Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933-45

"Our First Line of Defense" Presidential Reflections on US Intelligence (U)


Franklin Roosevelt was the commander in chief during America's greatest war. Although the CIA was a postwar organization, Roosevelt recognized the importance of having a central office that could collate and distribute information. He appointed William J. Donovan the first head of the Office of Coordinator of Information, an organization that later evolved into the Office of Strategic Services (OSS).

A week before Roosevelt died, he wrote a memorandum to then Maj. Gen. William Donovan authorizing him to continue planning for a postwar intelligence service.


    "APROPOS OF YOUR MEMORANDUM of November 18, 1944, relative to the establishment of a central intelligence service, I should appreciate your calling together the chiefs of the foreign intelligence and internal security units in the various executive agencies, so that a consensus of opinion can be secured.


    "It appears to me that all of the ten executive departments, as well as the Foreign Economic Administration, and the Federal Communications Commission have a direct interest in the proposed venture. They should all be asked to contribute their suggestions to the proposed centralized intelligence service."


    President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Memorandum to Maj. Gen. William J. Donovan, 5 April 1945





Historical Document
Posted: Mar 19, 2007 01:33 PM
Last Updated: Jul 07, 2008 01:57 PM