137. Letter From the Under Secretary of State (Katzenbach) to President Johnson1

Dear Mr. President:

With respect to your inquiry of yesterday,2 I wish to assure you that Secretary Gardner, Mr. Helms and myself will be able to complete our inquiry into the relations of government agencies and private organizations operating abroad in the very near future. I anticipate that it will be possible to report our conclusions and recommendations early next month.3

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In the interval, there are certain basic facts with respect to past activities of the Central Intelligence Agency in this area which should be underscored.

When the Central Intelligence Agency lent financial support to the work of certain American private organizations, it did not act on its own initiative but in accordance with national policies established by the National Security Council in 1952 through 1954. Throughout it acted with the approval of senior interdepartmental review committees, including the Secretaries of State and Defense or their representatives. These policies have, therefore, been in effect under four Presidents.

The support provided by the Central Intelligence Agency enabled many far-sighted and courageous Americans to serve their country in times of challenge and danger to the United States and the free world.

Furthermore, the Central Intelligence Agency has been, and continues to be, indispensable to the security of this nation. It is vitally important that the current controversy over its support of certain private organizations not be permitted to obscure the value, or impede the effectiveness, of competent and dedicated career officials serving this country.

Respectfully yours,

Nicholas deB. Katzenbach
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, Box 10, CIA Funding of Private Organizations. No classification marking.
  2. No record of this inquiry was found.
  3. The final report was released on March 29; see the attachment to Document 144.