278. Memorandum From Director of Central Intelligence Hillenkoetter to the National Security Council 0


  • Covert (Psychological) Operations
With regard to the discussions at the National Security Council meeting the other afternoon on this subject, I wish to present the following idea which I think possesses many advantages. I believe a plan worked out, as suggested below, would overcome almost all of the objections raised, and I believe it would be in consonance with theDulles-Jackson-Correa paper1 and would satisfy the State Department’s demands for a directing hand in what forms of propaganda are to be used and what underground resistance movements are to be supported. Furthermore, the suggested plan would be in consonance with NSC 4–A and would answer the objections of the Secretary of the Army regarding the establishment of a new Agency and regarding making the National Security Council an operating body. Also, I believe this suggested plan would receive the warm support of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and certainly would be in line with the intent of Congress as derived from conversations with both Senators and Representatives.
To begin with, in the proposed paper2 on a Director of Special Studies, as presented, it is necessary to divide “Covert Operations” into two sections: (1) those operations that will be carried out in peace time and (2) those that will be carried out only during war time or during a period when the outbreak of war is imminent. The first group of such operations, those to be carried out in peace time, will involve black propaganda, including morale subversion, assistance to underground movements, and support of resistance movements. The second group, which it is very obvious that the United States would not perform except in relation to war or when war was so close that it was felt it could not be avoided, are the positive operations involving sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition, subversion against hostile states, guerrilla support, and evacuation. The above division appears to be a most logical one inasmuch as it is very difficult to believe that we would send in parties to accomplish physical destruction in any phase of a “cold” war.
To carry out this concept, it is suggested that a paper be prepared to set forth the following points:
To provide in the State Department a high-level liaison officer for covert operations. This officer should be of sufficient stature to have the authority to pass on the forms of propaganda to be employed and to tell the Central Intelligence Agency that it is the policy of the United States to support such-and-such an underground or resistance movement and to deny such support to another underground or resistance movement. (It has been the lack of any such liaison with authority that has really caused the present discussions.)
Covert operations of the first group, involving black propaganda, assistance to underground movements, and support of resistance movements, to be carried on in peace time, shall be conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency in accordance with NSC 4–A and in accordance with the policies derived from the liaison officer mentioned in (a) above.
Covert operations of the second group, involving sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition, etc., which are not to be carried on in peace time but only in war time or in a state of emergency, to be considered and planned now by a committee under the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with members from the Armed Services and the Central Intelligence Agency. It is to be emphasized that only “planning” is to be done now for this second group of operations.
Both groups of operations in war time or emergency will naturally fall under the military commander. Upon the outbreak of war or in a state of emergency, the organization conducting covert operations in (b) above should be lifted bodily from the Central Intelligence Agency and placed under the Joint Chiefs of Staff in relation to the plans for the covert operations mentioned in (c) above.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff will be kept informed by the Central Intelligence Agency of the measures undertaken under (b) above, in order that the transition from a peace time status to a war time status can be made smoothly and efficiently.
RH Hillenkoetter
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 273, Records of the National Security Council, NSC 10/2. Top Secret. The memorandum was originally addressed to Souers and was readdressed for circulation to the members of the Council. The only other difference between the original and the circulated version was the addition of footnote 2 below to the latter.
  2. Document 275.
  3. NSC 10. [Footnote in the source text.]