124.05/3–2950: Circular instruction

The Secretary of State to Certain Diplomatic and Consular Offices 1


The Secretary of State refers to the problem of dealing with individuals and organizations in countries where Communists are active. This problem is especially acute for those officers whose duties bring them into contact with pro-Communist groups, as is true, for example, in the information field.

[Page 283]

The Department’s attention has been called specifically to the dilemma of some USIE officers when opportunities arise to establish contact with Communist or Communist-dominated organizations.

Experience indicates that such organizations occasionally contain individuals who have taken the protective coloration of Communist affiliation but whose real allegiances may not be fully formed. Sometimes there are opportunities to reach persons in organizations which Communists are still attempting to capture. It is only by taking advantage of any opportunities which do arise that we can expose these individuals to our point of view and retain a chance of influencing their opinions and perhaps other persons through them. Maintaining contact with these groups also enables us to gain a much better picture of the intellectual and social currents in a country than we could by confining our contacts to avowedly friendly groups. It is often through the kind of personal contacts which a USIE officer can make that potentially friendly persons are able to break through the official stand against anything American.

The Department realizes that the few Communist, Communist controlled, or Communist-infiltrated organizations which request or would accept USIE materials and services may do so just to remove such materials from the market or that they may attempt to pervert our works to their own ends.

However, it is the position of the Department that our field officers are able to investigate these cases and that they can, with the help of the missions’ services, distinguish between a bona fide propaganda opportunity and a trap. Furthermore, every officer sent abroad is expected to be sufficiently alert and mature so that he will not be contaminated by professional contacts with Communists or suspected Communists and to maintain his contacts with these individuals and groups only on a professional level.

In stressing the desirability of putting our information materials into pro-Communist hands whenever there is a reasonable expectation that we will derive some benefit, the Department would like to emphasize that such work should not be undertaken if there is a real risk of neglecting or antagonizing audiences of greater tactical importance and of demonstrated integrity.

All officers who do undertake to work with Communist groups are instructed to obtain the approval of the principal officer of the mission and to maintain the closest possible observation of the use to which our materials are put, and to submit special reports to the Department covering such operations.

The Department is most desirous in particular that USIE relations with Communist groups be conducted in the manner here described [Page 284] and not, as has been the case at a few posts, by the proscribing of all contacts between USIE officers and Communist organizations.

Chiefs of missions are requested to circulate this instruction to all officers whose work may bring them in touch with pro-Communist groups.

[Dean Acheson]
  1. This circular instruction was sent to 79 diplomatic and consular posts around the world. It was drafted by the Program Planning and Evaluation Staff of the Bureau of Public Affairs, redrafted by the Division of Foreign Service Personnel of the Office of Personnel, and was cleared by appropriate offices of the Department of State.