251. Memorandum From Senator Mike Mansfield to President Johnson1
- C.I.A. and the Senate
As a result of your meeting with Senator Dirksen and me on Thursday, June 2,2 I have given some further consideration to the matter of the C.I.A. and its reporting to the Senate. As I see it, there are three or four possibilities in connection with the question which has been raised:
- Enlarging either the Appropriations or the Armed Services Subcommittee on the C.I.A. by including at least two members of the Foreign Relations Committee in one or the other. This is not going to work as a solution at the present time because of the determined opposition to enlargement of these subcommittees by the Members comprising them;
Calling up for floor consideration the resolution which has been approved by the Foreign Relations Committee by a vote of 14–5. If this is done, there will be considerable debate on the Floor with the result that the C.I.A. will suffer, the Senate as an institution will suffer. No party to this dispute will, in any way, shape or form, derive any benefit from this debate except the newspapers and they will, of course, naturally give it the headline-treatment.
This will furnish, in turn, further grist for the mill insofar as the C.I.A. is concerned. It will create greater suspicions about it both at home and abroad. The issue is not likely to die even after a debate or vote on the floor. The matter, in my opinion, will continue to simmer, creating more and more suspicion and the position of the agency is likely to become much more difficult in the months and years ahead.
Creating a special C.I.A. subcommittee in the Foreign Relations Committee to be composed of not less than two nor more than four members. Those members would be chosen on the basis of seniority. Creation of such a subcommittee is within the authority of the Foreign Relations Committee. If it is not treated by the Director of the C.I.A. on the same basis as the other two special subcommittees, however, it would only be a C.I.A. subcommittee in name; it would not be one in fact or knowledge and the impasse would remain.[Page 541]
To overcome this factor, I met with the members of the other two subcommittees and asked for their reaction to a suggestion that the President consider the possibility of directing the head of the C.I.A. to give to a proposed special subcommittee in the Foreign Relations Committee the same type of information he gives the other two subcommittees. The Democratic members of these two subcommittees took the suggestion with open mind, realizing that the responsibility was yours. Some of the Republican members, however, expressed opposition to having the C.I.A. responsibilities in the Senate spread in this manner although all of them, I am sure, realize that it would be a question for you to decide on the basis of the law setting up the C.I.A.
I realize, as I stated to you, that this possibility involves passing the buck but it was the only way I could think of at the time to achieve a compromise which would avoid a bitter Floor fight on the resolution which has been agreed to by the Foreign Relations Committee.
In view of the difficulty which faces you with the above suggestion, it would be my present feeling that a two-man subcommittee should be created in the Foreign Relations Committee to be composed of the Chairman and the Ranking Minority Member. As I have stated previously, it is within the authority of the Foreign Relations Committee to set up a Subcommittee on the C.I.A.
It would be my further suggestion that the Director of the C.I.A. should be requested by the Chairman to furnish to the Foreign Relations Subcommittee the same information he furnishes to the other two subcommittees. If this was agreed to by the Director of the C.I.A. and if, during the course of meetings held between this subcommittee and the Director of the C.I.A., questions arose which he felt he could not and should not answer because of the security involved, he should make that plain to the committee. If the committee was insistent, then and only then ought he to clear the matter with you.
If this suggestion meets with your approval, it would obviate your becoming directly involved as the original suggestion would not. It would allow some flexibility and it might break this impasse in a way which will be better for all concerned.
I have not discussed this suggestion with anyone but you.