52. Minutes of the 171st Meeting of the Secretary of State’s Staff Committee0


  • Present
  • The Secretary (presiding)
  • The Under Secretary
  • The Counselor
  • Mr. Benton
  • Mr. Braden
  • Mr. Hackworth
  • Mr. McCormack
  • Mr. Pasvolsky
  • Mr. Russell
  • Mr. Thorp (for M. Clayton)
  • Mr. Gange
  • Mr. Lewis
  • Mr. Rothwell
  • Absent
  • Mr. Clayton
  • Mr. Dunn

[Here follows discussion of two agenda items: “North American Regional Broadcasting Conference” and “Continuance of FBI Program in Other American Republics.]

Development of a National Intelligence Program (Document SC–172, Agenda Item 1)

Mr. McCormack referred to the discussion at the previous meeting1 regarding document SC–172 recommending the establishment of a national intelligence authority and the development of a national intelligence program. He called the Committee’s attention again to Annex V,2 in which he had defined the areas of disagreement between the State Department and War Department plans. Mr. McCormack said the main issue was the type of organization to be established. He said he believed his plan for setting up a working group at the top, directly under the coordinating authority, consisting of the Secretaries of State, War, and the Navy, with power to plan and carry out an intelligence coordination program, would best meet the requirements of the President’s letter of September 20, 1945 directing the Secretary of State to “take the lead in developing a comprehensive and coordinated foreign intelligence program [Page 133] for all Federal agencies concerned with that type of activity”. Mr. McCormack said both the War and Navy Departments have indicated that his plan was generally acceptable but they also wish the central authority to be from the outset a producing and disseminating agency. Mr. McCormack’s plan proposed that the central authority should be merely a programming and planning agency.

Mr. Russell asked how big a staff would be contemplated. Mr. McCormack said probably 45 or 50 persons would be required.

In discussing Annex I, Revised,3 in which the plan for the establishment of the national intelligence authority was outlined, Mr. Russell suggested a rewording of numbered paragraph 5 on page 1. He suggested that the provision that the Secretariat staff would be appointed by the Secretary “either from personnel of the Department of State or by detail from other participating agencies” implied that only personnel of the State Department would be appointed to the staff, and he thought the other agencies might not be willing to cooperate in furnishing personnel to the staff on this basis. Mr. McCormack said the only hidden meaning, if any, of this provision was to give the Executive Secretary a veto over appointments from other agencies. Mr. Pasvolsky suggested that the provision should be revised to provide that the Secretariat staff would be “detailed from participating agencies at the request of the Executive Secretary.” The Committee approved this suggested change.

Mr. Russell also proposed changes in paragraphs 11 (a) and (b) on page 4 of Annex I to indicate that the Authority rather than the Secretariat was responsible for planning the Authority’s program. The Committee agreed these two paragraphs should be revised.

The Secretary asked Mr. McCormack whether he had discussed with the Army the question of the type of organization. Mr. McCormack said he had discussed the matter with General Brownell, but had not obtained a definite expression of the Army’s viewpoint. However, there were clear indications that the Army wished the central agency to be an operating agency. He said he had sent copies of his plan to both Army and Navy. Mr. Pasvolsky said one of the dangers of making the authority an operating agency was that there would be a tendency for it to establish a foreign service of its own. He said that had been the experience with the Office of Inter-American Affairs and other agencies. The Counselor agreed with Mr. Pasvolsky, but said he thought the strongest argument against establishing an operating agency was that the more the central agency engaged in operations, the less effective it could be in coordination. The Secretary asked whether the War and Navy Departments [Page 134] would continue to carry on their own intelligence activities even if the central operating agencies were established. Mr. McCormack said they would, as would other agencies which now carry on intelligence activities. The Secretary said in that event establishment of the central agency would merely add another intelligence agency to those already in operation. He said this would not meet the President’s request that duplication be eliminated.

Mr. McCormack said that under his plan he thought a considerable amount of combined operations could be effected, and he thought joint operations in the field of geographic intelligence should certainly be arranged. Mr. McCormack said the operating personnel in Army and Navy with whom he had discussed his plan had been favorably impressed with it and thought that it would work. The Secretary asked whether if the Army and Navy are unified there would be any need for this coordinating agency. Mr. McCormack said there would be since the plan went below department levels. He said such agencies in the War Department as G2 Service Forces and G2 Ground Forces would remain independent from similar units in the Navy, and there would still be a need to coordinate the activities of all these units.

Mr. Russell said there appeared to be two questions involved: (1) who should designate the executive secretary; and (2) whether the central agency should be a coordinating or operating authority. He said that as far as the second question was concerned, he did not see that there was much argument. He said most of the necessary intelligence information was now available in all the agencies in the Government, and the principal need was to coordinate this information.

With regard to the question of the appointment of the executive secretary, Mr. Russell suggested that this officer be appointed by the Secretary of State with the approval of the Secretaries of War and the Navy. He said he did not think the Army and Navy would indicate much opposition to this proposal, and he pointed out that the Department would in any event not wish to appoint an executive secretary who was not acceptable to the War and Navy Departments. The Committee approved this suggestion.

In discussing the chart of the proposed organization (see copy attached to these Minutes),4 Mr. Hackworth suggested that some of the Committees shown on the chart might be combined. The Secretary said that anything which could be done to simplify the structure of the organization would be desirable, and would make presentation of the proposal to the President much easier. He agreed, however, that the present chart would show how extensive the problem is. Mr. McCormack [Page 135] pointed out that all the structure on the chart below the level of executive secretary was very tentative. The Secretary suggested that the chart might indicate the tentative nature of the structure.

Mr. Benton suggested that consideration be given to the possibility of showing in the chart the role of the Foreign Service which would in effect be the field organization of the central authority.

The Committee approved the proposal as outlined in Annex I Revised, with the changes suggested in the course of the foregoing discussion. The Secretary undertook to discuss the proposal with the Secretaries of War and the Navy at his next meeting with them on December 4, and Mr. McCormack undertook to have the revised draft plan and chart ready for the Secretary’s use at that time.

The meeting adjourned at 10:45 a.m.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 353, Records of Interdepartmental and Intradepartmental Committees—State Department, Lot File No. 122, Records of the Secretary’s Staff Committee, 1944–47, Box 88H. Top Secret. Drafted by Lewis. The meeting was held in the Secretary’s office.
  2. See Document 50.
  3. Document 49.
  4. Not printed. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 353, Records of Interdepartmental and Intradepartmental Committees—State Department, Lot File No. 122, Records of the Secretary’s Staff Committee 1944–47, Box 88F) See the Supplement.
  5. Not printed; see the Supplement.