109. Memorandum From President Kennedy to the Director of the United States Information Agency (Murrow)1

The mission of the United States Information Agency is to help achieve United States foreign policy objectives by (a) influencing public attitudes in other nations, and (b) advising the President, his representatives abroad, and the various departments and agencies on the implica[Page 283]tions of foreign opinion for present and contemplated United States policies, programs and official statements.

The influencing of attitudes is to be carried out by overt use of the various techniques of communication—personal contact, radio broadcasting, libraries, book publication and distribution, press, motion pictures, television, exhibits, English-language instruction, and others. In so doing, the Agency shall be guided by the following:

1. Individual country programs should specifically and directly support country and regional objectives determined by the President and set forth in official policy pronouncements, both classified and unclassified.

2. Agency activities should (a) encourage constructive public support abroad for the goal of a “peaceful world community of free and independent states, free to choose their own future and their own system so long as it does not threaten the freedom of others;”2 (b) identify the United States as a strong, democratic, dynamic nation qualified for its leadership of world efforts toward this goal, and (c) unmask and counter hostile attempts to distort or frustrate the objectives and policies of the United States. These activities should emphasize the ways in which United States policies harmonize with those of other peoples and governments, and those aspects of American life and culture which facilitate sympathetic understanding of United States policies.

The advisory function is to be carried out at various levels in Washington, and within the Country Team at United States diplomatic missions abroad. While the Director of the United States Information Agency shall take the initiative in offering counsel when he deems it advisable, the various departments and agencies should seek such counsel when considering policies and programs which may substantially affect or be affected by foreign opinion. Consultation with the United States Information Agency is essential when programs affecting communications media in other countries are contemplated.

United States Information Agency staffs abroad, acting under the supervision of the Chiefs of Mission, are responsible for the conduct of overt public information, public relations and cultural activities—i.e. those activities intended to inform or influence foreign public opin[Page 284]ion—for agencies of the United States Government except for Commands of the Department of Defense.3

Where considered advisable, and except for direct international broadcasts by the Voice of America, the United States Information Agency is authorized to communicate with other peoples without attribution to the United States Government on matters for which attribution could be assumed by the Government if necessary. The United States Information Agency shall, when appropriate, coordinate such activities with the Central Intelligence Agency.4

John F. Kennedy
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 306, DIRCTR Sub Files, 1963–69, Bx 6–29 63–69: Acc: #72A5121, Entry UD WW 257, Box 17, Government—White House, President Elect, 1960. Confidential. Also printed in Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. XXV, Organization of Foreign Policy; Information Policy; United Nations; Scientific Matters, Document 144. Additional copies are in the Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Department and Agencies Series, USIA, Box 290, United States Information Agency General 4/63–6/63 and Kennedy Library, Papers of Robert F. Kennedy, Attorney General’s Papers, Confidential File, Box 251, USIA Edward R. Murrow. USIA circular airgram CA–2330 to all USIS Posts, Bucharest, Budapest, Moscow, Prague, Sofia, and Warsaw (for Rusk), February 21, transmitted the text of Kennedy’s memorandum. (National Archives, RG 306, Office of Plans, General Subject Files, 1949–70, Entry UD–WW 382, Box 117, Master Copies 1963)
  2. Kennedy made this statement during his January 11, 1962, State of the Union address; for the text, see Public Papers: Kennedy, 1962, pp. 5–15.
  3. In an October 25, 1962, memorandum to Bromley Smith, Amory noted a few reservations about this paragraph, referred to as Section 4, of Murrow’s original draft that was submitted to the NSC on September 26. However, no changes were made to the paragraph. (Kennedy Library, President’s Office Files, Department and Agencies Series, Box 91, USIA 1/63–2/63)
  4. On February 25, Kennedy signed an unclassified version of this memorandum for public dissemination that omitted the last paragraph on CIA coordination. (Department of State, USIA Historical Collection, Agency History/63) In a May 25 memorandum to Bromley Smith, Thomas Sorensen requested that the January 25 statement be declassified except the last paragraph, which should remain confidential in order that the USIA would have a single statement with more force. McGeorge Bundy replied affirmatively in a June 17 memorandum to Sorensen. (Both in Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Departments and Agencies Series, Box 290, United States Information Agency General 4/63-6/63)