274. Draft Report by the National Security Council0

NSC 10


The Problem

1. To consider measures for the furtherance of covert operations in the interest of our national security.

[Page 678]


2. The means employed by a nation in pursuit of its national objectives may be both overt and covert. They range in time of peace from such overt actions as political alliances, economic measures (as ERP), and “white” informational activities, to such covert operations as unacknowledged support of “friendly” foreign elements, “black” propaganda and encouragement of underground resistance in hostile states.

3. Having assumed greater international responsibilities than ever before in our history and having been engaged in a “cold war” by the full might of the Kremlin, the United States cannot afford to leave unmobilized or unemployed its resources for covert operations. The United States cannot afford in the future, in perhaps more serious political crises, to reply upon improvised covert operations as was done at the time of the Italian elections.

4. In NSC 4–A1 provision was made for the conduct of certain covert psychological (propaganda) operations. The State–Army–Navy–Air Force Coordinating Committee has considered such matters as utilization of refugees from the USSR in the United States national interest (SANACC 395),2 plans for evacuation of key foreign personnel (SANACC 396), demolition of oil facilities (SANACC 398), and psychological warfare (SANACC 304).3 In connection with psychological warfare, the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, concurred in by the State-Army-Navy-Air Force Coordinating Committee, have been referred to the National Security Council for consideration. It is the opinion of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that from the military point of view “there should be established, as soon as practicable, under the National Security Council, a Psychological Warfare Organization, but with its peacetime scope and activities limited to that of a working nucleus for planning and coordination” (SANACC 304/14).4 The Policy Planning Staff of the Department of State has also recommended that covert operations be immediately instituted under unified direction.5

5. In the light of the above considerations, there is a need for an organization which is designed to strengthen and extend current covert operations in the interest of our national security and to provide for plans and preparations for the conduct, in time of war, of covert operations and [Page 679] of the overt phases of psychological warfare. The establishment of such an organization will require the revision of NSC 4–A.


6. The proposed National Security Council Directive in Annex A should be approved, and if approved, the proposed revision of NSC 4–A in Annex B should be approved

Annex A6

Proposed NSC Directive

There is hereby established under the National Security Council the position of Director of Special Studies. The Director shall be nominated by the Secretary of State and appointed by the National Security Council.
The Director should have initially a staff of four members assigned from the Department of State, one service member each from the Army, Navy, and Air Force, and one member from the Central Intelligence Agency. The Secretary of Defense may assign a member if he so desires. The staff members will act both as assistants to the Director, in the performance of his duties, and as liaison between him and their respective agencies.
It shall be the duty of the Director, under the direction of the National Security Council:
To be responsible for the preparation by his own staff or by other agencies, as appropriate, of plans for all covert operations. It is intended that each operating agency will develop the details of that part of a plan covering its own operations.
To review all such plans and, if he approves them, to arrange for their execution by appropriate agencies.
To review the execution of such operations to insure that they are being conducted in accordance with approved plans, provided that nothing contained herein shall require the disclosure of secret intelligence sources and methods.
To develop an over-all program for the conduct of covert operations and overt phases of psychological warfare in time of war or when directed by the President, to include organization, training, equipment and logistic support, and to arrange for initiation of such training and preparations in time of peace as necessary for the prompt initiation of such a program.
The Director is charged with:
Giving timely notification of intended plans and operations to each government agency represented on his staff through the respective staff members and to other government agencies which may be affected. Problems arising in connection with the formulation of plans for or the conduct of operations shall be resolved directly between the Director and the agency or agencies involved.
Insuring that such covert activities are consistent with US foreign policies and overt activities and that plans for war-time covert operations and psychological operations are consistent with and complement Joint Chiefs of Staff approved plans for military operations.
The ends envisaged in this paper will require unvouchered funds other than those already appropriated.
As used in this directive “covert operations” are understood to be all activities (excluding armed conflict by recognized military forces, espionage and counter-espionage) which are conducted or sponsored by this government against hostile foreign states or groups or in support of friendly foreign states or groups but which are so planned and executed that any US Government responsibility for them is not evident to unauthorized persons and if uncovered the US Government can plausibly disclaim any responsibility for them. Specifically, such operations shall include any covert activities related to propaganda; preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation measures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance movements, guerrillas and refugee liberation groups; and support of indigenous anti-communist elements in threatened countries of the free world.
“Overt psychological warfare” referred to herein shall be construed to mean information programs designed to facilitate the development of an informed and intelligent understanding at home and abroad of the status and progress of any war effort in which the United States may be engaged and of the war policies, activities and aims of the Government.

Annex B7

Draft Revision of NSC 4–A

The National Security Council, taking cognizance of the vicious psychological efforts and covert operations of the USSR, its satellite countries and Communist groups to discredit and defeat the aims and [Page 681] activities of the United States and other Western powers, has determined that, in the interests of world peace and US national security, the overt foreign activities of the US Government must be supplemented by covert operations.
The similarity of operational methods involved in covert operations and covert intelligence activities makes the Central Intelligence Agency an appropriate agency to conduct such operations. Therefore, under the authority of Section 102 (d)(5) of the National Security Act of 1947, the National Security Council:
Directs the Director of Central Intelligence to continue, within the limit of available funds, such covert propaganda operations as may be arranged with and approved by the Director of Special Studies in accordance with the latter’s directive from the National Security Council.
Authorizes the Director of Central Intelligence to conduct such other covert operations as may be arranged by the Director of Special Studies in accordance with the latter’s directive from the National Security Council.
The Director of Central Intelligence is charged with ensuring that appropriate agencies of the US Government, both at home and abroad (including diplomatic and military representatives in each area), are kept informed of such operations which will directly affect them.
Nothing contained herein shall be construed to require the Central Intelligence Agency to disclose operational details concerning its secret intelligence techniques, sources or contacts.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 273, Records of the National Security Council, NSC 10/2. Top Secret. Transmitted under a covering note from Souers to the NSC submitting the report for consideration at an early meeting. For a May 10 draft of this report, see the Supplement. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 273, Records of the National Security Council, NSC 10/2)
  2. Document 257.
  3. The SANACC numbers refer to series rather than to individual papers.
  4. See, for example, Document 249.
  5. JCS memorandum for SANACC, undated (Central Intelligence Agency Historical Files, HS/HC-291) and SANACC memorandum for the Executive Secretary of the National Security Council, April 12. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 273, Records of the National Security Council, NSC 10/2) See the Supplement for both; the JSC memorandum is filed under date of January 1948.
  6. See Document 269.
  7. Top Secret. The proposed directive is a further revision of Document 270.
  8. Top Secret.