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Donovan's Original Marching Orders

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

CONFIDENTIAL

tion envisaged "various operating sections," apparently in Washington but also "applying] in zones throughout the country," feeding information into "a central clearing section." Also in connection with this function, he planned to have the Librarian of Congress work in liaison with "all libraries and scholars of the country"; the University of Chicago was to be "the map-making unit of the Coordinator's Office."
On a second point, Donovan explained the offensive side of his work, broadcasting to Europe, in which incidentally Robert Sherwood and William Shirer were to be used because of-according to Gladieux' account of Donovan's remark-their knowledge of the grammar requirements! "Psychological warfare," said Donovan, "will be started on all fronts"; did he mean the domestic front also?
On a third point, "The President expressed his desire to Donovan," wrote Gladieux, "that he set up a Committee on `economics of the future'." Donovan was not, however, to have easy sledding on this subject.
Some time later on the 3rd McCloy's draft was returned to the drafting crew. Some significant changes had been made. The "Military Order" was now just an "Order." So also, the "Coordinator of Defense Information" was now just the "Coordinator of Information." The COI, instead of making his information available "to the President and to such other officials as the President may determine," now sent his productions "to the joint Planning Division of the Joint Army and Navy Board, and to such departments and officials of the Government and other officials as the President may determine." Surely, Donovan must have hit the ceiling when he saw that insertion! Again, the COI was to carry out his supplementary activities "when requested by the President, the Secretary of War, and the Secretary of the Navy. . . ." The sentence about the COI performing his duties, "which include those of a military character," under the President as Commander in Chief, was excised; and there was left standing in that paragraph only the guarantee that the COI would not interfere with the President's regular military and naval advisors. In the last paragraph a subtle difference must have been intended when "William J. Donovan, United States Army," was changed to "Colonel William J. Donovan" and "designated as Coordinator of Defense [sic] Information."
Donovan and the others apparently quickly went to work on these changes. The "Order" was now eliminated, so now there was no indication what was being issued! They accepted elimination of "Defense" from the title of the new post. They excised the wholesale insertion of reporting to the joint Planning Division and responding to the requests of the President and the Service Secretaries. They accepted McCloy's Paragraph 4. (See Figure 3 above.) Finally, it was just "William J. Donovan" who was designated COI. The job was clearly not military.
The Final Version
The wrap-up must have gone quickly; for, still on the 3rd, Harold D. Smith, the Director of the Bureau of the Budget, sent to the President the finished product and a proposed statement for the press.31 In his letter Smith observed that since the appointment rested on the President's authority as Commander
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31 Smith to Roosevelt, 3 July 1941, Ibid., Folder 210.
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Posted: May 08, 2007 08:38 AM
Last Updated: Aug 05, 2011 02:44 PM