184. Editorial Note

On December 27, 1963, Director of Central Intelligence McCone met with President Johnson at the LBJ Ranch. According to McCone’s memorandum for the record, “at breakfast the President immediately brought up his desire ‘to change the image of the DCI from a cloak and dagger role’ to the role of an adviser to the President on world situations derived from intelligence sources which were of importance to the President in reaching policy decisions. For this reason he intended to call upon me for a great many activities which would be different from those of the past.” (Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (McCone) Files, Job 80–B01285A, DCI Meetings with President Johnson)

McCone himself made a similar point in a memorandum for the file, January 13, 1964: “I have felt, and expressed myself to the late President Kennedy, to President Johnson, and to Secretary Rusk and others, that the DCI and CIA image must be changed. Its basic and primary responsibili ties [Page 410] by law are to assemble all intelligence, analyze, evaluate, estimate and report such intelligence for the benefit of policy makers. This function has been submerged and CIA has been consistently referred to as a ‘cloak and dagger’ outfit whose activities involve (almost exclusively) operations designed to overthrow governments, assassinate Heads of State, involve itself in political affairs of foreign states, and none of these activities are either controlled or coordinated with the White House or the State Department. This is entirely wrong, both with respect to the activity and the coordination and control, and I wish to attempt to change this image.” (Ibid., DCI McCone Memo for the Record)

In a meeting with McCone on February 20 President Johnson reiterated his position, saying that “he wanted to do everything possible to get me out of the cloak and dagger business. That he was tired of a situation that had been built up that every time my name or CIA’s name was mentioned, it was associated with a dirty trick.” The President, according to McCone’s memorandum for the record, “was most emphatic in his feelings that we should get away from the cloak and dagger image and expressed a determination to bring this about by statements he would make from time to time.” (Ibid., DCI Meetings with the President)