265. Editorial Note

In an April 17, 1967, memorandum to Thomas Hughes, Director of the Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, William McAfee of INR summarized the results of a survey of covert operations considered during 1966 by the 303 Committee and by the periodic meetings of regional Assistant Secretaries with their CIA counterparts: “The records [of INR’s Deputy Director for Coordination] indicate that 87 covert operations of the type covered under NSC 5412 were considered during 1966. Of these, 34 were discussed in 15 303 Committee meetings; 46 were discussed in 110 Assistant Secretaries’ meetings; 7 were reported by CIA as undertaken unilaterally (NSC 5412 provides that the Director of Central Intelligence must obtain the concurrence of State and Defense for major operations). Of the 87 operations, 9 were disapproved, 1 was redirected to a non-CIA action, and 23 were postponed, remanded for further study, noted, or abandoned.”

Among McAfee’s conclusions were the following: “Proposals for covert action are carefully weighed, and prudently decided upon. The present procedure is very far from a rubber-stamp process. However, proposals are sometimes made by CIA on very short notice to the 303 [Page 574] Committee, with little or no opportunity for thorough staff work in State”; and “There was very little review of on-going projects, other than those proposed for extension.” (Department of State, INR Files, CA-Coordination & Review)

In an August 24, 1967, memorandum, William Truehart, Deputy Director for Coordination, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, reviewed procedures for approving small scale covert operations: “According to NSC 5412/2, paragraph 7, all major covert operations are normally to be approved by designated representatives of the Secretaries of State and Defense and a representative of the President. Thus 303 Committee action is not mandatory in all cases. In practice, CIA has sometimes checked out small covert action proposals in meetings with regional assistant secretaries or their deputies, which are also attended by officers of the Operations Staff of INR/DDC. Sometimes CIA has simply gone ahead on the recommendation of the Chief of Mission and Station Chief. The [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] limitation mentioned by Mr. Helms in the August 22 [303 Committee] discussion has been the usual yardstick of small scale, but political sensitivity has also been considered. In recent months, CIA has appeared to bring most if not all proposed covert operations to the regional meetings; here it has sometimes been decided to approve them without 303 Committee action as not major, and at other times to refer them to 303 Committee for approval.” Truehart’s memorandum then proposed a change in procedures for approving small scale covert operations. Intended for Deputy Under Secretary for Political Affairs Kohler, the memorandum was prepared but not forwarded. (Ibid., 303 Committee, July–Dec 1967)