245. Letter From Director of Central Intelligence Raborn to the President’s Press Secretary (Moyers)1

Dear Bill:

In response to your invitation to come over and talk things over some time, I am taking the liberty of putting some ideas down on paper regarding the Agency which you may find interesting and possibly so will the President.

In reviewing the stewardship and administration of Dick Helms and myself the past 10 months, it is quite clear that some very consid erable [Page 533] progress and improvements have been made in the Agency as a whole.

I should like to list them for you because they are constructive and are entirely in line with the President’s wishes that we “spare no effort to make this the best intelligence agency in the world.”

Last July we completed a four month planning study which was conducted by some 40 people representing all elements of the Agency under the direction of one of our most senior officers.2 This study looked 10 years in advance to determine the Intelligence Objectives which we wanted to have the capability of accomplishing. We then applied these objectives to various geographical parts of the world to sketch out what would probably be the most efficient ways to obtain these objectives in those portions of the world. We then took the first 5 years of this 10 years and by fiscal years identified the efforts which, if accomplished, would give us the capabilities to obtain the objectives which we had set for ourselves. We were able to identify many operations which were relatively non-productive. These were cut out or back. Other and higher priority work areas were similarly identified.
We have installed a modern management system which has built on the successful management principles used in the Polaris program. This has done much to identify and weed out obsolescent and less effective programs and permits us to emphasize the higher priority ones and be responsive to the intelligence objectives which we had previously brought into focus. Permanent planning and evaluation groups were established in each of the Directorates of the Agency. These follow the progress of the work during the year and compare the progress of the Directorates with the previously announced fiscal year goals and thereby provide day-by-day good management and planning for the next year’s budget. This has been enthusiastically accepted and endorsed, as well as utilized by the entire Agency. The Bureau of the Budget has complimented us on our management system because it permits us clearly to justify by-line items in our requirements and enables the Bureau to obtain a better conception of the validity of our needs. This is drawn together in a modern management center located in the Headquarters Building of the Agency.
We have installed a 24 hour Operations Center manned with seasoned intelligence officers who receive intelligence inputs around-the- [Page 534] clock from all parts of the world and Agency. They evaluate the news and give prompt service to the White House, Defense Department, State Department, etc., as well as to the DCI. This, too, has been enthusiastically endorsed within the Agency and our people are quite proud of it.
We have settled the “NRO problem.” As you may recall, one of the most distressing and difficult problems was the difficulty in reconciling the respective differences of the DoD and the CIA in the management of the overhead reconnaissance programs. Working with Mr. Cyrus Vance, it was my pleasure to draw up an organization and modus operandi which he gladly endorsed. Today, both the Agency and the Defense Department are working harmoniously together for the best interest of Uncle Sam and have reduced the previous differences and frictions to miniscule size. Mr. Vance and I form an Executive Committee to over-see this most important part of our intelligence program and we resolve all questions on the basis of “what is the best way to do it and what is best for our country!”
We have initiated some striking new innovations in intelligence production. We have “systemized” the approach to determining the existence, or the incipient existence, of new important developmental programs by foreign countries. Basically this takes the various elements, say of a weapons system or nuclear rocket engine development, and breaks them down into component parts. We make models of what the various major components of the system component or production facilities would look like. We take pictures of these as they would appear from overhead satellites or reconnaissance aircraft and, utilizing the skills of the most competent photo-interpreters, collate these elements so that we high-light the missing pieces that we are looking for to “fit into the jigsaw puzzle” and thus give organized guidance for the technical collection of intelligence.
We have formed a Vietnam Task Force within the Agency with associate members from the various other members of the intelligence community. This Task Force is headed up by our former Chief of Station at Saigon and its members are from every part of CIA plus other elements of the community. The announced mission and purpose of this Task Force is to insure top coordination of all of our efforts and to high-light areas in which we should perhaps increase our efforts and in the main to be responsive to the stepped-up American efforts in Southeast Asia.
We have established China, within the intelligence community, United States Intelligence Board, as a co-equal highest priority intelligence target, equal to Soviet Russia. Similarly we have established a China Intelligence Task Group under one of CIA’s top intelligence officers and staffed it with representatives from all elements of the intelligence community within Washington. This China Task Force is working [Page 535] full time to give coordinated direction to the intelligence efforts against China to ensure that we are optimizing our efforts relative to this long-time and very dangerous threat. It is working very well indeed and we are already seeing good results from their efforts.
We have re-emphasized and rededicated the mission of CIA to its principal mission, which is to collect, digest, interpret and disseminate intelligence. The lure of paramilitary efforts and similarly exciting facets of our over-all responsibilities have been appropriately subordinated and more emphasis has been given to the primary job of obtaining by every means intelligence on the activities within foreign countries, which we consider our primary mission.
We have more than doubled the political action team effort in South Vietnam. As you will recall, this pacification effort, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified], has received the unqualified and enthusiastic endorsement of Ambassador Lodge, General Westmoreland, the Defense and State Departments. They have gone so far as to say this is equally as essential as the military effort there. As you know, the training school at Vung Tau is [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]- operated through native instructors [1 line of source text not declassified].
We have more than tripled our intelligence efforts in South Vietnam. This includes counterintelligence efforts under deep cover. The latter has been successful in ferreting out VC spies, one of whom was a regular South Vietnam Army officer in the South Vietnamese J–2 Section of the General Staff! This effort is continuing and we will beef up the straight intelligence efforts in South Vietnam as the situation indicates and as we can prepare the manpower.
We have recently established Dr. R. Jack Smith, vice Dr. Ray Cline, as Director of Intelligence. This is our most senior intelligence job within the Agency and the resultant team is working most harmoniously together.
And finally, we have established most friendly and constructive relations with the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. We appreciate the fine guidance and assistance of the Clifford Board very much indeed, and are responsive to it.

I am told by many people who volunteer the information that the morale of the Agency has never been higher and there seems to be a new sense of purpose as well as dedication on the part of our wonderful people here. Mr. John McCone visited me about two weeks ago and reported that his several days’ visit to Washington clearly indicated to him that the regard for the Agency’s performance had never been higher. While this was most welcome news, we are not resting on our laurels because the intelligence business is a dynamic one and we can never become smug or complacent.

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I shall be very pleased to discuss with you any of the above or other topics at your pleasure.

I am proud to serve the President and will continue to dedicate my management efforts to insure optimum performance of the CIA and its outstandingly competent personnel.


  1. Source: Johnson Library, White House Central Files, Confidential File, FG 11–2. Secret. The letter indicates the President saw it. Moyers forwarded it to the President under cover of a February 14 memorandum in which he stated: “Admiral Raborn wanted you to see this. He was concerned, obviously, about the Washington Star story.” On February 13 the Star reported that, according to “informed circles,” Johnson intended to appoint General Maxwell Taylor to be DCI. “There reportedly has been some dissatisfaction with the operations of the present director,” continued the Star. “Johnson apparently feels he needs a prestige man in the CIA job now, and Taylor fits the bill.”
  2. Presumably a reference to the Long Range Plan of the Central Intelligence Agency, prepared by representatives of CIA’s four directorates and the Office of Budget, Program Analysis and Manpower, under the direction of CIA Executive Director Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick presented the Long Range Plan to Raborn under cover of a memorandum dated August 31, 1965. (Central lntelligence Agency, Job 80–B01285A, Long Range Plan of the Central Intelligence Agency, September 1965)