APPROVED FOR RELEASE
CIA HISTORICAL REVIEW PROGRAM
22 SEPT 93
Conceptual exploration and interdepartmental maneuvering under pressure of war that laid the foundation for a centralizing agency.
ORIGINS OF CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE 1
Arthur B. Darling
The processes of intelligence and their attendant propaganda, sabotage, and guerrilla tactics received tremendous stimulus during the second World War. Fifth-column activities had become famous in the Spanish civil strife prior to the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia and Poland. An interdepartmental committee of the Army, Navy, and Federal Bureau of Investigation in July 1939 sought to control spies, saboteurs, and subversive persons. The overthrow of France in June 1940 and the expulsion of Britain's troops from the continent at Dunkirk convinced leading Americans that this country must prepare in every way for the eventuality of war. German agents under Nazi direction were already at work in Latin America as their predecessors had been for the Kaiser. The specter of an invasion even of North America possessed some minds. The British fleet had long supported the Monroe Doctrine against foreign encroachment upon Anglo-American dominance in the western hemisphere. If Britain fell, there would be no British fleet.
Arrangements were made to supply the British fleet with destroyers in return for air and naval bases. Congress revived the Selective Service of 1917 in September. Ambassador Kennedy was making statements that Britain could not stand up to the German attack. The President sent William J. Donovan in July to find out. Donovan was to study too Germany's fifth-column practices. He returned by August 4 to report orally to Secretary Knox and the President upon those practices,, Britain's organization for secret intelligence, and what Donovan liked to call "unorthodox warfare." The German activities were spread before the American public in a series of newspaper articles signed by Edgar A. Mowrer and Colonel Donovan. British advices and plans entered from time to time into the development of an American system of intelligence and clandestine operations.
Donovan believed that Britain would stand. He was abroad again before Christmas to make a strategic survey of American economic and political interests in the Mediterranean and the Near East. Many Americans found it hard to discover those interests, though the Navy had once fought Barbary corsairs on the coasts of Africa and put the Marines ashore in Tripoli, and there still were American missionaries, hospitals, and colleges in the Near East. Donovan saw them, and a good deal more as he worked with a British officer against the pro-Nazi regent, Prince Paul, in Yugoslavia. The Germans sensed enough of his purposes to keep him from conferring with the French commander, General Weygand.
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By March 18 Colonel Donovan was home to report upon the dangers to shipping, the importance of northwest Africa to the United States, the use of psychological and political warfare, and upon a central intelligence committee which he saw taking form in London under the exigencies of war. At Roosevelt's direction he talked with Secretaries Stimson and Knox and Attorney General Jackson about his concept of an intelligence agency with the accompanying forces of propaganda and subversion. They recommended it to the President. The result was Donovan's proposal on June 10, 1941, that there should be a "service of strategic information." Strategy without information, he said, was helpless. Information collected for no strategic purpose was futile.
With this memorandum, his first written statement on the subject, Donovan began the foundations for what has become the Central Intelligence Agency. Whether or not he was aware of it at the time, he indicated, too, the difficulties that would perplex the administrators of this common service for the departments of the Government.
He suggested that a Coordinator of Strategic Information should have an advisory panel consisting of the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the heads of the intelligence services of the Army and the Navy, and corresponding officials from other departments concerned. He would draw the personnel of his central agency from the Army and the Navy as well as from civilian sources. He would make sure that the agency should not displace or encroach upon the departments, although it might collect information independently. It was to analyze and interpret information of many kinds for use by the departments. Above all, it was "to constitute a means by which the President, as Commander in Chief, and his Strategic Board would have available accurate and complete enemy intelligence reports upon which military operational decisions could be based."
Donovan would place under the direction of the Coordinator of Strategic Information that psychological warfare which he had observed the Germans using so effectively upon "the moral and spiritual defenses of a nation." He did not include in his memorandum the physical subversion and guerrilla warfare which he had also in mind. They had been discussed with the cabinet officers; they were implicit in the plan. True to the military character of his whole conception, he proposed that the Coordinator of Strategic Information should be responsible directly to the President.
This led at once to disagreement with the armed services which has complicated relationships ever since between them and the central intelligence service. President Roosevelt's military order of June 25, 1941, as Commander in Chief, created the office of Coordinator of Strategic Information and gave him military authority. It aroused so much opposition that it had to be rewritten. Another order on July 11, 1941, established the office of Coordinator of Information, omitting the word "Strategic." It carefully protected the regular military and naval advisers of the President from interference or impairment of functions by this new aide to the Chief Executive.
Many in the armed services were far from pleased. It still was in effect a military order. Colonel William J. Donovan was of course to be the Coordinator of Information. Senator Taft caught up their feeling, though in an overstatement of the facts: Donovan could "boss the intelligence services of the Army and Navy in the name of the President and have more influence with the President on military and naval strategy than the General Staffs."
Criticism from another quarter was more in keeping with the facts. After a conference on June 18 with Donovan and Benjamin Cohen, counsel for the National Power Policy Committee, regarding Donovan's ideas on a "service of strategic information," President Roosevelt sent Cohen to consult with the Assistant Director of the Bureau of the Budget. Donovan too explained his plans for the future of the organization. From the beginning officials in the Bureau had the impression that he was ambitious to make the powers of his new agency "all-inclusive." He was interested in domestic morale and economic defense, in research upon Latin America, in the negotiations for peace at the end of the European war, in postwar economic planning, and apparently anything and everything else that pertained to the strategic intelligence necessary to the formulation of national policy.
It is not surprising that members of the Bureau of the Budget thought Donovan eager to compete with "many of the old line agencies and most of the defense agencies." It was rather soon for all of the possibilities which his avid imagination conceived. It was altogether too soon to draw the lines and establish the interstices between rival institutions of the government so that they worked harmoniously to the common end. The criticism was fair at the moment. It did not, however, show due appreciation of the fact that, regardless of his personal ambitions, Donovan was pioneering in the public interest beyond the experiences and assumptions of the moment. He believed that it was his duty as well as opportunity to put all elements of intelligence in one central organization. This, he declared in 1953, was an American contribution in the history of intelligence.
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From COI to OSS
The office of the Coordinator of Information developed so rapidly under Donovan's direction that many elements of a central intelligence service were in operation by the time of the Japanese attack upon Pearl Harbor in December. To broadcast radio messages, issue pamphlets, and spread the propaganda of truth regarding American principles, his Foreign Information Service had begun to take shape even before the President's order of July 11. With its listening outposts, it was also soon obtaining information for the production of intelligence. A Research and Analysis Branch, well established in August, began to collect and evaluate the basic materials for intelligence reports. By October a Visual Presentation Branch was at work upon the techniques of delivering such reports and related data to the departments and services concerned.
An Oral Intelligence Unit was created to interview persons recently arrived from abroad. Foreign nationals within this country came under study to discover what they might reveal concerning the conditions and opinions in the countries of their origin. The collection of information by undercover agents outside the western hemisphere had begun upon agreement with the Army and the Navy in October that their clandestine intelligence services should be consolidated under the Coordinator of Information.
There was agreement also with the British. During the first World War an intimate relationship had existed between the two governments on the diplomatic level, resulting in the exchange of information of great value. Now, with the consent of Churchill, Donovan placed a branch office in London. The British services had quarters in New York. The cooperation was close between the intelligence systems of the two countries.
There was even planning for the eventuality of war before it came with the disaster at Pearl Harbor. A section in Donovan's office named "Special Activities-K and L Funds" was established on October 10, 1941, to take charge of espionage, sabotage, subversive activities, and guerrilla units. There had been no formal authorization for these. The President's order of July 11 merely provided for "such supplementary activities as may facilitate the securing of information important for national security not now available to the Government." But the intent was clear. Donovan sent an officer to study British practices in close association with the British Special Operations Executive. It was only a short step into guerrilla warfare after the declaration of war. He submitted to President Roosevelt on December 22, 1941, the plan long in mind for an American force like the British Commandos, "imbued with the maximum of the offensive and imaginative spirit," an excellent weapon of physical subversion to accompany the black propaganda of psychological warfare.
The burst of war which he anticipated had two effects upon Colonel Donovan. He pressed the organization of his office to completion so that he might leave for a combat command, and he urged that the Coordinator of Information be placed under the direction of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. These held their first meeting on February 9, 1942, as they prepared to work with their British counterparts in the Combined Chiefs of Staff.
Donovan sent a proposal through Secretary Knox to the President that there be attached to the Navy an independent force of land, sea, and air raiders, five thousand men, which Donovan himself would command; and he suggested a successor as Coordinator of Information. Donovan was not permitted to take command of American commandos. He had instead to develop within his office the forces of physical subversion and guerrilla, warfare. But the Office of Strategic Services which succeeded the Coordinator of Information was placed as he had wished under the direction of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by military order of the President on June 13, 1942.
Meanwhile the Coordinator of Information had come under pressures that were generated by diverse temperaments quite as much as by differences of opinion concerning methods in war. Over Donovan's protests the Foreign Information Service was removed from his jurisdiction and joined with other information services, in the new Office of War Information. Donovan believed that the effectiveness of psychological warfare would be impaired if the control of propaganda directed abroad were taken from the Coordinator of Information. It is to be noted too that with the Foreign Information Service went the listening outposts which were sources of information for the production of intelligence reports by the Coordinator. But this caused little hardship, as the Foreign Broadcast Monitoring Service of the Federal Communications Commission provided complete summaries of its auditing and the Office of Strategic Services soon enlarged its own system of collecting secret intelligence overseas.
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There was a prolonged dispute over psychological warfare. The Joint Chiefs of Staff had created a Joint Psychological Warfare Committee in March but reorganized it on June 21, 1942, to make Donovan the chairman, as Director of the Office of Strategic Services. The committee was composed of representatives from the Army and the Navy and supported by an advisory committee drawn from the Department of State, the Board of Economic Warfare, the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, and the Office of War Information.
For the next six months plans and proposals, suggestions and exceptions, basic estimates, reports, and dissents were tossed back and forth between the Joint Psychological Warfare Committee and its subcommittees on the one hand and the Office of Strategic Services and its subordinate groups on the other without ever reaching the Joint Chiefs of Staff. However stated or argued, specifically or in general terms, the real matter at issue would seem to an outsider to have been whether the OSS was to be an agent directly responsible to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the conception and conduct of psychological warfare. If it reported to the Joint Psychological Warfare Committee, OSS would run the risk of having its projects stopped there by the overwhelming majority representing the Army and the Navy. The armed services did not like any sort of independent paramilitary command. As Donovan recalled in 1953, it was a critical moment in the whole endeavor to establish an American system of central intelligence.
The issue came to conclusion in December 1942. The Joint Chiefs of Staff sent General McNarney and Admiral Horne to inquire into the Office of Strategic Services. They visited it separately. Donovan talked with them, showed them papers, and asked them to spend a day watching it in operation. There followed a directive from the Joint Chiefs on December 22 abolishing the Joint Psychological Warfare Committee and designating OSS the "agency" of the Joint Chiefs of Staff charged with the military program of psychological warfare.
Donovan received a note from General Marshall saying that he could not let the holiday season pass without expressing gratitude for his cooperation in the trying times of the past year. Marshall regretted that Donovan, after voluntarily coming under the jurisdiction of the Joint Chiefs, had not enjoyed smoother sailing. Marshall hoped that the new directive would eliminate most of the difficulties.
The Office of Strategic Services gained most of the points for which it had contended. To supervise the military program of psychological warfare and integrate it with military and naval operations, there was established within OSS a new Planning Group composed of one member from the Department of State, two from the Army, two from the Navy, and four including the chairman from OSS. An advisory committee was to have representation from the Board of Economic Warfare, Office of War Information, Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, Treasury, and other agencies from time to time as ;heir interests were concerned. After approval by the OSS Director, the plans and projects of the Planning Group were to be submitted through the Joint Staff Planners to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for final approval.
The operations of propaganda, and of economic warfare within the military program for psychological warfare, were reserved to the Office of War Information and to the Board of Economic Warfare respectively. The Joint Intelligence Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was to prepare such special information and intelligence studies as the Joint Chiefs required.
Elmer Davis, head of the Office of War Information, was unwilling to share in this cooperative effort in psychological warfare. He declined representation on the Advisory Committee of the OSS Planning Group. Admiral Leahy had written for the Joint Chiefs of Staff that the Planning Group would be confined to recommendations to them; they would be the ones to decide upon the propaganda they wished Mr. Davis to execute. But he saw it differently. There was no purpose to be served in giving advice to another group upon matters which one was already under obligation to the President to formulate and execute. The President, he said, could "hardly be overruled by lesser authority." His representative would be a visitor to the OSS group, not a member.
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The intelligence needs of the Office of Strategic Services were restricted by the directive of December 22, 1942, to those "necessary for the planning and execution of the military program for psychological warfare, and for the preparation of assigned portions of intelligence digests and such other data and visual presentation as may be requested." Moreover, OSS intelligence collection was confined to the special operations of sabotage, espionage, and counterespionage in enemy-occupied or controlled territory, guerrilla warfare, underground groups, and contacts with foreign nationals in the United States.
These restrictions upon the OSS intelligence service were not permitted to hamper its work for long, on paper. They were removed from the text of the directive by the Joint Chiefs of Staff on April 4, 1943. And by the final revision of the directive on October 27, 1943, OSS's function of collecting information for the production of intelligence was fully restored. But collecting is not the same as receiving dissemination from others, and having the right to receive information is different from actually getting particular items. General Vandenberg and Admiral Hillenkoetter were to find this true again and again as Directors of Central Intelligence.
It had been agreed by both Army and Navy in October 1941, before the attack upon Pearl Harbor, that the "undercover intelligence of the two services" should be consolidated under the Coordinator of Information. As General Miles expressed it, the work was "much more effective if under one head rather than three..." A civilian agency, such as the Coordinator of Information, had distinct advantages, he said, over any military or naval agency in the administration of such a service. At the same time the Army and Navy set up their Joint Army and Navy Intelligence Committee to forestall the Coordinator of Information. Ludwell L. Montague became its secretary on October 14.
Following the agreement with the Army and Navy, Donovan planned at once to put a wireless station and agents in North Africa. But the understanding had contained the reservation that in the event of war the Army and the Navy should have full power to operate undercover intelligence services of their own. After Pearl Harbor, the best that could be obtained in the directives of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was a statement that the military and naval intelligence services and the Office of Strategic Services would "provide for the complete and free interchange of information, evaluated as to creditability of source, required for the execution of their respective missions."
In practice this meant to the intelligence officers of the Army and the Navy no obligation whatever upon them to turn over to Donovan's OSS information about operations which they thought should not be revealed. It is to be said on their behalf that they had some reasons to fear that the civilians in his agency were not disciplined in military security; the OSS deserved part of its reputation for being a sieve. (When General Donovan read this statement in February 1953, he blurted: "How could you say such a thing! That makes me sore." The military men, he said, were the "leaky boys.") It is also to be said that intelligence reports worth submitting to the policy-makers cannot be had if strategic information is withheld from those who have the task of making the reports.
According to one who remarked that he ought to know because he was one of them, men in the armed services looked with suspicion upon the expert economists, geographers, historians, and scientists whom Donovan gathered about him; they "lowered their horns" against those experts, said General Magruder, and they kept their horns down. We might add that there was milling and bawling and pawing the dust, but no stampede.
A case in point was the refusal of the Navy to release its radio intercepts to the Office of Strategic Services. Donovan protested on October 22, 1942, that such action would impair his ability to discharge his mission. When he had agreed to refrain from cryptographic work, he had understood that the proceeds from decoding by the armed forces would be made available to the OSS. Otherwise it could not carry out the duties specifically assigned to it by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His undercover representatives in foreign countries were entitled to the protection and help which would come from the interceptions of enemy messages. The Research and Analysis Branch needed the information for its strategic studies. The Office of Strategic Services could not function completely without such important materials.
Donovan's protest got a cool reception in the Joint Intelligence Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The chairman, General George V. Strong, was unwilling to accept even the obvious provisions in the directive of December 22, 1942, arguing at first that it confined the Office of Strategic Services to the planning and execution of psychological warfare. When Donovan's deputy, General Magruder, showed that OSS had much wider functions in the field of intelligence, General Strong abandoned the argument but remained obviously reluctant to yield. The Navy representative then read a letter from Admiral King stating that he would not agree to any increase in the dissemination of intercept material. The attitude of the Committee as a whole was unsympathetic. So General Magruder, having in mind "the longer range point of view of being able to reconstruct harmonious relations with the armed forces," did not press the legal point that the Office of Strategic Services was entitled to such information.
The issue was seemingly closed on January 19, 1943, by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They ruled that release of information was within the province of the representatives of the Army and Navy in the OSS Planning Group. This of course reduced the question to specific instances and left power with the Army and Navy still to withhold any particular piece of information. They are reluctant to this moment in 1953 to give a central civilian agency intelligence which exposes their capabilities in war. The result has been interference with the flow of raw materials essential to the realistic estimates which should go to the makers of diplomatic policy and military strategy.
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Early in 1943 the Joint Chiefs of Staff created the Joint Intelligence Collection Agencies of the Army, Navy, and Air Forces. The joint agencies were not to engage in initial procurement; they were only to assemble material in the field offices and forward it to Washington. In theory this cooperation should have been helpful to the OSS Secret Intelligence Branch; in fact it laid its secret agents open to exposure in the field and delayed their material in reaching the Branch in Washington. Such interference gave Donovan's supporters opportunity to argue that the armed services had established the joint collection agencies to thwart OSS and keep it from being the central agency in the national intelligence system. The situation did seem to prove that instead of three or four collecting agencies, there should be a single and exclusive collector in the field of secret intelligence and counterespionage abroad.
The Office of Strategic Services came under another cross fire. After the experience at Pearl Harbor General Marshall and Admiral King were convinced that something had to be done about combining the intelligence services of the Army and Navy, regardless of any arrangement with the OSS. Their agreement apparently led in the spring of 1943 to a proposal that the Joint Intelligence Committee should be reorganized. It should have a civilian member besides the representatives of the Army, Navy, Air Forces, and OSS to form a better estimating board for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This civilian, by reason of exceptional performance, might even become the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee. There was resemblance here to the British estimating committee, in which the civilian representing the Foreign Office sat as chairman with the military experts.
Each member of the reorganized Joint Intelligence Committee should have access to all of the intelligence in the service which he represented, and presumably he would purvey it to the Committee under restrictions which remained to be established. The proposers of the plan seemed confident that such ranking officers could be trusted to decide whether they could release any item of information to the Committee without jeopardy to their respective services and at the same time supply the Committee with the proper materials for its estimates.
More important in the plan, and perhaps the telltale, was the suggestion that the OSS Research and Analysis Branch should be linked with similar functions in the Office of Naval Intelligence and the Military Intelligence Service. The idea was that the Research and Analysis Branch would thus become a central agency. Files and personnel transferred from the Army and Navy would be integrated with similar OSS files and persons so that there would be a single activity engaged in making strategic surveys.
The Research and Analysis Branch, thus augmented with officers and other experts from the armed services, would be directly under the Joint Intelligence Committee. The presumption was that the transferred officers would no longer be directly responsible to the Army or the Navy but belong to the central agency. The fact remained, however, that in the Joint Intelligence Committee itself the OSS would have only one representative while the Army, Navy, and Air Forces together would have three. Even if the civilian in the chair agreed with the OSS representative, they would still be in the minority on the Committee.
General Magruder broadly favored the plan. He reported to Donovan in September that on the whole it recommended steps "very close to our own desires." But he believed that the Secret Intelligence and Counterespionage branches should also be elevated to the "strategic level" along with Research and Analysis. They belonged in the organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff if it were to be the "authoritative body of the future superior strategic intelligence service." The three were, after all, the essentials in any central intelligence service.
On the other hand, he did not want to mix the intelligence experts of the Army, Navy, and Air Force with the civilians or "scholar experts" in Research and Analysis. Each group should retain "its own sense of responsibility"; the results of their separate efforts should be brought together. Otherwise, he said, their efforts would be wasted, and the chiefs of the groups would not demand the best personnel. In hindsight, military men and civilians since then seem to have worked together in the same group on problems of intelligence more effectively than General Magruder anticipated.
General Donovan did not take to the plan so readily as Magruder. Possibly it looked to Donovan, as it well could, more like an immediate attempt to deprive him of a major service within the OSS and narrow his activities still further in the field of intelligence. The plan did not materialize.
In the words of a contemporary observer, the Army, Navy, and Department of State were always glad to use the OSS Research and Analysis Branch as a servant. They were not willing to accept it as an equal partner in- final judgments. By depriving it of the "sensitive information" which they had within their control, they were able to keep it from being what it was supposed to be, the competent research agency in the political-economic-social field of national intelligence.
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Notwithstanding serious blocks to the production of strategic reports and interference with its activities in other ways, the Office of Strategic Services established institutions and practices that are requisite to a national system of intelligence. It accumulated the wealth of experience for its successors to enjoy. Among its legacies to the Central Intelligence Agency were the methods and means of procuring both overt and secret intelligence, the devices of counterespionage, the procedures of research and analysis, and a considerable number of skilled persons.
The foreign groups in the United States, a mosaic of nationalities, were certain to be useful as sources of intelligence.
It was important to exploit those who had come from nations under the Nazis and the Communists. It was wise to keep them under surveillance also for subversive activities. The Foreign Nationalities Branch, established to scan the foreign language press and to deal with political refugees and leaders of foreign groups, at first met opposition from the Departments of Justice and State. The Federal Bureau of Investigation was afraid that the Branch would interfere with its work. Members of the State Department were suspicious that the Branch might usurp functions of policy-making. But the Foreign Nationalities Branch demonstrated its value so effectively to the Joint Chiefs of Staff that it was fixed as part of the intelligence system. It obtained a large amount of significant information concerning Czechoslovakia, Greece, and Poland.
The Secret Intelligence Branch grew from a small organization with a few overseas units which supplied the armed services with fifty reports in May 1942 to a system of penetration by land, sea, and air, producing five thousand reports a month at its peak. Its area desks were increased and regrouped to direct operations more effectively in neutral countries and to gain access into adjacent hostile or occupied territories. A Reporting Board controlled the dissemination of intelligence. The Branch developed a section to enlist the support of labor in all countries not only for intelligence but for sabotage and subversion. A "ship observer unit" obtained the especially valuable intelligence to be had from seamen, their organizations, ship operators, and other maritime sources. A technical section provided information on roads, bridges, aqueducts, weapons, and similar matters of engineering. It maintained daily contact with the "Manhattan Project" in atomic energy.
The counterpart of Secret Intelligence, known as "X-2," developed a counterespionage network which spread from London to Shanghai through Europe, Africa, the Near East, India, Burma, and China, with each headquarters reporting directly to Washington. By October 1945 a registry of enemies and subversive persons had been developed in Washington that ran to some 400,000 names. This with the records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation constituted the backbone of security intelligence. Moreover, working agreements with the British, French, and others were ready for the future.
The British were willing to let Americans into their organization to learn about Hitler's agents but were not so disposed to have the American intelligence services entering regions where Britain had primary interests. In some instances the reluctance amounted to downright refusal. This appears to have been the case for some time in northern France, the Low Countries, and Southeast Asia. It is to be said, though, that the situation in the Far East was complicated further by Chiang Kai-shek and Douglas MacArthur.
Before long, geographical understandings were established upon the principle that the OSS would take a leading position in the work of intelligence as the American military forces penetrated certain areas. This was particularly true in Western Europe as the invasion gained momentum. In other regions the British intelligence services continued to dominate and in some instances made it practically impossible for American intelligence officers to go about their business. In Istanbul and doubtless other places like it, for very good reasons of security or rather the lack of it, the British did not care to become involved with American intelligence.
In spite of all this, there was cooperation to a great degree both in London and in New York. The British supplied OSS with information on occasion when the U.S. Army and Navy either could or would not do so. To be appreciated as well, the British allowed American officers to observe the interrelationships of their services and the working of their intelligence system as a basis for improving the American system. The study which William H. Jackson made of the British organization in 1945 and then with Kingman Douglass in 1946 influenced the development of the Central Intelligence Agency.
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However valuable in themselves, the first reports of the Research and Analysis Branch, under the Coordinator of Information, were neither well related to one another nor focused properly upon the needs of the Army and Navy. For this condition the services were in part responsible until they gave better explanation of what they wanted. In 1942 strategic surveys became the major enterprise of the Branch. This basic intelligence laid bare at the demand of war the hard economic and geographical facts within the conflict of nations. The R&A strategic surveys were the predecessors of the Joint Army-Navy Intelligence Studies, which in turn were superseded by the program of National Intelligence Surveys.
The Research and Analysis Branch also provided intelligence on contemporary events. Information came from outposts of the Branch in such advantageous places for observation as London, Algiers, Cairo, Stockholm, New Delhi, Chungking, Bucharest, Istanbul, Rome, Lisbon, and Athens. This current intelligence had usefulness distinct from the information which came from Secret Intelligence and from the Department of State. Collection by R&A was not hampered by the secrecy of the one nor by the diplomatic protocol of the other.
Reporting by photography as well as words was fully appreciated in the Office of Strategic Services and passed on to its successors in the national intelligence system. There was a War Room with maps, charts, projectors. There was a Daily Intelligence Summary and a Political Intelligence Weekly. Called by whatever name, things indispensable stay much the same.
There is always a need for supporting services like the recruitment and training of personnel, legal advice, accounting, procurement, and maintenance of equipment. The Office of Strategic Services had such supporting services. Improvement and expansion came with experience, but little change in the essential functions. The methods of communication were the best in existence at that time. The OSS used three kinds of cover for its agents and operations-governmental, commercial, and professional. The choice today among these types of concealment is determined as then by the peculiarities of the particular situation.
The covert activities of the Office of Strategic Services have been examined in its War Report and are not to be appraised project by project in this study. The Special Operations Branch, in charge of sabotage and physical subversion, was uppermost in the purposes of General Donovan; accordingly it grew from small beginnings in 1941 until it had become a valuable auxiliary to military operations in the theatres of war where it was allowed to participate. Because no arrangements satisfactory to both MacArthur and Donovan could be made, OSS did not operate in the western Pacific, though it had a role in China.
Opinions of OSS varied from praise to blame in accordance with the predilections and interests of the observers. Agreement appears to have been general outside the Office itself, however, that its Special Operations Branch should be liquidated at the close of the war, along with its paramilitary enterprises such as guerrilla Operations Groups and the Maritime Unit, whose frogmen have attracted so much attention. This was even more true of the Morale Operations Branch engaged in black propaganda, although a movement began shortly afterward to apply the lessons learned in this art of war. On March 5, 1946, Secretary of War Patterson wrote to Secretary Forrestal of the Navy urging that a body of experts institute some kind of system to develop weapons for the psychological warfare of the future.
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Long before the troops of the Allies invaded Germany or the atomic bombs had fallen on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, thoughts were upon profiting in times of peace from wartime experience with the intelligence services. Brigadier General John Magruder, before his association with OSS and while head of Lend Lease in China, had observed in practical operation the need for joint intelligence among the services. Because of his official position he obtained information more easily than the military attache and others. He therefore suggested that all should cooperate in gathering and verifying intelligence, and he proposed to General Stilwell that the practice be extended to Washington among the armed services at the highest level. General Stilwell did not believe that it would succeed in Washington. When Magruder returned to the United States in the summer of 1942, however, he conferred enthusiastically with General Donovan and put his coordination proposal on paper. Donovan assured him that the Office of Strategic Services was designed for just such a purpose and invited him to join the organization as its Deputy Director for Intelligence.
The plan which Magruder proposed in August 1942 stressed the imperative need for coordinating all of the agencies concerned with intelligence. The collecting services of the departments obtained valuable information, he said, but not a single one was competent to furnish the complete information necessary to "national decisions." There were no "sure and continuous" connections between the intelligence agencies and those who were responsible for making the decisions and plans. He found all of the intelligence services so "compartmented" that the only escape from the situation was to establish a "superior joint intelligence agency." No vital decisions could be made for the conduct of the war without "complete and digested intelligence."
Looking back upon this memorandum, we may well admire the perception with which the author wrote of difficulties that still persist in 1953. General Magruder did not then visualize the intricate system for coordinating departmental intelligence with strategic studies made independently by experts in research and analysis. But he did appreciate the necessity for synthesis of the information from all services for strategic planning and decisions by those who had to make both diplomatic and military policies. Since the Joint Intelligence Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was then at work on problems of intelligence for the Army and Navy, he thought of it rather than of some other central agency for his purposes. But he observed that the Joint Intelligence Committee would have to be reorganized and its functions augmented or it could not operate effectively as the body of advice, coordination, and recommendation to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Magruder proposed in August 1942 that in place of the working staff of the Joint Intelligence Committee there should be established a Joint Intelligence Bureau. This Bureau should act as an agency of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Under its director and deputy director there should be research divisions in the several fields of intelligence-political, economic, military, and others. The product of their effort should be systematically administered by an initiating and reviewing committee. This key committee should make assignments to the working groups, should requisition material from the various departments concerned, and should approve the studies and estimates of the Bureau before they went through the director's office to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The committee of initiation and review within the Bureau was to be composed of representatives from the intelligence services of the departments. But it was clear that Magruder intended that they should not be merely visitors from their respective departments; they were to be members of the Bureau. Although representing separate interests, they were to be gathered into one body with functions expressly delegated in accordance with the federal principle.
Congress itself, with sovereign powers expressly delegated in the Constitution, is the best example of the principle. Though representative of the states, component parts of the Union, Congress exercises powers that are superior to and exclusive of powers retained by the states; the product of its action is national. The concept that the federal principle was applicable within an agency of the government seems to have been ahead of its time in the fall of 1942. There were, of course, military men in the Office of Strategic Services, but the idea that they represented the services from which they had come at the same time that they worked as members of a central intelligence agency was then highly theoretical.
General Magruder clung to his ideas and strengthened them in dealing with those who obstructed the actual working of the Secret Intelligence Branch and the Research and Analysis Branch of the OSS. He wrote on July 30, 1943, to the Executive Secretary of the Joint Chiefs of Staff a series of observations upon the U.S. intelligence service which explicitly cited the obstructions: the Secret Intelligence Branch had reached an impressive stage of development in spite of the fact that it was handicapped by outright resistance in some quarters and by limitations imposed by well-intentioned officials who lacked familiarity with its objectives and failed to appreciate its value as a national asset.
The Research and Analysis Branch, he said, could be the very core of an agency which could not be duplicated in any other intelligence organization restricting itself to the needs of a particular department. The Branch was uniquely designed to serve a particular need. Its group of highly qualified specialists should be the "servitors" of the Joint Chiefs and have functions befitting their ability to produce. Instead, they were being denied access to information by other agencies in spite of what were believed to be both the terms and the spirit of the directive from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Magruder wished now in the fall of 1943 to see the Secret Intelligence Branch and the Counterespionage Branch taken up to "the strategic level" and incorporated with the Research and Analysis Branch in a superior intelligence agency under the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
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The Donovan Plan
General Donovan looked beyond the immediate exigencies of war even more than his deputy, General Magruder. At the request of General Walter B. Smith, recently Secretary of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and now Chief of Staff of the Allied Forces in North Africa, Donovan wrote on September 17, 1943, to give his ideas in detail on the creation of a strategic intelligence organization as an integral and permanent part of the military establishment. Donovan had worked with Smith to put the Office of Strategic Services under the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Though produced in war and quite naturally reflecting that fact, Donovan's paper revealed that his thinking ran far ahead into times of peace.
His was a long-range view of requirements. There must be independence from other nations' intelligence for reasons of security, verification of information, and control. Friends today might not be so cordial tomorrow. Secret means had to be maintained for collecting political, economic, sociological, and psychological data. There should be counterintelligence as a matter of course to protect these primary services. He stressed the use of the radio and the need for independent communications and passport privileges. A separate budget and unvouchered funds were essential.
Donovan advocated a civilian director supported largely by civilian personnel. He explained the importance of research and analysis by experts in critical appraisal, by skilled technicians and specialists on particular regions. And, as was to be expected of him, General Donovan associated these requirements for an intelligence service closely with physical subversion and warfare upon morale. They were all indispensable parts of a national intelligence system.
It may be only coincidence, but it is a striking coincidence, that General Smith later became Director of Central Intelligence and adhered to much these principles in administering the affairs of the Central Intelligence Agency.
As General Smith had asked, Donovan consulted other officers experienced in intelligence, particularly Colonel Dudley W. Clarke, a friend in the British Army who had much to do with the Commandos. Taking up Clarke's suggestion of the "ideal control" for a strategic intelligence organization, Donovan proposed that it should be included with the Army, Navy, and Air Force as the "fourth arm" under the jurisdiction of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The chief of the intelligence organization, or "Strategic Services," would be a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. All, of course, were under the President as Commander in Chief.
General Donovan did not then let a question interfere which later wrecked his plan in the committees of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Whether the chief of "Strategic Services" should be responsible directly to the President or to the Secretary of a department, he said in his letter to General Smith, did not affect the issue, but he did not wish to have the strategic intelligence organization placed under the control of one department. It was to serve and support not only the armed forces but the diplomatic, economic, and propaganda services; that is to say the Department of State, the Foreign Economic Administration, and the Office of War Information of those days.
Here Donovan acknowledged "distracting political consequences" in placing "Strategic Services" directly under the control of the President. If it should be decided to have a Department of Defense in which all the "Fighting Services" would be placed, then the strategic intelligence organization should be included on a parity with the others. If no such legislation were enacted, "Strategic Services" could continue under the Joint Chiefs of Staff with a civilian head appointed by the President.
What led General Donovan to endeavor later to bring the Office of Strategic Services back directly under the President is hard to discover in the documentary evidence. His enemies were certain that he was intent upon building the proverbial empire. The hypothesis is too simple. One difficulty with it is that he was instantly removable from office at the President's whim as even political appointees were not. Donovan will be found fairly reasonable in discussing with the Joint Strategic Survey Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff the possibility, though he did not favor the idea, of placing the Director of Central Intelligence under a board consisting of the Secretaries of State, War, and the Navy. His opinion seems consistently to have been that the responsibility should be individual; it should not be "diffused through intermediate echelons." If he had to compromise he preferred to have the Director under the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He thoroughly understood the principle of chain of command.
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Drawing further upon his staff, General Magruder and others, for ideas and suggestions, Donovan stated his views again in October 1944, when public thoughts, though still in the midst of war, were upon the solemn endeavor at Dumbarton Oaks to establish a United Nations which might settle international disputes by some means other than war. It was the time of greatest cooperation between the Soviet Union and the United States. It was before the Russian armies had driven the Germans from Poland. It was also before British and American troops had broken the last great German effort on the western front in the deathly fog and gloom of the Battle of the Bulge, before they had swept over the Rhine deep into Germany to meet the Russians on the Elbe, suspicious friends becoming foes. It was before the uncertain agreements at Yalta and the rising quarrels over Poland, the Balkan States, and Red China. It was before the United States had the atomic bomb to drop upon Japan and complicate further its negotiations with the Soviet Union.
The essentials to any central intelligence service, he wrote, were plain and clear. There must be an uninterrupted flow of intelligence in peace as in war so that national policy, military and political, could be based upon knowledge. This was to be obtained by both overt and clandestine means abroad; there should be no clandestine operation within the United States. Moreover, the central agency should have no police power, nor should it be identified with any law-enforcing body either at home or abroad. This statement should be kept always in mind by those who are wont to accuse "Wild Bill" Donovan of wishing to set up an American Gestapo.
The outstanding purpose of the central intelligence service which Donovan proposed was to collect, analyze, and deliver intelligence "on the policy or strategy level" to the policymakers of the government as directed by the President. This intelligence was to serve the Army and the Navy as well as the Department of State or any other branch of the government. He would not interfere with the operational intelligence of the departments. But he did intend to make the principle of individual responsibility for national intelligence starkly clear.
A director, appointed by the President and under his orders, was to administer this central service and determine its policy with the advice and assistance of a board of representatives from the Department of State, the Army, and the Navy. Donovan did not say "with the advice and consent" of those representatives; he said "advice and assistance." Here was a source of much argument, heated argument, and great difficulty from that time on.
Charged with the duty of collecting information and producing intelligence for the national defense, the central agency should have its own means of communication and of control over all secret activities, espionage and counterespionage, cryptanalysis, and subversive operations. It would have to use both vouchered and unvouchered funds. It would need as a matter of course a staff of specialists professionally trained in analysis, expert in languages, informed about particular regions, possessed of the many skills necessary to the working of so complicated an organization.
All of these essentials to a central intelligence service, General Donovan believed, he had in the Office of Strategic Services. There was no need to create a new agency. There would be only the task of adjusting the OSS to peacetime conditions and establishing it within the Executive Office of the President. The way to accomplish this now in the fall of 1944 would be an executive order replacing that of June 13, 1942, which had put the OSS under the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
There were conferences about the plan with the President's advisers in the White House. There were discussions with members of the committees of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to whom the proposal would be eventually referred. There were negotiations with representatives of the Foreign Economic Administration, the Bureau of the Budget, and the Department of State. For Donovan was well aware that there were many in the armed services and elsewhere who did not share his views and who had ideas of their own about the kind of intelligence service the country should have.
The Department of State in particular, as having the major interest in foreign policy, had begun to make provision for an intelligence service within its organization. Donovan had among his papers such a program dated September 30, 1944; he knew that members of the State Department were conferring with persons in the War Department, the Navy Department, and the Bureau of the Budget. And then there was the Federal Bureau of Investigation at work in Latin America as well as the continental United States, guarding its prerogatives and patrolling its jurisdiction. It was apparent that he must have his plan well in hand and properly explained in advance of its presentation to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
At this juncture, shortly after receiving from Donovan a preliminary draft, Roosevelt referred to him a different kind of proposal that had been submitted. The President did not give the name of its author, but Donovan knew that it came from John F. Carter, commentator and author known as "Jay Franklin." His plan had interest for opinions and purposes other than General Donovan's. It afforded Donovan an opportunity to speak his mind forcefully as usual and place credit where it was due.
Carter felt that "the British Intelligence" had already "penetrated" the Office of Strategic Services, whose usefulness after the war therefore would be impaired. The British would pursue their own ends; these might not be "synonymous" with American purposes. Carter offered to establish a less expensive and adequately camouflaged central office. He would use the foreign contacts of American businessmen for sources of information, working of course with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the intelligence services of the Army and Navy. He would leave the evaluation of reports to the State Department. Carter had formerly worked in the Department.
Donovan dismissed the suggestion. The author's thinking on intelligence, he said, was in the "horse and buggy stage." As for British penetration of the Office of Strategic Services, it was in fact cooperation from which OSS had greatly profited. He might have added that his organization was dependent upon British sources for much of its information. He declared that it had maintained its integrity. In point. of fact, he said, the President would be interested to know that "both our Allies and our enemies know less about our inner workings than we do about theirs."
No more was heard from Carter, unless he was one of those who were advocating the expansion of the Federal Bureau of Investigation into an intelligence service overseas. By November 7 word came from the White House to discourage that movement. The Bureau was to have no intelligence functions outside of the United States. But talk of it continued. Attorney General Biddle favored it in the spring of 1945. His successor, Tom Clark, proposed a similar measure in the fall of 1945. It was some time before the question was settled and the Bureau's agents finally withdrawn from Latin America.
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Invitation to Battle
Donovan's final draft of his plan for a "Permanent World-Wide Intelligence Service" went to the President on November 18, 1944. In it he stressed two requirements. Control of the system should return from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the President. There should be a central authority reporting directly to the President with responsibility for setting objectives and coordinating the material necessary in planning and executing "national policy and strategy." Though they were in the midst of war, he said, before they were aware of it they would be in the "tumult of rehabilitation." An orderly system of intelligence would contribute to informed decisions. They had in the government at the time the trained and specialized personnel needed for the task. This talent should not be dispersed.
In the draft of a directive which he enclosed, Donovan proposed that the board to "advise and assist" the director of this central intelligence service should consist of the Secretaries of State, War, and Navy and other members whom the President might subsequently appoint. This designation of the secretaries themselves is not to be overlooked. Donovan had no thought here of making the departmental chiefs of intelligence advisors to the director, unless of course they might happen to be named severally by the secretaries to sit in their places as deputies. We shall find later that the opponents of Donovan's plan advocated the use of the departmental chiefs of intelligence as an advisory board. We shall also find that General Donovan adhered to his idea that such a board of advice should be at the high level of the secretaries or their representatives.
The proposed executive order for the transfer of the Office of Strategic Services and the directive to accompany it, as finally drafted near the end of November 1944, contained the expected provision for national intelligence, carefully distinguishing it from the operational intelligence of the Departments. The directive laid plans for subversive operations abroad and for liaison with the intelligence agencies of foreign governments. It prohibited the use of any police power either at home or abroad. In addition, it called for the dissolution of all joint intelligence committees and agencies then operating under the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the War and Navy Departments. Their functions, personnel, and facilities were to be given over to the Office of Strategic Services. In time of war or unlimited national emergency, its operations were to be coordinated with military plans and subject to the approval of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; theatre commanders were to have control in their areas. Under other conditions, there were to be no geographical restrictions upon the operations of the Office of Strategic Services. These last provisions were certainly not designed to win friends in the Army, the Navy, or even the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Donovan's plan looked like an invitation to ordeal by battle before the Joint Chiefs of Staff. So it proved.
A memorandum from Magruder on November 22, 1944, had specifically urged that the executive order be precise and detailed. Otherwise, he said, the matter would not be "tied up"; the services would "worm out of generalities." The Joint Intelligence Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would fit into the plan, once the authority for it was obtained. It could of course remain responsible to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for correlating and evaluating military intelligence as such, though eliminated as a body having to do with the estimates for "national policy and strategy" which the Office of Strategic Services should provide.
General Donovan was ready by November 27 for the hearing before the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He wrote to General Marshall, Admiral King, and General Arnold of the Army, Navy, and Army Air Forces, to Lieutenant General Embick, chairman of the Joint Strategic Survey Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to Vice Admiral Horne, deputy of Admiral King as Chief of Naval Operations, to Secretary Stimson and Assistant Secretary McCloy of the War Department, to Secretary Forrestal and Assistant Secretary Bard of the Navy, and to Mr. James C. Dunn, the State Department's Officer of Foreign Affairs. To all of these ranking officers, heads of departments and their assistants, Donovan explained his plan for turning the OSS into a permanent central intelligence system and enclosed a copy of his final memorandum for the President of November 18, 1944. He reiterated again and again in these letters that he did not propose to interfere with the operational intelligence services of the departments nor seek any police functions for the central agency. It was to be a coordinating agency. As he closed this phase of the endeavor, General Donovan declared that it "might be well to capitalize on our errors of the past two years and put it into effect at once."
But this was not to happen. The FBI and the armed services accepted the invitation to combat vociferously and at length. Shouts of "Gestapo" echoed through the committees and Congress into the press and back again from far corners of the world. The Department of State proceeded with its own plan, aided and encouraged by the Bureau of the Budget and the Department of Justice. Another full year passed before a central intelligence service began to operate in times of peace, and then the Office of Strategic Services was no longer in existence.
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The scene of action shifted to the committees of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in December 1944 as General Donovan went abroad on a tour of inspection. Members of the Joint Intelligence Staff, working committee of the Joint Intelligence Committee, for some time had been dissatisfied with the system of collecting and appraising intelligence. They were discussing issues and problems among themselves in the hope that they might discover common ground for the Army and Navy, Department of State, Foreign Economic Administration, and Office of Strategic Services. The Donovan plan disturbed their thinking; it contained a provision agreeable to none of them. This, of course, was the idea that the Director of Central Intelligence should be immediately responsible to the President and subject only to advice from the departments. In the end, the Joint Intelligence Staff had reason to thank General Donovan. His thoughts were so great a shock to departmental minds that the members of the Staff got for their own suggestions an audience they otherwise might never have received from their superiors in the Joint Intelligence Committee.
A large part of the resistance to the Donovan plan in the meetings of the committees of the Joint Chiefs of Staff grew out of malice toward General Donovan himself. Some remarks were kept from the record, but enough of the bitterness came through to convince any reader that Donovan's proposal would not be accepted because it was his. There was, fortunately, also a body of criticism based upon honest and constructive disapproval. There was agreement too with many of his major principles.
Two separate proposals called for brevity's sake the "services plan" and the "civilian plan" emerged from the controversy. Both were influenced by the Donovan plan but rejected his provision that the head of the central intelligence agency should report directly to the President. They seriously modified, though they did not entirely remove, his concept of individual responsibility. As so well expressed during the argument in the prolonged meeting of the Joint Intelligence Committee on December 22, 1944, the issue lay between "the principle of coordination and the principle of chain of command."
The services plan placed authority jointly with the Secretaries of State, War, and the Navy, but did not elaborate upon their conduct as a board. The thought may simply have been that no one of them would be allowed by the others to have control; all three therefore should operate by unanimous consent. They could watch one another as each looked out for his own interests. The idea that this group should function as a whole, however, was inherent in the authority descending to the secretaries from the President. Authority is single; it is not divided when shared by several persons. The secretaries were individually responsible to the President. But he could assign tasks to them individually or collectively at his own pleasure. As indicated in the debate of the Joint Intelligence Committee, the assumption was logical that the three secretaries would function as a whole.
The real intent of the services plan seems nevertheless to have lain in the word "federal" as it was applied to the "Intelligence Directorate" designed to operate under the secretaries. This Directorate was to have a civilian head from the Department of State and deputies from the War and Navy Departments. It should have powers of inspection, coordination, and planning. It should have no administrative or operating functions; apparently these were to remain with the respective departments. A "single national intelligence service," according to this plan, was "undesirable."
Separate from the Directorate, however, there would be a joint intelligence service to conduct operations of "common concern" to the three departments and, it may be supposed, any other agency or department which had interests involved from time to time. Stress upon matters of common concern in this manner accentuated the desire to keep other interests of the departments distinctly their own concern.
Those who favored this plan, mostly representatives of the armed services, wished to have the Joint Intelligence Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff continue to provide intelligence estimates, or synthesis of departmental intelligence, on a "strategic level." From their point of view, the fact that the Department of State, the Foreign Economic Administration, and the Office of Strategic Services all had representation in the Joint Intelligence Committee made it possible and fairly easy to develop the committee into a national estimating board.
The "civilian plan" accepted Donovan's principles and methods for the most part. The proposed central intelligence agency for coordination and secret collection should operate with an independent budget. All departments, though maintaining their own operational intelligence, should make available to the central agency whatever materials the director might request. The central agency should have no police functions. In time of war it should come directly under the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
But the advocates of this plan did not make the director immediately responsible to the President. Though appointed by the President, he would be subject to the "direction and control" of the Secretaries of State, War, and the Navy sitting as a board of authority. In time of war a representative of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would also be a member of this board. A further exception to Donovan's plan appeared in the statement that the collection of intelligence, except by clandestine methods, should be the function of the existing agencies and not of the central service. Nor would the civilian plan allow the agency to engage in subversive operations abroad; these were not considered an appropriate function of the proposed intelligence service. We should note also that the civilian plan did not give to the central agency the power of inspection which the services plan had provided for its Directorate. Before he went abroad on December 26, General Donovan sent to President Roosevelt a memorandum upon these two proposals from the Joint Intelligence Staff. The plan of the military members, he said, evaded early action. Worse than that, it approached the problem of national intelligence from the departmental point of view, providing a minimum of centralization. He was surprised at the lack of understanding among responsible officers in the field of intelligence. They did not seem to comprehend, he said, the importance of a central service in which military and civilian experts would work together to synthesize all available information and to make estimates before the event of political or military developments. The plan of the civilians was another matter. It closely followed his own ideas. Its end in view was a complete system for producing estimates which should aid in the construction of national policy.
Donovan reported to the President that he had appeared at its request before the Joint Strategic Survey Committee, which advised the Joint Chiefs of Staff on political matters. He had done so with apparent willingness to entertain the idea in the plan of the civilians that there should be a board between the President and the director of the proposed central intelligence service. But there is no mistaking that he was unwilling at that time to make such a concession unless it were clearly understood that the director would be free to administer the affairs of the agency. He might be a general manager, with the secretaries over him as a board of directors. Put in colloquial language perhaps more accurately conveying the thought, this meant that the general manager might be hired and fired by the secretaries, but so long as he was in charge he was not to be bossed by them. Donovan was determined to get an agency in which there would be real centralization and coordination of the intelligence services under a single administrator ultimately responsible to the President.
The Joint Strategic Survey Committee reported in January along much the same line which Donovan had given to the President, but conveying the impression that he had been more willing to concede to the "advice and control" of the secretaries as proposed in the plan of the civilians. The Committee spoke of a diagram subsequently furnished by Donovan's office to comprehend the possibility of an "Intelligence Directing Board" over the Director.
The difference in interpretation did not lay General Donovan's statement open to question. It put different emphasis upon the possibilities of the future. The position which he took now anticipated the practical situation of the Director of Central Intelligence under the National Security Council. Although by the 1947 Act of Congress the Council had authority over the Director and the Agency, the Director had frequent access to the President. His responsibility to the President in actual working conditions was often immediate and direct. President Truman used the Agency as his personal information service.
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Convergence and Crash
Pressure from above seems to have come upon the representatives of the armed services in the Joint Intelligence Committee. The long meeting of December 22, 1944, had ended in agreement that the Joint Intelligence Staff should go over the plans and perfect them. No hope was expressed that they ever could be consolidated into one. The idea appears nevertheless to have lurked in the atmosphere; and when the representative of the Army suggested that his subordinate on the Joint Intelligence Staff should help the authors of the "civilian plan" to perfect their inadequate proposals, results came fast.
Within a week there was a single plan which had the merits of General Donovan's original concepts coupled with specific provision that the Secretaries of State, War, and the Navy with the Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief (Admiral Leahy) should constitute a National Intelligence Authority. Later the fourth member was changed to be simply a representative of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Unmistakably intended to function as a whole, the National Intelligence Authority would be charged with responsibility for all federal intelligence activities related to the national security. Under it there was to be established a Central Intelligence Agency headed by a Director who should be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Authority.
As a body of advisers to the Director, there was to be set up a board consisting of the heads of the intelligence services of the Army, Navy, Department of State, and other agencies concerned with the national security. This advisory board would be subordinated to the National Intelligence Authority by the directive which established it. Its members, of course, were severally responsible to their secretaries. There was no indication in the plan that the advisory board was to dictate to the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. It was to be only a means for conveying advice from the intelligence officers of the departments.
Thus the members of the Joint Intelligence Staff, with a good deal of independent thinking and inspiration as well as external pressure, arrived at the principles for a national system of intelligence which took account of conflicting interests and yet centralized controls under an authority receiving its power from the Chief Executive of the United States.
The Joint Strategic Survey Committee reported to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on January 18, 1945, that the plan of the Joint Intelligence Staff, now the proposal of the Joint Intelligence Committee, was superior to General Donovan's plan. His would "overcentralize" the intelligence service. It would subject the departmental intelligence agencies to central control without making that control responsible either to the head of a single department or to the heads of all of the departments as a body. The plan of the Joint Intelligence Committee, on the other hand, would hold the Central Intelligence Agency within bounds set by the secretaries in the National Intelligence Authority.
The Joint Strategic Survey Committee accepted the provision in the new plan that the Central Intelligence Agency should have the power to inspect the operations of the departmental intelligence agencies in connection with its planning function. But to make certain that the use of this power should not jeopardize military operations the JSSC amended the plan so that the Authority and the Agency under it should be responsible for protecting "intelligence sources and methods" which had direct and important bearing upon "military operations." Military men evidently did not at that time object to inspection if it were accompanied by a duty to protect military operations. Restriction came later upon the right of inspection. In addition, it was separated from the responsibility of the Director of Central Intelligence to guard sources and methods of intelligence from unauthorized exposure.
Essential features of the Central Intelligence Agency were clearly in view during the month of January 1945 before the conference at Yalta, the surrender of Germany, and the collapse of Japan. The national system of intelligence, however: was not to come into operation in time of war, when a people is, more easily governed, it is said, than in time of peace. Donovan's plan was released to the public by someone who has yet to confess. Circumstantial evidence narrowed suspicion to two or three who might have violated the secrecy of the documents. Motive for doing so could easily be found in hatred. Donovan and his Office of Strategic Services had bitter enemies. But no useful purpose is served in speculations here.
On February 9, 1945, the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Times Herald simultaneously produced Donovan's memorandum to the President and proposal. There were headlines and editorials on a "super-spy system," "bigger and better spying," and "police state." There were interviews with Congressmen who obliged with accusations of "super-Gestapo" and the like. Then the plan of the Joint Intelligence Committee got into the same newspapers. This rather successfully destroyed the insinuations that Donovan and Roosevelt were establishing a personal regime. But the exposure seemed to dismay the President and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or possibly they were glad of an excuse to set the whole question aside.
Reports from the Yalta Conference sent "super-spy" off the front pages immediately. The American public was much more interested in news of the troops driving into Germany. Had the Joint Chiefs of Staff wished to settle the issue at that time, they might have completed their study in secret session without much attention from the public and put aside the resulting plan for establishment later. Instead, they recalled their papers on Donovan's proposal and the plan of the Joint Intelligence Committee. They made some effort to discover who had released the papers. Donovan persisted in trying to find out, and he continued to urge acceptance of his plan for a central intelligence system. Others who seemed really to care were few.
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Revival and Relapse
On April 5, shortly before his death, President Roosevelt sent a brief note asking Donovan to call together the chiefs of intelligence and security units in the various executive agencies so that a consensus might be obtained regarding a central intelligence service. It must have seemed like going back to the beginning and starting again, but General Donovan was nothing if not persistent. He sent letters the very next day to the secretaries and heads of agencies as suggested, with a statement of his principles, a copy of the President's note, and another copy of his memorandum for the President of November 18, 1944.
To judge from the replies, these familiar proposals were a new idea to some of the officials who received them. The objectives were not "sufficiently clear" to permit the Secretary of the Treasury on April 12 to express a "firm opinion"; but Henry Morgenthau was certain that the burdens upon the President were already too heavy for him to be directly responsible for the proposed central intelligence agency. Roosevelt died that day. Postmaster General Walker advised Donovan that "it must be clear that any government intelligence service outside the Post Office Department must operate through the Post Office Department and recognize the absolute jurisdiction of this Department." This must have been a new notion to General Donovan.
Secretary Wickard was content with the existing arrangements between the Department of Agriculture and the Department of State. He saw no reason for a separate office to coordinate intelligence on foreign conditions and developments. Additional coordination of such intelligence he believed could be and in fact was being secured through the Bureau of the Budget. Another original view: Donovan had received much from the Bureau of the Budget on financial matters, plans, programs, but nothing worth the name of foreign intelligence.
Attorney General Biddle replied with terse comment reflecting the interests of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He was satisfied with existing arrangements for the exchange of intelligence among the Bureau, the Office of Naval Intelligence, and the Military Intelligence Service of the Army. He did not wish any change in the "middle of the war," nor did he believe that Congress would grant an appropriation for such a purpose. The intelligence service "should be organized quietly and not in the manner suggested." He favored the idea of a policy committee consisting of representatives from the agencies chiefly concerned--State, War, Navy, Justice, and the Office of Strategic Services. The Attorney General's reply could have left no doubt where he stood. It may have recalled Carter's proposal to President Roosevelt in the preceding fall, the one General Donovan had placed in the "horse and buggy stage."
Secretary Ickes replied that the central intelligence service would be a handicap to his Department of the Interior if it were to foreclose in any manner the ability of the Department's bureaus to secure intelligence from any source, domestic or foreign, which concerned matters under his jurisdiction. To Ickes, General Donovan replied that he need have no concern: one of the principle objectives of the agency would be to coordinate intelligence for the very purpose of facilitating and increasing the flow of material to the departments.
For the Department of Labor, Secretary Perkins- replied that she could not support the proposal to create an "Intelligence Officer reporting directly to the President." She favored keeping the State Department above any other agency in coordinating foreign intelligence except the "narrowly defined military subjects." She favored improved arrangements among the Secretaries of State, War, and the Navy, so that there would be no gaps and no need for coordination by some officer reporting directly to the President.
The reply of Stimson, Secretary of War, on May 1, 1945, was the most significant. General Donovan's plan had received careful consideration in the War Department. It was in entire agreement with his objective. It differed with regard to methods. From Stimson's point of view, responsibility should not be separated from the authority to discharge that responsibility. Security against foreign aggression was the primary concern of the Secretary of State, Secretary of War, and Secretary of the Navy. All responsibility, therefore, should remain with them. Donovan's intelligence service, moreover, would subject the operations of departmental intelligence to control outside the respective departments. This was not advisable. Secretary Stimson agreed that coordination must be attained, but he did not think that "the coordinating authority should engage in operations." The inevitable tendency, he declared, would be to expand its operating functions at the expense of the agencies which had the responsibilities for operations in intelligence.
Secretary Stimson's position was clear. The methods of coordination and what combined operations were necessary should be determined by the heads of the departments controlling the operating agencies. This coordination was one of the matters to be considered in the general problem of a single Department of Defense. In short, Secretary Stimson did not wish an independent agency with a separate budget. In any event, he said, the Departments of State, War, Justice, and the Navy had examined together the proposed central intelligence service; they were in substantial agreement that it should not be considered before the end of hostilities against Germany and Japan. This statement gave further evidence that the armed services had been more pleased than dismayed in February when the Donovan plan got into the news.
General Magruder advised Donovan that the letter from Stimson left two courses of action. Either he could try to develop political pressures upon President Truman that were stronger than the influence of the four Departments, or he might compromise his cherished idea of independence from them in order to obtain immediate action. Magruder knew that he was recommending to Donovan a pet abomination in suggesting compromise, but he felt that it would win over many high-ranking officials in the Army, Navy, and the Department of State. It would eliminate the Federal Bureau of Investigation from consideration. It would make the situation less difficult for the President. If it won his support, "he could restore large powers to the director" later in executive orders.
General Donovan, however, would keep trying. He had found some encouragement in the interest of the State Department after the latest version of the so-called compromise plan had come from the Joint Strategic Survey Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He had been pleased, too, that Admiral Horne had requested a copy of the Joint Intelligence Committee's final paper, presumably for study and report to Admiral King. Donovan had cabled from London that he would like to have his deputies at home pursue these opportunities. They should keep in mind as they discussed the matter that so far as he was concerned the ultimate interests of the country required that the responsibility should be vested in the President and not "diffused through intermediate echelons."
Donovan replied to Secretary Stimson on May 16. The secretaries were to provide for security against aggression. It was their primary concern. But that did not give them the right, said Donovan, to exercise exclusive control over the proposed central intelligence agency. That was the responsibility of the President, who was Commander in Chief in peace as well as in war; the "authority of decision" resided in him. Policy was necessarily dependent upon intelligence. To make that decision, the President was entitled to an intelligence service free from domination by one or any group of the departments. Secretary Stimson's reply, however, had been made on behalf of the Administration. Nothing further was to be done after General Eisenhower took the surrender of the Germans on May 7 until plans had been carried out for the overwhelming defeat of Japan. The atomic bomb was tested at Alamogordo on July 16.
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Liquidation for OSS
After the surrender of Germany the House Appropriations Committee inquired whether General MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz wished to use the Office of Strategic Services in the Pacific war. For the Joint Chiefs of Staff, without personal comment, Admiral Leahy replied on May 25 and 27, 1945, by quoting from messages of Admiral Nimitz and Generals MacArthur, Sultan, and Wedemeyer in the Far East and also from Generals McNarney and Eisenhower concerning Europe.
General Sultan, in the India-Burma Theater, said that OSS had furnished most effective assistance but was no longer needed. Its present functions would be "more economically and efficiently" accomplished within the War and Navy Departments "through normal command channels." Admiral Nimitz answered that use of OSS in the Pacific had been very limited. In his "considered opinion," better results could be obtained if its tasks were "reassigned to the War and Navy Departments."
General MacArthur's view on the matter was as definite, and characteristic: "No statement," he said, "has emanated from this headquarters nor so far as known from this area in comment on OSS. Any items that may have appeared in the press along this line must be regarded as speculative conjecture. The OSS has not up to the present time operated within this area, I know little of its methods, have no control of its agencies, and consequently have no plans for its future employment." Donovan considered this a "very fair statement" from MacArthur's own point of view.
General Eisenhower wrote that the future of OSS in the European Theater would be subject to certain contingencies. It would be confined of course to the functions of an intelligence-gathering and counterespionage organization. Complete control of its activities by each theater commander would be essential to efficient and smooth operations. But its value in the European Theater would "continue to be very high."
General McNarney reported that OSS had done an "outstanding job" in Italy. So long as conditions there, in Austria, and in the Balkans remained unstable, it was essential to continue its secret intelligence work in that theater. Its staff in the Mediterranean area could be reduced, but he specifically recommended that trained OSS personnel be re-deployed to the Pacific.
General Wedemeyer declared that OSS's potential value in the China Theater was high. It was training twenty commando groups and intelligence teams there. These and others already trained were to be charged with "responsible missions in direct support of contemplated future plans." According to Donovan's memory, they might have accomplished much to appraise the situation in Manchuria before the atomic bomb was used in Japan.
The opinions of such commanders as Nimitz and MacArthur, however, were likely to have more influence in this country than Wedemeyer's plans for the China Theater. After the atomic bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there was little point to arguing the need for OSS activity in China. If the mood of the American people prevailed, there was going to be no theater of war in China.
It may be harder to govern in time of peace than in time of war. It is more difficult still to control a people turning from war to peace. Public relaxation in America with the news from Tokyo Bay took on the aspects of an orgy; the treatment of gasoline rationing that summer's evening, August 14, 1945, was but one response of a people cherishing the belief that government draws its just powers from the consent of the governed. More ominous was the rush to disban America's forces. The fleet went into mothballs for a possibility which later became fact in Korean waters. But there were too many instances where demobilization meant disintegration. Personnel disappeared beyond recall. The ruin of much valuable organization was complete.
The Bureau of the Budget, obliged by the nature of its office, to peer into the costs of future events, quickly sensed the change in the American mood following Japan's surrender. Replacing the notice which he had sent on July 17 in regard to expenditures for war, Director Smith of the Bureau advised General Donovan on August 25, 1945, that the "overriding consideration" now in estimating budgets for 1947 would be to retain full employment and to resume the social and economic progress which had been interrupted by the war. To this end, there would be no expansion of present "peace-time activities" unless it were to contribute to the "reconversion process and the expansion of industry and trade."
The Office of Strategic Services was a wartime enterprise with no "peacetime activities" established in the past. In short, although Mr. Smith did not say so, it looked as though General Donovan were going to have a very hard time maintaining his independent agency, whatever happened to its indispensable functions. The Bureau of the Budget itself had been studying for months the problems of an intelligence system and had a plan of its own to propose.
Donovan strove to keep his organization intact. He wrote on September 4 to Samuel Rosenman in the White House that it was absurd to allocate different segments of its function to different departments. The Office of Strategic Services had been established "as an entity, every function supporting and supplementing the other." It was time "to grow up" and realize that the new responsibilities of the American people required "an adequate intelligence system."
The expectation of the American people, however, was clearly that expenditure for war would be stopped with the fighting, and the "boys brought home." Apparently the mood of the Negro spiritual was rather general that there would be "no war, no more." There would be no place now in American policy for sabotage, psychological warfare, and guerrilla tactics. Whatever services were necessary in peacetime for the collection of information and the coordination of intelligence might be had within the established Departments of State, War, and the Navy, as so many of the Cabinet officers had written to Donovan in the spring. The Office of Strategic Services should be closed.
Responsible observers took stock as the OSS went out of existence. For the first time in the history of the United States, there had been established an organized network of espionage and counterespionage operating in Europe, North Africa, the Near and Middle East, and the Far East. American scholars had been mobilized to supplement current information with comprehensive surveys and to blend them into intelligence reports for the policymakers of the Government. OSS had demonstrated the usefulness of a central body to process materials from every source of information. Its experiences indicated that a single authority ought to have charge of collecting secret information outside of the United States. Cooperation with the agencies of other governments left much still to be desired, but the value of the endeavor had been shown. The Office of Strategic Services had closely associated secret intelligence with covert operations, economic intrusion, and other subversive practices. The latter perhaps could have been kept separate and administered in a "Department of Dirty Tricks." The immovable fact was that the two were complementary. Each seemed to work better when associated with the other. But the problem of their articulation was not yet solved.
President Truman praised General Donovan on September 20, 1945, for exceptional leadership in a wartime activity. More than this, he could say that General Donovan retired to private life with the reward of knowing that the intelligence services of the government for times of peace were being erected upon the foundations which he had laid in the Office of Strategic Services. It went out of existence as a wartime expedient commended for many accomplishments. It was entitled to the greater praise of close study by those who had charge of creating and administering the organization which succeeded it.
1 With slight adaptations and the omission of documentation, this article reproduces Chapter I of a history of the Central Intelligence Agency to 1950 completed by the author in 1953.
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