222. Memorandum From Secretary of Defense Laird1


  • Secretaries of the Military Departments
  • Chairman, JCS
  • Directors of the Defense Agencies


  • Department of Defense Intelligence and Counterintelligence

Policy Objectives. I want to be certain that Department of Defense intelligence and counterintelligence activities are completely consistent with constitutional rights, all other legal provisions, and national security needs. These activities must be conducted in a manner which recognizes and preserves individual human rights. Policy determinations [Page 480] governing such activities must be retained under civilian cognizance and control.

One matter of particular concern to me is the one related to intelligence and counterintelligence activities involving the use of investigative and counterintelligence personnel. Actions have been taken to eliminate some past abuses incident to such activities, but further corrective actions are necessary, as a matter of urgent priority.2

Specific Actions. The remedial actions directed below will take effect at the earliest date practical, but not later than 1 February 1971:

Assistant Secretary of Defense Robert F. Froehlke, who is my Special Assistant for Intelligence, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Military Departments, will review all policy directives relating to the conduct of investigative and counterintelligence activities and propose changes to insure that Defense policy is clear and consistent with my policy objectives. He will provide for a continuing review of the changes in organizational responsibilities, procedures and practices directed by this memorandum.
The Director, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) will report directly to the Secretary of Defense in the conduct and performance of his duties. The chain of command shall run from the Secretary of Defense to the Director, DIA. Guidance to the Director, DIA, shall be furnished by the Secretary of Defense and the United States Intelligence Board (USIB). The Director, DIA, will support the intelligence and counterintelligence requirements of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) as in the past. A separate J–2 organization within the OJCS will not be reestablished.
In addition to his presently assigned duties, the Director, DIA, shall implement my policies and be responsible to me for the planning, conduct, and operational control of all direct intelligence collection by human resources and counterintelligence investigative functions throughout the Department of Defense. Pending promulgation of DIA instructions, all activities and resources within these subject areas (including personnel, funds, equipment, and facilities) will be maintained and conducted at the currently approved or approved-for-planning levels. The Director, DIA, is authorized to delegate operational control to the appropriate Service or operating command. This delegation will be accomplished on a function-by-function basis.

Informing Congress and the Public. Because of the understandable public interest in this matter, it is my desire that, after plans, policies and procedures necessary to establish DIA control over all human resource [Page 481] activities in the Service as related to intelligence and counterintelligence are completed, my Special Assistant for Intelligence will hold a news briefing to inform the American public about the changes being made from past procedure. Concurrently, appropriate committees of the Congress will be informed of these actions.

Melvin R. Laird
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Agency Files, Box 226, Dept of Defense, Vol. X, 1 Dec 70–23 Feb 1971. No classification marking.
  2. On the same day that Laird issued this memorandum he also publicly announced the changes. Both The New York Times and Washington Post carried articles the next day that discussed background for the changes: William Beecher, “Laird Acts to Tighten Rule Over Military Intelligence,” The New York Times, December 24, p. 1, 22 and Michael Getler, “Army Spy Shakeup Ordered: Laird Tightens Civilian Control of Intelligence,” Washington Post, December 24, p. A–1, A–5.