222. Report Submitted by the Chairman of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (Taylor) to President Johnson1


  • Review of U.S. Foreign Intelligence and Related Activities

This report supplements previous submissions which have been made to the President on the subject by the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.

Because this is the Board’s final report to you, it undertakes to account for the highlights of the Board’s operations since its establishment on May 4, 1961. It also includes our current views respecting selected, long-term, intelligence-related problems which we deem worthy of continuing attention.

Origin and Function of the Board

The Board was established by Executive Order 10938, dated May 4, 1961 (Attachment A)2 immediately following the Bay of Pigs episode and the Order was reconfirmed by you at the beginning of your Administration.3

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The charter of the Board directed that it (a) conduct a continuing, independent review and assessment of all functions of the Central Intelligence Agency and of other departments and agencies having responsibilities in the fields of foreign intelligence and covert activities, and (b) advise the President periodically with respect to the objectives and conduct of those activities required in the interest of foreign policy, national defense and security.

When you became President you reaffirmed the need for the Board, continued its terms of reference, reappointed the personnel who then comprised the Board, and thereafter made additional appointments to the Board. On occasion you have reemphasized the role and mission of the Board in directives to your principal advisors (Attachment B, dated October 19, 1965, and Attachment C, dated May 1, 1968).4

Membership of the Board

In accordance with the provisions of the Executive Order, the membership of the Board has been drawn from qualified individuals outside of Government. The individuals appointed to serve successively as Chairmen of the Board have been Dr. James R. Killian, from May 1961 to April 1963; Mr. Clark M. Clifford, from April 1963 to February 1968; and General Maxwell D. Taylor, USA, (Ret.), from February 1968 to the present. Present membership of the Board is listed in Attachment D.5 The Executive Secretary of the Board, Mr. J. Patrick Coyne, by reason of consecutive Presidential Appointments has been associated continuously with this and earlier Presidential Boards since 1956. The Board has found his services to be invaluable.

Increasing Magnitude of Intelligence Activities

The heightening of world tensions and the spread of Communist aggression in recent years has resulted in a substantial increase in the size, cost, complexity and importance of the national intelligence effort. [4 lines of source text not declassified] About [number not declassified]personnel, civilian and military, are engaged in some aspect of intelligence activities in which many departments and agencies take part. Most of the money and manpower resources devoted to foreign intelligence activities are allocated to intelligence-related elements of the Department of Defense, including the Departments of the Army, Navy and Air Force; the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Unified and Specified Commands; the Defense Intelligence Agency; the National [Page 760] Reconnaissance Office; the Cryptologic Agencies of the Military Services; and the National Security Agency. [7 lines of source text not declassified] The remaining costs, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] are allocated to other units of the Department of Defense and to the intelligence components of the Department of State and the Atomic Energy Commission.

The magnitude of this effort is a reflection of the steadily increasing volume of intelligence collection requirements levied upon the system. A substantial portion of our intelligence resources is allocated to the top-priority acquisition of data concerning the strategic military capabilities (offensive and defensive) of the Soviet Union and Communist China. The war in Vietnam has added greatly to the burden of our intelligence agencies. The need to know more about economic, political and military developments in newly-emerging nations has added further to the intelligence workload. If, in the aftermath of the Vietnam war, there should be a trend to review and possibly to revise U.S. commitments abroad, there will be a corresponding requirement for intelligence to serve as a basis for such judgments.

In the course of meeting national intelligence needs, it has become necessary to develop advanced and elaborate facilities for the collection and analysis of information in great volume. These facilities include photographic reconnaissance aircraft and satellite systems [3–1/2 lines of source text not declassified]. A portion of the U.S. intelligence effort is concerned with espionage and counterespionage activities, including penetrations abroad of foreign governmental regimes, military organizations, political groups, and the development of intelligence resources among the diplomatic corps abroad. There are also overt collection sources such as the observations of hundreds of U.S. diplomats and Military Attaches; voluminous information is acquired daily from foreign broadcasts, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] and other sources, adding to the heavy burdens of analysis placed upon the U.S. intelligence system.

All of these activities produce information essential for the preparation of estimates of enemy capabilities and intentions, and provide the intelligence base required for the formulation of U.S. foreign policy and for defense and budgetary planning. For the indefinite future, we foresee the continuing demand for an ever-improving intelligence system to meet critical needs of the decision-makers in the fields of foreign policy and national security.

Working Procedures of the Board

The Board is the only organization of the Executive Branch having the responsibility for maintaining a continuing scrutiny of the complex but indispensable U.S. foreign intelligence effort, an effort which is [Page 761] large, expensive and widely-dispersed. The complexity of the effort and magnitude of the resources involved are such that the Board’s concerns include proper utilization of the powers and authorities of the departments and agencies engaged in intelligence and associated activities. In the discharge of its functions the Board has conducted intermittent reviews of all significant intelligence activities of the several agencies engaged therein, including those of the Central Intelligence Agency; the Departments of State, Defense, Army, Navy, and Air Force; the Defense Intelligence Agency; the National Security Agency; the Service Cryptologic Agencies; the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Unified and Specified Commands; the AEC; and the foreign intelligence aspects of the operations of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (particularly counterintelligence). The Board has received the generous cooperation of the senior officials and subordinates of these departments and agencies.

The review function of the Board has not only served to keep it fully informed, but has also had the beneficial effect of causing the component agencies of the intelligence community to test and examine on a continuing basis the performance of their respective roles and responsibilities.

The Board has carried out its review responsibilities through the following means:

Meetings of the Full Board. The Board has held two-day meetings on alternate months. During your Administration the full Board held meetings totaling 52 days and during President Kennedy’s tenure meetings of the full Board totaled 39 days. At these meetings the Board has: (a) received extensive briefings from representatives of the intelligence community on significant current intelligence developments and problems; (b) reviewed and acted upon reports of the Board’s Panels and reports of on-the-scene reviews made by representatives of the Board; (c) held discussions on matters of mutual interest with the Director of Central Intelligence and the heads of the member agencies of the community; (d) met with high-level consumers of the intelligence community’s products to obtain their views on problem areas requiring remedial attention; (e) reviewed implementation by the intelligence community of earlier Board recommendations; and (f) prepared reports to the President.
Board Panels. Designated Panels of the Board (composed of selected members and the Executive Secretary) have been responsible for keeping the full Board informed with respect to significant actions, problems, gaps, overlaps and deficiencies in specified areas of the overall foreign intelligence effort. Certain of the Panels have investigated the conduct and interrelationships of intelligence operations in various geographic areas of the world. Others have examined the scientific and technological aspects of intelligence operations. Still others have dealt [Page 762] with the organizational and management aspects of the intelligence community as a whole and of the component elements of the community such as the National Reconnaissance Office, the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency. One of the Panels has been concerned exclusively with counterintelligence problems and with the improvement of means to counter the attempts of foreign espionage services to penetrate our Government.

On-the-Scene Reviews. The Board has attached great importance to its on-the-scene reviews in the U.S. and abroad. It has been a long standing practice for individual Board members, together with the Executive Secretary, to make first-hand examinations of our intelligence operations in various regions of the world. Overseas these reviews have included consultations with U.S. Ambassadors, Chiefs of the Political and Economic Sections of our Embassies, our CIA Station Chiefs, our Defense Attaches and others as appropriate. Through personal observations, briefings and discussions Board representatives have been able to obtain a vivid picture of our intelligence activities, of the operational environment in which they are conducted, and of the special problems faced by our intelligence personnel in the field. At the same time we believe that these on-the-scene reviews, known to have been made on behalf of the President, have served to stimulate morale and job performance among the representatives of the intelligence agencies.

Recent overseas reviews conducted by the Board have included surveys of U.S. intelligence activities in Southeast Asia, the Far East, Western Europe, the Middle East and Latin America. In some of these areas, where critical U.S. intelligence interests were involved, repeated on-the-scene surveys were made by representatives of the Board. [2 lines of source text not declassified]

Review of Reports. The Board has required the submission of periodic and special reports by the various military and civilian intelligence agencies. These reports include annual submissions by each agency of the intelligence community, accounting to the Board in great detail with regard to all major aspects of their respective operations. This reporting procedure keeps the Board informed concerning significant intelligence programs, successes, problems, gaps and deficiencies, and at the same time compels the agencies periodically to take stock of the progress made in meeting their responsibilities.
Review of Major Intelligence Publications. The Board has maintained a continuing review of major intelligence publications which are produced on a daily, weekly, monthly, or “spot” basis by the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Department of State and by the U.S. intelligence community collectively. These publications include current intelligence reports and appraisals of significant [Page 763] day-to-day developments, National Intelligence Estimates, Special National Intelligence Estimates, and the intelligence results of satellite and aircraft reconnaissance missions.
Discussions with the Principal Intelligence Consumers. In the course of its reviews and studies the Board has found it essential to consult from time to time with high-level users of intelligence including the President, the Secretaries of State and Defense, the Chairman, JCS, the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs, the Director of Central Intelligence, and the heads of the various intelligence agencies, as a means of determining whether their critical intelligence requirements are being met adequately.
Special Studies. From time to time the Board has conducted special studies, at the request of the President, in regard to intelligence-related matters of particular national security interests. The subjects covered in these studies have included such matters as the following.
The performance of U.S. intelligence agencies in providing advance information on the erection of the Berlin Wall in August 1961.
The intelligence community’s performance respecting the introduction of Soviet strategic missiles into Cuba in 1962.
The Soviet penetration in the 1961–1963 period of highly sensitive elements of the National Security Agency, prompting improved counterintelligence measures relating to personnel security investigations, clearances and to the safeguarding of sensitive intelligence data.
The intelligence coverage of the Gulf of Tonkin incident involving U.S. Naval forces in September 1964.
The quality, timeliness and handling of intelligence bearing on the enemy military offensive in South Vietnam during the Tet holidays in January 1968.
The intelligence aspects of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty in June 1967, and the North Korean capture of the U.S. Signals Intelligence vessel, Pueblo, in January 1968.
The system for the control of military intelligence/combat aircraft operating over North Vietnam and the Tonkin Gulf, with a view to minimizing navigational errors and unintentional intrusions over the Chicom border.
The intelligence community’s coverage of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968.
Measures to strengthen the intelligence community’s capability for providing the President and other top officials with timely, interagency evaluations on developing crisis situations.
The scope and effectiveness of the intelligence community’s special programs to keep abreast of Soviet and Chinese Communist scientific and technological developments, particularly in the strategic weapons field.

Meetings with the President

Throughout its tenure the Board has found it most helpful to have had meetings with the President to discuss major aspects of the foreign [Page 764] intelligence, counterintelligence, and covert operations of our Government. Since its establishment in 1961, the full Board was privileged to have had 12 such meetings.

Reports and Recommendations of the Board

In keeping with its charter, the Board has reported its findings and recommendations directly to the President at frequent intervals. Following the submission of its reports, and after notification of actions directed thereon by the President, the Board has made a point to follow up on the implementation of its recommendations by the departments and agencies concerned.

From May 1961 to the present time, the Board has submitted a total of 41 reports to the President containing over 200 specific recommendations.

Areas of Improvement in the Intelligence Effort

We believe that Presidential actions on Board recommendations, and the continuing support given by the Board to innovations and improvements in the agencies’ intelligence programs, have made an important contribution to the noteworthy progress which has been made in various areas of the total intelligence effort. Some of the significant areas of progress to which we refer are listed below:

Reorganization of the United States Intelligence Board (USIB). The USIB, established by National Security Council Directive, is the principal vehicle employed by the Director of Central Intelligence in the coordination of the total intelligence effort. Consistent with various Board recommendations, actions taken with a view to improving that coordination have included a reduction in the number of military agencies represented on the USIB, and realignment of the USIB’s basic structure and methods of operation.
Internal Reorganization of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The establishment within the CIA of a Deputy Directorate for Science and Technology (on a coordinate level with the Deputy Directorates of Intelligence and Clandestine Operations) was undertaken in 1963, consistent with recommendations which the Board had made with a view to assuring maximum exploitation of science and technology in the furtherance of major intelligence programs and projects. As a result, progress has already been noted in special research and developmental areas concerned with intelligence applications of the natural sciences, behavioral research, and advanced photographic and other sensors.
Establishment of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Since the establishment of the DIA in 1961 with the endorsement of the Board, that Agency has undertaken improvements in several segments of the [Page 765] Defense Department’s intelligence activities, including a reduction in the dispersion of effort in intelligence areas of interest to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Establishment of the Defense Attache System. The dissolution of the three separate Service Attache Systems and the authorization in 1964 of a single Defense Attache System under DIA’s centralized management and control have resulted in more efficient use of attache resources, better handling of [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]requirements levied by the Department of Defense and the Military Services, and improved [less than 1 line of source text not declassified].
[17–1/2 lines of source text not declassified]
Strengthening of the National Signals Intelligence Program. Close and continuing attention by the Board, and its close collaboration with the Director of the National Security Agency, have led to substantial improvement in the management and conduct by the National Security Agency of the intercept and analysis of foreign communications and electronic intelligence. This large, complex and costly activity is targeted against the [1–1/2 lines of source text not declassified] of selected foreign nations. The program continues to provide unique data of major interest to U.S. policy officials, both civilian and military, including insights into the [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] capabilities of a number of target countries. [5 lines of source text not declassified]
[12 lines of source text not declassified]
Attacking the Information-Handling Problem. In response to a series of reports and recommendations by the Board, combined action has been initiated by the member agencies of the intelligence community toward the planning, development and ultimate establishment of a computer-assisted, community-wide system for the management, storage and retrieval of the vast quantity of intelligence information which is collected, processed, analyzed and reported by these agencies on a continuing basis.
Improved Intelligence Collection Effort in the Vietnam War. Based on repeated on-the-scene reviews made by the Board in the Vietnam theater and on resulting recommendations to the President, there has been over the past three years an expanded and improved effort on the part of the entire intelligence community with respect to intelligence collection efforts in the Vietnam theater, with increased emphasis upon Signals Intelligence capabilities, clandestine agent operations, interrogation of prisoners of war and returnees, and processing and analysis of captured enemy documents.
Measures to Improve Personnel Security Screening Procedures and the Handling of Particularly Sensitive Information. As an outgrowth of Board recommendations, the intelligence community has put into effect [Page 766] uniform personnel security standards governing the screening of personnel for access to sensitive compartmented information. These uniform standards have resulted in stringent personnel security clearance criteria and enlarged requirements for background investigations leading to the issuance of security clearances.
[9–1/2 lines of source text not declassified]

Problem Areas of Long-Term Significance

Although gratifying advances have been made in our national intelligence effort (a few important examples of which are cited above) there remain a number of problem areas which we suggest should receive continuing attention. For the purpose of this report, we give only a bare summary to identify them as matters deserving priority attention for the future, noting that they are documented in greater detail in the files of the Board.


Current Intelligence Support to the President. As the Board’s recent review of the performance of the intelligence community at the time of the Tet offensive has again emphasized, there is still an unresolved problem of meeting the President’s day-to-day—sometimes hour-to-hour—requirements for intelligence without excessive resort to spot reports by-passing the responsible evaluation process of the intelligence apparatus. The problem consists of two parts—first, how to keep the Director of Central Intelligence continuously aware of the changing intelligence interests and needs of the President, and second, how to respond thereto with minimum delay. Whatever procedure is developed to meet this need, it is essential that the Director of Central Intelligence should continue to have a close rapport with the President and be, in every sense, his principal intelligence officer.

A possible means of meeting the need of the President for timely, evaluated spot intelligence would be for the DCI to assign a senior intelligence officer to the White House to work alongside the Special Assistant to the President for NSC Affairs for the purpose of anticipating Presidential intelligence needs and expediting the process by which the intelligence community satisfies them. This process could include a small group of analysts working directly under the DCI for the specific purpose of satisfying White House requirements with quick access to all the resources of the intelligence community.

Early Warning Capabilities. We shall probably never be satisfied with our early warning capabilities for crisis situations in spite of the continued efforts of the Director of Central Intelligence and the United States Intelligence Board to improve early warning procedures. In view of the transcendent requirement for timely warning of foreign actions related to our national defense and security, this subject is deserving of priority attention on a continuing basis.
Comparative Evaluations of Military Capabilities. The Board believes that national security interests would benefit from the establishment of an interagency mechanism (representing civilian and military departments and agencies) for making periodic, comparative evaluations of the military offensive and defensive capabilities of the U.S. and the USSR. It is important that this be an interdepartmental effort involving as participants all appropriate elements of the Executive Branch. We envisage that from time to time this body would evaluate the composition, reliability, effectiveness and vulnerability of the offensive and defensive forces of both sides, thus providing an informed basis for national policy decisions. An anticipated by-product of such studies would be the identification of significant gaps in the intelligence community’s coverage of the USSR.
Science and Technology. In spite of progress made in linking scientific and technological resources with intelligence activities, the Board believes that an even greater effort should be made to ensure that the substantial and innovative resources of the nation’s scientific and technologic community are brought to bear upon critical intelligence problems, including the development and application of concepts for long-term, sophisticated systems for the collection and timely communication of critically-needed intelligence. This coupling of the intelligence community with key elements of the scientific and technological community has proved to be extremely rewarding in the case of the National Signals Intelligence Program and of the National Reconnaissance Program.
Signals Intelligence. Continued efforts by the Secretary of Defense are needed to assure the most effective possible management, organization and conduct of the U.S. Signals Intelligence effort as an essentially national resource, having as its primary mission the satisfaction of critical national (as distinguished from departmental) intelligence needs.
Communication of Signals Intelligence. In order that the National Security Agency may carry out its mission, it is imperative that it manage and control all [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]Signals Intelligence material [2 lines of source text not declassified]. This requires continued administration by the National Security Agency of facilities for the communication of such material and messages.
National Security Agency Direction. In the past, the National Security Agency has been handicapped by the too frequent rotation of its directorship. The Board is convinced that in order to achieve increased management effectiveness of this highly important intelligence activity, longer tours of duty should be established for the directorship. Consideration should also be given to the alternative of a military or civilian appointee to this position.
Information-Handling. Although a beginning has been made toward improved management and handling of the great volume of intelligence information, there is need for continued stimulus, at highest Governmental levels, to energize and integrate the efforts being made by elements of our intelligence community to exploit automated procedures, machine aids and computers for the collection, processing, analysis, communication and reporting of intelligence information.
Espionage. In general, the Board regards the results of U.S. espionage efforts as inadequate and urges an intensification of efforts to obtain significant intelligence on priority targets through clandestine agent collection operations. [5 lines of source text not declassified]
Counterespionage. Because of the unrelenting efforts of foreign intelligence services to subvert military and civilian personnel of our Government and to acquire access to our classified information, the intelligence community must be on the alert constantly to detect and defend against such operations on the part of foreign powers. It is essential that this effort include the positive clandestine collection of intelligence both at home and abroad with respect to these hostile operations. The Board considers that there is a most critical gap in this counterespionage coverage resulting from the absence of policy authorization for the use of audiosurveillance devices against the espionage activities of foreign agents operating within the U.S.
[6 lines of source text not declassified]
Validation of Intelligence Requirements. There is an unsatisfied need for more effective methods for the screening of intelligence collection requirements with the objective of assuring that assignments of collection tasks take into account national intelligence needs, objectives and priorities; the collection resources which would have to be utilized; and the expected value of the intelligence information which would be obtained. Improved methods could result in a substantial reduction in the vast workload and great costs entailed in trying to meet the countless requirements which are continually levied and which tend to bog down our foreign intelligence apparatus.
Covert Operations. We believe that the 303 Committee should lend greater emphasis to periodic review of all approved covert programs in order to evaluate progress being made, and in appropriate instances, cancel unproductive projects.
Defense Intelligence Agency. This Board endorsed the concept of Defense Intelligence Agency as announced by the Secretary of Defense just prior to his establishment of the DIA in a directive issued in August 1961. As indicated previously in this report we believe that the DIA shows promise of achieving the principal objectives for which it was created. To insure that the full realization of this promise is not unduly [Page 769] delayed, it is of first importance that the DIA receive the real and continuing cooperation of each of the military departments, and be provided as soon as possible with all necessary means in the way of proper space, advanced equipment and qualified personnel needed for the accomplishment of its critical mission.
Increased Policy Guidance by the National Security Council. It is the opinion of the Board that a number of the major problems confronting the intelligence community stem from inadequacies in the policy guidance and coordination which is provided to the intelligence community. We believe that the prosecution of the national intelligence effort would be materially enhanced if stronger policy direction and guidance were made available by the National Security Council. As a first step in that direction we suggest an early review, and up-dating where appropriate, of the National Security Council Intelligence Directives and related directives which govern the responsibilities and activities of the Central Intelligence Agency and the conduct of the total U.S. foreign intelligence and covert action effort. These directives have not been reviewed for several years, and we consider it essential that they be reexamined by the NSC at an early date, with a view to effecting such revisions as are necessary to assist the intelligence agencies in the improved performance of their respective missions, and to lend increased support of the President and the NSC to the Director of Central Intelligence in discharging more effectively his responsibility for coordination of the U.S. intelligence effort as a whole.
Retention of Overseas Intelligence Facilities. The Board is aware of the review that is being conducted of the future need for the overseas bases and installations which are presently maintained in support of our foreign policy. Among those which may be considered for elimination there undoubtedly will be some having important intelligence functions which, in the interest of the national security, must continue to be performed. The Board urges that intelligence requirements receive careful consideration before making decisions to eliminate bases having important intelligence missions which cannot otherwise be performed.


We have directed attention in this report to selected topics which we believe should continue to receive priority attention by Government officials having responsibility for the management and implementation of the national intelligence program. There are other aspects of the intelligence effort which have been the subject of Board studies, reports and specific recommendations, and are in our opinion appropriate for periodic reexamination and follow-up action.

In closing, we would like to reiterate our feeling of the increasing importance of the national intelligence effort to our security. It is a field [Page 770] of great complexity requiring the services of thousands of dedicated professionals of ability, training and experience who should receive the firm and continuing support of senior officials of Government. It is of the utmost importance to attract and retain these valuable specialists and instill in them an esprit de corps based on a feeling of the importance of their work and the esteem in which it is held by the nation. The Board has noted in recent times an unhappy tendency in Congress, the press and elsewhere to denigrate intelligence in the public eye and to undermine public confidence in our intelligence agencies, particularly the CIA. This dangerous trend is in part fomented by foreign and domestic enemies of our national security. The Board expresses the hope that in the future the senior spokesmen of Government will continue to give serious thought to the need, in the national interest, to reverse this trend and to give voice to the importance and quality of the work being done by the intelligence community.

For the Board,
Maxwell D. Taylor
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Intelligence File, Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, Vol. 2 [1 of 4], Box 6. Top Secret; [codeword not declassified]. Attached to a November 25 transmittal letter from Taylor to President Johnson, which reviews the origins and mission of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, the Board’s belief in “these continuing reviews of the intelligence activities of these [several military and civilian] agencies,” and its opposition to the creation of a “Congressional ‘Watchdog’ Committee” to oversee the U.S. foreign intelligence effort. Also attached is a note from Jim Jones to Rostow, January 6, 1969, informing Rostow that Taylor presented the report to President Johnson that afternoon.
  2. Not printed.
  3. President Eisenhower was served by a similar foreign intelligence board which functioned from February 1956 to January 1961. [Footnote in the source text.]
  4. Both are printed in Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XXXIII, Documents 239 and 277.
  5. Not found.