17. Memorandum From Attorney General Clark to President Truman0


Secret world-wide intelligence coverage for the benefit of the United States Government must have as its primary objectives the providing to the executive branches of the Government basic data on a world-wide scale upon which plans may be formulated and action taken, and the insuring of internal security from the threat of infiltrating foreign agents, ideologies, and military conquest. Intelligence coverage must be had immediately. There is no time for training and organizing a new corps.

There is in operation in the Western Hemisphere an intelligence plan based on simplicity of structure and flexibility of operations which has functioned efficiently, secretly, and economically since prior to Pearl Harbor, and has proved its adaptability to world-wide coverage by the effectiveness of its operation in the Western Hemisphere field.

It is proposed that the time-proved program in operation in the Western Hemisphere be extended on a world-wide basis with certain modifications.

The Plan

The plan provides for the joint operation in every country of the world of a service reporting through State Department channels composed of a member from each of the Office of Military Intelligence (military attaché), the Office of Naval Intelligence (naval attaché), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (legal attaché), each as a specialist in its own field and able to operate without a duplication of effort but closely correlating their operations to insure complete coverage.

A committee to control basic policy would be composed of the Secretaries of State, War and Navy and the Attorney General. There would [Page 49] be an operational committee set up by the President composed of an Assistant Secretary of State, the Directors of Military Intelligence, Naval Intelligence and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

A unit for evaluation and analysis would be established in the State Department to which the three operating agencies would furnish intelligence data and appropriate review, analysis, and utilization in international matters.

Facility of Operation

The program proposed is somewhat similar in operation as that presently operating in the Western Hemisphere. It has proved its effectiveness, requires no elaborate superstructure and the interested agencies have available trained personnel and operating facilities for recruiting, training, and dispatching additional personnel. The plan, consequently, can be placed in operation immediately by the President merely setting up the policy board, creating the evaluation and analysis section in the State Department and then extending the authority heretofore given to the Directors of Military and Naval Intelligence and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for operation in the Western Hemisphere to operate on a world-wide basis.

This plan has produced in the Western Hemisphere a maximum amount of information with a minimum of operating personnel and expense, and has not resulted in any embarrassment whatsoever to the United States Government. Its secrecy is assured through the dissemination of the operations among the already existing Government agencies which have previously operated successfully for a long period in their respective fields.

Points for Consideration

Foreign and domestic civil intelligence are inseparable and constitute one field of operation. The German-American Bund and the Italian Fascist organizations in the United States originated and were directed from abroad. The Communist movement originated in Russia but operates in the United States. To follow these organizations access must be had to their origin and headquarters in foreign countries as well as to their activities in the United States. Every major espionage service has operated on a world-wide basis except that of Britain which has had a separate organization for domestic and foreign intelligence, but Britain is in the process at present of consolidating the two services based on their experiences through the war period. In order to cope with the activities of various subversive agents in the United States with speed and dispatch, it is entirely evident that their activities must be followed throughout the various countries by one intelligence agency of the United States Government. Valuable time, as well as efficiency and effectiveness, [Page 50] is lost if one agency covers their activities in Europe, another in Latin America and another in the United States.

The theory that police work and intelligence coverage cannot be combined has been entirely dispelled. Police arrests under modern police practice is only one of the important functions of a police agency. In fact, all police work specifically involves the gathering of information in the nature of intelligence. Extensive intelligence coverage must necessarily precede the arrest of the enemy agent in the United States and it is not possible to separate the gathering of intelligence from police functions in view of the numerous criminal statutes such as those relating to espionage and sabotage which must be enforced by police action although directly concerned with intelligence. One of the major factors in the control of subversive activities in the Western Hemisphere during the war was the coordination of efforts of the various police organizations throughout the United States and Latin America through the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

A hazard in intelligence operation is the possibility of a charge being made that the organization is a “Gestapo.” Also, a police agency which engages in intelligence operation may be called a “political police.” Both charges are obnoxious to American citizens. The set-up operating in the Western Hemisphere throughout the war has engaged in both police and intelligence activities and its record of protecting civil liberties has been highly praised even by the American Civil Liberties Union.


  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 51, Records of the Office of Management and Budget, Director’s Files, Series 39.27, Intelligence. Secret. In a covering memorandum to a slightly different draft of this memorandum, September 21, Hoover told Clark that “it is essential to consummate the Government program upon this subject at the earliest possible date, and accordingly, I believe that any affirmative action which may be taken to advance this program should be taken very promptly.” (Ibid., RG 263, Records of the Central Intelligence Agency, Troy Papers, FBI Documents) See the Supplement. The memorandum apparently was not sent to Truman. In October 22 covering letters, Clark sent Smith and Appleby of the Bureau of the Budget copies of this plan. See the Supplement for the October 22 letters. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 51, Records of the Office of Management and Budget, Director’s Files, Series 39.27, Intelligence)
  2. Printed from an unsigned copy.