Document Type: 
Document Number (FOIA) /ESDN (CREST): 
Release Decision: 
Original Classification: 
Document Page Count: 
Document Creation Date: 
December 12, 2016
Document Release Date: 
March 25, 2002
Sequence Number: 
Case Number: 
Publication Date: 
December 8, 1973
Content Type: 
PDF icon CIA-RDP75B00380R000600010003-6.pdf507.89 KB
uQ 6-et, THE TIT ,v' REIULIC Approved For Release 20~2W490 A-RDP75B00380R000600010003-6 Intelligence in the Colby Era I_ iT, 11. Te 1,11 IF AUX by Stanley Karnow When President Truman was contemplating the cre- ation of the Central Intelligence Agency more than a quarter-century ago, Secretary of State George C. Marshall warned against the new organization on the grounds that its "powers ... seem almost unlimited and need clarification." Since then the CIA has suc- cessfully resisted hundreds of attempts by Congress to limit and clarify its powers, and the latest such bid, this time by Senator John G. Stennis of Mississippi, promises by be equally ineffective. Stennis, whose Armed Services subcommittee is supposed to super- vise the CIA, has consistently protected it against any serious investigation, control or criticism, and, con- sistent with that practice, his present bill is less a gen- uine effort to harness the agency than a diversionary tactic designed to prevent other members of Congress, notably Senator William Proxmire, from pushing through stronger measures. The CIA is likely to emerge unscathed again. Even so, other pressures have combined to diminish the CIA's influence, and, although it continues to carry, on covert and sometimes reckless activities, the agency is not quite the sinister "invisible government" of years past. For one thing its reputation has suffered badly from misadventures like the Bay of Pigs and the secret war in Laos, as well as its tangential involve- ment in the Watergate scandals, and, as a result, it has fallen prey to the fierce bureaucratic rivalries of Wash ington. It has gradually become overshadowed by the Defense Department's -various espionage services, which now account for about 85 percent of the esti- mated six or seven billion dollars spent annually by what is known in`the idiom of the capital as the "intel- ?? ligence community;" The biUgest of the Pentagon out- fits is the National Security Agency, whose 25,000 employees manage satellites, fly reconnaissance air- craft, and, among other jobs, monitor open and secret foreign radio communications from some 900 clandes- tine bases around the world, all on a budget that runs into the billions. In contrast the CIA staff of'15,000 operates on roughly $750 million per year, and, in many respects, it could not function without military support. Unlike the Defense Department, moreover, the CIA cannot seek funds directly fron Congress, but makes its requests:to the Office of Management and Budget. Therefore, while he is technically in charge of Approved For Release 2002/04/03 CIA-RDP7.5B00380R000600010003-6 the entire intellil~cQ~r~si~r~Qi~i1 tor's theoretical predominance is restricted by his rela- tive poverty. The extent to which the military has reached into intelligence matters was recently reflected in the assignment of two senior officers, Major General Daniel O. Graham and Major General Lew Allen, to key.positions inside the CI'A. Prior to his shift Graham contended in an unusual article in ArmU magazine that the Pentagon rather than the CIA ought to have the chief responsibility in the field of defense intelligence. "The time is ripe," he wrote, "for the military profes- sion to reassert its traditional role in the function of describing military threats to national security." More significantly, the importance of the CIA has been pared down over the years by the White I-louse. John F. Kennedy's confidence in the agency Was shaken by the Bay of Pigs disaster, and, as the Pentagon Papers have vividly revealed, Lyndon Johnson repeatedly ig- nored pessimistic CIA evaluations of the Vietnam sit- uation that contradicted his preconceived policies. ? The agency's prestige has dropped even further under President' Nixon, partly because his administration has tried to centralize power at the expense of the dif- ferent Washington bureaucracies and also because his -resident foreign policy expert, Henry Kissinger, who served as a counter-intelligence sergeant during World War II, lost patience with many of the CIA's tong, elab- orate and sometimes inconclusive reports. According to Patrick J. McGarvey, a former intelligence specialist whose book on the CIA was officially cleared, Kissin- ger once rejected an agency study on Britain and the Common Market with the words "Piece of Crap" scrawled across the cover. McGarvey also disclosed that Kissinger never requested agency analyses on Vietnam, preferring instead to have his own aides pro- duce assessments on the basis of data supplied by the CIA and other intelligence units. This approach led not long ago to the dissolution of the Office of Na- tional Estimates, which had been established under CIA auspices to turn out independent, objective intel- ligence evaluations representing the collective wisdom of all government espionage services. The disappear- ance of the Office of National Estimates will certainly decrease the flow of paper that has been pouring out of the CIA, but it may also prompt the agency to tailor its interpretations-to fit administration policies. The decline of the CIA is reflected as well in its new director, William Egan Colby, an agency veteran who lacks the stature to stand up to such major Washing- ton figures as Kissinger and Defense Secretary James Schlesinger. Colby was infOrmed of his nomination for the job last sprint; by General Alexander I laig. tile ('resident's chief of stiff, rather than by Mr. ,Nixon' himself. A mild-mannered elan of 53, some of whose subordinates call him "the bookkeeper," Colby grow behind the German lines in France and Norway as an agent of the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor of the CIA. Friends from those days remember him as phenomenally. courageous and intensely faithful to his friends, and yet, as one of them recalled recently, his first loyalty has always been to his superiors and their 'directives. Another friend of his submits that Colby's character has been shaped by two main experiences: his life as a clandestine operative during the Cold War and his years in Vietnam, where he first served in the early 1960s as the local agency chief and later as boss of the Phoenix program designed to destroy the Vietcong structure in South Vietnamese villages. Colby's cour- teous facade seems to camouflage the inner apparatclrik whose devotion to orders can be cold-blooded. Testi- fying before congressional 'Committees a couple of years ago, for example, he calmly related that his Phoe- nix program killed 20,587 Vietnamese between 1968 and 1971. A former military intelligence officer in Viet- nam by the name of K. Barton Osborne, who chal- lenged Colby's confirmation as CIA director during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing this sum- mer, called Phoenix an "indiscriminate murder pro- gram," buttressing his charge with the claim tftat suspects were shot or tossed out of helicopters. Al- though Colby tends to take the cool c'est In guerre view, he has at least acknowledged somewhat obliquely that Phoenix was a brutal business. In May 1970, for in- stance, he advised Americans involved in the program that they could be reassigned without prejudice if they found its activities "repugnant." He also conceded un- der interrogation by Representative Ogden Reid of New York that innocent Vietnamese may have been assassinated, tortured -or jailed: Reid: My question is: Are you certain that we know a member of'the VCI [Vietcong infrastructure] from a loyal member of the South Vietnam citizenry? Colby: No, Mr. Congressman, I am not.? One of the revelations of-Watergate is that former CIA agents like E. I toward Hunt were using the same cloak- and dagger techniques at home that they used aborad, and that the White House was prepared to 0111- ploy them for precisely that purpose. To some degree the upper echelons of. the agency went along with these illegal practices. Although the National Security Act that created the CIA expressly bars it from "police, subpoena, law enforcement powers or internal security functions," the agency plainly violated its charter in the summer of 1971 wLien General Robert E. Cushman, Jr., then its deputy director and now the marine corps comman'dailt, provided I lun.t with a wig, camera, false identity papers and a speech-alteration device in order to burglarize the psychiatrist of Daniel Ellsbi'rg. Cush- has claimed that he Was unaware of Hunt's ohjec- up as the son of Qa >cri )acetic arm officer, raduated live 1 b' s t ~~ r}' technicians to from Princeton X11 iPresr ~ 1R ~Ch O /44AQ 0 r CI~i ,RR19 1' 111 1. 11 aL c RPlgc CIA c3rct% up a Ik %4Q Q#o1ios : cla- 7 BOO $~IROOO~goqJQ os g,cr irec- c. lIS 1I111'n urrng or ar 1 ,when he operated o "psychological pOff"( ElRrMtaM i1iOQ,r~e,Vi4i ` cl~i ilg~~l c~c~ X80 sc i~r~i6~g~4,3~5pr a~or Stuart Svt?i?g- the law that forbids the agency from spying on Ameri- can citizens. Colby has calledt these transgressions "deplorable" and other senior CIA officials affirm that the agency stopped short once it realized that it was going beyond bounds. These officials congratulate themselves that the agency has come out of 'Watergate looking "pretty clean." B ut deception is an integral part of the CIA's busi- ness, and so questions about its claim to cleanliness inevitably linger. It is still unclear, for example, whether the agency illicitly spied on the US antiwar movement in 1969 and 1970. Richard I-ielms, the former director and now American ambassador to Iran, has denied that the' CIA was engaged in such activities, yet Tom Charles Huston, the architect of the White House intelligence project, has said that Helms was "most cooperative and helpful" in the effort. At this writing Helms is en route to the US to reply to fresh allegations, raised in a Harper's article this month by Andrew St. George; that the CIA had infiltrated the Watergate conspirators and knew in advance of their planned break-in. One of the conspirators, Eugenio Martinez, was on a CIA retainer and reported to the agency in fate 1971 and again in March 1972 that Hunt was in Miami, presumably in order to recruit opera- tives for the Watergate job. Colby recently disclosed in response to Senator Howard Baker that Martinez was advised to forget about Hunt, who was then "an em- ployee of the White House undoubtedly on domestic White I-louse business of no interest" to the agency. Maritnez's lawyer said just the opposite in court. Nor did the CIA know, Colby has said, that Martinez was participating "in any secret arrangement or relation- ship that might have involved any domestic clandes- tine operations." Baker reportedly remains uncon- vinced. Colby's contentions strain credulity, for they, suggest that the CIA, which swallows up data with the voracity of a vaccuum cleaner, was neither 'interested in the activities of a former agent skulking among the Cuban exiles of Miami nor able to keep tabs on one of its part-time stringers. Equally difficult to believe is Colby's claim that he was merely trying to protect the CIA from adverse publicity when he sought to avoid telling Earl Silbert, the Justice Department prosecutor, that it was former White House chief of staff John Ehr- lichman who had instructed General Cushman to pro- vide Hunt with the paraphernalia to case the office of Eilsberg's psychiatrist. As Colby himself put it, he "danced around" with Silbert because "we were con- vinced at a public misunderstanding of CIA in olve- ment in Watergate, and ... there was a reluctance to drop somewhat inflammatory names in-the kind of at- mosphere that was around its at the time." Colby asserted during his confirmation hearing this summer that he was "quite nrel-'arcd to leave this job" rather than ca rry ,,RpTMp ton, the only Armed Services Committee member present through most of the hearing, Colby carved out enough loopholes to justify a number of dubious CIA operations. Among other things he declined to pledge that "we will never give any other agency of the US. government help which it might use in its responsibil- ities," and, he added, he could envisage situations in which "it would be appropriate" for the CIA to assist a White House official "without its coming to public notice." Colby indulged in similarly fancy footwork during secret hearings on Chile held in early October by the House subcommittee on inter-American affairs. As Tad Szulc has revealed, Kissinger had laid down, US policy toward Chile in September 1970, when he said during a background press briefing that the elec- tion of Marxist President Salvador Allende Gossens would lead to a Communist regime and contaminate Argentina,. Bolivia and Peru. The CIA had tried to pre- vent Allende's election by, among other moves, sub- sidizing to the tune of $400,000 Chilean news media opposed to him. When that failed the administration' became less interested in seeing Allende overthrown than in having his government collapse economically so that, as Assistant Secretary of State Jack Kubisch explained, socialism would be discredited. Testifying before the I-louse subcommittee, Colby agreed with Kubisch and he denied with apparent sincerity that the CIA had either favored or been implicated in the coup in which Allende was ousted and died. He also denied that the agency had financed the Chilean truck strike that sparked the coup. But when Rep.- Michael Harrington asked him whether. the subsidiaries of US corporations*in Brazil and other Latin American coun- tries had subsidized specific anti-Allende demonstra- tions, Colby responded evasively with replies like, "I would rather not answer the question than give you an assurance and be wrong." He also displayed the foughn,ess of a CIA professional when, disagreeing with Rep. Robert Steele's comment that the killings by the Chilean military had "done no one any good," he said that the slaughter had rdduced the chances of civil war and thus "does them some good." Colby's testimony on Chile further indicated that he has no intention of withdrawing the CIA from covert opera- tions overseas, but, as he put it during his confirma- tion hearing, he will try to keep the agency "out of the kind of exposure" that Laos and other such "larger' activities got us into." Hence his outlook is consistent with that of his predecessors, and the prospect is that the CIA will continue, as it does, at present, to spend about half of. its budget on clandestine work. The catalogue of the agency's assorted assets is largely familiar by now. It has, run its own radio sta- tions, among them Radio Free Europe, and it currently operates a feature service that distributes slanted CI~n r around shed by the New oontinuod. 0 York firm of Frederick A. Praeger, and it still has the durin~~,Y,,, the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, when they influence to perAA, R ?YYl~erFoj LRIqRes 2 !94!P CI,~i rr-~ti~~~Q sites in Cuba. works on the CIA to its censors. One of its largest "pri- Now controlled by the National Security Agency, elec- vate enterprises" is Air America, which controls sub- tronic observers keel) track of the latest Soviet weap- sidiaries like Southern Air Transport, Rocky Mountain ons, and there are radio monitoring systems so acute Airlines and four or five others. And, through various that they can listen to a Soviet control tower speaking cover organizations, it has at one time or another fi- to a Soviet pilot. The Russians, of course, have similar nanced French labor leaders, Latin American journal- equiipment, and the fact that the US and the Soviet ists, Asian Buddhist monks and African politicians. Union can watch each other closely has been legiti- West German Chancellor Willy Brandt was a CIA ben- mized in the Strategic Arms Limitation agreement, eficiary in the days when the agency was searching for which allows for "national technical means of verifica- moderate socialists to offset the volatile Kurt Schu- tion." As John Newhouse relates in his book, Cold coacher. The agency also bankrolled Pope Paul VI Dawn, US electronic intelligence is so accurate that, when, as Cardinal Montini, he headed Italy's anti- during one negotiating session, a Soviet officer asked Communist.Catholic youth movement. an American delegate not to disclose his knowledge of Russian military affairs to his civilian comrades. The More dramatic CIA operations have included the weakness of electronic intelligence, however, lies in its overthrow of Iranian Premier Mohammed Mossadegh inability to judge an adversary's intentions-and that in 1953, the ouster, of leftist President Jacobo Arbenz's is what went wrong in the recent Middle East crisis. government in Guatemala a year later, and attempts to Although it had all the data in hand, the CIA failed to unseat Indonesian, President Sukarno and Prince forecast the Arab attack, and, as a result, it is engaged Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia. Popular accounts to at present in examining its errors. the contrary, such flamboyant j-ictivities were never Sophisticated,espionage had one defect: it produced undertaken by the agency without the highest author- huge amounts of data that required interpretation by ity. Formerly known under other names, that authority increasing numbers of specialists. 'As a consequence today is the Forty Committee; so called because it was the irite]ligence bureaucracy swelled to enormous established by National Security Council Directive proportions. In November 1971 President Nixon in- No. 40. Its present chairman is Kissinger, and its mem- structed Helms to streamline the community, curtail bers are the deputy secretary of State, the deputy sec-' its cost and improve its coordination. Helms had a retary of Defense, the head of the joint chiefs of staff year in which to survey the problem, but he acted and the CIA director. At one time during the Nixon slowly, reportedly because he feared that his own CIA administration former Attorney General John Mitchell would be downgraded in any reorganization. Mr. Nix- also attended its meetings. The National Security Act on's irritation at this delay was compounded by his of 1947, which created the CIA, is vague on the subject annoyance with Helms' -refusal to blame foreign re- of covert operations. The agency's real charter for gimes for backing US antiwar movements and thereby "dirty tricks," however, is contained in 10 confidential provide the White House with the rationale to clothe National Securtiy Council intelligence directives. repressive measures in "national security" garb. So, The CIA's most ambitious "dirty trick," the abortive late ]ast'year, the President peremptorily sent I lelms to invasion of Castro's Cuba, was not only a failure that .Iran, the site of a large CIA mission and one country in took the lives of 300 Cubans and four American pilots, which a former agency director could be tolerated as but it marked a turning point for the agency. President US envoy. James Schlesinger took his place at,the CIA Kennedy dismissed the bold Ivy League types who and promptly fired about 10 percent of its employees, had commanded the CIA until then and replaced theih among them many superannuated paramilitary types. with more cautious bureaucrats. The agency would Several agency operatives who had initially detested later get into supporting a secret army in Laos of some Schlesinger grew to admire his no-nonsense style. But 30,000 tribal guerillas, and, under Colby's aegis, it Schlesinger lasted only five months before the Presi- would direct the Phoenix "pacification" program in dent moved him to the Defense Department. In came Vietnam. But, in comparison to the CIA's earlier ad- Colby, a figure hitherto unknown outside the intclli- ventures, these could be justified as wartime activities. gence apparatus. Senator Kennedy called him "the Meanwhile new technological developments were epitome of the covert man," and Senator Proxmire, emerging that would vastly change old espionage noting that "we are not allowed to go back into his em- methods and, in effect, send the classic spies into ployment history and judge his fitness," complained retirement. that "we don't really know who Mr. Colby is." Never- In 1955 scientists working Linder CIA auspices eon- theless the Senate confirmed him on Augur-,t I by a shucted a high altitude airplane, the U-2, that could vote of 81 to 13, and consoled itself With the expccta- photograph a golf ball from a height of 70,000 feet. tion that it would take up reform of the CIA later this They later invented satellites to do the same job even year. But so long as the Armed Services a nd Appro- better. These spies in the sky. )erformed brilliantly Xriations subcornnritt 'es it C In ' ess monopolise CIA Approved For Release 2002/04/03y : CI~L-RDP75B00380R00U600b1~0 -6 oontinuod Approved For Release 2002/04/03 : CIA-RDP75B0038OR000600010003-6 0 affairs, authentic reform of the agency is remote. One of the first serious moves to supervise the CIA was initiated in 1956, when Senator Mansfield and 34 co-sponsors sought to form a joint committee on-intel- ligence patterned after the congressional body that keeps watch on, atomic energy matters. Their move was defeated, and the issue lay dormant until 1966, when Senators Fulbright and Eugene McCarthy again tried to strengthen legislative control over the CIA. That effort ended in a hollow compromise. The chair- man of the Senate Armed Services Committee invited the three senior members of the Foreign Relations Committee to attend CIA subcommittee sessions, which are rarely held. Still another attempt last year by Senator John Sherman Cooper to compel the CIA to provide Congress with intelligence died in the Armed Services Committee, and Senator Stennis, its chair- man, made it clear that he considered regulation of the agency to be sacrosanct. "Spying is spying," he said. "You have to make up your mind that you are going to have an intelligence agency and protect it as such, and shut your eyes some and take what is coming." Last spring Proxmire proposed that the CIA's budg- et for covert operations be cut by 40 percent, and he followed up that recommendation with a bill that, among its other provisions, would prevent the agency from engaging in any clandestine activities without the approval of the congressional oversight commit- tees. Proxmire's proposal was matched at the time by Senator Eagleton's suggestion that the war powers bill, then being debated, include an amendment prohibit- ing. the CIA from any paramilitary operations without congressional authorization. Those potential infringe- ments on the agency's powers apparently alarmed Stennis. He first signaled that he would back the war powers bill on condition that the Eagleton amendment 'be eliminated, and that tactic worked. Then, evidently aiming to head off Proxmire, he introduced a mild bill that merely reinforces the National Security Act's orig- -inal injunction against CIA involvement in domestic affairs. And, announcing it with a bit of oratory, Sten- nis described his bill as insurance that the CIA "will never become the private tool of unscrupulous men, whatever position they may hold." At the moment the CIA appears to be under tighter White House command than it has been at any time, and this may seem to be, at least in theory, a salutary change from its days as a free-wheeling assemblage of dangerous romantics. Yet the practical question still unresolved is whether the President in control of the agency intends to use it to bolster himself or the na- tional security. Only Congress can guarantee' that the administration employs the CIA responsibly, but ef- fective legislation remains to be passed. Until it is the CIA is bound to remain an organization whose pow- ers, as General Marshall warned, are both unlimited and ambiguous, and, more crucially, tempting to an ambitious Executive: Approved For. Release 2002/04/03 : CIA-RDP75B0038OR000600010003-6