76. Memorandum From the Acting Executive Secretary of the National Security Council (Gleason) to the National Security Council 1


  • Scope and Pace of Covert Operations
  • A. Memo for Special Committee of Senior NSC Staff from Executive Secretary, same subject, dated May 14, 19512
  • B. NSC 10 Series3

At the direction of the President, a Special Committee of the Senior NSC Staff has been studying the scope and pace of covert operations as outlined in the enclosed memorandum from the Director of Central Intelligence.4 In this connection, the Special Committee has had the benefit of further elucidation of the problem by officials of the Central Intelligence Agency responsible for covert operations. The Director of Central Intelligence has expressed to the Special Committee his serious concern that covert operations of the scope and magnitude described in the enclosure are beyond the capabilities of CIA without greatly increased and accelerated support from the Departments of State and Defense.5

On the basis of its study and consideration of the subject, the Special Committee of the Senior NSC Staff recommends that the National Security Council take the following actions:

Approve in principle as a national responsibility the immediate expansion of the covert organization established in NSC 10/2, and the intensification of covert operations designed in general order of emphasis to:
Place the maximum strain on the Soviet structure of power, including the relationships between the USSR, its satellites, and Communist China; and when and where appropriate in the light of U.S. and Soviet capabilities and the risk of war, contribute to the retraction and reduction of Soviet power and influence to limits which no longer constitute a threat to U.S. security.
Strengthen the orientation toward the United States of the peoples and nations of the free world, and increase their capacity and will to resist Soviet domination.
Develop underground resistance and facilitate covert and guerrilla operations in strategic areas to the maximum practicable extent consistent with 1-a above, and ensure availability of these forces in the event of war.
Reaffirm the responsibility and authority of the Director of Central Intelligence for the conduct of covert operations in accordance with NSC 10/2 and subject to the general policy guidance prescribed therein, and further subject to the approval of the Psychological Strategy Board which shall be responsible for:
Determining the desirability and feasibility of programs and of individual major projects for covert operations formulated by or proposed to the Director of Central Intelligence.
Establishing the scope, pace, and timing of covert operations and the allocation of priorities among these operations.
Ensuring the provision of adequate personnel, funds, and logistical and other support to the Director of Central Intelligence by the Departments of State and Defense for carrying out any approved program of covert operations.
Request the Secretary of Defense to provide adequate means whereby the Director of Central Intelligence may be assured of the continuing advice and collaboration of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the formulation of plans for paramilitary operations during the period of the cold war.
In view of the necessity for immediate decision prior to the coming into operation of the Psychological Strategy Board, authorize the conduct of expanded guerrilla activities in China, as outlined in the attached memorandum and pursuant to the appropriate provisions of NSC 48/56.6

It is requested that you indicate your action with respect to the above recommendations by completing and returning, as a matter of priority, the attached memorandum form.7

It is requested that special security precautions be taken in the handling of this material and that access be limited to individuals requiring the information contained herein in order to carry out their official duties.

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Source: Truman Library, Papers of Harry S. Truman, President’s Secretary’s Files, Subject File. Top Secret; Eyes Only. A copy was sent to the Director of Central Intelligence. A handwritten notation on the memorandum indicates that it was the President’s copy.
  2. Document 68.
  3. See Document 42 and footnote 2 thereto.
  4. Not attached; presumably it was a copy of Smith’s May 8 memorandum attached to Document 68.
  5. See Document 75.
  6. For NSC 48/5, “U.S. Objectives, Policies and Courses of Action in Asia,” May 17, see Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. VI, pp. 3363.
  7. The attached memorandum form, not printed, bears no indication of approval or disapproval by President Truman or the National Security Council.