221. Memorandum From the Acting Director of Central Intelligence (Carter) to All Chiefs of Stations and Certain Bases1


  • Coordination of Clandestine Intelligence Activities Abroad


  • A. NSCID 12
  • B. NSCID 53
  • C. Presidential Letter to the DCI, dated 16 January 19624
  • D. Book Dispatch dated 16 February 19625
The purpose of this dispatch is to give station chiefs current guidance concerning the implementation by them of the responsibilities which they carry on behalf of the Director for coordination of clandestine intelligence activities.
References A, B and C place upon the Director of Central Intelligence the responsibility for insuring that clandestine intelligence activities of the U.S. Government abroad are fully coordinated. On 8 December 1959, the Director issued four directives (DCID 5/1, 5/2, 5/3, and 5/4),6 after consultation with the United States Intelligence Board, setting forth the principles and procedures for implementing this responsibility and including the provision that the Director shall designate representatives in the field to carry out this responsibility locally on his behalf. Reference D was issued for the purpose of giving added guidance and instructions to insure effective efforts to implement this responsibility.
During the three years since Reference D was issued, a large volume of experience has accumulated concerning the appropriate methods for effecting the Director’s responsibility to coordinate all clandes [Page 491] tine collection intelligence activities abroad. Considerable experience has also accumulated concerning the problems that exist in implementing this responsibility.
The responsibility which has been placed upon the Director of Central Intelligence by the President for coordination in this field has in no way been lessened during these three years. Experience reinforces the position that this responsibility can be carried out primarily through our station chiefs in the field, backed up by the Deputy Director for Plans and his respective Area Divisions and Staff personnel at Headquarters. We have, however, found it wise to retain in our hands at Headquarters initial decisions in the coordination of certain types of clandestine collection activities, and appropriate instructions have been issued concerning those activities. (See paragraph 10 of Reference D, and Book Dispatch of 1 December 1964.)7
I have carefully reviewed the guidance in Reference D, and I hereby reaffirm what is said therein, with the following comments:
Chiefs of Station are the DCI’s representatives abroad for carrying out the DCI’s responsibilities for coordination and approval of all U.S. clandestine intelligence activities. [2 lines of source text not declassified] These activities include espionage and counterintelligence (including double agent operations), and also U.S. liaison with foreign clandestine services and with foreign intelligence and security services concerning clandestine activities.
There is still too great a variation in the degree of effectiveness with which the station chiefs have carried out this responsibility. The responsibility in this field is a most serious one and the highest level of the Government expects it to be carried out effectively.
To avoid any misunderstanding concerning the nature of the coordination role which the station chief exercises, I want to make it clear that he should apply generally the same judgment concerning the operational features of the proposals of the military services as he applies to his own, and that it is his responsibility either to approve or disapprove of each proposed activity according to his view as to its operational soundness. His decisions are, of course, subject to appeal to the Director of Central Intelligence by the military services through the established channels.
In exercising a judgment leading to an approval or a disapproval of a proposed activity, not only is the station chief to consider the harm to the U.S. clandestine intelligence effort if the activity should be comprised, but also he is to consider the harm to the U.S. national interest in the broadest sense. In any instance where there is inherent in a pro posed [Page 492] operation a risk of compromise, yet where the objective in the judgment of the station chief appears to warrant such a risk, he should make every effort to insure that the degree of risk is kept to a minimum through sound planning.
It is the responsibility of the station chief to decide how much detailed operational information he needs on each proposed activity to make a judgment as to whether to approve or disapprove the proposed activity. If the details provided are not sufficient, the station chief should refuse to approve the proposed activity.
The examples of harmful or duplicative activity which are mentioned in paragraph 8 of Reference D are hereby re-emphasized.
When the station chief withholds approval of a proposal, he must inform the service representatives of the reasons for this decision, and point out to them that they may refer the case through military channels to Headquarters for consideration by the Director of Central Intelligence.
The President, in a letter to all U.S. Chiefs of Mission dated 29 May 1961,8 has reminded his Chiefs of Mission of their responsibilities for keeping abreast of all U.S. Government activities in their respective areas and for exercising a judgment as to the kinds of activities which are acceptable. In order that each Chief of Mission may carry out this responsibility concerning the clandestine collection activities of the U.S. Government, it is the responsibility of our station chiefs to keep them appropriately informed not only of our own activities, but of the clandestine activities of the military services as well. Guidance as to the extent to which the Chiefs of Mission are kept informed of military services’ activities is the same as that which you have received concerning keeping them informed of our own activities.
The military clandestine collection activities are concentrated largely in a few areas, such as Western Europe, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified], and specific areas of the Far East, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. However, the services do have activities in certain countries of the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa. Because of this pattern of concentration of effort, some station chiefs have found it necessary to devote a great deal of the time and manpower of their stations to carrying out these responsibilities on my behalf. On the other hand, for a large number of stations, there has been no occasion for the station chiefs to exercise this responsibility because the services have not programmed clandestine collection activities in their countries. In any event, the station chiefs must devote whatever amount of time and manpower is required to carry out these responsibilities.
It is my desire that Headquarters be kept regularly informed in regard to the coordination activities of our station chiefs. In the past, we have required quarterly reports, but I find that this requirement is somewhat unrealistic, in that for those stations which have no coordination work to perform from one year to the next it is an unnecessary burden to send in negative reports every three months. On the other hand, experience has shown that for [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] regular monthly reporting is more desirable than quarterly reporting and this practice has been found very useful. Consequently, I have the following guidelines for the reporting of coordination activities to Headquarters:
Those stations which have a regular volume of business should report a summary of the routine cases on a monthly basis. [1 line of source text not declassified] In addition, all cases of outstanding significance or which involve unusual problems or difficulties should be reported promptly to Headquarters.
Those stations which do not have a regular volume of business and only an occasional activity to coordinate should report promptly to Headquarters as each coordination takes place.
I also wish to remind you of the principles and procedures of DCID 5/2 and DCID 5/4 concerning the coordination of liaison and cover, respectively. We have asked the stations to obtain reports from the local U.S. units having local liaison as to their current liaison arrangements. I understand that some station chiefs have not complied with this request, and I wish them to do so at once and to forward these reports to Headquarters. In addition, I request that those stations which have previously obtained such reports have them brought up to date and forward them to Headquarters.
The military services are under an obligation to cooperate with the Director and our station chiefs in our efforts to carry out this coordination responsibility. I am confident that the services intend to do so. The efforts of all of us will be made easier and more effective if we all understand and appreciate the principles and the procedures which have been established to accomplish this end. I urge that you take all reasonable measures to insure that the military components which are charged with responsibilities for conducting clandestine activities in your areas understand the principals and procedures for coordination as set forth in the directives to you, and that they also understand that the purpose behind this coordination effort is to insure a better and more effective U.S. clandestine intelligence effort. In the event that, after reasonable efforts on your part to obtain full cooperation, an element or elements do not cooperate you should make it clear to them that their activities will be reported to the Director of Central Intelligence for his further action at the command level in Washington. I wish to be personally informed of such situations if any should arise.
I am forwarding a copy of this dispatch to the Director, Defense Intelligence Agency, with a suggestion that he send copies of it to appropriate military units. A copy of my letter to him is attached.9
Marshall S. Carter 10
Lieutenant General, USA
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Executive Registry, Job 80–B01676R, DIA 1965. Secret. The top of page 1 of the memorandum is stamped “Book Dispatch.”
  2. A copy of NSCID No. 1 as revised January 18, 1961, and March 4, 1964, is at the Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, CIA.
  3. Dated December 12, 1947, and revised August 28, 1951. The earlier version is printed in Foreign Relations, 1945–1950, Emergence of the Intelligence Establishment, Document 423. The revised directive is scheduled for publication in a Foreign Relations intelligence retrospective volume for 1950–1955.
  4. Printed in Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. XXV, Document 99.
  5. Not found.
  6. Director of Central Intelligence Directive No. 5/1, December 8, 1959, is scheduled for publication in a Foreign Relations intelligence retrospective volume for 1956–1960.
  7. Not found.
  8. Printed in American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1961, pp. 1345–1347.
  9. Attached but not printed.
  10. Printed from a copy that indicates Carter signed the original.