46. Briefing Memorandum From the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Saunders) to the Deputy Secretary of State (Christopher)1

The Secretary’s Views on Intelligence Community Structure

The Secretary met Saturday2 morning with Phil Habib, Herb Hansell, me and our staffs to discuss PRM/11 on intelligence community structure and mission, which comes before the SCC on Wednesday.3 He said he would discuss the question with you on Monday,4 but I thought this record of the meeting might also be useful to you in preparing for the SCC. We are scheduled to meet with you Wednesday afternoon.

We began by telling the Secretary we thought the SCC would concentrate on Intelligence Community organization rather than on the legislative proposals, and our meeting with him concentrated on that area. We suggest to you, too, that you begin with that subject. The cover memo in your book5 provides a guide to the key papers.

Basing his view on his experience in the Defense Department, the Secretary believes that the DCI should have maximum authority over foreign intelligence matters consistent with the Secretary of State’s own foreign affairs responsibilities. Specifically:

—The division of the national (as distinct from departmental or tactical) intelligence agencies between CIA and Defense is not right; it makes for lack of clarity in setting priorities, in tasking, and has resulted in wasteful duplication—“we collect twenty times as much as we can do anything with.”

—A collegial mechanism should agree on priorities, but the rest of the process should be left to the DCI.

—The DCI should not task the Foreign Service.

—There is no question that the Department needs its own INR for close analytical links with the bureaus, but he would be willing to [Page 271] coordinate its budget with the DCI (the amount is so little he sees no real problem).

To Herb Hansell’s question on Defense/DCI differences about the PRM/11 options, the Secretary reiterated his view that all national intelligence should be under the DCI. He had thought so when he was in Defense, and he thought so now. In Defense it had been thought that the creation of the Defense Intelligence Agency would reduce duplication and increase efficiency, but this had not worked out. Certainly the DCI should have budget control over the Community, and he said he would “not be unhappy” with DCI line control over NRO (satellite collection) and NSA (signals intelligence)—though “perhaps NSA was a little different” from NRO. The peace/war problem could be handled as Stan Turner suggests—if war comes the DCI would hand his gavel over to the Secretary of Defense.

To my question about how new collection systems proposals would be handled and analysis provided to the President, the Secretary said there should be collegial setting of priorities, and he didn’t seem particularly to care who chaired the group that did this; disagreements would go to the President. The Secretary said he thought the DCI should have Cabinet rank.

The problem, the Secretary said, is in deciding what the users really need; this is not now being done. I said this is part of the problem of quality of product; the analysts now feel they are left out in the cold, with no clear idea of what top officials want from them. If the President and his top advisers could set directions and degrees of interest, it would help in bridging the gap between their needs and the analytical effort. The Secretary said the President and his top advisers and the DCI should decide the real priorities.

When I noted the problem in reflecting these views in organizational arrangements and Herb Hansell asked whether he had any organizational model in mind, the Secretary responded that the DCI should have charge of all national intelligence, with deputies for evaluation, production, science and technology, collection, etc. Tactical intelligence would be left to the military services.

On covert action, the Secretary said his theory was that a staff both to plan and carry out such action was the wrong idea, because it would be on the lookout for new projects. Instead, proposals for covert action should by their nature be ad hoc, with something like the present CIA clandestine services to carry out approved operations.

To Herb Hansell’s question whether he had discussed his views with Secretary Brown, the Secretary said he had talked them over with the President and Stan Turner—whom he had advised to get the issues out in the open, rather than trying to paper them over—but his meetings [Page 272] with Brown had been taken up with other subjects. He would make a point of raising the matter soon with Brown.

Herb Hansell noted that with the DCI and Defense taking opposing views, the Secretary’s role may be key, and Phil Habib asked how the Secretary wanted you to handle the meeting.

The Secretary said he would discuss his views with you on Monday. He thought it should be a holding game at Wednesday’s meeting, generally reflecting the lines taken in this discussion but not pressing for decisions. He said he would be meeting further with Secretary Brown and Stan Turner about the question.

As to the urgency of the structure and charter legislation questions, the Secretary said Senator Inouye at lunch yesterday had said the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence did not intend to get into organizational matters for another year.6 Senator Inouye wants to talk with the President about them, but the Committee would not address them until next year. Asked whether this was also the Vice President’s reading, the Secretary said he would inform the Vice President of his talk with Inouye. The Secretary also said Senator Inouye had said the Foreign Intelligence Bill on electronic surveillance7 would move along in the Congress without difficulty.

Turning to the other two items on Wednesday’s SCC agenda regarding the Intelligence Community the Secretary:

—agreed that draft legislation to curb abuses should move forward; and

—agreed that a foreign counterintelligence committee should be formed.

  1. Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Box 4, Intelligence Community Reorganization, 1977 #2. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Saunders and Emerson M. Brown (INR). Copies were sent to Habib and Hansell.
  2. June 11.
  3. June 15. See Document 47.
  4. June 20.
  5. Not found.
  6. Senator Inouye chaired the SSCI.
  7. See Document 36. A June 1 PRM/NSC–11 Interagency Subcommittee Report to the Special Coordination Committee on “Lack of Authority for Electronic Surveillance Abroad and Physical Searches within and without the United States,” also discusses this issue. (Central Intelligence Agency, Office of the Deputy Director for Intelligence, Job 82M00587R: Policy Files, Box 7, Folder 12: PRM/NSC–11)