188. Memorandum From the Secretary of State’s Special Assistant for Research and Intelligence (Eddy) to the Under Secretary of State (Acheson)0


  • Directorship of the Central Intelligence Group

I have been unable to confirm officially the report that Lt. General Hoyt S. Vandenberg will resign as Director of Central Intelligence and will be succeeded by Rear Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter.1 Whether or not such a move takes place, I would like to call to your attention certain matters which I feel are important in the selection of any Director of Central Intelligence. If the reported new appointment has not been finally decided upon by the President, perhaps you might like to discuss this question with the Secretary. I hasten to add that my remarks should not be construed as an attack on, or support for, any individual. I am concerned with what I consider to be an important basic principle, that the Director of Central Intelligence should be a civilian.

In the thirteen months of its existence, the Central Intelligence Group already has had two directors, each a Service representative. Should there be a continuation of the policy of selecting directors from one of the Services, there is always danger that demands of the appointee’s department may result in similar early shifts in the directorship. Necessity for continuity of leadership can hardly be overestimated, especially in a new and growing organization like the Central Intelligence Group.

The nature of the Central Intelligence Group requires that its director be, as far as possible, untouched by any departmental bias or influence. [Page 499] Under such circumstances a Service director will always and inevitably be torn between absolute objectivity and natural allegiance to his own Service.

Continuity and objectivity of leadership can best be assured by a director drawn from civilian ranks and not subject to demands from or allegiance to any single department. This seems especially true in the light of the proposed National Security Act of 1947. Under its provisions the National Intelligence Authority would be dissolved and its functions assumed by a National Security Council. Since the composition of the Council is weighted on the side of the Armed Forces, it is important that the national, as opposed to the military, character of its central intelligence agency be emphasized in the form of a civilian director.

William A. Eddy
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Decimal File 1945–49, 101.61/2–2847. Confidential.
  2. Admiral Leahy noted in his diary that the NIA had discussed the question of a successor to Vandenberg (so he could move on to the future Air Force) at its meeting on February 12. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Papers of William D. Leahy, Leahy Diary, 1947, p. 12; February 12, 1947) The discussion was not recorded in the minutes; see Document 185. Leahy’s brief entry does not mention the names of any potential successors. On February 17, Leahy wrote in his diary that he had obtained the approval of all NIA members and the President for Rear Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter to replace Vandenberg. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Papers of William D. Leahy, Leahy Diary, February 17, 1947, p. 13) In a note written some years later, Ludwell Montague, the chief of CIG’s Intelligence Staff (and at that time on detail to the CIG from the Department of State) recalled that as of February 27 or 28, Eddy’s office was not aware Hillenkoetter had been definitely selected and that Eddy’s deputy had approached him for his views on a State Department nomination of Allen Dulles to succeed Vandenberg. (Memorandum for the record, April 7, 1970; Central Intelligence Agency Historical Files, HS/HC–400, Item 8)