Next | ToC | Prev
Ratcliffe: We're here with Fletcher Prouty. The date is May 6, 1989 and we now begin an interview regarding his book The Secret Team, The CIA and Its Allies in Control of the United States and the World, published by Prentice Hall in 1973.
Much of post-World War II American political history and agendas seems to hinge on events that occurred immediately after World War II. With the passage of the National Security Act of 1947, can you discuss the original intent of Congress regarding the role of the CIA as specified in this law.
Prouty: It's very important while discussing the National Security Act of 1947 to be sure we go back into the spirit and the thinking of the time. We had just ended the greatest world war ever fought in late 1945, with the surrender of the Japanese on September 2, 1945.
During 1945 and early in 1946, President Truman abolished the OSS. There was no longer a need for an operational organization of that type now that the war was over. But there were assets of the OSS, primarily things such as agents, agents lists, who the agents worked with, and other activities like that, that you just can't abandon. They have to be taken care of. These were placed in an office which was concealed in the State Department for quite a while. President Truman also, by presidential directive, created the National Intelligence Group and placed it under General Vandenberg, an army officer and later Chief of Staff of the Air Force, who had considerable experience with intelligence matters.
Both of these acts by President Truman were more or less standby. He knew there would have to be some change in the law to act on these intelligence matters. At that time also, you will remember, the Soviet Union had been our ally during the war. It was not "the" enemy as it became during the Cold War. So the National Security Act of 1947, the language of the law was written during 1946, was based pretty much on the reality of World War II, and not upon the Cold War realities.
For those of us looking back, that is difficult to think about because we have so ingrained in us now the fact that the Soviet Union is the enemy, communism is the enemy, and that the Germans, Japanese, and Italians who were our enemy in World War II are all now friends. So you must go back into that era and begin there when you talk about the origins of the CIA and the passage of this very important law, the National Security Act of 1947.
I was teaching a major year-long course, at Yale called The Evolution of Warfare. Of necessity I was very interested in these activities of 1946 and 1947 as part of my course. So I read everything I could get from the congressional hearings, from the newspapers, everything that was going in those years regarding the creation of this new law. What you could see were some rather practical things, and then some indications of things that were going to come.
First of all the Army and Navy had to share their aviation interests with a new branch of the service: the Air Force. That was one of the facts that the public recognized about this new law. We created then a single Department of Defense -- we hadn't had one before. Many of the officers, especially senior officers, who had fought World War II did not like this term, Department of Defense. There's a very basic distinction, especially in warfare, but also in athletics, in sports, in any competition between being on the offense and being on the defense. On the offense, you know what you're doing. On the offense, you're planning something. If you're on the offense with a Department of War, as we used to have, it doesn't mean you're planning to fight, but it means you're ready to fight. And you let everybody know that. If you're on the Department of Defense, you're waiting for somebody else to make a move, and then you react.
The philosophy of the entire military structure of this country changed with this business of the Department of Defense. And coming as it did, right when we were the most powerful nation in the world, with an enormous army, navy, and air force, and the nuclear weapon which nobody else had in that period -- to put all of that on the defense was an enormous oversight. Those of us who were close to all that felt it that way.
There was no way to say that the World War II armies of the United States were to go on the defense. That really destroyed the structure of the Army and a lot of people on active service felt that at that time. I say that because this business of the communists/anti-communists bit, and the idea of a Department of War or Department of Navy as against a Department of Defense -- another major shift -- was then joined by this new idea of a Central Intelligence Agency.
One of the problems during World War II was not that we did not have enough intelligence. Rather it was that it wasn't coordinated. The intelligence that General MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz had in the Pacific was not always coordinated with the intelligence that General Eisenhower and General Bradley and their allies had in the European theater. There were a lot of times when Washington had different intelligence from different sources and didn't have the means to coordinate it properly for the overall benefit of our military forces who were fighting all over the world.
We had new ways of gathering intelligence. We had new electronic means. Radar was used to gather intelligence. We had aerial photography. We had all kinds of devices that were not in the ordinary James Bond intelligence of pre-war days. Congress understood from a lot of testimony from experienced military leaders that one of the greatest shortages and one of the greatest mistakes in the war was that we did not have coordinated intelligence.
So when Congress wrote the language of this legislation for the CIA -- and I printed this literally in the book so that anyone who wants to read it will see exactly what the law says -- it said that the CIA is created to coordinate the intelligence of the rest of the government. That was why it was created. With that as a primary duty of CIA, then the other little tasks and things they were supposed to do come forward and it is a clearer explanation -- in fact, it is the only explanation when it is put that way. There was not a single word, for example, in the law that said that the CIA should collect intelligence. There wasn't a single word in the law that said the CIA should get involved in covert operations, and this is the same law that exists today by the way. We haven't changed it.
But gradually things changed, whether they were written into the law or not. But we're talking about the law of 1947, how it was written and what it meant. The people that first became members of this new CIA knew that their job was the coordination of intelligence. They had no doubt about that. The enormous move toward Cold War, anti-communism and all that -- all the buzz words that we've lived on for the last 30 or 40 years -- did not exist then, at least not strongly. It was coming over the horizon.
While the National Security Act of 1947 was being written, primarily by men like the great lawyer Clark Clifford, a close friend of President Truman's, and an enormously influential man in this period -- while that was being done, Churchill had made his speech in Missouri about the Iron Curtain and the Cold War and those things. The country was beginning to move in that direction. That era, the strange McCarthy era had not come, but it was inevitable, it was on the way.
What to do with nuclear weapons was underway at the time. For instance, our military had never had a weapon as dynamic as the atom bomb. What is important about an atom bomb, as it is with a barrel of oil, is that it has no real value until it's been delivered. The organization most able to deliver the atom bomb was the Air Force. And immediately war planners saw that to use atom bombs, we would have to have an enormous fleet of very large aircraft. One of the first things they did was they began to build a bigger and better B-29, which was the largest plane we had during the war, and finally even the B-36 and then the B-52 to carry the atom bomb. They needed an enormous plane to do that. It was a monster of a device in those days.
These things began to shape strategy. Then as they began to think about this, if atomic bombs were going to be used as the primary weapon, how were you going to put a navy and an army into the battleground that atom bombs had devastated or could devastate, either way, because the enemy then did not possess the atom bomb and its delivery capability. This would be interesting.
If you went to a military school in the forties, you could talk about an enemy, but we were a Department of Defense; we weren't supposed to be talking about a particular enemy and gradually over time "enemy" became synonymous with Russia. If we had opposing forces in a combat situation, we'd have the blue forces and the red forces. We always knew we were the blue ones and so gradually this thinking about the Soviet Enemy came about.
While we were predominant with the nuclear weapon, it almost was ridiculous to think of any other country as possessing an equal and opposite force to ours. That furthermore underscored the enormous mistake made in calling this military the Department of Defense, because if ever we were strong on the offense, it was immediately after World War II. We weren't a defensive nation at that time, but we were made a defensive nation by the Department of Defense. I haven't heard many people discuss that in so many words; I did in Yale when I was teaching. I used to talk about that a lot because I had hoped then that that was not really what was going to be the end of all this planning.
As the CIA started late in '47, it was primarily a roll-over of World War II, militarily trained people. The head of it was an admiral, Admiral Hillenkotter. I think out of the number of personnel that they had, over 5,000 were military people -- they weren't reservists -- they were active duty people. Gradually, people from the World War II OSS and new recruitment began to fill up the agency, but that took years. That got us into the Allen Dulles era and the Eisenhower administration.
During the late forties, the number of civilians that rolled into the agency gradually was a relatively small number. I say "relatively small" with respect to today. Among them though were some very strong OSS residual members who were well-trained in covert work that involves clandestine operations. And despite the fact that covert operations were totally overlooked in the law, even so much as to suppress that kind of activity by not putting it in the law and not creating a budget basis for that kind of expenditure of funds, the people with that specific type of training came into the CIA.
Certainly the military wasn't going to get into that business, nor was the State Department, so it was a question of where do you keep this new capability in a peacetime infrastructure. In this way the residual OSS capability fell into the lap of the CIA. But even then, that took years. It didn't happen until General Walter Bedell Smith came home from Russia (where he had been Ambassador to Russia) and became the Director of Central Intelligence in October, 1950.
At that time he brought Allen Dulles into the CIA as his Deputy Director of Plans, which means that he was put in charge of covert operations. Dulles had been with the OSS. Bedell Smith announced to the President that if he was going to be in charge as the Director of Central Intelligence, he was going to have OPC (Office of Policy Coordination) under him and not scattered around with responsibilities in the State Department and the Defense Department.
A lot has been said about OPC in the sense of how could such an organization have been created without law, and how was this ingenious little device created of appointing its senior officer so that he would be nominated by one secretary, either State or Defense, and seconded by the other. He would be approved as though he didn't have a single commander. Everybody knew that was temporary and it had no real significance, because what OPC was doing was to preserve certain assets, certain highly classified assets of World War II. It was not initiating operations.
Now I don't mean to disregard some of the very practical things that were being done. For instance, we had clandestine operations underway in Greece as a result of the Greek civil war right after World War II and these spilled over into Bulgaria and nearby countries across the Greek border. We had other operations going on in China, but relatively speaking they were small and they were again residuals of World War II. They were not planned operations against some communist nation or that kind of thing. But they existed and this was there.
The Chief of OPC at the time was Frank Wisner who had been a very dominant OSS leader in Eastern Europe during World War II. Later he directed the massive campaign against Indonesia in 1958. So Wisner was very active in the covert activities. But when General Smith became the DCI, he insisted upon bringing that group into the agency. Now strictly speaking, that was not supported by law. It was simply an expedient.One of the most important facets of this National Security Act of 1947 was the creation of the National Security Council. We had not had an organization like that in peace time in other years; not under Roosevelt, not before and I don't even recall anything like that in the World War I period. What was decided was that there are times, when for purposes of national security, there must be top-level decisions made and that the President needed assistance in making those decisions. So the National Security Council, by law, consists of the President, the Vice-President, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Defense -- and no others. They can invite others and others do attend the meetings. But there are no other statutory members.
If we relate that to today's affairs in all these questions about the Iran and Contra hearings and all those related problems, there could not have been a decision about covert operations involving the Contras, or Iran, or an exchange of hostages, or any of that without a decision from the National Security Council -- that's by law. There's no other way to do it. Other than an illegal way, and I don't think that's ever even been assumed. There had to be decisions from the National Security Council.
From my own experience and background, I simply cannot believe that the members of the National Security Council during this Iran-Contra period have removed themselves from the whole situation as though they had nothing to do with it. That's preposterous -- by law they had to participate. If they didn't do it, they were derelict in their duty and they should be tried for that. That's what the National Security Council was created to do.
In the forties, the National Security Council met and created a directive which I believe was called "10-slant-2" [10/2]. 10/2 recognized that the U.S. government might from time to time be involved, or involve itself, in covert action. Generally this would mean relatively small activities. Not major warfare like the Korean War or the Vietnam War. Not even large operations such as the invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. These were small operations and were truly clandestine, covert actions. And there were many of them, many of them highly classified and still secret, because they were small. Later on, when I got into this business in the fifties, we had things like that going all the time, but they were small.
The decision to involve the United States in covert action had to be made by this National Security Council -- no one else; no one else had the authority. Even the DCI, the head of the intelligence agency, was not part of the National Security Council. Therefore, he was not involved in the decision. He would be told about the decision. During the forties and early fifties, things worked that way.In 1948, a rather important event happened: President Truman wanted to have a highly qualified group study how the CIA was moving along; how it was progressing, and whether or not it was becoming effective. So he established a committee, headed by Allen Dulles, a New York lawyer with the most prominent, largest law firm in New York City, Sullivan and Cromwell; a man named Mathias Correa, who I believe was also a lawyer, although I don't recall his career that closely; and then a man named William H. Jackson. Jackson had a lot of OSS experience. I think Correa did, and I certainly know that Dulles did.
This committee of three men -- primarily Allen Dulles -- made an extensive study of the activities of the CIA, and in their report to the President, they recommended a move more into the clandestine operations area, and more into the traditional deep intelligence area than the law had visualized.
There was a very interesting aspect about this committee. It was appointed by President Truman in his final year as president, as the successor to Roosevelt. Roosevelt died in '45 and Truman was the Vice-President, so he hadn't won an election yet. He was going to run for re election in late '48 for a new term beginning in '49. His opponent was Thomas E. Dewey.
Interestingly, Thomas Dewey's speech writer during the 1948 campaign against Truman was Allen Dulles. So you see Dulles was riding two horses across this stream. He was technically Truman's advisor with respect to intelligence matters -- he and Jackson and Correa while at the same time he was writing speeches for Thomas E. Dewey strongly opposing the re-election of Truman.
I don't know whether Truman knew he was writing speeches for Dewey or whether Dewey knew he was working for Truman. I have no way to solve that little problem. But it's important to understand the effect of that, and it helps you understand the mind of this man Dulles. Dulles would see nothing wrong in that sort of thing. He would see nothing wrong in working for Truman and trying to undercut him by helping Dewey or vice versa.
This had an influence on the report. Because (of course) Dulles was absolutely convinced, as were Jackson and Correa, along with most of the country, that Dewey was going to be elected president. So as he wrote this report, he saw that report as, you might say, his own Mein Kampf. It was his own idea of what CIA was going to become because he was positive that Dewey would make him the Director of Central Intelligence when Dewey became president. That designed and shaped the report.
As we know, Truman turned around and beat Dewey in a great surprise. And without much ado, the Dulles-Jackson-Correa report was slid under the White House door on the first of January, 1949, and we never heard much of it after that. Many of the elements within the report did appear years later, because when Eisenhower became President, John Foster Dulles became Secretary of State and General Walter Bedell Smith became his Deputy Secretary of State. In doing so, he stepped down from the CIA, and Allen Dulles became the Director of Central Intelligence. At that time Dulles pulled out his own Dulles-Jackson-Correa report and began to put it in effect. He remained the DCI for the next 9 years.
The single primary character of the CIA is Mr. Dulles. There's no question about it, it was his agency. Nobody else has left any mark like his. But you need to see that background to understand what the passage of the National Security Act really meant in 1947. What it says in law is what creates many of these controversies about intelligence today. Because there still is no law that says that the CIA is an intelligence organization -- it says that it is a coordinating agency. There is no law that says it is a covert operations agency.
So that's a fairly good summary as I've seen it through my own lifetime of the law itself, the effect of the law, and particularly how the CIA was an outgrowth of the law. It's important to understand what the CIA was trying to do, what the National Security Council was trying to do, and what the Congress was trying to do. This eventually led to the remarkable statement by President Truman, I believe in December 1963 when he wrote, as a columnist for a newspaper, that the greatest mistake he made in his entire career as President was to sign the National Security Act of 1947, and that portion of law which created the Central Intelligence Agency.
Prouty: It's true that he never did sign the law that would come to encompass all these things. The law he signed was limited. If they had stayed within its parameters the agency would have been much different. But he recognized that by setting this up, he initiated it. He got the ball rolling, right or wrong.
Congress had been so certain that the Agency would not become operational and policy-making that it was content to place it under the control of a committee. Congress knew that the Agency would never be permitted to become involved in clandestine operations and therefore that the NSC would never have to direct it in an operational sense.
Prouty: That's not a hard statement to understand in the time of the 1940's. It is today in the eighties or in the seventies or in the sixties. In the late 1940's, Congress and its Congressmen, many of whom were veterans of World War II, knew very well that the United States government was not going to have covert operations, a covert establishment running around the world. They also knew they had not even created a new major intelligence organization. Congress, in other words, believed the words of the law that it had just written and passed.
Furthermore, we weren't in the buzz-word period, or the Pavlovian period, of anti-communism at that time. It was coming, but it didn't exist then. And we were sitting on top of the atom bomb capability, which meant that we were the absolute power in the world.
Things were so different in the late forties that you can't take those statements without a lot of care and understanding, and transpose them to either the sixties, seventies or eighties; it's just ridiculous. You have to read them in terms of the forties. And that's a pretty true statement of the forties.
But of course you'd change it if you were writing it today, and I'm sure Congress' view of the CIA today is nothing like that. But that is an important commentary on what has changed. What has really changed is in people's minds, but not actually in the language of the law. The language of the law -- that same law exists today -- but it is people's minds that have changed. It's our concept of the world that has changed. That's a very important statement.You describe, in a multitude of examples, Allen Dulles' ability to subvert the watchdog role of the NSC (to prevent the CIA from carrying out clandestine operations) by such moves as engineering the creation of the Special Group 5412/2 that effectively neutralized the oversight functions carried out under the authority of the Operations Coordinating Board.
This was one of the major steps forward taken by Allen Dulles as a result of his report. It looked like a small thing, and it was applied bit by bit; but once the NSC found itself in the position of doing no more than "authorizing" activities of the CIA rather than "directing" them, the roles began to turn 180 degrees, and the ST became the active party. When the NSC was established, it was realized that if such an eminent body of men made decisions and then directed that they be carried out, they would not necessarily be in a position to see that someone actually did carry them out. Therefore, provision was made for an Operations Coordinating Board, (OCB), which would see that the decisions of the President and his Council were carried out. This was effective only as long as the NSC was directing activity. The OCB would require that the NSC staff keep a record of decisions in duplicate, and the Board would ride herd on these decisions and see that they were done. It had trouble doing this when CIA was just getting its proposals "authorized".
When the NSC was divided into a small and elite Special Group for the purpose of working with the CIA on matters that were from time to time clandestine, the task of the OCB became more difficult because of the cloak of security. Still, the OCB tried to keep up with such decisions, if by no other means than to require "blind" progress reports. But when the NSC, through the Special Group, simply sat and listened to outside proposals and then permitted or authorized actions that were highly classified and highly limited by need to know, the role of the OCB became impossible to perform. This was exactly what Allen Dulles wanted. His report had stated that he should be able to initiate operations and to take his proposals directly to the President, and that the President or an authorized representative would then approve what the DCI brought to him. He had not been given that authority by the law, and he could not have done it under Truman because Truman used the NSC and OCB differently from what Dulles visualized. But year by year during the Eisenhower Administration he worked to erode the NSC-OCB pattern until he was able to work through the Special Group 5412/2 almost without interference. Part of his success was due to his effective control of communications, which made it appear all the time that projects had been thoroughly staffed in all parts of the Government concerned and that the approval of the NSC (Special Group) was merely a formality.
By the time Kennedy became President, he was led to believe that the NSC was unimportant, one of those Eisenhower idiosyncrasies, and that he could do without it. If he could do without the NSC, he certainly could do without the OCB. (Since it could be shown that the OCB was not able to perform its job properly because it was unable to find out what the Special Group had approved, there was no reason for OCB either.) Without either of these bodies in session, the DCI was able to move in as he desired, with very little effective control from any Council member. This was a major change brought about by a kind of evolution and erosion. It was certainly a downgrading process; but the trouble was that all too few people had any realization of what had taken place, and those who had were either with the CIA or the ST, and they were not about to tell anyone.
Now you just mentioned how the OCB was originally set up to have some supposed authority given to it by the Secretaries of Defense and State, and how Walter Bedell Smith, in late 1950, succeeded in making that position subbordinate to himself as DCI. Can you explain how, particularly Dulles, who was so central to this, was able to redefine this watchdog role of the NSC over clandestine operations?
Prouty: First of all, let me make a technical correction to your question. The OCB was the Operations Coordinating Board, which was a part of NSC by law. OCB was composed of a group of senior individuals who would follow the decisions made by the National Security Council and make sure the bureaucracy carried them out. That was the function of the OCB, a different organization.
The Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) was no more than a cover name for the residual OSS organization that was under Frank Wisner and an extremely distinct organization from OCB. It came from World War II; it was a necessary function. It was like sweeping up things left on the floor after the war. We had to keep alive the records from the OSS, and it was agreed to put this organization only notionally within the State Department, but to control its chief by making the new Secretary of Defense and his counterpart the Secretary of State responsible for the leader of the organization. Giving him some control that way. The budgetary function was minimal. It was just a matter of paying people -- that's about all -- and taking care of the records. A lot of people have misinterpreted the OPC, although when it gradually worked its way into the CIA under Bedell Smith, it did become dominant again. It became rather strong and it became the main clandestine operation sector of the agency later known as the Deputy Director of Plans. (So I'd like to correct the two letters which are somewhat similar but the jobs are entirely different.)
Now we'll go back to Mr. Dulles and how he was able to circumvent the law. The best way is to say again that the report that he had written with Correa and with Jackson outlined his vision of how the CIA ought to be. He believed that. He thought that it ought to have a full intelligence power, including secret intelligence, and that it ought to have clandestine capability to carry out any operation directed by the National Security Council. He thought that could be started in '49. By the time he got to be the DCI in 1953, things hadn't worked that way.
The CIA had been kept rather quiet. It was coordinating intelligence, and it was doing very little in the covert activities field. He felt that should change, but he didn't have any lawful way to do it. So what he did was he would take a plan that they had made up because of some input from a foreign country or from one of his station chiefs around the world that was in response to some action. Then he would go to the National Security Council. They didn't direct him to go to X country and do something; they were approving something that he felt he ought to do in response to an action that some of his operators, some of his agents, had seen in a foreign country. That device enabled him to create activities that most of the time were reactions or responses.
So the NSC found itself not directing covert operations, but approving reactive covert operations. There's quite a bit of difference. When you're doing that with an organization like the CIA, under an ambitious leader like Allen Dulles, it's pretty hard to tell the difference because sometimes you can create a response by kicking somebody under the table and they pound you in the nose and then you point to your partner and say, `Look at that guy -- he just hit me!' But your partner didn't know that you kicked the other person from under the table.
The best example of that tactic -- the absolute best example I know -- was the Gulf of Tonkin incident. The North Vietnamese that came out in the vicinity of the destroyers -- which the Navy now admits were never even hit by anything fired at them, probably not even fired at -- those very high-speed North Vietnamese Komar ships came out there was because they had been hit clandestinely. So the first act was by our own forces aided with South Vietnamese. Then when the North Vietnamese came out in response, they had been provoked. They did not initiate the attack. But in the discussion of that, both by President Johnson and in the Congress when they were discussing the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, they were only told that the attack had been made by the North Vietnamese upon our Navy without provocation.
So you can control covert activities by using that same device -- the kick under the table -- and then you can say, `Hey now, look what happened in the Congo,' or `Look what happened in Indonesia,' or `Look what happened in Tibet -- we've got to do something about it.' This was the Dulles technique. He tried to have the agency ready to be responsive anywhere in the world. And of course he had to do it that way because there were no plans. They didn't sit here and say, `Well, here's what we see happening in such-and-such a country, and here's what we think ought to be done, and here's how the United States should get in there with a covert operation to perform this or that.' There was none of that.
There was no planning shop. In fact, I've always thought -- and I worked very closely with them -- that one of the strangest devices they used was to call their covert operations the Deputy Director Plans, because there were no plans. I worked with them intimately for nine years. I never saw a single plan come out of the Deputy Director Plans. They would simply smile and say, `Well, that's just our euphemism for covert operations.' They could have used some other word than "plan".
But this is how Dulles worked. He was very effective. He had a lot of experience with OSS and the other side of it is that his brother was the Secretary of State and the dominant vote in the National Security Council. I don't think this would have been the same if he had been an individual with some neutral or objective Secretary of State. It made quite a bit of difference under the Eisenhower era to have the two Dulles' working together in the development of covert operations.
Ratcliffe: So we see this key revising of the word, as specified in the law, that the NSC would direct the CIA, and the agency in effect was turning this into the NSC approving measures brought to it by the CIA.
Prouty: Precisely. I remember one example -- only one out of nine years' work with clandestine operations -- when I knew that the NSC had directed the CIA to involve itself in something and that was Tibet. When the Chinese Communists started overrunning Tibet, it was the NSC that put the CIA into that operation. And I must confess that in all those years, '55 to '64 -- pretty active years -- I never saw another one come by direction. They were all responsive and reactive operations to things where Mr. Dulles, or people that followed him, would go in to brief the NSC from their own papers and say, `Here's what's been happening in country A; we propose an operation to oppose that.' That's why we got into what's called "counterinsurgency." We countered the insurgency. Almost everything we were doing was a reactive response, but that was the Dulles method. That was his characteristic.I'd like to quote a part here regarding the intelligence community as a whole. You wrote that
Over the years it has become customary to speak of the various intelligence organizations within the Government as members of "the community". This word is quite proper, because there is little cohesion and homogeneity within this vast infrastructure which has cost so much and which performs so many varied and separate functions. The members of the community are the CIA; the Army, Navy, and Air Force as separate divisions; the Defense Intelligence Agency; the FBI; the Atomic Energy Commission; the State Department; and the National Security Agency. All are by law brought together by the Director of Central Intelligence, or DCI. His title is not "the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency" -- although he does head that Agency for the purpose of "advising the NSC in matters concerning such intelligence activities of the Government departments and agencies as relate to National Security." (National Security Act of 1947) This is the DCI's first duty as prescribed by law. He is to advise the NSC of the activities of the other departments and agencies.
Please discuss the importance of the fact that all of the above listed members of the intelligence community "are by law brought together by the Director of Central Intelligence," and the implications of such an all-encompassing position.
Prouty: The law established -- created, it didn't establish -- establish means something else in government -- the law created the CIA to coordinate intelligence of the other branches of the government, as I listed them above. The law specifically deals with the function of the Director of Central Intelligence; he is different from his organization. He is the Director of Intelligence over the other intelligence organizations within the scope of the law that established them. He's not their boss in the sense that the Navy intelligence operates for the CNO -- or the Chief of Navy -- but as far as intelligence matters are concerned and as far as coordinating intelligence matters, he is the director for the coordinating purposes. It's quite a clear distinction but you can see it does get waffled around.
Certain intelligence assets of various departments -- we'll say the Navy -- are very independent. Navy's intelligence organization goes way back to Revolutionary War days. They are an excellent professional organization; they are world-wide and they are very powerful and very able. They were not subverting themselves to any new boss. They knew their job and they made that clear when the law was being written. In fact they protested the law more than anybody else. The Army has its own black intelligence; very deep intelligence. In many ways, deeper than the CIA has ever learned how to do. They were not going to fold that into the CIA either. The Air Force was brand new -- had no intelligence other than experience as part of the Army. However, the Air Force had the aircraft: the U-2, the SR-71, the bombers, and the reconnaissance planes. They had the methods of intelligence they used that the DCI needed. So the Air Force, although it was new, in some ways was probably more important than the other branches.
What I'm saying is that this intelligence community which the law created to bring together was not homogenous. But they were essential to each other. No more than say the National Security Agency. Just think what any of these would be without the National Security Agency. They all depend upon the National Security Agency for the interception of electronic transmissions and all the other communications of intelligence, friend and foe and all the rest. The National Security Agency is a function of the Department of Defense. In fact, the office where I used to be assigned was responsible for directing the National Security Agency in order that we could coordinate it with State and CIA and the others ourselves to make sure it was effective. It was a very nice way to do this thing, and it was important in those days.
So there is an intelligence community of great importance and great significance to each one of its components, but the sole chief of that community by law is the Director of Central Intelligence in the role that he's coordinating. No more than that. He doesn't direct these people in a clandestine exercise; not at all. Then he is the head of the CIA and then he carries out things that are assigned to the CIA. So it's quite clear how that works, although I'm afraid historically there are many, many abuses and, a lot of times, oversights in that primarily because many of these agencies and departments have very parochial interests of their own and it's pretty hard for anybody to coordinate them.
Ratcliffe: In the law for Powers and Duties under the National Security Act, Section 3, it says "to correlate and evaluate intelligence relating to the national security". What about going through very briefly and examining or discussing the stated or explicit role of each of these members as well as any important unstated roles that they carry out today. Let's start out with the CIA. At least in terms of the way it should work which may vary a lot from the way it does.
Prouty: That's an excellent way to put the question, because it's impossible to answer that. As we've discussed, the law was written in '46 and '47 in an era that we cannot duplicate at all. So I would just say right off that it would be futile to try to enforce the law literally on either the Defense Department or the CIA or the State Department. However you have to abide by the law. At that point you begin to let the, you might say, law of customs step in. What have we been doing? What have we accepted? Today, you could never press back into the bottle what was decided in '46 and '47 and say that is what the CIA is going to do. There is just no way to do that. I don't know how to prescribe for the CIA what it ought to be doing today by thinking about the law.
But, there is one part of the law that can take care of this, and this was one of the really beautiful things about that law. No matter what the CIA wants to do or tries to do or is funded to do, it has to have the money to operate. The critically important statement is "funded to do" -- because Congress permits the CIA to do an awful lot by pouring money into the CIA. If you have the money, you're going to spend it, that is Parkinson's Law. If you build an office and you put a man in the office, he's going to go do some work whether you tell him to or not. So you fund the CIA, and you're going to get things done. In the present time, under that situation, this emphasizes the great significance of the National Security Council.What we've been talking about emphasizes the very great importance of the National Security Council. If the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Defense can't handle the CIA, then nobody can. If they permit the funding from Congress or any other really covert work to put CIA into areas that they didn't approve, it's their fault and nobody else's.
This is one of the serious aspects about this recent Iran situation. It seems as though Congress wants to accept the fact that Poindexter, McFarlane, North and all those men were doing things that the NSC didn't approve. And they are legitimizing that which is terrible -- really, for the future, is a terrible thing to put up with. We've got a law that says if you're going to get into clandestine operations, it can only be done at the direction of the National Security Council. And here we have the men who were members of the National Security Council -- Reagan, Bush, Weinberger, and Schultz -- all walking off and saying, `We had nothing to do with it.' Now that, for the next era, is going to create enormous problems, even worse than it did for Reagan.
If Congress doesn't recognize what's happening, they had better do so pretty soon or else they're going to find covert operations going on that nobody knows anything about because what they are doing then is regularizing what I said in my book: that there exists a Secret Team that is out of control. And now by doing nothing they have regularized it. That's the danger. If they don't keep the National Security Council directing these organizations, they'll never get the genie back in the bottle.
Ratcliffe: Which is so curious since we heard such a hue and cry during the hearings in the summer of '87 regarding, `they're trying to take too much power away from the executive. The President needs to have more power here in these operations.' In fact, he already had the power with the NSC.
Prouty: And he denies he used it. The President says, `I've got nothing to do with what those fellows were doing.' Mr. Bush has said `I didn't do anything down in Honduras,' or `I didn't do anything when I met with the Israelis.' It's appalling, because if Congress is going to accept that, they're denying the role of the National Security Council and then they're permitting almost anybody else in the government to run covert operations.
Now that's something else people need to understand about covert operations. We talk about the CIA being in charge of covert operations. Almost any branch of the government gets into covert operations. And they do it in a team fashion. That's why I called it The Secret Team. Because I saw just as many people working in covert operations in the Customs Service, in the Treasury Service, even in FAA sometimes, as I did when we saw CIA people and defense people working. It just depends on what type of operation you're in or who wants it done. It's not the CIA all the time, although they all get together and say it was the CIA. The CIA might just have had a representative in there. Or the CIA would provide its special communications and its other facilities that they have -- as we heard in the case of Ollie North and the others -- they had these special communications devices and all that. But other people were doing the job. So we have to learn a lot more about how these things are done. But if we deny and cancel out the role of the National Security Council, we're going to be in very, very deep trouble. There will be no one in charge at all.A very central point, it seems, in The Secret Team book was your qualifying people who were working either within the military or then in a position inside the Central Intelligence Agency. Regarding this term "military," please clarify your use throughout the book, of the four examples of different types of military personnel you define.
Prouty: In ordinary every day agency business, there is a need for a close relationship between the agency and the military departments. So hundreds of experienced intelligence officers are assigned to work with the CIA. The distinction is they're paid by their service -- they are under the control of their service commanders -- but they sit in a CIA office and work with the CIA for the purpose of coordinating intelligence. They bring to the CIA certain assets that it doesn't have and the CIA exposes them to certain assets of theirs. So they work together. That's one group of the "team".
Next, there are certain military officers whom the CIA needs to have for its own purposes. Let's say pilots. That's one career field: helicopter pilots, aircraft pilots, and so on. So, the CIA pays the Department of Defense for we'll say a hundred pilots who will be assigned to CIA -- the CIA reimburses the Department of Defense for those men and strictly speaking, they work as employees of the CIA. The Defense Department, if it wishes, could hire a hundred more pilots within its budgetary limits, you see, because it has this money from the CIA. In every case of that the man who is assigned is a volunteer. He doesn't have to go. He's not being assigned by the military; he's accepting an offer from CIA. What we do is we keep dual records because we don't want to penalize either his military service or his retirement benefits and all that. He's still a government employee. This is a very technical area we start getting into. But that's a second group. They take these people over there, as they do people from the Department of Agriculture, or as they do from FAA -- they need certain other assets which they pay for.
Then we have an extensive group of people in the reserve. They can be called to active duty -- they can be employed as civilians by CIA and then, with the permission of the Defense Department, called to active duty. And of course they're paid for by the CIA, they work for the CIA, they're CIA employees. But only in certain jobs are they permitted, by agreement with the Defense Department, to put on their uniforms, carry defense I.D., and work perhaps in a friendly country or maybe in a marginal country. In this manner we have organizations in Athens, in Australia, in many countries around the world where military officers are assigned, but the CIA is using their capability. So there's a third group.
Finally (and this is a pretty rare case, but it existed), there are certain CIA men who have to be assigned to certain countries for specific duties, but there is no way the CIA can tell that country, `Look, I'm sending you a CIA agent.' Sometimes they say, This man is with the State Department, or a Foreign Service officer, but very frequently would say, This man is a military officer. And with the approval, with the cognizance of the Defense Department, they take Mr. X and call him Commander Jones and he's made a Navy commander, and ostensibly he's a Navy commander. He's never been on the military rolls before, and he works for CIA.
So you can have those four different roles simultaneously, and they exist in large numbers, thousands -- during my day, I think we had over 5,000 people in these various categories -- and they're effective around the world. In fact I can remember a meeting when President Diem in Saigon said, `You know I have a real problem here.' He said, `I have all these generals, who are military generals, but I find out they're really CIA. How do I know who's CIA . . . ?' In his country, there actually were more CIA generals than there were military generals. He had a right to the question.
The same has happened in other countries, but usually it's kept pretty quiet and the people are there for specific jobs. Generally there are no abuses of the situation. We know what's going on and, at least in the days when I was close to this situation, we were kept very well informed in the Defense Department about these. We knew these agreements existed and the people were taken care of very carefully and we kept it on the books under the regulatory base of reimbursement. We made them pay us money for these people when they were our military people.Stepping back for a minute to this idea of the shift in government policy after World War II from offense to defense. You spoke on page 126-127 about this in terms of the positive action that war, the idea of war had held in the past. Quoting from the book here you write:
What began perhaps as an honest effort to alert this country to the fact that the Soviet Government did in fact have the potential to unleash the secrets of the atom and thus to build atomic bombs, gradually became a powerful tool in the hands of the irresponsible and the agitators. . . .
The first great fault with the drift of opinion at that time became evident in the very shift of emphasis with regard to the national military establishment. Throughout our history the idea of war had been treated as a positive action. War was the last resort of a nation, after all means of diplomacy had failed, to impress its might and its will upon another. Throughout our proud history we never had faced war as something passive or re-active. But somehow in that postwar era this nation began to think of war as defense alone. In other words, in this defense philosophy we were not telling the world that the most powerful nation in the world was showing its magnanimity and restraint; we were saying that we would defend only. To the rest of the world that meant we were going to play a passive role in world affairs and that we were passing the active role, and with it the initiative, to others -- in this case to the men in the Kremlin. We not only said this as we disestablished our traditional War Department but we have done it throughout the intervening twenty-five years by developing the capability to search out the action of an enemy and then by responding. This defensive posture of our military and foreign policy has been a terrible mistake, and it opened the doors for the newborn intelligence community to move in and take over the control of U.S. foreign and military policy.
Prouty: I think that's a powerful concept and we have to talk about that. To have the greatest and most powerful nation on earth, and in the forties when we were the dominant power because we were the only ones with the atom bomb and the only ones with the means to deliver the atom bomb effectively all over the world, we all of a sudden went into this guise of defense when we talked about our military.
A clear example of it during the Vietnam War was General Westmoreland's goals of search and destroy. Search -- you're looking for something. If you find it -- you destroy it. It isn't destroy -- it isn't attack. He wasn't on the offense. He was looking for something to shoot at, to destroy as a defensive mechanism. It affected even what I would call "small wars" that way. We were on the defense. He had no objective in Vietnam. He had no place to go in Vietnam and win the war.
I've said in earlier elements of this discussion with you that the first officer I reported to the first day of my military duty in July 1941 happened to be a captain named Creighton W. Abrams, who became Chief of Staff of the Army and head of our forces in Vietnam after Westmoreland. I know this from friends of mine -- I've known General Abrams all my life -- he's from my hometown: when President Johnson told him that he was going to be the commander in Vietnam, President Johnson with his gung-ho attitude said, `Now Abe, you've got 550,000 men in the army out there -- all you need to do the job. You've got the strongest navy assembled in the world -- the 7th Fleet. And you've got an air force that has delivered more bombs than in all of World War II. Now by God, Abe, go out and do it.' I've been told that Abrams, or one of his immediate staff, turned to the President and said, `Mr. President, would you want to define the word it for us. What is it that if we do it will win that war from your position as our commander-in-chief?' The President put his arm around Abrams' shoulder and led him to the door of the Oval Office -- sent him Saigon. There was no it in the Vietnam War. That was the problem.
When General Krulak, the very able Marine commander, became chief of all Marines in the Pacific, he devised a war plan that would move the forces forward, strongly fortified with native forces, people who were imbued with the idea of fighting for their country, to march on Hanoi and take over that city and end the war. He could not get approval for that plan from the President and from Averill Harriman who at that time was serving as the Assistant Secretary of State for Far East Affairs, even though all the military agreed -- the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mr. McNamara, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, CINCPAC, Admiral Sharp -- all the military agreed with this plan. But Averill Harriman, a civilian, and President Johnson, a civilian, imbued with the idea of `we're on the defense,' couldn't see that and they denied General Krulak the permission or the direction to go and do it.
That's making an example out of the statements, but, you see, that's what happens. Warfare, probably best defined by Clauswitz is an all-out action of a certain country. It is total action; it's not half-way, it's not divided, it's not graduated -- it's total. Well, you can't make total defense. You have to make total offense, even if you're in a defensive position -- if you're in a siege in a fort, you'll be thinking about offense because you're thinking of getting out of there -- you're going to die if you stay there. Offense is the core of war. Clauswitz lists nine principles of war that have been the same ever since men were throwing stones at each other on up to atom bombs. The primary principle of war is the objective. If you don't know what you're doing, you've got no business going to war. That is the antithesis of the idea of having a Department of Defense.This is very important for our country. We don't know why we have a military. In fact, when President Reagan spoke about having weapons in space, he called it the Strategic Defense Initiative, putting two opposite words together: the initiative and the defense. The defense initiative: the words don't even go together. It's like having a cat-dog. You can't do it. This is how bad the thinking about warfare has become in this country. It isn't because people have become less able -- it's because they are unable to assimilate the power and the threat of nuclear weapons into war planning.
Today, the power and the threat of biological weapons, such as AIDS -- AIDS is a weapon and don't forget it. It was developed by the Defense Department and it's a weapon. People need to know that and they should never forget it. It is a biological weapon created by the Defense Department, funded by Congress -- that's all a matter of record. It is not a disease that came out of some cell or somewhere else by mistake. This is why people don't know how to assimilate the idea of warfare. They don't know what to do with hydrogen bombs that can erase a whole city in seconds. They don't know what to do with AIDS as a weapon. It gets away and they can't stop it. That's the basic problem we're having today when we talk about warfare. We have forgotten how war is waged and defense is not the way to wage a war.
Prouty: Because of the power of weapons, including some that we only talk about and haven't used yet, there is no way to wage war. Man is too puny a beast to cope with hydrogen bombs -- there's no way you can do it. You can destroy the earth, but that's not winning a war. So, when you ask me to define that, we can still fight; we can still make victory; we can still go on the offense, but we will do it economically. And we are doing it economically.
The first battle of the new kind of war was called the Arab Oil Embargo. We made the entire world pay tribute to the people who possess petroleum -- and it's quite a battle. It separates the winners and the losers, but that's the new battle. The second battle is being prepared and it will be the battle over food. This blends in with the idea that increasingly we hear of Malthusianism. We are beginning to agree, or to permit, the concept of genocide because there are too many people on earth. Well, that fits in with this next battle that's coming up. Petroleum, in a sense, is a luxury. You can walk to work; you don't have to drive to work. But when the battle becomes the battle for food, there are no alternatives. You have to have food.
War still is on. You see, people's minds are still ready to fight. Terrorism is a function of this, but terrorism is not war. Terrorism is mosquitoes and you kill mosquitoes if you can. But food becomes a weapon of war and there is no way we can have a war anymore. War is done -- when you're talking about divisions, battleships, bombers -- because of hydrogen bombs.
Ratcliffe: Would there be any way through the thicket, with the benefit of hindsight, that you would see possible such a form of a department of government having been retained and maintained in the years immediately after World War II with all of the accompanying pressures and transformations of that time? I suppose the answer would be "no" because of the nuclear capabilities.
Prouty: The leading commanders, immediately after Hiroshima, had no trouble in seeing that if you replicated that around the world, you'd just do it until the world was ashes. The Russians first perfected the hydrogen bomb -- remember, the Russians initiated the hydrogen bomb, perfected it first; we did it second. We knew they had exploded a weapon, a device, equal to about 50 megatons. That device is so powerful that it not only destroys an enormous part of Earth and puts radiation over a larger part, lethal radiation, but it actually blows a hole through the atmosphere above the earth and goes out into space somewhere. It's beyond control on Earth entirely.
Our leaders recognized that fact as far back as the forties and early fifties. Ever since then, our Presidents, including Eisenhower, could not visualize or even see the business of going to war anymore. The Korean War was simply a kind of war game. When MacArthur really began to move, they called him back. The Vietnam War was even worse than that; there were no attacks, no moves anywhere. Anloa Valley, a very hostile area in the heart of Vietnam, was captured eight times by our forces, and once they captured it, they had no reason to keep it so they walked away. Then it got hostile again -- we captured it again. That's the way war's being fought today. War now is outmoded entirely, but I don't think many people are ready to accept that. But if I were teaching evolution of warfare today at Yale University, I would put the closing chapter on war and I would simply end with the explosion of the hydrogen bomb -- just say "there it is."
Prouty: It doesn't mean you can't fight and shoot people. We've got automatic rifles on the streets now. I'm not saying people aren't going to be killed, but we are not going to have a war between country A and country B effectively anymore if hydrogen weapons are involved. Iraq and Iran can fight to exhaustion; notice they didn't go anywhere. They fought each other for, what is it, six or seven years? They didn't go anywhere, didn't do anything, except kill each other. If either one had had nuclear weapons, they would have had to end the war, because they couldn't live with such weapons.
"[the] schism between those who believed in the traditional school of national planning and overt diplomacy and those who believed in a passive role of reaction to a general enemy (Communism)", that began after World War II, and how, "This latter school would operate in response to intelligence inputs, without plans and without national objectives, would hide everything in secrecy, and would justify its actions in all instances as being anti-Communist."
Prouty: We've been talking a bit about that. It's very important. It used to be very interesting, in the period of the fifties, to go to SHAPE headquarters in Europe -- the head of the NATO forces -- and to work with the war plans people there. I was in the Plans Division of Air Force. Although I was doing the clandestine work, I was immersed in the plans work, day after-day, for years. I would go to the War Plans sections in NATO, and you could see that there was no war plan that called for a war like World War II. What I mean by that is an all out war where you take a general like General Patton and say, `Destroy the German forces, bring the country to its knees,' which he could do. In a modern war plan, if you wanted to destroy, we'll say East Germany, you would just push a few buttons and some rockets would fly over there and the nuclear weapons would fall and you would say `what's next?' That's the fact of what we are dealing with now. So it was interesting to see in this transition period of the fifties that some people began to realize this was the position we were now in, and the war plans had no place to go.
Then over here in the U.S., the people who were the officers that I described earlier, working for the CIA, were saying, `Yes, but we need to fight Communism. We can go in there and stop this insurgency. We'll run a counter-insurgency program.' It was the CIA that took the special forces who were designed to do post-strike work in a nuclear war and gradually moved special forces over into the civic action/counterinsurgency side of the business. They realized that if there was going to be any activity, they could promote that activity their way -- as counterinsurgency or covert operations, covered in secrecy. But, this was far removed from warfare. Yet it has been a very lethal activity going all the way up to the Vietnam War. Once you start a fire, there's no telling how far it's going to burn. You just keep throwing more fuel on the flames and it'll burn.There is a very philosophical passage where you discuss the manifestation of the Manichaean devil in the nuclear age:
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 that 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 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 Weiner 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 into 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 statesman 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 of 1947 and then the Defense Department in September 1947 and gave both of them the eyes and ears of the CIA to provide the essential information that at that time was really the paramount and highest priority. The AEC 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.
Discuss the significance of "the transfer in January 1947 of the great nuclear weapon technology to the new Atomic Energy Commission."
Prouty: We'll start with that final question because it's an important one. The atom bomb, as you know, was developed under the Manhattan Project which was part of the Army during the War. It was obvious that, at the end of the war, there would have to be a continuing development with atomic weapons, fission weapons; that there would also probably be peace time use of these weapons, and that the ability to manufacture these rare materials -- plutonium and the like -- for the weapons required an enormous facility and would have to be run by someone.
Yet, it was inadvisable to keep that in the Army. It was felt that this should be under national control, more or less for coordination, almost like the CIA, but to coordinate all this. So they moved this business of nuclear weapons into the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and they continued the development of the fission weapon. At the time they were dropped at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there were two different types more or less competing with each other for perfection. But there was a lot of research still to do.
Finally they got the atom bomb from a monster that had to be put in a B-29 down to where you could carry it around in the back of a Volkswagen. They improved it. And enlarged its explosive power as well. In due time the hydrogen bomb was created which now can be any size you want. You can make a hydrogen bomb as big or little as you want.
So this was put under the Atomic Energy Commission as well as the development of nuclear power and, to a degree, space materials and so on. It was a practical matter. The other side of this situation, the Manichaean devil, is simply another way to talk about the Cold War. You can't get Congress to appropriate money for an enormous war organization unless you can show a reason for it. We had to create the reason, we had to create this devil so we created Communism. Even the Soviets don't understand the communism we think about; it goes so far beyond their model. And we saw it in every closet, every country. We divided the entire world up into "us" and "them" and then began to create a military establishment that could counter, we thought, every move made by anybody. Every time India went a little bit pro Communist, India became our enemy. Every time India went a little bit toward us, they became our friend. Everybody was in that area; there were no neutrals, it was all "us" and "them."
This has resulted in the expenditure of $6 trillion for armaments, most of which can never be used effectively. There is no way to use them effectively. Even in Vietnam. We dumped two-and-a-half times as much bombardment onto the ground in Vietnam as we did in all of World War II -- to what effect? We killed a lot of people. We uprooted a lot of trees and so on. But there was no actual military effect of that. That's the way the rest of our establishment is. They could have used hydrogen bombs and in fact, we did have nuclear weapons in Indochina. Fortunately we didn't use them. But they were there.
On the other side of it, if you create this devil, and he's in every closet around the world, then you can justify having a 600-ship navy and a something-or-other wing air force, and an enormous army, because you keep telling the Congress and the American people that `My goodness, this great enormous devil is going to leap out of a closet any day at any time -- the war could start here or could start there -- we've got to be ready for the whole world.' And that's how you spend the money. Even though you can't prove what you're going to do with the money, you spend it.
The devil scares you so bad that you don't think anymore. Take the Strategic Defense Initiative, this thing that was going to cost billions and billions: now we spend for a B-2 bomber which is supposed to be stealthy and they claim that radar cannot find that bomber as it approaches. Heck, it makes more noise than almost anything you ever heard. It's got huge engines and they're ducted out so that even the radar can't read the engine, but that doesn't mean it shuts the sound down. The first way we used to detect bombers coming during World War II was with noise devices. So they'll simply go back to noise devices -- the Stealth Bomber will be worthless. It's already worthless before it flies. The most expensive airplane ever built -- they spent $65 billion on an airplane they can't get in the air yet and when it does, all the enemy will have to do instead of using radar is use audio to listen for it and they'll know it's there. We don't even know what we're doing.
That's what this Manichaean devil does. I'd like to mention an interesting side-line about Vietnam. The Vietnam escalation modestly began in the Kennedy Era, and Kennedy was said to have around him the Irish Mafia. If you are familiar with the lore of old Ireland, you'll know that the Irish mother would tell her bothersome child, `If you aren't a good boy, the cong will get you.' The cong was a ghost in the closet. In Vietnam, the word for a beggar is a kha, and they were briefing about these beggars, these trouble-makers in Vietnam, and they were calling them the Viet Kha. Kennedy's young Irish Mafia men who did not know much about Vietnam thought they were talking about the Viet Cong, the devil in the closet, and the word "Viet Cong" was created by mistake, by hearing the word "kha" as a Vietnamese word and "cong" as the Irish ghost. It just happened that in that era, we all of a sudden got Viet Cong phonetically out of the misapplication of the word right in an office in the Pentagon of Washington, and not out in the field. Ever after that, it was the Viet Cong. That's how we create our Manichaean devils, that's how we create our opposition, that's how we spend $6 trillion.Further on you write about the realization of the Dulles-Jackson-Correa report's method of placing CIA agents throughout the government:
Many of these people have reached positions of great responsibility. I believe that the most powerful and certainly the most useful agent the CIA has ever had operates in just such a capacity within another branch of the Government, and he has been there for so long that few have any idea that he is a long-term career agent of the CIA. Through his most excellent and skillful services, more CIA operations have been enabled to take place than can be laid at the feet of any other, more "legitimate," agent.
This was the plan and the wisdom of the Dulles idea from the beginning. On the basis of security he would place people in all areas of the Government, and then he would move them up and deeper into their cover jobs, until they began to take a very active part in the role of their own organizations. This is how the ST was born. Today, the role of the CIA is performed by an ad hoc organization that is much greater in size, strength, and resources than the CIA has ever been visualized to be.
Prouty: When I was assigned to the Air Force Headquarters, in 1955, the Chief of Staff General Thomas D. White directed me to create an office "to provide the military support of the clandestine operations of the CIA" in accordance with the provisions of the National Security Council Directive #5412 of March 15, 1954, and to operate as the Pentagon "Focal Point Office for the CIA."
As Mr. Dulles told me later, "I do not want various people from my agency going into the Pentagon and dealing with different people there and therefore exposing the activities of the CIA to a large number of people, because obviously such a ring would then proliferate to others and if they wanted submarines, they would have to bring in some navy people and if they wanted helicopters, they would have to talk to some army people." He said, "I want a focal point. I want an office that's cleared to do what we have to have done; an office that knows us very, very well and then an office that has access to a system in the Pentagon. But the system will not be aware of what initiated the request -- they'll think it came from the Secretary of Defense. They won't realize it came from the Director of Central Intelligence."
The Dulles philosophy was to control the focal point area. This then led to the creation of focal point offices everywhere. As I established this "Tab-6" organization, as we called it, in every major staff area within the Air Force (because that was my jurisdiction at the time), I would "clear" people -- another focal point, you might say a sub-focal point -- a person I could go to who had been given, ahead of time, the authority to do whatever it was that he was authorized to do. We stressed this was only for "authorized" business -- he would have to be sure he had orders, either from my office or directly up to the Chief of Staff, and that we knew what we were doing for CIA.
This leads to another step, of what you might call "breeding". We had to work with various agencies of the government, not just the Defense Department. We had to have contact points in the State Department, in the FAA, in the Customs Service, in the Treasury, in the FBI and all around through the government -- up in the White House. Gradually we wove a network of people who understood the symbols and the code names and the activities we were doing, and how we handled money which was the most important part. Then we began to assign people there who, those agencies thought, were from the Defense Department. But they actually were people that we put there from the CIA.
This led to the creation of a system of powerful individuals -- people whose jobs were quite dominant in some of these other agencies. Especially after they'd been there two or three years, because we put them in there by talking to the top man, the cabinet officer or the head of the agency. We would say, "This man is being placed here so that he can facilitate covert activities and so that he can retain the secrecy that's required and he will keep you informed at all times." Well, in the over-all U.S. bureaucracy, the top people tend to move from one job to another faster than anybody else, not the career people who are there for a life-time. So the man we had explained the "Focal Point" structure to, perhaps a year-and-a-half earlier, would be transferred or leave the government. But our trained and fully cleared "Focal Point" man was still there. So after one or two cycles of this, that agency might not even know that employee was our man and not actually theirs because they would have no record of his special assignment, of what his origins were. They would think he was just another one of their own employees.
As a result, he became extremely effective. Because if we wanted something done -- I remember a very sensitive operation that I needed some information on, and I needed it from the FBI. I didn't go to the FBI. I went to this guy that we had planted, and he got it twice as fast and in a much better form than I would have gotten it from the FBI, even though I was at that time working for the office of the Secretary of Defense. We had no trouble working with the FBI. This process was just to facilitate it and conceal the CIA role. These people became very, very adept.
By the same token, people that were bona fide employees of CIA (agents), were assigned even into the office of the Secretary of Defense. We had certain people there who were CIA employees -- Ed Lansdale worked for CIA all his adult career. A person named Frank Hand worked there. But the people in the Pentagon thought they were ordinary military employees. They didn't realize they were CIA.
To give you an example: Colonel Lansdale was a full colonel in the Air Force -- that was his cover story. And he had been a full colonel for a few years. And the Air Force was promoting some men to general. The question came up, would Lansdale be eligible? I told Mr. Dulles personally, I said, "You can make Lansdale a general if you just write a letter to General Lemay, because you're going to pay the bills anyway and not the Air Force."
A few days later I got a call from General Lemay's office. He called me in and he had the list of men that the Air Force was promoting to general, and as I recall, it was 13 or 14 officers. General Lemay knew every one of them intimately except one. He said, "Prouty, I understood you know who this guy Lansdale is." He said, "I don't know who the hell he is. I'm not going to promote him to a general." And I said, "Well, don't you have a file on him?" He said, "Yes." He opened it up and the top letter was from Allen Dulles. I said, "He's a very important man for Allen Dulles." He said, "OK, I'll promote him." Just like that. That's a good way to get a promotion, you see. But that created a very important job within the structure of the office of the Secretary of Defense.
Frank Hand had been there for years in the same way. Frank was a civilian of outstanding ability. I always wrote that he was the most important agent that the agency had because he was operating daily and effectively as a member of the office of the Secretary of Defense. You can just imagine the things that a person in that capacity can do when his home base is really CIA. Although people rarely believe this when they first hear it, there are assignments like that in the White House; there are assignments like that in the State Department. For instance, it's hard to tell the difference, between Bill Bundy who was a long-time CIA employee and his brother McGeorge Bundy who was in the White House with Kennedy. The two brothers certainly are going to act side-by-side -- they have the same goals and the same intentions. There were many instances that duplicated like that.
It wasn't long -- I'd say by the end of the fifties or early sixties -- before we had spread through the government what I called a Secret Team, a group of people who really knew how to operate the CIA business through the boundless maze of the United States government.
- The Secret Team, Appendix II,
- "For some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the government. . . . I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak-and-dagger operations. Some of the complications and embarrassment that I think we have experienced are in part attributable to the fact that this quiet intelligence arm of the President has been so removed from its intended role that it is being interpreted as a symbol of sinister and mysterious foreign intrigue and a subject for cold war enemy propaganda." Washington Post, December 21, 1963.
- Ibid, p.138,
- Ibid, pp.291-2,
(While this excerpt was not explicitly read out loud during the interview, it is included here since its content is so essential to the discussion at this point.)
- "that position" meaning OPC. Although OPC is not being explicitly mentioned here, it is what was being referred at this point, as discussed back on page 96.
- During the period we were trading hand edits back-and-forth to make the raw transcript of the tape recordings readable as the text format of this book, there was a point when Fletcher replaced the word he had used in the interview, "structurally," with "notionally". Because of the small handwriting, i was not sure i had this term spelled correctly and asked him about it when i passed my next round of edits back. He responded with the following:
I just noticed one small item on a page here. It has intrigued me since you first brought it up. You want to know what this word "notionally" is. That is a better question than you may have thought. In the CIA there are many words, phrases and codes that have special meaning in the trade. So "notion" is an idea. In the CIA a "notional" assignment is one that is acted upon as a logical "idea" but the "idea" itself is used to cover the real job, or concept. For example: the CIA runs a big airline in the Western Pacific region. It is based in Taiwan and flies to most major cities in the Rim areas. So it is a real airline. That's the "idea" but that "notion" covers the fact that its primary business is to have aircraft available all over the area for the CIA's covert work. So it is a "notional" airline. The CIA crowd use that special meaning of the word quite frequently. I've been pleased to have you pick up on that, because it serves to show how effective such "codes", "Concepts", etc., can be in the real world. They are a gang of characters. That's why I called my work "Team B". We certainly made no attempt to be thought of as "Team A" in the eyes of the public: but with the CIA we did the job of an "A" class team.
- Ibid, p.141,
- Ibid., p.74,
- Ibid., pp.226-27,
- Ibid., p.202,
- Ibid., p.260,