124. Memorandum From the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (Hoover) to Attorney General Clark0

Pursuant to the appointment arranged by you with Admiral Leahy, Mr. Tamm consulted with the Admiral this morning. Admiral Leahy was informed that I was endeavoring, in accord with your desires, to assist in every practical way to arrange for the transfer of the Latin American coverage to the Central Intelligence Group but that there were certain elements and factors about which it was felt Admiral Leahy should be advised. He was informed that some months ago, in accord with your authorization, I had drawn up a schedule for a worldwide intelligence service under the Bureau’s direction, which contemplated the use of some 650 agents, at an annual cost of ten million dollars, with the cost of operation concealed within the Bureau’s appropriation to avoid publicity with reference thereto. It was pointed out that this plan had not been acceptable, but that the Bureau had, after the Central Intelligence Group was established, been virtually evicted from South America.

Admiral Leahy was informed that when General Vandenberg was asked whether he desired to take over the Latin American coverage, he stated that he did desire to do so, but when I had attempted to initiate a program of withdrawing the FBI staff from South America, this withdrawal had been opposed except on an unacceptable long-term basis. It was pointed out to the Admiral that this placed the Bureau in a position where its Agents were not good enough to remain in South America but at the same time their services were, at least at this time, indispensable. It was pointed out to Admiral Leahy that it is impossible to maintain the morale and efficiency of the Bureau Agents on Latin American assignments on a high basis due to the fact that their interest was bound to lag in the knowledge of their pending return to domestic responsibilities, and that as a result the whole spirit of the Bureau’s SIS Division was bogging down.

Admiral Leahy was advised that the Bureau had, upon Mr. Roosevelt’s direction, placed in operation in Latin America virtually overnight an efficient intelligence service. In answer to Admiral Leahy’s question as to whether it is impossible for the Central Intelligence Group to obtain an adequate operating staff, the Admiral was advised that while this program might be somewhat difficult, it was not impossible as evidenced by [Page 299] the fact that the Bureau had done it under the difficulties of wartime pressure.

It was pointed out to Admiral Leahy that while Bureau Agents were apparently not good enough to continue in the Latin American intelligence field, the persons designated by General Vandenberg to work with the Bureau in turning over the SIS responsibilities to the Central Intelligence Group were ex-FBI Agents who had deserted the Bureau service in time of war for personal reasons and were definitely persona non grata to the Bureau.

Admiral Leahy indicated that it was President Truman’s desire to establish a worldwide intelligence service and to relieve the Bureau of all of its foreign responsibilities in the interest of enabling the Bureau to discharge its domestic responsibilities. He stated that the President and he were of the opinion that the Bureau should continue to maintain agents in any part of the world deemed necessary for the facilitating of the discharge of the Bureau’s domestic responsibilities.

Admiral Leahy was advised of the fact that many of the Latin American Ambassadors are protesting against the withdrawal of the Bureau but that I would not permit our agents to plan with them any program of opposition.

To summarize the Bureau’s overall position, Admiral Leahy was informed that I am making every effort to coordinate the Bureau’s program of withdrawal with CIG’s program of taking over, but that I was convinced that the CIG was stalling. Admiral Leahy is of the opinion that General Vandenberg and his group are stalling and indicated that he would take this entire matter up with General Vandenberg upon the latter’s return to the United States in order to facilitate, expedite and clarify this situation. The Admiral was assured that the Bureau has no desire to be arbitrary or stubborn in this situation but will do everything possible to bring about an expeditious clarification of the entire change-over program.


John Edgar Hoover 1
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 263, Records of the Central Intelligence Agency, Troy Papers, FBI Documents. No classification marking. A typed note on the source text indicates that it was sent at 5 p.m. on August 12. This memorandum from Hoover is based on a longer August 12 memorandum from Tamm to Hoover. (Ibid.) See the Supplement.
  2. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.