90. Letter From the Secretary of State’s Special Assistant for Research and Intelligence (McCormack) to Secretary of State Byrnes0

Dear Mr. Secretary: The series of Departmental Orders issued yesterday,1 relating to the intelligence organization within the Department, provide for dismembering the Office of Research and Intelligence and transferring its functions to a group of separate research divisions under the Political Offices, and they contain other organizational provisions that I regard as unworkable and unsound. I had hoped that the compromise proposal worked out by Colonel Tyler Wood, which appeared to meet all points of substance raised by the Political Offices, would be [Page 223] found acceptable, and I was therefore disappointed to find that the orders as issued conformed almost exactly to the so-called “Russell Plan,” proposed by the Assistant Secretary for Administration last December.

I realize how difficult it has been for the Secretary to decide an issue on which the Department has been so divided in opinion, in view of the enormous burden that the Secretary has been carrying. I am convinced, however, that while the plan adopted will give needed reinforcements to the Political Offices, and in that respect will be beneficial, it will make impossible the establishment of a real intelligence unit within the Department; that it will weaken the Department vis-à-vis the military components of the National Intelligence Authority, who already have the advantage of a three to one representation in the Central Intelligence Group, as compared with that of the State Department; and that it will prevent the carrying out of the long-range plans for post-war intelligence which you and I had in mind when you asked me to come into the Department.

The Department must go before the Senate Appropriations Committee within two or three weeks to present its case for restoration of the appropriations cut made by the House of Representatives, affecting the intelligence organization. Feeling as I do that the organization as now to be set up is unsound and not in the best interests of the Government, I cannot conscientiously present the case to the Senate, and I believe that the best interests of the Department and the Government will be served by my immediate resignation.

I therefore submit my resignation, with the request that you release me at once.2 It is my hope that, by replacing me with a man who has not been a party to the internal differences of the past six months, the Department may contrive in some way to salvage the intelligence organization which it took over from the Office of Strategic Services. In spite of serious losses of personnel and many other difficulties that it has encountered since October 1, 1945, it is still an effective intelligence unit. In my opinion, because of demobilization of other intelligence units that were functioning in war time, it is the best remaining asset of the Government in the foreign intelligence field.

I am grateful to you for the efforts that you have made to work out an organizational arrangement that would meet the views of all parties concerned [Page 224] and for the personal support and good advice that you have given me since I have been in the Department.

With all good wishes,

Sincerely yours,

Alfred McCormack 3
  1. Source: Department of State Bulletin, May 5, 1946, pp. 778–779.
  2. For texts, see ibid., May 12, 1946, pp. 826–828. Other than the orders themselves, no record of Byrnes’ decisionmaking on the matter has been found.
  3. Acting Secretary Acheson accepted McCormack’s resignation on behalf of Byrnes, who was away from Washington. The text of Acheson’s letter to McCormack is ibid., May 5, 1946, p. 779. See the Supplement. For Acheson’s views on the controversy, see his memoirs, Present at the Creation, chapter 18.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.