Document Type: 
Document Number (FOIA) /ESDN (CREST): 
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Document Creation Date: 
November 17, 2016
Document Release Date: 
July 19, 2000
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Publication Date: 
May 14, 1964
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PDF icon CIA-RDP83-00764R000300090017-3.pdf376.91 KB
Approved For Release 2000 Nf f i N ot83-00764R000300090017-3 14 May 1964 SUBJECT Chief, Historical Staff History of the Clandestine Services,, a Preliminary Appraisal of the Problem 1. This me rendum is addressed to the problem of file research which would be required for the preparation of a gen- eral history of the Clandestine Services or as a basis for any or gesso graphical area. It is based upon a survey,. necessarily incomplete and imprescise, of filed material available for such research. 2. Quite aside from the more obvious factors inhibiting the preparation of history covering a highly classified and compartmented organization and its activities, a number of other troublesome problems merge upon inquiry. They include : a. The Would-be chronicler today must start from a foundation of nearly 18 years of virtual neglect in effort, and very little effort of any description,. to produce or prepare for the production of a history of CIO-CIA secret activities abroad or of the organiza- tional components erected to carry them out. b. Certain aspects of the clandestine components have been treated in existing histories of CIO-CIA through 1953, but Ilmost always in Contexts whore such mention was necess ,ry to frame or to fill in accounts of other matters; prior historians were explicitly barred from dealing with the Clandestine Services mow, s___ p __ articular purposes but these are of limited value for serious historical research. c. For the t part, existing files are haphaz- ardly organized and inadequately indexed, they are not archives in _any acceptable sense of that to 3. Three general arategories of files are pertinent to Clandestine Services history: (a) those which presumably have been purged of extraneous material (but not of valuable papers) and retired to Records Integration Division Central Records here or to the (b) special 25X1A Approved For Release 2000/oqF18fW bb OAOUP I ',M ' 1 O 00090017-3 fo~n aig a declassification Approved For Release 2000/08/08 : CIA-RDP83-00764R000300090017-3 CONFIDENTIAL -2- pose files intended for ready reference, and (c) files of whatever other description, not retired but held in the pos- session of the several Clandestine Services components. 4. January 1961,`, It also poses the knottiest prob- The first category in of most interest and potential a for the historian concerned with the period prior low. The great bulk of! these files have been thrown together by file clerks or junior; officers with little apparent sub- stantive discrimination.,i A few are well organized and of uniformly good quality. Most contain soae useful papers inter singled with a preponderance of junk. ~e So ajrye~ u k from start to finish. The indexing (or shelf-luting) ranges from from barely illuminating to outright misleading. a. it: A Cinch-thick file folder labelled "MI-79I rr.spondenc" consists almost entirely of mutual platitudes. b. Item: Another two-inch folder labelled t'DOP It containing useful and useless material .sly equal parts, has boon put together d from the 0/ICI Executive Registry. y without reference to subject matter; it rue ri. Doon copy or a peraonai Lyr dic- ing + me randum of conversation be- 25X1A It boar to look). olds elleed "Parking Perm ts, 1956-?5711 (1 ek is filed without 25X1A hip to anytb ng else therein. d. Item: Solemnly entombed at re e. Item: Twoutt-fivo folders are carefully shelf-lis as "Correspondence on Personalities and Subjects not Applicable to Any of Foregoing Titles.," And so on. Give or take a few hundred, there are 12, 000 cubic feet of those materials in storage on retirement from the 1 area. At a rough estimate, another 8,000 cubic feet of paper retired by other components may be guessed. to have 25X aertinencee to the Clandestine Cervices. (Total storage at was 81,497 cubic foot the day I was there; capac-~ ar CONFIDENTIAL Approved For Release 2000/08/08 : CIA-RDP83-00764R000300090017-3 Approved For ReIease- 2000/0S0' fidUNi1-OO764ROOO3OOO9OO1 7-3 5. The second category of files presents the least dif culty for the practical reason that they have been filed by 25X1A responsible officers who nee thair business. Examples are the publications files i ffice and the Special Group agenda-minutes in Staff. Because they are adequately indexed and available for ready reference, their bulk in incon- sequential. Alone, however, they would suffice only for a bars- bones chronological log and they are not reliable before 1953. (Another example might be the 201 personality files, but these are maintained for CICEpurposses and have little relevance to our work.) opt for special studies in depth, such an Ken 25X1A Cthe third category is not of immediate research concern to us unless we wish to risk writing our history from the present backwards. Most of these papers are evanescent and comprehensible only to their present guardians. Our main concern with them should be to take a few practical steps to "sure that their residue does not become the bane of some luckless wight tossed to the task of making historical sense of them 18 years hence. 7. The job of winnowing the wheat from the, chaff of the retired files will be time-consuming and largely, drudgery, but not impossible if the authorities want it done. From my own limited whirl at it, I would estimate that a fairly rapid, discriminating reader could plow through them at an average rate of about one cubic' foot per day. The figure of 20,000 (12,000 plus 8,000) cubic feet could probably be halved by risking perusal of the shelf lists only. Another 5,000 might be disposed of fairly quickly by skimpy scanning. That would leave 5,000 cubic feet requiring serious reading which would work out to roughly 20 person-years. What I envision emerging from this process, if properly done, would be a relatively compact, properly indexed not of true historical archives (I doubt it would exceed V O cubic feet at the outside), plus a remainder of material which probably should be kept for some reason or other, but better indexed and better organized than now and purged of most dross and duplication. S. Because this work could be done perfectly well at the GS-11 through 13 lev,l,Ithe total cost in salaries would be lose than $300,000. If this figure should appear an extrava-- gance, lot it be sated that: a. We pay a good deal more than that annually al- to people engaged in hovering over these files; Approved For Release UWAL-00764ROO0300090017-3 Approved For Release-20009OMilDE'EP- P83-00764RO00300090017-3 b. It is a tiny fraction of the money gone and going into the Walnut retrieval system, which is not needed for historical archives and in any case has its input capacity over=taxed for the foreseeable future by CICE requirements; c. Although it would be nice to hire a qualified archivist as a member of the team, the work could be done without increasing the Agency payroll at all by reassign- ments and adjustments of assignments; d. The only practical alternative would be to have the same work done by better-paid senior officers, to the detriment of what presumably are more useful activities. 9. Therefore I recommend that: a. Preferably at least four people, but certainly no fewer than two, be assigned as soon as possible to the Job of screening, indexing and placing in proper archival form existing retired CS files--the assignments to be made with the understanding that they would be adjusted if the job proved either more or less onerous than anticipated; during their tours of duty, these people would be under the full supervision of the Historical Staff; b. That a representative of the Historical Staff concert soon with appropriate officers of the CS to establish procedures so that proper historical archives will be maintained in the future; this will not be easy because there are many fingers in the pie, standards of compliance vary widely, and RID is not master in its own domain. 10. The foregoing is concerned only with the records re- search end of the CS historical problem. It is not the whole problem. Its solution is essential but not prerequisite. Other work can proceed concurrently. In a shortly following memorandum I shall round out this discussion, but it will be academic unless we can gain approval of substantially what I have proposed above. 25X1A Approved For Release 2000/ IBr PRP83-00764R000300090017-3 PAL