138. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs (Frankel) to the Under Secretary of State (Katzenbach) and the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Kohler)1


  • The Reorganization of International Educational and Cultural Activities

The situation created by public discussion of the CIA’s activities in international educational and cultural activities confronts us with both a negative and a positive task.

On the negative side, lines must be drawn indicating what the Government in general, and CIA in particular, will not do. I take it that this will be one consequence of the high-level review ordered by the President.2

However, the announcement that new rules have been adopted is unlikely by itself to remove doubts, or to eliminate the cloud of suspicion that will surround all U.S. educational and cultural programs, whether public or private, for some time to come. Moreover, a solution that merely says what we will not do will not solve the essential problems that the actions of the CIA were designed to solve—the problem of supporting international exchanges at a proper level, and in a manner allowing us to pursue long-range objectives free from immediate political pressures.

I would urge in the strongest terms, therefore, that the high-level review now being conducted lead to the positive proposal of a new framework for international educational and cultural affairs. Three alternatives seem to me to be available.

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Alternative 1: Turn over responsibilities to State/CU, and request a larger appropriation for FY 1968 to take care of these new tasks. A rough estimate of additional appropriations needed is $8,976,000. (An illustrative breakdown of this figure is attached at Tab A.)

This alternative has been widely proposed by Congressmen and Senators—e.g., Congressman Wayne Hays and Senator Javits—and has been frequently mentioned in the press. Legal opinion is that the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 (the Fulbright-Hays Law)3 provides full authority to State to provide open support to private organizations engaged in international exchange activities.

In favor of this proposal are the following considerations:

1) It is simple.

2) Favorable and reasonably quick action could be expected in Congress.

3) CU as an organization could absorb this new function quickly and comfortably, since it has been conducting parallel activities for some time.

Against this proposal are the following considerations:

1) Even though the State Department’s support is overt, the State Department imprimatur, in the present atmosphere, will leave strong suspicion, at home and abroad, that our intellectual, cultural and youth activities are being subjected to political manipulation.

2) The overseas management of State’s exchange programs by USIA will reinforce this impression.

3) The program will always be under some pressure from Congress and other quarters to produce quick and obvious political results, and to avoid “controversial” groups, individuals and themes.

4) The budgetary outlook will probably vary from uncertain to bad.

On balance, I regard this Alternative as feasible, and as better than the status quo, but only as a very partial answer to the problem.

Alternative 2: Create an American version of the British Council,4 and turn over to it only the kind of general organizational support activity previously conducted by CIA.

This idea has been in the wind for some time, and has been put forward both within the Administration and by people outside. It essentially proposes a semi-private corporation, supported by government funds, and governed by a Board of Trustees chosen from the private sector.

In favor of this proposal are the following considerations:

[Page 423]

1) It will ensure open control by the private sector, and particularly the educational community.

2) It will insulate the activities supported against charges of political manipulation.

Against this proposal are the following considerations:

1) It is too limited in scope, and will not repair the damage that has been done to the whole spectrum of Government-supported exchange activities.

2) It adds one more agency to a field of activity that is already over-populated, and that is badly in need of simplification and coordination.

3) It overlaps functions that could properly be conducted by the new Center for Educational Cooperation (HEW) under the International Education Act of 1966.5

4) It does not come to grips with the problem of our official overseas representation in cultural affairs by USIA—a problem that has been a chronic source of trouble, and that, in the circumstances now existing, is almost certainly going to get worse.

On balance, I believe that this proposal is a move in the right direction, but that it does not go far enough, and will not satisfy the most important domestic or foreign critics.

Alternative 3: Create a semi-autonomous Foundation for International Educational and Cultural Exchange, and turn over to it, in a phased manner, the following activities and programs:

1) All State/CU’s academic exchange programs.

2) All USIA’s libraries, cultural centers, book programs, etc.

3) All AID’s long-range, non-technical educational activities, including continuing educational programs in countries where AID does not or will cease to function.

4) All general support to private organizations of the kind previously given by CIA.

5) All activities involving the counselling, assistance, placement and repatriation of foreign students, whether Government sponsored or not.

6) Art exhibits and presentations in the performing arts, including the “reverse flow” to this country.

(Some of these activities could be sub-contracted to other agencies: e.g., the Library of Congress could handle overseas libraries, and give them its sponsorship.)

I. I suggest the following guidelines with regard to the basic structure of such a Foundation.

1) It should be governed by a Board of Trustees, composed of 15–25 members chosen from private life. The authorizing legislation should probably provide that a majority of the group be representatives of [Page 424] key voluntary and educational organizations. (This is similar to the legislation for the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO.)

2) This Board, which might be called a “Grants Commission” to make its functions clear, should have final authority for the expenditure of all funds, as well as general supervisory authority over policy and policy execution.

3) The Foundation should have a Director or Administrator, of Under-Secretary rank, at the Executive Pay Level II or III. He should have a Deputy at Executive Level V. Neither should be in a Cabinet Department.

4) The Foundation should be free to receive private donations in addition to Government appropriations.

5) The Committees of Congress to which it reports should probably be the education committees.

6) It should be represented abroad by Cultural Affairs Officers and/or Educational Officers, who are full members of the State Department, but who carry the additional title, “Representative of the Foundation for International Educational and Cultural Exchange.” (This is similar to French representation in this country, and to British representation in some countries.)

II. The relationship of such a Foundation to other agencies now operating will have to be carefully defined.

For purposes of general coordination, I would recommend that the Director or Administrator of the Foundation be named Chairman of the Federal Inter-Agency Council on International Educational and Cultural Affairs. This Council, which is now the principal instrument of coordination in the Government, and is chaired by the Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, should be upgraded in its authority and altered in its composition. It should consist of the following member agencies: (The proposed new members are starred.)




HEW (Center for Educational Cooperation and Office of Education)

Peace Corps

National Science Foundation*

National Endowment for the Arts*

National Endowment for the Humanities*

Atomic Energy Commission*

National Aeronautics and Space Agency*

Library of Congress (now has observer status)

Official observer status should go to:

Bureau of the Budget (now has observer status)

USIA (now is a member agency)

Smithsonian Institution (now has observer status)

Office of Science and Technology

This reformed Council would be more relevant to the actual facts than the present set-up. The new agencies listed above for membership [Page 425] are active in the field of international intellectual exchange in a major way, and their programs have considerable impact on matters like the brain drain and the technological gap. They are also deeply affected in their international activities by the general U.S. posture with regard to exchanges, and by our reputation for honesty in this field.

III. Questions can be asked about the impact of such a Foundation on existing agencies and programs.

Question 1) What would be the impact on State/CU?

Answer: State/CU will still be responsible for the exchanges of non-academic leaders and specialists, which is the most immediately diplomatic-political aspect of its present activities.

It would also be responsible for—and would be freer to devote its energies to—the area of general foreign policy guidance concerning the significance of intellectual and cultural movements and events.

It would have, in addition, more direct control of and responsibility for the corps of educational and cultural officers in our embassies. These officers ought to be freer than they have been in the past to report on events in their country. Under present conditions, they are excessively preoccupied with other duties related to their USIA tasks. Although CU would be a smaller bureau with a smaller budget under these conditions, its significance for policy would be greater.

Finally, CU would serve as the transmission belt between the activities of the proposed Foundation and our programs overseas.

Question 2) What would be the impact on the new Center for Educational Cooperation in HEW?

Answer: This Center would continue to be the principal agency for stimulating and supporting the domestic U.S. effort in international studies. By creating a parallel Foundation whose responsibilities are for overseas activities, the fuzziness in the present situation would be removed.

Question 3) What happens to AID education programs?

Answer: Short-range project-oriented education projects would continue in AID’s domain. More long-range activities, including activities that continue after technical assistance ceases, would gradually be transferred to the Foundation.

An essentially similar recommendation was made by John Gardner in his AID and the Universities.6

In dealing with this problem, it would be a mistake, obviously, for the Foundation to take over AID activities quickly. The transfer should be a planned one over a period of time.

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Question 4) What happens to Cultural Affairs Officers?

Answer: They would be transferred to State. State now reimburses USIA, from CU appropriations, for approximately 100 man-years (Americans) and over 200 man-years (foreign) for the conduct of cultural affairs programs overseas. This provides a base for the transfer of personnel. If and when other cultural activities—e.g., libraries, cultural centers—are transferred, adjustments in the present USIA budget could be made.

USIA will undoubtedly take the position that its entree and credibility will be adversely affected by such a transfer. This does not come to grips with the fact that our cultural activities are now adversely affected by their tie-up to USIA overseas. Nor does it face the new situation created by recent revelations, which make it imperative that the bona fides of our cultural activities be spelled out visibly, dramatically, and in a new form.

Moreover, since State/CU, under this proposal, would also give up much of its authority, and various agencies will change their responsibilities, this change will be only a part of a larger picture, and cannot be construed as aimed at USIA alone.

Another and important advantage of this proposal is that it will remove long-standing barriers to the recruitment of good Cultural Affairs Officers. The best ones we have are dissatisfied with their present situation, which requires them to report through Public Affairs Officers. Outstanding figures like Cleanth Brooks, who served in London, and Laurence Wylie, now in Paris, have said that they could not recommend to any colleague that he repeat their experience.

Dissatisfaction with the present state of affairs has been expressed for a number of years, and recently with increasing impatience, by the U.S. Advisory Commission on International Educational and Cultural Affairs, by the Board of Foreign Scholarships, and by outstanding representatives of American higher education. The White House Conference on International Cooperation specifically recommended both a semi-autonomous Foundation, and the dissociation of cultural affairs from USIA.7 No step would do more to restore the confidence of the educational community in government-sponsored exchanges than this change in our system of overseas representation.

Question 5) What happens to the plans for Education Officers?

Answer: These plans would continue to be valid for countries where there is a large private educational traffic with the United States, or [Page 427] where a large number of Federal agencies are active in education, and require coordination.

In smaller and medium-sized embassies, it would be appropriate to combine the activities of the Cultural and Educational Officers. In large embassies, according to the Ambassador’s desires, one could be subordinate to the other.

In general, the above proposal would probably mean that we would not need more than 30 Education Officers in overseas posts.


In favor of this third alternative are the following considerations:

1) It provides a visible guarantee of the integrity of all U.S. exchange activities.

2) It brings together activities that belong together.

3) It deals across the board, rather than in an ad hoc way, with the fundamental problem of government-private cooperation.

4) It is based on similar proposals that have been put forward for many years by the educational-scientific-cultural community, and will remove most of the objections they have raised to existing arrangements.

5) It puts exchange activities in a healthier setting—an educational and long-range foreign policy setting rather than a propagandistic and short-range setting. (In this connection, it would be useful, though not absolutely essential, to explore the possibility of five-year appropriations for such a Foundation.)

Against this proposal are some obvious considerations:

1) It is ambitious, and envisages major administrative changes. There will be bureaucratic pushing and pulling.

2) It will probably lead to general debate, since it will require new legislation.

On balance, even these adverse considerations seem themselves to be favorable consequences. I believe the Administration can turn what is now an embarrassment into a major triumph for its credibility, flexibility and imagination if it puts forward this idea.

Charles Frankel
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Tab A

Chart Prepared in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Department of State8


1. American student participation in international Conferences abroad:

396 universities

150 colleges

546 institutions × 1 student @ $1,000 each= $546,0009

2. Student conferences in the U.S.

5 regional annual meetings

Unit cost $22,000 - logistics

20,000 - international travel

24,000 - domestic transportation for 100 U.S. students


5 conferences = $330,000

3. Participation in International meetings by U.S. Scholars (funding through scholarly societies) = $500,000

4. Network of counseling and orientation centers for foreign students = $1,600,000

5. Support to private student interchange organizations (including university-to-university interchange) $6,000,000

Total $8,976,000

  1. Source: Johnson Library, Office Files of the White House Aides, McPherson, Box 1, Aides Files—McPherson, Box 6, CU 1967. Confidential. Sent through S/S. Copies were sent to McPherson, Cater, and Gardner. According to another copy of the memorandum, Frankel sent a copy to Cater under a February 23 typewritten note. (Johnson Library, White House Central Files, Confidential File, Oversized Attachments, Box 193, 12/2/68, Packet #3 [Cater 2/67—10/67 Materials re US Government and Private Voluntary Organizations, Committee on Voluntary Overseas Activity (COVA) also the Rusk Committee])
  2. On February 15, Johnson appointed Katzenbach, Gardner, and Helms to a committee, referred to as the Katzenbach Committee, to examine the relationship between the CIA and the student groups. (J.Y. Smith and John Maffre, “U.S. to Review Agency-Student Links,” Washington Post, February 16, 1967, p. A1; and John Herbers, “President Bars Agency Influence Over Education,” New York Times, February 16, 1967, p. 1)
  3. See footnote 4, Document 14.
  4. See footnote 5, Document 116.
  5. The Center for Educational Cooperation was never established.
  6. See footnote 11, Document 126.
  7. The White House Conference on International Cooperation was held November 29–December 1, 1965. For further information, see Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XXXIV, Energy Diplomacy and Global Issues, Documents 274, 275, 276, and 278.
  8. Confidential.
  9. This is merely a rough-and-ready way of figuring costs if the decision were taken to ensure broad representation of U.S. students at international meetings. Obviously, some institutions need not be represented at all; others would have more than one delegate. Obviously, too, these figures merely contemplate attendance by small delegations at the many meetings that take place. [Footnote is in the original.]