211. Memorandum for the Record1

The DCI gave me the following policy position for NRO and reconnaissance programs as of this date:
It is his fixed and unalterable position that the national interest demands the continuation of two organizations in instigating reconnaissance capabilities thinking independently but eventually working together at the management level when hardware is imminent;
There is no question in his mind but what the contribution of CIA in the past and its current assemblage of talent with great enthusiasm and high competence bears this out, particularly in the light of the stagnation in this field elsewhere.
He says that if the straightening out of this matter requires a Presidential decision, he insists upon it and he insists upon it now. He is not going to see the CIA capability frittered away by fiat or by decisions at a lower level.
If the President is not prepared to make this decision now or if the nittering and frittering away continues, it would be his position that the whole reconnaissance operation be turned over to the Department of Defense along with all the responsibilities and the dangers of such a decision. I got the distinct impression this would also include the Director’s suit if such action were taken.
As to [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] the DCI wishes us to develop plans for the construction, assembly, testing, and contracting of a [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] reconnaissance space craft which would then be delivered as a piece of Government-furnished equipment to whatever operations people are designated to launch and recover the payload. This would include whatever intelligence community inputs are required to schedule and approve launchings and nominal orbits as well as targeting.
What he has in mind is CIA as a Government agency delivering a totally completed and checked out space craft to either NASA or the Air Forces for launching by them by an appropriate booster system. Recovery would likewise be done by the launching agency and the payload would then be returned to CIA and the intelligence community for further action.
Marshall S. Carter 2
Lieutenant General, USA
Deputy Director
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Executive Registry, Job 80–B01676R, Memoranda Originated by General Carter. Top Secret; [codeword not declassified]. The memorandum indicates that McCone noted it.
  2. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.