285. Memorandum From the Assistant Executive Secretary of the National Security Council (Lay) to Director of Central Intelligence Hillenkoetter 0

Attached is the proposed NSC Directive which is based upon your paper of June 4, 1948 on the establishment of an Office of Special Services.1

[Page 700]

As indicated in our phone conversation this morning, the attached will be discussed at an NSC Staff meeting at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow in Room 224, Old State Building.

James S. Lay, Jr. 2



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 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 Central Intelligence Agency provides the legal structure within which all covert activities can be conducted and it is already charged under NSC 4–A with the conduct of covert psychological operations abroad. In addition, the Central Intelligence Agency is already charged by the National Security Council with conducting espionage and counter-espionage operations abroad. These latter operations are by their very nature closely related to covert operations. It therefore seems desirable, for legal as well as operational reasons, not to create a new agency for covert operations, but to place the responsibility for this mission within the legal structure of the Central Intelligency Agency and closely relate it to espionage and counter-espionage operations under the overall control of the Director of Central Intelligence.
Therefore, under the authority of Section 102(d)(5) of the National Security Act of 1947, the National Security Council hereby directs that:
Responsibility for the conduct of covert operations, including covert psychological operations conducted pursuant to NSC 4–A, in [Page 701] peacetime and for planning for such operations in time of war or national emergency, shall be placed in a new Office of Special Services to be created within the Central Intelligence Agency.
The Office of Special Services shall have, for security reasons, a considerable measure of autonomy within the Central Intelligence Agency.
A highly qualified person recruited from either inside or outside the Central Intelligence Agency, nominated by the Director of Central Intelligence and approved by the National Security Council, shall be appointed to head the Office of Special Services.
The Director of Central Intelligence shall be responsible for ensuring that:
Covert operations are consistent with US foreign and military policies and with overt activities, and that plans for wartime covert operations are consistent with and complement Joint Chiefs of Staff approved plans for military operations.
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.
To assist the Director of Central Intelligence in discharging the responsibilities in d above, there shall be established an Operations Advisory Committee composed of one representative of the Secretary of State and one representative of the Secretary of Defense. These representatives may have such assistants and staffs as are required by them. The functions of this Committee shall be:
To furnish authoritative policy guidance on covert operations to the Director of Central Intelligence.
To assist the Director of Central Intelligence in the preparation of all plans for such operations. Where disagreement arises between the Director of Central Intelligence and one or more members of the Operations Advisory Committee over such plans, the matter shall be forwarded to the National Security Council for decision.
Supplemental funds for the conduct of the proposed operations for fiscal year 1949 shall be immediately requested. Thereafter operational funds for these purposes will be included in normal Central Intelligence Agency Budget requests.
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 [Page 702] 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.
This Directive supersedes the directive contained in NSC 4–A, which is hereby cancelled.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 273, Records of the National Security Council, NSC 10/2. Top Secret.
  2. Not printed.(Ibid.) See the Supplement.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.
  4. Although there were editorial changes and some rearrangement of paragraphs, this draft closely follows the text of the CIA draft mentioned in the covering memorandum and footnote 1 above. The major difference between the two versions is that the NSC reworking broadens the authority of the Operations Advisory Committee and gives its members a right of appeal to the NSC in disputes with the Director of Central Intelligence.