283. Memorandum for the President of Discussion at the 12th Meeting of the National Security Council0

The following notes contain a brief summary of the discussion at the 12th meeting of the National Security Council on June 3, 1948.

1. Director of Special Studies (NSC 10)

Mr. Lovett explained the proposal which resulted from discussion between Messrs. Forrestal, Lovett and Dulles, at which General [Page 695]Gruenther and Admiral Hillenkoetter were also heard.1 Mr. Lovett said that this proposal was a possible method of meeting the problem to enable the Council to move rapidly in getting the necessary funds.

Admiral Hillenkoetter noted the statement that the principal objection was whether CIA could handle this job. He said that no protest or doubts had been expressed up to the present. The Office of Special Operations in CIA is practically autonomous now. However, Admiral Hillenkoetter thought that the proposed right of appeal to the Council by the Director of that office was totally wrong. Admiral Hillenkoetter stated that CIA now has qualified people. The man heading this work is a Mr. Cassidy who worked with General Donovan in France. Admiral Hillenkoetter, therefore, did not see the need to put in another man who could get necessary policy guidance. Admiral Hillenkoetter wondered why he himself could not be given such guidance.

Mr. Lovett said that the Dulles recommendations revolved around having secret intelligence, covert operations and psychological warfare all under one man who in turn would be under Admiral Hillenkoetter. Mr.Lovett drew a distinction between the overall function of CIA and these covert operations which were a specialized extra curricular activity.

Secretary Forrestal said that the proposals also took account of the criticisms that CIA should not be an operating organization. These would be answered in part by making a separate unit for covert operations from the parts of CIA which discharged its coordinating and evaluating functions. SecretaryForrestal said that the real thing to face is the feeling that a military organization cannot deal with the political subtleties in this activity. He felt that we must have a very able man with a civilian type of mind.

Mr. Lovett pointed out that CIA is intended to be a civilian agency.

Secretary Forrestal said that it comes down to getting a man who will be acceptable to Admiral Hillenkoetter, the type such as Mr. Dulles.

Admiral Hillenkoetter said that he had started carrying out NSC 4–A by getting Mr. Cassidy who was recommended by General Donovan and by David Bruce. Mr. Cassidy is a broker and banker from Chicago.

Mr. Lovett said that another point about the right of appeal arose in part from the feeling that it might be necessary, because of the multiplicity of military interests, for the NSC to compose any differences that arise.

Mr. Souers pointed out that NSC 4–A originally proposed an advisory panel which was stricken out. The result has been that there has [Page 696]been no authoritative guidance. If no official tie-in is established, there is the danger that this activity will be celled off.

Admiral Hillenkoetter said that the organization chart provided a tie-in with State, but it was not official enough.

Secretary Royall said that he agreed with Admiral Hillenkoetter’s comments. Secretary Royall had no faith in the proposed right of appeal. He felt that if you gave a man responsibility, you should give him the full authority to run it.

Mr. Hill agreed with SecretaryRoyall.

Secretary Forrestal said that he was confident Mr. Cassidy could do the job. Admiral Hillenkoetter agreed and said that Mr. Cassidy came with the best recommendation.

Mr. Lovett said that he certainly could not ask for more than CIA had done [less than 1 line of source text not declassified].

Mr. Whitney said that there were many papers on this subject. He pointed out that there is a JCS paper2 along the lines of Admiral Hillenkoetter’s view which had been monitored by General Vandenberg who feels quite strongly on this subject.

Mr. Lovett said that the wording of the second principle in the Forrestal-Lovett proposals did not adequately convey their thought. They had understood that the Director of the special unit would only be authorized to report to the NSC on matters which affected the interests of other agencies in this activity.

Admiral Hillenkoetter felt that this still has the same objectionable features.

Mr. Souers pointed out that part of this activity is extra curricular to CIA. Secret intelligence is all right, but the other activities envisaged are not normal CIA functions.

Admiral Hillenkoetter felt that the other activities should be either in CIA or set up entirely separate.

Secretary Forrestal said that their proposals were an effort to preclude setting up a separate agency but still to recognize the complexities in this field. He said that they were trying to deal with the realities arising out of the criticisms in Congress and elsewhere on this subject. He agreed that Admiral Hillenkoetter must be allowed to keep his finger on this activity, but felt there should still be a channel to the NSC.

Secretary Royall said that this activity carried a lot of responsibility since it is felt to be questionable morally in some quarters. He didn’t see how the NSC could give responsibility without authority.

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Secretary Forrestal said that giving it completely to CIA would not meet the criticisms regarding military influence.

Secretary Royall felt that if CIA was not civilian in nature, it was the fault of the NSC because CIA is supposed to be above the military. If it is not, he felt that the NSC should correct the situation. His first choice is to give it to CIA. The second choice would be to create a separate organization. His third and last choice would be to retain the right of appeal.

Mr. Lovett noted that the Dulles recommendations were that this activity be placed either under the NSC or under CIA as the NSC desires. He understood that the Dulles point would be met by a tightly knit unit under CIA, but he was concerned because this goes beyond CIA legislative authority. There is no legal authority for this activity except that residing in the NSC. He, therefore, felt it was necessary to have an umbilical cord to the NSC.

Mr. Souers noted that Mr. Kennan had made the point that State wants to work with partisan groups in this country. He was afraid that this activity would be destroyed if they had to work with an intelligence agency. Mr. Souers pointed out that in peacetime State has the biggest stake. [1 line of source text not declassified] When this is not done the operations are likely to go astray. There must, therefore, be a direct channel to State for policy guidance.

Admiral Hillenkoetter pointed out that CIA has a channel to State and that CIA can operate properly if State will indicate what it wants.

Mr. Lovett said that the proposed activity goes beyond the type of work done [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. He felt there must be some way, if funds are to be obtained, to show that NSC authority flows directly into this unit.

Mr. Souers said this means that there must be an advisory group which can come up to the NSC when it is not satisfied.

Secretary Royall said that he doesn’t want any Army representative to have anything to do with this activity. He felt it was no concern of the military in peacetime.

Secretary Forrestal pointed out that the military were in the middle of the activities [less than 1 line of source text not declassified].

Secretary Royall felt that they shouldn’t have been unless they were called in. In wartime the military should run it. He felt that the military should stay out of the political field, which includes this activity.

Mr. Lovett noted that the Army is already in political activities regarding bases and other questions.

Secretary Royall said that the military only presented their views to State on this subject. He thought the military should give advice only.

Mr. Lovett said that no Department, and certainly not State, should have any part in the conduct of the covert operations. State, however, [Page 698]must be consulted and he thought that there would probably also be some military aspects.

Secretary Forrestal said that there were two practical aspects regarding obtaining necessary funds. First, it is not clearly legal for CIA to conduct these activities. Secondly, they must be tied into the State Department.

Mr. Lovett said that, if funds are to be obtained, the NSC must move quickly. He suggested that the proposal should be altered to delete the right of appeal. Instead, all authority would be vested in the head of CIA who would have an advisory panel which could report directly to the NSC if they disagreed with Admiral Hillenkoetter.

Admiral Hillenkoetter suggested, and Mr. Lovett agreed, that this panel might be modeled on the Intelligence Advisory Committee. Admiral Hillenkoetter noted, however, that the relations of this new panel with IAC would have to be carefully defined.

Mr. Lovett said that it was hard for the NSC to define the specific organization. He suggested, therefore, that the Council refer NSC 10 back to the Staff to prepare a new paper, reflecting the approach discussed in the meeting. He felt this paper should bring in the views of Secretary Royall and Admiral Hillenkoetter.

The National Security Council: 3

Referred NSC 10 back to the NSC Staff for the preparation of a substitute report reflecting the discussion at the meeting.

[Here follows discussion of agenda items 2–8, preparations for demolition of oil facilities in the Middle East, handling of SANACC papers submitted for consideration by the NSC, U.S. position regarding the use of military power in Greece, NSC status of projects, U.S. position with respect to Soviet-directed world communism, policy on atomic warfare, and trade with Eastern Europe.]

  1. Source: Truman Library, Papers of Harry S. Truman, President’s Secretary’s Files, Subject File. Top Secret. Prepared on June 4.
  2. See Document 280.
  3. Not found.
  4. The paragraph that follows constitutes NSC Action No. 56. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 273, Records of the National Security Council, Record of Actions, Box 55)