THE GREAT SIGNIFICANCE OF THE THOUGHT AND content of the National Security Act of 1947 can only be understood after a careful review of the emerging events of that period. We have already mentioned many of those great and growing pressures. One that was fundamental to that time was the idea of "cybernetics", as propounded by the great Massachusetts Institute of Technology mathematician, Norbert Wiener, in his book of that name, published in 1948. Wiener, along with many others, had worked during World War II to develop radar, projectiles, and methods of solving problems of fire control, principally in the employment of massed anti-aircraft weapons. Another segment of the scientific community was involved in the development of nuclear weapons and related activity. These two pioneering groups became greatly involved in the developing age of the computer. It is quite possible that the move from development of the atomic bomb to the creation of the thermonuclear (hydrogen) bomb would not have been achieved without the assistance of the advanced MANIAC computer and others that were being assembled.
As a result of the strategic role played by so many brilliant, though perhaps overly specialized men, there was a great overlap in the field of strategic planning, involving the conventional military professionals, political leaders, and these advanced scientists. The military men of that time believed that they held the key to the control or neutralization of the world because they had just completed the destruction of the forces of Japan and Germany in the greatest of all wars and because they had sole possession of the atomic bomb and of its means of delivery over great distances, as had been demonstrated at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
On the other hand, the politicians, recognizing the unmatched power of this country, looked ahead with a certain magnanimity upon the long-sought era of world peace, which seemed to be within reach if they could but continue the One World postwar climate of exhausted euphoria which any great victory brings.
Meanwhile, the scientists, who were much closer to a true realization of the facts of the situation, saw that this was no time to relax. They knew, if others were unwilling to admit it to themselves, that nuclear supremacy was not permanent and that there was no way to make it so unless the United States was willing to dedicate itself to the difficult, costly, and massive task of moving ahead.
One group of scientists felt very strongly that the atomic bomb was a sufficient "ultimate" weapon and that this country should dedicate itself to the manufacture of more and better atomic weapons until a stockpile of incontestable superiority had been obtained. This goal, positively and technically attainable, meant that this country would have to continue its nuclear production at a wartime pace or face the chance that Russia or some other country might surpass it within the next critical decade. Although the goal of these scientists was the lesser of the two general proposals, it was not an easy one, and supremacy was not assured without great effort.
Other scientists insisted that the only way in which this country could maintain its leadership in the great nuclear race was to drive directly at the mysteries of the thermonuclear weapon. These scientists, who could not guarantee ultimate success in a venture so difficult, maintained that even the shreds of hope which their experience held out to them were so important that if some other country solved the secrets of the fusion explosion before we did, it would from that time on wrest world power leadership from us.
The thought of doing both simultaneously was almost beyond comprehension, and a great struggle raged within all three worlds -- political, scientific, and military. Needless to say, with such grave matters under consideration the traditionally normal concepts of diplomacy and military policy had been outmoded almost overnight. Diplomats long accustomed to the fine points of balance of power and to the value of alliances were faced with the fact that there was no such thing as a balance of power, even if all of the rest of the world's nations were to be balanced against the nuclear superpower. In the years 1946 and 1947 the world-power pecking order began with the United States; number two on the list was almost immaterial.
The same situation of shattered tradition faced the military. Army generals who had just driven their forces over the remnants of the once great German army refused even to think of how they would deploy forces against an enemy equipped with nuclear weapons. It was years before the senior war colleges would even permit a nuclear annex to be included in their master war plans.
Somewhere in the flux of all of these ideas and great conflicts there began to grow a fear, a real national dread, of the potential of that "enemy" who would gain the atomic bomb first. In those early days it was not even necessary to put a name on the country that might loom up over the horizon armed with the bomb. That was the "enemy" and that nation would be the ultimate enemy of all enemies of all time. And along with this idea came the play on the threat. Those who believed that our only road to salvation lay in greater stockpiling of atomic bombs, those who argued that it must be the hydrogen bomb, and those few who said it must be both, all perhaps without common intent, began to create the idea of the "enemy threat". It was coming. It was inevitable. The things that have been done since that period in the name of "anti-enemy" would make a list that in dollars alone would have paid for all of the costs of civilization up to that time, with money to spare.
Such an enemy is not unknown. Man has feared this type of enemy before. It is a human, and more than that, it is a social trait, to dread the unknown enemy. This enemy is defined in one context as the Manichaean Devil. Norbert Wiener says, "The Manichaean devil is an opponent, like any other opponent, who is determined on victory and will use any trick of craftiness or dissimulation to obtain this victory. In particular, he will keep his policy of confusion secret, and if we show any signs of beginning to discover his policy, he will change it in order to keep us in the "dark". The great truth about this type of enemy is that he is stronger when he is imagined and feared than when he is real. One of man's greatest sources of fear is lack of information. To live effectively one must have adequate information.
It was in this great conflict that the National Security Act of 1947 was brewed. And man's demand for information pervaded and surmounted almost every other move he made. Thus a great machine was created. All of the resources of this country were poured unto a single Department of Defense -- defense against the great Manichaean Devil which was looming up over the steppes of Russia with the formula of the atomic bomb in one hand and the policy of World Communism in the other. Our statesmen foresaw the Russian detonation of the atomic bomb in 1949 and the concurrent acceleration toward the hydrogen bomb as soon thereafter as possible; so they created the Atomic Energy Commission in January 1947 and then the Defense Department in September 1947, and gave them both the eyes and ears of the CIA to provide the essential information that at that time was really the paramount and highest priority. The CIA was ordered to achieve both goals -- the second-to-none atomic bomb stockpile and the hydrogen bomb, and the DOD was ordered to create the global force that would defend this country against the giant of the Soviet Union and all other nuclear powers.
This then created its own great machinery. To fight this great, and mostly unknown devil, it was necessary to create a truly defense establishment, which would have the ability to spring up against attack of any kind, of any nature, and from any place. It was to be truly a massive machine. "Defense" was no social or polite term to be held up like a banner in order that the rest of the world might believe that the United States was forever denouncing the use of force and was therefore forever denouncing that paramount doctrine of military strategy, the power of the offensive. This was the real thing. Defense was to be defense; and the national defense establishment was to be the greatest force we could create and maintain for just that purpose.
This meant that the military policy of the United States was to become more like the concept of the chess player than that of the brilliant tactician. Everything was done to guard against making a mistake that would give the alert adversary that advantage that would enable him to defeat the defender. Thus the chess player is governed more by his worst moments than by his best moments. The worst calamities of defense policy since 1947 have been those resulting from being caught off guard, such as the Korean War and the Sputnik period, when the entire nation felt endangered by the stark realization that the Soviet Union had launched an orbiting body before we had.
This realization resulted in the creation of a defense establishment machine much like that proposed by Dr. W. Ross Ashby and recounted by Wiener. It was a great, "unpurposeful random mechanism which seeks for its own purpose through a process of learning . . . " Such a machine is designed "to avoid certain pitfalls of breakdown [and will] look for purposes which it can fulfill." These brief quotes taken from men who were writing and lecturing during this period are now most prophetic. Not only was this monstrous machine created for the defense of the United States; but it was so established that it was looking for purposes it could fulfill.
In other words, this great defense establishment was ready to go, looking for opportunity, and all it needed was to have someone throw the switch and give it a little direction.
Evidence of this exists in the beginnings made by the Agency with the participation it volunteered in the war-planning functions of the major overseas military commands, especially in Europe. This war-planning work led to the stockpiling of considerable amounts of war-making materiel earmarked for the CIA and stored in military warehouses, both real and cover units, all over the world. These supplies could be called out then whenever the CIA had any requirement, even at a time when the NSC thought that it had the CIA well under control because they had prohibited it from having men, equipment, and facilities for operational purposes. This was the start. The Agency worked itself into key positions within the defense establishment, and then orchestrating its data inputs to create highly classified requirements, it began to develop great power within the U.S. government and around the world.
The year l950 was an important one for the CIA. Again all of the pieces began to fall into all of the right slots. First of all, the war in Korea began on June 25, 1950, and although the intelligence community -- CIA and all -- was caught unprepared for the attack just as it had been years before at Pearl Harbor, the failure of national intelligence to assist with such a major prediction spotlighted what must be done if the United States were ever to have a worthwhile intelligence capability. While the war was getting under way and the U.S. armed forces were picking themselves up off the mat, almost as they had had to do after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, Truman looked around for a stronger man to pull the Agency together and to give it a sense of mission. Meanwhile, strong-agency proponents argued that the fault had not been the CIA's. On the contrary they attempted to show, if the President had been briefed properly, on a daily basis by the CIA as the Dulles-Jackson-Correa report had recommended, he would have known that an attack was imminent.
This was an important recommendation of the Dulles-Jackson-Correa report, and these activists took this opportunity to promote the issue at the cost of the incumbent DCI and his military-dominated staff.
It should be recalled that it was Truman's refusal to deal directly with the intelligence arm but to have them instead brief the NSC, and then to make his Cabinet members responsible for keeping him informed, that stirred up this issue in the first place.
This was continuing evidence of the old fight between those who saw Intelligence as the primary force in the Government, responsible only to the President, and those who believed the function of Intelligence was to keep the President and his Cabinet informed in the true staff sense. Both of these views were made more at odds with each other by the pressures generated by the Manichaean Devil syndrome.
The U.S. Ambassador to Moscow for several years preceding the Korean War had been General Eisenhower's old Chief of Staff, the brilliant and tough Walter Beedle Smith. He was very well qualified, by his World War II experience with Eisenhower, for a major assignment; and in a special sense he was well qualified to become the new DCI by virtue of the fact that he had been in Moscow for so long. So many of the intelligence clan had been exploiting the cause of anti-Communism for so long that it seemed that bringing in the one man who really ought to know at first hand what Communism was all about would be the best move to counteract those who were saying that the Administration was soft on Communism. As we look back at this appointment, we may have forgotten the great crisis which had been stirred up by Senator Joe McCarthy over the issue of Communists being everywhere. This was no small issue, and the appointment of a man as highly regarded as General Smith was an ideal choice.
In spite of this, the McCarthy movement swept him up in its fervor. Soon after his appointment he was called to appear before McCarthy's committee, and in response to a question as to whether he thought there were Communists in government, specifically in the CIA, he replied to the effect that he thought it was quite possible that there were Communists in the CIA. This statement was a real shocker, and it made instant headlines. At that time and in the special context of those days this was a most amazing statement whether it was factual or not. The general had been the DCI for only a brief time and he was more or less excused for the statement on the grounds that he had not had time to really know the Agency. For any other man but General Smith, in that position and at that time, to have given a similar reply would have resulted in having him ridden out of town by the rabid McCarthyists.
Smith replaced Admiral Hillenkoetter who had been DCI since the days of the central intelligence group, before the Agency had been created. The failure of the CIA to give proper warning of the probable or at least highly possible North Korean attacks, and its failure to evaluate the nature and strength of that attack may well have been contributing factors in hurrying President Truman's decision to replace Hillenkoetter. He had done his duty and played his role as the script was written. He had been charged with running a military-type CIA, and he did just that. The brief encounters the Agency had in such places as Greece, Iran, and along the perimeter of the Iron Curtain were simply postwar OSS-type games, and they never amounted to very much.
However, there was one major characteristic of CIA operational efforts during Hillenkoetter's time that began to change with the Smith era. During its first years, when the CIA did something anti-Communist it was something done against the real Communists. For example, the fighting in Greece also involved Bulgarians, Yugoslavians, and Romanians. All of the work the CIA did along the Iron Curtain and in Greece and Iran was directly concerned with close and tangible Russian influence. In those days the CIA did not go to the Congo or to the Philippines to seek out the subversive influences they then called Communist. The CIA worked nose-to-nose against the Russians wherever they found them in reality. This point cannot be underscored too heavily. Most of the CIA clandestine effort since 1955 had been against supposed Communists or subversive Communism or some such third country target. In other words, the "Communism" the CIA finds and goes after in its operational efforts during more recent years has been that which it finds on the soil of non-Communist countries. In the beginning the skirmishes of the Cold War were fought on or near real Communist territory. Since that time Communism had been fought on the soil of our own circle of friends, in such countries as Vietnam, Laos, India, the Congo, and the Dominican Republic, to name a few. This change in the focus and direction of the pursuit of Communism is important.
At the time General Smith became the Director of Central Intelligence in October 1950, events in Korea looked very bad. The greatest military power in the world only five years earlier was being pushed into the sea near the southern tip of the Korean peninsula, and the CIA shared a certain amount of the blame with the military establishment. Smith moved suddenly to put an end to the bad image of the Agency.
One of the first things he found in his files was the Dulles-Jackson-Correa report of January 1, 1949. It had been gathering dust and had resulted in very little effective change. This had not been because of the language of the report. It was tremendous. It attacked what it thought was wrong without hesitation; it made firm recommendations for the changes it sponsored. However, because the men it had attacked so vehemently had been in a position to bottle it up, nothing it recommended had been accomplished. General Smith took the report out, and when he had read it, he got on the phone and called William H. Jackson. He asked him to leave his business and come to Washington at once. Jackson, who had already devoted much of his life to intelligence service, came immediately and was appointed the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence. Smith dialed the phone again and called the prestigious law firm of Sullivan and Cromwell in New York City and asked for Allen Dulles. In short order he had Dulles in the fold as chief of foreign operations. There is no official explanation of what the duties of the foreign operations section were, but it would take little imagination to figure them out. Then he called another old friend, Murray McConnell, and asked him to come to Washington to be his Deputy Director for Administration.
In a busy six months the CIA had become reasonably well-organized and sported four strong deputies: Deputy Director intelligence, Deputy Director Administration, Deputy Director Support (Logistics -- in the broadest sense), and Deputy Director Plans (Clandestine Operations -- the "fun and games" side of the house.)
Meanwhile, Smith began to put into effect the functional proposals of the Dulles' "Mein Kampf". He was amazed to learn that the director of OPC (Office of Policy Coordination) was not "his" man but was tied up in that bureaucratic red-tape device prescribed by NSCID 10/2 and intended by the council to keep him from running free into the arena of clandestine operations. When General Smith learned that this important deputy was appointed by the Secretary of State and seconded by the Secretary of Defense, he went right to the root of the problem. He called the Secretary of State and then the Secretary of Defense and informed them that from that date on the director of OPC was to be under his own control and that if they had any objections they were welcome to talk with him about them. If either one had objections in the heat of a messy war in Korea, he kept them to himself.
From that date on the CIA had its own clandestine operations division, although it was still required by law to remain out of that business until directed by the NSC to develop an operation.
The CIA had made various minor incursions into the special operations field during the late forties, but all of them were carefully phrased and gingerly submitted to the NSC for approval in strict compliance with the law and with the provisions of NSCID 10/2. Now that the DCI was in control of the special operations section, he felt that it was his to use as he saw fit.
This move was very timely. It would have done little good for him to have gained the clandestine staff if he had possessed no resources in the form of the military men, equipment, and facilities that had gradually been laid at his disposal as a result of the tedious years of war planning. However, just as he took over the OPC (Office of Policy Coordination) he found that the CIA had access to a vast military organization in the Army and Air Force and that he would have very little trouble using the exigencies of the war in Korea as an excuse to put into motion certain large and important special operations in that country. These operations were directed at Taiwan, Okinawa, and the Philippines, in addition to Japan and Korea, and led to the development of Agency interests in all of Southeast Asia.
There were other similar moves made during this period as the emerging ST began to make itself felt in Asia as it had been in Europe. All of this was done initially under the cover of the Korean War, and significantly, most of these events took place after the removal of General Douglas MacArthur, who among others had always been a foe of Donovan and the hard-core Intelligence clan.
As the Korean War drew to a close, the French were heavily engaged in a losing battle in Indochina. The CIA was operating there in both the north and south of Vietnam during that time. When the Government of the United States finally permitted large twin-engine transport aircraft to operate in Indochina and to fly to the besieged battlefield of Dien Bien Phu, a hearty band of civilian pilots who worked for the CAT Airline (precursor of Air America, Incorporated) did the flying -- not military pilots. They had been hastily trained by the Air Force to fly the C-119 aircraft. The actual flights into Indochina, culminating in heavy air-drops at Dien Bien Phu, were made by these civilian CIA contract pilots. Even at this early date the CIA was well inside the door of Indochina.
Back in Washington the election campaign of 1952 had been heated with the unpopular war as a major issue. General Eisenhower had agreed to run on the Republican ticket against Adlai Stevenson, who had picked up the mantle of the Democratic party from the gallant old warrior, Harry Truman.
After Eisenhower won the election, he kept his promise to visit Korea and to bring the war to an end. He also found himself heir to many of the old stalwarts of the Thomas E. Dewey team from the campaign of 1948. He appointed John Foster Dulles to be his Secretary of State, and because Allen Dulles wanted the job of DCI. Ike prevailed upon his old crony and longtime Army companion, Walter Beedle Smith, to accept the post of Under Secretary of State and to give up his Intelligence chair to Allen. William Jackson had stayed in the Agency as Smith's deputy for less than a year, and in August of 1951, General Smith had appointed Allen Dulles to be his deputy director in Bill Jackson's place. The trip to Washington, which Allen Dulles had made back in October 1950, and which was supposed to have lasted for no more than a week or two, now was on its way to becoming an unbroken eleven-year stint for the Agency to which he had already given so much of himself.
Dulles found many of the things that he had hoped to get done well under way. General Smith had taken another hurdle for him after he had gotten the director of the OPC into the fold. As we have said many times, President Truman had a firm policy concerning what the intelligence staff meant to him. He looked upon the Agency as his "quiet intelligence arm" and no more. Having this interpretation, he felt that the Agency should evaluate and analyze information and disseminate it to the staff, primarily to his Cabinet, and that they should all use it in the formulation of national plans and policy. This meant that unless he called for some specific matter, he did not expect intelligence to be brought to him daily, weekly, or at any fixed time. He was content to know that it was there, that it was available equally to his Cabinet and to him when needed.
This did not satisfy Allen Dulles, and he had so stated in his report. He felt that it was the responsibility of the DCI to brief the President daily, if not oftener when the subject warranted a special or an emergency meeting. General Smith agreed with this approach. General Smith was accustomed to the military staff procedure whereby a smoothly oiled staff meets daily and briefly with the commanding general and keeps him informed. This is a good system during a war because the General has nothing else to do but to get on with the war, and he needs the current inputs from all of his staff. But for a President with countless other demands upon his time, any fixed schedule such as that visualized by the Dulles report would result in a gross imposition upon his time and with the burden of certain responsibilities and decisions that he might best attend to after his Cabinet and other special staff members had had the chance to come up with their own decisions.
However, Smith moved in with the Dulles proposal and got it accepted. It always seems to work out that when the Agency has fallen down on one job it gains strength from the resultant adversity and pops up somewhere else stronger than before. The Agency had failed to give a proper warning and evaluation of the Korean attack. They now turned this failure into a maneuver to get their foot into the office of the President on a regular and daily basis. Linked with the acquisition of (1) special operations, old OPC and new DD/P, and (2) the massive special military strength in the Special Army and Air Force forces, this third step was most significant, and should be discussed in some detail.
This third major development was the establishment of an office and a system designed especially to handle current intelligence. General Smith felt that his most important job was to keep the President fully and promptly informed of everything going on in the world that affected United States interests. He made arrangements with the President for such briefings, and he wanted the best support possible for this task. As much as anything else done during these formative years of the CIA, this was a most important step that has been best described by Lyman Kirkpatrick, who took part in all phases of this change. In his book, The Real CIA, he says:
"This [establishment of the Current Intelligence Office] requires explanation. Not even all of the policy-makers of the government understand the current intelligence process and consequently fail to use its product as it should be used. I know that the American people, who should appreciate what they have in Washington -- and want to know about it -- have no realization of this aspect of intelligence work. . . . "General Smith . . . wanted a daily intelligence report that he could hand to the President which would succinctly summarize in a very few pages the important developments in the world that affected U.S. interests . . . this report to be all-source . . . press reports and radio broadcasts to the most secret information from the most sensitive sources available to the government . . . the report to be carefully analyzed and evaluated by the most competent experts on the subject or area . . . to be done immediately upon receipt of the information, right around the clock, twenty-four hours a day, and seven days a week. If the information was urgent it should go forward to the policy level immediately upon evaluation. If it was important, but not critical, it could go into a regular daily report . . . so well written and attractively presented that the recipients would be sure to read it.This statement is an accurate reflection of exactly what was taking place and was written by a man, who but for physical impairment brought about by infantile paralysis, which struck him at the peak of his career, might well have been appointed DCI. Among the inner group of top Agency careerists, he was a moderate and a most dedicated man. As a result, his statement takes on a very special meaning. It is an example of the blind statement of faith found in a religious order. The great error and the great damage, however, from this kind of thinking arises in the fact that it is predicated upon the belief that the leaders of the Agency can do no wrong.
"The office . . . would have as many experts as could be recruited or trained and persuaded to make a career in current intelligence. And it would have all of the production facilities necessary for a publication designed for the President of the United States. . . .
"The production facilities and the people required to man them constitute an important aspect of the success of any such office. Working under intense pressure that at times makes the wire desk of a major newspaper during a national catastrophe calm by comparison, the experts need top-flight help at every level. If the girl who types the final copy doesn't know Danang from Nhatrang or Ouagadougou from Bamako, and doesn't care, errors can creep in that could help destroy the credibility of the entire item or even of the publication. Maps, charts, and other graphics have to be produced quickly and accurately, and the document must be printed and delivered at dawn. Of course everybody touching it has to have the highest security clearance, and every sheet of paper must be accounted for. Everybody in the office from the typist to the top supervisor realizes full well that hundreds of large-eyed officials at the top of the government will catch the slightest mistake. . . . An intelligence report has nothing to sell it but consistent credibility. Anything that tends to lessen this credibility means that the report will not receive the attention it should . . .
"Unfortunately, intelligence is a very uncertain profession. It is never possible to have all of the information on any subject that one would like to have before telling the President of the United States about it. On some occasions one could assume that 90 percent of all the facts would be on hand, and the balance would be obvious. On other occasions the percentage would be much smaller, diminishing at times to only a hint or a clue. On both of these occasions it is the expert analyst who makes the difference and insures that the information presented is the best available.
"There are two ingredients that go into this expert analysis. The first is the quality of the analyst, and the second is the availability of the necessary information. The first is attainable. The second may not always be possible.
"Some have likened the current intelligence process to the production of a daily newspaper, but the analogy is inaccurate. With all due respect to our excellent press, it is not composed of specialists who are experts on the areas on which they report, with of course some well known exceptions. The current intelligence analyst is a man or woman who starts with a good academic background, including advanced degrees on the area of responsibility, spends years studying every scrap of information received in Washington on that country, and becomes increasingly expert with the passage of time. What is not generally understood even inside the government is that when an intelligence report is received and before it is passed on to the policy level it is analyzed and evaluated against every bit of information available on the same subject that has ever been received by the U.S. Government.
"This process is one of the best safety valves against the government's acting on inadequate information or a false report that perhaps had been deliberately planted as a deception measure. One of the truly great dangers in passing intelligence to the policy level is that somebody will start pressing buttons based on partial information, and in my opinion the passage of unevaluated reports to the top of government is always unwise. When it happens, an inevitable flap occurs and a lot of government time and money is wasted. . . ."
When the same organization is given the authority to develop and control all foreign Secret Intelligence and to take its findings, based upon the inputs of this secret intelligence, directly to the last authority, the President -- not only to take it to him regularly but to preempt his time, attention, and energies, almost to the point of making him their captive -- and then also is given the authority and the vast means to carry out peacetime clandestine operations, that agency has been given the power to control the foreign operations of the Government on a continuing day to day basis.
Note carefully in this calm and apparently objective account by Lyman Kirkpatrick the germ of ridicule and distrust of the press. It is said explicitly nowhere in the statement, yet it conveys the thought when it says, "There are two ingredients that go into this expert analysis. The first is the quality of the analyst, and the second is the availability of the necessary information. The first is attainable. The second may not always be possible.
"Some have likened the current intelligence process to the production of a daily newspaper, but the analogy is inaccurate. With all due respect to our excellent press, it is not composed of specialists who are experts on the areas on which they report, with of course some well known exceptions. The current intelligence analyst is a man or woman who starts with a good academic background, including advanced degrees on the area of responsibility, spends years studying every scrap of information received in Washington on that country, and becomes increasingly expert with the passage of time."
Note that the reference to the press is sandwiched between two strong paragraphs that laud the intelligence analyst, and then by loaded inference downgrade the press.
It is not the statement by Kirkpatrick which is so much in contention as it is that the ST has used this kind of damning with faint praise to downgrade any outsider, whether he be press or, at times, Cabinet member. When such downgrading is done behind the cloak of secrecy, the person and persons so attacked are silently slandered and surely destroyed. They have no way of finding out that they have been the object of such attacks, because they have been quietly left out from a circle where exclusion means extinction.
This has been no idle example. The New York Times had a most able and knowledgeable young correspondent, David Halberstam, in South Vietnam during the earlier days of the fighting there. He had devoted himself to the problems of Indochina and knew the area, the people, the history, and almost everything else about Indochina as well as or better than nearly anyone else, including what we might call the "intelligence analysts". At that time his crisp reporting frequently came up with items that went at cross purposes with most of the men who are mentioned so frequently in the Pentagon Papers. At first his reports were given the usual treatment. They were said to be inaccurate and slanted. Then they were ignored. But as they became more and more popular among those readers who found in them the stark ring of truth, an element of the ST caused a small office to be set up in a remote corner of the Pentagon where "information" could be fed to a staff who had nothing else to do but crucify this writer every day for the "eyes only" of the President of the United States.
It was the function of this small staff to clip that author's column from the paper each day it appeared and to paste it on one side of an open scrapbook-type of album. Then they would create a carefully worded rebuttal column of their own, which would be pasted on the other side of the open album. The rebuttal data arrived from many sources and usually was the subject of urgent telegrams from Washington to Saigon and back, in order to find every possible way of attacking the works of that author. Not too many weeks passed before the President was reported to have called the publisher of The New York Times and made a suggestion to the effect that it might be better for that newspaper to change its correspondents in Indochina. In due time that young and skilled reporter, easily superior in terms of knowledge of his subject to most intelligence analysts, many of whom had not ever been to Indochina, was transferred to Poland so that he might no longer offer competition with the production of the analysts.
This is an example of the real significance of the Kirkpatrick statement -- not so much his statement, which is honest and realistic, but what his statement means in practice. When the powers within the ST believe that the President is better informed, every single day and without the cushioning intervention of other able staff members, such as his Cabinet officers and their top-level staff personnel, by the product of their own parochial analysts, they fall victim to two unpardonable sins. First and most obvious, these analysts may not be actually as experienced as they are perhaps educated. Their research may turn up the material all right; but they have not experienced it. Oftentimes they are not in a position to interpret it adequately, and their research falls short. One of their greatest and most obvious weaknesses is that their motivation is derived from random input. Their input is more or less a mechanical process whereby the intelligence data is acquired randomly and in many cases unexpectedly, and it is not the result of a plan or of a planned objective. They are simply responding to something that came into their hands from any of numberless sources. The force that drives them is not their own.
Even with the most able and experienced analyst it would always be best to put him into the heart of the staff, as an intelligence expert should be, and then to permit the rest of the staff to work with him so that his analysis might benefit from their varied and considerable experience in all other staff areas.
The second and most portentous danger that lies within the system outlined by Kirkpatrick is that such a procedure is susceptible to influences and even malevolent abuses. Again, if one believes that the Agency leaders can do no wrong, one grants to these leaders an element of infallibility and rests his whole system on faith in their honor and total integrity. One may not question honor and honesty in any public official but one may properly show considerable interest in shades of influence. If the President of the Unites States is to open his eyes each day upon a world painted by an artist who is a realist, he may get a fair picture of the affairs of the world as seen by that artist sometime during the deep hours of the preceding night. However, if he is to open his eyes upon the work of other artists who during the same long night have created a scene that in their eyes was honest and true but still may have been very much influenced by the sources of the intelligence data, then who is to tell the President that what he has viewed is not really the shape of the world that morning? Once access has been gained through the portals of the office of the President, there is no other authority to visit. However, if the final authority remains one echelon aloof from the day-to-day processes, he then has the option to work his way through a selection of views in his lonely search for truth.
We opened this accounting of the ways of the ST with a look at the first report The New York Times selected to publish in its presentation of the Pentagon Papers. Let us emphasize once more that even though 99.9 percent of the people who have read that newspaper account or the subsequent book of the same name have been led to believe that the report cited was really a McNamara trip report, the facts are otherwise. The report was actually another ST -- directed staff production created right in Washington, D.C. Isn't this just what we are talking about? This report created by trained analysts was given to President Johnson. Is there any record that anyone at all had an opportunity to explain to and clarify for President Johnson that he was really being briefed on a homespun staff report, and not a trip report made on the spot in Vietnam?
Even as we point out the way this report was written, we are very much aware of the fact that it would be entirely possible for trained and experienced men in Washington to turn out a report as good as one that McNamara and his party could have done from Saigon. And it is also recognized that with the excellence of communications as it is in this day, such a report can be written in Washington as easily and as adequately, from a substantive point of view, as it could be in Saigon or on the official airplane on the way back. The content of the report and the intent of the authors in writing it as they did is significant in this place and in the context of the subject of this chapter. There is great power in the hands of those who can develop and utilize secret foreign intelligence, interpret it daily, and present it by standard procedure directly to the President each day, and who at the same time possess the authority to carry out secret clandestine operations either in pursuit of more intelligence or in response to the data inputs of that intelligence.
As Kirkpatrick reports, a huge current intelligence organization was established by General Smith, and it was manned and supported without regard to budget. It soon became a major interest of the Agency. Whereas the General began with the idea of publishing daily current intelligence in a publication, the process has since become even more direct and refined. The daily intelligence has become a daily briefing that is second to none in perfection. The same care and perfection planned for the publication go into this truly superior presentation. It may very well be that new Cabinet members and the President and Vice President themselves are awed at this most elaborate presentation; and that they begin to find it easy to downgrade the Huntleys, Brinkleys, and Cronkites if for no other reason than their familiarity with the sheer excellence and the superior content and quality of the daily intelligence briefing.
We have seen otherwise sophisticated men attend these briefings regularly, and for the first few times come away with a look of awe and wonder. It is very heady stuff to look at the world from a satellite or U-2, or to see the whole world laid out before you in the unscrambled maze of global electronics deciphering.
When a reporter can casually step to the podium and say that the Russians said this or that to one another down the missile range, or that traffic analysis from China shows such and such, all this is most eye-opening. At this point, even the top-echelon men in Government, who after all find this as new during their first days and weeks in office as would anyone else, are so awestruck by this fabulous display that few question it at all. These first impressions set the tone for the months and years that follow. There can be no question that Robert McNamara's first daily briefings during those December and January days before Kennedy's inauguration did a lot to shape his thinking on Indochina, thinking that he could never break away from it. Similarly, skilled experts planned the brisk briefings and the concomitant global traveling to which John McCone was immediately subjected upon his taking over as DCI. He too got a lasting and most powerful impression of Indochina, which stayed with him throughout his tenure. These are the things the ST is good at. And much of this process began with the Dulles-Jackson-Correa report and with the fortuitous implementation of its key features by the skilled administrative expeditor, General Walter Beedle Smith.
Allen Dulles inherited the fruits of his own cultivation, harvested for him by a most able man who at the time he was performing these tasks was doing them honestly and objectively simply because he unquestioningly thought that it was for the good of the cause.
When elder statesman Harry S. Truman looked back upon those years and said that the CIA had been "diverted", if he had been in a position to have seen what really happened as a result of the Dulles-Jackson-Correa report he had commissioned, he might have felt some inner surprise at the realization that it was his own pen that gave authority to a good bit of that diversion. Then when President Eisenhower came upon the scene, he had no reason whatsoever to question the work of his own closest military assistant or to question the position of two brothers who had for the most part played no active role in the Truman Administration. As a result, when Allen Dulles became the DCI he had everything going for him, and he just turned to the next pages of his report to maintain the momentum.
- It should be recalled that General Donovan of OSS fame had been the Ambassador to Thailand and that he was followed by the former Ambassador to Greece, John Puerifoy. Both men were, of course, CIA-type operators, and it was their expertise that accounts for so much of the relationship that has existed in Thailand during the past twenty years.
- Deciphering performed by computers from material picked up by global listening posts.
Next | ToC | Prev
back to JFK | ratville times | rat haus | Index | Search