President Kennedy Attempts
to Put the CIA Under Control
BESIDE THE TOWERING MOUNTAINS THE FIELD looked more like pastureland than a hidden airfield. As a result, it was not surprising to see mud-covered water buffalo grazing in the shade beneath the wing of the old World War II B-17 Flying Fortress. Low rambling sheds, some of them stables and others supply shelters, were scattered along the perimeter of the field. A full stand of grass and small underbrush had grown up through the mesh of the pierced steel plank that had been laid on the ground to form a parking ramp for a collection of clandestine aircraft. Coils of barbed wire had been spread everywhere in a cleverly concealed random pattern, with wild flowers growing through it in abundance. Yet for all its appearance of tranquillity, this remote airfield was the center of a most active clandestine air activity. The pastoral scene camouflaged the muted industry of teams of Chinese Nationalist specialists who prepared the B-17s for deep flights over the mainland. Agent information told of trouble deep in China that was being exploited by leaflet drops from the old bombers. Skilled crews, who flew low to use the terrain as cover from radar, pinpointed the trouble cities on each flight because they were natives of the area.
Upon return, one crew reported the city ringed with searchlights probing for the planes through the murky sky. The pilot had dropped through the clouds and actually flown the B-17 in a tight circle inside the ring of searchlights, right over the heart of the ancient city, spraying leaflets all the time. As soon as his leaflet cargo had been dropped, he brought the plane down into the dark path of the river and flew at tree-top level back to the sea coast.
One morning, just after the sun had burst above the eastern peaks of Formosa, I saw two of these aircraft drop into the pasture for a safe landing after an all-night mission. As they taxied to a halt on the steel plank the Chinese ground crews swarmed around the planes, thrilled at the return of the crews and the success of the night and eager to hear how everything had gone. Then I noticed a few American technicians systematically removing tape and film canisters and other specialized equipment from in the planes to the laboratory for development and processing. I couldn't help but ponder the significance of these flights upon these two professional groups and the meaning of the word clandestine, as well as the nature of the policy that accounted for these flights.
To these Chinese the flights were a return to the homeland. They were probes at the remaining weak spots in the Chinese Communist shield. They were a serious attempt designed to arouse mainland Chinese, to demonstrate that the old regime still cared and that the Western World was still with them.
For the Americans these flights were entirely different. I had traveled to Taiwan with a CIA career man, after having completed eight months of concentrated staff work devising and designing an elaborate logistical system for special operations work all over the world. We had flown to Taiwan to see some of the field operations that were supported by this system. As I watched these two distinct elements work, supporting the same mission, from the same base, I saw at first hand a truth that had not been evident back in the Pentagon. The Chinese were very proud of these flights and of their part in doing something for their own people. To the Americans this was just a job, and it was one in which they could not become identified. If a mission failed, as some did, and the crew and the plane were lost, the Chinese Nationalists would honor their gallant men. If a mission was lost, the Americans would have to ignore it and deny they had played any part in the operation at all. In that sense, warfare is honorable and part of an ancient and respected tradition. On the other hand, clandestine warfare is never honorable and must always be denied. With this in mind, why were Americans themselves involved in these operations and others like them all around the world?
The answer is complex. The more intimate one becomes with this activity, the more one begins to realize that such operations are rarely, if ever, initiated from an intent to become involved in pursuit of some national objective in the first place. It would be hard to find an example of a clandestine operation that had been developed from the beginning solely in support of some significant national objective.
The lure of "fun and games" is addictive, and it is most powerful. There would be no intelligence problem at any level within the community if it were not for the inevitability of the desire to divert intelligence operations into secret operations. There would be little complaint and few problems if the CIA was limited to include secret intelligence and no more. In this day of three-dimensional capability with electronic snoopers and satellites, there is no place to hide anyhow, and concealment and secrecy are time-limited devices at best.
It used to be that if a nation defended its borders and saw to it that no one entered its territory, it could keep secret its actions, its maneuvers, and its intentions. It was the secret development of the simple iron ramrod that gave the armies of Frederick the Great of Prussia such a predominant margin of superiority in battle. Today, such singular and distinct advances might occur, as with the atom bomb. But the secret -- if it is a secret at all -- cannot be kept. There is no way to hide it and no place to hide. High-flying aircraft and satellite observation platforms provide us with accurate photographic information sufficient to identify and distinguish such an object as a round card table from a square card table. Special sensors give evidence of crop yields, thermal output variations, and many other areas of information. Nuclear weapons plants can be observed on a regular schedule and activity gauged quite accurately by several methods. Various electronic and communications monitors provide much more valuable information that even the satellites cannot get. Sophisticated economic studies provide volumes of essential and very precise information that cannot be hidden except at great cost and inconvenience. The very fact that modern industrial production methods require numbering, marking, and serial coding of products and parts manufactured plays directly into the hands of the vigilant intelligence operator. There can be few real secrets, and even these become fewer as soon as a little time is involved.
A good secret will last only a short time at best. Even the secret of the atom bomb and of its delivery system was more than 50 percent compromised once the bomb had burst over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As Norbert Wiener had said in his book, The Human Use of Human Beings: "When we consider a problem of nature such as that of atomic reactions and atomic explosions, the largest single item of information which we can make public is that they exist. Once a scientist attacks a problem which he knows to have an answer, his entire attitude is changed. He is already some fifty percent of his way toward that answer." And of more particular relevancy to the field of intelligence is another quote from Wiener: "The most important information which we can possess is the knowledge that the message which we are reading is not gibberish." In this context he is talking about the problem of codebreakers; but this is also applicable to many other areas of interest involving data acquired from numberless sources in tremendous quantities. The responsibility lies heavily upon the intelligence system itself to assure that it has been able to separate the wheat from the chaff. Data may not be gibberish as it comes in, but if it is not processed and evaluated properly, it may be useless when it comes out.
It is always of paramount importance to know that the information we have is not planted, false or a product of deception. So even the quest for secret intelligence may not exist as a major requirement to the extent that the CIA purists would like to make it seem. But this is not the real problem. The real problem is with clandestine operations In peacetime that have been mounted in response to intelligence data inputs that might have been deceptive or misinterpreted in the first place
During World War II there were reasons for clandestine operations, and much essential information was obtained by such means. However, as many students and researchers in this area have discovered, the value of such clandestine means was relatively small. As soon as World War II was over, President Truman dissolved the OSS to assure that clandestine operations would cease immediately. Six months later, when he founded the Central intelligence Group, he expressly denied a covert role for that authority and restricted the DCI to a coordinating function. During the debates leading up to the passage of the National Security Act of 1947 (NSA/47), proponents of a clandestine role for the CIA were repeatedly outmaneuvered and outvoted in Congress. In his book The Secret War, Sanche de Gramont reports: "The NSA/47 replaced the CIG with the CIA, a far more powerful body. From the hearings on the NSA/47 it is evident that no one knew exactly what the nature of the beast would be." At that time a member of the House, Representative Fred Busby, made the prophetic and quite accurate remark: "I wonder if there is any foundation for the rumors that have come to me to the effect that through this CIA they are contemplating operational activities." That congressman knew what he was talking about, and as we look back upon a quarter-century of the CIA it seems hard to believe that he wasn't sure that was exactly what they were up to in the first place.
When the law was passed, it contained no provision whatsoever either for collection of intelligence or for clandestine activities. However it did contain one clause that left the door ajar for later interpretation and exploitation. The CIA was created by the NSA/47 and placed under the direction of the NSC, a committee. This same act had established the NSC at the same time. Therefore, the CIA's position relative to the NSC was without practice and precedent; but the law was specific in placing the agency under the direction of that committee, and in not placing the Agency in the Office of the President and directly under his control. In conclusion, this act provided that among the duties the CIA would perform, it would:
. . . (5) perform such other functions and duties related to intelligence affecting the National Security as the NSC may from time to time direct.This was the inevitable loophole, and as time passed and as the CIA and the ST grew in power and know-how they tested this clause in the Act and began to practice their own interpretation of its meaning. They believed that it meant they could practice clandestine operations. Their perseverance paid off. During the summer of 1948 the NSC issued a directive, number 10/2, which authorized special operations, with two stipulations: (a) Such operations must be secret, and (b) such operations must be plausibly deniable. These were important prerequisites.
The CIA really worked at the achievement of this goal toward unlimited and unrestrained covert operations. In its earlier years the directors, Admiral Souers and General W. B. Smith, were preoccupied with the task of getting the Agency organized, with beating down the traditional opposition of the older members of the community, and with performing their primary function, that of coordinating national intelligence. However, with the advent of the Allen Dulles era, ever-increasing pressure was placed on the restraints that bound covert operations. Dulles succeeded in freeing the Agency from these fetters to such an extent that five years after his departing from the Agency the retiring DCI, Admiral Raborn, was so conditioned to the CIA "party line" that he could not quote the law correctly.
In reply to a question put to him by the U.S. News and World Report of July 18, 1966, asking what was the specific charter of the CIA, he said, ". . . to perform such other services as the NSC may direct. . . That fifth assignment is the Agency's charter for clandestine activities. . . " This is a very small deviation from the exact language of the law, but it is fundamental, and it shows how the Agency and even its DCI in 1966 believed and wanted others to believe that the NSA/47 did in fact give the CIA a clandestine activity charter, whereas it did not. The Act carefully stipulated that the CIA could perform such other activities as the "NSC would from time to time direct". That "time to time" stipulation clearly limits the Agency's "other services" to intermittent matters and does not give the Agency any clear authority to perform clandestine activities. As a matter of fact, many other actions, as we shall see, took place to prevent the Agency from getting any such automatic and routine authority.
Another statement of Admiral Raborn's is equally slanted. In response to a question about clandestine activity, he states that the Agency "must have the prior approval -- in detail -- of a committee of the NSC" before it can carry out such activity. Again there is but a shading of the language of the law; but again it is most fundamental. The law says that the Agency is under the direction of the NSC. In terms of how the Agency should, in accordance with the law, become involved in clandestine activity, the law follows its "from time to time" stipulation by saying that the Agency will perform such activity "by direction of the NSC". There is a distinct difference between winning approval of something and doing it by direction of the NSC. The distinction is in the area of the origin of the idea. The laws sees the NSC as responsible for the origination of the idea and then for the direction of the Agency. The Agency sees this as being something that it originates, ostensibly through its intelligence sources, and then takes to the NSC for approval. This was not contemplated by the law. Furthermore, the law did not authorize the creation of a "committee of NSC" for such important matters. It was the intent of the Congress that the NSC itself direct such things.
It should be noted also that Admiral Raborn got carried away in this interview with another statement. In response to the question, "Would the U.S. ambassador in the country concerned know about your activities there?" Raborn replied, "CIA's overseas personnel are subordinate to the U.S. ambassadors. We operate with the foreknowledge and approval of the ambassador." The reader may have his choice in concluding that Admiral Raborn either made an untrue statement, or that he did not know how his clandestine services operated. I choose to believe the latter. In either case, there are countless instances in which the ambassador does not know what the CIA is doing. Kenneth Galbraith's Ambassador's Journal is all anyone needs to read to see that. Or would someone like to say that Ambassador Keating in India knew what Henry Kissinger and his Agency friends were doing in Pakistan and India during the December, 1971, conflict? Another case would be that of Ambassador Timberlake in the Congo.
It would be unthinkable that the DCI, in this case Admiral Raborn, would intentionally make untrue statements in a national publication such as the U.S. News and World Report. The least he could have done would have been to avoid the question entirely. The deeper meaning of this interview is that Admiral Raborn, after more than a year of duty as DCI, simply did not know how his operating agents worked. He thought he had a clear ticket for clandestine operations, and he thought that arrangements were such that ambassadors would know about the actions of the CIA's clandestine operators. This is a clear example of how far the Agency has gone in getting around the law and in creating its own inertial drift, which puts it into things almost by an intelligence-input-induced automation system, without the knowledge of its own leaders and certainly without the knowledge of most higher-level authorities.
In times of peace it would have been unthinkable for one nation to interfere openly in the internal affairs of another without some prior understanding. All such occurrences otherwise are met with disapproval from all over the world. It must be admitted at the present time such fine points are sometimes overlooked for various emergency reasons; but these are the exceptions and not the rule. Even in South Vietnam, where there has never been a really independent government and where the United States, for all its sacrifice and assistance, might be expected quite understandably to have some rights, we find that the ambassador leans over backwards, at least in appearance, not to interfere in the internal affairs of that beleaguered nation. And that is a rather extreme example.
In the world family of nations, sovereignty is one of the key conditions of existence, and sovereignty is inviolate. Even if we talk about some small country such as Monaco or Luxembourg, the code of nations regards their sovereignty to be as precious as that of the United States or the USSR. The day this code breaks down will be the beginning of the end of world order and of a return to the rule of brute force. Liberty begins as the aspiration of the individual, and sovereignty is the measure of the absolute power of a state. As we look around us today, we see an erosion of this fundament of international society. It is for this reason that we must look into this situation and consider how important it is to the world community to uphold principles that we hold to be essential and priceless assets of our civilization.
Since sovereignty is priceless and must be inviolate, it is fundamental that no nation has the right to do that which if every other nation did likewise, would destroy this fragile fabric of civilization. We all agree in 99 percent of the cases that no nation has the right to infringe overtly upon the sovereignty of another. Since there is no higher court or other jurisdictional body empowered as final and absolute arbiter over the nations of the world, judgments in such cases must be left to the honor that exists among nations. When this fails, the only other alternative is for all nations large and small to form power blocks and alliances that in one way or another result in dependence upon brute force and sufficient leverage to demand compliance with the doctrine of sovereignty. Such moves in themselves result in the sacrifice of some measure of sovereignty. The price of alliance is generally some form of agreement and limitation of sovereignty that binds each party to assist the other even to the point of maintaining troops on the other's soil, or some other such measure. But for lack of other means, all nations must in the final issue seek their own security as best they can, and somewhere in this fabric the common good directs that all nations honor and respect certain unassailable rights.
Since no nation would then resort to overt infringement of sovereignty without being ready to face up to a war with that nation -- perhaps a war of major proportions involving nations in alliance with that nation -- then overt infringement is for all practical purposes out of the question. In all respects overt violation of the sovereignty of one nation by another would be a more difficult decision to make than a covert or clandestine infringement of sovereignty. If one nation believes that it has so much at stake that it must infringe upon the sovereignty of another nation, it will resort to clandestine means as the lesser of two evils.
Choosing a clandestine act leads to a rich dilemma: either the operation will be successful and it will never be discovered, or it will fail and the guilty nation may be found out. And then, realizing that such operations are directed and manned by human beings and that failure is inevitable, the NSC added a second most important stipulation, to the effect that in the case of failure the U.S. Government must be able to disclaim plausibly any part in such an operation. These safeguards take none of the gravity away from the nature of the operation; they simply serve as a precautionary and stringent guidelines to remind the Agency that clandestine operations directed by an agency of the U.S. Government are serious business.
Lest anyone think that the only barriers to the conduct of covert operations are those that reflect upon honor, prestige, and other gentlemanly intangibles, we should not overlook the other side of the coin. The U.S. Government has been blackmailed to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars in goods, materials, and preferential trade agreements as a result of the failures of clandestine operations in Cuba, Nicaragua, Greece, Indonesia, the Congo, Tibet, Pakistan, Norway, and other nations. This is one of the seldom noted and rarely announced hidden costs of such activities.
At the time the NSC published its guidelines in 1948, they were heeded with great care. One of the most important characteristics of a covert operation, in addition to the fact that it must be secret, is that it be very small. There is no such thing as a successful big clandestine operation. The bigger the operation, the less chance there is that it can be secret. This issue was one of the most serious matters to come out of the personal review of the Bay of Pigs failure that was made by President Kennedy and his brother. Although the law states that the CIA is under the direction of the NSC, there have been times, usually after the failure of a major operation, when the President has had to accept publicly the responsibility for the operation. It is obvious to anyone that the President as the elected leader of this nation is responsible for all activity of the Government. It is even more evident that the President as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of this country bears the final and sole responsibility for all military action; but nothing in the traditional military doctrine provides for the role of the Commander in Chief when involved in peacetime covert operations. A nation is not supposed to become involved in covert activity -- ever. Therefore its commander in chief is not -- ever -- supposed to be involved either in the success or the failure of such action. Recent CIA failures such as the U-2, Indonesia, the Bay of Pigs, and more recently, Indochina, have involved the Commander in Chief.
At this point when a covert operation has failed and has become public knowledge, the President is faced with a most unpleasant dilemma. He must accept the responsibility for the operation or he must not. If he does, he admits that this country has been officially and willfully involved in an illegal and traditionally unpardonable activity. If he does not, he admits that there are subordinates within his Government who have taken upon themselves the direction of such operations, to jeopardize the welfare and good name of this country by mounting clandestine operations. Such an admission requires that he dismiss such individuals and banish them from his Administration.
However, by the terms of the definition of clandestine activities, no one should be put in a position of having to admit responsibility for such operations. It is always agreed before the operation is launched that should it fail it will be disowned and denied. If this is not done and if extreme care has not been taken to assure the secrecy, success, and then if necessary, the deniability of each operation, no clandestine operation should ever be launched. If clandestine operations that do not meet these stringent requirements are set in motion they should not be pursued. They are falsely clandestine if they do not meet these requirements and thus enter the realm of open and inexcusable overt operations, disguised as it were as clandestine operations, or finally, in the last analysis, they are the product of shallow hypocrisy and callousness. During the past fifteen years things have gone that far, and there have been so-called clandestine operations that were in reality bold-faced overt activities carried out within another country without its consent. Most such events have resulted in coups d'état, some of which have been successful and some failures; but in all cases the open "clandestine" activity was rationalized on the basis that the old government was undesirable, that it was going to be overthrown and a little intervention was necessary anyhow.
The Bay of Pigs invasion and all of the other operational evens that accompanied that ill-fated exercise were more or less in that category. The whole campaign was much too large to have been clandestine. It had been too long and too open in the preparatory stages, and there had been too many leaks of what was going on. Secrecy was an hypocritical sham. To top this all off, what secrecy there was -- what real deep and deceptive secrecy existed -- existed within the U.S. Government itself. More effort had been made by the ST to shield, deceive, and confuse people inside the Government than took place on the outside. And since the great thrust of the program came after the Kennedy election in November 1960, the great bulk of the build-up in secrecy and under elaborate cover story scenarios took place right in the White House, the Pentagon, the Department of State, and other agencies that might have been expected to have known what was being planned. The result of all of this was that no one outside of a very few men at the heart of the ST in and out of the CIA had access to all of the facts. I use the words "had access to" intentionally, because even though a small team of men were in a position to know all that was going on by virtue of their being on the "inside" of the ring of need-to-know, they did not know all that was going on because they were not in a position to encompass the entire operation, nor did they comprehend all that they did see. Such an operation, once it begins to grow, takes on a corporate existence of its own, and unless there is unusually competent leadership at the top, the kind of leadership that can tighten things up by saying "No" at the right time and for the right reasons, the whole operation blooms by itself and runs on like wildfire. As we have said earlier, Allen Dulles did not even attempt to apply such leadership, and his chief lieutenants were not in a position to provide it. Thus it was that the Bay of Pigs operation went off pretty much by itself and foundered.
It was only after its failure that Kennedy really began to see the scope and magnitude of the problem. Kennedy was not experience in this type of thing. He had very little useful military experience that would have stood him in good stead here, and he had not been on the inside of a clandestine operation development before. This is a special knowledge that is not learned by equivalent experience in other walks of life, and he had not suspected the problems that he would inherit with this failure. But President Kennedy was also not the type to permit such a thing to hit him twice. He was smart, tough, and politically alert. He saw no other way to quiet the situation after this dismal failure then to accept total responsibility and to try to make the best of a tragic situation. On April 3 he appointed a committee to investigate the entire operation, and on April 4, 1961, the White House issued the following statement:
"President Kennedy has stated from the beginning that as President he bears sole responsibility for the events of the past few days. He has stated it on all occasions and he restates it now so that it will be understood by all. The President is strongly opposed to anyone within or without the administration attempting to shift the responsibility."This statement was reminiscent of the blanket statement issued by Eisenhower after the U-2 failure in Russia on May 1, 1960. Once the Government is caught in a "blown" and uncovered clandestine activity that has failed, there can be no other out but to admit that the Government of the United States, for reasons of its own, had planned an intrusion into another government's sovereign territory, and then accept the consequences and see what can be made of a bad situation.
The committee appointed by President Kennedy consisted of Allen Dulles, General Maxwell Taylor, Admiral Arleigh Burke, and the President's brother Robert F. Kennedy. This was a most fortuitous group for many reasons, and it is worth a few lines here to discuss these men and their selection.
Allen Dulles had the special knack of being able to move forward in adversity. He could shed problems and move into the next series of ventures while the Government, the public, and the newspapermen were sifting through the ashes of a past failure. He was confident in this ability because he knew how to make secrecy work for him and how to compartmentalize so that few people, even within his inner circle, really knew which way he was going to move. It would be perfectly correct to point out that this ability to move within a cloak of secrecy comes not so much from some inner wisdom as from the persistent small force, not unlike gravity, that leads the ST from one operation to another for no other reason than that they find a new bit of input data and their built-in feedback system begins to respond like water finding a new course around a temporary obstacle. Thus, Allen Dulles was in an ideal -- for him -- situation when he was appointed to this committee. Immediately, he began to set the committee up for his net venture, and he maneuvered the hearings to bring about the most gain for the ST and his Agency, even though he no doubt realized that he would not last much longer as the DCI under Kennedy.
It was important to him to see that his chief of clandestine operations, Richard Bissell, was placed properly in another quiet and influential post and that Bissell's successor would be one whom he could rely upon to carry out the goals of the Agency. Bissell was maneuvered into the job of director of the Institute of Defense Analysis (IDA), a high powered think-tank that works directly for the Office of the Secretary of Defense and for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. IDA is also a frequently valuable conduit for CIA proposals that it wants introduced without attribution to the Pentagon, the Department of State, and the White House. In such situations, the CIA will pass a paper to IDA for its processing. IDA will put it on its letterhead, and an IDA team which may include an agent on cover assignment, will take the project to the Pentagon. Then, instead of going into the Pentagon in the usual prescribed manner in which CIA matters are handled, IDA will meet with officials, for example in the prestigious office of the deputy director for Research and Engineering. From there the paper may be staffed throughout the rest of the Office of the Secretary, the JCS, and the Services. This assignment of Dick Bissell to IDA was most helpful to the CIA. And although he was being publicly removed from the Kennedy Administration and banished from the public sector, he was a close as ever to the activity of the Agency in a think-tank totally sponsored by government money. Subsequently, Allen Dulles moved Richard Helms into the position vacated by Bissell.
Dulles' next goal was to rebuild the influence of the CIA in the White House. He accomplished this masterfully by seeing to it that Bobby Kennedy heard all the things he wanted him to hear during these hearings. He won him over without the appearance of catering to him or doting upon him. Therefore, he saw to it that Bobby was left to his own thoughts as each day's witnesses entered the committee rooms in the windowless confines of the inner JCS area of the Pentagon. All he did was to make certain that the train of witnesses was so selected that their testimony would be patterned to present the Agency in its best light and to inconspicuously transfer blame to others, such as the JCS. But most of all he arranged for witnesses who would provide background briefings of the new Agency drift into counterinsurgency. The broad plan for counterinsurgency as a marriage of the CIA and of the U.S. Army had been laid down during the last months of the Eisenhower Administration. It remained for its proponents, mostly men of the ST, to sell it to the Kennedy team.
Throughout this complex process his primary target for conversion to the CIA was General Maxwell Taylor. Here was the right man at the time for Allen Dulles' exploitation and for the use of the ST. Dulles was very good at this kind of thing. He had used General Edward G. Lansdale this way many times, to the considerable personal benefit of Lansdale and for the immeasurable benefit of the CIA. Lansdale had had good fortune in the Philippines in making a president out of the unknown Magsaysay; but it had been Allen Dulles, with skillful assistance from Admiral Radford and Cardinal Spellman, whose bottomless blank-check tactics made the whole thing work. Now Dulles was playing for bigger stakes, and his man was to be General Taylor. Dulles needed a man like Taylor in the White House to rebuild confidence in the Agency after the Bay of Pigs fiasco.
General Taylor's career was interesting. He always seemed to be displeased with the way things were going, and he always seemed to be pushing some "cause" against a real or imagined adversary. Years ago he had followed in the high-speed wake of Admiral Arleigh Burke in attacking the Air Force over the intercontinental bomber B-36 issues and the related strategic concept of massive retaliation. He surrounded himself with a coterie of young hotheads and let them stir up the dust while he pounded the table. In a most characteristic scene, he rose up out of the sound and fury of the post-Suez era in 1956, when Krushchev had threatened London and Paris with rockets, to sound his trumpet for an intermediate-range ballistic missile. At that time this created quite a stir in Washington and eventually led to the replacement of the Secretary of Defense because of the friction generated by the Army and Air Force protagonists over a missile that nobody needed in the first place. It had just happened that Krushchevs rockets, to have been effective, would have to have had a range of about fifteen hundred miles. The Taylor and Medaris (Army General Medaris) version of the tactics involved to counter them would then require an American missile with an intermediate range, judged by them to be about fifteen hundred miles. And the Army believed it had just the missile, a rocket called Jupiter. The details of this great debate are not important here; it is simply useful to point out that it is typical of General Taylor to leap into a cause, frequently with a hotheaded team of firebrands, and to joust with the windmill. He got nowhere in the B-36 debates, and he forced an unnecessary showdown over the intermediate range ballistic missile, which went counter to the best interests of the Army.
Later, Taylor had other arguments with the Eisenhower Administration that caused him to resign in a huff in 1959. Immediately, he set out to write a book, The Uncertain Trumpet, which purported to show the fallacy of the massive retaliation strategy, but which was more a polemic on the Eisenhower administration's relegation of the Army to a reduced role in national military planning. With this background he was an ideal figure for Allen Dulles to cultivate to act as a front man for the CIA in the White House.
The CIA had learned how to turn the restrictions of the NSC directives around to their advantage with respect to the promotion and approval of clandestine activities. Since the CIA was bound to win the approval of the NSC before it could mount such exercises, the best thing to do was to create a group of participants in the NSC structure itself who would always perform as Allen Dulles wanted them to perform. This left him with a few things to get set up his way.
As we have noted, the law states that the CIA is under the direction of the NSC; and further it states in the escape clause, which is interpreted to suggest that the CIA may get into the clandestine business, that the CIA may perform such other activities as the NSC may from time to time direct. The first thing that the ST did was to wear down the meaning of the word "direct". In the original context it was the intent of the Government that there be no clandestine activity whatsoever except in those rare instances when the NSC might see something so important that it would "direct" an agency, presumably the CIA, to perform the operation. In the strict sense of this interpretation, the only time the CIA could become involved in the preparation of any clandestine activity would be when "directed" by the NSC and not before.
Under the erosion process used by the ST, this idea of "direction" became "approval". Once the CIA had become involved in a series of clandestine operations, it then would make a practice of going back to the NSC, to the Special Group 5412/2 as it was in those days, and ostentatiously brief the next operation as a series. As they hoped, after a while the important and very busy members of the NSC or of the NSC subcommittee would plead other duties and designate someone else to act for them at the meetings. This diluted the control mechanism appreciably. Further, the CIA saw to it that men who would always go along with them were the designated alternates.
This is another part of the special expertise of the ST. The CIA would use secrecy and need-to-know control to arrange with a Cabinet-level officer for the cover assignment of an Agency employee to that organization, for example to the Federal Aviation Administration. The Cabinet officer would agree without too much concern and quietly tip off his manpower officer to arrange a "slot" (personnel space) for someone who would be coming into a certain office. He would simply say that the "slot would be reimbursed", and this would permit the FAA to carry a one-man overage in its manning tables. Soon the man would arrive to work in that position. As far as his associates would know, he would be on some special project, and in a short time he would have worked so well into the staff that they would not know that he was not really one of them. Turnover being what it is in bureaucratic Washington, it would not be too long before everyone around that position would have forgotten that it was still there as a special slot. It would be a normal FAA-assigned job with a CIA man in it.
Then the CIA would work to beef up the power of that position until the man was in a situation that could be used for membership on various committees, boards, and so on. In the case of the FAA, the actual CIA slotted men are in places where they can assist the ST with its many requirements in the field of commercial aviation, both transport and aircraft maintenance and supply companies.
This same procedure works for slots in the Departments of State, Defense, and even in the White House. By patient and determined exploitation and maneuvering of these positions, the Agency is able to get key men into places where they are ready for the time when the ST wishes to pull the strings to have a certain man made the alternate, or to designate someone for a role such as that of the NSC 5412/2 Special Group. This is intricate and long-range work but it pays off, and the ST is adept at the use of these tactics. Of course, there are many variations of the ways in which this can be done. The main thing is that it is done skillfully and under the heavy veil of secrecy. Many key CIA career men have served in such slots as agents operating within the United States Government. There is no question about the fact that some of these agents have been the most influential and productive agents in the CIA, and there is no doubt that the security measures utilized to cover these agents within our own government have been heavier than those used between the United States and other governments.
Thus the CIA has been able to evolve a change in the meaning of and the use of the control word "direct" and then to get its own people into key positions so that when they do present operations for approval they are often presenting these critical clandestine schemes to their own people. The Pentagon Papers detail much of this, and we shall discuss it later. One reason why Bill Bundy appears so frequently in the Pentagon Papers is because he was a long-time career CIA man, and he was used as a conduit by the CIA to get its schemes for Vietnam to and past such men as McNamara and Rusk.
In this manner Allen Dulles worked to create a role for the army "black sheep", Maxwell Taylor. It was in Dulles' interest to get Taylor into the White House, and it was very much in Taylor's personal interest to get back into a position where he expected to be able to press some of his old ideas, or what was more likely, where he would be useful as the front man for some of his former staffers. Taylor's approach. when confronted with an explanation or a proposal that varied from his own, was usually a brusque, "Get on the team." In other words, if you were not with him, you were against him, and if you were not on the "team" you would be dropped summarily. Many a good Army Officer of that era was brushed aside simply because he tried to point out other views than those held by Taylor.
In Taylor's book, The Uncertain Trumpet, he cites his method of operation when he was in opposition to the chairman of the JCS and the other Chiefs: "I arrived carefully prepared with a written rebuttal drawn up with the help of some of my ablest staff officers. I took the offensive at the start of the session, attacking the unsoundness of the proposal from all points of view -- military, political, and fiscal." On the face of it there is nothing wrong with such a method, and all of the Chiefs do that, but General Taylor made a career of charging into meetings with the "written rebuttal" of some of his firebrand of officers and of getting knocked flat on his face. This would not be so unimportant an observation if I had not witnessed JCS meetings with and without General Taylor present at the time when he was the chairman himself. And it would not have become so public a bit of information if some of these written works that he cites had not been published in all their unbelievable candor in the Pentagon Papers. Goethe's statement that "There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action" may be very true, and we have the war in Vietnam to prove it; but that statement can be topped. There is nothing so frightful and so self-righteous as an otherwise intelligent and experienced man who, to serve his own ends, will champion the cause of the ignorant in action.
Allen Dulles was able to get Maxwell Taylor into the White House as personal military adviser to President Kennedy. There was much public discussion about the propriety of placing a general in such a capacity in the White House, ostensibly overseeing and perhaps second-guessing the lawful chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The CIA had its cake to keep and to eat on this point because not only did it gain Maxwell Taylor as a principal ally at the seat of power, but it finessed a good share of the Bay of Pigs blame upon the JCS without so much as saying so. Most people were willing to read into this key appointment what they thought was the President's own view that there must be something to the allegations that the JCS botched up the Bay of Pigs if Kennedy himself, with all he knew after that investigation, brought General Maxwell Taylor into the White House to keep an eye on the military.
It must have delighted General Taylor to let the rumors and the conjecture fly. He could play it either way. He could second-guess the chairman, General Lyman Lemnitzer -- as capable a chairman as there has ever been -- or he could settle down to his new role of advancing ST schemes, along with his newly-won friends, the U.S. Army Special Forces, the Green Berets. This sort of Army was much to his liking, and this sort of Army was already up to its neck in operations with the CIA. Maxwell Taylor was not the White House military adviser in the regular sense; he was the CIA's man at the White House, and he was the paramilitary adviser.
Through all of this board of inquiry investigation, Allen Dulles orchestrated the rest of the committee members into his plan. Admiral Arleigh Burke, without question the ablest admiral to serve as Chief of Naval Operations since World War II, had chaired many JCS meetings during the period when the Bay of Pigs operation was being developed, and since much of the planning involved the Navy and the Marines Corps (the top military man on the CIA staff was a most able and experienced Marine colonel) he was the logical member of the JCS to sit on the committee. His position on the committee, however, must have caused him quite a bit of concern, because as he witnessed the unfolding of the operation as Dulles unwound the scheme he must have wondered if what he was hearing in that room could possibly have had anything to do with the operational information that he had heard during briefings.
One of the really secret techniques of the ST is to cellularize and play by ear the development of some scheme. It would be hard to say that they planned it that way, because one of the things that the Team understands and practices the least is planning. But as an operation develops they assign one part of it to one group and another part to another group. At certain levels of the hierarchy these come together. It would be nice if such things were done with PERT chart or Network Charting precision and effectiveness; but they are not. So as an operation develops, it grows haphazardly. When the CIA needs something from the Navy it will have a certain man call upon the Naval Focal Point Office and request the item. Depending upon how easy this detail is put over, the briefer may or may not tell the Navy what he plans to do with it. The Navy may press him and say, in effect, "We cannot send two Navy doctors on temporary duty to Panama for Project XYZ unless you tell us exactly what Project XYZ is and why you need two Navy doctors." The Navy knows that if the doctors were to be used on an Army post this would not look right, even in Panama, and the Navy might be left holding the bag in the event the operation were to be compromised. At this point the CIA man might tell the Navy the real story, or he might tell them a cover story (a lie) and see if he can get away with it. In either case, if the Focal Point officer is doing his job, he will gain sufficient time to call upon the office of the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) to mention this request to the "cleared" executive officer there. At this point, the executive officer may or may not choose to inform the CNO.
In this rather hit-and-miss manner, the CNO, in this case Admiral Burke, may or may not have ever gotten a thorough briefing on the whole Bay of Pigs operation. Since no one else did, it would be surprising if Admiral Burke did. Furthermore, as he filled in for General Lemnitzer only from time to time, he could not possibly have ever received a full and comprehensive Bay of Pigs briefing in his capacity as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
This is not to say that the JCS may not have demanded and then have received a formal briefing. The JCS did have a briefing of sorts during January 1961, just before the Kennedy inauguration. It was their one-time introduction to what the CIA was doing. But such briefings are themselves not comprehensive. They suffer first of all from the limitations of the briefing officers, who may not know all that is being done, and who for their own parts, have not been told all that is under way.
Therefore, even though someone as important as a member of the JCS may insist upon a briefing in full, the very fact that he is so important will embolden the ST to endeavor to give as little information as they are pressed to serve up, because they can be sure he has been too busy to become familiar with all prior activity.
As a result, it would be surprising if Admiral Burke could have recognized little more than one-third of what he heard during the committee meetings in those hectic days in the Pentagon of April and May 1961.
Furthermore, Allen Dulles had other trump cards. No one on the committee and few people, if any, anywhere really knew who all the responsible men were at the core of this operation. In his very excellent book, The Bay of Pigs, Haynes Johnson tells of his interviews with the Cubans to find out what they were asked at these meetings and what they said at these meetings. But he found no one else with whom he could discuss the operation. He did not know whom to ask, and no one else would know the right ones either. Allen Dulles was not at all interested in bringing to the committee hearings the men responsible for and most familiar with the operation. As a matter of fact, as far as he was concerned, that operation was over, it was a mess, it was not to be resurrected. He arranged these hearings so that Maxwell Taylor and Bobby Kennedy could hear as much as possible about the ways and means of the ST, not in the past, but in the future. As a result, Allen Dulles marched an endless column of men in and out of the committee rooms who had either nothing or very little to do with the real Bay of Pigs operation. The most important thing was that a whole host of men who had a lot to do with the operation were completely ignored. Again using the need-to-know principle, Dulles could do more by excluding knowledgeable men from the meetings than he could by parading platoons of men who knew only one phase or another.
Typical of the style of questioning was that in which General Taylor discussed with certain Cubans the tactics they had used on the beach. This led to a wider discussion of Green Berets and paramilitary-type tactics and of the military role in civic action programs, all of this away from the main subject. Mr. Dulles found in his patient hands some putty in the form of Bobby Kennedy and Maxwell Taylor.
No one should underestimate the role played by Bobby Kennedy. Nothing in his strenuous career had prepared him to become a military strategist or battlefield tactician; but few men in this country were more experienced in the ways of the Government, and few men were tougher than Bobby Kennedy. He may have been won over on the Green Berets' side because at that stage of development their doctrine was uncluttered by later horrible events in Vietnam and because this doctrine was an idealistic mix of Boy Scouts, military government, and Red Cross. But the evidence is that Bobby Kennedy was not misled in his appraisal of the real problems underlying the serious and tragic failure of the Bay of Pigs operation. He came very close to seeing how terribly significant the real meaning of clandestine operations is and how gross an impact the failure of such operations can have upon national prestige and credibility. It is entirely possible that had John Kennedy lived to serve until re-elected, sometime during his Administration the genie of clandestine operations would have been put back into the bottle and the CIA might have been returned to its legally authorized role of an intelligence agency and no more.
The committee hearings ended in May 1961. No report of these hearings has ever been published. It is possible that if it were to be published it would be a most misleading document. It would contain all manner of irrelevant testimony, and it would be devoid of solid inside information. However, somewhere in the inner sanctum of the Kennedy White House there were some very hard-hitting and valuable meetings concerning the future of clandestine operations by the United States Government. These meetings must have been attended only by the Kennedy "family team", not by the President's official staff. Out of these meetings came three most interesting and remarkable documents.
Kennedy did not utilize the structured NSC he inherited from Eisenhower; yet, from time to time he had to issue very important directives that affected the national security. Thus he issued what were called National Security Action Memoranda (NSAM). By June of 1961, some fifty or more such memoranda had been published, and the Department of Defense had established procedures for the processing and implementation of these major directives. Then, shortly after the Bay of Pigs committee had completed its hearings, the White House issued three NSAM of a most unusual and revolutionary nature. They prescribed vastly limiting stipulations upon the conduct of clandestine operations. NSAM #55 was addressed to the chairman of the JCS, and its principle theme was to instruct the chairman that the President of the United States held him responsible for all "military-type" operations in peacetime as he would be responsible for them in time of war. Because of the semantic problems inherent in dealing with this subject, it is not always possible to be as precise in writing about clandestine operations as one might like to be; but there was no misunderstanding the full intent and weight of this document. Peacetime operations, as used in that context, were always clandestine operations. The radical turn of this memorandum came from the fact that the President was charging the chairman with this responsibility. It did not say that the chairman should develop such operations. In fact, accompanying directives clarified that issue to mean that clandestine operations were to cease, or at least to be much restricted. What it did do was to charge the chairman with providing the President with advice and counsel on any such developments. This NSAM therefore put into the chairman's hands the authority to demand full and comprehensive briefings and an inside role during the development of any clandestine operation in which the U.S. Government might become involved.
The usual NSAM was signed by one of the senior members of the White House staff, and this changed from time to time depending upon the subject matter of the directive and the addressee. NSAM #55 was most singular in that it was addressed only to the chairman of the JCS with an information addressee notation for the DCI, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Defense; and this order was signed personally by President John F. Kennedy. There was to be no doubt in the minds of any of the inner group of the Kennedy Administration concerning the President's meaning and intentions. The fact that the DCI received his copy as "information" was alone sufficient to heavily underscore the President's message.
Coming as it did on the heels of the committee's intensive though inconclusive and somewhat misleading investigations, this document more than any other emphatically underlined the importance of the role of Bobby Kennedy. He may have been the passive member of the committee as he soaked up the action but if nothing more came out of the hearings than this one directive, his presence on that committee would have been well worthwhile. It had become clear to the Kennedys and to their inner "family" that CIA lack of leadership in the Bay of Pigs had been the cause of its failure. The total lack of on-the-spot tactical leadership was the first element Kennedy attacked once the hearings had concluded. This document more than anything else sealed the fate of Dick Bissell and Allen Dulles. When the chips were down, they had not been there, nor had they made their presence felt.
NSAM #56 was not a significant document and was more intended to fill a small chink in the leaking dam than to reroute the whole stream of events. But what it lacked in thunder was more than made up in NSAM # 57. We have been saying much about clandestine operations and of the very peculiar nature of this type of business. When it has all been reviewed, one of the principal conclusions must be that the United States Government is inherently and operationally incapable of developing and successfully carrying out clandestine operations, primarily because they run at total opposites to our basic way of life. Americanism means an open society, and clandestine operations are the desperate efforts of a closed society.
Fletcher Knebel, in his excellent and very popular book, Vanished, has his principal character, President Roudebush, say after a heated session with his DCI, Arthur Ingram, "We've been over this ground before. He can't see that if we adopt Communist methods in our zeal to contain them, we wind up defeating ourselves, war or no war. What is left of our open society if every man has to fear a secret government agent at his elbow? Who can respect us or believe us. . . ?" We have no way of knowing whether or not Knebel had Kennedy in mind as his fictional president; but if he had been a member of the inner Kennedy team at that time he could not have come up with a more topical comment. Kennedy knew that he had been badly burned by the Bay of Pigs incident, and by June 1961 he and Bobby knew that he had been let down by the ST. (I carefully switch to the ST label here, because in all fairness to the CIA, it was more than the CIA that really created the unfortunate operation. For example, the overeager blind participation of certain military elements gave the whole operation a weird and unbalanced character, which doomed it before it got off the ground. Then the lack of leadership, which really is the name of the game in clandestine operations, provided the coup de grâce. It was the whole ST that built a totally unexpected and totally unplanned operation out of the smaller, more nearly clandestine units that might have had some measure of success.) Therefore, Kennedy did feel and did know that such clandestine operations had no place in the U.S. Government. This led him to direct the publication of the most important of these three memoranda, NSAM #57.
NSAM #57 was a long paper as those things go, and we shall make no attempt to recall it in great detail. When "The Pentagon Papers" series was published by The New York Times, it was noticeable for its omission. It is this sort of "educated" omission that makes the Pentagon Papers suspect in the eyes of those who have been most intimately connected with that type of work. Any gross batch of documents can be made to mean one thing or quite another, not only by what the news media publishes but by what they delete from publication. NSAM #57 is a controversial document that has not been released to date.
The principle behind NSAM #57 is absolutely fundamental to the whole concept of clandestine operations. It not only restates the idea that clandestine operations should be secret and deniable, but it goes beyond that to state that they should be small. It plays on the meaning of "small", in two areas of interest: First, unless they are very small they should not be assigned to the CIA; and second, if they are not as small as possible they have no chance of remaining secret and therefore have no chance, by definition, of being successful clandestine operations.
This latter issue flies right in the face of the CIA, which had been working for years to define all sorts of operations, large and small, secret or not, as clandestine in order that they would then, by arbitrary definition, be assigned to the CIA. This was an erosion of the principle, but it had been going on for so long and the CIA had used the game so blatantly for so long that it had become almost a matter of course. The CIA managed to declare in 1962 that the training of the border patrol police on the India-China border was a clandestine activity; then, because it was "clandestine", the whole job was assigned to the CIA.
The CIA got itself deeply involved in the Katangese side of the Congo venture, and defined its work as clandestine to keep it under Agency control, whereas everyone in Africa and most of the world knew that the Katangese did not have the clout to operate huge C-97 four-engine Boeing transport aircraft and all the other airlift that became immediately and mysteriously available to Tshombe.
It becomes ridiculous to equate activities in Indochina to any useful definition of clandestine; yet the CIA continued to clamp high-security classification on what it was doing there simply so that the Agency could remain in control of the things it had stirred up. In Vietnam this became so blatant and such big business that the United States Government has always had to retain an operational ambassador there, not because an ambassador could add anything to the situation, and not that the Government wished to depart so far from historical administration in time of war, but because there have always been two equal commanding officers in Vietnam. There has always been the CIA commanding officer and since 1964 there has been an Armed Forces commanding officer. Those generals who served there before 1964 were simply figureheads, although some of them may not have fully realized that themselves, even to the end. The role of the ambassador has been to referee and arbitrate between the Armed Forces and the CIA. For anyone who may find this idea a bit new or rash we would propose that he search for a precedent for the retention of a full and active ambassador in the battle zone in time of full war -- and recall, this is by many counts the second most costly war in all of our history.
Thus, by the very size of its activities in so many areas, the CIA had exceeded all reasonable definitions of clandestine. This new Kennedy directive hit right at the most vulnerable point in the ST game at that time. No sooner had this directive been received in the Pentagon than heated arguments sprang up, wherever this order was seen, as to what was "large" and what was "small" in clandestine activities. Oddly enough the rather large and fast-growing contingent of DOD officials and personnel who had found a most promising and interesting niche in the special operations business were the loudest in support of "small" being "large". In other words, they were much in support of more Bay of Pigs operations, and even by June 1961 there had been really significant moves of Bay of Pigs men and equipment from Latin America and the bases in the States to Vietnam. For them, it was onward and upward. What was a small Cuban failure or two? Indochina offered new horizons.
There is no point in pursuing the argument further. It was never really settled, anyhow. Allen Dulles and his quietly skillful team had foreseen this possibility and had laid the groundwork to circumvent it. Opposing Dulles was like fighting your adversary on the brink of a cliff. He was willing to go over as long as he brought his opponents with him. He believed the handwriting on the wall, and he had sounded out the Kennedys. He knew that they had learned a lot from the Bay of Pigs; and he now knew where the Kennedys' Achilles' tendon was, and he had hold of that vital spot.
It would be worth a full chapter or perhaps a full book to be able to recount in detail what really happened to NSAM #55 and NSAM #57. For the purposes of this account we can discount NSAM #56. I was responsible for the action on NSAM #55 and for whatever use it might be put to. Thus its briefing to certain "eyes only" selected senior officers can be accounted for. NSAM #55 was briefed and in detail (it was a very short paper) to the chairman of the JCS. It was "Red Striped", as the JCS terminology goes, meaning that it was read and noted by the Chiefs of Staff.
While General Lemnitzer was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and while John F. Kennedy was President, NSAM #55 provided a strong safeguard against such things as the Bay of Pigs. If Lemnitzer was going to be responsible to the President for "operations in peacetime in the same manner as in war time", the best way to fulfill that responsibility in the eyes of General Lemnitzer would be to have no peacetime operations.
Then, President Kennedy made a most significant move, one perhaps that has had more impact upon events during the past ten years than any other that can be attributed to him or to his successors. He decided to transfer General Lemnitzer to Paris to replace General Lauris Norstad as Allied commander of NATO troops. Lemnitzer was eminently qualified for this task, and it was a good assignment. To replace Lemnitzer as chairman of the JCS, Kennedy moved Maxwell Taylor from the White House to the Pentagon. By that time the Kennedys had espoused the new doctrine of counterinsurgency and had become thoroughly wrapped up in the activities of the Special Group Counterinsurgency (Cl) as the new clandestine operations group was called. Although it had not totally replaced the old Special Group (5412) in scope and function as the authorizing body for all clandestine affairs, it had created quite a niche for itself in the new counterinsurgency game. It used to be that anti-Communist activity was carried out against Communist countries, governments, and territory. There had been a gradual drift away from that. The new counterinsurgency philosophy and doctrine meant that anti-Communism would now be waged in non-Communist countries.
Shortly after the Bay of Pigs investigation, Secretary of Defense McNamara, in conjunction with General Earle Wheeler, who at that time was the director of the Joint Staff, agreed to establish in the Joint Staff an office of the Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities. This office, among other things, worked directly with the CIA and the White House. The incumbent, Marine Major General Victor H. Krulak, became the most important and most dominant man on the staff. He carried more weight with Secretary of Defense McNamara than any other general and was always welcomed by the White House, where he frequently and most eloquently preached the new doctrine of counterinsurgency.
This created an ideal platform for General Taylor. He was by that time the chief proponent of counterinsurgency, the Army's Green Berets, and the CIA. In a most fortuitous assignment for the CIA and the ST, he became the chairman of the JCS, and all of the pieces fell into place. With McGeorge Bundy in Taylor's old job in the White House, responsible for all clandestine activity; with Bill Bundy as the principle conduit from the CIA to McNamara (later in State), and with Taylor on top of the military establishment, the ST had emerged from its nadir on the beaches of Cuba and was ready for whatever might develop in Vietnam.
And to further assure this success, Kennedy's own strict directive, NSAM #55, was now in the hands of the very man who would want to use it the most and who would have the most reason to use it, Maxwell Taylor. In the hands of Lemnitzer, NSAM #55 meant no more clandestine operations, or at least no more unless there were most compelling reasons. In the hands of Maxwell Taylor, this meant that he was most willing to take full advantage of the situation and to be the President's key adviser during "peacetime operations as he would be during time of war".
One further factor played into this situation. It is quite apparent that Kennedy did not fully realize the situation he had unintentionally created. To him and to his brother, Maxwell Taylor was the model of the down-to-earth soldier. He looked like Lemnitzer, like Bradley, maybe even like Patton -- only better. He was their man. They did not realize that even in his recent book, The Uncertain Trumpet, he had turned his back on the conventional military doctrine and had become a leader of the new military force of response, of reaction and of undercover activity -- all summed up in the newly coined word "counterinsurgency". Kennedy was not getting an old soldier in the Pentagon. He was getting one of the new breed. Taylor's tenure would mark the end of the day of the old soldier and the beginning of the Special Forces, the peacetime operator, the response-motivated counterinsurgency warrior who has been so abundantly uncovered in the conflict of the past ten years in Vietnam.
This was the climax of a long bit of maneuvering within the Government by the ST and its supporters. To accomplish their ends, they did not have to shoot down the Kennedy directives, NSAM #55 and #57, in flames like the Red Baron; they simply took these memoranda over for their own ends, and ignored them when they were in conflict with whatever it was they wanted. They buried any opposition in security and need-to know and in highly classified "eyes-only" rules. Then, with all the top positions covered, they were in charge, they were ready to move out to wherever secret intelligence input would find a soft or intriguing spot. Historians will be amazed when and if they are ever able to find some of those basic papers. They will discover that the "access lists", meaning the cover-lists of all those who have read the document, and which are so closely guarded, will on some of these most important papers list only a few people, most of whom were no more than the clerks who processed the classified inventories. So very few people have ever seen the real documents, and fewer have acted on them.
More real control can be put on the Government from the inside by not doing and not permitting to be done those things which had been instructed and directed to be done than by other more conventional means. One of the best examples of this is what happened to this most important document, NSAM #55. Nowhere else was Kennedy's strong desire for control more in evidence that in that paper and the ones that followed it, like NSAM #55. Thus it was that events marched relentlessly on toward Vietnam. The only ones who stood in the way were the President and his closest intimates -- and they had been neatly outmaneuvered.
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