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Donovan's Original Marching Orders

Coordinator of Information (COI), 1942, establishment of,
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Donovan

CONFIDENTIAL

procured from various Departments." Finally, he expressed the thought that the letter he proposed would "make it a good deal easier for Bill when he gets on the job." 22
Three days later, FDR asked Harold D. Smith, the Director of the Budget, "to do the necessary for my signature."23 But before pursuing that matter let us return to Ben Cohen as he left Stimson and went back to his office and the Budget Bureau to revise the military order to make Marshall and Stimson less unhappy with its character and provisions. (Figs. 3A, 3B.)
Ben Cohen's Revisions
First of all, it remained a Military Order, but eleven times Cohen struck the word "strategic" from the document, and replaced it, depending on the context, by "defense" or "national security." This changed Donovan's title to "Coordinator of Defense Information" and related his activity to "national security" rather than the "hard" subject of military strategy. He did retain the line that the Coordinator "shall perform his duties and responsibilities, which include those of a military character, under the direction and supervision of the President as Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States," but he added the sentence requested by Stimson, namely, that nothing in those duties would in any way interfere with "the duties and responsibilities of the regular military and naval advisers of the President as Commander in Chief. . ." As we shall see, only this last sentence actually survived.
The Budget Bureau cleaned up the paper, and on the 27th returned a copy to Cohen and sent other copies to both Stimson and Knox. In the letters to the Secretaries, Blandford said he understood that the drafts were to be used "as a basis of discussion with your associates . . . over the week end." He hoped that the order could be put in final form for the President when he returned from Hyde Park early the next week. He was, however, to be disappointed.24
For almost a week, Secretary Stimson, General Marshall, and Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy continued to chew over the subject. On Monday, the 30th, when FDR returned to Washington, Stimson was noting in his diary that the Donovan business was "a troublesome matter even with the best of luck. I am afraid of it." That evening he told the President on the telephone that he had decided "it would be a great mistake" to set up the COI with Donovan as a military man. As a civilian, yes, but Stimson asked the President to do nothing about it until they had a chance to discuss it.25
The next morning Stimson had a long talk with Marshall again-at least the third, possibly the fourth-and his brief account leaves us with unsatisfied curiosity. He said he explained to the General "how important it was for his own-Marshall's-sake that there should not be a sharp issue made on this."26 May one not conclude that Marshall continued to express Army opposition to the very existence of COI? Certainly he remained very hostile to the idea.
Stimson spent "a good deal of the morning and afternoon" of the next day, 2 July, talking over the matter with both the General and Assistant Secretary
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22 Knox to Roosevelt, 25 June 1941, Roosevelt Papers, OF 4485 (OSS) Box 1.

23 Roosevelt to Smith, 28 June 1941, ibid., PPF 6558 (William J. Donovan ).

24 Smith to Stimson, 27 June 1941, BOB Records, Folder 210.
25 Stimson Diary, Vol. 34, 30 June 1941.
26 Ibid., 1 July 1941.
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Posted: May 08, 2007 08:38 AM
Last Updated: Aug 05, 2011 02:36 PM