253. Letter From Director of Central Intelligence Helms to the Chairman of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (Clifford)1
[3 paragraphs (23 lines of source text) not declassified]
The letters from President Kennedy to Mr. McCone2 and from President Johnson to Admiral Raborn3 have created a precedent for the issuance of an express Presidential directive to each individual DCI. I believe these letters have helped to clarify the role of the DCI as a coordinator and have served a generally useful purpose. Significance has been attached in some quarters to differences in the language as between the letters issued by President Kennedy and President Johnson. This suggests the need for considerable care in drafting the language of a new letter, if it is decided that a new letter is desirable.4
The most important question to decide is the extent and limitations of the responsibilities of the DCI, particularly insofar as they have managerial implications for programs functioning under agencies of the Government other than CIA, particularly under the Department of Defense. Specifically the questions are to what extent the DCI should be held responsible and accountable and given authority:
- To determine the needs of the Government for information derived from intelligence channels;
- To determine the scope, character and level of collection and analytical programs and facilities required to meet those needs; and
- For the efficiency and economy of these programs (now costing in excess of [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] a year).
Under existing arrangements the DCI, supported and advised by USIB, tends to be regarded as primarily responsible for validating and determining the needs of the Government for intelligence, and the Secretary of Defense to be responsible for the control and management of a very large preponderance of programs and facilities calculated to meet these needs. The precise delimitations of authority and responsibility as between the Secretary of Defense and the DCI remain vague and ill-defined [Page 544] although practical working relationships are satisfactory. It may very well be that there is no practical alternative to the present dichotomy and that we should continue to work under current authority, recognizing the somewhat nebulous nature of the DCI’s commitment “to provide effective guidance and coordination,” but recognizing also that there has been very considerable improvement in the coordination of the national intelligence effort and that further progress under something comparable to the existing authority can be reasonably anticipated.
Before expressing my final views on this subject, however, I should appreciate further time for reflection and suggest that this matter be scheduled for further discussion some time towards the end of this year. I am attaching a memorandum on the subject which may help further to clarify the issue.
[Omitted here is discussion of unrelated items.]
- Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Executive Registry, Job 80–B01676R, PFIAB 1966. Secret. Drafted by Bross.↩
- Dated January 16, 1962; printed in Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. XXV, Document 99.↩
- Document 233.↩
- [text not declassified]↩
- Printed from a copy that indicates Helms signed the original.↩
- A copy of NSCID No. 1, January 18, 1961, indicating the revisions incorporated in the revised NSCID No. 1 issued March 4, 1964, is at the Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, CIA.↩
- Brownell report on communications intelligence, June 13, 1952. (Central Intelligence Agency, Executive Registry, Job 80–B00269R, Box 10, Folder 62, and Box 14, Folder 130)↩