700.00(S)/5–450: Circular airgram

The Secretary of State to Certain Diplomatic and Consular Offices 1


US Foreign Information Program and Psychological Warfare Planning

The President on March 10 approved a National Security Council report on the US foreign information program and psychological warfare planning2 and directed that it be carried out by all appropriate departments and agencies under the coordination of the Secretary of State. The report assigns responsibility to the Secretary for the formulation both of policies and plans for a national foreign information program in time of peace and of national psychological warfare policy in time of national emergency and the initial stages of war, and assigns him responsibility for the coordination of policies and plans with the Department of Defense and other agencies, and with related planning under other directives.

In accordance with this report there has been established within the Department the Interdepartmental Foreign Information Staff, with the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs as Director.3 This Staff will initiate and develop interdepartmental plans and make recommendations for a peacetime foreign information program. The Staff will also make plans for overt psychological warfare, including recommendations for preparations for national emergency and the initial stages of war. These latter plans, which will be continuously coordinated with joint war plans and will be subject to concurrence by the Joint Chiefs of Staff when they have a direct impact on war plans, will provide for: 1) coordination of overt psychological warfare with … censorship and domestic information; 2) the employment and expansion of the peacetime foreign information activities and facilities in order to assure rapid transition to operations in time of national emergency or war; 3) control of the implementation of plans and policies by the Department of Defense in theaters of military operations, and by State in other areas; and 4) transmittal of approved psychological warfare plans and policies to theater commanders through the JCS.

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The National Security Council noted that the National Security Resources Board is charged with the responsibility of advising the President on mobilization for domestic information activities, and the Secretary of Defense concurred in the report subject to the understanding that the ordinary peacetime arrangements for handling the foreign information program and psychological warfare policy will continue in the event of national emergency and during the initial stages of war until decisions are made providing for the conduct of wartime activities.

  1. This airgram was sent to 64 Embassies, Legations, Consulates, and Missions abroad.
  2. The report under reference here, not printed, was NSC 59/1, March 9, 1950.
  3. On August 17, 1950, the Department of State announced the establishment of a “national psychological strategy board”. The board, which would be chaired by the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs and would include representatives of the Department of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Central Intelligence Agency, was to be responsible for coordinating foreign information and psychological strategy in situations where joint action by more than one agency was required. For the text of the announcement, see Department of State Bulletin, August 28, 1950, p. 335.