177. Memorandum From the Commanding General of the Manhattan Engineer District, Department of War (Groves) to the Atomic Energy Commission0


  • Foreign Intelligence Set-up
In accordance with General Marshall’s instructions, I established a special organization to collect information on the capabilities of enemy powers to use atomic energy for military purposes. The reason for these instructions, I believe, was a feeling that existing intelligence agencies had proven themselves unable to function satisfactorily. At [Page 459] first, personnel from other existing sections of my office were used part time on this foreign intelligence work; in 1944–45 some special overseas operations were fostered, field commanders and staffs were briefed and selected officers were assigned to duty with overseas theaters. By 1945 a full time Foreign Intelligence Section was required; late that year the Section was organized in substantially its present form.
It is vital to the security of the United States that foreign intelligence in the field of atomic energy be maintained and strengthened. The Central Intelligence Group which was organized in 1946 is the operating agency of the National Intelligence Authority and is now responsible for the coordination and direction of all foreign intelligence activities of the government. The CIG must be able to evaluate the capabilities of other nations to use atomic energy in the military field, and the best nucleus upon which to build the organization is unquestionably this Foreign Intelligence Section.
To continue the functions of the Foreign Intelligence Section in any other way except under the control of CIG would be very difficult. This Section has never had complete facilities or personnel to do its own collection; it has assembled intelligence material collected by other agencies, and correlated data from the Manhattan District. Its primary purpose is to secure a maximum of information and to interpret that information as to what is going on in the atomic energy field in foreign nations, with particular emphasis on the rate of progress of other nations in catching up with the United States’ position and on determining estimates of resources of uranium where such information cannot be accurately obtained through the normal channels of Manhattan District. As a dissemination agency this Section has been prepared to act only as it was deemed necessary to supply information to other agencies. In the event it should find any indication of a foreign nation being in advance of us technically, it would of course promptly convey such information to those portions of the Manhattan Project to whom it would be of interest. Overseas its mission has been limited to liaison with Military Attaches, with Headquarters, United States Forces, European Theater (USFET) and with British Intelligence. Through the Intelligence link, and only through that link, can the very productive cooperation with British Intelligence continue. I have long thought that the C.I.G. has the best resources for this intelligence collection and dissemination and for procuring and retaining personnel capable of serving the Atomic Energy Program in the future. It would be a mistake to use the present limited Manhattan resources based upon informal liaison with the State, War and Navy Departments or any organization set up with the A.E.C. This is especially true since the C.I.G. already controls the Strategic Services Unit and is assured of cooperation with British Intelligence.
The experience of my Foreign Intelligence Section and the mission and operation of the C.I.G. logically place them together, but future cooperation between C.I.G. and the A.E.C. will be absolutely necessary in the best interests of the country. The specialized Foreign Intelligence Section would be the best instrument to provide this coordinated effort. Continued access to the Commission sites and discussions between individuals already recognized on the working level are important in order to avoid an inordinate number of middle men and inefficient delays. Security demands that the liaison have the appropriate authority and control.
I feel that:
The Foreign Intelligence Section should be an integral part of the C.I.G.
The Foreign Intelligence Section should be the routine channel of liaison between the C.I.G. and the A.E.C.
The C.I.G. should collect and furnish all available information with respect to ore deposits and discoveries, mining activities, scientific development or other subjects from foreign countries needed in the work of the A.E.C. as desired by that latter body.
Representatives of the Foreign Intelligence Section in the C.I.G. should be permitted to visit sites in the United States, to consult with individuals and to receive technical papers of the A.E.C. as may be arranged.
L. R. Groves 1

Major General, U.S.A.
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency Historical Files, HS/HC–208. Secret. The source text is a copy transcribed for the CIA Historical Staff on January 14, 1954.
  2. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.