40. Memorandum for the Record1

At its Informal Meeting on August 12,2 the Psychological Strategy Board authorized the Director of Central Intelligence to proceed on a basis of high priority with the implementation of project [name not [Page 87]declassified],3 calling on the Departments of State and Defense for necessary support.

George A. Morgan

Acting Director
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79–01025A, Box 147, Folder 5. Top Secret. A cover memorandum from the Deputy Director (Plans) to the Chief of the Western Hemisphere Division, September 30, labeled “Eyes Only,” reads: “Will you please arrange for the filing and recording of the attached Minute of the authorizing action taken at the PSB meeting of 12 August as a part of the file on PBSUCCESS? Our internal records should be so prepared as to show that Project [name not declassified] (as shown on the books of PSB) is one and the same as PBSUCCESS—formerly PBFORTUNE.”
  2. On September 16 Frank Wisner sent a memorandum to the Director discussing this meeting at which PBSUCCESS was accorded “an extremely high operational priority.” Wisner wrote: “It is my understanding that this was the meeting which flashed the ‘green light’ to us and—pursuant to your suggestion—I have already taken up with George Morgan the matter of having a suitably sterilized entry made in the records of that particular meeting.” According to an oral report received by Wisner, the PSB decision covered these principal elements:

    • “a. CIA is to have the principal responsibility and is to call upon other departments and agencies for such supporting actions as CIA may deem necessary or desirable to the success of the plan.
    • “b. The operation is to be directed and controlled by CIA [text not declassified].
    • “c. It was recognized that this is an extremely difficult operation and that it will require a considerable period of build-up during the course of which the atmosphere must be thoroughly prepared and numerous actions must be taken in order to shake, and hopefully dislodge, the very firm grip which the regime now holds upon the situation.
    • “d. This is to be an unusually closely-held operation within State and the other departments concerned. (For your personal information, General Smith has directed us to have no direct dealings with the State Department area division; but rather to deal either directly with him or with two specific individuals whom he has named.)” (Ibid.)

    An initial estimate placed the cost of the operation at $2.735 million, but “General Cabell, with whom I have discussed this aspect of the matter, has suggested that we allow ourselves a little leeway and put in for the round sum of three million.”

  3. A draft policy paper for the NSC, drafted in ARA, August 19, argued against covert intervention: “Our secret stimulation and material support of the overthrow of the Arbenz Government would subject us to serious hazards. Experience has shown that no such operation could be carried on secretly without great risk of its leadership and backers being fully known. Were it to become evident that the United States has tried a Czechoslovakia in reverse in Guatemala, the effects on our relations in this hemisphere, and probably in the world at large, could be as disastrous as those produced by open intervention.” For full text of the paper, see Foreign Relations, 1952-1954, vol. IV, pp. 10741086.