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Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 C06122498Challenge and ControversyIntelligence Production During The Helms RegimeRussell Jack Smith46Richard Helms's career tothis point had beenexclusively in theDirectorate of Plans, andthere was concern that hemight, like Allen Dulles,give estimates secondaryranking in his priorities.99Russell Jack Smith served as DeputyDirector for Intelligence during Rich-ard Helms's tenure as DCI.(b)(3)(c)Editor's Note: The following articleoriginally appeared as a chapter in thebiography of Richard Helms that waspublished by CIA's History Staff in1993. The author abridged it for Stud-ies in Intelligence.When Richard Helms became DCIon 30 June 1966, he took commandof a mature, smoothly functioningorganization for producing finishedintelligence. Most of this intelligencewas disseminated to the Presidentand his foreign policy advisers in oneof two ways: through formalNational Intelligence Estimates(NIEs), or in various publications ofthe Directorate of Intelligence (DI),ranging from daily periodicals suchas The President's Daily Brief to long-range, in-depth studies of political,economic, and strategic develop-ments worldwide' (b)(3)(C)  Then as now, these two forms of pro-duction were not mutually exclusivein either subject or scope. For exam-ple, in dealing with the primarypreoccupation of the period, theVietnam war, Helms used both meth-ods to provide intelligence supportfor the planning and implementationof policy. NIEs, usually thought tobe broad in scope, on occasionaddressed short-range, contingentmatters, while DI memorandumsundertook the analysis of long-rangetrends.l(b)(3)(c)  By June 1966, the Office of NationalEstimates (ONE) was in its 16thyear and had become entrenched bypersonnel and procedures that datedback to the Eisenhower administra-tion. Under the leadership ofSherman Kent, ONE consisted of aApproved for Release: 2014/07/29 C06122498(b)(3)(c)board of senior officers and a staff of25 generalists. ONE followed a rou-tinized procedure for producingNIEs. The staff prepared a draft,based in part on contributions fromintelligence analysts in the Depart-ments of State and Defense. Theboard then reviewed, amended, andapproved it and sent it to be coordi-nated word for word with the otherdepartments. The draft was for-warded to the DCI for approval andfinally presented to the United StatesIntelligence Board (USIB)?a seniorpanel of representatives from the vari-ous intelligence agencies?forcoordination, final approval, and dis-tribution. The process normally tookweeks, but at special request could hereduced to days or even hour5(b)(3)(c)1By the mid-1960s subjects of theNIEs had become fixed by customestablished during the Eisenhoweradministration, when NIEs wereoften prepared as annexes to policypapers for the National SecurityCouncil (NSC). Some NIEs, particu-larly those dealing with the USSR,were done annually; others every twoor three years. By 1966, ONE wasproducing about 60 NIEs annually,of which about 75 percent were pro-grammed in advance and 25 percentdealt with emergent conditim(b)(3)(C)1Richard Helms's career to this pointhad been exclusively in the Director-ate of Plans (now designated theDirectorate of Operations), andthere was concern that he might, likeAllen Dulles, give estimates second-ary ranking in his priorities. Butfrom the outset Helms took an activeinterest in the quality and timelinessof NIEs. At his second chairing of.....setvr 93 Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 C06122498Intelligence ProductionUSIB, he complemented ONE onthe timeliness of NIE 14.3-66,"North Vietnam's Military Potentialfor Fighting in South Vietnam," not-ing that this subject was ofmaximum interest to policy peopleat the moment.' At a subsequentmeeting he marked on how well arecent Panama estimate had held upDI produced an array of publicationsranging from daily periodicals toencyclopedic country surveys.Within the DI, the Office of Cur-rent Intelligence (OCI) played themajor role in production. Other pro-ducing offices were EconomicResearch (OER), Strategic Research(OSR), and Basic and Geographicduring a White House discuss(b)(3)(c)i Intelligence (OBGI).[(b)(3)(C)DCI Helms valued NIEs primarilyfor their timeliness. Their usual longleadtimes did not always make esti-mates emerge at the moment theywere urgently needed. He constantlystruggled to minimize this problem.Once, he told ONE that a paper onJordan was too urgently needed topermit normal coordinationprocedure.2 Later, he prodded Kentto expedite NIE 11-8-67, "SovietAdvanced Weapons Systems," becauseSecretary of Defense RobertMcNamara had requested its earlydelivery.' The relative sluggishnessand inflexibility of the NIE produc-tion process caused Helms in hislater years to turn more to othermodes of production and communi-cation (b)(3)(c)Within the DI, research and analyticskill had matured by 1966 to a levelthat gave CIA acknowledged preemi-nence in intelligence production. Inthe early years of the Agency, thishad not been true, and coordinationwith the intelligence units of Stateand Defense had often improvedpapers. This shift in the balance ofanalytic expertise, combined with thequick, pointed response of CIA inter-nal production, led Helms to turnincreasingly to CIA papers to meetWhite House and NSC nee(b)(3)(c)1The DI served as the primaryspokesman for the Agency. As theproduction workhorse of CIA, the94 ....isiala?????By 1966, the Vietnam war hadbecome a major US undertaking,and CIA intelligence production per-taining to key issues in the conflictbecame crucial. Most CIA reportingand analysis was considerably lesspositive than the prevailing views ofPresident Johnson and the adminis-tration Early in Helms's tenure, astudy was done in response to arequest from Secretary McNamarafor an estimate of North Vietnamesewill to continue fighting. Titled "TheWill to Persist," the study came to thepessimistic conclusion that USefforts in Vietnam as currentlyplanned were not likely to deter theNorth Vietnamese nor slacken theireffort in the foreseeable future.Despite this unwelcome message,Johnson commended the memoran-dum as a "first-rate job" andrequested Helms to brief three keysenators?Mansfield, Fulbright, andRussell?on its contents, Helms laterconcluded that the study failed toalter any senatorial positions: Ful-bright vociferously maintained thestruggle was a civil war; Mansfieldwas noncommittal but thought thestudy "thorough and objective"; andRussell said he shared the study'sconclusions.'  (b)(3)(c)  In this same period, McNamararequested the DDI to undertake anal-ysis of the effectiveness of ROLLINGTHUNDER, the US bombing pro-gram over North Vietnam. AlthoughApproved for Release: 2014/07/29 C06122498first-class competence in logisticsexisted in OER, this was a remark-able request for a Secretary ofDefense to make of a civilian agency,and I felt obliged to ask McNamarawhether he wished to have the studycoordinated with the Pentagon."No," he said, "I already know whatthe Air Force believes. I want toknow what your smart guys think."L(b)(3)(c)  Like the study on Vietnamesemorale, the ROLLING THUNDERmemorandum arrived at a pessimis-tic conclusion: CIA logistics analysisdemonstrated that ROLLINGTHUNDER was not significant inslowing the flow of men and materielinto South Vietnam. McNamara wasso impressed with the quality of theanalysis that he asked the ROLLINGTHUNDER assessment be repeatedon a quarterly basis. Successor stud-ies continued, with Helms's backing,to declare unflinchingly that ROLL-ING THUNDER was failing in itsobjective, ultimately judging that theNorth Vietnamese had succeeded inthe teeth of the bombing program toimprove their ability to move mate-riel south by five times.r(b)(3)(c)  In September 1967, CIA analysts pro-duced another highly controversial studyon the war in Indochina this time a sensi-tive, tightly held memorandum written byJohn W. Huizenga, chairman of the Boardof National Estimates, and titled "Implica-tions ofan Unfavorabk Outcome inVietnam. "This study spelled out the viewdominant among CIA analysts that a US?South Vietnamese defeat did not neeeceir-ily mean a collapse of the rest of non-Communist Southeast Asia. In taking thisposition, Huizenga was both maintaining along-held Agency position and challengingthe so-called domino theory.r(b)(3)(c)   Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 C06122498The sharpest controversy over a Viet-nam issue arose over the differencesbetween the military, especially thecommand in Saigon, and CIA overthe strength of the enemy force. Thiscame to a head in 1967 during thepreparation of an estimate, SNIE14.3-67, "Capabilities of the VietnamCommunists for Fighting in SouthVietnam." The sources of the differ-ences in judgment were many andcomplex, and they included differinginterpretations of equivocal evidence,varying definitions of enemy organi-zational structure and order-of-battlecategories, and differing concepts ofthe war itself. Such controversieswere not new, but it was unprece-dented for a civilian, Washington-based intelligence unit to take issuewith an American army fighting inthe field over the size and composi-tion of the enemy forces that armyfaced. By tradition, assessing theenemy's order of battle was a strictly  military responsibility.(b)(3)(C)  DI analysts had wrestled with mili-tary analysts for months before thepreparation of SNIE 14.3-67. Helmshad been made aware of the contro-versy at the outset of his tenure. Twoweeks after becoming DCI, heordered CIA components to reviewand improve their procedure formaintaining Vietnam statistics. Sixmonths later, he urged great care inproducing figures on Vietnam.6 Butthe controversy continued, and inJune 1967, Helms directed the DDIto sort our and rationalize differencesbetween CIA and DIA on the num-ber of defections and recruits inVietnam, one of the points ofdisagreement.IL(b)(3)(c)  By July 1976, the disagreement wasfull blown and seemingly irreconcil-able. It centered around the numberof non-main-force units (that is,The sharpest controversyover a Vietnam issue aroseover the differencesbetween the military,especially the command inSaigon, and CIA over thestrength of the enemyforce.,9guerrillas, people's militia, part-timecombatants). The military's estimatewas roughly half as large as CIA's.The DDT based its estimates of non-main-force strength largely on thework of Samuel Adams, who siftedfigures from a large volume of low-grade material, such as interrogationsof prisoners of war. 8 L(b)(3)(c)  In early July 1967, Helms orderedSNIE 14.3-67 withdrawn fromUSIB consideration and remandedfor further work.' The controversybetween Washington and Saigonremained unresolved for the rest ofJuly and much of August. A newdraft of the SNIE emerged againwith the wide-open split retained.Helms felt that a split of this dimen-sion was not useful. He ordered thedraft withdrawn from USIB onceagain and ordered work to be sus-pended while a team of analysts wentto Saigon to make one more attemptto find agreement with MACV.George Carver, DCI Special Assis-tant for Vietnam Affairs, headed aSecretIntelligence Productionthe way we do." There also were dif-ferences over nomenclature. To CIAanalysts, a guerrilla was any personengaged in part-time military activ-ity. To MACV analysts, a guerrillawas a person in a military unit subor-dinate to a provincial or regionalcommittee. Added to that, 'spongy"evidence, especially that based onPOW interrogations, offered varyinginterpretations. u'L(b)(3)(C)  Progress toward agreement was slow.There was little disagreement onmain-force numbers, but the irregu-lar numbers remained in dispute,with the CIA holding to a numbernearly double that of MACV. At thispoint, Carver proposed to Helmsthat he meet privately with Gen. Wil-liam Westmoreland, commander ofMACV, and offer a compromise for-mulation. Helms instructed Carverto proceed according to his own bestjudgment.r(b)(3)(C)In a private session, Carver proposedthat the estimate should break theorder of battle into three parts. First,for main-force units where there waslittle dispute, a single figure wouldbe given. Second, for those ancillarycomponents for which there wassome hard evidence but not enoughto support a single figure, a range ofnumbers would be used, such as"between 20 thousand and 40 thou-sand." Finally, those components forwhich the evidence was too soft toprovide an agreed figure would beteam of CIA and DIA analysts(b)(3)(c)]described in words, not numbers.Westmoreland bought this proposal,and agreement on strength figuresfor SNIE 14.3-67 had finally beenreached.The Saigon discussions?"prettywarm and pretty bloody," in Carver'swords?disclosed that much of thedisagreement derived from differingconcepts about Vietnamese militaryorganizations. As Carver laterexplained, "The Vietnamese simplydo not wire together their structureApproved for Release: 2014/07/29 C06122498(b)(3)(c)The dispute between CIA andMACV had been so protracted thatmuch of official Washington wasaware of it. President Johnson,?same 95 Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 C06122498...SeverIntelligence Productionimpatient, asked Carver, "Can't youpeople get together? You're all deal-ing with the same pool of evidence,aren't you?" But the dispute was notan idle bureaucratic rumpus. The dif-fering numbers supported differentviews of the state of the war.MACV's numbers suggested thatprogress had been made, while CIA'snumbers indicated that a large man-power pool remained untouched.Despite presidential impatience,Helms received no pressure from anysource to conform to the military'sestimates, As Helms explains,"Johnson, and McNamara particu-larly, had confidence in what wewere trying to do."" Even so, Helmsfelt a strong obligation to arrive at anagreed figure the White House andthe Secretary of Defense could usefor fighting the war. The Westmore-land-Carver compromise, whichHelms endorsed, brought that agree-ment. f(b)(3)(c)  In retrospect, it seems that it wouldhave been simplistic and intellectuallydishonest to insist that the higher CIAfigure for irregular forces was carvedin granite, based as it was on flimsyevidence and a complex methodology.As to a suggestion that Helmstrimmed his judgment on the matter,Carver says, "I never knew him to66It was an acutelyembarrassing moment forthe DCI, and the entireepisode served to reinforcethe negative impression theNixon administration heldof CIA analysis.,9bers for irregular units, and it wasonly after a change of administrationand numerous sharp exchanges thatconsensus was reached. In July 1970,Helms instructed me to send a mem-orandum with the agreed numbers toHenry Kissinger with a copy flaggedfor President Nixon." (b)(3)(c)Another sharp disagreement betweenCIA and MACV on a Vietnam-related issue occurred regarding Cam-bodia. In July the White Housecalled for improved intelligence col-lection on Vietnam and Cambodia.14Helms pushed for intensified effortsto shore up the "flimsiness" of theAgency's intelligence on these twocountries.15 White House discontentwith the Agency's performance cameto a head over the issue of theamount of war materiel movingthrough Sihanoukville into SouthVietnam. The OER analysts who hadtrim on a judgment, and certainly ... done superb work on ROLLINGnever did he direct me to trim. (b)(3)(c) JTHUNDER were now working onthe Sihanoukville problem and, onceagain, CIA and MACV went head tohead. As with the Vietnam irregularnumbers problem, the intelligencereports available were of poor quality.Guided in parr by the judgment thatthe flow down the Ho Chi MinhTrail was approximately sizableenough to account for the enemymateriel in South Vietnam, DI ana-lysts arrived at a tonnage figure forSihanoukville approximately halfMACV's figure.f(b)(3)(c)The publication of SNIE 14.3-67marked the end of a battle but notthe end of the war. During active dis-cussions between CIA and DIA inMarch 1968, CIA maintained theposition that in the quasipoliticalwar in Vietnam it was essential to-'-base enemy enemy strength estimates on"the organized opposition," asCarver dubbed it, as opposed to clas-sic order-of-battle numbers. MACVcontinued to oppose the higher num-96 ?Sseige4--Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 C06122498Helms had been aware of the contro-versy which had begun during thelast year of the Johnson administra-tion. Both Carver and I had beeninstructed to make special efforts dur-ing visits to Saigon to find commonground with MACV. We discoveredthat the military analysts were usingmaterials identical with those inWashington and that those analystswere modest to the point of beingtentative about their high figure. TheCIA leadership therefore decidedthat the OER figure was the bestthat could be established from suchinferior materials.f(b)(3)(c)  The matter remained in this st(b)(1 (b)(3)(C) warehouse recordslisting Communist shipmentsreceived. These records showed thattonnage flowing into Sihanoukvilleand thence into South Vietnam wastwice that of the CIA figure, orabout that predicted by the MA(b)(1)analysts. I reported this new (b)(3)(n)o Helms in liteJuly 1970 and pointed out that thisbrought into question the CIA ton-nage estimates for Sihanouk-vine.OER immediately revised its figures,incorporating the new reports, andHelms delivered the new study toKissinger, together with an explana-tion of the analytic methodologyapplied. (b)(3)(c)  It was an acutely embarrassingmoment for the DCI, and the entireepisode served to reinforce the nega-tive impression the Nixonadministration held of CIA analysis.To Nixon, Kissinger, and Secretaryof Defense Laird, it seemed CIA hadmade a negative assessment of ROLL-ING THUNDER, and now hadonly belatedly agreed with adminis-tration's view of the importance ofSihanoukville. The tendentiousnessuntil Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 C06122498of this pattern seemed obvious topolitical figures who were prone toregard anyone outside the WhiteHouse coterie as partisan. In theatmosphere of the early 1970s, thisdemonstration of CIA fallibilitybecame an indictment of CIA integ-rity.j(b)(3)(c)  Throughout this episode, Helmskept his confidence in the objectivityand competence of his analysts. Noreprimands were made for poor per-formance. The integrity of OERanalysts was amply demonstratedby their immediate and completeabout-face when solid evidence cameto hand. Helms speaks of the episodephilosophically:Obviously, I was not pleasedabout Sihanoukville....Butyou've got to take the good withthe bad. Anyone who goes intothe intelligence business, I think,goes into it with a recognitionthat God did not give prescienceto human beings.. , .And there-fore you've got to assume thatyou're going to make a lot of badcalls, particularly if you havecourage and really reach outthere.16r(b)(3)(c)Nonetheless, the damage was lasting.As Carver comments, Helms "wasvulnerable because in any futuremajor controversy where he reallyheld the line, he would vulnerableto: "Yes, but that's what you saidabout Sihanoulcville." i(b)(3)(c)Throughout his tenure, Helmsinvolved himself with a steady streamof NIEs on sensitive matters. In April1967, he emphasized to USIB mem-bers that US base rights overseas werecurrently of great interest to theadministration. '8 In October, heapplauded the timely completion ofNIE 11-8-67, "Soviet Capabilities forStrategic Attack," characterizing it "avery good paper and importantdocument." 19 That same month, hereferred to NIE 31-67, "India'sDomestic Prospects," as highly usefulfor the PL-490 (Food for Peace) dis-cussions then in progress and orderedprompt distribution to the Secretaryof Agriculture and other officials.26He also commended NIE 80/90,"Potential for Revolution in SouthAmerica," for its clear, lively languageand its wide range of consensus on asubject so broac121 and praised NIE13-9-68, "Short-Term Outlook inCommunist China" as a ood job on adifficult problem." 22 (b)(3)(c)It was Helms's persistent tendency tojudge estimates by their responsive-ness to the current concerns of top-level officials while the Board ofNational Estimates concentrated onpreprogrammed estimates. Withtheir long preparation times, esti-mates often dealt with issues of onlysecondary concern to policy people.Among the 60 or so estimates pro-duced each year, there wouldinevitable be a number of only per-functory interest to top echelons.The Board felt that its papers couldplay a satisfactory role in the supportof US policy at several levels of theprocess, beginning with the individ-ual bureaus in the Department ofState. Helms was content that suchsupport should continue, but hestrongly believed that the mostimportant job for national estimateswas to provide timely illumination ofproblems for top people making keydecisions. Here was where maximumimpact and the greatest service couldbe provided:I tried to give the President, theVice President, and the CabinetApproved for Release: 2014/07/29 C06122498--BeerIntelligence Productionthe impression that the Agencywas there to be use/id, to be ofservice, to be helpful I did mydamnedest, as a result ofdemands placed on the see to it they were carriedout and that the Agency put itsbest foot forward and the papersproduced in a timely fashion...this is what we were in businessfor, and we were going to do thisthe best we could. 23r(b)(3)(c)From the beginning. Helms estab-lished a pattern of alerting seniorofficers at his daily morning meet-ings of the issues on the minds of thePresident and members of the NSC.He repeatedly requested the DDI,ONE, or DDS&T to prepare studiesto meet urgent needs. Once, headvised ONE that the White Housefelt keen concern over Soviet inten-tions regarding disarmament andrequested a paper on the subject.Another time, he urged that atten-tion be focused on the likelysituation in Southeast Asia after thewar's conclusion. These efforts byHelms to seek out the current andemergent concerns of key peoplepeaked during the final 18 monthsof the Johnson administration, whenHelms received unprecedented accessto the White House inner circle.During the Nixon administration,this trend declined steadily despiteHelms's best efforts to maintain it.L(b)(3)(c)  Nixon White House and CIA rela-tions, never entirely amicable,became extremely testy during an epi-sode that occurred in September1969 involving a difference of judg-ment between CIA and the Pentagonover the capabilities of a new SovietICBM, designated the 55-9. In1969, the Nixon administration was?Seer 97 Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 C06122498?Serer--intelligence Productionseeking public and Congressionalsupport for the development anddeployment of an antiballistic missiledefense system, the Safeguard ABM.[(b)(3)(c)  To provide a rationale for the multi-million-dollar ABM system,Secretary of Defense Laird and thePentagon seized on the developmentof the 55-9 as a superweapon, claim-ing that its triple warheads weremultiple independently targeted re-entry vehicles (MIRVs). Thisweapon, MIRV equipped, theyclaimed, would be able to destroy thebulk of the US Minuteman ICBMforce in one strike, thus demonstrat-ing a Soviet intention and programto develop a first-strike capability. AUS ABM system was needed  to meetthis challengel(b)(3)(c)  CIA flatly disagreed with the Penta-gon assessment of the 55-9. Agencyanalysts held that test-derived datashowed the 55-9 to have onlyunguided multiple re-entry vehicles(MRVs) and therefore lacked thecapability to strike dispersed targetssimultaneously, contrary to the Pen-tagon's claim. Based on this andother considerations, the Board ofNational Estimates held to its posi-tion of several years standing that theUSSR was not seeking a first-strikecapability. The CIA argument wasbased on three points: achieving afirst-strike capability would imposeprohibitive costs; militarily, the taskwas so difficult as to be almostimpossible to achieve; and, finally,Soviet leaders must recognize thatthe United States would match theirefforts step by step and thwart theirobjective.(b)(3)(c)  In March 1969, I alerted the DCIthat Laird's testimony before the Sen-ate Armed Services Committee98 ?Soarer?attributed capabilities to the SS-9that CIA data indicated it did nothave." Helms pointed out that thestrategic threat had become a hotpublic issue and ordered a review ofpast NIEs on the subject and a newlook at how the CIA view of the55-9 had been established.2(b)(3)(c)]As tension continued to mount,Helms told his top command inJune that CIA officers were beingaccused of undercutting Laird's pro-ABM position on the Georgetowncocktail circuit. Helms ordered hisdeputies to ensure that no CIAofficer took a public position, pro orcon, on the ABM issue. He alsoinstructed them not to become per-manently convinced of the validityof their own judgment but to exam-ine new evidence thoroughly.(b)(3)(c)1By June 1969, a new paper address-ing SS-9 capabilities was presented toUSIB after stormy sessions duringcoordination created by Laird's firmline on the Soviet buildup. Thepaper emerged from the USIB meet-ing laced with dissenting footnotes.The next day, DDCI Robert Cush-man, a Nixon appointee, was calledto the White House "to explain" theCIA position on the 55-9." Next,Kissinger asked that the officersdirectly responsible for the CIA posi-tion meet with him to discuss it.Helms sent Chairman of the BoardAbbot Smith and me to the WhiteHouse, where Kissinger requested areordering of the paper and more evi-dence on the MRV-MIRV issue?'Smith rewrote the paper, asrequested, but he did not change theCIA position on the MIRV issue orthe first-strike question. DespiteWhite House pressure and Laird'sangry frustration, Helms gave thepaper full backing.(b)(3)(b)Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 C06122498The controversy simmered throughthe summer of 1969. Helms told hisofficers that "responsible quarters"were charging CIA with built-in biasbut made it clear it was not hisview.29 Then Kissinger's officerequested that distribution of therevised memorandum be delayed."Meanwhile, frustrated by CIA'srefusal to accept that the SS-9 wasMIRY equipped, Laird adopted theposition that, even if separatelyunguided, the triple warheads wouldfall in a predictable pattern which hecalled a "footprint." In a nationalbroadcast, he claimed thesefootprints could be plotted in such away as to destroy completely a Min-uteman field. Such rationalizationsled DDS&T Carl Duckett to refer toPentagon analysts as "the   inventors." 3' (b)(3)(c)The final chapter of this disputeoccurred in September 1969, whenthe annual estimate on "Soviet Strate-gic Attack Forces," NIE 11-8-69,came under review. This time, hav-ing been defeated on the MIRVclaim, the Pentagon speculated onanother invention, a complex retar-geting-after-firing scheme whichCIA analysts considered beyondSoviet or even US technical capabili-ties. Then Laird sent to Helmswritten comments on NIE 11-8, con-centrating his fire on the Soviet first-strike issue which had been stated incondensed form in a single para-graph but was no more than thelongstanding CIA position on thequestionL(b)(3)(c)  In addition, a Pentagon official pri-vately passed the word to Helms thatthe CIA view ran contrary to posi-tions taken publicly by the Secretaryof Defense. At the USIB meeting of 4September, Helms withdrew the ques-tioned paragraph from the estimate. Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 C06122498Thomas Hughes, the State Depart-ment intelligence director,reintroduced the paragraph as a dis-senting footnote.(b)(3)(c)Helms's handling of this troublesomeepisode raises the question whetherhe had forfeited his right as the topUS intelligence officer to speak outon intelligence issues without fear offavor. Without question, the episodewas unprecedented. Never before hada Cabinet officer intervened to thepoint of direct confrontation with aDCI. Even in the paranoid atmo-sphere of the Nixon administration,where loyal dissent equated withpolitical betrayal, Laird's action wasan invasion of an area where CIA esti-mators had fully as much right to ajudgment as Laird. One of the primepurposes of the NIEs on Sovietadvanced weapon systems had beento examine Soviet strategic doctrinefor those systems.[(b)(3)(c)  As John Huizenga, ONE Boardmember observed, "It wasn't artifi-cial language ginned up for thisparticular controversy. It was entirelyin accord with the sort of thing thathad been written about Soviet forceplanning, what motives guided themand so on, as in any other esti-mate."32 But to Laird this was notmerely an intelligence judgment witha right to exist independently of acontrary policy decision. He couldaccept no contrary view of his Sovietfirst-strike claim, not even in a topsecret intelligence paper with a distri-bution limited to official circl(b)(3)(C)]Some of these considerations mayseem clearer in retrospect than theydid at the time to Helms, who wassubjected to pointed and sustainedcriticism from the President, theNSC adviser, and the Secretary ofDefense. Helms had held staunchly44The Nixon administrationwas really the first one inwhich intelligence was justanother form of politics.99to the Agency's view on these ques-tions for six months, despite intensefire. He had yielded only to thedirect request by the Secretary ofDefense that an offending paragraphbe removed. From Helms's recollec-tions, it becomes clear that to himthe matter never became a matter ofprinciple involving the jurisdictionof the DCI, For him, the removal ofthe paragraph was merely part of theprocess of producing an NIE: "USIBcontributed to the process?the esti-mates staff, individuals in the WhiteHouse, ... I really don't see an issuehero" As for the immediate issue of aSoviet first-strike capability:I don't think there was any yea-for me necessarily to assumethat all eternal wisdom wasvested in the Agency and what-ever they said had to be rightand what anybody else said was"political pressure." It didn'tmake any sense to me at all.- So Ibelieve that on that occasion andmaybe two or three others Iinsisted that certain adjustmentsbe made in order to accommo-date other points of view in  Washington. (b)(3)(c)  Helms believed that the Agency's pri-mary task was to provide thePresident and the NSC with soundintelligence information and analy-sis. To accomplish this, the Agencyhad to retain its credibility. CIA esti-mates could not get through to theiraudience if their judgments weredeemed biased or partisan. Toremain credible, to retain access toApproved for Release: 2014/07/29 C06122498Intelligence ProductionProductionthe minds of the administration hewas serving, Helms decided toremove a paragraph that undercutone of that administration's mainpolicy initiatives. From his point ofview, that action was consistent withhis understanding that a DCI shouldhear all competing views and presentto the President and the NSC thebest judgment that could be formedin that light.(b)(3)(C)Not everyone agreed. ONE BoardChairman Abbot Smith said it was"The one and only time a politiciancaused us to change part of a finishedestimate."35 But he still was reluctantto blame Helms and admires hisoverall record on NIEs. He recalled,"I protested a little. I didn't protestas much as I might have or should.Perhaps I should have resigned." Theparagraph itself was not that impor-tant, he explained, because itsstatement was repeated elsewhere inthe estimate. It was deleted, "But Ididn't blame him at all. Why shouldhe oppose the Secretary ofDefense?"36 Nevertheless, heregarded the episode as symptomatic:I look upon that almost as a turn-ing point.... The Nixonadministration was really thefirst one in which intelligencewas just another form of politics.And that was bound to be disas-trous, and I think it wasdisastrous.37 (b)(3)(C)  John Huizenga, Abbot Smith's suc-cessor, agrees that this episode set abad precedent. "It was symptomaticof a tendency that developed morestrongly later to view the efforts ofthe Agency on this kind of subjectmatter as not reliable and lacking inintellectual integrity."38 But Hui-zenga is even more reluctant than?secret? 99 Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 C06122498Intelligence ProductionSmith to criticize Helms's handlingof the affair. "I suppose by the timethe affair has reached that sort of ?crunch where the Secretary ofDefense is demanding the removal oflanguage, it's a little late in the gameto try and handle the matter so as toavoid confrontational attitudes." Inthe last analysis, he accepts Helms'sview that it was preferable to yield inorder to retain Agency credibility forfuture issues. He credits Helms withacting in accord with honest convic-tion and a concept of doing whatwas best for the Agency(b)(3)(C)But, after reviewing the circum-stances, it seems clear the incidenthad a greater impact upon ONEthan Helms realized at the time. Heregarded yielding to Laird'sinsistence as neither damaging toCIA prestige nor establishing a badprecedent. But his two chief lieuten-ants in ONE did, even though theyunderstood the political situation  and the bind he was in.(b)(3)(c)  In the aftermath of the controversy,Kissinger requested that all futureNIEs on Soviet advanced weapon sys-tems present in frill detail the data andevidence underlying the judgments.The resulting estimates were lengthy,technical, and minutely detailed. Ineffect, Kissinger and the NSC staffhad wrestled from ONE the role ithad previously played in monitoringSoviet strategic activities. In anyevent, the White House was pleasedwith the new-style estimate, and inMarch 1971 Helms received fromPresident Nixon a letter of commen-dation regarding NIE 11-8-71(b)(3)(c)During the Kennedy and Johnsonadministrations, the most highlyprized publication for gaining accessto the White House was The Presi-dent's Daily Brief (PDB), a short100 eissokass'(10-12 page) summary of intelli-gence from all sources. The PDB wascreated in response to PresidentKennedy's request for a "checklist"of significant overnight intelligence.With a circulation of about 10 cop-ies, it was designed to Kennedy'staste both in style and time of deliv-ery, between 8:00 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.daily. The publication was changedby the President's request as often asonce a week. It created a unique lineof communication directly from CIAto the President, with frequent "feed-back" from him personally, and was  duly cherished by the Agenc:(b)(3)(c)]With his keen interest in serving CIAinformation promptly and directly totop leadership, Helms saw the PDBas both valuable and risky. The OCIwriters and editors had been encour-aged to make the PDB interpretive aswell as factual. This meant that a pub-lication speaking as the voice of CIAwas reaching the President's eardirectly, in effect taking positions onkey issues on behalf of the DCI. Con-fident he could help keep the PDBfocused on the President's main con-cerns, Helms directed that thepublication be delivered to him indraft before going to press. AlthoughPresident Johnson was content withthe form of the PDB as he inheritedit, he requested that it be delivered atthe end of the business day. Report-edly, he read it in bed  after theevening news on TV.(b)(3)(C)It became apparent soon after theNixon administration took office thatthe President was not reading thePDB. Helms sent me in my capacityas the DDI to discuss with Kissingerwhat changes could be made,whether in format, scope, or timing,that would make the publication use-ful to the President. I met inKissinger's basement office with Kiss-Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 C06122498inger and Attorney General JohnMitchell, a Nixon confident andadviser who chanced to be prese(b)(3)(C)The problem with the publication,Mitchell said, is that it mixes factsand interpretation (the stylerequested by President Kennedy)."The President is a lawyer," saidMitchell, "and a lawyer wants facts."I subsequently ordered OCT to sepa-rate facts and comment, reserving allcomment until after the facts hadbeen stated. There was no evidencethat this change had any effect on  the President's reading habit(b)(3)(C)The principle vehicle for puttingforth Agency judgments on majordevelopments was the CIA Intelli-gence Memorandum. These studiesvaried in length from two or threepages to several hundred and wereused chiefly for dealing with impor-tant issues when the Agency'sinformation and analysis had specialpertinence. As it became increasinglydifficult to reach coordinated judg-ments in the NIEs, especially onissues relating to Vietnam, there wasa growing trend toward turning tothe CIA Intelligence Memorandumsfor expressing Agency view(b)(3)(c)]President Johnson had placed consid-erable confidence in DCI Helms'sjudgment ever since the Agency's tri-umphant handling of the six-dayArab-Israeli war, predicting both itsduration and its outcome. Nonethe-less, he did not always accept theinformation or analysis Helms pro-vided. The Vietnam wardemonstrates this many time(b)(3)(c)1Another such instance occurred inAugust 1968 in relation to the Sovietinvasion of Czechoslovakia. DI ana-lysts had been watching closely thegrowing tension, and OSR, under Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 C06122498Bruce Clarke, observed in late Julythat the maneuvers of the Red Armyin Eastern Europe were swinging insteadily widening circles. On one ofthose swings, OSR analysts indi-cated, the Soviet forces mightsuddenly take a straight line towardCzechoslovakia (b)(3)(c)At the time, no solid evidence sug-gested that the USSR had made adecision to use force against Czechdissent. Before meeting withJohnson's Tuesday lunch group oneAugust day, Helms checked withOCI chief Richard Lehman for a last-minute update on the situation. Theonly new item available was a UPIpress report that the Soviet Politburo,usually on vacation in August, wasmeeting in the Kremlin. Believingthat such an extraordinary meetingmight involve a major decision, possi-bly in relation to Czechoslovakia,Helms decided to warn the Presidentthat the Soviets were probably aboutto cross the Czech border with armedforce.(b)(3)(c)  Johnson rejected this warning sum-marily. "Oh, no, I don't think you'reright about that. They're talkingabout us." Helms checked out thismysterious comment with a presiden-tial assistant and learned that in theworks was an imminent joint Wash-ington-Moscow announcement of aforthcoming conference on arms con-trol, one that might involve aMoscow trip by Johnson. Helmsinsisted to the assistant, who hadtaken minutes of the meeting, thathis comments on the Soviets invad-ing Czechoslovakia be recorded."They're in there," he was assui(b)(3)(c)1Reports came into Headquarters thatevening that the invasion had begun.Helms was notified that an emer-gency NSC meeting would convene66...Helms found it usefulon many occasions topresent Agency intelligencein person in order todeliver it in timely fashionto the right officials.99in a few hours. At the meeting, asHelms later observed, approximatelytwo minutes were devoted to discus-sion of the invasion and the ensuringhour spent on "figuring out how tokill the joint announcement"planned for the next day. "In otherwords, how they were going to tidyup a package that had just droppedon the floor."4' To Helms's recollec-tion, no one remembered to thankhim for having given warning eighthours earlier of an impending Sovietinvasion(b)(3)(c)  As the Czech crisis indicates, produc-ing sound information and analysiswas only half the job. CIA publica-tions did their parr, but Helms foundit useful on many occasions topresent Agency intelligence in personin order to deliver it in timely fashionto the right officials. He possessed amind that dealt quickly with complexsubstantive issues, spoke easily andwith confidence, and conveyed no-nonsense assurance of sincerity andobjectivity. These skills enable theDCI to bring CIA information andjudgment to highly placed officialswho might not otherwise have beenreached at all.[(b)(3)(c)  In particular, Helms relied heavilyon informal meetings with Cabinetmembers for the discussion of sub-stantive intelligence matters. Duringthe Johnson administration, hestrove to maintain close relationsApproved for Release: 2014/07/29 C06122498intelligence Productionwith the Department of Defense,where the issues of Soviet strategiccapabilities and the Vietnam warwere of major concern. McNamarareceived a steady stream of CIA peri-odicals and memorandums, but inaddition he felt a need for face-to-face sessions where he could askques-tions and probe judgment(b)(3)(c)Helms supplemented his own meet-ings with the Secretary of Defense byassigning George Carver to meet reg-ularly with him. A routine evolvedwhere Carver met with McNamaraonce a week for between 20 minutesand an hour and a half. McNamarafound this custom so useful he rec-ommended it to Clark Clifford, hissuccessor. Clifford retained the proce-dure with Carver and recommendedit in turn to his successor, MelvinLaird.[(b)(3)(c)  After the high points of close accessand rapport with President Johnsonand the deterioration of the DCI-President relationship with PresidentNixon, Helms continued as best hecould to provide CIA intelligence sup-port to the White House. The finaltwo years of his tenure were free ofmajor disputes with the Nixonadministration. The NSC staff hadestablished channels and proceduresto its satisfaction for the receipt ofCIA intelligence production. Havingremodeled Soviet advanced weaponsNIEs to his specification, followingthe 55-9 dispute, Kissinger insistedthat estimates contain optional analy-ses and exhaustive displays of theevidence underlying each judgment.This was supposed to apply to CIAmemorandums as well, and Helmsdirected that Agency papers be tai-lored accordingh(b)(3)(c)In his years as DCI, Helms enduredseveral rough passages where the101 Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 C06122498-Seara--Intelligence ProductionAgency's role as objective gathererand reporter of intelligence came intodirect opposition with administrationjudgments and policies. Amidst theintense disputes of the Johnson andNixon years, CIA's contributioncould easily have become irrelevant.Helms believed that the Agency's rele-vance and survival depended uponhis ability to maintain its role in pol-icy support, and he struggled to keepCIA production responsive to thearbitrary demands of the WhiteHouse(b)(3)(c)The atmosphere of distrust that per-vaded the Nixon White House madethis task more difficult. Helms had tobe careful not to seem biased or com-mitted to positions antithetical to theadministration. When obliged bysuch circumstance to compromise,Helms made the greater good of theAgency his first prioritii(b)(3)(c)NOTES1. USIB minutes, 7 July 1966.2. USIB minutes, 17 November 1966.3. Morning Meeting Minutes, 13 Octo-ber 1967.4. DCL Chrono file, 21 August 1966.5. Morning Meeting Minutes, 13 July1966.6. Morning Meeting Minutes, 12 Janu-ary 1967.7. Morning Meeting Minutes, 13 June1967.(b)(3)(n)102 ?Serer(b)(3)(n)9. Morning Meeting Minutes, 1967.10.(b)(3)(n)11.(b)(3)(n)12.(b)(3)(n)13. Morning Meeting Minutes, 6 July1970.14. Morning Meeting Minutes, 10 Sep-tember 1969.15. Morning Meeting Minutes, 12 May27. Morning Meeting Minutes, 13 June1969.28. Abbott Smith memorandum cited inChurch Committee Report, Book I,p. 78.29. Morning Meeting Minutes, 20 June1969.30. Morning Meeting Minutes 30 June1969,31 It is significant to note that the CIAposition held throughout this stormyepisode that the USSR did not havea MIRV in 1969 and would be tech-nologically incapable of producingone before 1974 was borne out whenthe Soviets tested their first MIRV in1974.1970. 32.(b)(3)(n)16.(b)(3)(n)17.Church Committee, Book I, P. 79.33.(b)(3)(n)18.USIB Minutes, 13 April 1967. 34.Ibid.19. USIB Minutes, 26 October 1967.35.(b)(3)(n)20. USIB Minutes, 12 October 1967.21. USIB Minutes, 28 March 1968. 36. Ibid.22.USIB Minutes, 23 May 1968.37. Ibid.23.(b)(3)(n)38.(b)(3)(n)24.Morning Meeting Minutes, 21March 1969. 39. Ibid.25. Morning Meeting Minutes, 4 April 40. Morning Meeting Minutes, 111969.March 1971.26. Morning Meeting Minutes, 4 June1969.Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 C0612249841.(b)(3)(n)