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Donovan's Original Marching Orders

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

CONFIDENTIAL

The third topic, economic defense and economic warfare, was just as large as the other two, and Richards was no clearer on this than on postwar planning. "After discussion with Colonel Donovan . . . concerning the possibilities of economic warfare organization," wrote Hall, "Richards stated that further amplification of his estimates for the Economics Division would be necessary." Hall himself did not appear to be too clear on just what "economic defense" and "economic warfare" actually were, but this is not surprising inasmuch as there was considerable confusion on just what the government should do at one and the same time to aid Britain economically, deny economic resources to the Axis, sustain the American economy, and still mobilize the economy for preparedness and, if necessary, war. Hall, after hearing Sherwood's explanation of his propaganda activities and needs, thought immediately in terms of economic warfare because "any activities in propaganda warfare must be directed at economic objectives." As will be seen, Donovan's interests in economics was considerably broader than propaganda. Anyhow, Hall concluded that "Sherwood's activities must be closely coordinated with the economic warfare agency, whether it be OED [Office of Economic Defense] or State-Treasury-Commerce-Export control, Federal Loan or Federal Reserve." Hall had another worry on his mind: except for Sherwood, Donovan's staff did not strike him as "particularly able;" and Donovan had "a tendency to commit himself too quickly on personnel and financial arrangements"; worse still, found Hall, a 27-year-old administrative officer, the 57-year-old Donovan "probably lacks the general background which should be present in the person directing the propaganda and economic warfare activities."
Budget Bureau Concerned Over Conflicts
Within two weeks; the Bureau of the Budget was sufficiently concerned by the tendency of COI to "impinge so directly upon a variety of activities of existing agencies," that a memorandum for the President was prepared for the signature of the Director, Harold D. Smith.38 While the document was apparently not sent, it still succinctly summarizes some Budget worries that were to persist. First of all, Donovan's request for $10,000,000 for the first year could not be reconciled with "the original proposal for establishing the office." Secondly, Vice President Henry A. Wallace, who was about to be named chairman of the newly-established Economic Defense Board, wanted Smith of the Budget to take up with the President the extent to which he wanted Donovan to "enter the economic defense field;" it was clear to Wallace that Donovan was "planning to carry on extensive economic defense activities . . . with particular reference to the assembly and correlation of information and plans." Thirdly, what about morale? Donovan "is planning a Public Relations Division to deal with problems of domestic information and morale as related to the coordination of strategic information and foreign propaganda;" so how does this square with La Guardia's authorization "to conduct domestic morale programs?" Fourthly, Donovan "is organizing a staff to develop original data on strategic situations in foreign countries," and this "will in some measure duplicate" State, War, and Navy activities. Smith then asked a question which seems to echo the Times' expectation that
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38 Memorandum for the. President, ibid. Gladieux prepared this for Smith's signature on 30 July 1941. An illegible note written by Hall-and dated 31 July makes the writer uncertain that the memorandum was actually sent.
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Posted: May 08, 2007 08:38 AM
Last Updated: Aug 11, 2011 01:14 PM