Donovan's Original Marching Orders

Coordinator of Information (COI), 1942, establishment of,
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his bailiwick. At this stage of development, the subject of operations in this field was not discussed.
4. Postwar planning: As just mentioned, Donovan intended to provide EDB with data relating to the postwar situation, and Richards was asked at the 16 July conferences to state the need of his unit for postwar planning. Also, an undated statement of the functions of the "Economic Branch" shows that it was to "formulate plans for the coordination of post-war planning activities" of the various agencies, to collect and "popularize" information on such planning for the President and department heads, and also to encourage such planning by industry, labor, and agriculture.52
5. Writing the peace: Milo Perkins is the indirect source of the Donovan claim that the President had told him to write the peace. According to Hall, writing on 8 September, Dr. Baxter was "disturbed by the rumors that Donovan has been commissioned to write the peace and believes that the State Department was also quite concerned." Baxter was further quoted as saying that some of his friends had been approached by Donovan, before the COI order came out, "asking them to serve with an organization similar to the House inquiry of the last war." Baxter was further quoted as saying that no such organization should be established and the function should be left with State, but that Donovan did not agree with him on this point.53
6. Basic Strategy Planning: There is no reason to doubt that Donovan aimed to influence basic political and military strategy. Others may have thought "policy" was not the field of COI, but Donovan did not think that way, at least, in the period under consideration. He aimed to gather and interpret the data "bearing on national security," and working through the "coordination committees" to make recommendations to the President. Again, an early but undated statement of functions shows that the "Research and Plans Branch" was to assist in the development of strategic plans, advise the Coordinator on national policy, prepare "popular" reports on strategic subjects for the President, and maintain such liaison as would insure the "full utilization of the expert facilities in the various departments and agencies in the determination of national policy." 54 Just how far Donovan expected to go in this direction is arguable, but it is not surprising if Hall and others thought the "Donovan organization" hoped to develop as "the secretariat of [a] high strategy group" within the defense organization.
By now it must be clear that there was anything but clarity in the listing of the functions that COI was to perform. First of all, we know only that the President approved Donovan's memorandum of 10 June which called for the establishment of an organization to collect information on enemy countries and to use the radio as an instrument of modern warfare and that the President also underwrote Donovan's plans for secret and subversive activities. Secondly, the order of 11 July authorizes Donovan to collect, analyze, correlate, and dis-
52 This document appears in the BOB Records in company with Hall's reports of 16 July 1941, and there is no reason to doubt that it belongs there.
53 Hall's Memorandum of Conference, 8 September 1941, on "Developments in the Office of the Coordinator of Information," BOB Records, Folder 212.
54 Cf. Note 52 supra.

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Posted: May 08, 2007 08:38 AM
Last Updated: Aug 11, 2011 01:17 PM