281. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary (Souers) to the National Security Council0


  • Establishment of a Special Services Unit in CIA


  • NSC 10

The enclosed proposal on the above subject, which is suggested as a possible alternative to the Conclusions in NSC 10, represents the results of an informal discussion between the Secretary of Defense, the Under Secretary of State, and Mr.Allen W. Dulles.1

At their request the enclosure is submitted herewith for consideration by the National Security Council in connection with NSC 10, which is scheduled as Item 1 on the Agenda for the NSC 12th Meeting on Thursday, June 3.2

Sidney W. Souers


Proposal Submitted to the National Security Council


Further consideration of the problem of developing our activities in the field of covert political warfare leads to the following points which, it [Page 693] is suggested, should serve as a basis for the further consideration of this problem by the National Security Council.

CIA provides the legal structure within which covert political activities can be conducted and it is already charged under NSC 4–A with the conduct of covert psychological operations abroad. In addition, CIA is already charged by National Security Council Directive No. 5 with conducting espionage and counter-espionage operations abroad, which operations are by their nature very closely related to covert political activities as contemplated in NSC 10. It, therefore, seems desirable for legal, as well as operational reasons, not to create a new agency for covert political activities, but to place the responsibility for this work within the legal structure of the Central Intelligence Agency and closely relate it to secret intelligence.

The principal objection to this proposal arises out of doubt as to whether CIA is presently so constituted that it can effectively handle this problem which is so different from CIA’s primary task of coordinating intelligence activities and correlating and evaluating intelligence relating to the national security. There is also fear lest covert operations develop in a manner inconsistent with our foreign and military policies.

These considerations lead to the following general conclusions and recommendations:

Responsibility for both secret intelligence and secret operations, including covert psychological activities, should be placed in a new Special Services unit to be created in CIA.
This unit should have a considerable measure of autonomy within CIA and its directors should be authorized to appeal directly to the National Security Council in case of differences arising between him and the Director of Central Intelligence.
A highly qualified person recruited from outside the present ranks of CIA and approved by the National Security Council should be appointed to head the new unit in CIA.
Provision should be made so that the chief of the newly created unit has access to and receives policy guidance from the Department of State and the Military Establishment.
It is understood that this is a provisional arrangement subject to review at a later date.

The following actions should be taken if the National Security Council approves in principle the foregoing points:

The Department of State, the National Military Establishment, and CIA should jointly request funds for the proposed operation.
The Executive Secretary, National Security Council, should be directed to prepare a detailed directive covering the above points for approval by the Council.

  1. Source: Truman Library, Papers of Harry S. Truman, President’s Secretary’s File, Subject File. Top Secret. Attached to another copy of this document is an earlier draft of the proposal with handwritten changes. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 273, Records of the National Security Council, NSC 10/2)
  2. Document 280.
  3. See Document 283.
  4. Top Secret.