267. Editorial Note

From 11:10 a.m. to noon on May 5, 1967, a meeting was held in Secretary of State Rusk’s office to discuss “actions which should be taken concerning covert operations and clandestine activities, in the light of recent disclosures of CIA involvements.” Present were Rusk, Katzenbach, Kohler, and four members of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research: Director Hughes, Deputy Director Denney, Robert McAfee, and Donald Macdonald. The latter prepared a memorandum of the conversation on May 9. (Department of State, INR/IL Files, State-CIA Relations, 1957–1968; Johnson Library, Rusk Appointment Book for time and date of meeting)

Following some “initial general discussion,” Rusk “said there was need for far-reaching policy discussion. For example, he thought that in the countries with whom we are close friends, we should be doing only those things we would allow them to do with us. Mr. Hughes noted the particular problem of CIA contacts with opposition leaders: should these contacts be retained when the opposition became the government? [Page 579] The Secretary spoke of the need to take some action on these issues.” Hughes then “listed a number of examples of recent problems” and, upon concluding, “noted that the press had been aware of many operations, but had been sitting on the story before Ramparts blew it. There was a change of climate, and a de-stabilizing effect on the consciences of writers and others. Mr. Katzenbach noted that the CIA had been ‘hardlining’ so long that such publicity bothered them less than it did us.”

Hughes then “noted that excellent personal working relations existed between CIA and INR, despite INR’s burden of representing both sides.” A general discussion of the “relative concerns of State and CIA” ensued, following which Hughes indicated “that he was not saying necessarily that for State to be fully informed of covert operations and clandestine activities would eliminate the risks. The Secretary noted the need to ensure that if we take risks we take them consciously. Mr. Katzenbach added that the risks should be worth taking,” and Hughes agreed. “Hughes then briefed the results of the INR/DDC survey of 1966 5412 cases” (see Document 265), noting that “support to international activities of voluntary organizations had always been an exception to the normal procedures. He pointed out the problems of considering 5412 actions—how to weigh them and budget them.” He observed that “when CIA made payments for information, such cases did not go through the 303 procedure at all” and “we don’t know how much of this happens. Many cases which ‘blow’ are clandestine intelligence situations.”

“As for inter-agency relations, Mr. Hughes said that some matters were procedural and mechanical, but the problem was basically a state of mind. He noted the CIA predilection for dealing directly with the policy officers. Although the CIA had acknowledged responsibility to inform Ambassadors of clandestine activities, the Department is as usual not informed, although NSCID 5 called for consulting the Secretary of State. The Secretary said that when he saw Foreign Ministers and other officials, he should know as much as the ministers themselves about their involvements with the U.S. Government. Mr. Hughes pointed out that the CIA quoted statutory authority to support its position on clandestine activities. The Secretary observed that there was no need to be paralyzed by statutory authority; that there was no activity touching on foreign affairs that he did not feel authorized to inquire into. Mr. Hughes said there was a question as to how much the Ambassador and others should know about involvements with high officials. This would require a revision in the NSC directive. The Secretary observed that not all Ambassadors should know everything. He didn’t want to generalize about this subject in any direction.”

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“At the conclusion of the meeting it was agreed that the Secretary would see Mr. Helms alone, after which the same group would meet again to discuss the problem further.” Rusk met alone in his office with Director of Central Intelligence Helms on May 20, but no record of the discussion has been found. No record has been found of a follow-up meeting of the same group.