29. Memorandum From the Director of the United States Information Agency (Rowan) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs (Greenfield)1

In line with our discussion about the difficulties of USIA keeping well enough informed about military exercises and other developments to do its job adequately, I wish to cite two recent cases to illustrate the contention that the State Department also is delinquent in this respect.

1. More than two weeks ago the White House asked the State Department for a position, coordinated with other agencies, on the proposal that the Lockheed Aircraft Company2 be permitted to sell the South African Government about $100,000,000 worth of planes for anti-submarine warfare training. I first learned of this potential sale because of a casual remark dropped after one of Secretary Rusk’s staff meetings. I later found that Mr. Kitchen, through Ambassador Thompson and Under Secretary Ball, had submitted to the Secretary a proposed response to the President. The submission included letters from Treasury, Commerce and Defense, and discussed the views of various areas of State, but no effort had been made either to inform USIA or to find out its views on the matter.

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I think you will agree that the sale of aircraft to South Africa for possible military use is a matter of the very deepest psychological and propaganda importance, particularly in Africa, and that the views of this agency, charged with responsibility in the propaganda area, ought to be cranked into the decision making process.

2. On Saturday, September 26, Rollie White3 of State telephoned Burnett Anderson, my Assistant Deputy Director for Policy and Plans, and secured his clearance on a telegram4 relating to the possible explosion of a nuclear device by the Chinese Communists. Anderson was led to believe that this was a more or less routine telegram related to other telegrams on the subject. Information made available to us today, however, indicates that the telegram was far from routine, and would not have been cleared by USIA had all of the background information been made available to us, as it should have been.

I hope that you will impress upon your colleagues that a little better coordination can be achieved quite easily, and that we shall all have fewer headaches as a result. For example, a recent memorandum5 from me to the President relating to the proposed visit of a nuclear task force to certain African countries created some havoc at State and a request from Ambassador Thompson to me that wherever possible USIA resolve differences of viewpoint directly with State. The trouble here was that State had not kept USIA informed, and thus coordination was impossible.

We are aware that the psychological-propaganda factor is only one of many factors that go into determining policy, but we want to insert that factor in as orderly and helpful a way as possible.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Office of the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, Subject Files, 05/17/1961–10/15/1965, Lot 67D131, Entry A1–5226, Box 1, U.S. Information Agency. Confidential. Greenfield’s response to Rowan’s memorandum is printed as Document 31.
  2. An American aerospace company founded in 1912.
  3. Foreign Service Officer for the Department of State.
  4. Not further identified.
  5. Not further identified.