259. Memorandum From the Legislative Counsel of the Central Intelligence Agency (Warner) to Director of Central Intelligence Helms1


  • Report on CIA Relations with the Congress-1966
This memorandum is for information only. The purpose of this report is to record the significant events and facts with regard to the Agency’s relationship with Congress. This includes not only our subcommittee relationships but all others. It also includes legislative efforts both Agency-sponsored and otherwise. There is no attempt to set forth [Page 559] all the factors in this relationship but only those that are believed significant in reviewing where we have been and looking ahead to where we are going.
CIA Subcommittees. This year has seen an intensification of our informal relationships with our subcommittees, its members, and the staffs. While the number of meetings dropped off slightly from 34 last year to 26 in 1966, it is believed that in some ways our relationships are closer and the subcommittees are more informed about the Agency itself.
House Armed Services. There were eight formal meetings with this subcommittee. [1 line of source text not declassified] This is the first time a CIA subcommittee has taken such action. In addition to the Chief Counsel, Russell Blandford, participating in briefings and activities involving the Agency, the Chairman also brought Mr. Philip Kelleher into this area. The informal assistance provided the subcommittee and the staff resulted in a statement in the final report of the full committee that there was almost daily contact between the subcommittee and the Agency and on more important matters there were eight meetings with the subcommittee. On those occasions when the Agency met with the subcommittee and offered them information on Agency organization, activities and programs, this was well received and the members expressed a desire to have more of this type of briefing.
House Appropriations. The Agency had ten meetings with this subcommittee. They received detailed briefings on the 1966 supplemental appropriation and the 1967 appropriation. In addition, Mr. Lipscomb, at the request of the Chairman, visited the Agency twice and Mr. Bow accompanied Mr. Lipscomb on one occasion. Mr. Michaels, the staff man for this subcommittee, visited the Agency on several occasions. The purpose of these visits was to examine not only our budget programs but also the programming and systems analysis and control mechanisms. The subcommittee, unquestionably, is better informed today on the Agency and its budget needs than ever before and this is believed to be an important factor in their almost immediate approval of our full budget request.
Senate Armed Services and Appropriations. These two subcommittees continued to meet together as a matter of convenience and held eight meetings during the year. Two of the meetings were solely devoted to developing positions on Senator McCarthy’s proposals concerning CIA which emanated from Senate Foreign Relations. The Chairman also brought an Appropriations Committee staff man into the picture for the first time. This individual, Mr. William Woodruff, was thoroughly briefed and visited the Agency for more details on the Agency and its budget request. The subcommittees also afforded the Agency the [Page 560] opportunity of giving detailed presentations on the 1966 supplemental and the 1967 appropriations. The subcommittees approved the Agency’s full request without any effort to reduce the amount in discussions with the House Appropriations Committee Chairman, Mr. Woodruff, as well as Mr. Darden, accompanied Senator Milton Young on a month-long trip to the Far East and examined budget and financial controls in depth at several of the installations. Senator Young has expressed himself as well satisfied with what he saw and stated he believes the Agency gets more for its dollar than any agency of the Government.

Other Committees. Briefings of other committees of the Senate and House fell to eleven as contrasted to nineteen last year. Among the committees briefed were the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, Defense Subcommittee of House Appropriations, Senate Foreign Relations, House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on American Republics Affairs of Senate Foreign Relations, and Senate Preparedness Investigating Subcommittee. There were other informal briefings such as the two briefings of the Chairman and senior members of the Senate Space Committee and briefings of individual members. Further, there were numerous briefings of certain of the staff members of these other committees as requested by the Chairmen in order that the staff could be of greater assistance to the committees. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] was surfaced routinely through the House Committee on Un-American Activities. There were also indications of greater interest in the Agency by the Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee and the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations and Government Information of House Government Operations Committee. Both believe they have some claim to jurisdiction over certain aspects of the Agency’s activities. This matter did not come to issue but seems likely to be raised again in the coming year.

[Omitted here is section 4, Legislation.]


Congressional Oversight. Generally there have been about 20 resolutions in each Congress calling for a joint committee for intelligence matters. The strategy changed this year and Senator McCarthy first introduced in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee a proposal to investigate whether or not there should be a joint committee for intelligence matters. Eventually the Foreign Relations Committee reported out a resolution to establish a new standing committee to encompass all intelligence activities of the Executive Branch. Senator Richard Russell served notice that he would object to this effort and would attempt to block consideration by procedural means.

Efforts at compromise failed. One such compromise would have been to have two or three members of the Senate Foreign Relations [Page 561] Committee sit with the Senate CIA subcommittees. This was rejected by the CIA subcommittees and during the floor debate, Senator Russell pointed that an earlier offer of such representation made to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had been rejected by that Committee. Another compromise was to establish a subcommittee of Senate Foreign Relations to which CIA and other intelligence components would report. This failed when the President informed certain of the Senate leaders that he would not authorize CIA to report to this additional group in the same fashion it reported to the existing subcommittees.

There was a spirited debate in open session and then, in an unusual move, the Senate moved to a secret session of approximately three and one-half hours. The final vote was 61 to 29 in favor of the technical point of referring the matter to Armed Services for further consideration. As expected, no action was taken by that Committee. The true issue was not approval or disapproval of CIA or its relationships with the Congress. Much more pertinent in determining the votes was Russell’s personal prestige which he clearly put on the line and the time-honored rules and procedures of the Senate which Russell charged were being circumvented. Undoubtedly, the Administration’s Vietnam policy was also a factor in the equation. While there may be efforts to nibble at this problem, it seems unlikely to come to issue again for some time.

[Omitted here is section 6, General.]

Conclusion. Despite the considerable publicity concerning the Agency, a great deal of it being adverse, I believe the Congress, as a whole, is better informed about the Agency than ever. This is particularly true with our own subcommittees. Further, I believe the standing of the Agency with the Congress as a whole is better than ever before. Being relieved of responsibilities as Deputy General Counsel should enable the office to be better prepared for the expected ABM gap legend which is beginning to arise and for the ensuing battle between the Congress and the Pentagon. It is to be hoped that the Agency can avoid being caught in the middle on this one.
John S. Warner 2
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DDO/IMS Files, Job 78–5505, US Govt-Congress. Secret.
  2. Printed from a copy that indicates Warner signed the original.