for the Central Intelligence Agency.
Those were troubled and confused times. The war was less than one year past, and people who looked back at it forgot all of the worldwide campaigns and remembered only the shock and terror of the atomic explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. With fear of the unknown always more deadly than fear of a conventional shooting war, there was no chance to relax from the tensions of world struggle, safe in the knowledge that another war could not start up at any time, as we had believed after World War I. On the contrary, the threat of atomic warfare, even though it might be sometime in the future, was so terrifying that many felt the potential danger of nuclear weapons in the hands of the Soviet Union represented a graver peril than all the battles of World War II. As a result, with the war only six months behind them, Congress and the Administration turned to the serious problems of defense.
Thus, on the same day that General Donovan had spoken to the Overseas Press Club, Secretary of State James Byrnes also addressed that group. It is most revealing to look back at the major differences between the two speeches. Addressing this group as the official spokesman of the administration, he said that there was one thing that was very important: "The question is what can we do to make certain that there will never be another war?" Then, citing problems of the war, he went on, "Our relief and our gratitude for victory are mixed with uncertainty. Our goal now is permanent peace, and certainly we seek it even more anxiously than we sought victory. The difficulty is that the path to permanent peace is not so easy to see and to follow as was the path to victory." He said that "because we know that no nation can make peace by itself, we have pinned our hopes to the banner of the U.S." Byrnes added, "If we are going to do our part to maintain peace in the world, we must maintain our power to do so. We must make it clear that we will stand united with the other great states in defense of the charter of the UN. If we are to be a great power, we must act as a great power, not only in order to insure our own security but in order to preserve the peace of the world." Continuing, he said, "It is not in accord with our traditions to maintain a large professional standing army, but we must be able and ready to provide an armed contingent that may be required on short notice. We must have a trained citizenry ready to supplement those of the armed contingents." After making these statements, Byrnes added a very interesting comment that has special significance and applicability today. He said, "Our tradition as a peaceloving, law-abiding democratic people should be an assurance that our forces will not be used except as they may be called into action by the Security Council, and cannot be employed in war without the consent of Congress. We need not fear their misuse unless we distrust the representatives of the people."
In view of what has transpired in the Vietnam war, Byrnes' last statement takes on special meaning. As he continued his speech he made another most interesting remark: "So far as the United States is concerned, we will gang up against no state. We will do nothing to break the world into exclusive blocks or spheres of influence in this atomic age. We will not seek to divide a world which is one and indivisible." This "oneworld" view, this idea that no nation should do that which would destroy hopes for world unity and harmony, was the official policy of the Administration at that time. It was the national policy of a people dedicated to the proposition that this country was strong and able enough to stand upon its own feet and make its own way in the world. It was a positive and active policy that would plan for the future; yet only five days later another speech of another kind did more to turn the minds of the world, and especially of the United States, and to blight our future than any other speech in the following quarter-century.
It is startling and most significant to recall that the then leader of the Loyal Opposition in the British House of Commons, Sir Winston Churchill, only five days after Secretary Byrnes' speech made a speech that was just the opposite. He declared: "Beware... the time may be short... from Staten in the Baltic to Truest in the Adriatic, an Iron Curtain has descended across the continent."
In this famous Iron Curtain speech Churchill, like many others, was driving the tip of the wedge between the great powers of the world, while at almost the same time the Secretary of State had said, "We will do nothing to break the world into exclusive blocks or spheres of influence in the atomic age. We will not seek to divide a world which is one and indivisible." Here again was the classic contest. The active overt planner, Byrnes, versus the passive covert reactivist, Churchill.
These were not simply the comments of one man. They were typical, and they were indicative of the thinking and of the intentions of the official, elected leaders of the United States right after the end of World War II, and of their deep-seated opposition. Great forces were working to divide the world -- to set up one half as Communist, and the other half Free World and anti-Communist. There was the inertial drift that was transferring the initiative to the Kremlin.
The source of most of our problems of the past twenty-five years and certainly of the grave problems that beset our country today, lies in this schism between those who believed in the traditional school of national planning and overt diplomacy and those who believed in a passive role of reaction to a general enemy (Communism). This latter school would operate in response to intelligence inputs, without plans and without national objectives, would hide everything it did in secrecy, and would justify its actions in all instances as being anti-Communist. On the other hand, there were those who believed that the United States was the new leader of the world and that its responsibility to its own people and to those of the rest of the world lay in making a better world for all mankind along the lines of the example of the United States' tradition. At its best, this represented the dreams of free men for liberty and individual freedom under law and justice.
The maintenance of such a world and the expansion of such conditions to other parts of the world would require planning and great effort. The original concept of the Marshall Plan was an example of the best that such endeavors can accomplish in the face of Communist threats and opposition. Communism was met head on in Europe right after World War II and was defeated in France and Italy without resort to war and without response mechanisms. Communism was beaten by superior U.S. planning and policy. However, this kind of international effort requires dedicated leadership and great effort. One of the most difficult things for any government to do is develop and carry out long-range plans. That takes a certain inspired vision and rare leadership that is not often available.
On the other hand, it is easier and more typical to react and respond to outside pressures than to act in accordance with approved plans. In a modern government vested with immense capacity and advanced communications, it can be made to look more effective to set up and operate from a feedback system that will respond almost automatically to inputs, most of which are derived from a new style comprehensive intelligence information system fed by bits of data from everything including agents to satellite photography and other sophisticated sensors. The government in this case defines a threat, real or imagined, and responds to each data input from the threat and the danger.
This is what has been developed, and at this stage of the system this has become the normal course. Therefore, since it was all but inevitable that there would be a power struggle of some kind between the two great power centers on earth, even without declared hostility, the intelligence community proponents said that it would be easier to begin our national defense posture by delineating the source of all concern and danger, i.e. world communism, and then to draw lines for a never-ending battle, sometimes called the Cold War. The line so constructed was, in the beginning, the Iron Curtain. Although one might expect that the battles would be waged by our forces on their side of the curtain, and the skirmishes by their forces would be on our side, it has not turned out that way. The battles that have been fought since 1947 for the most part have been fought on our side of the Iron Curtain. It had to happen this way because the intelligence community has gained the initiative, and the response technique will not work on the other side. This was the great contest and although the principals on both sides of the argument, which was of such vital concern to the foreign policy and defense posture of this country, might deny it, this was the basis for the contention that the Central Intelligence Group should be assigned to a position subordinate to the Secretaries of State and Defense and under their direction.
These two pressure groups have vied for power repeatedly since 1946. It is entirely possible that the leak of the "Anderson Papers" in December 1971, and January 1972, was current evidence of an outbreak of this continuing struggle. Henry Kissinger is the titular head of the intelligence community's clandestine operations reaction faction. His appearance as a one-man power center is simply due to the fact that he fronts for the Secret Team and the secret intelligence community. Thus, he vies with the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and certain others in the "traditionalist" group, who would like to see a return to national planning, strong diplomacy, and moves toward peace through successful conferences between the United States and other countries of the world.
The traditionalists had finally found a long-awaited opportunity to exploit Kissinger's weakened position in the India-Pakistani War, to expose him. Such events will occur repeatedly with the ebb and flow of power between these two positions.
As we continue with the development of the CIA and the ST in the following chapters, we shall see many more examples of the "active" versus "passive" contest.
1. Note that from the beginning the Agency was considered a coordination center, and that it was not empowered to be a collection agency. The original plan was that the agency simply coordinate all of the intelligence that was readily available from other government departments. As the agency grew during the following twenty-five years, it expanded its role bit by bit from this first limited charter, and it did so by its own zeal and initiative, not by law or direction.
SECTION III: A Simple Coup d'État to a Global Mechanism
For nothing is hid that shall not be made manifest, nor anything secret that shall not be known and come to light... take heed then how you hear...
A MODERN PARABLE. . . .
The jet airliner had just left the runway with the ex-president of Gandia aboard and was winging its way high over the snowballed Andes. In less than two hours it would land in the capital of Pegoan, where the ex-president had been assured of asylum and safety.
In a remote office in Washington the watch officer awaited the expected word from the agent who had arranged this flight, confirming that the departure had taken place. It was too soon to expect the collateral news that General Alfredo Elciario Illona had secured the reins of the Government of Gandia. This news he would get as soon as a second agent arrived in the capital with the new president. Desk officers had worked all night preparing releases for the news media and sending instructions to its operatives, readying them to support General Elciario's new government.
In distant Gandia all was quiet in spite of the sudden coup d'état. It may have been the quiet before the storm. For the time being all had gone well.
In the cabin of an old converted transport C47 (DC-3) General Elciario was sleeping off the effects of a heavy drinking bout, on an army style cot that had been fitted into his modest VIP airplane. As soon as the plane had landed on its return from the frontier outpost, the pilot had parked it behind the U.S. Air Force surplus World War II hangar. The General and his closest friends had not even left the plane. Their party had continued on through the night in the plane. The pilot and friend of the General, a U.S. Air Force Major, had sent the others home while he stayed until the General had slept it off.
As he tidied up the plane he recalled similar days in Greece and Iran, where he had worked as the mission commander on other exercises for "Acme Plumbing" But this was the first time that he himself had been the key agent in the making of a President. It had been hard work, and now all he could do was wait for the brilliant mountain sunrise and word from the embassy that all was well and that the city was under control. In a few hours the General would be awakened and prepared to enter the capital as the new President. Now, as he lay there on that crude cot he did not even know that the coup d'état had already taken place and that it had been completely successful.
The Major had been in Gandia for slightly more than one year. He had come to join the U.S. Air Force mission there after six months of accelerated training at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. He had flown little since his duty in Korea, but it had come back quickly with the intensive program the CIA had scheduled for him there. At Eglin he had learned new paradrop techniques and had worked closely with the newly formed Special Air Warfare Squadrons. One squadron had been sent to South Vietnam, another had gone to Europe, and the one he was to join had flown to Panama. There he had received further operational training exercises with the U.S. Army Special Forces troops in Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador. Other operations had taken him on an earthquake mercy mission to Peru and a medical team paradrop exercise into a mining town in Bolivia. It was while he was in Bolivia that the western hemisphere division (WH) had contacted him through the embassy and told him to report to Gandia.
Not long after he had arrived in Gandia, he met General Elciario. The General had been working with a specially equipped transport plane doing paradrop work over the mountain forests of the eastern frontier. The General was from a leading family of Gandia and could trace his ancestry back to the days of Simon Bolivar. Yet he was proud of the fact that he was Gandian and made slight reference to his Castilian ancestry. He loved the squat, barrel-chested mountain people. He was one of them. He was a man of the people, and he was the most famous flyer in the country. He had flown serum to stricken villages during an epidemic, and he had airdropped tons of relief supplies after an earthquake. The people of the villages loved the General, even though he was not a favorite in the capital. As in most Latin American countries, the government was centered in the capital. What took place in the capital was important; what took place in the villages could be ignored. When the General was made the chief of staff of the Gandian Air Force, the old President thought he had made a safe assignment. The General was part of no clique in the city, and he was no threat to anyone.
From the first, the General and the U.S. Major got along fine. The Major preferred the men of the villages to those in the capital, and in no time at all he was popular. Wherever he went the General, too, was popular. In this remote site the Major had become the friend of everyone in the village and in the Gandian Air Force unit. The General had noticed that the units the Major worked with always seemed able to get supplies and favors, which had been hard to get before from military aid channels. The Major must have had some special influence with Washington. On the other hand, whenever the Major distributed these hard to get items, he always credited the General with getting them. This "magic" was simply a part of the long reach of the Secret Team.
The "major" was on a CIA cover assignment, and although everything he did had the appearance of normal U.S. Air Force duty, he was in Gandia to gather intelligence. He was part of a very normal inside operation. He knew who was on General Elciaro's team, and he knew who was not. He knew which elements of the government worked with the Air Force and which were aloof or antagonistic. When his routine reports, which he filed daily through his contact in the embassy and not through Air Force channels, revealed that he was getting quite close to the General, they were passed on by the Deputy Director of Intelligence to the Deputy Director of Plans, and thence to Western Hemisphere. From that date on, WH monitored all traffic to and from the "major", and from time to time would feed him special instructions and other data. WH wanted to know exactly whom the General trusted and who in the government he worked with on official matters. In Gandia as in many other countries this could mean, "Who does he share his cut of government funds with and who shares theirs with him?"
One day, General Elciario told the major of his growing displeasure with the Government of the old President. This was passed on to WH. Day by day the Major increased the scope and coverage of the civic action training exercises that the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army Special Forces troops were interested in and that gave special credit to General Elciario. He was seen everywhere with new projects to build rural schools. He was seen delivering water pipe to a remote village from an Air Force transport. His fighters roared over distant cities and towns, letting the people know that the Air Force was everywhere. General Elciario opened the new U.S. satellite tracking station, and he was at the dedication ceremony of a new U.S. mining company's mountain airfield. And everywhere the General went the Major was somewhere in the background.
The Major found ways to be helpful to the General, and he gave the General an opportunity to widen the gap between himself and his government. before long, the General was led to believe that the U.S. Government also was displeased with the old President. Although nothing was ever said, General Elciario was quite certain that if he made a move to take over the government, the U.S. Government would not make a move to support the present regime.
Note the formula: There was no commitment of any kind to support a coup d'état. On the contrary, the formula calls only for tacit agreement not to support the incumbent. As a matter of fact, the "major" had been sent to Gandia to look out for subversive insurgency. The possibility of a coup had developed quite spontaneously. And once it became a possibility, it was nurtured. As soon as the General realized this, he began to see himself as the person in power. The lure was undeniable. He began to create his own team, and he began to count his chances.
It was not long before he came to the Major with the outline of a well planned scheme that purported to see a real and immediate requirement for a big civic action exercise in a remote province. This exercise would require a special consignment of weapons, ammunition, and perhaps silver bullion to buy off some of the dissident tribesmen. General Elciario made a good case for his plan and assured the Major that the natives would be properly stirred up at the right time to make it seem to everyone that this exercise was not only the real thing for training purposes but that a government show of force in that area would help put down rampant "Communist inspired subversion" in the area. The only problem would be the weapons. The General had no way to get that much material without arousing suspicion. The incumbent government kept all munitions under close control in secured magazines. Otherwise, not a word was said about even the remote possibility of a coup d'état. But both men, the U.S. Major and the ambitious General, understood each other.
That night the messages from the embassy to WH were highly classified and loaded with instructions to include the requests for munitions and airlift. WH was quick to respond. The neighboring country, Pegoan, had been scheduled to receive a normal, large shipment of military assistance munitions. The CIA arranged to have these delivered ahead of schedule and to seed the order with extra items for General Elciario. The U.S. Air Force was directed to make available four medium transport aircraft for the Gandian Air Force's "Civic Action" timing exercise. When all was in readiness, two large C-130 heavy four engine transport planes took off from Panama, bound for Pegoan. However, they filed a devious flight plan in order to make some "upper altitude weather tests for NASA". This gave them extra time en route. They landed in Pegoan on schedule; but unknown to that Government they had touched down on a remote mountain airstrip long enough to dump off a number of pallets loaded with munitions for Gandia. The two C-130s were able to get back in the air with only a thirty minute delay and to make their scheduled arrival time at their original destination. No one knew that they had delivered this cache of arms for the rebels in Gandia.
At the barren air strip, there had been only four men, all from the USAF. They had arrived unnoticed and unannounced in one of the U.S. Air Force Special Air Warfare U10 "Helio" light aircraft. This rugged light plane was especially designed to land in short distances on rough terrain. Yet it could carry six men, or four men and a cargo of special equipment. These men had set up panel signals to show the C-130s where to land. Then they had driven a number of heavy crowbars into the ground. To each one they affixed the loop end of a long nylon rope with a hook at the end. As soon as the first C-130 had landed, they directed it to turn around and open its huge rear end cargo doors. The lines were passed in to the crew and attached to pallets on which ammunition was firmly strapped. Then, as the C-130 gunned its engines for takeoff, the ropes pulled each pallet out of the plane and left a string of cargo on one side of the clearing. The process was repeated with the other C-130 on the other side of the clearing. No sooner had the C-130s left than four smaller C-123 medium transports arrived from Gandia, flying low over the mountain ridges to escape detection. The first plane landed short and spun around ready for take-off. It carried a small forklift unit that was used to load all four planes. The whole operation had taken less than an hour, and just before the four men left in their Helio, one of them drove the forklift over the cliff at the edge of the runway. The C-123s hedgehopped to the remote airfield in preparation for the civic action exercise.
Two U.S. Army Special Forces "advisers", working with the tribes in the exercise area, staged a pre-dawn "attack" using "fire fight" packages, along with a team of Gandian Army Special Forces who were told that they were on a training exercise.
The villagers were told this was a hostile attack, and the chieftain dutifully reported subversive insurgency to the district police headquarters in the nearest town. News spread to the capital, and this sector was reported to be in rebellion. General Elciario's field headquarters reported they would put down the trouble and that all would be under control. The increased activity was overlooked in the capital as one of those occasional native outbreaks. Then, under the cover of this "emergency", the incumbent government was served with an ultimatum. A well armed force of paratroopers disembarked at the main airport and began to take over the national radio station and other government centers. Since they were heavily armed, the president assumed that they included men upon whom he had relied and who had keys to the ammunition magazines. He called in his United States CIA friend who "reluctantly" confirmed that this was the case and that safe passage could be arranged for the president and his immediate family in a Fawcett Airlines plane, which "happened" to be at the airport. In a matter of hours, the old president was on his way, and a courier drove onto the Gandian Air Force Base to inform the Major that he could prepare Elciario for his victory march into the capital and to the Presidential Palace.
Elciario served his country for several years, and he may have been replaced in the same manner. Meanwhile the "major" has left for other duties. If the General had had the opportunity to visit the Guatemalan airfield, which was constructed on the ranch at Retalhuleu for the purpose of training Cuban air crews, he would have seen his old friend the "major" busy with those ex-Cuban airline pilots, trying to teach them how to fly the latest and most lethal model of the old B-26. Or he could have seen the "major" a while later at his primary support base in Arizona, where T-28s and other aircraft were being outfitted for Laos. Such men are members of a small and highly competent group of professionals who prepare the way for the operations dreamed up by the ST in any part of the world.
The real day to day operational work of the ST and of its principle action organization, the CIA, is so different from that of any ordinary arm of the Government that it would be worth the time and space here to define it and explain it as it is revealed in the scenes just outlined. The coup d'état described was a composite of real ones although the names of the countries involved and the name of the General are changed. Oddly enough, the General did become president after an all night party, and the "major" did have his hands full trying to get him ready for his victorious entry into town.
The CIA had a full-time man in the embassy who was responsible for what might be called routine intelligence. It was noted that there was increasing opposition to the incumbent President, so an Agency man was introduced into the country as an Army Colonel. He was a Special Forces officer and well known in the U.S. Army as an instructor at Fort Bragg. Actually, he had been at Fort Bragg in the John F. Kennedy Center on a CIA cover assignment. He had been in the Army during World War II and he had a bona fide Reserve commission. Technically, he was recalled to active duty; but he was paid by the CIA, and he was not on the basic Army roles except as a cover assignment.
When this special requirement in Gandia arose, the CIA got him transferred to the Army mission in Gandia by suggesting that the incumbent Army colonel be called back to attend the National War College. This excuse satisfied the Army headquarters in Panama and enabled the "cover" colonel to take over the mission without delay.
No sooner had this Colonel reported for duty than the ambassador began a buildup program for him so that he would have a chance to meet the president frequently and to talk with him sufficiently to win him over to the U.S. Army doctrine on civic action and to convince him that this could be applied to the "rebellious" areas in the border outposts. In this manner he became a confidant of the president and was very useful later during the coup d'état.
At about the same time that the "Army Colonel" arrived in Gandia, an American businessman, who was president of a small independent airline with its main offices in Panama, came into the capital city to open a one-man office to represent his airline. He rented a small space at the airport and hired a clerk and a young mamma who had been working with the well known Latin American airline, Fawcett Airways. Ostensibly to assure the success of his new venture, this man remained in Gandia for several months and visited all major companies in an attempt to sell them special air services which his company, by using small aircraft and one or two old World War II Flying Boat PBYs, could provide for them. He became a regular figure in town and was accepted as a hardworking, friendly businessman who knew Latin America and who could speak fluent Spanish.
Otherwise, he stayed in the background and was rarely seen in the official American community. He seemed to know no one at the embassy, and they were never seen with him. He was gathering intelligence, and he was an old professional. He had a drop for routine messages, which the Agency communications man sent through the special CIA transmitter in the embassy; but even the CIA people in Gandia did not know that he had his own network for highly classified messages out of Pegoan. He would fly there frequently, so that when he had important messages his sudden departure would not be noticed by the Gandians or the Americans.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Air Force "major" had been introduced through Air Force channels. He was technically an "overage" in Gandia and was carried on temporary duty status there for the duration of the civic action exercises, which were scheduled to last throughout the year. He was assigned to the U.S. Air Force Special Air Warfare unit in Panama. He was a longtime CIA employee who had served in many countries and was one of their best career pilots and blackflight specialists.
Although firm intelligence had shown the possibility that the old president was apt to be overthrown because of incipient developments, there were no reliable indications which would identify a possible successor. This left the Agency with the option of waiting to see who might rise to power by his own ability, or of stepping in with an attempt to create a man who could take over when the president's position became dangerously weakened. The former choice was poor because it left the door open for other interests, always considered to be Castroite or Communist, to step in with their own man. Since the Agency believed the fall of the present government to be about as certain as such a thing can be, it was decided to use the "Magsaysay formula" and to create the next president by making him the hero of the people throughout the country as a first step. It would be the job of the major to groom the man they had selected for the role.
The "major" did not know the American businessman who was president of the small airline, and had never come across him during his Agency career. The airline president did not know him either. The Agency planned to keep them working independently so that it could cross-check their reports. The "major" had met the Army Colonel during airdrop exercises at Fort Bragg, but he thought he was a real Army Special Forces instructor and did not know that he, too, was a CIA career man. The Agency gave him clearance to work with the Colonel very closely and cleared the Colonel similarly. The "major" did not know of the Colonel's role with the old President and the Colonel did not know the "major's" assignment. Each man was to play his role straight.
The ambassador was fully informed of the Agency's plan, since he was the recipient of its secret intelligence reports, and he knew that one of the men in his communications room was an Agency man. He had never made an attempt to determine which man it was because he thought his charge d'affaires knew; also, it would be better for him to keep his fingers out of that kind of thing. He did not know that the "major", the Colonel, and the airline president were CIA men. He did not see their message traffic, although the Agency took pains to make sure that he received "cleaned" copies of their dispatches, which he assumed had been culled from attach reports and other more or less normal sources. The ambassador was not interested in intelligence; he had been in the country only one year, and if he could keep things calm, he hoped to be transferred at the end of the second year. He was a political appointee and not a career man.
The "major" spent a considerable amount of time setting up elaborate civic action exercises in all areas of the country. These were staged like carnivals, and at the climax of every operation, General Elciario would fly in and address the village and local tribesmen. There had been a few native uprisings, and some operations were directed into those areas to impress the villagers with the power of the new air force. The "major" found a few villages that lived in fear of bandit tribes. Here he took a page from the Magsaysay book and rigged some early morning "attacks" by what he called the Red team. These attacks were always repulsed by a Blue team, which just happened to be in the area. In every case, Elciario would show up leading the victorious "anti-guerrillas". The unwitting natives took this as the real thing, and the fame of General Elciario as the greatest guerrilla fighter since Simon Bolivar spread throughout the country.
This kind of script calls for the utilization of equipment "borrowed" from the U.S. Armed Forces, along with personnel to carry out such missions. It also calls for the liberal use of a blank checkbook, which the General is urged to use to win over those who might be useful.
Up to this stage of the action, most of what the CIA has been doing falls in the category of intelligence, with only a preparatory stage of clandestine operations. As its agents report a worsening position for the old President and general disillusionment on the part of key businessmen and other leaders, along with a growing national awareness of General Elciario, WH puts together the outline of a proposed operation to be briefed to the DD/P (clandestine services) and thence to the DCI. Following this briefing, and with the approval of these men, the Agency will brief selected key people in Defense and State to see how they feel about the situation and whether or not they are ready to see a change of government in Gandia.
Throughout this period, the Agency will have been sending special messages to its man in the embassy. He will use these to brief the ambassador, or perhaps to have the Army Colonel brief the ambassador to guide him in this situation. Some of the very messages the Agency will have sent to Gandia will come back over the embassy network as intelligence input, and at the same time will be transmitted by the attaches to the Defense Department. Thus a wave of messages, all corroborating one another, will fill the "In" baskets in State, Defense, and the White House. In his role as intelligence coordinator the DCI will prepare his own analysis of all of this and will prepare to place this business on the agenda of the next NSC Special Group meeting; he will present the current situation only, and propose a special operation.
By this time, the Agency and a number of the Secret Team operatives will have just about decided that the only thing to do in Gandia is to go along with General Elciario and permit him to exploit the situation. They will have convinced themselves that if the government is that shaky in the first place, they had better be on the winning side rather than on the "Communists". A special group meeting will be held, and the designated substitute for each NSC member will attend. The consensus of the meeting will be to go ahead with the "major's" program but to hold up until each member has had an opportunity to inform his principal of the action.
The DCI will offer to visit the President and will get his approval; this makes the visit to the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense purely informational.
This account of developments may seem somewhat unreal. Anyone who has carefully read the Pentagon Papers will recognize most of the above. In fact, most people who have read the Pentagon Papers will see that this is what was done in the case of the Diems in South Vietnam. The significant point is that the CIA may have sent the "major" to Gandia in the first place simply to see how things were going there and perhaps to have him ready for action in a neighboring country if needed. But the "major" is an old firehorse, and when he hears the bell, he cannot help getting into harness. The scenario is somewhat like the movie Fahrenheit 451, in which the firemen were the men who started fires rather than the men who put them out.
It is so easy to topple over a government in most small countries simply by finding the key to control. If all arms and equipment are kept under close control, then the armed forces and the police have few useful weapons at any given time. Thus, if the leader of the rebellion all of a sudden shows up with a large and unaccounted for supply of weapons, he may be able to take the government over without a shot, simply by the fact that he has them outgunned before they start. Thus it is not too difficult for a man with boundless resources such as the "major" could command to be able to arrange things almost effortlessly. At that point, all he has to know, and all the man he is supporting has to know, is that the United States will not make a move to support the incumbent. Then, when the tide begins to turn, the incumbent finds himself alone with no one in a position to help him. Like so many things the ST does, this is more a negative coup d'état than a positive action.
It is not to be presumed that a program such as this can be fully implemented in a short time, or that it is set in motion with the objective of causing and supporting a coup d'état. As a matter of fact, the characteristic of the ST that supersedes all others in such a situation as this is that events should take their natural course, with some covert help.
A document that was circulated from the CIA through other government agencies and extra governmental organizations such as the RAND Corporation and the Institute for Defense Analysis shows how this is done. Once a country is included on the "counterinsurgency" list, or any other such category, a move is made to develop a CIA echelon, usually within the structure of whatever U.S. military organization exists there at the time. Then the CIA operation begins Phase I by proposing the introduction of some rather conventional aircraft. No developing country can resist such an offer, and this serves to create a base of operations, usually in a remote and potentially hostile area. While the aircraft program is getting started the Agency will set up a high frequency radio network, using radios positioned in villages throughout the host country. The local inhabitants are told that these radios will provide a warning of guerrilla activity.
Phase II of such a project calls for the introduction of medium transport type aircraft that meet anti-guerrilla warfare support requirements. The crew training program continues, and every effort is made to develop an in-house maintenance capability. As the level of this activity increases, more and more Americans are brought in, ostensibly as instructors and advisers; at this phase many of the Americans are Army Special Forces personnel who begin civic action programs. The country is sold the idea that it is the Army in most developing nations that is the usual stabilizing influence and that it is the Army that can be trusted. This is the American doctrine; promoting the same idea, but in other words, it is a near paraphrase of the words of Chairman Mao.
In the final phase of this effort, light transports and liaison type aircraft are introduced to be used for border surveillance, landing in remote areas, and for resupplying small groups of anti-guerrilla warfare troops who are operating away from fixed bases. These small specialized aircraft are usually augmented by helicopters.
When the plan has developed this far, efforts are made to spread the program throughout the frontier area of the country. Villagers are encouraged to clear off small runways or helicopter landing pads, and more warning network radios are brought into remote areas.
While this work is continuing, the government is told that these activities will develop their own military capability and that there will be a bonus economic benefit from such development, each complementing the other. It also makes the central government able to contact areas in which it may never have been able to operate before, and it will serve as a tripwire warning system for any real guerrilla activities that may arise in the area.
There is no question that this whole political economic social program sounds very nice, and most host governments have taken the bait eagerly. What they do not realize, and in many cases what most of the U.S. Government does not realize, is that this is a CIA program, and it exists to develop intelligence. If it stopped there, it might be acceptable but intelligence serves as its own propellant, and before long the agents working on this type of project see, or perhaps are a factor in creating, internal dissension. Or they may find areas of ancient border contacts, or they may run into some legitimate probing and prodding from a neighboring country, which may or may not have its origins in Moscow, just as our program had its origins in Washington. In any event, the intelligence operator at this point begins to propose operations, and use clandestine operations lead to minor "Vietnams" or other such bleeding ulcer type projects that drain United States resources, wealth, and manpower on behalf of no meaningful national objective.
The CIA maintains hundreds of U.S. military units for its own purposes. Many of these units become involved in this type of operation. After these cover units have been in existence for several years, the military has a hard time keeping track of them. The military system is prone to try to ignore such abnormalities, and the CIA capitalizes on this to bury some units deep in the military wasteland.
The CIA also maintains countless paramilitary and pseudobusiness organizations that weave in and out of legitimacy and do business much as their civilian counterparts would. The small airline alluded to in the Gandia example actually exists and very capably operates in Latin America. It operates as a viable business and competes with other airlines of its type. The only difference is that the officials of the other airlines, who have a hard time meeting the payroll at times, wonder how their competition is able to stay in business year after year with no more volume than they have. At such a point, most of the competition will rationalize that the cover airline must be in some illegitimate business like smuggling and the drug trade, or else that it is connected with the CIA. They could be right on both counts. Most of these cover businesses have to be closed out and reestablished from time to time to support their usefulness. (It may be interesting to note that in September 1963, none other than the Secretary of the Senate, Bobby Baker, got mixed up with one of these cover airlines, Fairways Incorporated, without knowing it, and that the exposure resulting from his accidental charter of this small airline played a part in bringing down his house of cards.
Part of the Gandia coup d'état demonstrates that the ambassador will be briefed on most things that happen in his country, and if he is alert and insistent, he may be on top of most of the things the ST is doing there. In actual practice, however, there may be quite a bit of communications traced that he will know nothing about. The CIA will have its own communications network, and in addition to that, agents who come and go will be sending messages outside of the country that he may never know about. It would be an unusually adept ambassador who would catch all of the by-play in the incoming messages and the outgoing traffic. Most ambassadors would be surprised to learn that some of the staff messages that are proposed to them for authorization to transmit were received from the ST almost verbatim in the form which his "staff" have given him to send back to Washington. This is a useful device for the ST because it gets a message of unquestioned authority from the ambassador into the Department of State and usually into Defense via attach channels.
By this innocent appearing device, the ST is able to create intelligence inputs that are then used for clandestine operations feedback. This becomes a possible ploy, because the Team can separate the people who know about the outgoing messages from those who know about the incoming messages by the "need to know" and "eyes only" restrictive methods. Such methods are not commonly used, but they are used when someone on the ST feels that the desired end will justify this means.
In this example we saw that the Agency had operatives working in Gandia who were unaware of each other's presence. It is entirely possible that the ambassador may not have known either that all of the CIA men working on this project were CIA men. He would have had available to him a list of all Americans in Gandia if he had wanted to research it; but in operational exercises such as this, it is most likely that he would not know all the agents. This is a most touchy area, and there have been times when the CIA's own chief of station, its senior man in the country, was not aware of the fact that other CIA men were working in his country. This can create some very complex problems. In one case of record it resulted in a very serious altercation between two CIA factions, with the result that the chief of station demanded that the other men leave or that he would leave. In that instance, the chief of station left.
Another way the ST gets around the special operative problem is to employ non U.S. citizens to assist in countries where an overscrupulous ambassador or cautious chief of station have given trouble. A number of such personnel have been used by the CIA in Indochina in a variety of roles, and in some exceptional cases, they have been used on special assignments in Latin America.
The Gandia incident shows another special facility in the hands of the ST. In order to equip General Elciario with an abundance of arms and ammunition, the CIA arranged with the Air Force to airlift these munitions to a remote site. In order to do this the two large C-130 aircraft had to depart from the U.S. Air Force base in Panama with cargo manifests that showed only the actual cargo that was being delivered to the final destination in the capital of Pegoan. This meant that a deal had to be made with customs in order to get out of Panama. The landing in Pegoan had to be clandestine, and the chance of discovery had to be gambled. There have been incidents where such illicit cargo drops were made and then discovered before they could be picked up. In such cases, the cargo had to be abandoned, and the finder was so much the richer; the U.S. Government could not make a move to identify itself as owner of the property.
The pickup flights also had to be clandestine in that they left Gandia and entered Pegoan without clearance or flight plan, made their landing, pickup, and return with no manifested cargo in Gandia. This part of the operation may not seem important, but should there have been exposure of any of those illicit flights, it could have led to exposure of the entire plot, and a coup d'état by the opposite side may have taken place or the old President may have had sufficient warning to take strong measures to remain in power. Certainly if he did learn of this business, he would no longer be a friend of the United States.
We have mentioned the Magsaysay incident before. The way in which the ST was able to build up Magsaysay from an unknown Army captain to a national hero and eventually to president was so appealing that the technique has been attempted in other countries. One of the gambles with that game is that a situation has to be developed, preferably in some remote area where it can be alleged that there is a pro-Communist activity -- in the case in point, Huk (Communist sympathizers) activities. In the beginning there may be an incipient outbreak of banditry caused by crop damage or other hardship. The natives will attack other villages for food and other plunder, usually for the sole purpose of staying alive. As this situation continues and spreads it will come to the attention of the national police or the border patrol. They may not have the means to cope with the uprising and may ask the government to help them. At this point the armed forces may recall their civic action training at Fort Bragg or in Panama and they may ask the U.S. military mission personnel to assist them. No country likes to admit that it has some internal problems, so they quite readily call the banditry "subversive insurgency" and imply that it may be Communist-inspired.
This puts the flame to the wick. Nothing will get a rise out of Special Forces -- both Army and Air Force -- faster. In short order they will be on the spot to see what can be done, and in every case the CIA will have men seeded in the units. At this point this is still a CIA effort, and it may stay in that category as far as the ST is concerned until the disorders have receded or have flared higher. Usually, the breakpoint occurs when it is discovered that the rioting is being blamed upon the incumbent administration. Then the CIA looks for the possibility of a coup, from there on it is the familiar pattern. Such events -- and there have been so many during the past fifteen to twenty years -- show how easily intelligence becomes clandestine operations, and how clandestine operations are usually the result of a reaction or a response mechanism and are not a part of any planning or policy.
This is the great danger. The leaders of CIA and important members of the ST have protested countless times that the CIA does not enter into policy making. In this they are correct on most counts. The problem lies in the fact that they are not policy making, and on top of that, the operations they carry out are not in support of policy, either. They simply grow like Topsy, arising out of a feedback from intelligence data inputs; in some cases there is no reason at all for the action. In other words, there may be no national objective other than the loose coverall or blanket observation that the operation is anti-Communist.
Another special area in which the ST excels is that of logistics support of clandestine operations. They always seem to operate out of a boundless horn of plenty. In the Gandia example, the CIA was able to call for and have delivered a large quantity of munitions, and to have it delivered in heavy aircraft, all of which cost someone a lot of money. We shall have a general discussion of logistics support in a later chapter and will not go unto detail here, but it should be noted that it is one thing to be able to move such a cargo in and out of various countries without customs and other controls, and it is another thing to get the cargo in the first place. Most of us have been led to believe that the Armed Forces are required to account for each and every item they have procured with the taxpayer's dollar. Then how does the CIA manage to get so much, so easily? All munitions have to be transferred from control depots to transportation points, and all such transactions are under control and regulation. To get around this, the ST has developed a system of its own storage depots and has them so interlaced with the military system that not even the military can track down some of the transactions.
These transactions are often written off with the comment, "It's all in the government"; but there is one area of imbalance that adds appreciably to the cost of such extracurricular activities. In the foreign aid program, there are very careful balances in aid maintained between different countries, especially neighboring countries or countries in the same sphere of influence. If we give one country a new series of Army tanks, then we must be prepared to give the neighbor the same. This will repeat itself like a row of dominoes, and the next thing we know we have to re-equip a whole series of countries with the newer equipment, because we started with one. This situation is expensive, and it is hard to control. A delivery to Pakistan of equipment not delivered to India will set off a most unpleasant round of talks with India. During India's border problems in 196~., offers were made to deliver a large shipment of arms to India. Although Pakistan was also involved to a lesser degree in the border problem, this was forgotten in the argument over the imbalance which the former delivery would create between India and Pakistan. In the end, Pakistan did increase its contact with China and became less friendly to the United States.
This system is very complicated and few would have the temerity to interfere with it. However, the CIA has from time to time created situations where munitions delivered to one country, ostensibly for a clandestine operation have ended up in the hands of the central government and have created a gross imbalance within the same sphere. An example of this occurred after the Bay of Pigs operation, when Nicaragua took possession of aircraft and other valuable munitions that had been stockpiled at Puerto Cabezas and had not been used. The advanced model of the B-26 bomber being prepared for the use of the Cubans was a much more lethal aircraft than any neighbor of Nicaragua had in its own inventory. This set off a whole round of arguments about increasing the aircraft inventory of the other countries. Though these examples are limited and incomplete, they serve to point out the nature of clandestine operations.
The principle reason why the creation of the CIA within the framework of our free society has caused very serious problems is because the intelligence function, as it has been operating under the DCI and the rest of the community, almost inevitably leads to clandestine operations. The law intended otherwise, but general practice during the past twenty-five years has served to erode the barriers between Intelligence and clandestine operations to the point where today this type of thing, unfortunately, has become rather commonplace. And why has it become so commonplace? The most basic reason is because nations' ills of all kinds are highlighted by instant global communications and then are generally attributed to the Communist bogeyman. This is not to say, of course, that some ills may not be caused by Communist pressures, just as some are caused by American pressures. (In fact, the benefits of being charged with so many actions are so tremendous for the men in the Kremlin that they would be less than skillful if they did not stir up a few obvious cases now and then to keep the pot boiling. When a small contribution to the effort in Indochina on the part of the men in the Kremlin can get fifty-five thousand Americans killed and $200 billion wasted versus no Russians killed and only a few billion dollars invested, the Kremlin cannot be blamed for using this tactic to its advantage.)
In the Philippines, lumbering interests and major sugar interests have forced tens of thousands of simple, backward villagers to leave areas where they have lived for centuries. When these poor people flee to other areas, it should be quite obvious that they in turn then infringe upon the territorial rights of other villagers or landowners. This creates violent rioting or at least sporadic outbreaks of banditry, that last lowly recourse of dying and terrorized people. Then when the distant government learns of the banditry and rioting, it must offer some safe explanation. The last thing that regional government would want to do would be to say that the huge lumbering or paper interests had driven the people out of their ancestral homeland. In the Philippines it is customary for the local regional government to get a 10 percent rake-off on all such enterprise and for national politicians to get another 10 percent. So the safe explanation becomes "Communist-inspired subversive insurgency". The word for this in the Philippines is Huk.
In the piece of real estate we now call South Vietnam, the refugee problem that resulted in rioting and incipient banditry was derived from three sources. The huge French rubber plantation holdings and lumbering interests, the mass movement of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese from north of the 17th parallel, and the complete collapse of the ancient rice economy, which included the destruction of potable water resources during the early years of the Diem regime -- all came at about the same time to create a terroristic situation among millions of people in what would otherwise have been their ancestral homeland. Again this was attributed to subversive insurgency inspired by Communism.
This is a familiar formula in Latin America, too, and is found to be at the root of the problem in the emerging nations of Africa. In following chapters we shall see how the new U.S. Army doctrine that has been developed at the White House by a special Presidential committee is designed expressly to meet such situations and to create in those countries a military center of power bracketing all political-economic and social activity.
In the context of "Army" policy this committee's two major contributors and authors were both U.S. military generals who were actually the spokesmen for the CIA. The policy that they developed has become the CIA's most effective tool during the "Counterinsurgency era", which began in about 1960-61.
1. One of the most frequently used unclassified code names for the CIA; in general conversation by employees and those familiar with their intimate jargon. Note how the White House/Watergate Affair Group called themselves "the Plumbers," showing their CIA lineage.
From the Word of the Law to the Interpretation: President Kennedy Attempts to Put the CIA Under Control
BESIDE THE TOWERING MOUNTAINS THE FIELD looked more like pastureland than a hidden airfield. As a result, it was not surprising to see mud-covered water buffalo grazing in the shade beneath the wing of the old World War II B-17 Flying Fortress. Low rambling sheds, some of them stables and others supply shelters, were scattered along the perimeter of the field. A full stand of grass and small underbrush had grown up through the mesh of the pierced steel plank that had been laid on the ground to form a parking ramp for a collection of clandestine aircraft.
Coils of barbed wire had been spread everywhere in a cleverly concealed random pattern, with wild flowers growing through it in abundance. Yet for all its appearance of tranquillity, this remote airfield was the center of a most active clandestine air activity. The pastoral scene camouflaged the muted industry of teams of Chinese Nationalist specialists who prepared the B-17s for deep flights over the mainland. Agent information told of trouble deep in China that was being exploited by leaflet drops from the old bombers. Skilled crews, who flew low to use the terrain as cover from radar, pinpointed the trouble cities on each flight because they were natives of the area.
Upon return, one crew reported the city ringed with searchlights probing for the planes through the murky sky. The pilot had dropped through the clouds and actually flown the B-17 in a tight circle inside the ring of searchlights, right over the heart of the ancient city, spraying leaflets all the time. As soon as his leaflet cargo had been dropped, he brought the plane down into the dark path of the river and flew at tree-top level back to the sea coast.
One morning, just after the sun had burst above the eastern peaks of Formosa, I saw two of these aircraft drop into the pasture for a safe landing after an all-night mission. As they taxied to a halt on the steel plank the Chinese ground crews swarmed around the planes, thrilled at the return of the crews and the success of the night and eager to hear how everything had gone. Then I noticed a few American technicians systematically removing tape and film canisters and other specialized equipment from in the planes to the laboratory for development and processing. I couldn't help but ponder the significance of these flights upon these two professional groups and the meaning of the word clandestine, as well as the nature of the policy that accounted for these flights.
To these Chinese the flights were a return to the homeland. They were probes at the remaining weak spots in the Chinese Communist shield. They were a serious attempt designed to arouse mainland Chinese, to demonstrate that the old regime still cared and that the Western World was still with them.
For the Americans these flights were entirely different. I had traveled to Taiwan with a CIA career man, after having completed eight months of concentrated staff work devising and designing an elaborate logistical system for special operations work all over the world. We had flown to Taiwan to see some of the field operations that were supported by this system. As I watched these two distinct elements work, supporting the same mission, from the same base, I saw at first hand a truth that had not been evident back in the Pentagon. The Chinese were very proud of these flights and of their part in doing something for their own people. To the Americans this was just a job, and it was one in which they could not become identified. If a mission failed, as some did, and the crew and the plane were lost, the Chinese Nationalists would honor their gallant men. If a mission was lost, the Americans would have to ignore it and deny they had played any part in the operation at all. In that sense, warfare is honorable and part of an ancient and respected tradition. On the other hand, clandestine warfare is never honorable and must always be denied. With this in mind, why were Americans themselves involved in these operations and others like them all around the world?
The answer is complex. The more intimate one becomes with this activity, the more one begins to realize that such operations are rarely, if ever, initiated from an intent to become involved in pursuit of some national objective in the first place. It would be hard to find an example of a clandestine operation that had been developed from the beginning solely in support of some significant national objective.
The lure of "fun and games" is addictive, and it is most powerful. There would be no intelligence problem at any level within the community if it were not for the inevitability of the desire to divert intelligence operations into secret operations. There would be little complaint and few problems if the CIA was limited to include secret intelligence and no more. In this day of three-dimensional capability with electronic snoopers and satellites, there is no place to hide anyhow, and concealment and secrecy are time-limited devices at best.
It used to be that if a nation defended its borders and saw to it that no one entered its territory, it could keep secret its actions, its maneuvers, and its intentions. It was the secret development of the simple iron ramrod that gave the armies of Frederick the Great of Prussia such a predominant margin of superiority in battle. Today, such singular and distinct advances might occur, as with the atom bomb. But the secret -- if it is a secret at all -- cannot be kept. There is no way to hide it and no place to hide. High-flying aircraft and satellite observation platforms provide us with accurate photographic information sufficient to identify and distinguish such an object as a round card table from a square card table. Special sensors give evidence of crop yields, thermal output variations, and many other areas of information. Nuclear weapons plants can be observed on a regular schedule and activity gauged quite accurately by several methods. Various electronic and communications monitors provide much more valuable information that even the satellites cannot get. Sophisticated economic studies provide volumes of essential and very precise information that cannot be hidden except at great cost and inconvenience. The very fact that modern industrial production methods require numbering, marking, and serial coding of products and parts manufactured plays directly into the hands of the vigilant intelligence operator. There can be few real secrets, and even these become fewer as soon as a little time is involved.
A good secret will last only a short time at best. Even the secret of the atom bomb and of its delivery system was more than 50 percent compromised once the bomb had burst over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As Norbert Wiener had said in his book, The Human Use of Human Beings: "When we consider a problem of nature such as that of atomic reactions and atomic explosions, the largest single item of information which we can make public is that they exist. Once a scientist attacks a problem which he knows to have an answer, his entire attitude is changed. He is already some fifty percent of his way toward that answer." And of more particular relevancy to the field of intelligence is another quote from Wiener: "The most important information which we can possess is the knowledge that the message which we are reading is not gibberish." In this context he is talking about the problem of codebreakers; but this is also applicable to many other areas of interest involving data acquired from numberless sources in tremendous quantities. The responsibility lies heavily upon the intelligence system itself to assure that it has been able to separate the wheat from the chaff. Data may not be gibberish as it comes in, but if it is not processed and evaluated properly, it may be useless when it comes out.
It is always of paramount importance to know that the information we have is not planted, false or a product of deception. So even the quest for secret intelligence may not exist as a major requirement to the extent that the CIA purists would like to make it seem. But this is not the real problem. The real problem is with clandestine operations In peacetime that have been mounted in response to intelligence data inputs that might have been deceptive or misinterpreted in the first place
During World War II there were reasons for clandestine operations, and much essential information was obtained by such means. However, as many students and researchers in this area have discovered, the value of such clandestine means was relatively small. As soon as World War II was over, President Truman dissolved the OSS to assure that clandestine operations would cease immediately. Six months later, when he founded the Central intelligence Group, he expressly denied a covert role for that authority and restricted the DCI to a coordinating function. During the debates leading up to the passage of the National Security Act of 1947 (NSA/47), proponents of a clandestine role for the CIA were repeatedly outmaneuvered and outvoted in Congress. In his book The Secret War, Sanche de Gramont reports: "The NSA/47 replaced the CIG with the CIA, a far more powerful body. From the hearings on the NSA/47 it is evident that no one knew exactly what the nature of the beast would be." At that time a member of the House, Representative Fred Busby, made the prophetic and quite accurate remark: "I wonder if there is any foundation for the rumors that have come to me to the effect that through this CIA they are contemplating operational activities." That congressman knew what he was talking about, and as we look back upon a quarter-century of the CIA it seems hard to believe that he wasn't sure that was exactly what they were up to in the first place.
When the law was passed, it contained no provision whatsoever either for collection of intelligence or for clandestine activities. However it did contain one clause that left the door ajar for later interpretation and exploitation. The CIA was created by the NSA/47 and placed under the direction of the NSC, a committee. This same act had established the NSC at the same time. Therefore, the CIA's position relative to the NSC was without practice and precedent; but the law was specific in placing the agency under the direction of that committee, and in not placing the Agency in the Office of the President and directly under his control. In conclusion, this act provided that among the duties the CIA would perform, it would:
. . . (5) perform such other functions and duties related to intelligence affecting the National Security as the NSC may from time to time direct.
This was the inevitable loophole, and as time passed and as the CIA and the ST grew in power and know-how they tested this clause in the Act and began to practice their own interpretation of its meaning. They believed that it meant they could practice clandestine operations. Their perseverance paid off. During the summer of 1948 the NSC issued a directive, number 10/2, which authorized special operations, with two stipulations: (a) Such operations must be secret, and (b) such operations must be plausibly deniable. These were important prerequisites.
The CIA really worked at the achievement of this goal toward unlimited and unrestrained covert operations. In its earlier years the directors, Admiral Souers and General W. B. Smith, were preoccupied with the task of getting the Agency organized, with beating down the traditional opposition of the older members of the community, and with performing their primary function, that of coordinating national intelligence. However, with the advent of the Allen Dulles era, ever-increasing pressure was placed on the restraints that bound covert operations. Dulles succeeded in freeing the Agency from these fetters to such an extent that five years after his departing from the Agency the retiring DCI, Admiral Raborn, was so conditioned to the CIA "party line" that he could not quote the law correctly.
In reply to a question put to him by the U.S. News and World Report of July 18, 1966, asking what was the specific charter of the CIA, he said, ". . . to perform such other services as the NSC may direct. . . That fifth assignment is the Agency's charter for clandestine activities. . . " This is a very small deviation from the exact language of the law, but it is fundamental, and it shows how the Agency and even its DCI in 1966 believed and wanted others to believe that the NSA/47 did in fact give the CIA a clandestine activity charter, whereas it did not. The Act carefully stipulated that the CIA could perform such other activities as the "NSC would from time to time direct". That "time to time" stipulation clearly limits the Agency's "other services" to intermittent matters and does not give the Agency any clear authority to perform clandestine activities. As a matter of fact, many other actions, as we shall see, took place to prevent the Agency from getting any such automatic and routine authority.
Another statement of Admiral Raborn's is equally slanted. In response to a question about clandestine activity, he states that the Agency "must have the prior approval -- in detail -- of a committee of the NSC" before it can carry out such activity. Again there is but a shading of the language of the law; but again it is most fundamental. The law says that the Agency is under the direction of the NSC. In terms of how the Agency should, in accordance with the law, become involved in clandestine activity, the law follows its "from time to time" stipulation by saying that the Agency will perform such activity "by direction of the NSC". There is a distinct difference between winning approval of something and doing it by direction of the NSC. The distinction is in the area of the origin of the idea. The laws sees the NSC as responsible for the origination of the idea and then for the direction of the Agency. The Agency sees this as being something that it originates, ostensibly through its intelligence sources, and then takes to the NSC for approval. This was not contemplated by the law. Furthermore, the law did not authorize the creation of a "committee of NSC" for such important matters. It was the intent of the Congress that the NSC itself direct such things.
It should be noted also that Admiral Raborn got carried away in this interview with another statement. In response to the question, "Would the U.S. ambassador in the country concerned know about your activities there?" Raborn replied, "CIA's overseas personnel are subordinate to the U.S. ambassadors. We operate with the foreknowledge and approval of the ambassador." The reader may have his choice in concluding that Admiral Raborn either made an untrue statement, or that he did not know how his clandestine services operated. I choose to believe the latter. In either case, there are countless instances in which the ambassador does not know what the CIA is doing. Kenneth Galbraith's Ambassador's Journal is all anyone needs to read to see that. Or would someone like to say that Ambassador Keating in India knew what Henry Kissinger and his Agency friends were doing in Pakistan and India during the December, 1971, conflict? Another case would be that of Ambassador Timberlake in the Congo.
It would be unthinkable that the DCI, in this case Admiral Raborn, would intentionally make untrue statements in a national publication such as the U.S. News and World Report. The least he could have done would have been to avoid the question entirely. The deeper meaning of this interview is that Admiral Raborn, after more than a year of duty as DCI, simply did not know how his operating agents worked. He thought he had a clear ticket for clandestine operations, and he thought that arrangements were such that ambassadors would know about the actions of the CIA's clandestine operators. This is a clear example of how far the Agency has gone in getting around the law and in creating its own inertial drift, which puts it into things almost by an intelligence-input-induced automation system, without the knowledge of its own leaders and certainly without the knowledge of most higher-level authorities.
In times of peace it would have been unthinkable for one nation to interfere openly in the internal affairs of another without some prior understanding. All such occurrences otherwise are met with disapproval from all over the world. It must be admitted at the present time such fine points are sometimes overlooked for various emergency reasons; but these are the exceptions and not the rule. Even in South Vietnam, where there has never been a really independent government and where the United States, for all its sacrifice and assistance, might be expected quite understandably to have some rights, we find that the ambassador leans over backwards, at least in appearance, not to interfere in the internal affairs of that beleaguered nation. And that is a rather extreme example.
In the world family of nations, sovereignty is one of the key conditions of existence, and sovereignty is inviolate. Even if we talk about some small country such as Monaco or Luxembourg, the code of nations regards their sovereignty to be as precious as that of the United States or the USSR. The day this code breaks down will be the beginning of the end of world order and of a return to the rule of brute force. Liberty begins as the aspiration of the individual, and sovereignty is the measure of the absolute power of a state. As we look around us today, we see an erosion of this fundament of international society. It is for this reason that we must look into this situation and consider how important it is to the world community to uphold principles that we hold to be essential and priceless assets of our civilization.
Since sovereignty is priceless and must be inviolate, it is fundamental that no nation has the right to do that which if every other nation did likewise, would destroy this fragile fabric of civilization. We all agree in 99 percent of the cases that no nation has the right to infringe overtly upon the sovereignty of another. Since there is no higher court or other jurisdictional body empowered as final and absolute arbiter over the nations of the world, judgments in such cases must be left to the honor that exists among nations. When this fails, the only other alternative is for all nations large and small to form power blocks and alliances that in one way or another result in dependence upon brute force and sufficient leverage to demand compliance with the doctrine of sovereignty. Such moves in themselves result in the sacrifice of some measure of sovereignty. The price of alliance is generally some form of agreement and limitation of sovereignty that binds each party to assist the other even to the point of maintaining troops on the other's soil, or some other such measure. But for lack of other means, all nations must in the final issue seek their own security as best they can, and somewhere in this fabric the common good directs that all nations honor and respect certain unassailable rights.
Since no nation would then resort to overt infringement of sovereignty without being ready to face up to a war with that nation -- perhaps a war of major proportions involving nations in alliance with that nation -- then overt infringement is for all practical purposes out of the question. In all respects overt violation of the sovereignty of one nation by another would be a more difficult decision to make than a covert or clandestine infringement of sovereignty. If one nation believes that it has so much at stake that it must infringe upon the sovereignty of another nation, it will resort to clandestine means as the lesser of two evils.
Choosing a clandestine act leads to a rich dilemma: either the operation will be successful and it will never be discovered, or it will fail and the guilty nation may be found out. And then, realizing that such operations are directed and manned by human beings and that failure is inevitable, the NSC added a second most important stipulation, to the effect that in the case of failure the U.S. Government must be able to disclaim plausibly any part in such an operation. These safeguards take none of the gravity away from the nature of the operation; they simply serve as a precautionary and stringent guidelines to remind the Agency that clandestine operations directed by an agency of the U.S. Government are serious business.
Lest anyone think that the only barriers to the conduct of covert operations are those that reflect upon honor, prestige, and other gentlemanly intangibles, we should not overlook the other side of the coin. The U.S. Government has been blackmailed to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars in goods, materials, and preferential trade agreements as a result of the failures of clandestine operations in Cuba, Nicaragua, Greece, Indonesia, the Congo, Tibet, Pakistan, Norway, and other nations. This is one of the seldom noted and rarely announced hidden costs of such activities.
At the time the NSC published its guidelines in 1948, they were heeded with great care. One of the most important characteristics of a covert operation, in addition to the fact that it must be secret, is that it be very small. There is no such thing as a successful big clandestine operation. The bigger the operation, the less chance there is that it can be secret. This issue was one of the most serious matters to come out of the personal review of the Bay of Pigs failure that was made by President Kennedy and his brother. Although the law states that the CIA is under the direction of the NSC, there have been times, usually after the failure of a major operation, when the President has had to accept publicly the responsibility for the operation. It is obvious to anyone that the President as the elected leader of this nation is responsible for all activity of the Government. It is even more evident that the President as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of this country bears the final and sole responsibility for all military action; but nothing in the traditional military doctrine provides for the role of the Commander in Chief when involved in peacetime covert operations. A nation is not supposed to become involved in covert activity -- ever. Therefore its commander in chief is not -- ever -- supposed to be involved either in the success or the failure of such action. Recent CIA failures such as the U-2, Indonesia, the Bay of Pigs, and more recently, Indochina, have involved the Commander in Chief.
At this point when a covert operation has failed and has become public knowledge, the President is faced with a most unpleasant dilemma. He must accept the responsibility for the operation or he must not. If he does, he admits that this country has been officially and willfully involved in an illegal and traditionally unpardonable activity. If he does not, he admits that there are subordinates within his Government who have taken upon themselves the direction of such operations, to jeopardize the welfare and good name of this country by mounting clandestine operations. Such an admission requires that he dismiss such individuals and banish them from his Administration.
However, by the terms of the definition of clandestine activities, no one should be put in a position of having to admit responsibility for such operations. It is always agreed before the operation is launched that should it fail it will be disowned and denied. If this is not done and if extreme care has not been taken to assure the secrecy, success, and then if necessary, the deniability of each operation, no clandestine operation should ever be launched. If clandestine operations that do not meet these stringent requirements are set in motion they should not be pursued. They are falsely clandestine if they do not meet these requirements and thus enter the realm of open and inexcusable overt operations, disguised as it were as clandestine operations, or finally, in the last analysis, they are the product of shallow hypocrisy and callousness. During the past fifteen years things have gone that far, and there have been so-called clandestine operations that were in reality bold-faced overt activities carried out within another country without its consent. Most such events have resulted in coups d'état, some of which have been successful and some failures; but in all cases the open "clandestine" activity was rationalized on the basis that the old government was undesirable, that it was going to be overthrown and a little intervention was necessary anyhow.
The Bay of Pigs invasion and all of the other operational evens that accompanied that ill-fated exercise were more or less in that category. The whole campaign was much too large to have been clandestine. It had been too long and too open in the preparatory stages, and there had been too many leaks of what was going on. Secrecy was an hypocritical sham. To top this all off, what secrecy there was -- what real deep and deceptive secrecy existed -- existed within the U.S. Government itself. More effort had been made by the ST to shield, deceive, and confuse people inside the Government than took place on the outside. And since the great thrust of the program came after the Kennedy election in November 1960, the great bulk of the build-up in secrecy and under elaborate cover story scenarios took place right in the White House, the Pentagon, the Department of State, and other agencies that might have been expected to have known what was being planned. The result of all of this was that no one outside of a very few men at the heart of the ST in and out of the CIA had access to all of the facts. I use the words "had access to" intentionally, because even though a small team of men were in a position to know all that was going on by virtue of their being on the "inside" of the ring of need-to-know, they did not know all that was going on because they were not in a position to encompass the entire operation, nor did they comprehend all that they did see. Such an operation, once it begins to grow, takes on a corporate existence of its own, and unless there is unusually competent leadership at the top, the kind of leadership that can tighten things up by saying "No" at the right time and for the right reasons, the whole operation blooms by itself and runs on like wildfire. As we have said earlier, Allen Dulles did not even attempt to apply such leadership, and his chief lieutenants were not in a position to provide it. Thus it was that the Bay of Pigs operation went off pretty much by itself and foundered.
It was only after its failure that Kennedy really began to see the scope and magnitude of the problem. Kennedy was not experience in this type of thing. He had very little useful military experience that would have stood him in good stead here, and he had not been on the inside of a clandestine operation development before. This is a special knowledge that is not learned by equivalent experience in other walks of life, and he had not suspected the problems that he would inherit with this failure. But President Kennedy was also not the type to permit such a thing to hit him twice. He was smart, tough, and politically alert. He saw no other way to quiet the situation after this dismal failure then to accept total responsibility and to try to make the best of a tragic situation. On April 3 he appointed a committee to investigate the entire operation, and on April 4, 1961, the White House issued the following statement:
"President Kennedy has stated from the beginning that as President he bears sole responsibility for the events of the past few days. He has stated it on all occasions and he restates it now so that it will be understood by all. The President is strongly opposed to anyone within or without the administration attempting to shift the responsibility."
This statement was reminiscent of the blanket statement issued by Eisenhower after the U-2 failure in Russia on May 1, 1960. Once the Government is caught in a "blown" and uncovered clandestine activity that has failed, there can be no other out but to admit that the Government of the United States, for reasons of its own, had planned an intrusion into another government's sovereign territory, and then accept the consequences and see what can be made of a bad situation.
The committee appointed by President Kennedy consisted of Allen Dulles, General Maxwell Taylor, Admiral Arleigh Burke, and the President's brother Robert F. Kennedy. This was a most fortuitous group for many reasons, and it is worth a few lines here to discuss these men and their selection.
Allen Dulles had the special knack of being able to move forward in adversity. He could shed problems and move into the next series of ventures while the Government, the public, and the newspapermen were sifting through the ashes of a past failure. He was confident in this ability because he knew how to make secrecy work for him and how to compartmentalize so that few people, even within his inner circle, really knew which way he was going to move. It would be perfectly correct to point out that this ability to move within a cloak of secrecy comes not so much from some inner wisdom as from the persistent small force, not unlike gravity, that leads the ST from one operation to another for no other reason than that they find a new bit of input data and their built-in feedback system begins to respond like water finding a new course around a temporary obstacle. Thus, Allen Dulles was in an ideal -- for him -- situation when he was appointed to this committee. Immediately, he began to set the committee up for his net venture, and he maneuvered the hearings to bring about the most gain for the ST and his Agency, even though he no doubt realized that he would not last much longer as the DCI under Kennedy.
It was important to him to see that his chief of clandestine operations, Richard Bissell, was placed properly in another quiet and influential post and that Bissell's successor would be one whom he could rely upon to carry out the goals of the Agency. Bissell was maneuvered into the job of director of the Institute of Defense Analysis (IDA), a high powered think-tank that works directly for the Office of the Secretary of Defense and for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. IDA is also a frequently valuable conduit for CIA proposals that it wants introduced without attribution to the Pentagon, the Department of State, and the White House. In such situations, the CIA will pass a paper to IDA for its processing. IDA will put it on its letterhead, and an IDA team which may include an agent on cover assignment, will take the project to the Pentagon. Then, instead of going into the Pentagon in the usual prescribed manner in which CIA matters are handled, IDA will meet with officials, for example in the prestigious office of the deputy director for Research and Engineering. From there the paper may be staffed throughout the rest of the Office of the Secretary, the JCS, and the Services. This assignment of Dick Bissell to IDA was most helpful to the CIA. And although he was being publicly removed from the Kennedy Administration and banished from the public sector, he was a close as ever to the activity of the Agency in a think-tank totally sponsored by government money. Subsequently, Allen Dulles moved Richard Helms into the position vacated by Bissell.
Dulles' next goal was to rebuild the influence of the CIA in the White House. He accomplished this masterfully by seeing to it that Bobby Kennedy heard all the things he wanted him to hear during these hearings. He won him over without the appearance of catering to him or doting upon him. Therefore, he saw to it that Bobby was left to his own thoughts as each day's witnesses entered the committee rooms in the windowless confines of the inner JCS area of the Pentagon. All he did was to make certain that the train of witnesses was so selected that their testimony would be patterned to present the Agency in its best light and to inconspicuously transfer blame to others, such as the JCS. But most of all he arranged for witnesses who would provide background briefings of the new Agency drift into counterinsurgency. The broad plan for counterinsurgency as a marriage of the CIA and of the U.S. Army had been laid down during the last months of the Eisenhower Administration. It remained for its proponents, mostly men of the ST, to sell it to the Kennedy team.
Throughout this complex process his primary target for conversion to the CIA was General Maxwell Taylor. Here was the right man at the time for Allen Dulles' exploitation and for the use of the ST. Dulles was very good at this kind of thing. He had used General Edward G. Lansdale this way many times, to the considerable personal benefit of Lansdale and for the immeasurable benefit of the CIA. Lansdale had had good fortune in the Philippines in making a president out of the unknown Magsaysay; but it had been Allen Dulles, with skillful assistance from Admiral Radford and Cardinal Spellman, whose bottomless blank-check tactics made the whole thing work. Now Dulles was playing for bigger stakes, and his man was to be General Taylor. Dulles needed a man like Taylor in the White House to rebuild confidence in the Agency after the Bay of Pigs fiasco.
General Taylor's career was interesting. He always seemed to be displeased with the way things were going, and he always seemed to be pushing some "cause" against a real or imagined adversary. Years ago he had followed in the high-speed wake of Admiral Arleigh Burke in attacking the Air Force over the intercontinental bomber B-36 issues and the related strategic concept of massive retaliation. He surrounded himself with a coterie of young hotheads and let them stir up the dust while he pounded the table. In a most characteristic scene, he rose up out of the sound and fury of the post-Suez era in 1956, when Krushchev had threatened London and Paris with rockets, to sound his trumpet for an intermediate-range ballistic missile. At that time this created quite a stir in Washington and eventually led to the replacement of the Secretary of Defense because of the friction generated by the Army and Air Force protagonists over a missile that nobody needed in the first place. It had just happened that Krushchevs rockets, to have been effective, would have to have had a range of about fifteen hundred miles. The Taylor and Medaris (Army General Medaris) version of the tactics involved to counter them would then require an American missile with an intermediate range, judged by them to be about fifteen hundred miles. And the Army believed it had just the missile, a rocket called Jupiter. The details of this great debate are not important here; it is simply useful to point out that it is typical of General Taylor to leap into a cause, frequently with a hotheaded team of firebrands, and to joust with the windmill. He got nowhere in the B-36 debates, and he forced an unnecessary showdown over the intermediate range ballistic missile, which went counter to the best interests of the Army.
Later, Taylor had other arguments with the Eisenhower Administration that caused him to resign in a huff in 1959. Immediately, he set out to write a book, The Uncertain Trumpet, which purported to show the fallacy of the massive retaliation strategy, but which was more a polemic on the Eisenhower administration's relegation of the Army to a reduced role in national military planning. With this background he was an ideal figure for Allen Dulles to cultivate to act as a front man for the CIA in the White House.
The CIA had learned how to turn the restrictions of the NSC directives around to their advantage with respect to the promotion and approval of clandestine activities. Since the CIA was bound to win the approval of the NSC before it could mount such exercises, the best thing to do was to create a group of participants in the NSC structure itself who would always perform as Allen Dulles wanted them to perform. This left him with a few things to get set up his way.
As we have noted, the law states that the CIA is under the direction of the NSC; and further it states in the escape clause, which is interpreted to suggest that the CIA may get into the clandestine business, that the CIA may perform such other activities as the NSC may from time to time direct. The first thing that the ST did was to wear down the meaning of the word "direct". In the original context it was the intent of the Government that there be no clandestine activity whatsoever except in those rare instances when the NSC might see something so important that it would "direct" an agency, presumably the CIA, to perform the operation. In the strict sense of this interpretation, the only time the CIA could become involved in the preparation of any clandestine activity would be when "directed" by the NSC and not before.
Under the erosion process used by the ST, this idea of "direction" became "approval". Once the CIA had become involved in a series of clandestine operations, it then would make a practice of going back to the NSC, to the Special Group 5412/2 as it was in those days, and ostentatiously brief the next operation as a series. As they hoped, after a while the important and very busy members of the NSC or of the NSC subcommittee would plead other duties and designate someone else to act for them at the meetings. This diluted the control mechanism appreciably. Further, the CIA saw to it that men who would always go along with them were the designated alternates.
This is another part of the special expertise of the ST. The CIA would use secrecy and need-to-know control to arrange with a Cabinet-level officer for the cover assignment of an Agency employee to that organization, for example to the Federal Aviation Administration. The Cabinet officer would agree without too much concern and quietly tip off his manpower officer to arrange a "slot" (personnel space) for someone who would be coming into a certain office. He would simply say that the "slot would be reimbursed", and this would permit the FAA to carry a one-man overage in its manning tables. Soon the man would arrive to work in that position. As far as his associates would know, he would be on some special project, and in a short time he would have worked so well into the staff that they would not know that he was not really one of them. Turnover being what it is in bureaucratic Washington, it would not be too long before everyone around that position would have forgotten that it was still there as a special slot. It would be a normal FAA-assigned job with a CIA man in it.
Then the CIA would work to beef up the power of that position until the man was in a situation that could be used for membership on various committees, boards, and so on. In the case of the FAA, the actual CIA slotted men are in places where they can assist the ST with its many requirements in the field of commercial aviation, both transport and aircraft maintenance and supply companies.
This same procedure works for slots in the Departments of State, Defense, and even in the White House. By patient and determined exploitation and maneuvering of these positions, the Agency is able to get key men into places where they are ready for the time when the ST wishes to pull the strings to have a certain man made the alternate, or to designate someone for a role such as that of the NSC 5412/2 Special Group. This is intricate and long-range work but it pays off, and the ST is adept at the use of these tactics. Of course, there are many variations of the ways in which this can be done. The main thing is that it is done skillfully and under the heavy veil of secrecy. Many key CIA career men have served in such slots as agents operating within the United States Government. There is no question about the fact that some of these agents have been the most influential and productive agents in the CIA, and there is no doubt that the security measures utilized to cover these agents within our own government have been heavier than those used between the United States and other governments.
Thus the CIA has been able to evolve a change in the meaning of and the use of the control word "direct" and then to get its own people into key positions so that when they do present operations for approval they are often presenting these critical clandestine schemes to their own people. The Pentagon Papers detail much of this, and we shall discuss it later. One reason why Bill Bundy appears so frequently in the Pentagon Papers is because he was a long-time career CIA man, and he was used as a conduit by the CIA to get its schemes for Vietnam to and past such men as McNamara and Rusk.
In this manner Allen Dulles worked to create a role for the army "black sheep", Maxwell Taylor. It was in Dulles' interest to get Taylor into the White House, and it was very much in Taylor's personal interest to get back into a position where he expected to be able to press some of his old ideas, or what was more likely, where he would be useful as the front man for some of his former staffers. Taylor's approach. when confronted with an explanation or a proposal that varied from his own, was usually a brusque, "Get on the team." In other words, if you were not with him, you were against him, and if you were not on the "team" you would be dropped summarily. Many a good Army Officer of that era was brushed aside simply because he tried to point out other views than those held by Taylor.
In Taylor's book, The Uncertain Trumpet, he cites his method of operation when he was in opposition to the chairman of the JCS and the other Chiefs: "I arrived carefully prepared with a written rebuttal drawn up with the help of some of my ablest staff officers. I took the offensive at the start of the session, attacking the unsoundness of the proposal from all points of view -- military, political, and fiscal." On the face of it there is nothing wrong with such a method, and all of the Chiefs do that, but General Taylor made a career of charging into meetings with the "written rebuttal" of some of his firebrand of officers and of getting knocked flat on his face. This would not be so unimportant an observation if I had not witnessed JCS meetings with and without General Taylor present at the time when he was the chairman himself. And it would not have become so public a bit of information if some of these written works that he cites had not been published in all their unbelievable candor in the Pentagon Papers. Goethe's statement that "There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action" may be very true, and we have the war in Vietnam to prove it; but that statement can be topped. There is nothing so frightful and so self-righteous as an otherwise intelligent and experienced man who, to serve his own ends, will champion the cause of the ignorant in action.
Allen Dulles was able to get Maxwell Taylor into the White House as personal military adviser to President Kennedy. There was much public discussion about the propriety of placing a general in such a capacity in the White House, ostensibly overseeing and perhaps second-guessing the lawful chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The CIA had its cake to keep and to eat on this point because not only did it gain Maxwell Taylor as a principal ally at the seat of power, but it finessed a good share of the Bay of Pigs blame upon the JCS without so much as saying so. Most people were willing to read into this key appointment what they thought was the President's own view that there must be something to the allegations that the JCS botched up the Bay of Pigs if Kennedy himself, with all he knew after that investigation, brought General Maxwell Taylor into the White House to keep an eye on the military.
It must have delighted General Taylor to let the rumors and the conjecture fly. He could play it either way. He could second-guess the chairman, General Lyman Lemnitzer -- as capable a chairman as there has ever been -- or he could settle down to his new role of advancing ST schemes, along with his newly-won friends, the U.S. Army Special Forces, the Green Berets. This sort of Army was much to his liking, and this sort of Army was already up to its neck in operations with the CIA. Maxwell Taylor was not the White House military adviser in the regular sense; he was the CIA's man at the White House, and he was the paramilitary adviser.
Through all of this board of inquiry investigation, Allen Dulles orchestrated the rest of the committee members into his plan. Admiral Arleigh Burke, without question the ablest admiral to serve as Chief of Naval Operations since World War II, had chaired many JCS meetings during the period when the Bay of Pigs operation was being developed, and since much of the planning involved the Navy and the Marines Corps (the top military man on the CIA staff was a most able and experienced Marine colonel) he was the logical member of the JCS to sit on the committee. His position on the committee, however, must have caused him quite a bit of concern, because as he witnessed the unfolding of the operation as Dulles unwound the scheme he must have wondered if what he was hearing in that room could possibly have had anything to do with the operational information that he had heard during briefings.
One of the really secret techniques of the ST is to cellularize and play by ear the development of some scheme. It would be hard to say that they planned it that way, because one of the things that the Team understands and practices the least is planning. But as an operation develops they assign one part of it to one group and another part to another group. At certain levels of the hierarchy these come together. It would be nice if such things were done with PERT chart or Network Charting precision and effectiveness; but they are not. So as an operation develops, it grows haphazardly. When the CIA needs something from the Navy it will have a certain man call upon the Naval Focal Point Office and request the item. Depending upon how easy this detail is put over, the briefer may or may not tell the Navy what he plans to do with it. The Navy may press him and say, in effect, "We cannot send two Navy doctors on temporary duty to Panama for Project XYZ unless you tell us exactly what Project XYZ is and why you need two Navy doctors." The Navy knows that if the doctors were to be used on an Army post this would not look right, even in Panama, and the Navy might be left holding the bag in the event the operation were to be compromised. At this point the CIA man might tell the Navy the real story, or he might tell them a cover story (a lie) and see if he can get away with it. In either case, if the Focal Point officer is doing his job, he will gain sufficient time to call upon the office of the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) to mention this request to the "cleared" executive officer there. At this point, the executive officer may or may not choose to inform the CNO.
In this rather hit-and-miss manner, the CNO, in this case Admiral Burke, may or may not have ever gotten a thorough briefing on the whole Bay of Pigs operation. Since no one else did, it would be surprising if Admiral Burke did. Furthermore, as he filled in for General Lemnitzer only from time to time, he could not possibly have ever received a full and comprehensive Bay of Pigs briefing in his capacity as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
This is not to say that the JCS may not have demanded and then have received a formal briefing. The JCS did have a briefing of sorts during January 1961, just before the Kennedy inauguration. It was their one-time introduction to what the CIA was doing. But such briefings are themselves not comprehensive. They suffer first of all from the limitations of the briefing officers, who may not know all that is being done, and who for their own parts, have not been told all that is under way.
Therefore, even though someone as important as a member of the JCS may insist upon a briefing in full, the very fact that he is so important will embolden the ST to endeavor to give as little information as they are pressed to serve up, because they can be sure he has been too busy to become familiar with all prior activity.
As a result, it would be surprising if Admiral Burke could have recognized little more than one-third of what he heard during the committee meetings in those hectic days in the Pentagon of April and May 1961.
Furthermore, Allen Dulles had other trump cards. No one on the committee and few people, if any, anywhere really knew who all the responsible men were at the core of this operation. In his very excellent book, The Bay of Pigs, Haynes Johnson tells of his interviews with the Cubans to find out what they were asked at these meetings and what they said at these meetings. But he found no one else with whom he could discuss the operation. He did not know whom to ask, and no one else would know the right ones either. Allen Dulles was not at all interested in bringing to the committee hearings the men responsible for and most familiar with the operation. As a matter of fact, as far as he was concerned, that operation was over, it was a mess, it was not to be resurrected. He arranged these hearings so that Maxwell Taylor and Bobby Kennedy could hear as much as possible about the ways and means of the ST, not in the past, but in the future. As a result, Allen Dulles marched an endless column of men in and out of the committee rooms who had either nothing or very little to do with the real Bay of Pigs operation. The most important thing was that a whole host of men who had a lot to do with the operation were completely ignored. Again using the need-to-know principle, Dulles could do more by excluding knowledgeable men from the meetings than he could by parading platoons of men who knew only one phase or another.
Typical of the style of questioning was that in which General Taylor discussed with certain Cubans the tactics they had used on the beach. This led to a wider discussion of Green Berets and paramilitary-type tactics and of the military role in civic action programs, all of this away from the main subject. Mr. Dulles found in his patient hands some putty in the form of Bobby Kennedy and Maxwell Taylor.
No one should underestimate the role played by Bobby Kennedy. Nothing in his strenuous career had prepared him to become a military strategist or battlefield tactician; but few men in this country were more experienced in the ways of the Government, and few men were tougher than Bobby Kennedy. He may have been won over on the Green Berets' side because at that stage of development their doctrine was uncluttered by later horrible events in Vietnam and because this doctrine was an idealistic mix of Boy Scouts, military government, and Red Cross. But the evidence is that Bobby Kennedy was not misled in his appraisal of the real problems underlying the serious and tragic failure of the Bay of Pigs operation. He came very close to seeing how terribly significant the real meaning of clandestine operations is and how gross an impact the failure of such operations can have upon national prestige and credibility. It is entirely possible that had John Kennedy lived to serve until re-elected, sometime during his Administration the genie of clandestine operations would have been put back into the bottle and the CIA might have been returned to its legally authorized role of an intelligence agency and no more.
The committee hearings ended in May 1961. No report of these hearings has ever been published. It is possible that if it were to be published it would be a most misleading document. It would contain all manner of irrelevant testimony, and it would be devoid of solid inside information. However, somewhere in the inner sanctum of the Kennedy White House there were some very hard-hitting and valuable meetings concerning the future of clandestine operations by the United States Government. These meetings must have been attended only by the Kennedy "family team", not by the President's official staff. Out of these meetings came three most interesting and remarkable documents.
Kennedy did not utilize the structured NSC he inherited from Eisenhower; yet, from time to time he had to issue very important directives that affected the national security. Thus he issued what were called National Security Action Memoranda (NSAM). By June of 1961, some fifty or more such memoranda had been published, and the Department of Defense had established procedures for the processing and implementation of these major directives. Then, shortly after the Bay of Pigs committee had completed its hearings, the White House issued three NSAM of a most unusual and revolutionary nature. They prescribed vastly limiting stipulations upon the conduct of clandestine operations. NSAM #55 was addressed to the chairman of the JCS, and its principle theme was to instruct the chairman that the President of the United States held him responsible for all "military-type" operations in peacetime as he would be responsible for them in time of war. Because of the semantic problems inherent in dealing with this subject, it is not always possible to be as precise in writing about clandestine operations as one might like to be; but there was no misunderstanding the full intent and weight of this document. Peacetime operations, as used in that context, were always clandestine operations. The radical turn of this memorandum came from the fact that the President was charging the chairman with this responsibility. It did not say that the chairman should develop such operations. In fact, accompanying directives clarified that issue to mean that clandestine operations were to cease, or at least to be much restricted. What it did do was to charge the chairman with providing the President with advice and counsel on any such developments. This NSAM therefore put into the chairman's hands the authority to demand full and comprehensive briefings and an inside role during the development of any clandestine operation in which the U.S. Government might become involved.
The usual NSAM was signed by one of the senior members of the White House staff, and this changed from time to time depending upon the subject matter of the directive and the addressee. NSAM #55 was most singular in that it was addressed only to the chairman of the JCS with an information addressee notation for the DCI, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Defense; and this order was signed personally by President John F. Kennedy. There was to be no doubt in the minds of any of the inner group of the Kennedy Administration concerning the President's meaning and intentions. The fact that the DCI received his copy as "information" was alone sufficient to heavily underscore the President's message.
Coming as it did on the heels of the committee's intensive though inconclusive and somewhat misleading investigations, this document more than any other emphatically underlined the importance of the role of Bobby Kennedy. He may have been the passive member of the committee as he soaked up the action but if nothing more came out of the hearings than this one directive, his presence on that committee would have been well worthwhile. It had become clear to the Kennedys and to their inner "family" that CIA lack of leadership in the Bay of Pigs had been the cause of its failure. The total lack of on-the-spot tactical leadership was the first element Kennedy attacked once the hearings had concluded. This document more than anything else sealed the fate of Dick Bissell and Allen Dulles. When the chips were down, they had not been there, nor had they made their presence felt.
NSAM #56 was not a significant document and was more intended to fill a small chink in the leaking dam than to reroute the whole stream of events. But what it lacked in thunder was more than made up in NSAM # 57. We have been saying much about clandestine operations and of the very peculiar nature of this type of business. When it has all been reviewed, one of the principal conclusions must be that the United States Government is inherently and operationally incapable of developing and successfully carrying out clandestine operations, primarily because they run at total opposites to our basic way of life. Americanism means an open society, and clandestine operations are the desperate efforts of a closed society.
Fletcher Knebel, in his excellent and very popular book, Vanished, has his principal character, President Roudebush, say after a heated session with his DCI, Arthur Ingram, "We've been over this ground before. He can't see that if we adopt Communist methods in our zeal to contain them, we wind up defeating ourselves, war or no war. What is left of our open society if every man has to fear a secret government agent at his elbow? Who can respect us or believe us. . . ?" We have no way of knowing whether or not Knebel had Kennedy in mind as his fictional president; but if he had been a member of the inner Kennedy team at that time he could not have come up with a more topical comment. Kennedy knew that he had been badly burned by the Bay of Pigs incident, and by June 1961 he and Bobby knew that he had been let down by the ST. (I carefully switch to the ST label here, because in all fairness to the CIA, it was more than the CIA that really created the unfortunate operation. For example, the overeager blind participation of certain military elements gave the whole operation a weird and unbalanced character, which doomed it before it got off the ground. Then the lack of leadership, which really is the name of the game in clandestine operations, provided the coup de grâce. It was the whole ST that built a totally unexpected and totally unplanned operation out of the smaller, more nearly clandestine units that might have had some measure of success.) Therefore, Kennedy did feel and did know that such clandestine operations had no place in the U.S. Government. This led him to direct the publication of the most important of these three memoranda, NSAM #57.
NSAM #57 was a long paper as those things go, and we shall make no attempt to recall it in great detail. When "The Pentagon Papers" series was published by The New York Times, it was noticeable for its omission. It is this sort of "educated" omission that makes the Pentagon Papers suspect in the eyes of those who have been most intimately connected with that type of work. Any gross batch of documents can be made to mean one thing or quite another, not only by what the news media publishes but by what they delete from publication. NSAM #57 is a controversial document that has not been released to date.
The principle behind NSAM #57 is absolutely fundamental to the whole concept of clandestine operations. It not only restates the idea that clandestine operations should be secret and deniable, but it goes beyond that to state that they should be small. It plays on the meaning of "small", in two areas of interest: First, unless they are very small they should not be assigned to the CIA; and second, if they are not as small as possible they have no chance of remaining secret and therefore have no chance, by definition, of being successful clandestine operations.
This latter issue flies right in the face of the CIA, which had been working for years to define all sorts of operations, large and small, secret or not, as clandestine in order that they would then, by arbitrary definition, be assigned to the CIA. This was an erosion of the principle, but it had been going on for so long and the CIA had used the game so blatantly for so long that it had become almost a matter of course. The CIA managed to declare in 1962 that the training of the border patrol police on the India-China border was a clandestine activity; then, because it was "clandestine", the whole job was assigned to the CIA.
The CIA got itself deeply involved in the Katangese side of the Congo venture, and defined its work as clandestine to keep it under Agency control, whereas everyone in Africa and most of the world knew that the Katangese did not have the clout to operate huge C-97 four-engine Boeing transport aircraft and all the other airlift that became immediately and mysteriously available to Tshombe.
It becomes ridiculous to equate activities in Indochina to any useful definition of clandestine; yet the CIA continued to clamp high-security classification on what it was doing there simply so that the Agency could remain in control of the things it had stirred up. In Vietnam this became so blatant and such big business that the United States Government has always had to retain an operational ambassador there, not because an ambassador could add anything to the situation, and not that the Government wished to depart so far from historical administration in time of war, but because there have always been two equal commanding officers in Vietnam. There has always been the CIA commanding officer and since 1964 there has been an Armed Forces commanding officer. Those generals who served there before 1964 were simply figureheads, although some of them may not have fully realized that themselves, even to the end. The role of the ambassador has been to referee and arbitrate between the Armed Forces and the CIA. For anyone who may find this idea a bit new or rash we would propose that he search for a precedent for the retention of a full and active ambassador in the battle zone in time of full war -- and recall, this is by many counts the second most costly war in all of our history.
Thus, by the very size of its activities in so many areas, the CIA had exceeded all reasonable definitions of clandestine. This new Kennedy directive hit right at the most vulnerable point in the ST game at that time. No sooner had this directive been received in the Pentagon than heated arguments sprang up, wherever this order was seen, as to what was "large" and what was "small" in clandestine activities. Oddly enough the rather large and fast-growing contingent of DOD officials and personnel who had found a most promising and interesting niche in the special operations business were the loudest in support of "small" being "large". In other words, they were much in support of more Bay of Pigs operations, and even by June 1961 there had been really significant moves of Bay of Pigs men and equipment from Latin America and the bases in the States to Vietnam. For them, it was onward and upward. What was a small Cuban failure or two? Indochina offered new horizons.
There is no point in pursuing the argument further. It was never really settled, anyhow. Allen Dulles and his quietly skillful team had foreseen this possibility and had laid the groundwork to circumvent it. Opposing Dulles was like fighting your adversary on the brink of a cliff. He was willing to go over as long as he brought his opponents with him. He believed the handwriting on the wall, and he had sounded out the Kennedys. He knew that they had learned a lot from the Bay of Pigs; and he now knew where the Kennedys' Achilles' tendon was, and he had hold of that vital spot.
It would be worth a full chapter or perhaps a full book to be able to recount in detail what really happened to NSAM #55 and NSAM #57. For the purposes of this account we can discount NSAM #56. I was responsible for the action on NSAM #55 and for whatever use it might be put to. Thus its briefing to certain "eyes only" selected senior officers can be accounted for. NSAM #55 was briefed and in detail (it was a very short paper) to the chairman of the JCS. It was "Red Striped", as the JCS terminology goes, meaning that it was read and noted by the Chiefs of Staff.
While General Lemnitzer was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and while John F. Kennedy was President, NSAM #55 provided a strong safeguard against such things as the Bay of Pigs. If Lemnitzer was going to be responsible to the President for "operations in peacetime in the same manner as in war time", the best way to fulfill that responsibility in the eyes of General Lemnitzer would be to have no peacetime operations.
Then, President Kennedy made a most significant move, one perhaps that has had more impact upon events during the past ten years than any other that can be attributed to him or to his successors. He decided to transfer General Lemnitzer to Paris to replace General Lauris Norstad as Allied commander of NATO troops. Lemnitzer was eminently qualified for this task, and it was a good assignment. To replace Lemnitzer as chairman of the JCS, Kennedy moved Maxwell Taylor from the White House to the Pentagon. By that time the Kennedys had espoused the new doctrine of counterinsurgency and had become thoroughly wrapped up in the activities of the Special Group Counterinsurgency (Cl) as the new clandestine operations group was called. Although it had not totally replaced the old Special Group (5412) in scope and function as the authorizing body for all clandestine affairs, it had created quite a niche for itself in the new counterinsurgency game. It used to be that anti-Communist activity was carried out against Communist countries, governments, and territory. There had been a gradual drift away from that. The new counterinsurgency philosophy and doctrine meant that anti-Communism would now be waged in non-Communist countries.
Shortly after the Bay of Pigs investigation, Secretary of Defense McNamara, in conjunction with General Earle Wheeler, who at that time was the director of the Joint Staff, agreed to establish in the Joint Staff an office of the Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities. This office, among other things, worked directly with the CIA and the White House. The incumbent, Marine Major General Victor H. Krulak, became the most important and most dominant man on the staff. He carried more weight with Secretary of Defense McNamara than any other general and was always welcomed by the White House, where he frequently and most eloquently preached the new doctrine of counterinsurgency.
This created an ideal platform for General Taylor. He was by that time the chief proponent of counterinsurgency, the Army's Green Berets, and the CIA. In a most fortuitous assignment for the CIA and the ST, he became the chairman of the JCS, and all of the pieces fell into place. With McGeorge Bundy in Taylor's old job in the White House, responsible for all clandestine activity; with Bill Bundy as the principle conduit from the CIA to McNamara (later in State), and with Taylor on top of the military establishment, the ST had emerged from its nadir on the beaches of Cuba and was ready for whatever might develop in Vietnam.
And to further assure this success, Kennedy's own strict directive, NSAM #55, was now in the hands of the very man who would want to use it the most and who would have the most reason to use it, Maxwell Taylor. In the hands of Lemnitzer, NSAM #55 meant no more clandestine operations, or at least no more unless there were most compelling reasons. In the hands of Maxwell Taylor, this meant that he was most willing to take full advantage of the situation and to be the President's key adviser during "peacetime operations as he would be during time of war".
One further factor played into this situation. It is quite apparent that Kennedy did not fully realize the situation he had unintentionally created. To him and to his brother, Maxwell Taylor was the model of the down-to-earth soldier. He looked like Lemnitzer, like Bradley, maybe even like Patton -- only better. He was their man. They did not realize that even in his recent book, The Uncertain Trumpet, he had turned his back on the conventional military doctrine and had become a leader of the new military force of response, of reaction and of undercover activity -- all summed up in the newly coined word "counterinsurgency". Kennedy was not getting an old soldier in the Pentagon. He was getting one of the new breed. Taylor's tenure would mark the end of the day of the old soldier and the beginning of the Special Forces, the peacetime operator, the response-motivated counterinsurgency warrior who has been so abundantly uncovered in the conflict of the past ten years in Vietnam.
This was the climax of a long bit of maneuvering within the Government by the ST and its supporters. To accomplish their ends, they did not have to shoot down the Kennedy directives, NSAM #55 and #57, in flames like the Red Baron; they simply took these memoranda over for their own ends, and ignored them when they were in conflict with whatever it was they wanted. They buried any opposition in security and need-to know and in highly classified "eyes-only" rules. Then, with all the top positions covered, they were in charge, they were ready to move out to wherever secret intelligence input would find a soft or intriguing spot. Historians will be amazed when and if they are ever able to find some of those basic papers. They will discover that the "access lists", meaning the cover-lists of all those who have read the document, and which are so closely guarded, will on some of these most important papers list only a few people, most of whom were no more than the clerks who processed the classified inventories. So very few people have ever seen the real documents, and fewer have acted on them.
More real control can be put on the Government from the inside by not doing and not permitting to be done those things which had been instructed and directed to be done than by other more conventional means. One of the best examples of this is what happened to this most important document, NSAM #55. Nowhere else was Kennedy's strong desire for control more in evidence that in that paper and the ones that followed it, like NSAM #55. Thus it was that events marched relentlessly on toward Vietnam. The only ones who stood in the way were the President and his closest intimates -- and they had been neatly outmaneuvered.
Chapter 5: "Defense" as a National Military Philosophy, the Natural Prey of the Intelligence Community
FOLLOWING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE National Intelligence Authority, about eighteen months passed in which the DCI was deeply involved in setting up some organizations that could effectively coordinate national intelligence. This was easier said than done. The old scars of the war period had not healed, and nothing Admiral Souers could do would heal them. At the same time, the subordinate organizations were undergoing their own postwar organizational problems. The Department of State had set up an intelligence section under Colonel McCormick, and then, when Congress severely cut his funds in favor of the new Central Intelligence Group, he resigned and left things in bad shape. But some headway was made, and important legislation was pending that if passed would provide for the creation of an agency of some merit.
At this point, the in-fighting got pretty heavy. It would be hard to recreate the hopes and the very real fears of those postwar years. It is one thing to win a major war and to end up victorious as the greatest military power ever created, it is an entirely different thing to realize that this great military force had been suddenly made obsolete by a totally new weapon of major proportions. During the long evolution of warfare, changes in the art of war had come about rather slowly. A thrown rock extended the range of hostility over the bare fist; then the sling gave the rock thrower more range. The sword made the right arm more lethal, and then the spear gave more range to the sword. Changes in weapons and changes in tactics were generally matters of degree. During World War I, the advent of the armored tank vehicle ushered in mechanized warfare, and the utilization of massed rapid-fire weapons made the proximate lines of the hostile perimeter between two powers a veritable and literal no-man's-land. Before the end of World War I, the airplane had extended the range of reconnaissance and air battles, and aerial bombardment gave evidence of the path of the future for aviation and for warfare in three dimensions. During the years between World War I and World War II, the greatest debates on military strategy and tactics were fought over the use of the new air weapon system. It was typical that the land and sea arms wished to cling to tradition and felt it necessary to play down the role of aviation. World War II cleared up these arguments, and by the end of that global encounter the airplane had become, if not the primary weapon of warfare, at least the major weapon of the war arsenal of the nation. Then, just as a quarter-century of sometimes violent argument over the establishment of an independent air force came to an end and the whole world became accustomed to conventional warfare, the atomic bomb threw a new dimension into the picture. No longer could any major warfare be conventional in the sense of that which had taken place during World War II. If all of warfare, if all of the techniques, weapons, and tactics of the ages were to be arranged into one spectrum of forces and then this total force matched against the atomic bomb alone, the bomb would have made all prior weaponry seem like a rock and a club. World War II ended unknowable, and the unthinkable, or so it seemed to many.
In this climate, the postwar years were not relaxing. The aging men who had brought the country through the Great Depression and then who had led it through the greatest of wars were now weary and suddenly old. They had hoped to leave to the world a legacy of peace and prosperity. Many years earlier Wendell Willkie had preached the concept of one world. He, like Charles A. Lindbergh, had traveled the world and had seen that if there was to be lasting peace, men would have to think and practice one world. But that dream faded into the dawn of the war as the world was broken into two armed camps representing the Western world and the Axis powers. And in this case the Western world included the Soviet Union, which the Roosevelt Government had recognized back in 1933, and which it had joined during World War II in the total struggle against Italy, Germany, and Japan.
With the war over and with Harry Truman wearing the mantle of peacemaker, his Secretary of State, James Byrnes, was again preaching one world and was trying to convince the world that the United States would never divide it and the day would never be seen again when mankind would have to resort to war. He was not only echoing the feelings of the prewar dreamers but he was attempting realistically to face the Nuclear Age. Nothing that had occurred before throughout the history of mankind had ever overhung the entire human race as portentously as did the atom bomb. There could be no letdown from the global responsibility, which had become as heavy a burden in peacetime as it bad been during the war.
During 1946, the United States was grimly aware of the fact that it was the sole possessor of the bomb, and that this was to be for only a fleeting time. Scientists knew, even if the statesmen and politicians did not wish to know, that the secret of the bomb had already ended on the day it had been exploded over Hiroshima and that it was inevitable that Russia and other countries would have the bomb within a few years. Therefore, on the one hand there was a great rush to establish and structure the in as man's last best hope for peace. At the same time there was the beginning of a great and growing witch hunt in the United States concerning the protection of the secrets of the atomic bomb. Related to this was a demand for information from all over the world to make it possible for the United States to know the exact status of the development of the bomb by other powers. And related to all of these problems was the growing awareness of the danger that would arise from the growth and spread of Communism. Some of these concerns were real, and many were imagined.
I recall having been in the Soviet Union during World War II. I had entered the country by way of Tehran, Iran, and flown mountains near Baku. Then our course took us further north over Makhachkala and northwesterly along the Manych River to Rostov. Although I had seen many bombed and burned cities during the war - from Italy to Manila and Tokyo -- I had never seen anything to compare with the absolute devastation of Rostov. From there we flew toward Kiev to the city of Poltava, where we landed and remained for a few days. Our return was over essentially the same route. Since I had been free to fly a varied course, I flew at about five hundred feet above the ground for the entire trip and wandered off course right and left as random cities and towns came into view.
The major lesson from such a flight was that the war areas of Russia had been terribly destroyed by the German onslaught and by the Russian scorched-earth policy. The other outstanding factor was that over this fifteen-hundred-mile area of the Russian heartland there were absolutely no roads. There were trails and horse or farm-vehicle paths, but no roads of any kind. There were a major railroad and the great Manych Canal. In 1944, one could observe that Russia was going to have to recover from a devastating war and was going to have to make a major effort to develop its backward economic base, which without modern road transportation would certainly be limited in its growth.
It was clear that when the great anti-Communist hue and cry began only two years later, it was founded more on the potential danger of Russia as a developer of an atom bomb capability than it was on Russia's potential threat to the United States. The result of the "Communist threat" emotionalism was to create in the minds of Americans and others in the Western world the image of a Soviet monster, which was only part flesh and mostly fantasy. However, it was just this sort of thing that played into the hands of those alarmists who supported a movement to create a strong central intelligence authority with clandestine operational powers.
There were then several factors that came together in support of the creation of a central intelligence agency. The Administration had seen the woeful deficiencies of uncoordinated intelligence as practiced during World War II. Also, the Administration saw the real importance and necessity for a strong intelligence arm of the President as a result of the new pressures of the Nuclear Age. However, the early Truman Administration was trying to provide leadership for the one world defined by Secretary of State James Byrnes and to keep the world from being torn into armed camps again so shortly after the war. In spite of their efforts, the resounding warning issued by the great wartime orator, Winston Churchill, took its toll, and within one year after he had delivered his "Iron Curtain" speech, lines had been drawn, and the issue became one of Communism versus anti-Communism. The events that turned all of this around during 1946 and 1947 are not the subject of this book; but certainly the British notification to the United States that it was going to withdraw its support of the Greeks and Turks "in their struggle for survival against Communism" did as much as Churchill's speech to raise the banner of the Truman Doctrine and to extend Churchill's wall from the Balkans across the Northern Tier. By 1948 the Truman Administration was no longer advocating what it had preached in early 1946.
All of these pressures -- and they were great pressures at that crucial time -- played a major part in the decision to create the Central Intelligence Agency and in the behind-the-scenes battles that were incidental to the passage of the law. By the time the lines had hardened, few would deny the necessity for central coordinated intelligence, and nearly everyone was convinced that the quality of national intelligence must be improved. However, as strongly as these measures were supported, the majority also denied the proposals that would have given the Intelligence Authority its own clandestine branch and the means to support such activities. General Donovan, Allen Dulles, and others took to the rostrum and spoke publicly and privately of the need, as they saw it, for an agency with special "operations" powers. To confirm this need and to inflame the public with this issue, the supporters of the clandestine operations proposition became the greatest firebrands of the anti-Communism theme. It was this same group that picked up the banner hurled by Winston Churchill and that saw Communists under every rock. It was during these crucial days that the opposition, no matter who the opposition was, was painted pink or red with the label of Communist. A beginning of this form of public and political blackmail was made during these debates, and it reached its zenith less than a decade later in the infamous days of Senator Joseph McCarthy.
In the quarter-century that has followed this debate, this country and the world have become somewhat accustomed to the polemics of this terrible issue. What began perhaps as an honest effort to alert this country to the fact that the Soviet Government did in fact have the potential to unleash the secrets of the atom and thus to build atomic bombs, gradually became a powerful tool in the hands of the irresponsible and the agitators. All opposition for whatever reason was branded as Communist or pro-Communist. Gradually, this dogma of anti-Communism was extended into the entire world, and by the time of the publication of the Truman Doctrine, the entire world had been divided into Communist and anti-Communist along the lines of the Iron Curtain, the Northern Tier, and the Bamboo Curtain. Once these Lines had been drawn, it remained only for time to run its course and for the Soviet Union to follow natural growth and scientific achievement to obtain not only the atomic bomb, but the hydrogen bomb and then the intercontinental ballistic missile. As many have said, these decisions and pressures, which first appeared during the years immediately following the end of World War II, have contained some of the most serious and grievous mistakes of this quarter-century. Certainly this blind anti-Communism can be listed as one of the most costly, especially when reviewed in terms of the waste and senselessness of the action in Indochina.
The first great fault with the drift of opinion at that time became evident in the very shift of emphasis with regard to the national military establishment. Throughout our history the idea of war had been treated as a positive action. War was that last resort of a nation, after all means of diplomacy had failed, to impress its might and its will upon another. And throughout our proud history we never had faced war as something passive or re-active. But somehow in that postwar era this nation began to think of war as defense and then as defense alone. In other words, in this defense philosophy we were not telling the world that the most powerful nation in the world was showing its magnanimity and restraint; we were saying that we would defend only. And to the rest of the world that meant that we were going to play a passive role in world affairs and that we were passing the active role, and with it the initiative, to others -- in this case to the men in the Kremlin. We not only said this as we disestablished our traditional War Department but we have done it throughout the intervening twenty-five years by developing the capability to search out the action of an enemy and then by responding. This defensive posture of our military and foreign policy has been a terrible mistake, and it opened the doors for the newborn intelligence community to move in and take over the control of U.S. foreign and military policy.
Despite the heat and pressure of the intelligence lobby in 1946 and 1947, the National Security Act of 1947 did not contain specific authorization for the new agency to become involved in clandestine operations. In July of 1947 Congress passed the National Security Act, and when President Truman signed it into law, this Act became effective on September 18, 1947. It was the most important piece of legislation to have been passed since World War II. More money has been spent, more lives influenced, and more national prestige and tradition affected by this one law than anything that has been done since that date -- and all in the futile and passive name of defense. In this single Act, Congress established the Department of Defense with its single civilian secretary, and it established a new military organization joining the old Army and Navy, with an independent Air Force and a Joint Chiefs of Staff. It also set up the National Security Council, which consisted of the President, the Vice President, the Secretaries of State and of Defense, and the director of the Office of Emergency Planning. It provided for the Operations Coordinating Board to assure that decisions arrived at within the NSC were carried out as planned and directed. And not to be overlooked, this same act created the Central Intelligence Agency and very specifically placed it, "for the purpose of coordinating the intelligence activities of the several Government departments and agencies in the interest of national security... under the direction of the National Security Council..."
In a law that already invited the creation of some power center to arise and take over the direction of the military establishment, because that organization was by definition passive, the Congress left the door wide open, by placing the precocious new baby under the direction of a committee. In the context of the period, there could have been no doubt that it was the intention of the Congress and of the Administration that this new central intelligence authority was to perform as its primary function the role of coordinator of information, and no more. Agency protagonists, many of whom have made a career of stretching the language of the law, have always attempted to belittle the significance of the restrictive and delineating language.
Lyman Kirkpatrick, the long-time very able executive director of the CIA, speaks for this very parochial school of thought in his excellent book, The Real CIA, as follows: "Many of those who believe that the CIA has too much power, or does things that it should not do, claim that this clause shows the intent of Congress that the CIA should only coordinate the activities of the other agencies and should not be engaged in collection or action itself." This is a shrewd way to put it. He would have his readers believe that only "those who believe that the CIA has too much power..." are the ones who read the law properly. The truth of the matter is that anyone who reads the law and who also takes the trouble to research the development of the language of the law will see that Congress meant just what it said, that the CIA was created "for the purpose of coordinating the intelligence activities of the several Government departments and agencies..." And no more! When the greatest proponent of a central intelligence authority, General William J. Donovan, prevailed upon President Roosevelt to establish such an organization in 1941, the office that was established with General Donovan as its head was no more than the Office of Coordinator of Information. This office paved the way for the wartime Office of Strategic Services. At the end of the war, President Truman abolished that office and shortly thereafter set up another National Intelligence Authority in January 1946, again for the purpose of coordinating intelligence. It will be noted that the specific duties assigned to the new agency (CIA) specifically itemized most of the standard tasks of Intelligence, with the exception of "collection". It would seem that a Congress that had debated the subject so long and so thoroughly would not have overlooked the function of collection. It is more likely that Congress fully intended what it stated -- that the task of the CIA was that of "coordinating" intelligence.
The duties of the CIA were set forth in the law as follows:
1. to advise the National Security Council in matters concerning such intelligence activities of the government departments and agencies as relate to national security;
2. to make recommendations to the NSC for the coordination of such intelligence activities....;
3. to correlate and evaluate intelligence relating to the national security, and provide for the appropriate dissemination of such intelligence within the government... provided that the Agency shall have no police, subpoena, law-enforcement powers, or internal security functions....;
4. to perform, for the benefit of the existing intelligence agencies, such additional services of common concern as the NSC determines can be more efficiently accomplished centrally;
5. to perform such other functions and duties related to intelligence affecting the national security as the NSC may from time to time direct.
For those familiar with that language used in legislative writing, it should be very clear that Congress knew exactly what it was doing when it set up a central authority to coordinate intelligence and when it further delineated the responsibilities into those five brief and explicit paragraphs shown above. Yet few such uncomplicated and simple lines defining the law of the land have ever been subject to so much misinterpretation, intentional and accidental, as have these.
Anyone who has read the books of Allen Dulles and of his executive director, Lyman Kirkpatrick, will find that they just cannot bring themselves to quote these simple lines verbatim. They have to paraphrase them and cite them with brief but absolutely essential omissions of key words, or add to them explanations that are certainly not in the language of the law.
Let us look at a few of these important details. The law established the Department of Defense as a full and permanent part of the Government, with a continuing corporate existence and full power and authority to budget for its own funds and to expend them for its own use year after year. The law very specifically placed the CIA under the direction of a committee, the NSC, to serve at its direction. In this sense the NSC was to be the operating body and the CIA was to serve it. This may appear to be a small distinction, but had things worked out this way and had strong and continuing leadership come from the NSC, including the Office of the President, the Agency would not have become what Harry Truman has called, "a symbol of sinister and mysterious foreign intrigue."
The distinction is one of leadership. It may have seemed in 1947 that a committee consisting of the President, Vice President, Secretary of State, and Secretary of Defense would be strong enough to keep the fledgling Agency under control. But no committee is stronger than its weakest, or in this case its busiest, member(s). As planned, the Agency was supposed to become involved in clandestine activity only at the direction of the NSC, if ever. It was not considered that the Agency would get involved in clandestine activity "by approval of" the NSC. However, as the Agency found this weakness and began to probe it, it remained for the members of the NSC to have the strength of their convictions and the courage to say NO. The record shows that this was the case on several occasions in the late forties; but as the Agency grew in size, power, and wiliness it found its way around the committee's horse-collar.
If the Congress had any intention of permitting the CIA to evolve into a major operational agency, it certainly would not have placed it under the direction of a Committee. It is not enough to say that its choice of the NSC was made because this would mean that the CIA would then be safely under the eye of the President. This is what General Donovan wanted; but he and the other strong operational CIA proponents did not want even the NSC (Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense) between the CIA and the President. By assigning the CIA to the NSC, Congress was attempting to make of the NSC itself an operational organization for this limited purpose. It may not have intended this, since we feel strongly that Congress did not visualize any clandestine operations under any setup, but when it gave the NSC the responsibility to direct the CIA it left the NSC with the task of directing the Agency if the time ever arose when clandestine operations were to be mounted. And as history reveals, that time was not far away. The Agency saw to that itself.
Later events underscored the major significance of the NSC responsibility for the CIA. Truman and Eisenhower utilized the NSC as a personal staff. The uses these Presidents made of it were individual and distinct from each other; but they did utilize it along the general conceptual lines inherent in the National Security Act of 1947. Eisenhower used it as a strong military-type staff and then leaned upon the Operations Coordinating Board (OCB) to see that directives were carried out in accordance with his desires. When Kennedy became President he almost totally ignored the NSC and abandoned the OCB. Either he threw aside the NSC because he thought of it as an Eisenhower-era antiquity or he simply may not have completely understood the function of that kind of staff operation.
Whatever his reasons, he certainly left the door wide open for the CIA. With no NSC, there was a major reason why Kennedy never received the kind of staff support he should have had before the Bay of Pigs and why he was unable to get proper control afterwards. It even explains why Kissinger's role has become so dominant in the Nixon Administration after the long years of the unfettered Maxwell Taylor and McGeorge Bundy residency in the White House as key men for the CIA, operating almost without an NSC in control. As time and events have eroded and shaped the application of the interpretations of this law, the Agency has tended to be decreasingly effective in the area of coordinating national intelligence, especially since the emergence of its greatest rival and counterpart, the Defense Intelligence Agency; and it has become increasingly operational as it has succeeded in working itself out from under the strictures of the NSC.
The success or failure of the next four listed duties of the CIA as set forth in the Act are related (often inversely) to the activity of the Agency under whatever type of NSC existed during the administrations of the several Presidents. According to Harry Howe Ransom in his book, Can American Democracy Survive the Cold War?, within the Act itself Congress specified that the NSC should "advise the President with respect to the integration of domestic, foreign and military policies..." among the various government departments and agencies, including the military; and "to assess and appraise the objectives, commitments and risks of the United States in relation to our actual and potential military power..." To show how the NSC was created within the atmosphere of that time, Ransom states, "...the principle role specified for NSC in the statute was not to make final decisions, but to advise the President; to make his national security policy and administrative task more efficient. But whenever the bureaucracy is institutionalized and centralized, there is the risk of minimizing the discretion and flexible maneuverability of the Presidency. And this in turn can adversely affect both the common defense and the fulfillment of the democratic ideal. Many see too much unchecked Presidential power as the main threat to freedom, but this does not appear to be the real danger in modern American government, with the important possible exception of Executive control over the flow of information. It is the President's inability to rise above the decision-making machinery and to exert responsible leadership in the national interest -- perceived from the highest level -- that places the basic democratic idea in doubt."
As Ransom points out, "At the first meeting of the NSC in 1947, President Truman indicated that he regarded it as 'his council', that is to say, as a purely advisory body. Later President Eisenhower, although inclined to regard it as 'the council', made clear nonetheless that NSC was absolved of any responsibility per se for national decisions." The NSC advises; the responsibility for decision is the President's, insisted Eisenhower. President Kennedy came to office with an apparent bias against the kind of use Eisenhower made of NSC. Borne into office on a great chorus of rhetoric about the need for purposeful, energetic Presidential leadership, Kennedy "at first made little use of the Council" as a formal advisory body. Following the 1961 Cuban fiasco, however, "the NSC was restored somewhat".
In a very prescient paragraph, Ransom shows how important this grasp for power by an inner secret team was becoming as far back as 1952. Even as the NSC was getting started, a struggle for control of that body was under way; and the control was to be elected by gradually making that advisory committee into an operating power center. Ransom's comment is worth repeating here:
"Early in NSC's life, according to President Truman, 'one or two of its members tried to change it into an operating super-cabinet on the British model.' Truman identifies the members as his first two Secretaries of Defense, James Forrestal and Louis Johnson, who would sometimes, Truman recounts, put pressures on NSC's executive secretary to use NSC authority to see that various governmental agencies were following NSC policy. The executive secretary declined to do this, on the ground that his was an advisory staff rather than an executing 'line' function. Truman fought to keep the subordinate nature of NSC clear to all, emphasizing that Congress had in fact changed the title of NSC 'Director' to 'Executive Secretary'. Forrestal had, Truman notes, advocated using the British cabinet system as a model for the operation of postwar American government. To change to this system, wrote Truman, "we would have to change the Constitution, and I think we have been doing very well under our Constitution."
Nowhere was this behind-the-scenes struggle more significant than it was in the attempt to make of the "quiet intelligence arm of the President" an operational and extremely powerful secret agency. During the Eisenhower years the NSC, which at times was a large and unwieldy body, was reduced for special functions and responsibilities to smaller staffs. For purposes of administering the CIA among others, the NSC Planing Board was established. The men who actually sat as working members of this smaller group were not the Secretaries themselves. These men are heads of vast organizations and have many demands upon their time. This means that even if they could attend most meetings, the essential criteria for leadership and continuity of the decision-making process simply could not be guaranteed. Thus the subcommittee or special group idea was born, and these groups were made up of men especially designated for the task. In the case of the Special Group, called by many codes during the years, such as "Special Group 5412/2", it consists of a designated representative of the President, of the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and the DCI in person. This dilution of the level of responsibility made it possible for the CIA to assume more and more power as the years went by, as new administrations established their own operating procedures, and as the control intended by the law became changed.
As the years passed, the basic concept of the NSC's role in the direction of the Agency became reversed, or at least greatly diverted. Whereas the law charged the Council with the direction of the CIA and would account for consideration of such things as clandestine operations from "time to time" and then only by Council direction it became the practice of the DCI not only to deliver essential intelligence briefings to the NSC, but to request a limited audience in order that he might inform them of and seek approval for some operation he felt might be derived from his intelligence data.
In the earliest of such instances we may be quite certain that the operations so presented were reasonably modest. The NSC undoubtedly overlooked the variance in procedure and felt that its approval of such minor requests was tantamount to "direction" of the Agency. As time passed and as the DCI exploited his position, it might have seemed to be rather reasonable to suggest the establishment of a small special group to take this "burden" from these senior officials and to provide men who could more readily attend to such matters, minor as they were, in the place of the busy Council principals. Thus the establishment of the first Special Group.
As things progressed, the Special Croup 5412/2 became not just the working group of the NSC but rather a select group that had assumed the responsibility for clandestine activity. Certainly, each designated Special Group member reported back to his principal, but by that time it was not so much for direction as it was for "informational approval"; in the language of bureaucracy this meant, "If he doesn't say a clear NO, it's O.K."
By that time in the course of events, a new process had evolved, and the DCI felt perfectly at liberty to prepare all the clandestine operations his intelligence sources would support and to present them to the Special Group for nothing more than approval. But even this was not enough. The next step was to have Agency-affiliated men in the Special Group itself, or at least to have them working with the Group as special advisers. This is why the President's appointee has always been so important to the DCI. Since the appointment of Maxwell Taylor in that position after the Bay of Pigs, the DCI has had men in that position whom he could count upon as a two-way conduit. When the DCI wanted to get information to the President he would use this man, and when he wanted the President's approval on something, he would use him for that, too. The same has been true with the representatives in State and Defense. During much of the crucial build-up years in Indochina, men such as Bill Bundy and Ed Lansdale have represented State and Defense on this committee. Of course, both of these men were CIA alumni, and as a result the DCI could always count upon them to grease the way for any of his proposals to the NSC.
This has been a significant evolution away from the language and the intent of the law. It has meant that the sole authority established as a final resort to oversee and control the CIA has become no more than a rubber stamp for all clandestine operations. And throughout all of this the ST has been able to carry out its desires under a cloak of secrecy that has kept its moves shielded from the highest officials of this Government. For example, in those crucial early years of Vietnam, did McNamara and Rusk look upon Lansdale and Bill Bundy as Defense and State men under their command and control, or did they recognize them as CIA agents under the direction of the DCI? Or when the Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities from the Joint Staff was called to the White House, did President Kennedy and others look upon this man, General Krulak, as a member of the military establishment because he was wearing a uniform, or did they recognize him as a key spokesman for the interests and activities of the CIA?
This shift of command control over the Agency from under the direction of the NSC was undoubtedly as important a move as has occurred in any part of the Government since the passage of the National Security Act of 1947. It explains why the CIA has operated so free of effective and ironclad control during the past ten to twelve years.
The CIA, even working within the limits of the 1947 Act, has a distinct advantage. It is a true "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" agency. The CIA has the responsibility to advise the NSC on matters of intelligence affecting the national security. It therefore is in a position to demand the time and attention of the NSC, including the President, to present its views on every situation facing the nation on a regular and frequent basis. It performs these functions in the name of Intelligence. Thus it is in a position to make the President and his principal advisers virtually its prisoners, in the sense that it has a legal claim to their valuable time. Day by day the CIA tells these men what it wants them to hear, what it thinks they should hear. At the same time, its select audience is in the position of never knowing whether the information it is hearing is no more than Intelligence or whether it may be some special Secret Intelligence primed to prepare the Special Group for another clandestine activity. Certainly, this is a matter of judgment for both factions concerned; but the Agency would be less than human if it did not consider those choice bits of Intelligence, which it thought worthy of clandestine support, to be more important than others. Thus the CIA as an intelligence agency on the one hand, can and does take one position, and as an operational and policy-making organization on the other hand, may benefit from the representations of its other half. Note how this shows up repeatedly in the Pentagon Papers.
Nothing bears this out better than the transition from the Eisenhower Administration to the Kennedy team. Kennedy had his own way of operating within the organizational staff of the Government. He placed friends and long-time associates all over Washington in all sections of the Executive Branch who were unquestionably loyal to him and who worked for him first and for their new organization second. This resulted in a sudden degradation of the value and importance of the NSC, as has been stated in the remarks quoted earlier of Harry Howe Ransom. Since the law requires the NSC to direct the CIA, this meant that the CIA direction was almost nonexistent. It followed then that it was during the Kennedy Administration that the CIA, with the ST opening doors for it everywhere, began its runaway move into special operations with the Bay of Pigs operation and climaxed it with the conflict in Indochina.
This situation might not have been so abrupt and of such magnitude had it not been for the fact that Allen Dulles was one of the few holdovers from the Eisenhower Administration. Had the DCI been a Kennedy appointee, it is possible that he could have provided an element of control over the operational agency. However, Dulles' drive and zeal, given this recognition by Kennedy, accelerated into full speed and power; and unfettered by the NSC, he used it. Great problems arose from this situation, because he used this power without limit both from the point of view of his personal actions, and more importantly, from the fact that the ST was unleashed. Whereas Allen Dulles can be called a responsible official, there were many who were not, as a reading of the Pentagon Papers will demonstrate and confirm.
The best evidence of how unrestrained the ST became lies in the record of the great proliferation of the concept of counterinsurgency (CI). Almost as soon as the Kennedy Administration got under way -- certainly as it entered its second year -- the CIA, the White House, and certain elements of the DOD added one country after the other to the counterinsurgency list. To the believer in the blind anti-Communist doctrine, it sounded almost preordained that he should search for and then route out all "Communist-inspired subversive insurgency" wherever it was found. In rapid succession, one country after another was added to the long list of counterinsurgency countries, and a new special group was formed, the Special Group CI (Counterinsurgency), which was simply a front within the U.S. Government, to make it possible for the ST to operate in almost any country. The old restraints of a traditional awareness of the meaning of national sovereignty and of the absolute importance of this inviolable principle fell away as if they were of no merit in the zeal of the CI-breed to wipe out so-called Communist-inspired subversive insurgency wherever they thought they saw it.
This flimsy disguise for clandestine operations brought together men who had little experience in the type of operation being developed and even less idea of the political situation in the countries involved. It was a shattering experience to attend some of these meetings and to hear men, some high in the councils of government, not even-able to locate some of these countries and to pronounce their names. The CIA, reveling in this situation, would work up a proposal practically from a mimeographed boiler-plate of other exercises and forward it to some friend, perhaps an Agency man on assignment outside of the Agency, who was working in a think-tank group such as the Institute of Defense Analysis (IDA). The man in the Institute would then make copies of this "operational concept". In normal times this concept would have been highly classified and revealed to a very few cleared officials; but during this Kennedy-inspired CI period it was not necessary to bother with that bit of detail.
To carry on our example, the IDA official would then convene a meeting with representatives of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), the JCS, State Department, the White House, and even some of the same CIA officials who had initiated the idea and sent it to IDA in the first place. The others would not know that this proposal had begun with the CIA. The main purpose of their meeting would be to discuss this operation, designed to combat the influence of "Communist inspired subversive insurgency" in the country listed. After such a meeting, this ad hoc group would propose that either the CIA or OSD work up the operational concept and present it to the NSC Special Group CI for approval. The Special Group CI, noting that this idea had already been well staffed and that it was just about the same thing as others already under way, would rubber stamp its approval and assign the project to the CIA for accomplishment.At this point in the evolution of the ST it would not occur to anyone that such an operation that violated the sovereignty of another country or that was patently a case of "interference in the internal affairs of another nation" should not be carried out without some formal sanction from the host government. The idea of fighting Communism had become so blindly accepted that they began to forget that such activity was properly a "clandestine operation" and should not be performed lightly. The feeling of urgency and of an almost missionary zeal to combat and root out real or imagined subversive insurgency anywhere was such that the great importance of national sovereignty was all but overlooked. "Subversive insurgency" meant third-nation involvement; so the Secret Team just assumed the right to become a party to the action in any country without even asking. What had been covert operations only a few years earlier were then considered perfectly acceptable under the definition of counterinsurgency. This did not mean that they were not concerned with the need for secrecy in the United States to keep the knowledge of what they were doing elsewhere from the public and Congress; it only meant that they worked openly and almost unrestrictedly in the host CI country.
The Army, Navy, and Air Force all had developed many units of Special Forces, Special Air Warfare squadrons and SEAL (Sea, Air, Land) teams, and these were sent into any country that would accept them. These teams were heavily sprinkled with CIA agents, and most of their direction in the field was the operational responsibility of the CIA.
As we develop this further, it will be seen how the CIA was able to work around and out from under the law, which at first saw the Agency as only a coordinating authority and secondly had provided that the NSC would at times have the authority to direct the CIA into other activities in the national interest. The Congress had been so certain that the Agency would not become operational and policy-making that it was content to place it under the control of a committee. Congress knew that the Agency would never be permitted to become involved in clandestine operations and therefore that the NSC would never have to direct it in an operational sense.
Before we leave the subject of the Agency development, we should look at one more aspect of the subject. Much of what the CIA is today, it has become because of Allen Dulles. From the days of World War II, when he was active with the Office of Strategic Service until he left the Agency as it moved to its magnificent new headquarters building in Langley, Virginia, in the fall of 1961, this kindly looking gentleman did little else than devote his life to the cause of the Central Intelligence Agency. Whether one met him in the old office building overlooking Foggy Bottom, glasses in his hand, pipe nearby, settled comfortably in his big leather chair with his feet informally shod in old slippers; or at his Georgetown mansion to find him dressed in white tennis shorts and vee-necked sweater, Allen Dulles always had that quiet yet alert look of a man who knew exactly what he was doing. He may not have known at all times what some of the boys in the back room were doing; but don't let anyone ever tell you that he did not know precisely what he as doing and what his plans were.
Thus, when Congress enacted the National Security Act of 1947, he accepted it as a major milestone on the road which he knew he would follow. It was not a barrier to him and it was not a handicap. It was simply a place to start. Typical of his method is the way in which he organized his book in 1962. The only intelligence function of general significance not covered in the language of the National Security Act of 1947 was that of collection. Characteristically, the only intelligence function given any chapter heading emphasis -- and it is given two chapters -- in his book, The Craft of Intelligence, is collection. This was so typical of the man. He would have everyone believe that if he repeated something often enough and if he pounded something out often enough, sooner or later everyone else would give up, and he would have what he wanted. His book would convince anyone that the most important Congressional mandate to the CIA was that of collection; yet that function was not named and was specifically omitted in the law. The CIA most certainly did get into the collection business and has augmented the collection capability of the military and of the State Department.
It was this same bulldog ability of Allen Dulles that brought the CIA into the clandestine operations business, and once in, that made it the primary business of the Agency. Here he was, working against all of the constraints that had been set up against him. He simply worked like the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon; he eroded all opposition. We shall find more to say about this in later chapters. The other regular duties of the CIA were spelled out in the law and have generally been clear and noncontroversial, until we get to the provisions of subparagraph 5, which are discussed in detail later.
1. Harry Howe Ransom teaches political science at Vanderbilt University and is one of the Foremost authors on the subject of the Intelligence Community. He has taught at Harvard, Princeton, Vassar, and Michigan State University. He is author of Central Intelligence and National Security.
"It Shall Be the Duty of the Agency: to Advise, to Coordinate,
to Correlate and Evaluate and Disseminate and to Perform Services of Common Concern..."
ADMIRAL LUTHER H. FROST, FORMER DIRECTOR of Naval Intelligence, paid a very open and informal visit to Indonesia in 1958, at the same time that his boss, Chief of Naval Operations Arleigh A. Burke, found himself in a most ambiguous position. U.S. Navy submarines were operating clandestinely close to the southern coast of Sumatra, the main island of Indonesia, putting over-the-beach parties ashore and providing certain supplies and communications for the ClA-led operation against the Government of Prime Minister Sukarno. At the same time, Admiral Burke balanced his unenthusiastic support of the CIA by putting his close confidant and able intelligence chief on an informal and social temporary assignment to Jakarta.
Then to further bracket the situation, Admiral Burke assured for the Navy the chairmanship of a high echelon committee set up by the Secretary of Defense for the purpose of providing support to the CIA during this special operation by placing a three-star admiral on the committee, while the other services were represented by officers several grades junior to him. The Air Force had a retired general working with the CIA as a coordinator of all air action in this operation, and the Army had a number of generals, some on active duty and others either on assignment with the CIA of called up from retirement for similar reasons. But no service so ably circumscribed the moves of the CIA as did the Navy under its most able CNO, Admiral Burke.
Although this was an operational activity carried out in deep secrecy, it may be used as an example of how the intelligence community functions. Over the years it has become customary to speak of the various intelligence organizations within the Government as members of "the community". This word is quite proper, because there is little cohesion and homogeneity within this vast infrastructure which has cost so much and which performs so many varied and separate functions. The members of the community are the CIA, the Army, Navy, and Air Force as separate divisions; the Defense Intelligence Agency; the FBI; the Atomic Energy Commission; the State Department; and the National Security Agency. All are by law brought together by the Director of Central Intelligence, or DCI. His title is not "the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency" -- although he does head that Agency for the purpose "of advising the NSC in matters concerning such intelligence activities of the Government departments and agencies as relate to National Security." This is the DCI's first duty as prescribed by law. He is to advise the NSC of the activities of the other departments and agencies.
Partisans may take sides as they wish, but it is quite clear that it was the intention of Congress that the role of the CIA was to coordinate all of this intelligence and then to advise the NSC, including the President. There is nothing in this language that would suggest that the Agency should become operational or that it should enter the collection business itself. Although the CIA has, during the past quarter-century, usurped powers that are not included in the law, it is this literal interpretation of the law that permits all of these disparate intelligence sections to operate with a high degree of independence. Thus we find strong leaders such as Admiral Burke using his own intelligence arm his own way, while at the same time the Navy was rendering support to the CIA in an operation that was very much on the other side of the coin. It was not in the interest of the Navy to become covertly engaged in Indonesia.
In addition to its independence, the intelligence community does not have its own pecking order. Much has been written about the behind-the-scenes friction and massive power struggle between the CIA and the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency). The director of the DIA sits on the board with the rest of the community under the chairmanship of the DCI; but this does not in any manner mean that he works for and is subservient to the DCI or to any part of the CIA. The DCI serves at the direction of the NSC and the President, and the director of the DIA is responsible to the Secretary of Defense, who is by law one of the members of the NSC and in that capacity is also one of the DCI's bosses.
As recently as September 1971, during a meeting with a prominent and important member of the House of Representatives, I was asked, "What is the chain of command to the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency?" From this man, who serves as chairman of a key unit of Congress, this was no artless or idle question. And other than citing the obvious, that the director of the DIA serves the Secretary of Defense, there is no other way to answer that question, if anyone would try to find a niche for that director under a hierarchy headed by the DCI, he would be wasting his time. We find then, nearly twenty-five years after the creation of the CIA, that it has remained as the coordinator of information and little more -- as long as we are talking about intelligence as an advisory and staff function. When we come into the field of clandestine operations and the inner and more secret pecking order of the ST, we find a totally different situation. This is as Allen Dulles planned it. His biggest cover story of all was the fact that he served as the DCI and that his most able agents were not in the field waging an active campaign against the enemies of the United States but were serving inside the Government of the United States and inside of many greatly influential non-government areas, to create a ST that dominated the entire operational activity of the U.S. Government in peacetime.
The use of the word "peacetime" in this context is fraught with danger and does not mean what might be expected. There are those who say that we have been "at war" since 1945 in a great worldwide cold war struggle against Communism and other enemies of this nation. But that is not the way the term peacetime is used in the ST's clandestine activity dictionary. The rules of war are traditional and are quite clear and uncontroversial. When the nation goes to war legally by Act of Congress and in accordance with these rules, there can be no question about the pecking order and who is in charge of things. The President is the Commander in Chief, and everyone else from the President on down to the private in the uniformed services and the industrial and civilian defense worker has his neat role and position in the chain of command as the emergency law may prescribe. But when this nation is not at war, there are no such rules. Historically, if the nation is not at war, it is enjoying peacetime. Therefore, in time of peace, all foreign planning, foreign policy, and foreign operations are supposed to be the responsibility of the Secretary of State and are managed in accordance with overt political and diplomatic guidelines. To avoid complications on this theme, we shall accept that there are many other departments of the Government that have strong and vital international roles during peacetime, such as the Department of Transportation in the areas of world aviation and commerce, the Department of Labor, the Department of Agriculture, Treasury, and so on. But at the heart of the matter, the Secretary of State is the single Government official primarily responsible for the foreign policy of this nation, and the ambassador who serves under the Secretary of State is the single senior official and head of the country-team in each country throughout the world.
In accordance with custom, International Law, and social tradition, when a country is not at war it is at peace, and the rules of war, which include certain considerations of the necessity for clandestine operations, do not apply. However, in the Cold War era that has persisted since the end of World War II, there is the feeling that we are engaged in a life-and-death struggle with world Communism that verges on real war. At least this is the doctrine of those activists who make a career of promoting anti-Communism. Before World War II there was a wave of anti-Communism, but it was more an expression of choice between the Fascism of Italy, Germany, and Japan or the Communism of Russia. It was fanned to a strong flame during the Spanish Civil War, when the loyalists were for the most part on the side of Communism and the rebels were the supporters of General Franco's version of one-man rule. Since World War II, Communism has become a term that is often applied to almost anything, anyone, and any nation, which in the eyes of the zealous pro-American, is opposed to his views of what is American. Thus "anti-Communism" is an epithet hurled at all kinds of opponents, real and imagined, and at all kinds of targets, from groups of people to individual political foes. Thus, to these activists, we are living in a special state of war.
Inside the ST this kind of thinking has created the phrase, "peacetime operations", which has its own meaning. A peacetime operation is almost always what anyone else would call a "peacetime military operation", or since this is an obvious anachronism, a clandestine operation. By using this special term, the ST keeps the command and direction of such operations from the military, where it would be if it were a real and not a covert operation; and keeps it from the State Department by putting it in the classification of a military activity, even though calling an operation in peacetime a "military operation" does not make sense.
All of this explanation may sound to the uninitiated like a lot of muddy logic or contrived magic. But in spite of the difficulty that exists in trying to explain how the ST rationalizes itself into a position of power, this narrative would be less than honest and less than complete if an effort were not made to delineate the unusual and very contrived paths of reasoning that have been built up through the years.
Perhaps this can best be described by an example. Since the early post-World War I days, the king of Jordan had been served by an elite guard, usually trained by the British. Several years ago, the few remaining British departed and King Hussein found himself in the precarious position of having to trust a close in personal palace guard, not only to protect himself but also to assure compliance with his orders and commands to his military and government officials. In a manner quite normal in many other countries since the end of World War II, King Hussein accepted military aid from the United States, and with it he had in Amman a small number of U.S. military officers whose task was to see that his men were properly trained on the equipment that was given to him. These men worked to raise the standards of competency of his elite troops and recommended that they be given paratroop training so that they could be used anywhere in the country quickly in an emergency. The King was pleased with this proposal, and some U.S. Air Force C-130 transport aircraft were detached from the European Command to support the training program. Selected American Army and Air Force officers arrived to set up the training that would be required. They worked closely with the King, who is a good pilot, and especially with his trusted palace guard.
In Washington, the State Department was informed of this program and approved it as a worthwhile project to increase understanding between the two countries, especially at a time when United States and Arab relations were badly strained. The Department of Defense was pleased to promote this program, because it provided a much-needed contact in the Arab world that might bolster the sagging Middle East defense structure. But neither the State Department nor the Department of Defense, except in very limited offices, knew that among the "military" training personnel were a number of CIA military and paramilitary experts.
As recent history has proven, this high-caliber training for the palace guard has paid off, and undoubtedly was responsible for saving the life of King Hussein, or at least for making it possible for him to remain in the country and in command of his armed forces during the critical refugee uprisings of 1970.
In the case of such operations, the State Department is told that this special training program is part of the Military Aid Program, and unless the ambassador happens to have his suspicions aroused by something unusual, nothing more will be said of it. Most ambassadors never attempt to look into any of these things. They take the view that what they don't know won't hurt them, and even if someone did try to brief the ambassador, he would probably ask not to be told anything covert because that would not be his responsibility; it would be the responsibility of Washington. This usually results in Washington's thinking the ambassador knows what is going on; so it does nothing. And the ambassador thinks the Washington desk knows what the CIA is doing, so he does nothing. The covert activity takes place, then, with no awareness on the part of the Department of State, in spite of what some DCIs have said.
In the Defense Department, the CIA will have asked for support of a training project in Jordan, without much elaboration. Then they will go to the Air Force for planes and to the Army for men and perhaps to both for the equipment they plan to use. In this manner, the CIA gets involved in a peacetime operation that really is not clandestine in the regular sense of the word, because the King will know that this was not part of his regular Military Aid Program, and he will have been contacted by a man who identifies himself as being from the CIA. In most cases, this pleases the King or other principal, because he knows he will be getting something special and usually a lot better and a lot easier than what a comparable Military Aid Program would cost him if it were to be done in the normal manner. So this project is not covert in Jordan. The King will not tell his military leaders what he has agreed to, but that part of the project would not be clandestine anyhow.
This project could be covert to keep it from the Israelis, from other Arabs, or from the Russians. But when considered realistically, this is not so, because aircraft like the C-130 are too big and too peculiar to be seen operating in Jordan for months without giving away the fact that something special was under way. Anyone observing their coming and going would know that the U.S. Air Force was involved in something in Jordan. So the usual classification criteria do not apply. This is where the term "peacetime operation" is most aptly employed. It is simply a device used within the U.S. Government itself to make something appear more highly classified than it really is, in order that it may be directed by the ST and not by State or Defense, where it might normally be assigned.
Of course, to give itself a reason for getting into such activities, the CIA will state that the men it has in Jordan on such an exercise are really there on intelligence business and that their activities as training personnel are simply their cover arrangement. Thus the CIA is always able to provide a story for any exercise it wishes, once it has obtained the charter to collect intelligence and to enter into secret intelligence operations. This example serves to show the unusual nature and usage of the term "peacetime operations". This is no smalltime business, and though this example pertains to the kingdom of Jordan, there have been similar projects in countless other nations.
Any attempt to unravel the chain of command of the Secret Team and more explicitly, of the intelligence community, must take into consideration that it is not what it seems to be and it is not what it was supposed to be. Certain of the most important activities which occur are so concealed within security wraps and so disguised within the intricacies of the special usage of language, such as "peacetime operations", that the uninitiated and inexperienced person has no way to interpret what he finds. Only the dominant elite know what they mean, and what their objectives are when they talk about foreign military training programs, or what they mean by a reconnaissance project or a satellite activity. Beneath all of this, the sinews and nervous system of the whole system run through the entire government almost effortlessly.
So while the intelligence community continues to function as a loosely knit group with each component serving its own master, it does come together at the top and does provide the DCI, and through him the NSC and the President, with advice in matters pertaining to the national security. Under this cover arrangement, the CIA gives lip-service to this mechanism while it goes along a channel it has carved out for itself in the direction of the peacetime operations of the Government. The CIA has an unsurpassed group of dedicated and devoted intelligence experts within its Directorate of Intelligence (DD/I). However, even these men and women feel sometimes that they are not part of the real CIA, so remote is their attachment to the major part of their own organization.
I have spoken to DD/I men many times about certain areas of interest -- careful to protect the security boundaries set by their DD/P (Clandestine Operations) brothers -- to find that the men in DD/I knew nothing at all about things that were under way in another wing of the building. Nothing has underscored this distinction more than the chance release of the Pentagon Papers.
Coordination of Intelligence, the Major Assigned Role of the CIA
The second major duty of the CIA as prescribed by the law is to make recommendations to the NSC for the coordination of intelligence activities. This has been a continuing concern of the Presidents who have been in office since the passage of this act, including President Truman. And it has been a major concern of most of the other members of the NSC since that time. It has also been the subject of many special committees and other groups assigned to study the intelligence community and to come up with such recommendations themselves. However, even to this day there has been little real coordination of intelligence activities, and it seems that at this late date there is going to be less coordination instead of more. In 1948, President Truman asked Allen Dulles to head up a committee of three to report to the President on the effectiveness of the CIA as organized under the 1947 Act and the relationship of CIA activities to those of other intelligence organs of the Government. The other two members of this committee were William H. Jackson, who had served in wartime military intelligence, and Mathias F. Correa, who had been a special assistant to the Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal. The Dulles-Jackson-Correa report was dated January 1, 1949, and was submitted to President Truman upon his re-election. No report on the broad subject of intelligence in this country has ever been more important than this one was. The report itself was published and bound in either ten or twelve copies. (Not too many years after its publication, efforts were made to collect the few copies that were not then in the CIA, and they were destroyed.) One copy remained in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for many years; but it was typical of such important and such controlled documents that the access sheet that had been with it since its initial distribution contained only the names of various administrative personnel who had handled it during top secret inventory reviews and of a very few others, none of whom were really in top level decision-making offices. It is interesting to note that William H. Jackson was appointed deputy director of Central Intelligence after his work on this report and that Allen Dulles followed him as deputy DCI in 1950. Mr. Dulles remained with the CIA for the next eleven years. It is much more interesting and pertinent to note that this report, which was originally chartered to study the "effectiveness" of the CIA and the "relationship of CIA activities to those of other" members of the community, really did not waste much time on those mundane subjects. This report laid the groundwork for the entrance of the CIA into the "fun and games" of special operations, peacetime operations, and all the rest. And in leaving this brief discussion of the second duty of the CIA, one may come away with the distinct impression that the CIA has never made a very high score for its recommendations to the NSC for the coordination of intelligence activities.
Correlation, Evaluation and Dissemination of Intelligence: Heart of the Profession
The third duty of the Agency is one that has been done well and which, if it had received the priority that has been given to the "fun and games", would have provided the President at all times with the best intelligence in the world and would have made the CIA of great importance and of real value to the other members of the Security Council. The law charged the CIA with the duty "to correlate and evaluate intelligence relating to the National Security and to provide for the appropriate dissemination of such intelligence within the government... provided that the agency shall have no police, subpoena, law enforcement powers or internal security functions".
There is no questioning the fact that this country has the best intelligence capability in the world. It also has the best collection system in the world, and all members of the community span the scope of information-gathering to such an extent that we ought never fear the existence of an intelligence void. Yet there have been gross oversights, and there have been many poor estimates and analyses of situations. With all that the intelligence community has going for it, it is remiss in not applying itself more to intelligence, to coordination, and less to special operations. Here also, the community's preoccupation with senseless security measures has reduced the area of study and review of many subjects to small groups that do not represent the most qualified men available. Furthermore, these small groups are shot through with irresponsible individuals whose primary interests are not related to the production of quality Intelligence. On top of all this, the Intelligence professionals have to cope with monumental masses of raw product, much of which is excellent. As a result, vast quantities of this material are buried in security-locked warehouses and have never been looked at and never will be.
During the past twenty years there have been many times when the Secretary of Defense or other military official has stated that the United States needed to go ahead with the development of a new bomber, a new submarine, or even a new missile system, because Intelligence had acquired information which indicated that the Russians had such a bomber, submarine, or missile and that if we did not get moving to stay ahead or to close the gap, our defenses would be less than the best. Such a comment has recently been made by Secretary of Defense Laird with respect to a new supersonic bomber the Russians have. Since Mr. Laird believes that the Soviets have such a bomber, he believes that Congress should authorize the Department of Defense to go ahead with a new B-l supersonic bomber for the U.S. Armed Forces. Years ago, some of these estimates were found, upon review, to have been somewhat premature. (Critics have pointed out that the military often gave the appearance of working up some story attributed to intelligence in support of a weapons system they wanted or to support the annual budget, which may have been under consideration at the time of the release of the new information.)
This whole area is one in which billions of dollars are involved, and in the final analysis, our very defense posture is involved. Yet the facts are seldom revealed, even to Congressional committees, and huge expenditures have been made on partial information. In the past this may have been necessary, but at the present time there can be no excuse for the withholding of such vital information. Any objective and practical reflection upon this subject would confirm the conclusion that such secrets either were not really secret in the first place or that they cannot be kept for very long if they had been secret.
Since Gary Powers went down in the Soviet Union in 1960 the whole world knows that we have been operating high altitude photographic aircraft. The follow-on XR-1 has been photographed and shown to the public many times. At various times U-2 photographs that have been shown reveal the capability of the cameras of these planes.
It is no secret that the United States has been launching satellite observatories for many years and that one of the primary purposes of these missiles has been to take real, not television, photographs of the earth's surface. We know that the film capsules are regularly recovered, usually in the Pacific Ocean areas. We also know that the Russians are doing the same thing, although their photography may be limited to television-type transmittal and reception. But in any event, there can be little in such a mechanical process that warrants the withholding of this vital information from Congress and from the public for alleged security reasons. If Mr. Laird says that the Russians have a supersonic bomber and that it has been observed, then he should show actual, incontrovertible pictures and evidence of such a plane. Certainly, a development project that will cost $11 billion is so important that it should be initiated on real and valid facts and not on some estimate alone.
This is one area where the ST has held to itself and its own devices, information that should be made public, when there is no actual need for the control of such information. The problem is even deeper than this. The information that is obtained by the many intelligence organizations of the United States is so voluminous that not even a small portion of it is properly evaluated. It is possible to read-out mountains of information by a computer scanning process, and most of the photographic material that does see the light of day, from that which was originally obtained by aircraft or satellites, has been so processed. But there is so much more that never even gets looked at.
Satellite pictures are very good, and yet they have some very real limitations. For example, the big Chinese nuclear plant up in north central China has huge open drying flats south of the plant. When the plant is in full operation, most of these large areas are wet and in a photograph can be seen darkened by water. When the plant is shut down or operating at a reduced rate, fewer drying areas are wet, and the change can be observed. Thus, a programmed pattern of satellites scheduled to orbit over this nuclear plant at regular intervals can produce accurate information about the operation of the facility. The photographs themselves are much more accurate than this. It is possible to enlarge these pictures in such a way that small areas no bigger than a bridge table can be identified. For a camera operating in an observatory 110 miles over the target area, this is good photography. Since this photography is so good and since it is easily and abundantly available, there can be little excuse for not making it available to Congress and to the public in order that an informed public -- and especially an informed Congress -- may know better how to deal with the real facts of the modern world. The law does say that the CIA is responsible "for the appropriate dissemination of such intelligence within the government". If more time and much more money and effort were spent in correlating and evaluating this type of information and then in making proper distribution of the product, we would know a lot more about the rest of the world than we do now, and what we know would be based upon solid supportable fact and not someone's estimate. The work of Intelligence professionals, although hindered by the misplaced emphasis on special operations, has accomplished remarkable things. The diversion of operating funds to clandestine activities has been serious but it is almost insignificant when weighed against the losses which have taken place because of overemphasis on security. If the legislators of this country, and if the general public could only know the things which Intelligence has learned, and which could be used to keep the Free World versus Communist World struggle in proper perspective, we could be confident in our achievements, proud of our successes and understanding of international affairs. One of the best examples of how much we have been able to accomplish in this field of Intelligence is the field of aerial reconnaissance.
The Iron Curtain doctrine played right into the hands of the aerial reconnaissance intelligence system. Not long after Churchill had sealed off Europe, the curtain was extended all the way from the Arctic Sea on the one end across Europe, thence across Greece and Turkey over the Northern Tier, including Iran, Pakistan, and India and on to the Pacific Ocean, skirting the Bamboo Curtain south of China. With the Communist world thus neatly hemmed in, the intelligence community was given the task of penetrating this curtain as much and as far as they could. One of the first things done was the establishment of a perimeter flying capability.
At a busy airport just outside of Frankfurt, Germany, and on the nearby Weisbaden Airport, an assorted fleet of planes was accumulated; these planes had the ability to fly for miles along the border of the Iron Curtain, taking pictures of the denied areas by slant-range or oblique photography. These planes were also equipped with electronic intelligence equipment designed to listen to as many wavebands of information as possible. All of this was taped and read-out when the plane landed. At that time, there was a close relationship between the intelligence units in the field and the Psychological Warfare Offices that were spread through the European Command. The psychological warfare folks wanted to use these same planes to drop leaflets into the denied areas. They would get together with the CIA units and with the meteorological offices along the routes to be flown and study wind currents. When they found a favorable wind they would send out a plane that was going to take pictures and listen for electronic information (ELINT), and then piggy-back their equipment and leaflets aboard. Sometimes they would carry these leaflets for very long distances into the Communist world and at other times the fickle currents would swirl around and drop them in all the wrong places.
In this world of gray secrecy one idea begets another, and soon the Psychological Warfare people were tying leaflets to small balloons and letting them fly deep into the denied areas, wafted by the winds and a small amount of hydrogen in each balloon. The small-balloon-phase did not last long. The weathermen with whom these psychological warriors were working told them about the huge weather balloons they sent up regularly for high altitude weather analysis. This opened new vistas, and the potential of huge balloons carrying thousands of leaflets deep into the heart of Russia captured the imagination of these clandestine operators. Soon the CIA was using more weather balloons than the weather services, and they were launching them with every turn of the winds, hoping to sprinkle all sorts of leaflets behind the Iron Curtain.
Meanwhile, border flying was getting more sophisticated, and some of the most modern planes in the Air Force and the Navy had been converted to do this legal border snooping. These aircraft, modified for long flights and equipped with electronic sensing equipment and other gear, would leave primary bases in Germany or England, fly to forward bases in Norway, Greece, and Turkey for refueling, and then fly border-skirting routes to gather information. Some of the most bizarre headlines of the 1950s were made by the loss of some of these planes, which strayed too close to Soviet territory or became lost in a wind shift that took place in bad weather and then were shot down by Soviet fighters.
Although border flying, if properly carried out, was perfectly legal, attempts were made to keep these flights secret, and all kinds of cover stories were created to attempt to explain the missions of these units. At times, a marginal penetration was flown in an attempt to photograph some target or to get a rise out of some suspected radar that was known to be in the area but had not been pinpointed. Other flights were flown in the Berlin Corridor, utilizing hidden cameras and concealed electronic equipment. But none of these efforts were really big game.
The balloon projects led to a strange development. It was learned that the very high altitude winds over the Soviet Union blew from east to west and that they were reasonably predictable. Very large high altitude sounding-balloons were tested on launches from the Pacific areas and then were relocated over the Atlantic and even over North America after having drifted across Asia.
The next step was to equip these huge balloons with cameras and other sensing devices. This whole project was an extension of the other border sounding projects and seemed to offer potentialities not found before. A large number of these very large balloons were launched, carrying cameras and other devices. Some of them made the trip and were recovered, others fell in the Soviet Union, and others just circled around, coming down almost anywhere. The information gathered by such unpredictable devices was at best of very little use. No one knew ahead of time when to activate the cameras, and even if they could have been activated on some predictable schedule, the weather was a serious factor. But these strange spy balloons did serve a real and most meaningful purpose. They had softened up the authorities to whom the ST would turn to make the next requests by laying a foundation for covert border crossing.
Once border crossing had become accepted, even though it had been accomplished on the wings of the unpredictable winds of the upper altitudes, it was not as difficult to present a program for a better upper altitude information-gathering system. Thus, all that had been done with aircraft, leaflets, psychological warfare, electronic equipment, and cameras came together in the U-2 project. Like so many things that the ST has done, there was not a plan so much as it was that opportunity knocked and the team took it from there.
The Air Force had a very successful early jet fighter called the F-80. As the F-80 got older, other types of planes and newer equipment seriously outdated it. The Lockheed Corporation, manufacturer of the F-80, came up with an F-90 -- a more advanced version of the tried and true F-80. But as so often happens, the timing was not just right, and the Air Force did not order the F-90. There were several other planes in the air at the time, and the newer Century Series planes were on the way. However, Lockheed had done well with the F-9O and had made a trainer from that plane known as the T-33, which outsold all others of the time. At the same time, Lockheed had been successful in selling an F-94 interceptor to the Air Force for the Air Defense Command. So Lockheed dropped the F-90; but Kelly Johnson, the shrewd vice president of Lockheed, hated to see all that work and development effort go by the wayside. He made one more pitch to the Air Force. He proposed that a highly modified "glider" version of the F-90, with a new high altitude engine, would make a superior high altitude reconnaissance aircraft. He brought his high-powered, very successful briefing team to the Pentagon and gave his pitch to Air Force Operations.
The Air Force was sold on this idea, and its reconnaissance personnel were delighted at the prospect of having a special all-reconnaissance plane developed for once, rather than having to convert other types of planes for that purpose. But as this "hot" briefing worked its way up through channels, it became apparent that the Air Force could not locate the funds to purchase a reconnaissance plane, because the Air Force did not have anything it could do with the plane at that time. It was one thing to take a strategic bomber B-47 from the Strategic Air Command and fly it along a border in the "open skies" for the purpose of getting some electronic information input; but it was an entirely different deal to develop a brand new plane for a mission which at best would be clandestine, except in time of war, and even then would be most hazardous.
However, many of the reconnaissance officers of the Air Force had been working closely with the CIA on these border flights, and they knew men in the CIA who might want to hear about Kelly Johnson's proposed new "glider". A top-level Air Force team gave the CIA a briefing on the plane, and during this briefing it was brought out that this ultra-high-altitude plane had the capability to fly across Russia at an altitude that would most likely be above the ability of the Russians to do anything about, even if they did happen to find out it was there. The rest is history. The Air Force agreed to develop the plane, and the CIA agreed to operate it. As a result, most of the money, the people, and the facilities that went into the project were contributed by the Air Force. The CIA operated the project as a "peacetime operation". This was a classic example of how a project that should have been military, because it was too large to be clandestine, became covert simply as an expedient. The reasoning was that in peacetime it could not be military, because it was clandestine, so it was to be directed by the CIA, the typical Secret Team tautology.
A really magnificent camera capability was developed for this plane, along with an entirely new engine, and before too long the U-2 was operational. The Air Force and the CIA went through all the motions of keeping the whole project a secret; but all over the world, wherever it was seen, this strange plane with the big drooping wing attracted attention. The minute something new in the field of advanced aviation is discovered, all the experts -- intelligence, military, and manufacturing -- go after it; it would have been most unlikely that anyone who wanted to know about the U-2 did not know all he needed to know by 1955 at the very latest.
Sometimes, little things turn out to have a big and unexpected impact on such a project. It was known that a plane that flew so high would have a most difficult time if the engine should ever flame out, i.e., if the flame, which continually burns the fuel, should be extinguished for any one of several reasons. Since "flame-out" was such a major concern, it was then most important that every effort be made to keep the flame burning. It was discovered that if a small quantity of pure hydrogen was trickled through the engine's burners at all times, this would keep it burning, and the danger of flame-out would be much reduced. This meant, then, that everywhere the U-2 operated, provision would have to be made for the availability of liquid hydrogen. This gas, which is so common in its natural state, is most uncommon when liquid, and to remain liquid, it must be kept in a cryogenic state at some 240° Centigrade below zero. As a result, it is not easy to provide liquid hydrogen wherever in the world one might wish to fly a U-2 or two.
The Air Force had the job of provisioning the U-2, and it went to elaborate measures to assure the availability of liquid hydrogen. Although the movement of these planes and of their crews and other special paraphernalia was most highly classified, no one had thought to classify the movement of these special quantities of liquid hydrogen. Not too many people were actively involved in the movement of this most volatile material, but it did require the special efforts of a good number, and they soon realized that every time they were asked to deliver some liquid hydrogen to a certain remote area, the U-2s would be operating there. To a lesser degree, the same was true of the crews. They were a special breed of Air Force personnel who had agreed to be sheep-dipped and then had taken "civilian" jobs in the program. This altered status -- from military pilot to civilian pilot -- made them stand out everywhere they went, because nowhere is there a more closely knit clan than that of the fighter pilot. Once others saw them in Germany or in Japan, the fact that they must be flying something special could scarcely be hidden. Their old buddies knew they were not about to be flying some charter airline's slow transport. Thus it was that even the pilot situation made concealment of this project very difficult.
At this point, the U-2 project, under the very capable Richard Bissell, became a very large, very active, and really global program. However, it was still maintained as a small clandestine operation, because if it were not a controlled clandestine operation it would have had to have been a military program, and everyone knew that the military could not operate such a military program in peacetime. By this time, the ST was getting powerful enough to control major projects, even though there was no chance of calling them truly clandestine and "plausibly deniable", as the old directives had said.
In spite of all this, the U-2s did gather some of the best information ever acquired on a gross basis. The photography obtained by the U-2 camera system is in many ways still unmatched. When some really good pictures are needed anywhere in the world even today, it is probable that the U-2 will be given the mission.
I had attended a meeting in the old headquarters of the CIA one day shortly after I had returned from a special Rand Corporation presentation on missiles. Not long after the "missile-gap period", the Rand Corporation had been asked to put on a full missile orientation course for top echelon officials of the Government. There was so much about this new age of missiles that was not known. With all the emphasis the Government brought to bear in that field, it was realized that not too many top military officers and other high officials knew much about these new weapons and the new technology involved in their manufacture and operation. When Rand had this course ready to go, that excellent organization decided to give it a dry run for the benefit of the instructors and administrative staff who would support it. A list of officers was made for the purpose of attending this dry run, and I happened to be one of those selected. The course was excellent, and later was given to a great number of people; then the whole curriculum, properly censored, was entered into the Congressional Record. Many unusual things happened during those missile-gap days.
Having just returned from this course and having attended a meeting with the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, who at that time was General Cabell, I got into a discussion with him about the advisability of having certain high level CIA officials take that course. In the discussion, and more or less to make my point, I suggested that the CIA ought to move their cameras from the cockpit of the U-2 into the nose cone of a missile in order to place them in a surveillance orbit. I doubt that I could claim to have originated the idea, but only a few days later he called me and asked that I see about getting some spaces in the course for officials from the CIA. Not too many years later, the satellite observatories were a fact.
Because of the height at which they orbit the earth, their pictures require very special treatment, but they do have the advantage of taking pictures through very clear space until they reach the heavier layers of the atmosphere and weather below. However, on that score they have no more trouble than high altitude aircraft, because most of the obstructions are no higher than sixty thousand feet. The principal problem with the use of satellites is that they enter a fixed orbit as soon as they are launched, and they transit certain predetermined sites on a rather random schedule. Nothing can be done to change this orbit and the schedule they fly once they are put in orbit. (There could be some limited repositioning by using additional burst of rocket power to accelerate or decelerate the satellite.) As a result, satellite observation from any given platform will not suffice to take a picture of any target at any time. The pictures must be taken at a time determined by the prearranged orbit and the time of day or night, and with some consideration of the weather. But these problems are being overcome, and it may be possible to get some information from almost any part of the earth at any time, day or night, weather or no weather, as the canopy of observation platforms increases in size, scope, numbers, and versatility.
Missile technology places a great responsibility upon the Agency to collate all information from so many sources and capabilities. The read-out problem is massive, and once these data are put in some readable form they must be indexed and made accessible through some form of retrieval system. As we pass from an era of agent activity into the newer era of machine technology, there should be little information we need that is not available to us at all times. With this as a firm prospect, the responsibility falls upon the system to prepare the data properly and to disseminate it as broadly as possible. There is a tendency within the intelligence community to over classify and to hold information from all but a few readers. As a result, much that would be useful to many is never known in time or at all. This tendency must be corrected and put to work for the country as a whole. A free society cannot remain free if information is locked from it by its own government.
Services of Common Concern: An Attempt at Efficiency
The fourth duty of the Agency is "to perform for the benefit of the existing intelligence agencies, such additional services of common concern as the NSC determines can be more efficiently accomplished centrally". These are the functions that serve all the components of the intelligence community and can best be undertaken centrally. To more or less sum this up, the principal responsibility of the Agency is to gather information that relates directly to national security. The distinction is made between information and intelligence: "Intelligence" refers to information that has been carefully evaluated for accuracy and significance. The difference between information and intelligence is the important process of evaluating the accuracy and assessing the significance of such information in terms of national security. In this context, when a raw report has been checked for accuracy, and analyzed and integrated with all other available information of the same subject by competent experts in that particular field, it is "finished intelligence". When, in addition, it represents the conclusions of the entire intelligence community, then it is "national intelligence."
1. Composite quote from the National Security Act of 1947.
2. The National Security Act of 1947.
3. Extracted from a typical USNWR question and answer review, July 18, 1966, Adm. Raborn, interviewee.
From the Pines of Maine to the Birches of Russia: The Nature of Clandestine Operations
A LIGHT PLANE SKIMMED THE TREE-TOPS OF THE dense hardwood forest of northern Maine. It dipped from view, and was gone. To anyone who might have been watching, the lake where the plane landed was too small for any pontoon equipped plane. However, the landing was safe, and the plane taxied toward two men sitting in a small inflated boat. One of them had been winding the hand crank of a small generator. The other was tuning a transceiver. As the plane approached, the pilot cut the throttle, and the men paddled to the nearest float and climbed aboard.
The pilot reported that he had picked up the homing beacon several times at distances of from thirty to sixty miles. He could have gotten more range, but the flight plan called for a low altitude flight, so he had to do the best he could from tree-top height. The beacon, newly modified to give a stronger signal, satisfied them. Further testing would take place at Norfolk. The men stowed the gear aboard the plane and deflated the raft. The co-pilot, who spoke no English, helped them up. The pilot restarted the engine and gunned the throttle to take them to the far side of the pond.
With everything ready for take-off and the plane heavy with four men aboard, the pilot waited for a slight breeze, which would put ripples on the water and help them get off more quickly. A technician would have noted that large leading-edge slats on this plane were extended before take-off and that the large trailing flaps were also down for maximum lift. With the breeze, some steady ripples, and a full throttle, the pilot let the plane accelerate for about twelve seconds and then lifted it clear. Once off the water, he began an easy spiral climb to get up and out of the tree-lined valley.
A month of special training had paid off. The new Helio "Courier" had proven itself to be the best and most rugged short-field plane available. The floats were not too heavy, and the plane handled well on the water. Most important, the new co-pilot had transitioned quickly and had handled the plane like an old pro. He needed more instrument work for weather flying, and he needed some navigational experience. He would get that training at Norfolk. He had liked flying in Maine, and he reported that "it looked like my homeland". After a short hop, the plane landed on Moosehead Lake, and everyone went back to Greenville to prepare to close the camp.
In Germany, hundreds of thousands of displaced persons and repatriated refugees had been interrogated and debriefed as they came through the military processing centers. A small fraction of this horde of people, fleeing the Communists and the reprisals of their own countrymen, possessed information that was useful intelligence. This select group was turned over to professional interrogators who worked for military intelligence and the CIA. Only the very best were reserved for CIA questioning; and these were screened carefully to assure accuracy and integrity and to spot the inevitable planted agent. Among this group, the Agency had found several who had given evidence of a military buildup by the early 1950s, of a very special nature far north of Moscow. This intelligence had been screened, evaluated, and analyzed to see what it meant. About the best that the refugees and defectors could provide was that new interceptor fighter bases were being built farther north than ever seen before and a vast array of radars, indicating the development of a sophisticated air defense network, was being installed.
One day, a young Polish defector, who claimed to have been a pilot, turned himself in, and after careful screening and background checking, he was brought to the "safe house" not far from the I. G. Farben building in Frankfurt for further interrogation. In the course of this work, he said he had made several trips as a co-pilot delivering cargo to the new construction sites at these fighter bases in the Soviet northwest. As if to prove his point, he said he could find his way back there anytime.
Clandestine operations take form through such small and unexpected leads. The agent who had been working with this pilot was not on the Directorate of Intelligence side. He was a member of the Central European staff of DD/P, the special operations staff of the Agency. Up to the time of that last statement he had been interested only in a secret intelligence project designed to obtain all the information it could get on Soviet air defenses. That evening when he stopped at the officers club in Frankfurt, he met a few other agents who were visiting from Washington. He mentioned the chance remark of the Polish pilot.
A few months earlier, there had been a meeting in the Pentagon in the Air Force Plans offices, where the vast Air Resupply and Communications program was managed. These special Air Force units, called ARC Wings, were stationed in strategic locations all over the world. Included among their special classified missions was the task of providing wartime support of the CIA. Several CIA men attended the meeting in the Pentagon, and when it broke up, one of them stayed behind to ask the Air Force pilots what they thought was the best light plane for rugged, special-operations-type business. One of the officers reported that a small company, consisting for the most part of ex-Massachusetts Institute of Technology aeronautical engineering men, was building and flying a plane called the Helio Courier. If it was really as good as it was reported to be, it might be the plane the CIA wanted.
About one week later, a man reported to the Helio Aircraft Corporation in Norwood, Massachusetts, to learn more about this plane. He gave his true name, showed the identification of a U.S. Air Force civilian employee, and said he worked in Air Force headquarters. He spent several days with the Helio company and returned with an enthusiastic report. He actually worked for the Air Division of the DD/P in the CIA, and his boss at that time was an Air Force colonel on duty with the CIA.
After proper testing and evaluation, the CIA decided to purchase several of these aircraft. However, the Air Force had none of these planes, and the plane could not be purchased by the Air Force for the CIA because it could not be "covered" unless there were others like it in the Air Force. The CIA decided to buy these planes anyway and set up a civilian cover unit for them putting them under commercial cover. At the same time the agent in Frankfurt was talking with the Polish pilot, these same aircraft had just been delivered to the CIA and were being shaken down for special operations work.
Thus it happened quite by chance that this agent told his friends in Germany that the CIA had just the plane that could make the flight, if they could get the Polish pilot sufficiently trained for it and if they could get the operation approved "through the Old Man". They knew "Air Division" would back them. It wanted more action than border flying and training exercises. They counted on the approval of Richard Helms and Frank Wisner (both men at that time were in DD/P; Wisner was the chief) and felt sure General Cabell would go along with the idea, since the Air Force could use any information it could get about the Russian air defenses, to support the growing B-52 strategic bomber flight budget. They knew the ultimate decision would be up to Allen Dulles.
During the next weeks the agent in Frankfurt worked very hard with the young Pole to see just how much he knew, whether he really knew the Soviet Union, and whether he really could fly an airplane. Everything seemed to work out, the information the Pole gave him checked out with everything the Frankfurt station could get.
With this under way, the Frankfurt station agent kept a friend in Washington informed of all developments. Between them, they kept feeding "business" messages, designed to heat up the subject of "new Soviet air defenses", into intelligence channels. Everything possible was done to increase intelligence communications traffic on this subject. The Air Force intelligence office at U.S. Air Forces, Europe headquarters (USAFE), in Weisbaden was put on the task. It quite willingly picked up the ball because that headquarters had a very active border flying activity, and this would give them something to do besides dropping leaflets and furnishing tens of thousands of weather balloons. USAFE increased its traffic on this subject to the U.S. Air Defense Command in Colorado Springs and to the Strategic Air Command headquarters in Omaha.
At the same time, the Frankfurt station agent arranged to have the Air Force group at the Weisbaden air base set up a light-plane flight reorientation course for the Polish pilot. An Air Force light plane was made available and to the relief of everyone, the Pole proved to be a good pilot. It was easier get him through the refresher course than it had been to get the plane for him.
If this mission were to operate into the Soviet Union, the pilot must never know who was supporting him. Therefore, he was told that a German air operator had a Polish pilot and a plane and that they would give him some refresher flying so that he could seek employment. He was never told that he was being prepared to fly to the Soviet Union. The Air Force plane was put into the hangar and stripped of all USAF identity. Then German instrument decals were put in the cockpit and a Polish pilot, one whom the Agency had ready at a special billet in Greece, was transferred to the Frankfurt station.
Every day, the Polish defector would be driven to the airfield for his lesson. The older, CIA "stateless" pilot, not only gave him transition flying but tried in every way to test the newer man and to break his story. But the facts held up, and the young pilot proved to be sincere and reliable.
With this success, the idea of the project had begun to take shape. Air Division plotted several flight plans from a secret location in Norway into the Soviet Union. Because the Courier performed so well on water, and a water landing at an "unknown" destination seemed to offer the most chance for success, it had been decided to operate from a water departure point to a water destination. Also, each flight plan called for a low "under radar canopy" tree-top level pattern.
Long-range, low-level navigation is difficult because visibility pilotage purposes is reduced to a narrow track. This was doubly true for this flight, because any radio aid that might exist was limited and hostile. Border electronic information flights had pinpointed some radio fixes that could be used; but even at best these were quite unreliable. A Loran navigation fix would be ideal; but none was in operation that far north. This was overcome by having the U.S. Navy agree to put a Loran-carrying ship in the far north as part of a "NATO exercise". This would give a good, reliable, and secret navigational and code signal system for most of the flight. The mission plane would not be required to make any transmissions in order to use Loran for navigational purposes. It would simply receive the signals it needed.
Meanwhile, Air Division did not wish to pin all of its hopes on the young Pole. He would fly the plane, but an agent would be trained to help him navigate and to serve as a helper for the two-man team that would be infiltrated into Russia. A series of long-range navigation missions was set up and all systems thoroughly tested.
By this time DD/P had accepted the proposal and had become its sponsor. The U.S. Air Force and Navy had been fully sounded out, and they went along with the idea. At that point, a meeting was set up in the OSO/OSD office to soften up any possible opposition and to prepare for the crucial vote of the Secretary of Defense in the NSC Special Group meeting. Since the operation would have a vital military intelligence tie-in, the OSD vote was just about assured. This was the period of the Allen W. Dulles-John Foster Dulles partnership; so no meeting was scheduled at the Department of State. "The Old Man will handle that" was sufficient to assure that vote at the NSC. With all of this preparation, it was no problem for DD/P Wisner to sell the idea to General Cabell. The way was cleared for the meeting with Allen Dulles.
The agent from the Frankfurt station flew into Washington on a "deep water" flight -- a clandestine flight with a cover flight plan and no customs intervention -- on a ClA-owned U.S. Air Force C-l18 transport, with the Polish pilot as a passenger. The Pole was kept at a "safe house" near Andrews Air Force Base, just a few miles from Washington. The Frankfurt station agent attended the meeting with Dulles, as did General Cabell, Wisner, and a few others. The idea was accepted by Mr. Dulles, and he asked his executive to put it on the agenda for the next Special Group meeting. That evening, before his usual tennis game on his backyard court, Allen Dulles dropped by his brothers secluded house just off Massachusetts Avenue and discussed the operation with him. Foster agreed that Eisenhower would go along with it. He walked over to the wall lined with book shelves and picked up the special white telephone that connected directly with the White House operator. All he said was, "Is the man busy?"
Foster Dulles opened with, "Boss, how did you do at Burning Tree today? . . . well, six holes is better than nothing . . . Yes, I've been talking here with Allen. He has a proposal he wants to clear with you. He feels it is very important, and it will lift the morale of Franks [Wisner] boys. You know, since Korea and Guatemala you havent had them doing much. Will you see him tomorrow morning? Fine. Hows Mamie, O.K. boss, I'll speak to Allen... 9:30... Thank you; good night." There was not much left to do. The flight would be scheduled.
First, the Polish pilot was given a briefing on his cover story. He was "being employed by a foreign company to do some bush-flying, and he would get some training with one of their men in the United States". The "company" man was the CIA agent from Air Division; he would be the mission commander. Shortly after their first meeting they were flown to Maine, where they met the pilot -- also an Agency employee -- of the Courier. The plane had a cover company name on it and a special FAA registry number, which would never show on official FAA records if it were to be challenged. The flight indoctrination concentrated on float techniques, short-field landing and take-off, and low-level, long-range navigation. The Agency mission commander had been trained to take the Loran fixes for navigation.
When the pilot had passed all of his flying tests, he was introduced to the two-man "stay-behind" team. These men would be infiltrated on one flight and then recovered on another. These "passengers" went about their business by themselves and were always, except on the flights, accompanied by a case officer. It seemed that they did not speak English, and they made no attempt to speak to the Polish pilot. If this mission failed and any of them were interrogated, they would know nothing about one another.
At Norfolk, the final phase of training took place. A secluded cove near the mouth of the York River on Chesapeake Bay had a very small section roped off to simulate the tiny landing area they expected to find in Russia as target of this infiltration mission. Day after day, the pilot practiced from that tree-bordered cove so that he would be instinctively used to flying that way. Short take-off and landing (STOL) flying is a real high order skill, and he needed all the training he could get. The next thing he needed was long-range navigation experience -- much of it over water and out of sight of land. Flight plans, as much as possible like the one he would fly from Norway into Russia, were set up. He flew these at extended range day after day until he could hit his target accurately. The Agency man helped him with Loran navigation and taught him how to fly in such a manner that he would conserve his fuel. On the real flight he would have to get in and out of Russia without refueling, and he would have very little reserve. The next step was to ask the Frankfurt station liaison officer, who had contact with the British intelligence service, to set up a meeting somewhere in England for the Polish pilot and a very reliable, high-level Russian defector who was being debriefed secretly at that time. The British agreed to the meeting and suggested it be held at the CIA sub-base near the U.S. Air Force base of the Air Resupply and Communications Wing stationed in England. Thus the meeting would be very secret and could be covered adequately by the Royal Air Force and the U.S. Air Force.
Finally, everything was ready. The Courier was left at Norfolk because another new plane had been built for this flight, one with absolutely no identification markings of any kind -- no paint, no decals, no serial numbers. Even the tires, battery, radio parts, etc., were either stripped clean or had been purchased from various foreign sources. If this plane were lost in Russia, no matter what the Russians might try to charge, this Government would say nothing at all, and if pressed, would deny everything. The plane had been totally sanitized from the start.
The new plane had its wings removed and was placed aboard a U.S. Air Force transport plane. All of the mission personnel were placed aboard the same plane and flown from Andrews Field on a black flight to England. There, at the same base where the pilot had first met the Soviet defector, a final briefing was held. At this time the pilot was told what he was really going to do. He agreed to go ahead and was briefed by the Russian, along with Agency personnel. Later, the same Russian briefed the two passengers separately. They knew what to do.
A few days later, the whole team was flown to an airfield in northern Norway. The Oslo CIA station chief had cleared the operation with the contact man in the Norwegian Government. He was told about the flight and given only a cover story about the real reason for it. Foster Dulles had told the American ambassador as little as possible; he had simply been "informed". If by some chance any of the stateless personnel were compromised by a take-off crash or other incident, the ambassador would be prepared to act. Otherwise, he had no role to play.
The mission commander led the whole team through the entire exercise on several dry runs until they all knew their roles perfectly. The U.S. Navy, British Navy, and a Norwegian ship or two were participating in a NATO northern exercise. Fleets of transport aircraft flew from various northern bases back and forth over the Arctic, making obvious use of the Loran network. All was in readiness. Border reconnaissance flights were intensified out of Athens and Weisbaden. RB-47 high altitude flights were stepped up off Murmansk. Then, with a report of good weather and clear skies, the Courier left Norway with its four occupants and secret equipment.
For hours the plane skimmed the waves, staying below radar surveillance. U.S. ELINT monitors listened for increased "alert level" activities. All were silent. Suddenly in the Loran carrier wave, a final "all clear" signal was given. It was a simple code flashed in microseconds and unintelligible to all but the most sophisticated equipment. Then the Courier turned to the southeast and toward landfall. The barren coastline rose quickly. A heavy, dark forest grew right to the sea. The horizon was low and rolling as the plane sped on its way. Although the plane lands at a very slow speed, it cruises at a relatively high speed, even with floats. Just as dawn broke gray and heavy, they neared the destination. The only identifiable landmark they had passed was a single-track railroad cutting a long straight furrow through the forest. After the railroad there was a stream that led to the pond where they would land. The pilot made only the slightest half-turn pattern, cut the power, dropped full flaps, and slipped over some pine trees and landed with an easy splash. They were down. The Maine short-landing techniques had paid off.
With the engine off they paddled the plane to the shore, where they hastily concealed it with netting and evergreen branches. The stay-behind team unloaded all of its gear and moved well into the woods. The pilot and the mission commander slept. Later in the twilight of the brief northern day, the crew waved to the men on shore, and the Courier flashed across the pond, up over the trees, and away into the darkness. An hour after crossing the coastline, the M/C flashed a simple signal on the carrier wave. Right away, a "welcome" flash came back on Loran and an "all clear" radio signal, which meant destination weather was all right. A few hours later, the plane landed in Norway.
The training had paid off. Ten days later, the stay-behind team was recovered. This time they had helped the pilot by using the hand-cranked generator to put out a signal to guide him to the pond. All four men returned to the base in Norway. The M/C was debriefed in England, with certain British agents present. Then he flew back to Washington. The two infiltrated team men were not seen again by anyone of the early group, and the young Pole was transferred to his new civilian job in Athens.
The instrument team made their secret intelligence report to the appropriate staff sections of DD/I in the old CIA buildings near the reflecting pool beside the Mall in Washington. Their report was properly evaluated, analyzed, and disseminated to the military. They had heard, aurally and electronically, much fighter aircraft traffic and had picked up radar signals, which they had recorded. This team and the M/C received -- silently -- the highest award the CIA can give. In their profession the fact of the award was known; but elsewhere, even the award itself was a classified subject.
Meanwhile, certain very closed and select meetings were being held in the Agencys inner sanctum in a nondescript office building in the "H" Street NW area of downtown Washington. Designated need-to-know staff members from the CIA, the White House, Defense, State, the NSA, and the AEC (Atomic Energy Commission) had a number of sessions with the men who had been in the USSR. Their report was of great value. This whole fighter-base-radar-defense operation was real. But it was itself all part of another layer of cover story. These two men of the stay-behind team had recorded a Soviet nuclear explosion. They had, by unexpectedly lucky timing, actually witnessed the faraway glow of that tremendous explosion, and they had left in Russia very sensitive earth-sounding sensors, which would give limited but valuable signals whenever they were activated by further Soviet nuclear tests.
As in the case of other CIA undercover missions, most of what was known, even by those who knew that a plane had been flown into and back from Russia, was a cover story. State and Defense had benefited from the Air Defense intelligence. The real story, all of the facts, were reserved for the inner team of the CIA and for their co-workers secreted throughout the Government. This flight into Russia was for them simply a step on the road to Indonesia, to Cuba, to Tibet, and ultimately to Vietnam.
This had been a well-rehearsed and well-developed small operation, in the style and manner of true covert intelligence work. When the leaders of the U.S. Government use such operations for positive purposes, they may be expected to do some good. When they are repeated too frequently, when they grow too large, and when they are poorly developed and directed, they are harmful and they destroy any good that might ever come from them.
The operation described was real; but it was not a single operation and it did not happen exactly as described. Even though it took place many years ago and the significance of that project has been lost in time, some of the people involved are still in the business and some of the places used may still be used from time to time. It serves to demonstrate how a really professional special operation can be done, as contrasted with some of the haphazard and careless missions that are often carried out by some of the irresponsible non-professionals who so easily slip under the cloak of secrecy.
For example, we have said that the country involved was Norway. This was selected because the U-2 did not use Norway on certain flights over the Soviet Union. In most cases, the host country is told the truth, or at least all the truth that is known at the time of the first briefing. In a case such as this one, the station chief in Norway would tell his counterpart that we were preparing an operation in which a plane would be sent into Russia with a team and then would return there ten days later to pick them up.
Since the Norwegians share NATO secrets, it is possible they would be promised some of the data acquired. In this case, where the flight had more than ordinary significance, the Norwegians might only be told about the Air Defense mission and not about the nuclear weapons test. The host country might wish to have a representative at the scene before departure to satisfy itself that should the plane crash in Russia and be found there, nothing on it should give evidence that it had taken off from Norway.
The Norwegian Government would be asked to participate in the NATO exercise that was laid on to provide cover for the use of LORAN navigation equipment and generally to soften up the Soviet attention to activity in the area. For this the Norwegians would be permitted to bill the United States for all out-of-pocket costs incident to such activity. In other words, the United States would pay for any part of the exercise that the Norwegians could not have paid for had they not participated in it. This can run into an appreciable amount of money and equipment.
Norway might ask for and could expect to be granted assurances that in the event the exercise was uncovered for any reason, the United States would positively ignore and if necessary deny any participation in it and would guarantee that no mention be made of Norway in any event. (This did not happen in the case of the Powers U-2 flight, and Norway and Pakistan were forced to make their own embarrassing public statements.) It might also require that, in the event the plane was detected and had to flee the area, it would fly away from Norway to an alternate landing near a U.S. ship or submarine. In other words, Norway or any other host country would have a lot to say about their own involvement.
This, of course, varies a lot with the country and the situation. If by some chance we were helping one country against a traditional enemy and our special operation was inadvertently discovered, the country being helped would be glad to have its enemy know that the United States was helping it. As a matter of fact, such a situation usually leads to a so-called "inadvertent" disclosure, so anxious is the first country to let the second country know that the United States is on its side. But this would not have been the case in our example.
There would also be some arrangements that involved the minor participation of the West German Government and the British. Each of these countries would be handled separately, if possible, to keep the primary mission from being exposed. This is not possible sometimes, and the responsible agent may have to brief his counterpart in West Germany and in England.
None of these matters alone seems too important. The ST usually briefs the higher staffs of the Government piecemeal, and so they rarely get to see the whole picture as it accumulates. The opposite is true overseas. In this rather modest exercise, three foreign countries plus the Soviet Union were involved -- and we perhaps should add a fourth, because certain crewmen had been kept in security isolation in Greece. In many ways knowledge by other countries is as important a consideration as any other. From that date on which they become involved on, each of those countries will know that the United States is actively involved in clandestine operations and that it is willing to involve other countries with it in these endeavors. From that day on, it will be impossible to convince any one of those countries again that the United States does not become engaged regularly in such actions.
As time went on, and other countries were involved in other minor events, such as the use of a seemingly clean national commercial airline to do some camera spying or other clandestine project, the list grew, until by 1971 there were very few countries anywhere in the world that had not at one time or other been somehow engaged in clandestine operations with this Government. The significant thing here is that though all these other countries know this, and the Soviet Union and its community of nations know it too, the shield of secrecy spun by the ST here in the United States keeps much of this information from our own eyes, ears, and minds. Then, when we hear other nations speaking quite openly of the things this Government does that are not exactly aboveboard, there are those who would say, "Those foreigners are always saying untrue and malicious things about us." In reality, they are doing nothing more than referring to things that each of them knows we have done, because each of them has at one time or other been involved with us.
This brings up another facet of this kind of operation. In many of these countries, governments are overthrown in fast succession and quite unpredictably. What happens to the members of the inner circle of a government that was once in power and shared secrets with us, now that it has been overthrown, and these same men are in exile or at least powerless in their own country? Do they just forget all these past events? They not only remember those events, but they capitalize on their knowledge in many ways. Some are quite sophisticated, and they bide their time until they have a chance to contact the man who used to contact them when they were in power. Now they whisper that the new "in" government is "Communist-oriented" and that with a little help they can get back in power.
Others are less sophisticated and more direct. They make deals where they can to uncover other actions and networks in what they think is a loyal effort to help their old cause against the current government, not caring about the exposure of the United States, whether that matters to them at all or not. And there are others who use their information for open blackmail. Some collect, and some disappear.
The same is true of those who are voted out of office. They have known the inner workings of government. When someone tries to say that things were not quite as they were, many of these men, hoping to make a political comeback, are forced to reveal things that they have known.
There have been a number of cases where this information about third government participation with the United States in special operations has led to subtle, legal blackmail. Each government gets foreign military aid according to a carefully worked out schedule. A number of governments have used the CIA relationships they have established to plead for and to gain by heavy-handed methods hundreds of millions of dollars worth of equipment that they could not have gotten otherwise.
In summary, there are few if any men in government, from the NSC on down through the executive branch, or in the Congress, who have had the opportunity to put enough of these events together to see how heavy and oppressive twenty or more years of accumulated clandestine operations can be. When a new Assistant Secretary of Defense or Assistant Secretary of State can say in public something like, "The United States has no combat troops in Laos, and it has not had any there, and it will not have any there," at least fifteen or twenty other nations can listen and recall that they have at one time or other directly participated in actions that involved American combat troops in Laos; or, since this is intended as an example only, in some other country. In many such cases the person who makes such a statement is known either to be uninformed or lying.
There is a good story about American Army troops in Laos. About fifteen years ago an agreement had been reached whereby the U.S. Government would take over certain training functions and the French would leave. Some French were to remain as advisers in government and as a training cadre with the armed forces of Laos. By a local agreement worked out with the Government of Laos and with the senior French officials there, a Military Aid Program was established, calling for the delivery of large quantities of U.S.-manufactured military weapons. However, the use of many of these weapons was dependent upon a degree of training and sophistication beyond the ability of the Laotian army. The American ambassador volunteered that he could arrange for American civilian training personnel to come to Laos for the sole purpose of training the armed forces of that country on American equipment. This offer was accepted, and it was broadened to include military matters, which at that time were included in the general concept of civic action. This gave these U.S. training personnel broader responsibilities, to include such things as irrigation, village hygiene and sanitation, rudimentary school-building construction, and related tasks, all in addition to the regular weapons orientation. It also included basic electronics work and communications indoctrination of a low order of skill. By the time this whole program had been packaged, the requirement for instructors had grown to several hundred. Although this entire endeavor had the appearance of being entirely overt and coming under the responsibility of the ambassador, it was his invisible staff of CIA men who had worked up the idea to counteract French influence, which was admittedly at a low ebb following the defeat at Dien Bien Phu. In those days there was as much animosity between the CIA and the French as between the CIA and the Pathet Lao. The CIA team got the military assistance program approved and the equipment destined for Laos. The next thing was to get the civilian instructors. To accomplish this task, they beefed up their own staff with a number of new men and then turned to the Army for volunteers, who would be sheep-dipped and sent to Laos as "civilians".
(The term "sheep-dipped" appears in The New York Times version of the Pentagon Papers without clarification. It is an intricate Army-devised process by which a man who is in the service as a full career soldier or officer agrees to go through all the legal and official motions of resigning from the service. Then, rather than actually being released, his records are pulled from the Army personnel files and transferred to a special Army intelligence file. Substitute but nonetheless real-appearing records are then processed, and the man "leaves" the service. He is encouraged to write to friends and give a cover reason why he got out. He goes to his bank and charge card services and changes his status to civilian, and does the hundreds of other official and personal things that any man would do if he really had gotten out of the service. Meanwhile, his real Army records are kept in secrecy, but not forgotten. If his contemporaries get promoted, he gets promoted. All of the things that can be done for his hidden records to keep him even with his peers are done. Some very real problems arise in the event he gets killed or captured as a prisoner. There are problems with insurance and with benefits his wife would receive had he remained in the service. At this point, sheep-dipping gets really complicated, and each case is handled quite separately.)
In this instance the Army readied several hundred sheep-dipped officers and enlisted men for duty in Laos. They were hired by a private company created by the CIA, and they were called "White Star" teams. The total number of men involved was kept a secret from all parties, and the teams were infiltrated and entered the country at the airport in Vietiane. Others came in overland by other points of entry. Some came in on clandestine cargo flights. Finally, the last group made a ceremonial entrance into Laos by commercial air, most likely on the prime ministers own airline, Air Laos. They were met at the airport by an official party from the American embassy and were accompanied by Laotian and French officials. This small overt party contained all of the higher ranking White Star party. In customary order of precedence -- reverse order of rank -- everyone had disembarked from the plane except the senior official who, of course, was known simply as a civilian. Then he appeared at the door of the plane and looked out over the scene and at the welcoming party at the foot of the stairs. His eyes rested on American officials he had known before, during the long days of his special training and indoctrination, upon Laotians he had heard of by name but whom he was to meet for the first time, and upon French officials whom he had not expected to see at the plane. He expected that the White Star teams under his leadership would replace the French in the favor of the host Laotians in a short time. And then he saw the figure of a ranking French officer. Their eyes met for the first time in more than a decade. Of all the men, this sheep-dipped Army colonel, John A. Heintges, could have met at the steps of a plane in Vietiane, Laos, the one whom he saw was the same French officer with whom he had spent years in a German prisoner-of-war camp. Months of preparatory cover work went up in smoke. French intelligence there were able to match the cover story "official record" of this "civilian" with his known true role with the U.S. Army Special Forces once they discovered his identity. The White Star team bubble burst even before it got started.
Here again is an example that adds up, along with so many others, to prove that what may be called clandestine and what may be treated with deep secrecy in the never-never land of "Secret Team Washington" is really not so secret and so undercover out in the cold factual world. There have been so many generals and admirals from the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force who have either been serving on assignment with the CIA, or who were really CIA career men serving on a cover military assignment, or mixes of both, and who have worked in Southeast Asia during the past twenty years, all as a primary duty with the CIA, that it would be no wonder at all that the officials of governments from Korea to Pakistan could certainly be excused for not knowing whom or what they were dealing with every time they came upon a senior-grade military man.
This is no place to name their names, but even a quick scan of the Pentagon Papers will fill a whole page with these names. For example, Air Marshall Ky of Vietnam may not know to this day that some of his closest early friends in the U.S. Air Force were not really with the USAF; and Colonel Thieu, now President Thieu, could be excused if he never really knew whether most of the generals who were closest to him were really Agency men or U.S. military men on Agency assignments. The record is now so public about Ngo Dinh Diems tutelage at the hands of Magsaysays creator Edward G. Lansdale that it certainly may be redundant to point out that Lansdale was serving the CIA in the Philippines and in South Vietnam. His case was quite special even in that role, because he served a special inner sanctum of the Agency and not the regular Agent section. Some of his greatest problems in Southeast Asia were the result of mix-ups, not with Communists or with the French, whom he detested and who had similar feelings for him, but with other members of the Agencys clandestine staff, who either did not know who he was at first, or if they did know, would not accept him. The little "White-Star" team episode was very modest with respect to its attempt at the big game of clandestine operations.
Two former Commanders in Chief, Pacific Armed Forces (CINCPAC), have served with or are now serving as directors of Air America. This huge overt/covert airline is properly listed in Dun and Bradstreet and in many public telephone books; so it is not unusual to find high-ranking admirals serving on its board of directors. However, when some of these directors call on old friends in the DOD at times when Air America is bidding on a U.S. Air Force aircraft maintenance contract or on a Navy air transport contract carrier contract in the Pacific, they attend the meeting as Admiral this or Admiral that, but when the chips are down someone adeptly slips the word that the "CIA is asking no favors, remember, but all it does ask is a fair competitive position." These admirals do their job for the CIA like any other agent. By the same token, when ranking officers travel throughout the Pacific on what appears to everyone, and of course especially to officials of the host countries, to be U.S. defense establishment business, no one should be surprised if, in later years, these same host countries begin to wise up and think that almost everyone they meet must be CIA.
This is not a sometime thing; it involves a large number of senior officers up to and including those wearing four stars. It certainly prime exponent stretches credulity not to expect that in this whole string of Asian nations, not one of which can ever be faulted on the grounds of being both clever and wily, someone would take advantage of the CIA-versus-the-overt-military-establishment-routine for his own ends. Chiang Kai-Shek has been the prime exponent and recipient of the many advantages of this game. Marshall Sarit of Thailand was not far behind, and Ngo Dinh Diem knew how to play both sides against each other for his own ends, until finally even his own creators let go of the string, and he fell.
The example of the small flight operation into Russia shows something else that enters into peacetime special operations as carried out by the ST. The law and the NSC directives that followed did not authorize the CIA to build up forces sufficient to carry out such operations. However, when the NSC did direct an operation, there were no such limitations on that senior authority concerning money, manpower, and materials. The NSC could stipulate that the Agency perform such tasks with civilian resources. It could further stipulate that the CIA perform the operation with civilian mercenary non-U.S. personnel. Or it could permit the Agency to utilize the obvious resources of the U.S. military establishment up to the point of the actual flight. This became a customary procedure, at least in the days up to about l955 or 1956.
During these fledgling days, the precocious Agency made good use of the military. As in this flight, it gave them all kinds of tasks as enumerated. Not only would the CIA enlist direct assistance with the words that "NSC 5412/2 has directed this exercise and its support by the military"; but it would convene meetings in the Pentagon, in the Paris headquarters of U.S. Forces in Europe, in Army headquarters at Heidelburg, Air Force headquarters in Weisbaden, and Navy headquarters in London, all to churn up the idea and let these headquarters vie with each other in seeing how far they could go out of their way to "support" this exercise, which they knew only as a code name or at best as a plausible cover story. In response to the magic of the CIA relationship, the services would come up with all kinds of support, often beyond the dreams and expectations of the Agency. This had a double-barreled effect. It made a given clandestine operation much larger in its overt supporting areas than originally visualized. It led also within all of the services to a growing capability, often overlapping, which had the effect of creating a very large submerged infrastructure, ready, willing, and eager to become involved again and again with the glamorous CIA. We shall go into this in more detail later.
There are things in every really clandestine exercise that must be done in an expert manner. In the example, we saw that the Agency used non-U.S. nationals for certain hard-core assignments. One man, the pilot, was in a sense fortunate. The CIA happened to find him among thousands of displaced persons. However, one of the pilots who trained him was a real stateless or "multi-national" person. Also, the two infiltrated instrumentation experts were non-nationals. This type of person places a real burden on the Agency, and special attention is given to them and to their welfare and maintenance. It is one thing to use a young Polish pilot for one air mission; but what does the Agency do with such a man year in and year out? Such people do exist, and such people do some important and very specialized work. It may not be "James Bond" all the time; but it has its moments. In between these moments, there are many problems to be solved -- among them such things as a place to live, marriage, family, schools, vacations. Saying that they exist is sufficient for the purposes of this book. What is done with them both during operations and during the dull intervals in between would take another book.
Another area of activity that lies underneath much of the commonplace activity of the Agency has to do with the interminable processing, evaluating, analyzing, and utilization of intelligence of all kinds. It is important to query hundreds of thousands of displaced persons and to get warehouses full of information, only if that information can be used. There are times when the Agency is nonplused by its own cleverness and resources.
There are countless other facets of clandestine operations. It is ridiculous for the Agency and for the rest of the Government to deny them, and it is equally erroneous for those who know nothing about them to speculate about their real character and meaning.
It may appear to be an oversimplification to say it; but an Agency career develops a thick skin, which is occupational, and this thick skin includes an extra set of eyelids which pop over the eyeball of the mind when the man discovers himself in a situation where he finds he should not be.
It is said that the tens of thousands of Japanese who live on one block in a city such as Tokyo develop the ability to live in close proximity, separated one house from the other, usually by no more than a few scant inches and by rice-paper walls and windows. Without question, families in a given area hear each other and all the usual household noises; yet they all maintain that they hear nothing of what goes on in the neighbors house. The idea is that they are supposed to hear nothing; so they hear nothing. This same mental process that permits the disciplined brain to separate out sounds one from another is not unusual in many other cases. It applies in a sense to people who spend their lives in highly classified work. They actually learn to shut out and to avoid seeking out what the other person is doing. As a result, many of the real agent careerists and the staff personnel who support them really do not know what other offices are doing, and they dont care to know.
This blocking-out process may not apply in a majority of cases, but it is true in many. In other cases, there are men who have spent their lives in the Agency who have never really had any direct contact with actual missions because of the nature of their work and because those who were involved in operations kept such information from them. Therefore, some of these old-timers really do not know what is going on. They may think that they do because they have always been aware of activity of one kind or other, and they have heard the usual rumors of what has been taking place. This is often more of a handicap than a help, because if the man has not actually gotten out on the operation he may have heard a very well laid out cover story and thought it was real. He would have no way to know otherwise. Examples of this in other walks of life are not hard to find. When Ford changes its model lines and is introducing some really new design or engineering feature that it wants to keep secret, it will put several teams at work designing the next model car. At certain check points of development, these teams are told, "Fine, now go ahead with what you are doing, to the next stage." Thus, unknown to each other and to the fairly large staffs who support them, more than one team believes its new model is the one that the company has selected. Only at the last moment, when it is too late for them to continue the bluff and too late for a competitor to gain from discovery of the new design or feature, is the unneeded team told that their model has not been selected and that their work was necessary cover to conceal the real design. It is better to have some teams actually living and believing the cover story than to have some just play-acting the cover story. This leaves the final operational go-ahead options open until the very last moment and assures that if there are leaks, the other side will have the problem of finding out whether the operation they have discovered is real or planned deception.
This situation was practiced quite widely during the Bay of Pigs operation. Some units thought they were going to be involved in the exercise, but they never were. This had one odd result right in the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A team of ranking officers thought that they were working on part of the Cuban operation. They were very active and thought that the things they were doing were really happening and that their work was being used by the CIA. It turned out that all the things they did were dummy activities and that the Agency never even intended to use them. It was a sort of Agency cover and deception operation against a part of our own forces. The military were never told that what they had been working on was not used, and later during the review of the Bay of Pigs operation, the senior officers of that task actually appeared before the Presidents Review Board and testified concerning what they had done. Their testimony was so realistic that it was taken as the real thing, and no one ever spoke up to clarify the matter. Apparently, it was in the best interest of the ST to let it go as it did; it only served further to implicate the military in the Bay of Pigs, when in reality they had very little to do with any part of it. This was a very strange turn of events, and exposes another aspect of the strange ways of clandestine operations. When this country permits itself to enter the dream world of covert operations, it creates a national Frankenstein of such proportions that major factions within the Government do not know how something happened, who authorized it, and why it was done. The system begins to run itself from the moment of data input. From the agents first bit of information to the emergence of a clandestine operation, everything is constructed entirely out of response-mechanisms to the ever-claimed threat of Communism. Therefore, the system must do something anti-Communist. Nowhere was there anything built in to say "Stop".
Lyman Kirkpatrick writing so intelligently and from an inside position of real administrative experience said that "President Kennedy paid for the abandoning of the NSC at the Bay of Pigs. He had allowed himself and his principal advisors to be made the captives of the proponents of the plan.... If the President had insisted that the deliberations on the operation be conducted within the framework of an NSC system, with appropriate staff work and review, there would have been a much greater chance that he would have received a more realistic appraisal of its chances for success [or failure]."
This could not have been set in words with more truth and impact. Again we see the bugaboo of CIA secrecy -- it precludes the employment of normal and experienced supporting staff action. In the area of covert operations it is especially important to have someone of high authority in the position to say "No" when "No" is called for. President Kennedy did not convene the Security Council, which might have helped him, and President Johnsons greatest failing was that even though he may have from time to time convened the Council, it was by that time made up of few responsible men and several irresponsible people who more than frequently tended to go along with the ST on everything and left the final decision up to the President who could not and did not say "No".
The discussion in this chapter is intended to serve as an introduction to the world of clandestine operations. We have discussed at some length the first four duties of the CIA as spelled out in the language of the National Security Act of 1947. It remains to look at the fifth duty, the one that the Agency and the ST use to establish that it was the intention of the Congress and of the President to permit the Agency to become involved in the area of clandestine operations as a regular function.
1. Office of Special Operations, Office of the Secretary of Defense
2. The Real CIA, New York: The Macmillan Co., 1968
CIA: The "Cover Story" Intelligence Agency and the Real-Life Clandestine Operator
THE CIA LIKES TO PUBLICIZE ITSELF AS IT WISHES TO be seen; it tries consistently to maintain its cover story. These facts would not be publicly admitted by the agency; but they are facts. It is only fitting to note that when Allen Dulles died, he was writing a book about "Communism and Subversion". This was his first love, as it was J. Edgar Hoover's. This was his occupation. Intelligence was his avocation. When he was writing about Communism and subversion, he was writing, of course, about the real work of the CIA. He liked to write about the CIA and he liked to see that others wrote about the CIA.
After his retirement from the Agency in the fall of 1961, he wrote a very interesting book entitled The Craft of Intelligence. This book is good reading. It contains a lot of folklore about the peripheral world of intelligence; but it says almost nothing useful about the CIA. In fact, as he intended it, it tells a great many things about the CIA that were designed to create the picture of a noble CIA, one that really does not exist. This was typical of Allen Dulles.
Other CIA men have written about the CIA. The most able Lyman B. Kirkpatrick, Jr., long-time career Intelligence stalwart and Executive Director of the CIA, wrote a book, too, which he called The Real CIA. This is unquestionably the best book written by a CIA man about the CIA. It is as forthright and as honest a book as any career man has written or may ever write. Later authors will have missed the great pressures and inner violence of the early struggles, from the days of the OSS and its internecine battles with the Navy and with MacArthur, through the days of the post-World War II hiatus, and then to the struggles from 1947 to the Korean War. This was the truly formative period, and this was the time which spawned the giants.
Lyman Kirkpatrick has written an elegant book; but it leaves much to be said. This is not to suggest that considerations of security have intervened, it is rather to suggest that those career professionals who have devoted their lives to this cause and who have totally lived the party line just cannot bring themselves to see some things as they appear to others, and then admit it even if they should. There is much about a life in the Agency that is like a religious order or a secret fraternity.
After these men, numberless others have written about the CIA. A great percentage of this latter group has written about the CIA at the bidding and urging of the Agency. An organization such as the CIA, which exists in a true never-never land, needs to have someone write about it so that there will always be a plethora of material available and so that this vast stew-pot of material will be what the Agency wants the world to believe about it. The Agency does not answer writers, whether they attack it or not. But it works doggedly and brilliantly at times to bury anything not the party line that is written about it. Thus the Agency has a whole stable of writers, its favorite magazines and newspapers, its publishing houses, and its "backgrounders" ready to go at all times.
Allen Dulles had twelve or thirteen regular members of the news media who would be invited to join him frequently for lunch in the beautiful old dining room he maintained in East Building across from his office. Many an agent or military officer who had been invited to his offices to meet with him or with his deputy, General Cabell, to discuss matters of utmost secrecy, would be astounded at lunch with them to find the room filled with these well known writers and commentators. And then, as lunch proceeded, the same subjects that on the other side of the hall had been so carefully shrouded in secrecy would become table gossip with these men of the press. Dulles believed that if he kept these men well informed, they would then be able to draw that fine line between the CIA party line and its security limits.
Even as Dulles regularly placed himself at the mercy of the lions, he played a bigger game. If he gave them a bit of insight into the workings of the Agency, he also gave them a heavy mixture of that special brew, which he was so good at concocting. He fed them the CIA point of view all the time, just as he fed so many others, from Presidents on down, and as he has fed the readers of his book.
His greatest bit of writing in this special field is regrettably hidden away under heavy security wraps, although by now there cannot be a thing in it that would warrant classification. The report written by Allen Dulles, Mathias Correa, and William Jackson in the latter part of 1948 was a small masterpiece. It clearly and precisely outlined what Allen Dulles was going to do; and to his credit, he did just that and more. During that busy summer of election year, 1948, Allen Dulles was officially the speech-writer for the Republican candidate, Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York. All through the campaign it had been generally accepted that Dewey would defeat President Truman. Allen Dulles, his brother, John Foster Dulles, and the others of that Dewey team fully expected to move into Washington on the crest of a wave with the inauguration of their candidate.
In this context then, the Dulles-Correa-Jackson report takes on a special meaning. Although this select committee had been established by President Truman, they had timed their work for delivery to the President during his -- they expected -- "Lame Duck" period. Then they planned to use it as their own plan of action in the new Dewey administration. In one of the greatest political upsets of all time, Truman beat Dewey, and the Republicans were forced to wait another four years. Thus it happened that this crucial report on the national intelligence community was reluctantly delivered into Truman's more than hostile hands on January 1, 1949. Due to other circumstances, Allen Dulles did spend eleven years in the service of the CIA, and at least ten years prior to that in endeavors directly related to intelligence. It was not until he left government service in late 1961 that he began his book, published in 1963, The Craft of Intelligence. This book, which he was to leave to the world as his public definition of the agency, says very little that is real about the Agency and very little that is real about intelligence. It contains all manner of contrived concepts designed over the years to make people believe that the CIA was what he was saying it was and that all of the authority he said it had did exist. Any reader who thought the CIA was anything like the description contained in the book will be excused for his thoughts, because if ever a subject was painted in camouflage and in words of guile, this was it. This really is not a light matter. Not only did Allen Dulles portray the CIA in public as something that it most certainly was not; but he had done so for many years within the U.S. Government. Let us see how Allen Dulles presents the subject of secret intelligence and clandestine operations.
He opens the book with a "Personal Note". He wants to take the uninitiated reader into his confidence at once. (Those who have seen him operating with such public figures as Joseph Alsop have seen the same approach. The fatherly figure couldn't possibly be weaving a web of connivance around the unsuspecting fly, whether he be a well-known writer or an unknown reader.) By the time he gets to page 6 he says, "CIA is not an underground operation. All one needs to do is to read the law -- the National Security Act of 1947 -- to get a general idea of what it is set up to do. It has, of course, a secret side and the law permits the NSC, which in effect means the President, to assign to the CIA certain duties and functions in the intelligence field in addition to those specifically enumerated in the law. These functions are not disclosed."
Without delay, Mr. Dulles begins to soften up the innocent reader. First the blunt statement, which means nothing: "The CIA is not an underground operation." The trick here is that he is saying bluntly what is fact. It is not an operation. But he intends to lard the book with as much justification as he can muster to support the contention that the CIA is entitled to operate underground.
Then he neatly says that in reading the law a person will get a "general idea" of what the Agency is supposed to do. Right away he has the reader thinking that if the law only sets forth the "general idea" of what the Agency "is set up to do", then there must be some other "law" that gives it other powers. Of course, there is no such other law.
Next he says, "It [CIA] has, of course, a secret side . . . " True again, like the opening statement; but that is not because of the law, although he hopes the reader thinks that the law provides for the "secret side". Then, as if to lift the edge of the curtain to let the uninitiated see a bit of the promised land, he adds, " . . . the law permits the NSC . . . to assign [note the use of the word 'assign' rather than the word which is in the law, 'direct' to the CIA certain duties and functions in the intelligence field in addition to those specifically enumerated in the law." Here, he has set up the idea, "secret side", in the mind of the reader and then proceeded to weakly paraphrase subparagraph 5 of the list of duties, quoted above. Notice also that he says, " . . . the NSC, which in effect means the President . . . " This is a subtle and most meaningful suggestion when one recalls that this book was written in the Kennedy era, from 1961 to 1963. It is true that President Kennedy did all but abandon the NSC, and that in doing so, the NSC became only the President, nearly in fact. This reveals much more than it says when one recalls that the young President had selected only two of the Eisenhower appointees to remain in his Administration. One of them was Allen Dulles. Thus we see that if Allen Dulles had personally briefed the new President on the way the CIA worked, he might very well have done it just as he is doing in his book. He is the one who most probably put the cap on the views of the new man that really the NSC was simply an Eisenhower idiosyncrasy, carried over from the Truman years, and that he might as well abandon it. As Dulles' own Executive Director, Lyman Kirkpatrick, has ably pointed out, this "abandonment of the NSC" by Kennedy led directly to the Bay of Pigs and its great failure, and most likely, to other things that followed, including the Vietnam initiatives.
It is not hollow word play to read into the Dulles book these deeper, almost sinister, meanings. Anyone who has had the privilege of having read both publications, the 1948 report and this book, will be able to confirm the subtle and premeditated structuring of Dulles's powerful course of action. Dulles was an able disciple of the Goebbels school of propaganda. Mr. Dulles's enlightening paraphrase of the fifth duty from the National Security Act is as close as he gets to that bit of the law through the whole course of the book, until six pages from the end. Then he cleverly runs the fourth duty and the fifth duty together in such a way that the reader will most likely not even recognize them for what they are, and Allen Dulles will have purged his conscience by being able to say that he covered all of the law "verbatim". That he did; but it was a masterful job of obfuscation and of mind-bending. If ever the technique of brainwashing has been put to good use, it has been done by Allen Dulles and others of his ilk.
Having used this much mind-bending at the start of his book, he then follows with forty pages of interesting anecdotes and history, after which he comes right back to the same brainwashing, saying, "A Republican Congress agreed [with General Donovan -- which in fact it did not] and, with complete bipartisan approval, the CIA was established in the National Security Act of 1947. It was an openly acknowledged arm of the executive branch of the government, although, of course, it had many duties of a secret nature."
Here again, he used the techniques of the ST by associating the public language of the law, quite incorrectly, with the idea that "it had many duties of a secret nature". As we know from our review of the law, above, it did not have duties of a "secret nature". At least it did not have them in the law. He went on to say: "President Truman saw to it that the new agency was equipped to support our government's effort to meet Communist tactics . . ." This is at variance with Truman's own words about this quiet intelligence arm of the President. What Truman himself said was, "I never had any thought when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations." Truman, the man who signed the bill into law, says that it was never his intention that the CIA would have such duties. Again Allen Dulles brushes such things aside to make a case for the Agency he did so much to change from the "quiet intelligence arm" into the most powerful peacetime operational force ever created.
Dulles continued with his ritualistic chant by adding, "Its [CIA] broad scheme was in a sense unique in that it combined under one leadership the overt task of intelligence analysis and coordination with the work of secret intelligence operations of the various types I shall describe." He employs the technique of beginning with a thought that is correct -- intelligence analysis and coordination -- and then, when the reader is trapped, he continues into an area he wants the reader to think is equally correct -- the work of secret intelligence operations. Characteristically, he has not bothered to define "secret intelligence operations". Even inside the Government, where such terms are used with some frequency, there is much controversy about the real meaning of that phrase, "secret intelligence operations". As a further clue to where Mr. Dulles is planning to take the reader, notice his use of the word "operations", and then recall his blunt, though meaningless early statement, "the CIA is not an underground operation." He is already back at that theme and beginning to work it around so that the reader will believe that the CIA and operations are wedded.
Only a few times farther on, he says; "CIA was given the mandate to develop its own secret collection arm, which was to be quite distinct from that part of the organization that had been set up to assemble and evaluate intelligence from other parts of the government." He continues his clever intertwining of fact with fact to create a pattern that, when woven further with his own contrived designs, is totally at variance with the original. The only mandate he had mentioned to this point in the book was the law of 1947. The "mandate" to which he is making reference in this context, however, was contained in a National Security Council Intelligence Directive (NSCID) 10/2 of August 1948. This directive did authorize the CIA to develop a secret division to perform certain secret activities; but it was a far cry from what Allen Dulles is describing.
The law did not authorize secret or clandestine activities. However, Agency protagonists continued to put pressure on the Executive Branch to permit the CIA to collect "secret intelligence". The argument most frequently given was that since the United States had always been lily white in the area of foreign policy, there was no organization that could "fight the Communists in their own dirty way". It was proposed that since the CIA, which had re-assembled some of the former OSS operators, possessed the demonstrated know-how to carry out secret intelligence operations, it should be permitted to form a unit for that purpose. In the beginning, this idea was avowedly limited to secret intelligence. The CIA disclaimed any intention of using secret intelligence as a bridge to secret operations.
Finally, the NSC consented and published its directive 10/2. However, anyone who had had the opportunity to have read the directive would have been amazed to find what lengths the NSC went to in order to restrain the CIA from going too far in this direction. Absolutely contrary to Mr. Dulles' contention that the CIA was given many duties of a secret nature and then equipped to perform these duties, the NSC directive did authorize the CIA to set up an Office of Policy Coordination (OPC), which would be prepared to engage in secret intelligence activities. However, the director of that office had to be selected by the Secretary of State and approved by the Secretary of Defense. The personnel of that office was to be CIA employees, but their boss was hired and fired by the Secretaries of State and Defense. This was done to keep the DCI from having control over him and thus over the clandestine activity of that office.
This was a partial victory for the clandestine operations activists, but it was an unhappy solution. At that time, the Secretary of Defense was Louis Johnson. He had embarked upon a rigid budget-cutting program by direction of President Truman. Another part of this NSC directive prohibited the CIA from having the funds to carry out clandestine activities. It stated that if and when the NSC directed such action, it would, as a function of its directive, state how the activity would be manned, equipped, and paid for. In the beginning, Congress had not found it necessary to put any special restraints upon the CIA for budgeted and approved funds. Since Congress intended that the CIA would be an overt coordinator of intelligence, it made no plans to hide ClA money in various secret accounts. However, the NSC provided that the CIA was not to use intelligence funds for clandestine activities, but was to be allocated funds from other sources whenever such operations were directed. In this manner, the custom of having CIA funds buried and hidden in the allocations to other departments and agencies began. The intent at first was for this to be a control device over the Agency's activities and not a full flood tide of money pouring without check or constraint into a horn of plenty to support CIA clandestine operations.
Again, there are few who had the opportunity to see these working papers; but in 1949 a most excellent bit of staff work produced a long letter to the DCI over the signature of Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson. It contained a full outline of how such funding would operate, how it could be moved unseen from one department and agency to another in accordance with the provisions of a little noticed law, the National Economy Act of 1932, as amended in the Legislative Branch Appropriation Act 1933, of June 30,1932. It also stipulated how the gaining agency would be required to reimburse the losing agency for all expenses and especially for those that were clearly out-of-pocket. This control was much more effective in those days because the CIA had very little money it could put into costly clandestine operations. As a result, the CIA was very restricted in what it could do as long as the Secretary of Defense required that the DOD be reimbursed. In later years, this stipulation was reversed, and there occasionally were hints from the CIA that it would seek compensation from the DOD for the intelligence it provided.
Another factor of importance was that at that time there were a number of qualified, competent, and top-echelon men who were familiar with the provisions of the National Security Act of 1947 with the NSCIDs, and with the implementing directives derived from all of them. They knew very well that all of this was being done to keep the CIA under control and to prohibit it from going ahead with any clandestine operation or secret intelligence without clear and specific authority. But no one would ever know this from reading Allen Dulles' book. (In a later chapter more will be said about the financial arrangements to include the Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949.)
Just a few lines after his statement about the CIA's "mandate", Mr. Dulles makes another point designed to have the reader believe that clandestine operations were a very matter of fact thing: "One of the unique features of CIA was that its evaluation and coordinating side was to treat the intelligence produced by its clandestine arm in the same fashion that information from other government agencies was treated." That sentence really does not mean a thing pertinent to what he had been saying in his book, with the one big exception. He is including the clandestine arm idea again with an otherwise true and correct statement -- its evaluating and coordinating side -- to make the reader believe that because one statement has the ring of truth, the other must be true also. Then he continues with one of his boldest and most brazen statements. There would be no reason to call it "bold and brazen" except for the fact that he is making all of these remarks in the part of the book he calls the "Evolution of American Intelligence". The use of the word "evolution" connotes a theme of chronological development by sequence. He has been manipulating the chronology to make what he is saying appear to be a part of the law or of other true directives, when in fact they did not develop in quite that order. Thus the next statement is most significant: "Another feature of ClA's structure, which did not come about all at once but was the result of gradual mergers which experience showed to be practical and efficient, was the incorporation of all clandestine activities under one roof and one management." The statement is not untrue as it stands; but it is true not because of the law, or of directives which created the CIA as it is today. The final roll-over of the evolutionary process was a runaway situation created more by the ST itself, in which even the Agency was one of the tools in the greater action, than it was by law and design of the normal channels of the Government.
This whole issue has been made needlessly complex by those who have been unwilling to submit to and comply with the law and to NSC directives as they have been written. We have said earlier that one of the most important facts of the law is that the CIA was created "under the direction of the NSC". We see again that the fifth duty says that the CIA will "perform such other functions and duties . . . as the NSC may from time to time direct." There is a world of difference in saying that the CIA will do what the NSC directs from saying that the CIA may do what the NSC authorizes. It is one thing to take a proposal to a committee and win their approval and thereby to gain the authority to perform the requested activity. It is an entirely different thing to be called to a meeting of so eminent a body as the NSC and to be "directed" to perform an activity.
On this simple and clear point the CIA protagonists have rebelled and argued and connived for almost twenty-five years. Through a succession of skillful internecine maneuvers the CIA, working within the ST and shielded by secrecy and the systems and pressures that heavy secrecy make it possible to utilize, has been able to either plant people in the NSC who are really CIA agents or men who will work at their bidding, or to so brief and brainwash the NSC representative or his designated alternate so that he will believe the CIA explanation of what the law and the directives mean.
This is why it has been important to read the Dulles book line by line. This book is no more nor less than a final compilation of all of the soothing syrup and old wives' tales Allen Dulles concocted and poured over the fevered brows of men in high office and high public and private position for twenty-five years. The book shows how the CIA has been "sold" to the inner staff of the Government and to others, such as writers and commentators, businessmen and educators, both in this country and all over the world.
One would like to speak as kindly as possible and to say that these misinterpretations that cropped up in this book were no more than mistakes and that they can be attributed in part perhaps to ignorance of all the facts; but this could not possibly apply here. This cover story and fairy tale about the "evolution of American intelligence" had been fabricated by highly intelligent men and has been honed to a fine edge through years of skillful manipulation and practice. It is not the result of ignorance or lack of comprehension. This cover story is the planned scheme of a team of men who wish to present the CIA as a benign and well-controlled organization operating under law and directive, and doing nothing except intelligence, when for the most part and in actual practice it is not.
The Agency is very much aware, too, that it cannot look back, because fate is creeping up on it. The tremendous pressures in this country that have built up during the long tragic years of the conflict in Indochina are driving researchers, politicians, and other concerned Americans to search for the origins and sources of responsibility for that disaster. This is bringing them closer and closer each day to the curtain of secrecy that has effectively veiled these areas from sight for more than a decade. This pressure is now forcing Agency and ST supporters to begin a serious program of rewriting history, in a massive effort to protect and shield the Agency while shifting the search into other avenues. We have already said that the work of Daniel Ellsberg and the number of people who helped him may have been the first major step in this effort. The released Pentagon Papers do much to portray the CIA as it is supposed to be, while doing all it can to shift any censure of the CIA as an organization primarily concerned with clandestine operations, to the military, the National Security Council, and the White House.
Now a second salvo has been favored in an attempt to go further along this same road for the purpose of whitewashing the Agency. As the sometimes prestigious Foreign Affairs, the quarterly review of the Council on Foreign Relations, enters its fiftieth year, it has published an article entitled "The CIA and Decision-Making", by Chester L. Cooper. The author is listed as the "Director of the International and Social Studies Division, Institute of Defense Analysis; Special Assistant to Averill Harriman in planning the U.S. negotiating position on Vietnam, 1966-1967; Senior Staff Member, National Security Council,
1964-1966; author of The Last Crusade: America in Vietnam." The review does not add that he was and may still be a member of the CIA. This contribution to current history is a most astounding bit of writing and reweaving of events. It appears to be Phase II, or at least a part of Phase II, of the whitewashing of the CIA in Indochina. This article is a most expert and ideal example of what is meant by saying that the CIA likes to see itself in front, as long as it can control the pen.
It begins most suitably by pointing out that Allen Dulles selected the motto, which is chiseled into the marble at the entrance to the new CIA building in Langley, Virginia, from the words of St. John: "The truth shall make you free." And with this fresh in mind, the article goes on to say, " . . . one of his [Allen Dulles's] greatest contributions in nurturing the frail arrangements he helped to create [was] to provide intelligence support to Washington's top-level foreign-policy-makers." Then it gets down to the serious business of trying to show how ardently the CIA (Intelligence) has worked during the Indochina conflict, wholly ignoring the other, and major side of the house, CIA (Clandestine Operations) and CIA (senior member of the Secret Team).
To set the stage, it dwells upon the responsibility of the CIA to turn out the National Intelligence Estimates. "When PRAVDA has been scanned, the road-watchers' reports from Laos checked, the economic research completed, Pham van Dong's recent speeches dissected, radar signals examined, satellite observations analyzed and embassy cables read, the estimators set about their task . . . it is likely to be the best-informed and most objective view the decision-makers can get . . . [they] brood about the world's problems and project their views about how these problems are likely to affect America's national security interests." All of this is to laud the intelligence side of the house, and this praise is most deserved. However, the intelligence staff has had its problems, and in mentioning some, this article attempts to use them as a means of shifting some blame to other parties, as in the following: " . . . the Office of National Estimates had a thin audience during the Johnson Administration." In other words, if the Johnson Administration did not take advantage of this excellent intelligence, then certainly the CIA can't be blamed for what befell that Administration; or at least this is what this author would like his readers to believe.
Then to enlarge the scope of his case he adds, "Nixon's Administration . . . relegated the National Intelligence Estimates to but a tiny fraction of the studies, analyses, position papers, contingency plans, research reports and memoranda generated by the large new NSC staff . . . " Again he implies that if the Nixon Administration failed to heed the National Estimates, it was its own fault and not that of the CIA.
Having set the stage and prepared his case, he goes directly to the heart of the matter: "Most Americans concerned about foreign affairs have long had to accept on blind faith that our government takes pains to provide its highest officials with the best possible intelligence guidance -- and then to squirm under our private suspicions that this advice is, all too often, regarded with indifference. Thanks to Daniel Ellsberg, those of us who have not seen a National Intelligence Estimate for many years, or who have never seen one, can address the matter with somewhat more confidence than we could have a few months ago. Although it probably did not cross Ellsberg's mind when he released the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times, he succeeded in doing what the Agency, on its own, has rarely been able to do for more than twenty years: he made the CIA 'look good' through what inhabitants of the Pickle Factory themselves would call a 'highly credible source'."
To those well steeped in the ways of the real CIA, and unfortunately there are too few who are, the above statement fits the pattern. Here is an Agency partisan praising Daniel Ellsberg. This does much to support our earlier contention that one of the real reasons these papers were delivered to the public was really on behalf of the CIA and the ST and not the other way around. Then the article goes on to say " . . . the Pentagon Papers tell us little about what actually happened in the White House Cabinet room, they do reveal much about the intelligence guidance made available to the policy-makers." He is still working on the major premise in an attempt to show that everything the CIA did was right, by showing from the included extracts how excellent its intelligence product was during those trying years. Let's look further into this propaganda, as an example is selected from among the many available.
"By mid-summer, the issue of American support for Diem's fledgling and untried government was high on the NSC's agenda. The CIA was requested to prepare an Estimate on the viability of a Western-supported, anti-Communist government in Vietnam. According to the Pentagon Papers, the National Intelligence Estimate of August 3 (1954) warned that 'even with American support it was unlikely that the French or Vietnamese would be able to establish a strong government and that the situation would probably continue to deteriorate!' The NSC, nevertheless, recommended American aid for the frail and untried Vietnamese government, a recommendation that was soon followed by President Eisenhower's fateful letter to Diem offering American support.
"This estimate had long since been validated and it seems clear that the United States would now be better off if President Eisenhower had paid more heed to that warning and less to the strong pressures that were being exerted by his Secretary of State and hard line members of Congress."
This voice of the CIA is saying that the CIA National Intelligence Estimate "has long since been validated" and "the United States would now be better off" if the President had listened to it and not to John Foster Dulles and "hard-line members of Congress". Remember, as we review the record further, that this NIE, as reported by Foreign Affairs, was dated August 3, 1954.
During this very same period when such NIE were establishing a cover story for the clandestine side of the CIA, the record shows that the Director of Intelligence, Allen Dulles, was working through his clandestine channels to keep knowledge of his activities from other officials of the Government and at the same time to establish a vast clandestine operational presence in Indochina. To compound this deception, the Foreign Affairs article of January 1972 presents a bold attempt to further conceal the duplicity of the CIA by hiding these facts and at the same time blaming members of Congress, John Foster Dulles, and President Eisenhower for things that were being done, not by them at all, but by Allen Dulles and his clandestine staff. There can be no other way to interpret this action to cover up the role of the Agency during the early and formative years of the Indochina conflict than to expose it as a premeditated effort to rewrite and restructure history by hiding the operational role of the CIA under its Intelligence cover.
This is one of the most compelling reasons why "secret intelligence" and "secret operations" should not be placed under the authority of one agency.
In spite of what the Office of National Estimates was saying during 1954, on January 30, 1954, during a meeting of the President's Special Committee on Indochina, Allen W. Dulles inquired if an unconventional warfare officer, specifically Colonel Lansdale, could not be added to the group of five liaison officers to which General Navarre had agreed. In other words, as early as January 1954, Allen Dulles was moving into the action in Indochina with his crack team of agents, among them Ed Lansdale.
Then, by April 5, 1954, the conclusions of the report of this same Presidential Committee included the following: "The United States should, in all prudence, take the following courses of action . . . to give vitality in Southeast Asia to the concept that Communist imperialism is a transcending threat to each of the Southeastern Asian States. These efforts should be so undertaken as to appear through local initiative rather than as a result of U.S. or U.K. or French instigation. "This action was assigned to USIA, (United States Information Agency), the State Department, and the CIA.
It was to be the job of the CIA, among others, to see that the "concept" of the "threat to each of the Southeast Asian States" was to be made to appear to be "Communist imperialism". This was the direct charge of a committee on which Allen Dulles served and is a blunt definition of how anti-Communism is hoisted to the top of the mast whenever it is needed as a rallying symbol. As the theme of the "transcending threat" in Indochina, it was in the direct line to the later Communist-supported-war-of-national-liberation theme and then to the Communist-inspired-subversive-insurgency theme of the Kennedy era. There can be little wonder why, in the minds of most Americans, South Vietnam is so intricately tied to the idea of Communist subversion. Words such as the above show clearly the role of the initiative taken by the CIA in Indochina as far back as 1954, even while the Office of National Estimates was saying otherwise.
And while all this was going on, Admiral Arthur W. Radford, the chairman of the JCS, gave a memorandum to the Secretary of Defense which included the following extract: "The JCS desire to point out their belief that, from the point of view of the USA, with reference to the Far East as a whole, Indochina is devoid of decisive military objectives, and the allocation of more than token U.S. armed forces in Indochina would be a serious diversion of limited U.S. capabilities." This was the view of the top military man as presented at the same time Dulles was sending his teams into action there, under the cover of military men.
While this was happening, the Geneva Conference was under way. Although the Foreign Affairs article chooses to heap blame on John Foster Dulles, we should recall that Dulles had not attended that conference since its organizational meetings. In his place he had sent his Under Secretary, Walter Bedell Smith, who had been the DCI before he went to the Department of State. Certainly John Foster Dulles, whose brother was the DCI and whose principal assistant was a former DCI, was well aware of the views of the Office of National Estimates on the one hand, and of the actions of the clandestine side of the house on the other.
Then the Saigon Military Mission (SMM) ("military" only in the sense that it was a cover arrangement) entered Vietnam on June 1, 1954. This mission "was to enter into Vietnam quietly and assist the Vietnamese, rather than the French, in unconventional warfare. The French were to be kept as friendly allies in the process, as far as possible. The broad mission for the team was to undertake paramilitary operations against the enemy and to wage political-psychological warfare. Later, after Geneva, the mission was modified to prepare means for undertaking paramilitary operations in Communist areas rather than to wage unconventional warfare . . . " By its own statement of mission this team was not to aid the French and was to wage a paramilitary campaign against the "enemy". This left it with only one real mission, "to assist the new government of Ngo Dinh Diem". And Allen Dulles sent this clandestine team into South Vietnam in August of 1954, exactly the same month of the NIE, which the Foreign Affairs article says the CIA published as guidance for this country. Dulles' covert actions and his overt NIE were in direct conflict. He was saying one thing and doing another.
There is only one conclusion that can be drawn from such writing, and it is derived from one of two alternatives: Either the author did not know about the existence of and the mission of the Dulles directed Lansdale SMM team; or if he did, he was attempting to cover up the CIA role in such activity, which had more to do with the course of events in Indochina since that time than anything else done by any of the other participants.
Here again we see the ST at work. It is most interested in covering up its role in Indochina during the past twenty years, and in so doing it is skillfully working to shift the blame wherever it can. It is trying to charge that if the military, the diplomats, President Eisenhower, President Johnson, and President Nixon all had heeded its advice as contained in the National Estimates, they would not have gotten this country into such trouble. Their efforts even go so far as to attempt to hide behind their intelligence position by using the "transparent" Pentagon Papers. The Foreign Affairs article would have its readers believe that the NIE is the only real CIA and that such things as the Saigon Military Mission, because it was called a "military" mission, will be discovered not to be the CIA at all.
We have been saying that the release of the Pentagon Papers by the former CIA agent and long-time associate of Edward G. Lansdale, Daniel Ellsberg, may have been the opening attack by the CIA to cover its disengagement not only from the physical conflict in Indochina, but also from the historical record of that disastrous event. In this effort, the CIA appears to be trying to hide behind its own best cover story, that it is only an intelligence agency and that its fine intelligence work during the past twenty years on the subject of Southeast Asia is all that we should remember.
Now we find in Cooper another CIA apologist using the Foreign Affairs review to follow up and to praise Ellsberg. In fact, Cooper's exhilaration in his task gets the better of him when he says, "Thanks to Daniel Ellsberg . . . " he means it! This near-endorsement of Ellsberg by a CIA writer in the publication of the Council on Foreign Relations is all the more significant when one learns that this Council is supported by foundations which are in turn directed by men from the Bechtel Corporation, Chese Manhattan Bank, Cummins Engine, Corning Glass, Kimberly-Clark, Monsanto Chemical, and dozens of others. Not long ago, the political scientist Lester Milbraith noted that "the Council on Foreign Relations, while not financed by government, works so closely with it that it is difficult to distinguish Council actions stimulated by government from autonomous actions." And while we appreciate that Foreign Affairs states clearly that "It does not accept responsibility for the views expressed in any articles, signed or unsigned, which appear on [its] pages", its record and especially its list of authors over the years, from John Foster Dulles in its first issue, speaks for itself.
This whole plot thickens to the point of near-hypocrisy when Cooper cites the August 3, 1954, National Intelligence Estimate. The same Pentagon Paper from which he quotes also contains a report on the year-long activity of the Saigon Military Mission. This report, written by Edward G. Lansdale of the CIA, began in that same month of August 1954. While the NIE was speaking disparagingly of Ngo Dunh Diem, the SMM was supporting the Diem regime during the days after the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu. This team and all of its efforts were CIA originated, CIA supported, CIA manned, and CIA directed. From 1954 through 1963, all American activity in Vietnam was dominated by the CIA. Although Lansdale and his key men, such as Charles Bohanon, Lucien Conein (the U.S. go between at the time of the Diem coup d'état, Bill Rosson, Arthur Arundel, Rufus Phillips, and others were listed in the Pentagon Papers with military rank, they were all in the employ of the CIA and were operating as CIA agents.
This is what the Pentagon Papers reveal as happening in 1954 and 1955. Now the CIA would have us believe that it was an objective and blameless intelligence agency all through those horrible years of the Vietnam build-up. However, it was the CIA that hid behind its own cover and that of State and Defense to fan the flames of a smoldering conflict. To add insult to injury, the CIA would have us believe that Eisenhower's Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, the DOD, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard M. Nixon were all to blame because they would not read and heed their NIE. Where were the CIA officials of the clandestine sector when their own men were writing these National Intelligence Estimates?
The big question is, If the National Estimates produced by the intelligence side of the CIA were so good, then why didn't the men in the clandestine operations office read and follow the advice of their own estimates? Yes, the CIA likes to write about itself, and the CIA likes to have others write about it, as long as what they write is laudatory and skillful propaganda.
How can the CIA rationalize the fact that at the very same time it was sending its most powerful and experienced team of agents into action in Indochina, after its successes with Magsaysay in the Philippines, it was writing NIE for the President saying exactly the opposite? It is alarming enough today to put the Ellsberg releases and the Cooper tales together, but what did the CIA have in mind in 1954 when it was doing such disparate things? What did the CIA expect President Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles to believe: The NIE that said we couldn't win with the "frail Diem regime", or the SMM clandestine operation that was designed to support the same Diem regime? Or could it have been that they either did not know about the secret operation or were improperly briefed? This is the very heart of the matter. This is what this book is all about.
To put this in another context, when Eisenhower was planning for the ultimate summit meeting in May 1960, did the NIE say that all was going well and nothing should be done to upset the chances of success of that most important mission; and did the DD/P come in with his briefing for the U-2 flight at the same time? Or perhaps was there an NIE and no briefing about the U-2? How did the ST handle that one?
Or to carry this same theme over to early 1961, did the NIE correctly foretell that the Cubans would not rise up and support an invasion of so few troops without United States troops and air cover; and how did the DD/P brief the secret operation to President Kennedy to perform an invasion operation that was patently diametrically opposed to the NIE?
To drive home the point of this duality farther, Cooper states: "In November 1961, shortly after General Taylor and Walt Rostow returned from their trip to Vietnam recommending, inter alia, that the U.S. 'offer to introduce into South Vietnam a military task force', an NlE warned that any escalation of American military activity in Vietnam would be matched by similar escalation by Hanoi . . . the North Vietnamese would respond to an increased U.S. commitment with an offsetting increase in infiltrated support for the Viet Cong."
Again the Intelligence Directorate of the CIA plays the lily white role. At about the same time, July 1961, the Pentagon Papers show that a report, again by Edward C. Lansdale, at that time a brigadier general assigned to McNamara's staff and still, as ever, a strong supporter of the CIA, lists the very considerable amount of unconventional warfare resources in Southeast Asia, which were supported by and operating under the CIA. These military and paramilitary forces added into the tens of thousands of armed men and were liberally supported by American men, American money, and American equipment, all put in place under the direction of the CIA. The Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, General Cabell, had just ordered the ClA-operated United States Marine Corps helicopter squadron from Laos, where things had turned from bad to worse, into South Vietnam, where things were going to turn from bad to worse. They were flown into the Camau Peninsula by Americans, and they were supported by Americans for the purpose of airlifting the Special Forces Elite troops of Ngo Dinh Nhu for action against the citizens of that terrorized area. This was another example of what was going on in the covert field at the same time that Intelligence was putting out an Estimate to the contrary. We have Cooper to thank for the "nice" story and Ellsberg to thank for the "not-so-nice" story. Who was President Kennedy to believe -- the man who came in with the NIE, or the man who came in to brief him about the tremendous clandestine and paramilitary operations? Or did they tell the President about both?
Today, the CIA would like us to believe that it had challenged the validity of the hallowed Domino Theory by advising Lyndon B. Johnson that, with the possible exception of Cambodia, it is likely that no nation in the area would quickly succumb to Communism as a result of the fall of Laos and South Vietnam. Furthermore, a continuation of the spread of Communism in the area would not be irreparable.
In 1961, the same time as this quote, Maxwell Taylor, the White House spokesman of the clandestine side of the CIA, informed President Kennedy that "the fall of South Vietnam to Communism would lead to the fairly rapid extension of Communist control, or complete accommodation to Communism, in the rest of the mainland of South East Asia and in Indonesia. The strategic implications worldwide, particularly in the Orient, would be extremely serious." In those days, Maxwell Taylor expressed more properly the views of the CIA (DD/P) than those of the DOD where he was held in awe and suspicion after his return from retirement to become a member of the Kennedy "inside" staff.
General Taylor continued to espouse this view even after he moved to the Pentagon as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. On January 22, 1964, in a memo to Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, he said, "A loss of South Vietnam to the Communists will presage an early erosion of the remainder of our position in that subcontinent." Even though he had moved to the Pentagon, Taylor's memoranda on South Vietnam were written by the Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activity, an office within the confines of the Pentagon, but an office that had been created to work with the CIA, and which by that date had become a regular conduit for CIA thought and action.
Then, McNamara picked up this same "party line" in his memo to President Johnson (at that time his memoranda on this subject were written either by Lansdale or Bill Bundy, both CIA men) of March 16, 1967 ". . . Southeast Asia will probably fall under Communist dominance, all of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia . . . Burma . . . Indonesia . . . Malaysia . . . Thailand . . . Philippines . . . India . . . Australia . . . New Zealand . . . Taiwan . . . Korea and Japan . . . ." By now, everyone was putting all pressure possible on Johnson, and as noted, they used all of the dominoes. Yet the CIA today would have us believe they were only the voice of the DD/I and not the DD/P speaking, through SACSA, to Maxwell Taylor, thence to McNamara, with input from Bundy and Lansdale, and on to Rusk and Johnson. No wonder the CIA wants men like Cooper and Ellsberg writing for them.
The final irony is discovered when the Cooper story begins to pit the National Estimates against other Ellsberg data in 1964-1965. He states that the NIE of late 1964 claimed that, " . . . we do not believe that such actions [against the North] would have crucial effect in the daily lives of the overwhelming majority of the North Vietnamese population. We do not believe that attacks on industrial targets would so exacerbate current economic difficulties as to create unmanageable control problems [for the Hanoi regime] . . . would probably be willing to suffer some damage to the country in the course of a test of wills with the U.S. over the course of events in South Vietnam." Then, as if to place the blame on the military, he adds, "As the Pentagon historians note, this view had little influence on the contingency papers which emerged."
The most remarkable thing about this paragraph from Foreign Affairs is that it is directly the opposite of the views presented in the Pentagon Papers as the "William Bundy memo" on "Actions Available to the United States after Tonkin", which is dated August 11, 1964. Bill Bundy was at that time no longer sitting in the Pentagon; he was working for the ST as Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs. However, overriding that position, Bill Bundy was always the ready spokesman and puppet, in both the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations, for the CIA. He had been with the CIA for ten years, was the son-in-law of Dean Acheson, and has been reported, as of this writing, to be in line for the position of editor of Foreign Affairs.
In this utterly fantastic memo, CIA spokesman Bill Bundy listed pages of "dirty tricks" and increasing pressures that were to be brought to bear against Hanoi, including the Rostow favorite, "tit for tat" actions. By late 1964, military escalation had begun, and the role of the CIA did not diminish -- it was just overshadowed by the greater military magnitude. The flames that the CIA and the greater ST had ignited were faced by the military. However, even this huge force was never able to snuff them out; it just had to stand there and let them burn themselves out.
Then the Cooper account presents Dr. Sherman Kent, the long-time chief of the Board of National Estimates saying: "The nature of our calling requires that we pretend as hard as we are able that the wish is indeed the fact and that the policy-maker will invariably defer to our findings . . . " He feels that his associates' concern about their influence is misplaced: " . . . no matter what we tell the policymaker, and no matter how right we are and how convincing, he will upon occasion disregard the thrust of our findings for reasons beyond our ken. If influence cannot be our goal, what should it be? . . . It should be to be relevant within the area of your competence, and above all it should be to be credible."
Sherman Kent is an old pro. He knows his business and is one of the very best in his field; but how strange the context of this Foreign Affairs essay must seem to him. While he did prepare these NIE, his own associates in clandestine operations and his own boss, the DCI, were fanning out all over Southeast Asia under the cover of his professional expertise, not only oblivious and unheeding of his work, but making mockery of it. Such are the ways of the ST.
When a National Estimate is presented by the same house that presents the collateral and usually opposite view of Special Operations, the Agency pulls the rug from under the feet of its own best achievements and the men responsible for them. Allen Dulles was wrong when he wrote in 1948, along with Jackson and Correa, that the two broad functions of Intelligence and Special Operations should be under the same man and in the same agency. There is nothing wrong with the NIE system and with men like Sherman Kent, Ray Cline, and Bob Amory. The evil is on the other side; and in spite of the vigorous efforts of Agency zealots, who have attempted to rewrite the history of the past quarter-century, we cannot but take some faith in those words of Saint John, that Allen Dulles chose for the entrance way of the new CIA building: "The truth shall make you free." This attempt to warp the truth will not.
It might also have been well if the Agency and its disciples had reconsidered their own "more appropriate choice" for a motto: "Look before you leap." The American public and the world for which Arnold Toynbee speaks, prefer Truth.
1. The Pentagon Papers (New York Times ed.) 1971.
2. At that time, General Taylor was Special Military Advisor to President Kennedy -- that was the overt title. He was the CIA clandestine operations man closer to Allen Dulles than to anyone in the Pentagon. He was in the office later held by McGeorge Bundy and currently by Henry Kissinger, who by the way has long been a key spokesman for the Council of Foreign Relations.
3. The helicopters had been obtained from the USMC but there were no Marines in the organization flying them, or on the ground. The New York Times report of The Pentagon Papers, Nov. 8, 1961, p. 148.
4. The New York Times report of The Pentagon Papers, Nov. 8, 1961, p. 148.
5. Ibid. p. 148.
Chapter 9: The Coincidence of Crises
The National Security Act of 1947 was brewed in a cauldron under great heat and pressure, with the flavoring of spices from many sources. The year 1947 was one of great pressures that simmered and smoldered below the surface of national events. 1946, so close to the end of the great war, had begun as the year of "one world", with faith in the charter of the United Nations. On the first day of March 1946, barely six months after the end of World War II, Truman's Secretary of State, James Byrnes, had said, "So far as the United States is concerned we will gang up against no state. We will do nothing to break the world into exclusive blocks or spheres of influence in this atomic age. We will not seek to divide a world which is one."
Then, only four days later, the great hero of Britain's war days and the leader of the Loyal Opposition in the British House of Commons, Sir Winston Churchill, speaking in Fulton, Missouri, with President Truman at his side, said: "Beware . . . the time may be short . . . From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an Iron Curtain has descended across the continent." At about the same time, George F. Kennan, one of the Russian authorities of the U.S. Department of State said, "If Europe was to be divided, the blame should be placed on the Russians and not ourselves."
Under the pressures brewing at that time, it took only a short time to depart from the dream of one world at peace and to plant the seeds of rupture and divisiveness. The one world had in a brief span become bipolar, with the atom bomb hanging as the sword over the heads of mankind, and Communism as the dread enemy of the Western world.
Following quickly upon the dismemberment of the victorious military might of the U.S. and upon the dissolution of the OSS came the transfer in January 1947 of the great nuclear weapon technology to the new Atomic Energy Commission. This momentous project had no sooner been set up than a great tumult arose in Congress about the loyalty of two of the leaders of this program, David E. Lilienthal and J. Robert Oppenheimer. Already, Communism, or more properly, a new banner and call-to-arms, "anti-Communism", had raised its head. This issue played an important part in the philosophy behind the development of the CIA.
The United States had a nuclear monopoly in 1947. At least, it was the only country in the world with weapons on hand, with the means of delivering them, and with the production know-how and capacity to increase the nuclear stockpile. Therefore, it became a matter of great national interest first of all to protect those weapons, the delivery system, and the production techniques from other nations, from their spies, and from those who might aid those nations by giving away our secret. And secondly, it became most important that we have the intelligence capability to learn, without delay, the status of the state-of-the-art in any other nation that might be attempting to build nuclear weapons. Our scientists and other practical men knew that once we had exploded a bomb over the sands of New Mexico and over Japan, other scientists would be well on their way toward duplicating this feat, since they now knew that such a thing was possible. Thus, development of the atomic bomb by another nation would be no more than a matter of time and intention; it would not be helped too much by either the activity of spies or interested parties from within our own country.
The interplay of these most important factors created great pressures for the realization of a central intelligence capability of much greater capacity and effectiveness than anything that had existed before World War II.
To add more fuel to this raging conflagration, the British announced on February 21, 1947, that they could no longer provide financial support to the weak governments of Greece and Turkey to enable them to continue their battles against Communist aggression and subversion in the form of strong rebel activity. The sudden departure of the British from this crucial portion of Eastern Europe left a serious vacuum that had to be filled by someone else without delay. Only three weeks after the unexpected British announcement, on March 12, 1947, President Truman proclaimed the Truman Doctrine, which in effect established a stout barrier between the world of Communism and the Western world along the northern borders of Greece and Turkey.
Churchill had specifically drawn the line from "Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic". Now Harry Truman had extended that line from the Adriatic to the borders of Iran. It had not taken long to totally reverse course from Secretary of State Byrnes's, "We will not seek to divide the world which is one" to the lasting division which continues even today, after twenty-five Cold War years. To strengthen this position and to drive home the full intentions of the United States, the new Secretary of State, George C. Marshall, announced in July of l947, the plan for all of Europe, designed to help those countries that had been ravaged by war and were "threatened by the onslaught of Communism" to recover sufficiently to stand upon their own feet.
In this test of history, while charges of "Communism" were being hurled back and forth among adversaries who in the great majority of cases had nothing whatsoever to do with real Communism, Congress was debating and writing the National Security Act, which on the surface was primarily concerned with the military establishment, but was beneath the surface, where the real pressures were most at work, fundamentally concerned with the creation of a central intelligence agency. It was in this highly charged atmosphere that the philosophy of the military posture of "defense" emerged. Throughout the history of this country, there had been a great respect for and tradition of the honorable resort to arms in time of war. As a result, this country had a long and proud heritage, which supported the existence of a Department of War and a Department of the Navy with its proud Marine Corps. All men knew that the United States would resort to war only when diplomacy and all other efforts had failed. Yet no one misunderstood the full meaning of such a tradition. The heart of war and its only sure way to victory lies in the concept of the "offense", carried out in pursuit of clear national military objectives, under superior leadership both in uniform on the field of battle and in mufti in the White House. Somehow, under the pressures of the great debates during 1947, this tradition and heritage broke down, and in the face of the responsibilities incumbent upon this country in the Nuclear Age and in the face of a growing "Communist menace", the American military posture became one of defense.
This was a significant mutation in the dominant cell structure of the life blood and soul of this nation. The very word "offense" connotes action and the existence of a plan of such action. A country that is in command of all of its facilities and has the vigor to shape its own destiny does so in accordance with a plan, a great national plan, and with the sense of action that is the very essence of life and liberty. Liberty itself is a difficult word to encompass within a single definition. But certainly there can be no liberty if there is no action, because one is not free to act if frozen in the posture of defense, waiting to counteract the free action of his adversaries, real and imagined. For the greatest nation in the world suddenly to assume the role of a defensive power is a certain signal of some major change in national character. One would hope to discover that this was to be interpreted as a symbol of magnanimity and understanding while the nation was in sole and undisputed possession of the atomic bomb; but events of the past twenty-five years make it difficult to accept that position.
This national defense posture places even greater emphasis upon the role of intelligence. If any nation goes on the defensive, then by its very nature it must be -- it is forced to be -- totally dependent upon intelligence. If a man is adequately armed, and he is hiding behind a wall reasonably secure from his adversary, the one thing he needs most is information to tell him where his adversary is, what he is doing, whether he is armed, and even what his intentions are. In that unusual year, 1947, the great pressures upon Congress and the Administration somehow impressed upon the Government of this country the beginnings of a belief in reliance upon a major intelligence structure to be backed up by a powerful Department of Defense.
It takes a long time, as Darwin made very clear, for an evolutionary process to make itself known. For many years, this nation of veterans, and mothers and fathers of veterans, along with the sisters and brothers of veterans, has looked upon the post-1947 Army, Navy, and Air Force, not as they were becoming, but as they had known them at first hand at Normandy and Iwo Jima, at the Battle of Midway and the undersea services, in the Eighth Air Force over Fortress Germany, and with the B-29s of the Twentieth Air Force flying back from a fire-ravaged Tokyo.
Thus it was that while the country was caught up in the great debate about "unification", about the new role of nuclear weapons and about anti-Communism, it failed to note that our military establishment was being diverted from an active role as an essential element of national planning to a response position of re-action to the inputs of intelligence. This was not evident during the remaining years of the forties. Its first indication became apparent at the time of the Korean War, and what was not prominently apparent in the more open and overt military establishment certainly was scarcely noticed in the early days of the CIA.
In support of this low-key first blush of a defense posture, the CIA was placed under the direction of an admiral who had as his deputy a general. Both of them supported the idea that for the new CIA, intelligence was to be business as usual. As had been expected, and in strict compliance with the language of the law, the CIA was developed along military lines. In fact, little thought was given to organizing it any other way by those who were given the responsibility of getting things started. As Lyman Kirkpatrick wrote, " . . . most of the senior positions in the Agency at that time were held by military personnel who had been detailed for a tour of duty. Some of these were well qualified, but many were not. In any event they were in key positions . . . "
These were the type of men who believed that intelligence was a supporting staff function only and that the object of an intelligence organization, whether it was in the field with a fighting outfit or at the seat of government serving as the "quiet intelligence arm of the President", was simply to coordinate, evaluate, and analyze information and to provide it to the President and his Cabinet members for their own use as they saw fit. They did not view their job as secret operations, to be set in motion by the intelligence agency itself. Not only was this the outlook of men in the key positions of the Agency; but this was also the way the President saw it. President Truman looked upon this new agency as his staff section for information, and no more; and there were many others in Washington who wanted it that way too.
Although a central intelligence agency had been created, under law, and had been accepted within the already existent community as essential for the purpose of coordinating national intelligence, there were many who wished to keep its role to a minimum. None of the traditional intelligence organizations wanted to give up anything to the CIA. They agreed to share with it the role of formulating "national intelligence", but that was it, as far as they were concerned. As a result, they all participated, more or less evenly, in manning the fledgling agency and in seeing that it got under way in a manner sufficient to accomplish its primary assigned task, and no more. Within this group there was little desire to make the CIA into the agency it is today, nor was there any desire to see the Agency enter into clandestine activity of any kind. They believed that if such a task was required by higher authority and in support of a national plan of supreme importance, then the new NSC would, with approval of the President, direct that it be performed by any of several possible organizations, one of which might be the CIA. This was a more or less routine assumption, and it was about as far as any of those officials at that time wanted to go.
It should also be noted that among the early military assignees to the Agency there were those who had personal ambition and plans to work up in this new organization, bypassing the conventions of their old units to achieve some personal goal, which in some cases included the desire for a "fun and games" career. As the years passed, many of these men were able to do just that, and they formed a nucleus within the Agency, which for a variety of reasons, strove to exploit the covert side of the house.
It was from among this group that the first activists emerged to begin the covert process of using the Agency to utilize and later to dominate the military. We shall see beginnings of this in this chapter; it will be more fully developed later. These agents employed covert methods not always to conceal their actions from the "enemy", but more often to keep the inroads they were making in the actual exploitation and use of our own military from being discovered. One of the better examples of such activity has been the "mutual" development of a method of operations between the CIA and the U.S. Army Special Forces.
There were other men in Washington at that time who opposed the way military men in key positions were developing the Agency. They were actively and vociferously opposed to the Agency development as it was being performed by the military men in the key positions. Chief among these critics and self-interested agitators was the former head of the OSS, General "Wild Bill" Donovan. He went up and down the country, preaching the doctrine of active anti-Communism and demanding that the CIA be made the first line of defense of the country in the Cold War. General Donovan was always clamoring for "civilian control" of the intelligence establishment -- an unusual stipulation, considering his long military background; but more importantly, he spoke of the CIA role as an active and operational role. He was less interested in intelligence than he was in clandestine operations. This, even though he did not link up the two conditions at any one time, he would, if he had had his way, have used the CIA to develop and direct operations that would have been fleshed out by the military establishment.
At the same time, Allen Dulles and John Foster Dulles were actively engaged in international affairs of a somewhat chameleon-like nature, with religious groups, international societies, the Council of Foreign Relations, and others. After one special Council meeting in early 1947, the Under Secretary of State, Robert Lovett, said that he had been convinced that " . . . it would be our principal task at State to awaken the nation to the dangers of Communist aggression." Of course, there are various ways in which a statement such as this may be interpreted. There can be the straightforward approach, which takes such action as a result of bona fide Communism aggression and to awaken the country to such a danger; or there may be the interpretation, more properly borne out by the events of the past twenty-five years, that "the task . . . to awaken the nation" would be one akin to the operation of a propaganda machine. When we recall some of the comments made in earlier chapters about stirring up such visions in Indochina and omens like that, the real intentions of such words bear close scrutiny. In any event, the men of whom mention has been made above, were among the most ardent advocates of a stronger CIA, one to be developed as a bulwark against Communism and to be prepared for operational tasks of secret intelligence collection and clandestine operational activities.
The pressures in public and upon the Administration were so great that even before the CIA had been in existence for one year, the President was persuaded to appoint a select committee to "report on the effectiveness of the CIA as organized under the 1947 Act and the relationship of CIA activities to those other intelligence organs of the government." It was quite unusual to have so new an organization so suddenly on the carpet. But 1948 was an election year, and the Governor of New York, Thomas E. Dewey, had been selected by the Republicans to carry their standard against the old and war-weary Roosevelt team, which had the doughty Harry Truman at its helm. While Truman declared he would "Give 'em Hell," Dewey calmly and with great assurance and confidence told the country that it was time for a "new rudder on the Ship of State" and for "a new man at the helm". The country believed that Dewey would be elected easily. He had been a renowned crime-fighter, and his campaign was built on the idea that he would be a superior Communist-fighter. Meanwhile, the issue of Communists in government plagued the Democratic party incumbents as a result of campaign tactics attributable to Allen Dulles and his clan.
It was, then, most surprising to learn that the men whom Harry Truman chose to put on the Intelligence Review Committee were none other than Dewey's chief speech-writer during the campaign, Allen W. Dulles, along with William H. Jackson and Mathias Correa. There is no doubt that these men were qualified and competent, but they could hardly have been accused of being objective. Certainly, the President must have known that Dulles was strongly committed to the Dewey campaign, which was in action at the same time that he was to be working with Jackson and Correa. And he also knew that Dulles had been opposed to the provisions of the National Security Act of 1947 since the beginning.
William H. Jackson's career in Military Intelligence dated back into the early days of World War II, and he was known to favor the "military" side of the issues that confronted the committee; but he had been very active in the "new intelligence" picture, in spite of this parochial background. The other member of the committee, Mathias Correa, was also experienced in intelligence and had worked closely with the former Secretary of the Navy and first Secretary of Defense, James Forrestal. However, there can be no question about the fact that this committee was dominated by Allen Dulles.
Another factor that did much to shape the course of these events was the fact that by the summer of 1948 the NSC itself had published certain directives that delineated the functions of the Agency. One of these, published in August 1948, was NSC Intelligence Directive 10/2 (NSCID, commonly known as "Non-skids"). This regulation authorized the CIA to create a small section that would have the ability to carry out secret intelligence operations, and that at some point might contemplate the pursuit of secret operations.
The issuance of this directive did not mean that the NSC was encouraging the CIA to enter into the world of secret operations. In fact, the real language of the NSCID was so restrictive that had it been faithfully followed there would have been few such operations under any conditions. The Council took this first step with extreme caution. The new section, which was to be called the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) was to be a part of the Agency. However, its director was not to be under the control of the DCI. The NSC directed that he would be selected by the Secretary of State and seconded by the Secretary of Defense. The first man appointed to be director of the OPC was Frank Wisner, a former OSS agent and at that time an official of the State Department. Although Wisner had been with State, his assignment there was a matter of convenience for him, as it was for several other old OSS hands while they awaited the creation of the CIA. While they were with State, these men took care of certain records and other valuable assets of the OSS, which had been handed down from World War II.
As a result of this NSC action, by the end of 1948 the DCI did have a secret operations potential, but it was so rigged that he did not have full control of that office, and he could not take things into his own hands if he wanted to. He had to await directions from the NSC. This was unwieldy; but it was the only way the Council would agree to the establishment of such a function. It was a small first step which led to others. It was another part of the pressures building up under the surface while the Agency was busying itself with organizational matters and the task of coordinating national intelligence.
This was the background that led up to the time of the Dulles-Jackson-Correa report. No single report on the subject of intelligence, and perhaps even on any subject, has had a greater impact upon the past twenty years in this country than that work of Allen Dulles. Throughout the closing months of the 1948 election campaign, John Foster Dulles was acting as personal liaison representative between Thomas E. Dewey and the State Department. Not a word appeared in the press about the Dulles-Jackson-Correa report, although the principals were busy reviewing drafts and working on the broad subject before them. One can imagine with some interest the position Allen Dulles found himself in, writing for Dewey as he campaigned all over the country and then busily engaging himself in his real labor of love -- the intelligence report. Undoubtedly he saw this report, which he expected to complete just after the election, as the stepping stone to reaching the office of the DCI. It is inconceivable to imagine that he worked so hard on a report that would be submitted to Harry Truman as President for a new term. He fully expected to hand it in to a lame duck president. As it happened, Truman surprised the entire country by being re-elected.
The Dulles clan had to wait another four years before they rode into power with General Eisenhower. But this very delay may have made things much easier for Allen Dulles when he did become the DCI. Dulles wanted to expand the Agency and so stated in his report; yet the years following the 1948 election were years of government austerity. He could not have done it then. Dulles was not a strong administrator, and he would have had real problems getting all of his plans into operation. But he was an expert at getting things done by a special kind of secrecy-shrouded wheeling and dealing. This would not have worked during Truman's administration, with Louis Johnson as the Secretary of Defense.
There was in the official files of that time a long and very detailed letter to the DCI signed by Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson, which stated that the Agency should not become involved in any operational activities that involved any part of the DOD unless the Agency was fully prepared to be able to disclaim the role of the military and unless the Agency was prepared to reimburse the Defense Department for all actual and out-of-pocket expenses it might incur. Asking the CIA to be prepared to disclaim the role of someone else who gets caught in a CIA operation is one thing; but asking the Agency to pay for what it uses and expends is entirely different. The Agency gives lip-service to the former and cringes at the latter. The latter is the only effective control there is over the Agency, and this is something the Congress should do more thinking about today.
In 1949 and 1950 this letter from the Secretary of Defense to the DCI was the normal way of handling such matters. Staff officers in the late sixties and early seventies would be shocked at such language from the Office of the Secretary of Defense in an official letter to the DCI. Allen Dulles could not have attained his goals under that type of "cooperation" from his biggest benefactor. The time was just not ripe. Thus it may have been another one of those favoring coincidences, which have always seemed to crop up at the right time for the CIA to pave the way for later developments.
With the surprise election of Truman, there was nothing to do but to turn in the report to those in charge of the Agency. It is inexcusable that security impediments can bury such letters and reports as we have mentioned, for so many years. The Dulles-Jackson-Correa report was the CIA Mein Kampf. In this study, Dulles described exactly how he would lead the Agency from a low-key intelligence coordination center to a major power center in the U.S. Government, and in the process, how he would become the closest adviser to the President. He foretold the existence of a vast secret intelligence organization, a top echelon clandestine operations facility at White House level, a hidden infrastructure throughout other departments and agencies of the Government, and the greatest clandestine operational capability the world had ever known primarily based upon the exploitation of military manpower, money, and facilities all over the world.
For all the dynamite contained within its pages, the report was practically ignored when it was given to President Truman early in January 1949. (It was dated January 1, 1949.) The major elements of the report were so arranged within its chapters that the military men who were at that time in command of the Agency would not notice them for what they were. What caught their eyes were the page after page of charges against their stewardship of the Agency. There were few things being done in the Agency that this three-man committee had approved. Therefore, all the men in the Agency glanced at when they received the report was that portion that concerned them directly. As Lyman Kirkpatrick has said in his book, " . . . most of the senior positions in the Agency at that time were held by military personnel who had been detailed for a tour of duty . . . they wrote the reply to the report, which, needless to say, was not very responsive." And no one should know that better than Kirkpatrick.
For about a year this report remained in the files, and nothing was done about it. As a piece of information and as a working document, the report never was the center of action. It was so cloaked in security that few people have ever seen it, and fewer have read and studied it; but because Allen Dulles spent eleven years with the CIA, nine of them as its director, the report is most important as evidence of his thought and techniques and because it so comprehensively records his thoughts from the 1947-48 period. It is an essential document of government lore and subsurface action for the years from 1951 to 1961.
Dulles was not a planner. He was not the type of man who would be a great chess player, seeing his objective clearly, planning his own tactics, and weighing all of that against his opponent's options. He was a counterpuncher and a missionary. He was a meddler. He thought that he had the right and the duty to bring his pet schemes into the minds and homes of others, whether they were wanted or not.
His system was like a maze full of mousetraps all set to snap and placed side by side carefully over every inch of his domain. When he heard a trap snap, and then another, he would quickly sense that something was happening and would know where the activity was. Because his sounding devices were mousetraps, he would have already prepared his defenses for mice and would throw his anti-mice operations into action immediately. He would not maintain a force of mice-fighting equipment himself but he would get his organization to throw all of its force into the fray in response to his mousetrap information. His trap sensors were the catalytic activators of the greater resources of his entire organization . . . his country.
Dulles was the personification of the intelligence operator, as contrasted with the intelligence staff officer. He created systems that would respond to inputs from intelligence sources. He did not work with others to establish objectives; he did not make plans to achieve those objectives and then to drive toward the achievement of those goals without permitting himself to be diverted by other irrelevant influences. Rather, he would create a vast mechanism that would sound out bits of data which could then be used to activate response operations, all in the name of the common enemy, Communism. He was proud, and he was proud for his agency. He did not like being the low man on the totem pole, as he was when he first became DCI. As a matter of fact, Lyman Kirkpatrick reports, "The U.S. News and World Report of October 18, 1957, ranked Allen Dulles thirty-fourth on the Protocol List." He goes on to report that after John McCone had been made DCI, his position was raised to the level just under the Cabinet officers. Allen Dulles had always thought that he should work directly for the President and that the Agency should be responsible only to the President. He did not enjoy the position assigned to him by law under the "direction of the NSC", which meant that he was well below a committee of Cabinet officers and a relative thirty-fourth in rank. Such things were very important to him not just as a personal matter but because of the ranking it gave to the Agency.
We shall see the impact of this report further as we continue with this account. Another event of these times was having a great impact upon the Agency and would be fundamental to its role in Indochina many years later. In Greece, a civil war was under way, and it was evident that the Communist neighbors of Greece -- Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Romania -- were providing safe haven for the Greek rebels and, on their own part, were assisting the rebels with supplies and arms. At the end of World War II, the United States had a strong force in Greece, which had been there since the Germans had been driven out in 1944. The Americans, mostly Army but with a number of CIA personnel, played an active role in assisting the Greek Government against these rebels. A good number of the CIA men, and U.S. military men who worked with the CIA or on assignment to the CIA, became a closely knit cadre of Communist rebel fighters. They learned their trade on the proving ground of Greece and later went on to play the same role in other countries such as Iran, Guatemala, Thailand, and especially Vietnam. If one were able to discover the real names of the CIA personnel, including the U.S. military personnel on assignment to the CIA who served first in Greece and then years later in Southeast Asia, he would find some very striking and significant parallels. This Greek experience was very influential on the fledgling agency. Men like John Richardson, who was the station chief in Saigon during some very crucial times, was also station chief in Athens. Ambassador Puerifoy played an important role in Greece and then went on to Thailand, where he died in an automobile accident. General Marshall Carter, at the time aide to Secretary of State George Marshall, served briefly but importantly in Greece and later was the DDCI. Henry Cabot Lodge, while Ambassador to the UN, became much involved in the Greek rebellion and of course played a most important role in Vietnam, where he was Ambassador on two different occasions. The list is long and most significant. The Agency obtained some of its first field experience, much on the wartime OSS pattern, in Greece and then applied the same formula to many other countries, using the same paramilitary-trained men.
By 1950, the DOD had reached its lowest ebb since World War II, and it looked as though the Agency would do likewise. Then two most important things happened. Again the coincidence that saved the Agency when all looked like a lost cause came to the rescue. First of all, the Korean War snapped the military out of its lethargy and provided the impetus for a major build up and rebuilding of forces. This gave the CIA a chance to play an active role, along with the military, as sort of a wartime "Fourth Force" during the Korean War. The other event that had a great impact upon the Agency was the assignment of General Walter Beedle Smith as DCI following Admiral Hillenkoetter. This dramatic change took place in October 1950, four months after the start of the Korean War.
The "Fourth Force" concept was influential in the expansion of the CIA in a way that was never intended and which has been quite unnoticed, even to this day. As we have mentioned, one of the dominant forces behind the requirement for a national intelligence authority was the existence of the atom bomb and all that it meant. It goes without saying that the atomic weapons system totally obsoleted most of the concepts of World War II. There may never have been a time in all of the evolution of warfare when the introduction of one weapon had so suddenly and so totally overwhelmed all other weapons and all other tactics and strategy. World War II was the major war of all time, and the weapons systems and the tactics and strategy employed by the U.S. military forces during this war were the supreme high water mark of battle effectiveness. Whether we credit the massive system of over-the-beach invasions, or strategic bombardment or carrier task forces, or armored blitz warfare, or others for the supremacy of U.S. forces is not the point. The remarkable thing is that even before that great war ended, a new weapon that completely changed the whole concept of warfare with one great big bang came into being.
This change was so dynamic that even though the United States and its allies were victors by virtue of the unconditional surrender of the vanquished, and thus were total masters of the field, they could not rest upon their laurels once another country had unlocked the secret of nuclear weapons systems. The great fact in this realization was that there could be no peacetime relaxation and no resting upon the fruits of victory, secure in the knowledge that we were masters of the world.
As a result, in the dim halls of the Pentagon and in the many major and overseas commands of the U.S. and allied military forces, the war planners worked long hours to rewrite basic war plans. This is well worth a story by itself. No two groups agreed exactly on what warfare in the future would be, and no two groups were willing to admit that their services were not made obsolete by the nuclear weapons system. As a matter of fact, as late as 1955, the new Joint Staff school, the Armed Forces Staff College, was just beginning to include a nuclear weapons system annex in its classical War Plan. Even up to 1955, they had not agreed sufficiently upon nuclear weapons and how to use them to permit the inclusion of such weapons in war games and school exercises.
In spite of all this, it was generally accepted that World War III would be a nuclear war, that it would be a brief war during the nuclear exchange period, and that it would be followed by a long, protracted, and very complex post-strike campaign in which the least devastated nation would try to mount forces sufficient to occupy the territory of most of the damaged nation and to bring about some order in what would most certainly be a totally devastated area. Such plans visualized that there might very well be strong cells of more or less conventional forces and other cells of varying degrees of local political power that would have to be taken over and organized in the enemy's homeland.
During World War II, the military had developed a most useful Civil Affairs and Military Government Command (CAMG). It had done an exemplary job in moving in behind the advancing army and getting the civilian population back on its feet, as well as in assisting local political leaders to begin the process of setting up some form of basic government. The new war plans began to expand this role and to see a major task for the CAMG forces. As a result, the CAMG school at Fort Gordon, Georgia, was kept in operation, even though many others had been closed, and a number of CAMG reserve units were kept active throughout the country to retain the experience that had been so laboriously created during World War II. A major issue facing President Truman during the 1948 campaign year was the attack upon the lack of preparedness of the Armed Forces, particularly the reserve forces, which had been allowed to reach a low ebb. In spite of this, the CAMG program had been kept very much alive.
What had kept it alive was the increasing responsibility of its role in war plans. At the same time, a number of the military men who were serving with the CIA also recognized that if CAMG work was to succeed and if it was to have any chance to even begin to operate, something must be done during peacetime to prepare for this exigency during wartime. This brought about some serious studies of what could be done in eastern Europe and even in the Soviet Union to establish contacts, agents, and stay-behind networks, which would help to form the essential cadres for the CAMG troops who would be parachuted into certain selected areas immediately following a nuclear exchange. Such plans required that certain areas of any potentially hostile country must be left untouched by atomic warfare in order that radioactivity from direct hits and from the much more unpredictable fallout patterns would not become a retarding factor. Various studies were made of meteorological patterns and other known physical factors in order that war plans could be drawn that would leave certain selected uncontaminated pockets in the target countries.
With this basic work under way, the next thing to do was to see what might be done about building up the number of agents and cadre personnel in those areas. For one thing, the vast refugee and displaced personnel programs, which resulted in a flood of millions of persons from the eastern European countries into western Europe, provided a great opportunity to ferret out certain people who knew about these areas and perhaps knew individuals who were still there and might be contacted and trained to be cadre personnel, on the promise that in the event of such an all out nuclear war they would be saved. This was a most appealing prospect to certain selected individuals who had loved ones remaining in some of these pocket zones. (In this connection it is interesting to note that in the intelligence business people leaving one area to take up residence in another are called defectors, displaced persons, refugees and the like. In other times and other places, these people have simply been called emigrants.)
The military and the CIA were working together on the refugee and displaced person program. The military then asked the CIA to participate in top-level war planning. This was a foot in the door for the CIA, and it was a most logical move on the part of the military. After all, the military and the OSS had worked together, although precariously, during World War II. During the late forties and early fifties many of the key personnel of the CIA were active military personnel or veterans of World War II who had converted to civilian status and had become career employees of the new agency. They were well qualified for service with the military in these top-level war planning assignments. To do this, the CIA went through paperwork cover assignments with the military department to have these men called back on active duty in their reserve grades and then assigned to the headquarters concerned.
Few of the officers of the commands involved knew that these men were CIA agents, and most thought that they were routine military assignees. Care was taken to see that the personnel manning tables of these headquarters were increased by the two or three spaces necessary to cover these men. As a result of this precautionary step, personnel administrators and others such as the finance department personnel had no way of knowing that the men in these positions were not real military personnel. In time, these jobs bred their own supporting requirements, to the extent that civilian secretaries and other staff were added by the same or similar means. Only in some Focal Point offices would the true identity of these personnel be known, and then more for the purpose of protecting their identity and assisting them than for any military considerations of the role they were playing.
These war-planning military and pseudo-military agents worked on the post-strike part of the war plan, and more specifically, on that part which pertained to the development of safe areas, agents and agent lines, and other CAMC-type matters. At that phase in the development of the war-planning philosophy and strategy, this was a new role for the military and one they quite willingly turned over to these hard-working men who seemed so dedicated to the task. Their offices were usually identified by such titles as Subsidiary Plans, Special Plans, or even the more normal Psychological Warfare and Unconventional Warfare designations.
Once these annexes of the war plans had been accepted by the remainder of the staff and approved by the commanding general, they became officially part of the war-planning structure of that command and then of its day-to-day mission for operational and supporting logistics functions. If the command was expected to provide forces for the immediate post-strike task, it would have such forces earmarked and trained for that job. They not only had to be ready but they had to have equipment, vehicles, communications, printing presses, aircraft, and all the rest of the tools of their very special trade.
Here again, the CIA men became prime movers. They drew upon the World War II experience of men in their Washington staff and worked out elaborate tables of equipment and tables of organization, in the best World War II fashion, and presented these to the local command for their guidance. Since most of the real military staff officers had done little work in this special area, and most of them had more than enough work to do in their own fields of specialization, they were delighted to have these helpful members of the staff come to them with such finely drawn staff work. Without too much red tape and delay their figures and tactical proposals were accepted as part of the requirement of that command and were inserted into the new budget planning. This is a slow process covering years of prodigious effort, but once this level of accomplishment has been achieved, the rest is practically automatic, and the opportunity to increase such figures from year to year is almost equally automatic.
The timing for this sort of skillful surgery was just right, and the CIA made the most of it. The military, too, was getting swept up in this kind of thinking. It matched with some of the Cold War ideas, generally new to war planning, that derived from new thinking about the role of nuclear weapons and from the urgent pressures of the new anti-Communism. In the eloquent words of Adlai Stevenson, this was the time of ". . . a coincidence of crises . . . that brought together the flames of war, the atom's unlocking, and the emergence of aggressive Communism . . . ." It was the time of a world torn by the predominance of military thought, not only by professional military men but by scientists, professors, and other amateurs and by the high emphasis placed on secrecy. In this turmoil the issue of secrecy was ultimately related to the issue of military control. This was the external mix of issues into which the CIA and later the ST maneuvered, under the cloak of secrecy, to enhance and greatly enlarge its control over elements of the military establishment -- elements that with the growth of the ideas summed up best by the word "counterinsurgency", became dominant over the rest of the establishment. Who in the years from 1949 to 1955 would ever have visualized the use of the hydrogen bomb-carrying strategic bombers and the Navy's nuclear carriers in a war in which the principal adversary was the little, terrorized brown man in the forests of his wasted homeland. Yet this type of war was all but preordained as the CIA gained increasing control over the military during the fifties and early sixties through the tactics described above. A whole generation of military men trained, hardened, and honed by World War II experience believed in the principles of Clauswitz and others who stated that when diplomacy failed, it was time to go to war; but on the other hand, while diplomacy was being tested and while diplomacy was the name of the game, the military should do no more than plan and train for the possibility of war. The most warlike action that the military would be prepared to take during peacetime would be a show of force or an emergency relief action in some ravaged country.
This was the convention; this is what was overthrown by the new coincidence of crises. Throughout the late forties a new wave of ideas began to spread, and some of these involved military plans and military utilization in peacetime. The idea of the Cold War was making peacetime seem more like a kind of warfare than previous conventional military planning had ever envisaged. For example, at Mitchel Field on Long Island, New York, in 1949, a new commanding general, directly returned from the postwar staff of General MacArthur in the Far East, General Ennis C. Whitehead, called together the staff of his new command, the Continental Air Command, and in a brief but hard-hitting speech told them that they might have thought that the world was at peace; but they were wrong. Every day, he said, the Russians were sending bombers into the skies of the Arctic, and every day they were coming closer and closer to North America in waves that, if not a direct threat, were at least a symbol of the threat that was always present. And day by day, American interceptor fighter pilots were being sent aloft to investigate these targets that appeared on radar. Some day, he said, and not too far in the future, one of those young lieutenants is going to have to make a major decision. He is going to have to decide on his own, up there in his lonely cockpit, whether the bomber he has in his gun sights has made a hostile act or an act of hostile intent, or whether he is only carrying out an acceptable training mission. Should the lieutenant decide that the Russian is hostile, he will be under standing orders to shoot, and he will knock down a Soviet bomber over North America. At that time World War III will not have begun; it will simply have reached its climax. In the words of General Whitehead, one of the outstanding air combat leaders of World War II, World War III was already under way, and none of those officers assembled to hear him should ever forget that.
For those officers trained in the history of war and experienced in the fires of World War II, this was strong talk. Only a few months later about half of those men present that day transferred with General Whitehead from Mitchel Field to Colorado Springs to set up the new Air Defense Command. In so doing every one of them knew that he was a member of an elite military unit that was already committed to victory in World War III. They knew that they were at war every day; all they were waiting for was the day when the Strategic Air Command (SAC) would be given the same orders which they already had received and would join the war actively against the Soviet Union.
Of course, there was a tremendous difference between the missions of the two commands. The battlefield of the Air Defense Command was limited to the skies over North America. The battlefield of the SAC was in foreign skies, but this type of thinking was changing ideas about the conventional role of the military in the Nuclear Age. And into this evolutionary period came the CIA and those of the military who specialized in what came to be called the "unconventional war" or the war against Communist-inspired subversive insurgency.
High over Italy in a plushed-up old World War II B-17 Flying Fortress, the man who was the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, the same man who had been Director of Central Intelligence just prior to the appointment of Admiral Hillenkoetter in May 1947, General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, wrote to his second in command a most significant letter. It has been preserved in Air Force files; it is quite distinctive because it is on plain white paper and in the handwriting of General Vandenberg.
Vandenberg, recalling his Intelligence experience, and thinking about the new area of unconventional warfare and of the heated-up Cold War, wrote to General Thomas D. White that the Air Force should have a full-sized Psychological Warfare Air Command to be the equal of the Air Defense Command, the Tactical Air Command, and the Strategic Air Command. He proposed that the problems of the Cold War were such that they should not be left to the normal forces, but should be dealt with by experts and by highly skilled men who would be in a position to apply and to utilize military strength and influence during the Cold War. He had particularly in mind psychological activities, but he also took into consideration the role of reconnaissance and other technological developments that are commonplace today. In other words, General Vandenberg was proposing that the military should get into the business which the CIA was working its way into and is in today to a considerable degree -- in fact to a degree that even General Vandenberg would have been appalled to witness now.
The Air Force was not the only service thinking along these lines at that time. At Fort Gordon, Georgia, the Army was still very active with its Civil Affairs and Military Government school. Later, we shall look into some of the language of their doctrine and training manuals to see how influential this material became later in the hands of the ST. Not only at Fort Gordon but at Fort Bragg the Army was nursing along the tiny detachment of Special Forces, which had all but gone out of existence. However, by late 1949 and into the 1950s these small first stirrings became major forces.
Thus, these three things played into the hands of the CIA as it began to move into areas which it knew best and in which it could make moves unseen and unobserved by others in the Government. The CIA was moving like spilled water. It was not exactly sure of its course and direction but it was following the line of least resistance, aided by its own law of gravity, which in this case was its banner-waving allegiance to the cause of anti-Communism of any kind.
By the late forties the Air Force had established by General Psychological Warfare Air Command visualized by General Vandenberg, but other units known as Air Re-Supply and Communications Wings (ARC Wings). These were very large organizations. They consisted of a variety of aircraft, all the way from small specialized light planes to the super-bombers of World War II -- the B-29, or the later version, the B-50. These mixed units had everything from flying capability on a global scale to printing presses and leaflet dispersal units. Once they had been created and shaken down during training exercises, they were deployed all over the world at such places as Clark Field near Manila, at Okinawa, Great Britain, and Libya. Elements of these units became heavily involved in the Korean War, and specialized sections worked with the CIA all over Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia.
In accordance with war-planning practice, these Wings had a wartime mission that was highly classified and infrequently discussed, save by those few who knew what it was. Because of the high classification of the mission of these units, something had to be said for their existence and why they seemed to be so busy when they had nothing "officially" to do. As a result, they became actively involved in a whole array of peacetime missions. They engaged in frequent military maneuvers and training exercises, and if there was an earthquake somewhere and a backward nation found itself with a major tragedy on its hands, a detachment from the Wing would show up and begin the process of bringing in as much aid and assistance as could be arranged. Such activities became the cover for the Wing and more or less explained its existence for those who did not know and did not need to know about the war plan requirement.
The same was true of the Army Special Forces components. Their wartime mission was highly classified, yet they were a large organization, and they had to have some cover reason to exist that would more closely tie them in with the rest of the parts and they took part in other exercises with NATO forces, from Norway south to Greece, Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan. They added experienced manpower to disaster relief and to other underdeveloped "nation building" work.
All of these things resulted in a large, active, and consuming military organization. These big units all had to be funded, manned, and maintained by the military. In the days of real austerity this created many problems, but because these units existed under heavy cover and secrecy, no one in the apparent parent services knew how to get to them to cut them back. Thus, they were sustained. Behind the scenes the CIA smoothed out many of these problems, and this vast organization grew. The Korean War saved the day for all of these activities, and for several years in the early fifties there was money, manpower, and plenty to go around for all such units.
It was in this manner, through the innocent-appearing device of working with the military war planning staffs, that the Agency acquired a vast quantity of equipment, men, and base facilities all over the world, even to the extent of major aircraft and other heavy equipment. Though the NSC directives stated that the CIA could not create an organization to accomplish clandestine activities, and even though the President had said that the CIA must come to the Council for any such equipment, the CIA managed to create a huge capability that cost them nothing and that was ready to do its bidding at the drop of a hat.
Many have wondered how a small agency, such as the CIA was in the late forties, could have grown so fast and have had so much physical influence and impact upon foreign and military policies. It was this great military war plan-earmarked organization in all of the services which was used by the CIA quite innocently and which gave it its great unsuspected strength. As a matter of fact, the servicemen who became involved in this pseudo-military work enjoyed their special freedoms and the inevitable "fun and games". Even if they did not participate in them, they at least worked close to and in the aura of the big game. There were many like General Vandenberg, the former DCI, who thought that the peacetime military forces should become much more proficient in this type of operation. And once they got into these organizations, they actively and eagerly supported their CIA counterparts. Many of these men accepted duty assignments with the CIA. These units all over the world became the havens for a large number of CIA cover assignment men. These CIA people served as military personnel easily in the pseudo-military units.
This, too, was a significant departure from the original plans. It was early agreed that military intelligence experts would serve freely and voluntarily with the CIA, and from the beginning a great number of jobs, including many top-level key jobs, were assigned to active duty military personnel, and as we have shown, CIA men served in the military by agreement in the war planning spaces. But it had never been visualized that hundreds of military men would serve with the CIA in its clandestine sections in order to work in support of such units as the Army Special Forces and the Air Force ARC Wings. Nor was it ever envisioned that hundreds of CIA men would cross over into the military to serve with the line military units, such as these were supposed to be.
Thus it was that while the fledgling agency was getting itself organized, and while it was beginning to be able to perform some of its assigned functions, it was also laying the ground-work, skillfully and in a major effort, for the future when it would use thousands of men in huge clandestine operations such as the Bay of Pigs, the Indonesian support project, and eventually, the prelude to South Vietnam.
What had begun as a simple central intelligence organization charged with the responsibility of coordinating all elements of the national intelligence community had become the center of a power system.
This system, through secret and covert channels within the Federal Government's structure -- and beyond that into industry and the academic world, and the world of the media and publishing houses -- had developed a tremendous unseen infrastructure consisting primarily of the vast resources of the national military establishment all over the world. The central intelligence idea that had been born in the realization of the failures of World War II and in the postwar "one world" era became the precocious fledgling of the "Communist threat" protagonists. Then the Central Intelligence Agency, which was more or less the caboose of the National Security Act of 1947, began gradually to work itself around to becoming the hand at the throttle on the greatest peacetime military power ever maintained by any great nation . . . a military force that had been emasculated and reduced to one of response, ever on the defensive, and therefore ready for manipulation and control by an action group such as the ST.
1. Allen Dulles, The Craft of Intelligence, New York: Harper & Row, 1963.
2. The Real CIA, New York: The Macmillan Co., 1968.
Chapter 10: The Dulles-Jackson-Correa Report in Action
THE GREAT SIGNIFICANCE OF THE THOUGHT AND content of the National Security Act of 1947 can only be understood after a careful review of the emerging events of that period. We have already mentioned many of those great and growing pressures. One that was fundamental to that time was the idea of "cybernetics", as propounded by the great Massachusetts Institute of Technology mathematician, Norbert Wiener, in his book of that name, published in 1948. Wiener, along with many others, had worked during World War II to develop radar, projectiles, and methods of solving problems of fire control, principally in the employment of massed anti-aircraft weapons.
Another segment of the scientific community was involved in the development of nuclear weapons and related activity. These two pioneering groups became greatly involved in the developing age of the computer. It is quite possible that the move from development of the atomic bomb to the creation of the thermonuclear (hydrogen) bomb would not have been achieved without the assistance of the advanced MANIAC computer and others that were being assembled.
As a result of the strategic role played by so many brilliant, though perhaps overly specialized men, there was a great overlap in the field of strategic planning, involving the conventional military professionals, political leaders, and these advanced scientists. The military men of that time believed that they held the key to the control or neutralization of the world because they had just completed the destruction of the forces of Japan and Germany in the greatest of all wars and because they had sole possession of the atomic bomb and of its means of delivery over great distances, as had been demonstrated at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
On the other hand, the politicians, recognizing the unmatched power of this country, looked ahead with a certain magnanimity upon the long-sought era of world peace, which seemed to be within reach if they could but continue the One World postwar climate of exhausted euphoria which any great victory brings.
Meanwhile, the scientists, who were much closer to a true realization of the facts of the situation, saw that this was no time to relax. They knew, if others were unwilling to admit it to themselves, that nuclear supremacy was not permanent and that there was no way to make it so unless the United States was willing to dedicate itself to the difficult, costly, and massive task of moving ahead.
One group of scientists felt very strongly that the atomic bomb was a sufficient "ultimate" weapon and that this country should dedicate itself to the manufacture of more and better atomic weapons until a stockpile of incontestable superiority had been obtained. This goal, positively and technically attainable, meant that this country would have to continue its nuclear production at a wartime pace or face the chance that Russia or some other country might surpass it within the next critical decade. Although the goal of these scientists was the lesser of the two general proposals, it was not an easy one, and supremacy was not assured without great effort.
Other scientists insisted that the only way in which this country could maintain its leadership in the great nuclear race was to drive directly at the mysteries of the thermonuclear weapon. These scientists, who could not guarantee ultimate success in a venture so difficult, maintained that even the shreds of hope which their experience held out to them were so important that if some other country solved the secrets of the fusion explosion before we did, it would from that time on wrest world power leadership from us.
The thought of doing both simultaneously was almost beyond comprehension, and a great struggle raged within all three worlds -- political, scientific, and military. Needless to say, with such grave matters under consideration the traditionally normal concepts of diplomacy and military policy had been outmoded almost overnight. Diplomats long accustomed to the fine points of balance of power and to the value of alliances were faced with the fact that there was no such thing as a balance of power, even if all of the rest of the world's nations were to be balanced against the nuclear superpower. In the years 1946 and 1947 the world-power pecking order began with the United States; number two on the list was almost immaterial.
The same situation of shattered tradition faced the military. Army generals who had just driven their forces over the remnants of the once great German army refused even to think of how they would deploy forces against an enemy equipped with nuclear weapons. It was years before the senior war colleges would even permit a nuclear annex to be included in their master war plans.
Somewhere in the flux of all of these ideas and great conflicts there began to grow a fear, a real national dread, of the potential of that "enemy" who would gain the atomic bomb first. In those early days it was not even necessary to put a name on the country that might loom up over the horizon armed with the bomb. That was the "enemy" and that nation would be the ultimate enemy of all enemies of all time. And along with this idea came the play on the threat. Those who believed that our only road to salvation lay in greater stockpiling of atomic bombs, those who argued that it must be the hydrogen bomb, and those few who said it must be both, all perhaps without common intent, began to create the idea of the "enemy threat". It was coming. It was inevitable. The things that have been done since that period in the name of "anti-enemy" would make a list that in dollars alone would have paid for all of the costs of civilization up to that time, with money to spare.
Such an enemy is not unknown. Man has feared this type of enemy before. It is a human, and more than that, it is a social trait, to dread the unknown enemy. This enemy is defined in one context as the Manichaean Devil. Norbert Wiener says, "The Manichaean devil is an opponent, like any other opponent, who is determined on victory and will use any trick of craftiness or dissimulation to obtain this victory. In particular, he will keep his policy of confusion secret, and if we show any signs of beginning to discover his policy, he will change it in order to keep us in the "dark". The great truth about this type of enemy is that he is stronger when he is imagined and feared than when he is real. One of man's greatest sources of fear is lack of information. To live effectively one must have adequate information.
It was in this great conflict that the National Security Act of 1947 was brewed. And man's demand for information pervaded and surmounted almost every other move he made. Thus a great machine was created. All of the resources of this country were poured unto a single Department of Defense -- defense against the great Manichaean Devil which was looming up over the steppes of Russia with the formula of the atomic bomb in one hand and the policy of World Communism in the other. Our statesmen foresaw the Russian detonation of the atomic bomb in 1949 and the concurrent acceleration toward the hydrogen bomb as soon thereafter as possible; so they created the Atomic Energy Commission in January 1947 and then the Defense Department in September 1947, and gave them both the eyes and ears of the CIA to provide the essential information that at that time was really the paramount and highest priority. The CIA was ordered to achieve both goals -- the second-to-none atomic bomb stockpile and the hydrogen bomb, and the DOD was ordered to create the global force that would defend this country against the giant of the Soviet Union and all other nuclear powers.
This then created its own great machinery. To fight this great, and mostly unknown devil, it was necessary to create a truly defense establishment, which would have the ability to spring up against attack of any kind, of any nature, and from any place. It was to be truly a massive machine. "Defense" was no social or polite term to be held up like a banner in order that the rest of the world might believe that the United States was forever denouncing the use of force and was therefore forever denouncing that paramount doctrine of military strategy, the power of the offensive. This was the real thing. Defense was to be defense; and the national defense establishment was to be the greatest force we could create and maintain for just that purpose.
This meant that the military policy of the United States was to become more like the concept of the chess player than that of the brilliant tactician. Everything was done to guard against making a mistake that would give the alert adversary that advantage that would enable him to defeat the defender. Thus the chess player is governed more by his worst moments than by his best moments. The worst calamities of defense policy since 1947 have been those resulting from being caught off guard, such as the Korean War and the Sputnik period, when the entire nation felt endangered by the stark realization that the Soviet Union had launched an orbiting body before we had.
This realization resulted in the creation of a defense establishment machine much like that proposed by Dr. W. Ross Ashby and recounted by Wiener. It was a great, "unpurposeful random mechanism which seeks for its own purpose through a process of learning . . . " Such a machine is designed "to avoid certain pitfalls of breakdown [and will] look for purposes which it can fulfill." These brief quotes taken from men who were writing and lecturing during this period are now most prophetic. Not only was this monstrous machine created for the defense of the United States; but it was so established that it was looking for purposes it could fulfill.
In other words, this great defense establishment was ready to go, looking for opportunity, and all it needed was to have someone throw the switch and give it a little direction.
Evidence of this exists in the beginnings made by the Agency with the participation it volunteered in the war-planning functions of the major overseas military commands, especially in Europe. This war-planning work led to the stockpiling of considerable amounts of war-making materiel earmarked for the CIA and stored in military warehouses, both real and cover units, all over the world. These supplies could be called out then whenever the CIA had any requirement, even at a time when the NSC thought that it had the CIA well under control because they had prohibited it from having men, equipment, and facilities for operational purposes. This was the start. The Agency worked itself into key positions within the defense establishment, and then orchestrating its data inputs to create highly classified requirements, it began to develop great power within the U.S. government and around the world.
The year l950 was an important one for the CIA. Again all of the pieces began to fall into all of the right slots. First of all, the war in Korea began on June 25, 1950, and although the intelligence community -- CIA and all -- was caught unprepared for the attack just as it had been years before at Pearl Harbor, the failure of national intelligence to assist with such a major prediction spotlighted what must be done if the United States were ever to have a worthwhile intelligence capability. While the war was getting under way and the U.S. armed forces were picking themselves up off the mat, almost as they had had to do after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, Truman looked around for a stronger man to pull the Agency together and to give it a sense of mission. Meanwhile, strong-agency proponents argued that the fault had not been the CIA's. On the contrary they attempted to show, if the President had been briefed properly, on a daily basis by the CIA as the Dulles-Jackson-Correa report had recommended, he would have known that an attack was imminent.
This was an important recommendation of the Dulles-Jackson-Correa report, and these activists took this opportunity to promote the issue at the cost of the incumbent DCI and his military-dominated staff.
It should be recalled that it was Truman's refusal to deal directly with the intelligence arm but to have them instead brief the NSC, and then to make his Cabinet members responsible for keeping him informed, that stirred up this issue in the first place.
This was continuing evidence of the old fight between those who saw Intelligence as the primary force in the Government, responsible only to the President, and those who believed the function of Intelligence was to keep the President and his Cabinet informed in the true staff sense. Both of these views were made more at odds with each other by the pressures generated by the Manichaean Devil syndrome.
The U.S. Ambassador to Moscow for several years preceding the Korean War had been General Eisenhower's old Chief of Staff, the brilliant and tough Walter Beedle Smith. He was very well qualified, by his World War II experience with Eisenhower, for a major assignment; and in a special sense he was well qualified to become the new DCI by virtue of the fact that he had been in Moscow for so long. So many of the intelligence clan had been exploiting the cause of anti-Communism for so long that it seemed that bringing in the one man who really ought to know at first hand what Communism was all about would be the best move to counteract those who were saying that the Administration was soft on Communism. As we look back at this appointment, we may have forgotten the great crisis which had been stirred up by Senator Joe McCarthy over the issue of Communists being everywhere. This was no small issue, and the appointment of a man as highly regarded as General Smith was an ideal choice.
In spite of this, the McCarthy movement swept him up in its fervor. Soon after his appointment he was called to appear before McCarthy's committee, and in response to a question as to whether he thought there were Communists in government, specifically in the CIA, he replied to the effect that he thought it was quite possible that there were Communists in the CIA. This statement was a real shocker, and it made instant headlines. At that time and in the special context of those days this was a most amazing statement whether it was factual or not. The general had been the DCI for only a brief time and he was more or less excused for the statement on the grounds that he had not had time to really know the Agency. For any other man but General Smith, in that position and at that time, to have given a similar reply would have resulted in having him ridden out of town by the rabid McCarthyists.
Smith replaced Admiral Hillenkoetter who had been DCI since the days of the central intelligence group, before the Agency had been created. The failure of the CIA to give proper warning of the probable or at least highly possible North Korean attacks, and its failure to evaluate the nature and strength of that attack may well have been contributing factors in hurrying President Truman's decision to replace Hillenkoetter. He had done his duty and played his role as the script was written. He had been charged with running a military-type CIA, and he did just that. The brief encounters the Agency had in such places as Greece, Iran, and along the perimeter of the Iron Curtain were simply postwar OSS-type games, and they never amounted to very much.
However, there was one major characteristic of CIA operational efforts during Hillenkoetter's time that began to change with the Smith era. During its first years, when the CIA did something anti-Communist it was something done against the real Communists. For example, the fighting in Greece also involved Bulgarians, Yugoslavians, and Romanians. All of the work the CIA did along the Iron Curtain and in Greece and Iran was directly concerned with close and tangible Russian influence. In those days the CIA did not go to the Congo or to the Philippines to seek out the subversive influences they then called Communist. The CIA worked nose-to-nose against the Russians wherever they found them in reality. This point cannot be underscored too heavily. Most of the CIA clandestine effort since 1955 had been against supposed Communists or subversive Communism or some such third country target. In other words, the "Communism" the CIA finds and goes after in its operational efforts during more recent years has been that which it finds on the soil of non-Communist countries. In the beginning the skirmishes of the Cold War were fought on or near real Communist territory. Since that time Communism had been fought on the soil of our own circle of friends, in such countries as Vietnam, Laos, India, the Congo, and the Dominican Republic, to name a few. This change in the focus and direction of the pursuit of Communism is important.
At the time General Smith became the Director of Central Intelligence in October 1950, events in Korea looked very bad. The greatest military power in the world only five years earlier was being pushed into the sea near the southern tip of the Korean peninsula, and the CIA shared a certain amount of the blame with the military establishment. Smith moved suddenly to put an end to the bad image of the Agency.
One of the first things he found in his files was the Dulles-Jackson-Correa report of January 1, 1949. It had been gathering dust and had resulted in very little effective change. This had not been because of the language of the report. It was tremendous. It attacked what it thought was wrong without hesitation; it made firm recommendations for the changes it sponsored. However, because the men it had attacked so vehemently had been in a position to bottle it up, nothing it recommended had been accomplished. General Smith took the report out, and when he had read it, he got on the phone and called William H. Jackson. He asked him to leave his business and come to Washington at once. Jackson, who had already devoted much of his life to intelligence service, came immediately and was appointed the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence. Smith dialed the phone again and called the prestigious law firm of Sullivan and Cromwell in New York City and asked for Allen Dulles. In short order he had Dulles in the fold as chief of foreign operations. There is no official explanation of what the duties of the foreign operations section were, but it would take little imagination to figure them out. Then he called another old friend, Murray McConnell, and asked him to come to Washington to be his Deputy Director for Administration.
In a busy six months the CIA had become reasonably well-organized and sported four strong deputies: Deputy Director intelligence, Deputy Director Administration, Deputy Director Support (Logistics -- in the broadest sense), and Deputy Director Plans (Clandestine Operations -- the "fun and games" side of the house.)
Meanwhile, Smith began to put into effect the functional proposals of the Dulles' "Mein Kampf". He was amazed to learn that the director of OPC (Office of Policy Coordination) was not "his" man but was tied up in that bureaucratic red-tape device prescribed by NSCID 10/2 and intended by the council to keep him from running free into the arena of clandestine operations. When General Smith learned that this important deputy was appointed by the Secretary of State and seconded by the Secretary of Defense, he went right to the root of the problem. He called the Secretary of State and then the Secretary of Defense and informed them that from that date on the director of OPC was to be under his own control and that if they had any objections they were welcome to talk with him about them. If either one had objections in the heat of a messy war in Korea, he kept them to himself.
From that date on the CIA had its own clandestine operations division, although it was still required by law to remain out of that business until directed by the NSC to develop an operation.
The CIA had made various minor incursions into the special operations field during the late forties, but all of them were carefully phrased and gingerly submitted to the NSC for approval in strict compliance with the law and with the provisions of NSCID 10/2. Now that the DCI was in control of the special operations section, he felt that it was his to use as he saw fit.
This move was very timely. It would have done little good for him to have gained the clandestine staff if he had possessed no resources in the form of the military men, equipment, and facilities that had gradually been laid at his disposal as a result of the tedious years of war planning. However, just as he took over the OPC (Office of Policy Coordination) he found that the CIA had access to a vast military organization in the Army and Air Force and that he would have very little trouble using the exigencies of the war in Korea as an excuse to put into motion certain large and important special operations in that country. These operations were directed at Taiwan, Okinawa, and the Philippines, in addition to Japan and Korea, and led to the development of Agency interests in all of Southeast Asia.
There were other similar moves made during this period as the emerging ST began to make itself felt in Asia as it had been in Europe. All of this was done initially under the cover of the Korean War, and significantly, most of these events took place after the removal of General Douglas MacArthur, who among others had always been a foe of Donovan and the hard-core Intelligence clan.
As the Korean War drew to a close, the French were heavily engaged in a losing battle in Indochina. The CIA was operating there in both the north and south of Vietnam during that time. When the Government of the United States finally permitted large twin-engine transport aircraft to operate in Indochina and to fly to the besieged battlefield of Dien Bien Phu, a hearty band of civilian pilots who worked for the CAT Airline (precursor of Air America, Incorporated) did the flying -- not military pilots. They had been hastily trained by the Air Force to fly the C-119 aircraft. The actual flights into Indochina, culminating in heavy air-drops at Dien Bien Phu, were made by these civilian CIA contract pilots. Even at this early date the CIA was well inside the door of Indochina.
Back in Washington the election campaign of 1952 had been heated with the unpopular war as a major issue. General Eisenhower had agreed to run on the Republican ticket against Adlai Stevenson, who had picked up the mantle of the Democratic party from the gallant old warrior, Harry Truman.
After Eisenhower won the election, he kept his promise to visit Korea and to bring the war to an end. He also found himself heir to many of the old stalwarts of the Thomas E. Dewey team from the campaign of 1948. He appointed John Foster Dulles to be his Secretary of State, and because Allen Dulles wanted the job of DCI. Ike prevailed upon his old crony and longtime Army companion, Walter Beedle Smith, to accept the post of Under Secretary of State and to give up his Intelligence chair to Allen. William Jackson had stayed in the Agency as Smith's deputy for less than a year, and in August of 1951, General Smith had appointed Allen Dulles to be his deputy director in Bill Jackson's place. The trip to Washington, which Allen Dulles had made back in October 1950, and which was supposed to have lasted for no more than a week or two, now was on its way to becoming an unbroken eleven-year stint for the Agency to which he had already given so much of himself.
Dulles found many of the things that he had hoped to get done well under way. General Smith had taken another hurdle for him after he had gotten the director of the OPC into the fold. As we have said many times, President Truman had a firm policy concerning what the intelligence staff meant to him. He looked upon the Agency as his "quiet intelligence arm" and no more. Having this interpretation, he felt that the Agency should evaluate and analyze information and disseminate it to the staff, primarily to his Cabinet, and that they should all use it in the formulation of national plans and policy. This meant that unless he called for some specific matter, he did not expect intelligence to be brought to him daily, weekly, or at any fixed time. He was content to know that it was there, that it was available equally to his Cabinet and to him when needed.
This did not satisfy Allen Dulles, and he had so stated in his report. He felt that it was the responsibility of the DCI to brief the President daily, if not oftener when the subject warranted a special or an emergency meeting. General Smith agreed with this approach. General Smith was accustomed to the military staff procedure whereby a smoothly oiled staff meets daily and briefly with the commanding general and keeps him informed. This is a good system during a war because the General has nothing else to do but to get on with the war, and he needs the current inputs from all of his staff. But for a President with countless other demands upon his time, any fixed schedule such as that visualized by the Dulles report would result in a gross imposition upon his time and with the burden of certain responsibilities and decisions that he might best attend to after his Cabinet and other special staff members had had the chance to come up with their own decisions.
However, Smith moved in with the Dulles proposal and got it accepted. It always seems to work out that when the Agency has fallen down on one job it gains strength from the resultant adversity and pops up somewhere else stronger than before. The Agency had failed to give a proper warning and evaluation of the Korean attack. They now turned this failure into a maneuver to get their foot into the office of the President on a regular and daily basis. Linked with the acquisition of (1) special operations, old OPC and new DD/P, and (2) the massive special military strength in the Special Army and Air Force forces, this third step was most significant, and should be discussed in some detail.
This third major development was the establishment of an office and a system designed especially to handle current intelligence. General Smith felt that his most important job was to keep the President fully and promptly informed of everything going on in the world that affected United States interests. He made arrangements with the President for such briefings, and he wanted the best support possible for this task. As much as anything else done during these formative years of the CIA, this was a most important step that has been best described by Lyman Kirkpatrick, who took part in all phases of this change. In his book, The Real CIA, he says:
"This [establishment of the Current Intelligence Office] requires explanation. Not even all of the policy-makers of the government understand the current intelligence process and consequently fail to use its product as it should be used. I know that the American people, who should appreciate what they have in Washington -- and want to know about it -- have no realization of this aspect of intelligence work. . . .
"General Smith . . . wanted a daily intelligence report that he could hand to the President which would succinctly summarize in a very few pages the important developments in the world that affected U.S. interests . . . this report to be all-source . . . press reports and radio broadcasts to the most secret information from the most sensitive sources available to the government . . . the report to be carefully analyzed and evaluated by the most competent experts on the subject or area . . . to be done immediately upon receipt of the information, right around the clock, twenty-four hours a day, and seven days a week. If the information was urgent it should go forward to the policy level immediately upon evaluation. If it was important, but not critical, it could go into a regular daily report . . . so well written and attractively presented that the recipients would be sure to read it.
"The office . . . would have as many experts as could be recruited or trained and persuaded to make a career in current intelligence. And it would have all of the production facilities necessary for a publication designed for the President of the United States. . . .
"The production facilities and the people required to man them constitute an important aspect of the success of any such office. Working under intense pressure that at times makes the wire desk of a major newspaper during a national catastrophe calm by comparison, the experts need top-flight help at every level. If the girl who types the final copy doesn't know Danang from Nhatrang or Ouagadougou from Bamako, and doesn't care, errors can creep in that could help destroy the credibility of the entire item or even of the publication. Maps, charts, and other graphics have to be produced quickly and accurately, and the document must be printed and delivered at dawn. Of course everybody touching it has to have the highest security clearance, and every sheet of paper must be accounted for. Everybody in the office from the typist to the top supervisor realizes full well that hundreds of large-eyed officials at the top of the government will catch the slightest mistake. . . . An intelligence report has nothing to sell it but consistent credibility. Anything that tends to lessen this credibility means that the report will not receive the attention it should . . .
"Unfortunately, intelligence is a very uncertain profession. It is never possible to have all of the information on any subject that one would like to have before telling the President of the United States about it. On some occasions one could assume that 90 percent of all the facts would be on hand, and the balance would be obvious. On other occasions the percentage would be much smaller, diminishing at times to only a hint or a clue. On both of these occasions it is the expert analyst who makes the difference and insures that the information presented is the best available.
"There are two ingredients that go into this expert analysis. The first is the quality of the analyst, and the second is the availability of the necessary information. The first is attainable. The second may not always be possible.
"Some have likened the current intelligence process to the production of a daily newspaper, but the analogy is inaccurate. With all due respect to our excellent press, it is not composed of specialists who are experts on the areas on which they report, with of course some well known exceptions. The current intelligence analyst is a man or woman who starts with a good academic background, including advanced degrees on the area of responsibility, spends years studying every scrap of information received in Washington on that country, and becomes increasingly expert with the passage of time. What is not generally understood even inside the government is that when an intelligence report is received and before it is passed on to the policy level it is analyzed and evaluated against every bit of information available on the same subject that has ever been received by the U.S. Government.
"This process is one of the best safety valves against the government's acting on inadequate information or a false report that perhaps had been deliberately planted as a deception measure. One of the truly great dangers in passing intelligence to the policy level is that somebody will start pressing buttons based on partial information, and in my opinion the passage of unevaluated reports to the top of government is always unwise. When it happens, an inevitable flap occurs and a lot of government time and money is wasted. . . ."
This statement is an accurate reflection of exactly what was taking place and was written by a man, who but for physical impairment brought about by infantile paralysis, which struck him at the peak of his career, might well have been appointed DCI. Among the inner group of top Agency careerists, he was a moderate and a most dedicated man. As a result, his statement takes on a very special meaning. It is an example of the blind statement of faith found in a religious order. The great error and the great damage, however, from this kind of thinking arises in the fact that it is predicated upon the belief that the leaders of the Agency can do no wrong.
When the same organization is given the authority to develop and control all foreign Secret Intelligence and to take its findings, based upon the inputs of this secret intelligence, directly to the last authority, the President -- not only to take it to him regularly but to preempt his time, attention, and energies, almost to the point of making him their captive -- and then also is given the authority and the vast means to carry out peacetime clandestine operations, that agency has been given the power to control the foreign operations of the Government on a continuing day to day basis.
Note carefully in this calm and apparently objective account by Lyman Kirkpatrick the germ of ridicule and distrust of the press. It is said explicitly nowhere in the statement, yet it conveys the thought when it says, "There are two ingredients that go into this expert analysis. The first is the quality of the analyst, and the second is the availability of the necessary information. The first is attainable. The second may not always be possible.
"Some have likened the current intelligence process to the production of a daily newspaper, but the analogy is inaccurate. With all due respect to our excellent press, it is not composed of specialists who are experts on the areas on which they report, with of course some well known exceptions. The current intelligence analyst is a man or woman who starts with a good academic background, including advanced degrees on the area of responsibility, spends years studying every scrap of information received in Washington on that country, and becomes increasingly expert with the passage of time."
Note that the reference to the press is sandwiched between two strong paragraphs that laud the intelligence analyst, and then by loaded inference downgrade the press.
It is not the statement by Kirkpatrick which is so much in contention as it is that the ST has used this kind of damning with faint praise to downgrade any outsider, whether he be press or, at times, Cabinet member. When such downgrading is done behind the cloak of secrecy, the person and persons so attacked are silently slandered and surely destroyed. They have no way of finding out that they have been the object of such attacks, because they have been quietly left out from a circle where exclusion means extinction.
This has been no idle example. The New York Times had a most able and knowledgeable young correspondent, David Halberstam, in South Vietnam during the earlier days of the fighting there. He had devoted himself to the problems of Indochina and knew the area, the people, the history, and almost everything else about Indochina as well as or better than nearly anyone else, including what we might call the "intelligence analysts". At that time his crisp reporting frequently came up with items that went at cross purposes with most of the men who are mentioned so frequently in the Pentagon Papers. At first his reports were given the usual treatment. They were said to be inaccurate and slanted. Then they were ignored. But as they became more and more popular among those readers who found in them the stark ring of truth, an element of the ST caused a small office to be set up in a remote corner of the Pentagon where "information" could be fed to a staff who had nothing else to do but crucify this writer every day for the "eyes only" of the President of the United States.
It was the function of this small staff to clip that author's column from the paper each day it appeared and to paste it on one side of an open scrapbook-type of album. Then they would create a carefully worded rebuttal column of their own, which would be pasted on the other side of the open album. The rebuttal data arrived from many sources and usually was the subject of urgent telegrams from Washington to Saigon and back, in order to find every possible way of attacking the works of that author. Not too many weeks passed before the President was reported to have called the publisher of The New York Times and made a suggestion to the effect that it might be better for that newspaper to change its correspondents in Indochina. In due time that young and skilled reporter, easily superior in terms of knowledge of his subject to most intelligence analysts, many of whom had not ever been to Indochina, was transferred to Poland so that he might no longer offer competition with the production of the analysts.
This is an example of the real significance of the Kirkpatrick statement -- not so much his statement, which is honest and realistic, but what his statement means in practice. When the powers within the ST believe that the President is better informed, every single day and without the cushioning intervention of other able staff members, such as his Cabinet officers and their top-level staff personnel, by the product of their own parochial analysts, they fall victim to two unpardonable sins. First and most obvious, these analysts may not be actually as experienced as they are perhaps educated. Their research may turn up the material all right; but they have not experienced it. Oftentimes they are not in a position to interpret it adequately, and their research falls short. One of their greatest and most obvious weaknesses is that their motivation is derived from random input. Their input is more or less a mechanical process whereby the intelligence data is acquired randomly and in many cases unexpectedly, and it is not the result of a plan or of a planned objective. They are simply responding to something that came into their hands from any of numberless sources. The force that drives them is not their own.
Even with the most able and experienced analyst it would always be best to put him into the heart of the staff, as an intelligence expert should be, and then to permit the rest of the staff to work with him so that his analysis might benefit from their varied and considerable experience in all other staff areas.
The second and most portentous danger that lies within the system outlined by Kirkpatrick is that such a procedure is susceptible to influences and even malevolent abuses. Again, if one believes that the Agency leaders can do no wrong, one grants to these leaders an element of infallibility and rests his whole system on faith in their honor and total integrity. One may not question honor and honesty in any public official but one may properly show considerable interest in shades of influence. If the President of the Unites States is to open his eyes each day upon a world painted by an artist who is a realist, he may get a fair picture of the affairs of the world as seen by that artist sometime during the deep hours of the preceding night. However, if he is to open his eyes upon the work of other artists who during the same long night have created a scene that in their eyes was honest and true but still may have been very much influenced by the sources of the intelligence data, then who is to tell the President that what he has viewed is not really the shape of the world that morning? Once access has been gained through the portals of the office of the President, there is no other authority to visit. However, if the final authority remains one echelon aloof from the day-to-day processes, he then has the option to work his way through a selection of views in his lonely search for truth.
We opened this accounting of the ways of the ST with a look at the first report The New York Times selected to publish in its presentation of the Pentagon Papers. Let us emphasize once more that even though 99.9 percent of the people who have read that newspaper account or the subsequent book of the same name have been led to believe that the report cited was really a McNamara trip report, the facts are otherwise. The report was actually another ST -- directed staff production created right in Washington, D.C. Isn't this just what we are talking about? This report created by trained analysts was given to President Johnson. Is there any record that anyone at all had an opportunity to explain to and clarify for President Johnson that he was really being briefed on a homespun staff report, and not a trip report made on the spot in Vietnam?
Even as we point out the way this report was written, we are very much aware of the fact that it would be entirely possible for trained and experienced men in Washington to turn out a report as good as one that McNamara and his party could have done from Saigon. And it is also recognized that with the excellence of communications as it is in this day, such a report can be written in Washington as easily and as adequately, from a substantive point of view, as it could be in Saigon or on the official airplane on the way back. The content of the report and the intent of the authors in writing it as they did is significant in this place and in the context of the subject of this chapter. There is great power in the hands of those who can develop and utilize secret foreign intelligence, interpret it daily, and present it by standard procedure directly to the President each day, and who at the same time possess the authority to carry out secret clandestine operations either in pursuit of more intelligence or in response to the data inputs of that intelligence.
As Kirkpatrick reports, a huge current intelligence organization was established by General Smith, and it was manned and supported without regard to budget. It soon became a major interest of the Agency. Whereas the General began with the idea of publishing daily current intelligence in a publication, the process has since become even more direct and refined. The daily intelligence has become a daily briefing that is second to none in perfection. The same care and perfection planned for the publication go into this truly superior presentation. It may very well be that new Cabinet members and the President and Vice President themselves are awed at this most elaborate presentation; and that they begin to find it easy to downgrade the Huntleys, Brinkleys, and Cronkites if for no other reason than their familiarity with the sheer excellence and the superior content and quality of the daily intelligence briefing.
We have seen otherwise sophisticated men attend these briefings regularly, and for the first few times come away with a look of awe and wonder. It is very heady stuff to look at the world from a satellite or U-2, or to see the whole world laid out before you in the unscrambled maze of global electronics deciphering.
When a reporter can casually step to the podium and say that the Russians said this or that to one another down the missile range, or that traffic analysis from China shows such and such, all this is most eye-opening. At this point, even the top-echelon men in Government, who after all find this as new during their first days and weeks in office as would anyone else, are so awestruck by this fabulous display that few question it at all. These first impressions set the tone for the months and years that follow. There can be no question that Robert McNamara's first daily briefings during those December and January days before Kennedy's inauguration did a lot to shape his thinking on Indochina, thinking that he could never break away from it. Similarly, skilled experts planned the brisk briefings and the concomitant global traveling to which John McCone was immediately subjected upon his taking over as DCI. He too got a lasting and most powerful impression of Indochina, which stayed with him throughout his tenure. These are the things the ST is good at. And much of this process began with the Dulles-Jackson-Correa report and with the fortuitous implementation of its key features by the skilled administrative expeditor, General Walter Beedle Smith.
Allen Dulles inherited the fruits of his own cultivation, harvested for him by a most able man who at the time he was performing these tasks was doing them honestly and objectively simply because he unquestioningly thought that it was for the good of the cause.
When elder statesman Harry S. Truman looked back upon those years and said that the CIA had been "diverted", if he had been in a position to have seen what really happened as a result of the Dulles-Jackson-Correa report he had commissioned, he might have felt some inner surprise at the realization that it was his own pen that gave authority to a good bit of that diversion. Then when President Eisenhower came upon the scene, he had no reason whatsoever to question the work of his own closest military assistant or to question the position of two brothers who had for the most part played no active role in the Truman Administration. As a result, when Allen Dulles became the DCI he had everything going for him, and he just turned to the next pages of his report to maintain the momentum.
1. It should be recalled that General Donovan of OSS fame had been the Ambassador to Thailand and that he was followed by the former Ambassador to Greece, John Puerifoy. Both men were, of course, CIA-type operators, and it was their expertise that accounts for so much of the relationship that has existed in Thailand during the past twenty years.
2. Deciphering performed by computers from material picked up by global listening posts.