Donovan's Original Marching Orders

Coordinator of Information (COI), 1942, establishment of,
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On 9 July the Times' own staff had a better grasp on the shape of things to come. It had a name which had never been contemplated, however-"Coordinator of Intelligence Information." It did know that the new job was to be "without precedent in the government's operations," and was well-informed enough to know that his duties were "sufficiently elastic to take in such future possibilities as counterespionage operations and, perhaps, direction of some economic programs." His primary task, however, was to take other departments' reports and present them to the President in unified and manageable form.35
Even on the 12th, the Times could not get the new post properly titled: now it was the rejected "Coordinator of Defense Information." Donovan's "relatively small staff" was to "supervise" and "digest" reports for the President. He had told associates that "the scattered reports which came to his desk often were hopelessly confusing." 36
In concluding this second portion of our inquiry, it must be clear that as far as clarifying the content of Donovan's original instructions from the President is concerned, the process of drafting the order of 11 July 1941 added nothing to the knowledge either of the drafters themselves or of us who now read the record. The decision to put nothing in writing meant, of course, that the resolution of many uncertainties and ambiguities would not take place in the drafting but would, in effect, simply be pushed under the rug to be turned up later as people went about the business of handling the many irons Donovan had in the fire: coordination of data, counterintelligence, subversive action, sabotage, all kinds of foreign and domestic propaganda, economic warfare, economics of the future, and a few sleepers which had not yet surfaced-planning military strategy, and "the writing of the peace! "
Organizing COI: July-September 1941
With the issuance of the 11 July order, Donovan could now intensify his organizational activity. He had, of course, already had numerous discussions with prospective colleagues on the job he was to do and the structure that would be needed. He was certainly in touch with the head of British Intelligence, William S. Stephenson, on organizing clandestine activities. He had already agreed with the dramatist, the presidential speechwriter, Robert Sherwood, on setting up what became the Foreign Information Service. He had met with officials of the Library of Congress on drawing on the resources of the American academic community for the research and analysis job.
It was not, however, until he and his associates had entered on a new phase of their negotiations with the Bureau of the Budget, that is, on setting up COI, that specific jurisdictional conflicts with other agencies began to take shape. This occurred on 16 July when Donovan and his colleagues-Sherwood, Atherton Richards, Thomas G. Early; and Ernest S. Griffith, the Director of the Legislative Reference Service of the Library of Congress-held three conferences with Budget officials to outline their plans and to obtain necessary guidance from the Bureau on organizational necessities.
These conferences began the laborious process of defining functions, drawing organizational charts, establishing budgets, fixing salaries, renting space, and
35 Ibid., 10 July p. 12, col. 3.
36 Ibid., 12 July, p. 5, col. 1.

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Posted: May 08, 2007 08:38 AM
Last Updated: Aug 11, 2011 01:13 PM