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Donovan's Original Marching Orders

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

Donovan

McCloy, and finally arranged to see Donovan the next morning at 8:30 in order to "settle the thing one way or another." It was surely bothering him: "It is a terrible nuisance to have this thrown on me at this time but it is so important that I have got to settle it in the right way."27
For a change, that was not going to be difficult. When Stimson and McCloy, but not Marshall, met at 8:30 with Donovan, "everybody was fair-minded." They "very quickly" agreed on "the general principles and what should be done." Donovan said he had thought from the beginning that his position was essentially and entirely a civilian one; that he had taken up the "point of rank of Major General because the President had suggested it." Either then or later in the conversation, Stimson offered to recommend Donovan for Major General any time he "wanted to fight"; indeed, if Donovan wanted to do it now and give up COI, he could have "one of the most difficult positions" in the Army, specifically, command of the 44th Division. The Colonel admitted that he was interested in developing a theory of guerrilla warfare which he had but that he preferred now to stay with the information job, "make something real out of it," and then turn to fighting and a commission later.28 A lesser man than Stimson -might, at this time, have been suspected of attempted bribery!
But back to the meeting. Donovan also agreed to a "diagram" which Marshall had drawn up and given Stimson and which McCloy had now brought forth; this showed "the relation of the different positions to each other in the hierarchy of the War Department." Stimson's diary is unclear, but apparently this diagram showed that "the routine channels for the recommendations as to intelligence and information were to be coordinated by Donovan as they came" from the collectors-the Army, Navy, etc.-and then should go up through the channels, through the Joint Board and then through the Chief of Staff and the Chief of Operations of the Navy, the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy, to the President." Even so, all agreed that Donovan had to have access to the President whenever he desired it, because it "was necessary to his position, and the President's temperament and characteristics" would make it inevitable.29
Agreement at last. Later the same day Colonel Donovan met with Ben Cohen and the Budget Bureau's trio-Blandford, Stone, and Gladieux-to finish the paperwork. The "final revised draft," however, had not been returned by Assistant Secretary McCloy, who apparently was still discussing it with Stimson. The Bureau had hoped to receive the paper in the afternoon, clear it, and "send it immediately to Hyde Park." 30
Donovan Outlines his Plans
Pending the paper's return, Donovan elaborated on his needs and his plans, but only those remarks which bear on his orders will be noted here. The point has been made that, while the main thrust of Donovan's work was aimed at the foreign field, he did not think in terms of a clean distinction between foreign and domestic. Hence, his concept of a system for the coordination of informa-
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27.Ibid., 2 July 1941.
28Ibid.,3 July 1941.

29 Ibid.

30 Memorandum of "Conference with Colonel J. Donovan and Ben    Cohen," 3 July1941,BOBRecords,      Folder 212.
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Posted: May 08, 2007 08:38 AM
Last Updated: Aug 05, 2011 02:43 PM