212. Memorandum for the Record1


  • Luncheon Meeting Attended by: Messrs. McCone, Carter, and Bross for CIA. Messrs. Kermit Gordon, Elmer Staats, Bob Amory and Bill Thomas for BOB—9 October 1964

This memorandum does not attempt to review intimate details of the rather extended discussion of this meeting, it merely treats the highlights.

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence. Gordon asked McCone’s views on such an appointment. McCone responded that he had recommended this to the SecDef eighteen months or two years ago and suggested that a man holding such a position should be a regular member of USIB. McCone had suggested that an Assistant SecDef/Intell could represent the Secretary’s views at USIB, could serve as the link between SecDef and DIA, could administer the NRO, execute SecDef’s responsibilities as Executive Agent for NSA and [less than 1 line of source text not declassified], and also would be a focal point between DCI and DoD on all intelligence matters. McCone said the idea was turned down by McNamara for unexplained reasons; however, McCone assumed that such an arrangement would create problems on the interrelation of SecDef and DIA, would remove NRO and [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] from the Air Force, and would exacerbate existing serious problems with the Air Force. McCone concluded that from the standpoint of administering intelligence and considering the enormous intelligence assets under the authority of SecDef, this arrangement would be highly desirable and urged a reconsideration of the proposal.
With respect to NRO, McCone expressed very great displeasure with the NRO organization, reading the referenced paragraph in the DCI report to the PFIAB. Copy of which is attached.2 McCone dealt at length on the improper organization of the NRO and the fact that as presently organized, the research and developments of the Air Force under General Schriever were totally excluded and every effort was made, both overtly and covertly, by the D/NRO and the NRO Staff to exclude CIA from participation. DCI claimed that the objective of the D/NRO was to establish the segment of the Air Force that fell under his [Page 469] direct command within the NRO staff as a single instrument for all NRO activities. McCone complained that the McMillan organization lacked competence and breadth and its present structure cannot serve the fundamental interest of the United States. Thus as DCI, McCone said, he could not discharge his responsibilities for intelligence collection, evaluation and analysis with this type of organization, including the satellite reconnaissance.

This led to a discussion of [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] McCone said that for a year and one-half he had been pressing the D/NRO to develop an [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. Nothing was done and no recognition was made of the DCI’s request. In March, D/NRO was asked to brief USIB on his plans for an [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. The briefing was perfunctory. The briefing boards were hurriedly put together the night before the briefing and the briefing evidenced that no research contracts had been considered, authorized or awarded to meet this objective. McCone stated that the reason for this was that the NRO organization was oriented exclusively towards the spot system which it had developed and it appeared to be its primary and only interest. Hence, the [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] most important to the intelligence needs, was a stepchild.

McCone said he then asked the DD/S&T to explore the field. After several months, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] and a considerable amount of in-house work, the very ingenious system was presented which offered [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] with Corona KH–4 area coverage. A panel chaired by Dr. Land reviewed the program and reported it as entirely feasible and within the state of art and recommended approximately [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] for research and development along four specified lines. The D/NRO has obviously made every attempt to frustrate this development and to block it, and this is still going on. Unfortunately Secretary Vance has been taken in by McMillan and Fubini and has joined in the attempt to hold up [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. McCone said despite all of these frustrations and bickering, which appear to him to be bureaucratic and absolute nonsense, he had authorized the work to go forward and demanded that it be financed out of the NRO budget.

Gordon questioned DCI as to availability of funds. McCone said an excess of [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] was appropriated in 1965 for research and development by CIA and that he didn’t think that SecDef or anyone else had the authority to exercise a veto on the expenditure of this fund, and he had no intentions of stopping. McCone then engaged in a discussion of the equivocation of the term “technical direction,” stating that he would not, under any circumstances, turn over final decision on a project of this type to a contractor but would [Page 470] employ system engineer contractors to the maximum extent for the supervision of the work, thus minimizing the requirements for in-house staff. Gordon stated that a number of Defense missile projects had delegated complete technical direction to contractors. McCone replied that that probably accounted for repeated failures and the fact that the New York Times in a blistering editorial on October 5th criticized the Defense Department for its failure to produce anything new in the past four years. In fact the editorial stated that the whole Defense structure was based on invention and development originated and advanced, much of it to an operational status, by the Eisenhower Administration. McCone said that in AEC he had insisted that the Director of Military Application and his staff assume final responsibility for technical direction, with the laboratories doing all the work. This, he said, was the proper way to run a government operation and the responsibility for final decision should not be delegated to others.

During the conversation the question arose about launchers and boosters. McCone said this was not the issue, as there was no intention in his mind or anyone in CIA to become involved in the development or operation of launchers and boosters since this could be adequately done by the Air Force. What he was talking about was development and production of an improved payload which involved a space craft, a camera and recovery vehicle, all of which could be delivered to the organization responsible for the launch and proper exchange of technical and scientific information could readily be accomplished.

No attempt was made to gain BoB’s support in this argument, however, McCone made it abundantly clear we were proceeding and we intended to use NRO research and development funds and he did not respect the veto rights or privileges of SecDef.


Mr. Gordon raised the question of separating DCI from CIA, placing him in position as principal intelligence officer for the government, to be free of parochial views of CIA. McCone said he had given a great deal of thought to this arrangement which had been frequently suggested by Mr. Clark Clifford. Indeed he had recently studied the British setup under which the Chairman of the JIC was removed from operations and had concluded that the Chairman, because of his remote position, was of little value to the Prime Minister as his J–2. McCone said the same is true in France. However, in Germany General Gehlen, J–2 for the Prime Minister, was of real value because he directly controlled the analytical and estimating process and coordinated the intelligence in the Military, Foreign Office and elsewhere. McCone said he felt the law as written was pretty good and that he could not function as DCI if he were cut off from access to several hundred specialists in CIA whom he conferred with on problems as they arose.

[Page 471]

Gordon then said perhaps a change as important as this could only be made by people who are not captured by parochial views and McCone responded that of course any government structure could be changed. Unification could be abolished and the three services could exist independent of one another. The Air Force could be merged back with the Army, etc.; however, it was his judgment and his views not to attempt such a change until and unless a better plan which did insure better functioning of the community was produced.

Gordon then said that he felt an independent DCI, functioning as McGeorge Bundy, was feasible. McCone replied that Bundy’s success was due to his unusual ability and that no other man in Bundy’s position had been able to do what Bundy had done. In other words, the current situation was due to Bundy’s being an extraordinary fellow and maintaining a close liaison with Secretaries of State and Defense which gives him access to the resources of both Departments. McCone noted there was a day when this was different. For instance, at one time the only contact between State and Defense was from the Secretary of Defense, Louis Johnson, to the Secretary of State, and no other people in either organization were permitted to discuss their respective affairs with one another.

Throughout the luncheon there was considerable discussion of the functioning of USIB. McCone contended it was working well and that his dual role did not foreclose open discussion and unprejudiced rulings by him. In fact, he said, he had ruled against CIA more often than in favor of it. He commented on the managerial problems which USIB is now dealing with in addition to estimates and reports and viewed in some detail the manner in which ELINT and NRO operations are controlled.
The meeting concluded at 2:30 p.m., permitting the attendance of a USIB meeting.
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (McCone) Files, Job 80–B01285A, DCI McCone Memo for the Record. Secret; Eyes Only. Prepared by McCone.
  2. Attached but not printed.