191. Memorandum From [name not declassified] of the Central Intelligence Agency to Director of Central Intelligence Helms1

My reconstruction of The President’s remarks at the NSC meeting this morning:2

“People have been showing a tendency to use intelligence to support conclusions, rather than to arrive at conclusions. I don’t mean to say that they are lying about the intelligence or distorting it, but I want you fellows to be very careful to separate facts from opinions in your briefings.3 After all, I’m the one who has to form the opinion—I’m the only one who has to run, I’m the one who has the sole responsibility when things go to pot.

[Page 389]

“The fact is that the intelligence projections for 1965, 1966, 1967, and 1968—and I’ve seen them all—have been up to 50 percent off in what the Russians were going to have—and on the low side.

“Now, certainly we can have opinions, and I want to hear them expressed here in this room, but we have got to start with fact, and all the fact, and reach the conclusions on the basis of hard fact. Is that understood now?”

[name not declassified]
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Executive Registry Files, Job 80–B01086A, NSC Meetings. Secret. Helms sent copies of the memorandum to the Deputy Directors for Intelligence, Plans, and Science and Technology, the Chairman of the Board of National Estimates, and the Special Assistant for Vietnamese Affairs, under cover of a June 18 note stating: “This is an accurate reflection of what the President said, and we must be most scrupulous in abiding by his wishes.”
  2. The NSC met for a discussion of U.S. strategic power and SALT. Notes of the meeting are in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–022, NSC Meeting 6/18/69 SALT (NSSM 28) [1 of 2].
  3. Helms added the following words to this sentence in a marginal notation: “and in your intelligence papers.”