CIA: The "Cover Story" Intelligence Agency
and the Real-Life Clandestine Operator
THE CIA LIKES TO PUBLICIZE ITSELF AS IT WISHES TO be seen; it tries consistently to maintain its cover story. These facts would not be publicly admitted by the agency; but they are facts. It is only fitting to note that when Allen Dulles died, he was writing a book about "Communism and Subversion". This was his first love, as it was J. Edgar Hoover's. This was his occupation. Intelligence was his avocation. When he was writing about Communism and subversion, he was writing, of course, about the real work of the CIA. He liked to write about the CIA and he liked to see that others wrote about the CIA.
After his retirement from the Agency in the fall of 1961, he wrote a very interesting book entitled The Craft of Intelligence. This book is good reading. It contains a lot of folklore about the peripheral world of intelligence; but it says almost nothing useful about the CIA. In fact, as he intended it, it tells a great many things about the CIA that were designed to create the picture of a noble CIA, one that really does not exist. This was typical of Allen Dulles.
Other CIA men have written about the CIA. The most able Lyman B. Kirkpatrick, Jr., long-time career Intelligence stalwart and Executive Director of the CIA, wrote a book, too, which he called The Real CIA. This is unquestionably the best book written by a CIA man about the CIA. It is as forthright and as honest a book as any career man has written or may ever write. Later authors will have missed the great pressures and inner violence of the early struggles, from the days of the OSS and its internecine battles with the Navy and with MacArthur, through the days of the post-World War II hiatus, and then to the struggles from 1947 to the Korean War. This was the truly formative period, and this was the time which spawned the giants.
Lyman Kirkpatrick has written an elegant book; but it leaves much to be said. This is not to suggest that considerations of security have intervened, it is rather to suggest that those career professionals who have devoted their lives to this cause and who have totally lived the party line just cannot bring themselves to see some things as they appear to others, and then admit it even if they should. There is much about a life in the Agency that is like a religious order or a secret fraternity.
After these men, numberless others have written about the CIA. A great percentage of this latter group has written about the CIA at the bidding and urging of the Agency. An organization such as the CIA, which exists in a true never-never land, needs to have someone write about it so that there will always be a plethora of material available and so that this vast stew-pot of material will be what the Agency wants the world to believe about it. The Agency does not answer writers, whether they attack it or not. But it works doggedly and brilliantly at times to bury anything not the party line that is written about it. Thus the Agency has a whole stable of writers, its favorite magazines and newspapers, its publishing houses, and its "backgrounders" ready to go at all times.
Allen Dulles had twelve or thirteen regular members of the news media who would be invited to join him frequently for lunch in the beautiful old dining room he maintained in East Building across from his office. Many an agent or military officer who had been invited to his offices to meet with him or with his deputy, General Cabell, to discuss matters of utmost secrecy, would be astounded at lunch with them to find the room filled with these well known writers and commentators. And then, as lunch proceeded, the same subjects that on the other side of the hall had been so carefully shrouded in secrecy would become table gossip with these men of the press. Dulles believed that if he kept these men well informed, they would then be able to draw that fine line between the CIA party line and its security limits.
Even as Dulles regularly placed himself at the mercy of the lions, he played a bigger game. If he gave them a bit of insight into the workings of the Agency, he also gave them a heavy mixture of that special brew, which he was so good at concocting. He fed them the CIA point of view all the time, just as he fed so many others, from Presidents on down, and as he has fed the readers of his book.
His greatest bit of writing in this special field is regrettably hidden away under heavy security wraps, although by now there cannot be a thing in it that would warrant classification. The report written by Allen Dulles, Mathias Correa, and William Jackson in the latter part of 1948 was a small masterpiece. It clearly and precisely outlined what Allen Dulles was going to do; and to his credit, he did just that and more. During that busy summer of election year, 1948, Allen Dulles was officially the speech-writer for the Republican candidate, Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York. All through the campaign it had been generally accepted that Dewey would defeat President Truman. Allen Dulles, his brother, John Foster Dulles, and the others of that Dewey team fully expected to move into Washington on the crest of a wave with the inauguration of their candidate.
In this context then, the Dulles-Correa-Jackson report takes on a special meaning. Although this select committee had been established by President Truman, they had timed their work for delivery to the President during his -- they expected -- "Lame Duck" period. Then they planned to use it as their own plan of action in the new Dewey administration. In one of the greatest political upsets of all time, Truman beat Dewey, and the Republicans were forced to wait another four years. Thus it happened that this crucial report on the national intelligence community was reluctantly delivered into Truman's more than hostile hands on January 1, 1949. Due to other circumstances, Allen Dulles did spend eleven years in the service of the CIA, and at least ten years prior to that in endeavors directly related to intelligence. It was not until he left government service in late 1961 that he began his book, published in 1963, The Craft of Intelligence. This book, which he was to leave to the world as his public definition of the agency, says very little that is real about the Agency and very little that is real about intelligence. It contains all manner of contrived concepts designed over the years to make people believe that the CIA was what he was saying it was and that all of the authority he said it had did exist. Any reader who thought the CIA was anything like the description contained in the book will be excused for his thoughts, because if ever a subject was painted in camouflage and in words of guile, this was it. This really is not a light matter. Not only did Allen Dulles portray the CIA in public as something that it most certainly was not; but he had done so for many years within the U.S. Government. Let us see how Allen Dulles presents the subject of secret intelligence and clandestine operations.
He opens the book with a "Personal Note". He wants to take the uninitiated reader into his confidence at once. (Those who have seen him operating with such public figures as Joseph Alsop have seen the same approach. The fatherly figure couldn't possibly be weaving a web of connivance around the unsuspecting fly, whether he be a well-known writer or an unknown reader.) By the time he gets to page 6 he says, "CIA is not an underground operation. All one needs to do is to read the law -- the National Security Act of 1947 -- to get a general idea of what it is set up to do. It has, of course, a secret side and the law permits the NSC, which in effect means the President, to assign to the CIA certain duties and functions in the intelligence field in addition to those specifically enumerated in the law. These functions are not disclosed."
Without delay, Mr. Dulles begins to soften up the innocent reader. First the blunt statement, which means nothing: "The CIA is not an underground operation." The trick here is that he is saying bluntly what is fact. It is not an operation. But he intends to lard the book with as much justification as he can muster to support the contention that the CIA is entitled to operate underground.
Then he neatly says that in reading the law a person will get a "general idea" of what the Agency is supposed to do. Right away he has the reader thinking that if the law only sets forth the "general idea" of what the Agency "is set up to do", then there must be some other "law" that gives it other powers. Of course, there is no such other law.
Next he says, "It [CIA] has, of course, a secret side . . . " True again, like the opening statement; but that is not because of the law, although he hopes the reader thinks that the law provides for the "secret side". Then, as if to lift the edge of the curtain to let the uninitiated see a bit of the promised land, he adds, " . . . the law permits the NSC . . . to assign [note the use of the word 'assign' rather than the word which is in the law, 'direct' to the CIA certain duties and functions in the intelligence field in addition to those specifically enumerated in the law." Here, he has set up the idea, "secret side", in the mind of the reader and then proceeded to weakly paraphrase subparagraph 5 of the list of duties, quoted above. Notice also that he says, " . . . the NSC, which in effect means the President . . . " This is a subtle and most meaningful suggestion when one recalls that this book was written in the Kennedy era, from 1961 to 1963. It is true that President Kennedy did all but abandon the NSC, and that in doing so, the NSC became only the President, nearly in fact. This reveals much more than it says when one recalls that the young President had selected only two of the Eisenhower appointees to remain in his Administration. One of them was Allen Dulles. Thus we see that if Allen Dulles had personally briefed the new President on the way the CIA worked, he might very well have done it just as he is doing in his book. He is the one who most probably put the cap on the views of the new man that really the NSC was simply an Eisenhower idiosyncrasy, carried over from the Truman years, and that he might as well abandon it. As Dulles' own Executive Director, Lyman Kirkpatrick, has ably pointed out, this "abandonment of the NSC" by Kennedy led directly to the Bay of Pigs and its great failure, and most likely, to other things that followed, including the Vietnam initiatives.
It is not hollow word play to read into the Dulles book these deeper, almost sinister, meanings. Anyone who has had the privilege of having read both publications, the 1948 report and this book, will be able to confirm the subtle and premeditated structuring of Dulles's powerful course of action. Dulles was an able disciple of the Goebbels school of propaganda. Mr. Dulles's enlightening paraphrase of the fifth duty from the National Security Act is as close as he gets to that bit of the law through the whole course of the book, until six pages from the end. Then he cleverly runs the fourth duty and the fifth duty together in such a way that the reader will most likely not even recognize them for what they are, and Allen Dulles will have purged his conscience by being able to say that he covered all of the law "verbatim". That he did; but it was a masterful job of obfuscation and of mind-bending. If ever the technique of brainwashing has been put to good use, it has been done by Allen Dulles and others of his ilk.
Having used this much mind-bending at the start of his book, he then follows with forty pages of interesting anecdotes and history, after which he comes right back to the same brainwashing, saying, "A Republican Congress agreed [with General Donovan -- which in fact it did not] and, with complete bipartisan approval, the CIA was established in the National Security Act of 1947. It was an openly acknowledged arm of the executive branch of the government, although, of course, it had many duties of a secret nature."
Here again, he used the techniques of the ST by associating the public language of the law, quite incorrectly, with the idea that "it had many duties of a secret nature". As we know from our review of the law, above, it did not have duties of a "secret nature". At least it did not have them in the law. He went on to say: "President Truman saw to it that the new agency was equipped to support our government's effort to meet Communist tactics . . ." This is at variance with Truman's own words about this quiet intelligence arm of the President. What Truman himself said was, "I never had any thought when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations." Truman, the man who signed the bill into law, says that it was never his intention that the CIA would have such duties. Again Allen Dulles brushes such things aside to make a case for the Agency he did so much to change from the "quiet intelligence arm" into the most powerful peacetime operational force ever created.
Dulles continued with his ritualistic chant by adding, "Its [CIA] broad scheme was in a sense unique in that it combined under one leadership the overt task of intelligence analysis and coordination with the work of secret intelligence operations of the various types I shall describe." He employs the technique of beginning with a thought that is correct -- intelligence analysis and coordination -- and then, when the reader is trapped, he continues into an area he wants the reader to think is equally correct -- the work of secret intelligence operations. Characteristically, he has not bothered to define "secret intelligence operations". Even inside the Government, where such terms are used with some frequency, there is much controversy about the real meaning of that phrase, "secret intelligence operations". As a further clue to where Mr. Dulles is planning to take the reader, notice his use of the word "operations", and then recall his blunt, though meaningless early statement, "the CIA is not an underground operation." He is already back at that theme and beginning to work it around so that the reader will believe that the CIA and operations are wedded.
Only a few times farther on, he says; "CIA was given the mandate to develop its own secret collection arm, which was to be quite distinct from that part of the organization that had been set up to assemble and evaluate intelligence from other parts of the government." He continues his clever intertwining of fact with fact to create a pattern that, when woven further with his own contrived designs, is totally at variance with the original. The only mandate he had mentioned to this point in the book was the law of 1947. The "mandate" to which he is making reference in this context, however, was contained in a National Security Council Intelligence Directive (NSCID) 10/2 of August 1948. This directive did authorize the CIA to develop a secret division to perform certain secret activities; but it was a far cry from what Allen Dulles is describing.
The law did not authorize secret or clandestine activities. However, Agency protagonists continued to put pressure on the Executive Branch to permit the CIA to collect "secret intelligence". The argument most frequently given was that since the United States had always been lily white in the area of foreign policy, there was no organization that could "fight the Communists in their own dirty way". It was proposed that since the CIA, which had re-assembled some of the former OSS operators, possessed the demonstrated know-how to carry out secret intelligence operations, it should be permitted to form a unit for that purpose. In the beginning, this idea was avowedly limited to secret intelligence. The CIA disclaimed any intention of using secret intelligence as a bridge to secret operations.
Finally, the NSC consented and published its directive 10/2. However, anyone who had had the opportunity to have read the directive would have been amazed to find what lengths the NSC went to in order to restrain the CIA from going too far in this direction. Absolutely contrary to Mr. Dulles' contention that the CIA was given many duties of a secret nature and then equipped to perform these duties, the NSC directive did authorize the CIA to set up an Office of Policy Coordination (OPC), which would be prepared to engage in secret intelligence activities. However, the director of that office had to be selected by the Secretary of State and approved by the Secretary of Defense. The personnel of that office was to be CIA employees, but their boss was hired and fired by the Secretaries of State and Defense. This was done to keep the DCI from having control over him and thus over the clandestine activity of that office.
This was a partial victory for the clandestine operations activists, but it was an unhappy solution. At that time, the Secretary of Defense was Louis Johnson. He had embarked upon a rigid budget-cutting program by direction of President Truman. Another part of this NSC directive prohibited the CIA from having the funds to carry out clandestine activities. It stated that if and when the NSC directed such action, it would, as a function of its directive, state how the activity would be manned, equipped, and paid for. In the beginning, Congress had not found it necessary to put any special restraints upon the CIA for budgeted and approved funds. Since Congress intended that the CIA would be an overt coordinator of intelligence, it made no plans to hide ClA money in various secret accounts. However, the NSC provided that the CIA was not to use intelligence funds for clandestine activities, but was to be allocated funds from other sources whenever such operations were directed. In this manner, the custom of having CIA funds buried and hidden in the allocations to other departments and agencies began. The intent at first was for this to be a control device over the Agency's activities and not a full flood tide of money pouring without check or constraint into a horn of plenty to support CIA clandestine operations.
Again, there are few who had the opportunity to see these working papers; but in 1949 a most excellent bit of staff work produced a long letter to the DCI over the signature of Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson. It contained a full outline of how such funding would operate, how it could be moved unseen from one department and agency to another in accordance with the provisions of a little noticed law, the National Economy Act of 1932, as amended in the Legislative Branch Appropriation Act 1933, of June 30,1932. It also stipulated how the gaining agency would be required to reimburse the losing agency for all expenses and especially for those that were clearly out-of-pocket. This control was much more effective in those days because the CIA had very little money it could put into costly clandestine operations. As a result, the CIA was very restricted in what it could do as long as the Secretary of Defense required that the DOD be reimbursed. In later years, this stipulation was reversed, and there occasionally were hints from the CIA that it would seek compensation from the DOD for the intelligence it provided.
Another factor of importance was that at that time there were a number of qualified, competent, and top-echelon men who were familiar with the provisions of the National Security Act of 1947 with the NSCIDs, and with the implementing directives derived from all of them. They knew very well that all of this was being done to keep the CIA under control and to prohibit it from going ahead with any clandestine operation or secret intelligence without clear and specific authority. But no one would ever know this from reading Allen Dulles' book. (In a later chapter more will be said about the financial arrangements to include the Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949.)
Just a few lines after his statement about the CIA's "mandate", Mr. Dulles makes another point designed to have the reader believe that clandestine operations were a very matter of fact thing: "One of the unique features of CIA was that its evaluation and coordinating side was to treat the intelligence produced by its clandestine arm in the same fashion that information from other government agencies was treated." That sentence really does not mean a thing pertinent to what he had been saying in his book, with the one big exception. He is including the clandestine arm idea again with an otherwise true and correct statement -- its evaluating and coordinating side -- to make the reader believe that because one statement has the ring of truth, the other must be true also. Then he continues with one of his boldest and most brazen statements. There would be no reason to call it "bold and brazen" except for the fact that he is making all of these remarks in the part of the book he calls the "Evolution of American Intelligence". The use of the word "evolution" connotes a theme of chronological development by sequence. He has been manipulating the chronology to make what he is saying appear to be a part of the law or of other true directives, when in fact they did not develop in quite that order. Thus the next statement is most significant: "Another feature of ClA's structure, which did not come about all at once but was the result of gradual mergers which experience showed to be practical and efficient, was the incorporation of all clandestine activities under one roof and one management." The statement is not untrue as it stands; but it is true not because of the law, or of directives which created the CIA as it is today. The final roll-over of the evolutionary process was a runaway situation created more by the ST itself, in which even the Agency was one of the tools in the greater action, than it was by law and design of the normal channels of the Government.
This whole issue has been made needlessly complex by those who have been unwilling to submit to and comply with the law and to NSC directives as they have been written. We have said earlier that one of the most important facts of the law is that the CIA was created "under the direction of the NSC". We see again that the fifth duty says that the CIA will "perform such other functions and duties . . . as the NSC may from time to time direct." There is a world of difference in saying that the CIA will do what the NSC directs from saying that the CIA may do what the NSC authorizes. It is one thing to take a proposal to a committee and win their approval and thereby to gain the authority to perform the requested activity. It is an entirely different thing to be called to a meeting of so eminent a body as the NSC and to be "directed" to perform an activity.
On this simple and clear point the CIA protagonists have rebelled and argued and connived for almost twenty-five years. Through a succession of skillful internecine maneuvers the CIA, working within the ST and shielded by secrecy and the systems and pressures that heavy secrecy make it possible to utilize, has been able to either plant people in the NSC who are really CIA agents or men who will work at their bidding, or to so brief and brainwash the NSC representative or his designated alternate so that he will believe the CIA explanation of what the law and the directives mean.
This is why it has been important to read the Dulles book line by line. This book is no more nor less than a final compilation of all of the soothing syrup and old wives' tales Allen Dulles concocted and poured over the fevered brows of men in high office and high public and private position for twenty-five years. The book shows how the CIA has been "sold" to the inner staff of the Government and to others, such as writers and commentators, businessmen and educators, both in this country and all over the world.
One would like to speak as kindly as possible and to say that these misinterpretations that cropped up in this book were no more than mistakes and that they can be attributed in part perhaps to ignorance of all the facts; but this could not possibly apply here. This cover story and fairy tale about the "evolution of American intelligence" had been fabricated by highly intelligent men and has been honed to a fine edge through years of skillful manipulation and practice. It is not the result of ignorance or lack of comprehension. This cover story is the planned scheme of a team of men who wish to present the CIA as a benign and well-controlled organization operating under law and directive, and doing nothing except intelligence, when for the most part and in actual practice it is not.
The Agency is very much aware, too, that it cannot look back, because fate is creeping up on it. The tremendous pressures in this country that have built up during the long tragic years of the conflict in Indochina are driving researchers, politicians, and other concerned Americans to search for the origins and sources of responsibility for that disaster. This is bringing them closer and closer each day to the curtain of secrecy that has effectively veiled these areas from sight for more than a decade. This pressure is now forcing Agency and ST supporters to begin a serious program of rewriting history, in a massive effort to protect and shield the Agency while shifting the search into other avenues. We have already said that the work of Daniel Ellsberg and the number of people who helped him may have been the first major step in this effort. The released Pentagon Papers do much to portray the CIA as it is supposed to be, while doing all it can to shift any censure of the CIA as an organization primarily concerned with clandestine operations, to the military, the National Security Council, and the White House.
Now a second salvo has been favored in an attempt to go further along this same road for the purpose of whitewashing the Agency. As the sometimes prestigious Foreign Affairs, the quarterly review of the Council on Foreign Relations, enters its fiftieth year, it has published an article entitled "The CIA and Decision-Making", by Chester L. Cooper. The author is listed as the "Director of the International and Social Studies Division, Institute of Defense Analysis; Special Assistant to Averill Harriman in planning the U.S. negotiating position on Vietnam, 1966-1967; Senior Staff Member, National Security Council,
1964-1966; author of The Last Crusade: America in Vietnam." The review does not add that he was and may still be a member of the CIA. This contribution to current history is a most astounding bit of writing and reweaving of events. It appears to be Phase II, or at least a part of Phase II, of the whitewashing of the CIA in Indochina. This article is a most expert and ideal example of what is meant by saying that the CIA likes to see itself in front, as long as it can control the pen.
It begins most suitably by pointing out that Allen Dulles selected the motto, which is chiseled into the marble at the entrance to the new CIA building in Langley, Virginia, from the words of St. John: "The truth shall make you free." And with this fresh in mind, the article goes on to say, " . . . one of his [Allen Dulles's] greatest contributions in nurturing the frail arrangements he helped to create [was] to provide intelligence support to Washington's top-level foreign-policy-makers." Then it gets down to the serious business of trying to show how ardently the CIA (Intelligence) has worked during the Indochina conflict, wholly ignoring the other, and major side of the house, CIA (Clandestine Operations) and CIA (senior member of the Secret Team).
To set the stage, it dwells upon the responsibility of the CIA to turn out the National Intelligence Estimates. "When PRAVDA has been scanned, the road-watchers' reports from Laos checked, the economic research completed, Pham van Dong's recent speeches dissected, radar signals examined, satellite observations analyzed and embassy cables read, the estimators set about their task . . . it is likely to be the best-informed and most objective view the decision-makers can get . . . [they] brood about the world's problems and project their views about how these problems are likely to affect America's national security interests." All of this is to laud the intelligence side of the house, and this praise is most deserved. However, the intelligence staff has had its problems, and in mentioning some, this article attempts to use them as a means of shifting some blame to other parties, as in the following: " . . . the Office of National Estimates had a thin audience during the Johnson Administration." In other words, if the Johnson Administration did not take advantage of this excellent intelligence, then certainly the CIA can't be blamed for what befell that Administration; or at least this is what this author would like his readers to believe.
Then to enlarge the scope of his case he adds, "Nixon's Administration . . . relegated the National Intelligence Estimates to but a tiny fraction of the studies, analyses, position papers, contingency plans, research reports and memoranda generated by the large new NSC staff . . . " Again he implies that if the Nixon Administration failed to heed the National Estimates, it was its own fault and not that of the CIA.
Having set the stage and prepared his case, he goes directly to the heart of the matter: "Most Americans concerned about foreign affairs have long had to accept on blind faith that our government takes pains to provide its highest officials with the best possible intelligence guidance -- and then to squirm under our private suspicions that this advice is, all too often, regarded with indifference. Thanks to Daniel Ellsberg, those of us who have not seen a National Intelligence Estimate for many years, or who have never seen one, can address the matter with somewhat more confidence than we could have a few months ago. Although it probably did not cross Ellsberg's mind when he released the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times, he succeeded in doing what the Agency, on its own, has rarely been able to do for more than twenty years: he made the CIA 'look good' through what inhabitants of the Pickle Factory themselves would call a 'highly credible source'."
To those well steeped in the ways of the real CIA, and unfortunately there are too few who are, the above statement fits the pattern. Here is an Agency partisan praising Daniel Ellsberg. This does much to support our earlier contention that one of the real reasons these papers were delivered to the public was really on behalf of the CIA and the ST and not the other way around. Then the article goes on to say " . . . the Pentagon Papers tell us little about what actually happened in the White House Cabinet room, they do reveal much about the intelligence guidance made available to the policy-makers." He is still working on the major premise in an attempt to show that everything the CIA did was right, by showing from the included extracts how excellent its intelligence product was during those trying years. Let's look further into this propaganda, as an example is selected from among the many available.
"By mid-summer, the issue of American support for Diem's fledgling and untried government was high on the NSC's agenda. The CIA was requested to prepare an Estimate on the viability of a Western-supported, anti-Communist government in Vietnam. According to the Pentagon Papers, the National Intelligence Estimate of August 3 (1954) warned that 'even with American support it was unlikely that the French or Vietnamese would be able to establish a strong government and that the situation would probably continue to deteriorate!' The NSC, nevertheless, recommended American aid for the frail and untried Vietnamese government, a recommendation that was soon followed by President Eisenhower's fateful letter to Diem offering American support.
"This estimate had long since been validated and it seems clear that the United States would now be better off if President Eisenhower had paid more heed to that warning and less to the strong pressures that were being exerted by his Secretary of State and hard line members of Congress."
This voice of the CIA is saying that the CIA National Intelligence Estimate "has long since been validated" and "the United States would now be better off" if the President had listened to it and not to John Foster Dulles and "hard-line members of Congress". Remember, as we review the record further, that this NIE, as reported by Foreign Affairs, was dated August 3, 1954.
During this very same period when such NIE were establishing a cover story for the clandestine side of the CIA, the record shows that the Director of Intelligence, Allen Dulles, was working through his clandestine channels to keep knowledge of his activities from other officials of the Government and at the same time to establish a vast clandestine operational presence in Indochina. To compound this deception, the Foreign Affairs article of January 1972 presents a bold attempt to further conceal the duplicity of the CIA by hiding these facts and at the same time blaming members of Congress, John Foster Dulles, and President Eisenhower for things that were being done, not by them at all, but by Allen Dulles and his clandestine staff. There can be no other way to interpret this action to cover up the role of the Agency during the early and formative years of the Indochina conflict than to expose it as a premeditated effort to rewrite and restructure history by hiding the operational role of the CIA under its Intelligence cover.
This is one of the most compelling reasons why "secret intelligence" and "secret operations" should not be placed under the authority of one agency.
In spite of what the Office of National Estimates was saying during 1954, on January 30, 1954, during a meeting of the President's Special Committee on Indochina, Allen W. Dulles inquired if an unconventional warfare officer, specifically Colonel Lansdale, could not be added to the group of five liaison officers to which General Navarre had agreed. In other words, as early as January 1954, Allen Dulles was moving into the action in Indochina with his crack team of agents, among them Ed Lansdale.
Then, by April 5, 1954, the conclusions of the report of this same Presidential Committee included the following: "The United States should, in all prudence, take the following courses of action . . . to give vitality in Southeast Asia to the concept that Communist imperialism is a transcending threat to each of the Southeastern Asian States. These efforts should be so undertaken as to appear through local initiative rather than as a result of U.S. or U.K. or French instigation. "This action was assigned to USIA, (United States Information Agency), the State Department, and the CIA.
It was to be the job of the CIA, among others, to see that the "concept" of the "threat to each of the Southeast Asian States" was to be made to appear to be "Communist imperialism". This was the direct charge of a committee on which Allen Dulles served and is a blunt definition of how anti-Communism is hoisted to the top of the mast whenever it is needed as a rallying symbol. As the theme of the "transcending threat" in Indochina, it was in the direct line to the later Communist-supported-war-of-national-liberation theme and then to the Communist-inspired-subversive-insurgency theme of the Kennedy era. There can be little wonder why, in the minds of most Americans, South Vietnam is so intricately tied to the idea of Communist subversion. Words such as the above show clearly the role of the initiative taken by the CIA in Indochina as far back as 1954, even while the Office of National Estimates was saying otherwise.
And while all this was going on, Admiral Arthur W. Radford, the chairman of the JCS, gave a memorandum to the Secretary of Defense which included the following extract: "The JCS desire to point out their belief that, from the point of view of the USA, with reference to the Far East as a whole, Indochina is devoid of decisive military objectives, and the allocation of more than token U.S. armed forces in Indochina would be a serious diversion of limited U.S. capabilities." This was the view of the top military man as presented at the same time Dulles was sending his teams into action there, under the cover of military men.
While this was happening, the Geneva Conference was under way. Although the Foreign Affairs article chooses to heap blame on John Foster Dulles, we should recall that Dulles had not attended that conference since its organizational meetings. In his place he had sent his Under Secretary, Walter Bedell Smith, who had been the DCI before he went to the Department of State. Certainly John Foster Dulles, whose brother was the DCI and whose principal assistant was a former DCI, was well aware of the views of the Office of National Estimates on the one hand, and of the actions of the clandestine side of the house on the other.
Then the Saigon Military Mission (SMM) ("military" only in the sense that it was a cover arrangement) entered Vietnam on June 1, 1954. This mission "was to enter into Vietnam quietly and assist the Vietnamese, rather than the French, in unconventional warfare. The French were to be kept as friendly allies in the process, as far as possible. The broad mission for the team was to undertake paramilitary operations against the enemy and to wage political-psychological warfare. Later, after Geneva, the mission was modified to prepare means for undertaking paramilitary operations in Communist areas rather than to wage unconventional warfare . . . " By its own statement of mission this team was not to aid the French and was to wage a paramilitary campaign against the "enemy". This left it with only one real mission, "to assist the new government of Ngo Dinh Diem". And Allen Dulles sent this clandestine team into South Vietnam in August of 1954, exactly the same month of the NIE, which the Foreign Affairs article says the CIA published as guidance for this country. Dulles' covert actions and his overt NIE were in direct conflict. He was saying one thing and doing another.
There is only one conclusion that can be drawn from such writing, and it is derived from one of two alternatives: Either the author did not know about the existence of and the mission of the Dulles directed Lansdale SMM team; or if he did, he was attempting to cover up the CIA role in such activity, which had more to do with the course of events in Indochina since that time than anything else done by any of the other participants.
Here again we see the ST at work. It is most interested in covering up its role in Indochina during the past twenty years, and in so doing it is skillfully working to shift the blame wherever it can. It is trying to charge that if the military, the diplomats, President Eisenhower, President Johnson, and President Nixon all had heeded its advice as contained in the National Estimates, they would not have gotten this country into such trouble. Their efforts even go so far as to attempt to hide behind their intelligence position by using the "transparent" Pentagon Papers. The Foreign Affairs article would have its readers believe that the NIE is the only real CIA and that such things as the Saigon Military Mission, because it was called a "military" mission, will be discovered not to be the CIA at all.
We have been saying that the release of the Pentagon Papers by the former CIA agent and long-time associate of Edward G. Lansdale, Daniel Ellsberg, may have been the opening attack by the CIA to cover its disengagement not only from the physical conflict in Indochina, but also from the historical record of that disastrous event. In this effort, the CIA appears to be trying to hide behind its own best cover story, that it is only an intelligence agency and that its fine intelligence work during the past twenty years on the subject of Southeast Asia is all that we should remember.
Now we find in Cooper another CIA apologist using the Foreign Affairs review to follow up and to praise Ellsberg. In fact, Cooper's exhilaration in his task gets the better of him when he says, "Thanks to Daniel Ellsberg . . . " he means it! This near-endorsement of Ellsberg by a CIA writer in the publication of the Council on Foreign Relations is all the more significant when one learns that this Council is supported by foundations which are in turn directed by men from the Bechtel Corporation, Chese Manhattan Bank, Cummins Engine, Corning Glass, Kimberly-Clark, Monsanto Chemical, and dozens of others. Not long ago, the political scientist Lester Milbraith noted that "the Council on Foreign Relations, while not financed by government, works so closely with it that it is difficult to distinguish Council actions stimulated by government from autonomous actions." And while we appreciate that Foreign Affairs states clearly that "It does not accept responsibility for the views expressed in any articles, signed or unsigned, which appear on [its] pages", its record and especially its list of authors over the years, from John Foster Dulles in its first issue, speaks for itself.
This whole plot thickens to the point of near-hypocrisy when Cooper cites the August 3, 1954, National Intelligence Estimate. The same Pentagon Paper from which he quotes also contains a report on the year-long activity of the Saigon Military Mission. This report, written by Edward G. Lansdale of the CIA, began in that same month of August 1954. While the NIE was speaking disparagingly of Ngo Dunh Diem, the SMM was supporting the Diem regime during the days after the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu. This team and all of its efforts were CIA originated, CIA supported, CIA manned, and CIA directed. From 1954 through 1963, all American activity in Vietnam was dominated by the CIA. Although Lansdale and his key men, such as Charles Bohanon, Lucien Conein (the U.S. go between at the time of the Diem coup d'état, Bill Rosson, Arthur Arundel, Rufus Phillips, and others were listed in the Pentagon Papers with military rank, they were all in the employ of the CIA and were operating as CIA agents.
This is what the Pentagon Papers reveal as happening in 1954 and 1955. Now the CIA would have us believe that it was an objective and blameless intelligence agency all through those horrible years of the Vietnam build-up. However, it was the CIA that hid behind its own cover and that of State and Defense to fan the flames of a smoldering conflict. To add insult to injury, the CIA would have us believe that Eisenhower's Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, the DOD, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard M. Nixon were all to blame because they would not read and heed their NIE. Where were the CIA officials of the clandestine sector when their own men were writing these National Intelligence Estimates?
The big question is, If the National Estimates produced by the intelligence side of the CIA were so good, then why didn't the men in the clandestine operations office read and follow the advice of their own estimates? Yes, the CIA likes to write about itself, and the CIA likes to have others write about it, as long as what they write is laudatory and skillful propaganda.
How can the CIA rationalize the fact that at the very same time it was sending its most powerful and experienced team of agents into action in Indochina, after its successes with Magsaysay in the Philippines, it was writing NIE for the President saying exactly the opposite? It is alarming enough today to put the Ellsberg releases and the Cooper tales together, but what did the CIA have in mind in 1954 when it was doing such disparate things? What did the CIA expect President Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles to believe: The NIE that said we couldn't win with the "frail Diem regime", or the SMM clandestine operation that was designed to support the same Diem regime? Or could it have been that they either did not know about the secret operation or were improperly briefed? This is the very heart of the matter. This is what this book is all about.
To put this in another context, when Eisenhower was planning for the ultimate summit meeting in May 1960, did the NIE say that all was going well and nothing should be done to upset the chances of success of that most important mission; and did the DD/P come in with his briefing for the U-2 flight at the same time? Or perhaps was there an NIE and no briefing about the U-2? How did the ST handle that one?
Or to carry this same theme over to early 1961, did the NIE correctly foretell that the Cubans would not rise up and support an invasion of so few troops without United States troops and air cover; and how did the DD/P brief the secret operation to President Kennedy to perform an invasion operation that was patently diametrically opposed to the NIE?
To drive home the point of this duality farther, Cooper states: "In November 1961, shortly after General Taylor and Walt Rostow returned from their trip to Vietnam recommending, inter alia, that the U.S. 'offer to introduce into South Vietnam a military task force', an NlE warned that any escalation of American military activity in Vietnam would be matched by similar escalation by Hanoi . . . the North Vietnamese would respond to an increased U.S. commitment with an offsetting increase in infiltrated support for the Viet Cong."
Again the Intelligence Directorate of the CIA plays the lily white role. At about the same time, July 1961, the Pentagon Papers show that a report, again by Edward C. Lansdale, at that time a brigadier general assigned to McNamara's staff and still, as ever, a strong supporter of the CIA, lists the very considerable amount of unconventional warfare resources in Southeast Asia, which were supported by and operating under the CIA. These military and paramilitary forces added into the tens of thousands of armed men and were liberally supported by American men, American money, and American equipment, all put in place under the direction of the CIA. The Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, General Cabell, had just ordered the ClA-operated United States Marine Corps helicopter squadron from Laos, where things had turned from bad to worse, into South Vietnam, where things were going to turn from bad to worse. They were flown into the Camau Peninsula by Americans, and they were supported by Americans for the purpose of airlifting the Special Forces Elite troops of Ngo Dinh Nhu for action against the citizens of that terrorized area. This was another example of what was going on in the covert field at the same time that Intelligence was putting out an Estimate to the contrary. We have Cooper to thank for the "nice" story and Ellsberg to thank for the "not-so-nice" story. Who was President Kennedy to believe -- the man who came in with the NIE, or the man who came in to brief him about the tremendous clandestine and paramilitary operations? Or did they tell the President about both?
Today, the CIA would like us to believe that it had challenged the validity of the hallowed Domino Theory by advising Lyndon B. Johnson that, with the possible exception of Cambodia, it is likely that no nation in the area would quickly succumb to Communism as a result of the fall of Laos and South Vietnam. Furthermore, a continuation of the spread of Communism in the area would not be irreparable.
In 1961, the same time as this quote, Maxwell Taylor, the White House spokesman of the clandestine side of the CIA, informed President Kennedy that "the fall of South Vietnam to Communism would lead to the fairly rapid extension of Communist control, or complete accommodation to Communism, in the rest of the mainland of South East Asia and in Indonesia. The strategic implications worldwide, particularly in the Orient, would be extremely serious." In those days, Maxwell Taylor expressed more properly the views of the CIA (DD/P) than those of the DOD where he was held in awe and suspicion after his return from retirement to become a member of the Kennedy "inside" staff.
General Taylor continued to espouse this view even after he moved to the Pentagon as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. On January 22, 1964, in a memo to Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, he said, "A loss of South Vietnam to the Communists will presage an early erosion of the remainder of our position in that subcontinent." Even though he had moved to the Pentagon, Taylor's memoranda on South Vietnam were written by the Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activity, an office within the confines of the Pentagon, but an office that had been created to work with the CIA, and which by that date had become a regular conduit for CIA thought and action.
Then, McNamara picked up this same "party line" in his memo to President Johnson (at that time his memoranda on this subject were written either by Lansdale or Bill Bundy, both CIA men) of March 16, 1967 ". . . Southeast Asia will probably fall under Communist dominance, all of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia . . . Burma . . . Indonesia . . . Malaysia . . . Thailand . . . Philippines . . . India . . . Australia . . . New Zealand . . . Taiwan . . . Korea and Japan . . . ." By now, everyone was putting all pressure possible on Johnson, and as noted, they used all of the dominoes. Yet the CIA today would have us believe they were only the voice of the DD/I and not the DD/P speaking, through SACSA, to Maxwell Taylor, thence to McNamara, with input from Bundy and Lansdale, and on to Rusk and Johnson. No wonder the CIA wants men like Cooper and Ellsberg writing for them.
The final irony is discovered when the Cooper story begins to pit the National Estimates against other Ellsberg data in 1964-1965. He states that the NIE of late 1964 claimed that, " . . . we do not believe that such actions [against the North] would have crucial effect in the daily lives of the overwhelming majority of the North Vietnamese population. We do not believe that attacks on industrial targets would so exacerbate current economic difficulties as to create unmanageable control problems [for the Hanoi regime] . . . would probably be willing to suffer some damage to the country in the course of a test of wills with the U.S. over the course of events in South Vietnam." Then, as if to place the blame on the military, he adds, "As the Pentagon historians note, this view had little influence on the contingency papers which emerged."
The most remarkable thing about this paragraph from Foreign Affairs is that it is directly the opposite of the views presented in the Pentagon Papers as the "William Bundy memo" on "Actions Available to the United States after Tonkin", which is dated August 11, 1964. Bill Bundy was at that time no longer sitting in the Pentagon; he was working for the ST as Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs. However, overriding that position, Bill Bundy was always the ready spokesman and puppet, in both the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations, for the CIA. He had been with the CIA for ten years, was the son-in-law of Dean Acheson, and has been reported, as of this writing, to be in line for the position of editor of Foreign Affairs.
In this utterly fantastic memo, CIA spokesman Bill Bundy listed pages of "dirty tricks" and increasing pressures that were to be brought to bear against Hanoi, including the Rostow favorite, "tit for tat" actions. By late 1964, military escalation had begun, and the role of the CIA did not diminish -- it was just overshadowed by the greater military magnitude. The flames that the CIA and the greater ST had ignited were faced by the military. However, even this huge force was never able to snuff them out; it just had to stand there and let them burn themselves out.
Then the Cooper account presents Dr. Sherman Kent, the long-time chief of the Board of National Estimates saying: "The nature of our calling requires that we pretend as hard as we are able that the wish is indeed the fact and that the policy-maker will invariably defer to our findings . . . " He feels that his associates' concern about their influence is misplaced: " . . . no matter what we tell the policymaker, and no matter how right we are and how convincing, he will upon occasion disregard the thrust of our findings for reasons beyond our ken. If influence cannot be our goal, what should it be? . . . It should be to be relevant within the area of your competence, and above all it should be to be credible."
Sherman Kent is an old pro. He knows his business and is one of the very best in his field; but how strange the context of this Foreign Affairs essay must seem to him. While he did prepare these NIE, his own associates in clandestine operations and his own boss, the DCI, were fanning out all over Southeast Asia under the cover of his professional expertise, not only oblivious and unheeding of his work, but making mockery of it. Such are the ways of the ST.
When a National Estimate is presented by the same house that presents the collateral and usually opposite view of Special Operations, the Agency pulls the rug from under the feet of its own best achievements and the men responsible for them. Allen Dulles was wrong when he wrote in 1948, along with Jackson and Correa, that the two broad functions of Intelligence and Special Operations should be under the same man and in the same agency. There is nothing wrong with the NIE system and with men like Sherman Kent, Ray Cline, and Bob Amory. The evil is on the other side; and in spite of the vigorous efforts of Agency zealots, who have attempted to rewrite the history of the past quarter-century, we cannot but take some faith in those words of Saint John, that Allen Dulles chose for the entrance way of the new CIA building: "The truth shall make you free." This attempt to warp the truth will not.
It might also have been well if the Agency and its disciples had reconsidered their own "more appropriate choice" for a motto: "Look before you leap." The American public and the world for which Arnold Toynbee speaks, prefer Truth.
The Pentagon Papers (New York Times ed.) 1971.
At that time, General Taylor was Special Military Advisor to President Kennedy -- that was the overt title. He was the CIA clandestine operations man closer to Allen Dulles than to anyone in the Pentagon. He was in the office later held by McGeorge Bundy and currently by Henry Kissinger, who by the way has long been a key spokesman for the Council of Foreign Relations.
The helicopters had been obtained from the USMC but there were no Marines in the organization flying them, or on the ground. The New York Times report of The Pentagon Papers, Nov. 8, 1961, p. 148.
The New York Times report of The Pentagon Papers, Nov. 8, 1961, p. 148.
Ibid. p. 148.
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