53. Memorandum From the Executive Director of the Intelligence Coordinating Group (Raoul-Duval) to the President’s Counselor (Marsh)1
- Draft Plan for Intelligence Coordinating Group
The purpose of this draft plan is to provide a framework within which the Intelligence Coordinating Group can accomplish the tasks for which it was created by the President.2[Page 161]
The following are some key constraints, as I see them, on our ability to tackle this problem with confidence:
1. Because of a history of compartmentalization and secrecy in the intelligence community, probably the best overview and perspective on this entire problem exists among the staff of the Select Committees (primarily the Senate).
2. We cannot assume that the agencies and departments within the Executive branch have fully briefed your Group or other members of the White House staff. I suspect that the CIA is cooperating the fullest, and the FBI the least. In between fall Defense (NSA and DIA) and State.
3. The White House staff has been an aggressive defender of legitimate national security secrets, and often firmer than the intelligence community itself. One might expect this would have been the other way around with the greatest strength coming from the intelligence community. Although I think our position has been right morally, legally and substantively, there is, nevertheless, great political danger in this position. We should recognize that we have been pushed out front in such matters as the NSA open hearings issue.
4. There is very little control over the intelligence investigation within the Administration. Events and personalities appear to be affecting the pace of activity more than our planning.
5. The Congressional investigations are becoming increasingly partisan, and the Press is picking up this theme. In this regard, there is an attempt to link President Ford with former President Nixon and the Watergate scandal. Already, Bella Abzug3 and Mondale have swung in in a highly partisan fashion. I wonder how long it will be before we hear from Reagan.
6. I don’t think we’re in a position to make any long-range decisions until we have a clearly established framework for decision-making.
I think we should immediately seek to tighten the reins on the Executive branch and regain control. We should not view this simply as a “damage control” operation but, rather, we should seize the initiative and attempt to make something positive out of this.
It is important to note that this current intelligence investigation may give President Ford an historical opportunity to restructure the in[Page 162]telligence community, its method of operation and the role it plays in our society. This represents a great potential for the President to exercise leadership and to have a significant impact on a key element of our government, which directly impacts national security. There is a unique opportunity to blend personal and civil liberties with the Nation’s need for an effective intelligence capability.
We have to recognize that we are forming an organization and a process while we are fighting the battle. This is a high-risk proposition, but we simply have no alternative.
I have tried to tighten up our Coordinating Group activities and process by which decisions are made. I think we need to exert far more discipline on how the Executive branch performs, and if we do not, this thing is going to spin out of control.
Today, I would propose to go over this with you briefly, make whatever changes you want and prepare new copies for you to give to Rumsfeld, Buchen and Connor for their reaction. Once we hear from them, I recommend that you deal in Lynn and Scowcroft.
Hopefully, by Friday,4 we can present this to the Coordinating Group. I think we should discuss what they see, and it may be you’ll simply want to cover this orally with a one or two-page summary of assignments and organization.
- Source: Ford Library, James E. Connor Files, Box 57, Intelligence Community Subject File, Intelligence Coordinating Group—Draft Plan, 10/23/75. Sensitive; Eyes Only.↩
- See Document 49. The draft plan, attached but not printed, focuses on five main areas: the functioning of the ICG, problem management, the development of legislative planning and Presidential policy positions, the development of an Executive action plan, and the management of press and public support. Four Problem Management Task Forces were to maintain an early warning list of upcoming problems, as well as address issues arising from document delivery and security classification, Congressional strategy, and positions taken by the press and members of the public. Three Planning Groups were assigned to deal with legislation, Executive actions, and public support, respectively.↩
- Representative Bella Abzug (D–New York).↩
- October 24.↩