73. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom 0

7860. For Secretary Byrnes. McCarthy has been investigating the proposition of setting up in the Department a Special Assistant for Research and Intelligence. The plan which follows has the concurrence in principle of Stone, Lyon, Matthews, Thorpe, Warren, and Kurth. Speedy action on the matter is urgent for the reasons explained later in this cable.

The Special Assistant and his organization would be responsible for the collection, evaluation and dissemination of all information regarding foreign nations. These functions are now spread throughout the Department. To unite them in one organization, which would become the Department’s encyclopedia, would free the operating offices of the intelligence function and thus relieve them of a very considerable burden. Intelligence would furnish the date upon which the operating offices would determine our policy and our actions. Sources of information would be our own field installations and those of other departments as well as all Washington agencies and other domestic sources.

Under the Special Assistant there would be two offices, one for counterintelligence and one for intelligence. The former would be constituted by shifting to it those divisions now engaged in counterintelligence work but scattered throughout other offices of the Department. There is a pressing need for the consolidation of these divisions along with their personnel, files, and equipment for proper exercise of the counterintelligence function.

We do not have even the nucleus of an Office of Intelligence in the Department at present. During the past few years we have depended heavily upon OSS for intelligence research and analysis. This agency has two highly effective branches around which we could build the Office. The personnel of these branches are experienced and they have done and are doing invaluable work for us. Their complete abolition would be disastrous and would impose a new and heavy load upon the Department, one which we could bear only with great difficulty, if at all.

OSS is dissolving rapidly and its best people are departing daily. Seven hundred employees will be dropped before October 1. The [Page 190] remaining one thousand will be dropped before January 1. The Bureau of the Budget is preparing a draft of an executive order which would transfer to the State Department two OSS units, the Research and Analysis Branch and the Presentation Branch, with their functions, personnel, property, records, and funds. I propose that you authorize me to concur in this executive order. If it is signed, we should immediately place the two branches in an interim office, under our Special Assistant for Research and Intelligence. Before the first of the year we should absorb into our permanent intelligence structure such functions, personnel, property, and records of the two branches as we desire to retain. The remainder would pass out of existence at that time. This transaction would not prove embarrassing to us, since the same executive order would transfer all secret and operational intelligence activities of OSS to the War Department.

McCarthy believes that the man for the Special Assistant’s job is Colonel Alfred McCormack, now in G–2 of the War Department, who was made Special Assistant to the Secretary of War in 1942 but was subsequently commissioned. He is described as a brilliant organizer and intelligence man who could attract highest caliber personnel as he has done in the War Department. That Department considers his work most outstanding. He was graduated from Princeton in 1921 and from Columbia Law, where he stood sixth, in 1922. He was Phi Beta Kappa and editor of The Law Review. After serving as chief clerk to Justice Harlan Stone, he joined the firm of Gravath, de Gersdorf, Swaine and Wood at $3,300 in 1926, and had progressed to $75,000 per year in 1942. He is forty-four. Apparently McCormack has been active in politics only in connection with Dewey’s campaign for the district attorneyship of New York City. He advised the Republican National Committee in 1940 on the application of the Hatch Act. He classes himself as an independent voter. McCarthy does not know whether McCormack would accept. The matter has not been discussed with him.

I concur in McCarthy’s recommendations that (1) we set up a Special Assistant for Research and Intelligence, (2) we concur in the proposed executive order, (3) McCormack be offered the Special Assistantship, and (4) I be authorized to proceed immediately in all these measures.1

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Decimal File 1945–49, 111.111/9–1245. Confidential; No Distribution; U.S. Urgent. Drafted by McCarthy. An incoming copy of this telegram bears the classification Secret. (Ibid., Records of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research: Lot 58 D 776) Byrnes was in London to attend the Council of Foreign Ministers meeting.
  2. Secretary Byrnes replied in telegram 9513 from London, September 15: “I approve your four recommendations as to research and intelligence.” (Ibid.)