185. Letter From President Eisenhower to General James H. Doolittle1


  • Panel of Consultants on Covert Activities of the Central Intelligence Agency

Dear General Doolittle:

I have requested you, and you have agreed, to act as Chairman of a panel of consultants to conduct a study of the covert activities of the Central Intelligence Agency. With your concurrence I have invited Messrs. William B. Franke, Morris Hadley, and William Pawley to act with you as members of the panel. Mr. S. Paul Johnston has kindly agreed to serve as Executive Director of the panel.

It is my desire that the Panel of Consultants should undertake a comprehensive study of the covert activities of the Central Intelligence Agency, in particular those carried out under the terms of NSCID #5 [Page 511] of August 28, 1951,2 and NSC 5412 of March 15, 1954.3 You will consider the personnel factors, the security, the adequacy, the efficacy and the relative costs of these operations and, as far as possible, equate the cost of the over-all efforts to the results achieved. You will make any recommendations calculated to improve the conduct of these operations. To the extent that agencies of the Government, other than the Central Intelligence Agency, are engaged in covert operations which may parallel, duplicate, or supplement the operations of CIA, you may investigate such other operations conducted by any other department or agency of the Government in order to insure, insofar as practicable, that the field of foreign clandestine operations is adequately covered and that there is no unnecessary duplication of effort or expense.

In view of the particularly sensitive nature of these covert operations, their relation to the conduct of our foreign policy, and the fact that these sensitive operations are carried on pursuant to National Security Council action approved by me, I desire that your report be made to me personally and classified Top Secret. I will determine whether or not the report or any part thereof should have any further dissemination. I should appreciate it if your report could be available to me prior to October 1, 1954.

As you know, the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government, generally known as the Hoover Commission, is constituting a Task Force to study and make recommendations with respect to the organization and methods of operations of the CIA.4 General Mark W. Clark has been designated by Mr. Hoover to head this Task Force which, I understand, will probably be organized and start its work sometime in September next. Under the law constituting the Hoover Commission, the Task Force shall study and investigate the present organization and methods of operation of the Agency to determine what changes therein are necessary to accomplish the policy of Congress to promote economy, efficiency, and improved service by:

recommending methods and procedures for reducing expenditures to the lowest amount consistent with the efficient performance of essential services, activities and functions;
eliminating duplication and overlapping of services, activities, and functions;
consolidating services, activities, and functions of a similar nature;
abolishing services, activities, and functions not necessary to the efficient conduct of Government;
eliminating nonessential services, functions, and activities which are competitive with private enterprise;
defining responsibilities of officials; and
relocating agencies now responsible directly to the President in departments or other agencies.

As the work of the Hoover Task Force will get under way shortly, I suggest that you and General Clark confer in order to avoid any unnecessary duplication of work as between you. The distinction between the work of your Study Group and of the Hoover Task Force is this:

You will deal with the covert activities of the CIA as indicated in paragraph (2) above, and your report will be submitted to me. General Clark’s Task Force will deal largely with the organization and methods of operation of the CIA and other related agencies within the limits prescribed in the law as outlined in paragraph (4) above. Reports of the Hoover Commission are made to the Congress.

The purpose of these studies, both that of the Hoover Task Force and that of your Group, is to insure that the United States Government develops an appropriate mechanism for carrying out its over-all intelligence responsibilities and the related covert operations. I consider these operations are essential to our national security in these days when international Communism is aggressively pressing its worldwide subversive program.


  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Administration Series. Secret.
  2. Document 255.
  3. Document 171.
  4. See Documents 184, 220, and 221.
  5. Printed from an unsigned copy.