277. Memorandum From the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence for the Intelligence Community (Tweedy) to Director of Central Intelligence Helms1
Washington, June 7, 1972.
- Al Hall’s Letter of 5 June2
- Hal Bowen penned a note to me to a copy of Hall’s letter to you. The note mentions that although Hall is currently away, the letter has his approval and that it is “our response to your letter of 21 April.” To refresh your memory, I am attaching a copy of the 21 April letter I sent Hall, together with the proposed operating plan on which John Clarke and I briefed you before its dispatch to Hall.3 I merely mention this background because it typifies the thrust of Hall’s letter, which is that it is not a response to mine (there is no reference to it anywhere) and it reads as if the ASDI office has finally got around to drafting a proposal for cooperation with the DCI, as if no other water had flowed under the bridge since November last. You will note, as my letter says, that considerable care was taken to consult with Hall’s office (and the DoD Comptroller’s) during the formulation of the operating plan and these offices had seen the final text before I sent it to Hall. I do not mean by this that Hall had to accept what his subordinates and another office had generally found workable, but he was given a detailed proposal which clearly had as its base what we conceived to be the DCI’s needs to discharge his community responsibility. None of this is so much as acknowledged in Hall’s letter.
- I do not know specifically what has happened since 21 April. Shortly thereafter, we heard from Bowen’s staff that Hall was going to consult Laird on our proposal. I can only assume that he hardly asked Laird to read the letter and the attachment in detail, but that he had suggested perhaps that the proposal needed some tightening up and that he would deal with the matter. Perhaps it happened that way or perhaps Laird gave Hall much more detailed and exact instructions. I do not know, but I do know that if this latest letter is taken literally we are back on square one and at a time when the reality of our working with Hall’s office and the program managers is a totally different thing. [Page 627] What Hall’s letter basically does is to pay lip service to the need for Defense to work closely with the DCI and to assist him in carrying out what he has been told to do. The thrust is that the ASDI and the Secretary will do all the work, make the decisions and do a spot of coordinating with the DCI at a few symbolic milestones during the course of the planning cycle. For example, in paragraph 1 of Hall’s letter he talks about fiscal guidance. Fiscal guidance is what basically drives the whole Defense program. The letter states that you or your staff will be provided with the guidance issued and the identification of any problems you perceive will be welcome. This is a meaningless gesture. If you do not participate in the philosophy and the planning assumptions which lie in back of the recommended fiscal guidance, your comment on it after it is issued will be largely a waste of time. It is a fact, for example, and we learned it after the event, that the recommended fiscal guidance for 1974 had options in it which would have delayed [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. These options, of course, were not taken up, but if they had been and the guidance issued by Laird, your attempts to change it would have resulted in a mess at best because the guidance goes out immediately to every last nook and cranny of DoD and the overseas commands. In other words, fiscal guidance, when issued, is not constructed to be modified.
- It is tempting to recommend to you that we ignore this letter, as ours have been in the past, and continue on with the Defense intelligence community at the merry and satisfactory clip that now prevails. Unfortunately, this letter is too specific to be ignored and, more importantly, it appears to reflect a state of mind which needs to be disabused. Although I have not fully thought the program through, I am not inclined to suggest that you, or I, send him a reply. What is needed, it seems to me, is a discussion with him which attempts to impress on him, once and for all, what the realities of your responsibilities are and what you conclude you require to discharge them. I think emphasis must be placed on the fact that what we are talking about are national programs, which, for quite practical reasons, have been placed under the Secretary of Defense’s auspices and whose product is designed to serve the President and the National Security policy structure; that they are not in Defense primarily to serve the military’s needs, although they are important, and that what you have been asked to supervise is no part of any military force structure. In other words, if the logistic and budgetary problems were tolerable, this whole program would be in civilian hands, probably your own. Such a conversation might smoke out what the problem is, i.e., whether it is Laird or Hall, or a combination of both; in any event it would make quite clear how you view your role and what you believe you must do to fulfill the combination of instructions and expectations you have received from the executive and legislative branches. In an ideal world, I would like to [Page 628] conduct this conversation myself—but I really wonder if that is the effective way to do it. The alternative and the one I presently favor is for you to do it either alone with Hall, or with Bowen and me present.
- Perhaps the above can serve as background for discussion before we decide on tactics.