10 May 2003. One of the Intelligence
Community Black Actions series.
U.S. State Department
Released by the Office of the
In compliance with the Foreign Relations of the United States statute to include in the Foreign Relations series comprehensive documentation on major foreign policy decisions and actions, the editors have sought to present essential documents regarding major covert actions and intelligence activities. The following note will provide readers with some organizational context on how covert actions and special intelligence operations in support of U.S. foreign policy were planned and approved within the U.S. Government. It describes, on the basis of declassified documents, the changing and developing procedures during the Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson Presidencies.
Management of Covert Actions in the Truman Presidency
The Truman administration's concern over Soviet "psychological warfare" prompted the new National Security Council to authorize, in NSC 4-A of December 1947, the launching of peacetime covert action operations. NSC 4-A made the Director of Central Intelligence responsible for psychological warfare, establishing at the same time the principle that covert action was an exclusively Executive Branch function. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) certainly was a natural choice but it was assigned this function at least in part because the Agency controlled unvouchered funds, by which operations could be funded with minimal risk of exposure in Washington.
/1/NSC 4-A, December 17, 1947, is printed in Foreign Relations, 1945-1950, Emergence of the Intelligence Establishment, Document 257. [Cited documents inserted by Cryptome.]
257. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the National Security Council (Souers) to Director of Central Intelligence Hillenkoetter
Washington, December 17, 1947.
//Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 273, Records of the National Security Council, NSC Minutes, 4th Meeting. Top Secret. Central Intelligence Agency records contain a typescript copy that apparently was made from a signed copy; it is identical to the source text. (Central Intelligence Agency Historical Files, HS/CSG-773, Job 83-00036, Box 5, Folder 8) Also reproduced in CIA Cold War Records: The CIA under Harry Truman, pp. 173-175.
At its fourth meeting the National Security Council amended and approved the draft directive to the Director of Central Intelligence contained in NSC 4-A./1/
/1/The NSC minutes for the Council's 4th meeting on December 17 refer only to NSC 4, noting simply that it was adopted without change and subsequently submitted to the President for approval. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 273, Records of the National Security Council, NSC Minutes, 4th Meeting) There is no mention of NSC 4-A in the minutes. The amendment referred to in the undated directive to Hillenkoetter involved paragraph 3, where the proposal for an advisory panel was eliminated. See the enclosure to Document 253. Souers submitted NSC 4 to the President for approval under a memorandum of December 17. Truman approved NSC 4 on December 18. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 273, Records of the National Security Council, NSC Minutes, 4th Meeting) The file contains no mention of the President's approval of NSC 4-A.
This directive, as approved by the National Security Council, is transmitted herewith for appropriate action.
Sidney W. Souers/2/
/2/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.
National Security Council Directive to Director of Central Intelligence Hillenkoetter
1. The National Security Council, taking cognizance of the vicious psychological efforts of the USSR, its satellite countries and Communist groups to discredit and defeat the aims and activities of the United States and other Western powers, has determined that, in the interests of world peace and U.S. national security, the foreign information activities of the U.S. Government must be supplemented by covert psychological operations.
2. The similarity of operational methods involved in covert psychological and intelligence activities and the need to ensure their secrecy and obviate costly duplication renders the Central Intelligence Agency the logical agency to conduct such operations. Hence, under authority of Section 102(d)(5) of the National Security Act of 1947, the National Security Council directs the Director of Central Intelligence to initiate and conduct, within the limit of available funds, covert psychological operations designed to counteract Soviet and Soviet-inspired activities which constitute a threat to world peace and security or are designed to discredit and defeat the United States in its endeavors to promote world peace and security.
3. The Director of Central Intelligence is charged with ensuring that such psychological operations are consistent with U.S. foreign policy and overt foreign information activities, and that appropriate agencies of the U.S. Government, both at home and abroad (including diplomatic and military representatives in each area), are kept informed of such operations which will directly affect them.
4. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to require the Central Intelligence Agency to disclose operational details concerning its secret techniques, sources or contacts.
CIA's early use of its new covert action mandate dissatisfied officials at the Departments of State and Defense. The Department of State, believing this role too important to be left to the CIA alone and concerned that the military might create a new rival covert action office in the Pentagon, pressed to reopen the issue of where responsibility for covert action activities should reside. Consequently, on June 18, 1948, a new NSC directive, NSC 10/2, superseded NSC 4-A.
NSC 10/2 directed CIA to conduct "covert" rather than merely "psychological" operations, defining them as all activities "which are conducted or sponsored by this Government against hostile foreign states or groups or in support of friendly foreign states or groups but which are so planned and executed that any US Government responsibility for them is not evident to unauthorized persons and that if uncovered the US Government can plausibly disclaim any responsibility for them."
The type of clandestine activities enumerated under the new directive included: "propaganda; economic warfare; preventive direct action, including sabotage, demolition and evacuation measures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance movements, guerrillas and refugee liberations [sic] groups, and support of indigenous anti-Communist elements in threatened countries of the free world. Such operations should not include armed conflict by recognized military forces, espionage, counter-espionage, and cover and deception for military operations."/2/
/2/NSC 10/2, June 18, 1948, printed ibid., Document 292.
292. National Security Council Directive on Office of Special Projects
Washington, June 18, 1948.
//Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 273, Records of the National Security Council, NSC 10/2. Top Secret. Although undated, this directive was approved by the National Security Council at its June 17 meeting and the final text, incorporating changes made at the meeting, was circulated to members by the Executive Secretary under a June 18 note. (Ibid.) See the Supplement. NSC 10/2 and the June 18 note are also reproduced in CIA Cold War Records: The CIA under Harry Truman, pp. 213-216.
1. The National Security Council, taking cognizance of the vicious covert activities of the USSR, its satellite countries and Communist groups to discredit and defeat the aims and activities of the United States and other Western powers, has determined that, in the interests of world peace and US national security, the overt foreign activities of the US Government must be supplemented by covert operations.
2. The Central Intelligence Agency is charged by the National Security Council with conducting espionage and counter-espionage operations abroad. It therefore seems desirable, for operational reasons, not to create a new agency for covert operations, but in time of peace to place the responsibility for them within the structure of the Central Intelligence Agency and correlate them with espionage and counter-espionage operations under the over-all control of the Director of Central Intelligence.
3. Therefore, under the authority of Section 102(d)(5) of the National Security Act of 1947, the National Security Council hereby directs that in time of peace:
a. A new Office of Special Projects shall be created within the Central Intelligence Agency to plan and conduct covert operations; and in coordination with the Joint Chiefs of Staff to plan and prepare for the conduct of such operations in wartime.
b. A highly qualified person, nominated by the Secretary of State, acceptable to the Director of Central Intelligence and approved by the National Security Council, shall be appointed as Chief of the Office of Special Projects.
c. The Chief of the Office of Special Projects shall report directly to the Director of Central Intelligence. For purposes of security and of flexibility of operations, and to the maximum degree consistent with efficiency, the Office of Special Projects shall operate independently of other components of Central Intelligence Agency.
d. The Director of Central Intelligence shall be responsible for:
(1) Ensuring, through designated representatives of the Secretary of State/1/ and of the Secretary of Defense, that covert operations are planned and conducted in a manner consistent with US foreign and military policies and with overt activities. In disagreements arising between the Director of Central Intelligence and the representative of the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Defense over such plans, the matter shall be referred to the National Security Council for decision.
/1/According to an August 13 memorandum from Davies to Kennan, Kennan was subsequently appointed as the representative of the Secretary of State. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Policy Planning Staff Files 1947-53: Lot 64 D 563) See the Supplement.
(2) Ensuring that plans for wartime covert operations are also drawn up with the assistance of a representative of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and are accepted by the latter as being consistent with and complementary to approved plans for wartime military operations.
(3) Informing, through appropriate channels, agencies of the US Government, both at home and abroad (including diplomatic and military representatives in each area), of such operations as will affect them.
e. Covert operations pertaining to economic warfare will be conducted by the Office of Special Projects under the guidance of the departments and agencies responsible for the planning of economic warfare.
f. Supplemental funds for the conduct of the proposed operations for fiscal year 1949 shall be immediately requested. Thereafter operational funds for these purposes shall be included in normal Central Intelligence Agency Budget requests.
4. In time of war, or when the President directs, all plans for covert operations shall be coordinated with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In active theaters of war where American forces are engaged, covert operations will be conducted under the direct command of the American Theater Commander and orders therefor will be transmitted through the Joint Chiefs of Staff unless otherwise directed by the President.
5. As used in this directive, "covert operations" are understood to be all activities (except as noted herein) which are conducted or sponsored by this Government against hostile foreign states or groups or in support of friendly foreign states or groups but which are so planned and executed that any US Government responsibility for them is not evident to unauthorized persons and that if uncovered the US Government can plausibly disclaim any responsibility for them. Specifically, such operations shall include any covert activities related to: propaganda, economic warfare; preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation measures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance movements, guerrillas and refugee liberation groups, and support of indigenous anti-communist elements in threatened countries of the free world. Such operations shall not include armed conflict by recognized military forces, espionage, counter-espionage, and cover and deception for military operations.
6. This Directive supersedes the directive contained in NSC 4-A, which is hereby cancelled.
The Office of Policy Coordination (OPC), newly established in the CIA on September 1, 1948, in accordance with NSC 10/2, assumed responsibility for organizing and managing covert actions. OPC, which was to take its guidance from the Department of State in peacetime and from the military in wartime, initially had direct access to the State Department and to the military without having to proceed through CIA's administrative hierarchy, provided the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) was informed of all important projects and decisions./3/ In 1950 this arrangement was modified to ensure that policy guidance came to OPC through the DCI.
/3/Memorandum of conversation by Frank G. Wisner, "Implementation of NSC 10/2." August 12, 1948, printed ibid., Document 298.
298. Memorandum of Conversation and Understanding
Washington, August 6, 1948.
//Source: Central Intelligence Agency Historical Files, HS/CSG-771, Job 83-00036, Box 5, Folder 8. Top Secret. The source text is a transcript prepared for the CIA Historian on March 27, 1953.
Implementation of NSC 10/2/1/
The following is a memorandum of conversation had and understanding arrived at at a conference in Mr. Souers' office on the morning of Friday, August 6, 1948. Present at the meeting were Messrs. Souers, Kennan, Blum, Wisner, Admiral Hillenkoetter, and Colonel Yeaton.
1. Mr. Kennan opened the meeting with a statement that the conference had been requested in order to clarify certain points and to make certain that there was general understanding and agreement concerning the manner in which the contemplated implementation of NSC 10/2 would be carried out. He stressed the fact that political warfare is essentially an instrument of foreign policy and accordingly that the activity which serves this aim must function to the fullest extent possible as a direct instrumentality of the Departments of State and of the National Military Establishment. It is recognized that because of certain of its attributes this activity should be placed within the framework of CIA and must therefore be conducted with due deference to the organizational requirements of that body. It must nevertheless be recognized that it must take its policy direction and guidance from the Departments of State and the National Military Establishment and for this purpose the operating chief of the new Office of Special Projects must have the fullest and freest access to representatives of these two Departments who have been designated by them as their respective points of contact. Mr. Kennan further stated that it must be considered that the activity is a major political operation and that it must have special recognition as such, as well as the greatest flexibility and freedom from the regulations and administrative standards governing ordinary operations. Finally, Mr. Kennan made the point that as the State Department's designated representative he would want to have specific knowledge of the objectives of every operation and also of the procedures and methods employed in all cases where those procedures and methods involve political decisions.
2. Mr. Souers indicated his agreement with Mr. Kennan's thesis and stated specifically that it has been the intention of the National Security Council in preparing the document/2/ that it should reflect the recognition of the principle that the Departments of State and National Military Establishment are responsible for the conduct of the activities of the Office of Special Projects. (The Department of State taking pre-eminence in time of peace and the National Military Establishment succeeding to the pre-eminent position in war time.) Mr. Souers expressed the view that this principle is manifest in the document.
/2/Reference is to NSC 10/2.
3. Admiral Hillenkoetter expressed the opinion that the new activity would be given sufficient scope and flexibility to accomplish its objectives by the contemplated setup within the organization of CIA. He pointed to the fact that the present Office of Special Operations also enjoys a large measure of freedom and autonomy within CIA, and that it has many special privileges. Admiral Hillenkoetter agreed with Mr. Kennan's statement that the political warfare activity should be conducted as an instrument of U.S. foreign policy and subject in peacetime to direct guidance by the State Department. He insisted that it was essential for the State Department to accept the political responsibility, giving decisions in regard to individual projects, and he was critical of the fact that at times in the past the handling of individual cases had been turned over to him by the State Department without any political guidance. (Mr. Kennan agreed that it was necessary that the State Department assume responsibility for stating whether or not individual projects are politically desirable and stated that as the State Department's designated representative he would be accountable for providing such decisions.)
4. Admiral Hillenkoetter pointed out that the organization being set up is to some extent parallel to the British arrangement, except that the British Chiefs of Staff have made military units available to their special operations people. There was some discussion as to who would be responsible for organizing and training units for special military operations, and Colonel Yeaton said that a JCS paper on this subject is in proc-ess of completion. It was agreed that the Office of Special Projects should propose and take a continuing interest in the necessary preparation and training of military units.
5. Mr. Wisner said that it would be necessary that the head of the new Office of Special Projects have continuing and direct access to the State Department and the various elements of the military establishment without having to proceed through the CIA administrative hierarchy in each case. Admiral Hillenkoetter agreed to this point, but said that it would be necessary that he be kept informed in regard to all important projects and decisions. Mr. Wisner concurred. It was agreed that the designated representatives of the State Department and the National Military Establishment would be kept informed of all problems and that they would attempt to reconcile any differences between their respective Departments concerning political and military guidance and advice given to the Office of Special Projects. In the event that the two representatives are unable to resolve their differences, the matter would be referred to the Secretaries of State and of the National Military Establishment.
6. Mr. Blum raised the question as to what would happen to Mr. Raymond Murphy under the new arrangement. Mr. Kennan said that he thought Mr. Murphy should come under the Chief of the new office. Admiral Hillenkoetter doubted whether this was desirable, but said that he would be willing to leave that up to the Chief of the new office.
7. The question was raised as to possible difficulties in dealing with foreign nationality groups in the United States for the purpose of developing operations abroad. Mr. Blum said that he had the impression that CIA was experiencing difficulties in its dealings with foreign nationality groups because of the restrictions imposed by the FBI. Admiral Hillenkoetter replied that although it was necessary to secure FBI approval for all contacts, this had not been too difficult a problem for CIA.
8. Mr. Kennan said that it might be desirable for the new operation to be able to work through some kind of public "American freedom committee" in dealing with foreign nationality groups in the United States. It was pointed out that there had been a number of suggestions for setting up some kind of committee of this nature.
9. Mr. Wisner said that the head of the new office would require broad latitude in selecting his methods of operations, for example, as to whether he would use large numbers of Americans working abroad or whether he would work primarily through foreign groups. He did not think the new chief should be committed to any existing methods of operations. Admiral Hillenkoetter agreed to this statement. Mr. Wisner also pointed out that the new position would also require considerable assistance from other Government Departments and agencies, including State and the National Military Establishment, and he raised the question whether the necessary help would be available. Admiral Hillenkoetter said that he felt there was a general spirit of cooperation in all the departments. It was agreed that Mr. Kennan and Colonel Yeaton would be responsible for soliciting the help of the State Department and the National Military Establishment respectively and that if any major troubles arose in obtaining cooperation from other departments, the problem could be referred to the National Security Council.
10. Mr. Wisner stated to Admiral Hillenkoetter that there were a number of internal organizational matters concerning which he felt there should be some discussion and clarification, but that these might be more appropriately discussed in a separate meeting between himself and Admiral Hillenkoetter. Admiral Hillenkoetter agreed that this was important and suggested an early meeting for this purpose.
11. It was agreed that a memorandum of the conference should be prepared and circulated to all who attended for their concurrence. Mr. Wisner undertook to prepare this memorandum in consultation with Mr. Blum and Colonel Yeaton, who had likewise taken notes on the discussion.
Frank G. Wisner/3/
/3/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.
August 12, 1948.
The individuals whose names appear below and opposite the spaces provided for their respective initials, being all of the participants in the conversation hereinabove referred to, acknowledge that this memorandum comprises an accurate record of the conversation and further that the views therein set out correspond to their conception of the manner in which the activity shall operate./4/
/4/None of the names has been initialed on the source text.
Rear Adm. R.H. Hillenkoetter
Colonel Ivan D. Yeaton
Mr. Robert Blum
Mr. George Kennan
Mr. Sidney W. Souers
Mr. Frank G. Wisner
During the Korean conflict the OPC grew quickly. Wartime commitments and other missions soon made covert action the most expensive and bureaucratically prominent of CIA's activities. Concerned about this situation, DCI Walter Bedell Smith in early 1951 asked the NSC for enhanced policy guidance and a ruling on the proper "scope and magnitude" of CIA operations. The White House responded with two initiatives. In April 1951 President Truman created the Psychological Strategy Board (PSB) under the NSC to coordinate government-wide psychological warfare strategy. NSC 10/5, issued in October 1951, reaffirmed the covert action mandate given in NSC 10/2 and expanded CIA's authority over guerrilla warfare./4/ The PSB was soon abolished by the incoming Eisenhower administration, but the expansion of CIA's covert action writ in NSC 10/5 helped ensure that covert action would remain a major function of the Agency.
/4/NSC 10/5, "Scope and Pace of Covert Operations," October 23, 1951, in Michael Warner, editor, The CIA Under Harry Truman (Washington, D.C.: Central Intelligence Agency, 1994), pp. 437-439.
As the Truman administration ended, CIA was near the peak of its independence and authority in the field of covert action. Although CIA continued to seek and receive advice on specific projects from the NSC, the PSB, and the departmental representatives originally delegated to advise OPC, no group or officer outside of the DCI and the President himself had authority to order, approve, manage, or curtail operations.
NSC 5412 Special Group; 5412/2 Special Group; 303 Committee
The Eisenhower administration began narrowing CIA's latitude in 1954. In accordance with a series of National Security Council directives, the responsibility of the Director of Central Intelligence for the conduct of covert operations was further clarified. President Eisenhower approved NSC 5412 on March 15, 1954, reaffirming the Central Intelligence Agency's responsibility for conducting covert actions abroad. A definition of covert actions was set forth; the DCI was made responsible for coordinating with designated representatives of the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense to ensure that covert operations were planned and conducted in a manner consistent with U.S. foreign and military policies; and the Operations Coordinating Board was designated the normal channel for coordinating support for covert operations among State, Defense, and CIA. Representatives of the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and the President were to be advised in advance of major covert action programs initiated by the CIA under this policy and were to give policy approval for such programs and secure coordination of support among the Departments of State and Defense and the CIA./5/
/5/William M. Leary, editor, The Central Intelligence Agency: History and Documents (The University of Alabama Press, 1984), p. 63; the text of NSC 5412 is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1950-1955, Development of the Intelligence Community. [Not yet published.]
A year later, on March 12, 1955, NSC 5412/1 was issued, identical to NSC 5412 except for designating the Planning Coordination Group as the body responsible for coordinating covert operations. NSC 5412/2 of December 28, 1955, assigned to representatives (of the rank of assistant secretary) of the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and the President responsibility for coordinating covert actions. By the end of the Eisenhower administration, this group, which became known as the "NSC 5412/2 Special Group" or simply "Special Group," emerged as the executive body to review and approve covert action programs initiated by the CIA./6/ The membership of the Special Group varied depending upon the situation faced. Meetings were infrequent until 1959 when weekly meetings began to be held. Neither the CIA nor the Special Group adopted fixed criteria for bringing projects before the group; initiative remained with the CIA, as members representing other agencies frequently were unable to judge the feasibility of particular projects./7/
/6/Leary, The Central Intelligence Agency: History and Documents pp. 63, 147-148; Final Report of the Select Committee To Study Governmental Operations With Respect to Intelligence Activities, United States Senate, Book I, Foreign and Military Intelligence (1976), pp. 50-51. The texts of NSC 5412/1 and NSC 5412/2 are scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1950-1955, Development of the Intelligence Community.
/7/Leary, The Central Intelligence Agency: History and Documents pp. 63.
After the Bay of Pigs failure in April 1961, General Maxwell Taylor reviewed U.S. paramilitary capabilities at President Kennedy's request and submitted a report in June which recommended strengthening high-level direction of covert operations. As a result of the Taylor Report, the Special Group, chaired by the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs McGeorge Bundy, and including Deputy Under Secretary of State U. Alexis Johnson, Deputy Secretary of Defense Roswell Gilpatric, Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Lyman Lemnitzer, assumed greater responsibility for planning and reviewing covert operations. Until 1963 the DCI determined whether a CIA-originated project was submitted to the Special Group. In 1963 the Special Group developed general but informal criteria, including risk, possibility of success, potential for exposure, political sensitivity, and cost (a threshold of $25,000 was adopted by the CIA), for determining whether covert action projects were submitted to the Special Group./8/
/8/Ibid., p. 82.
From November 1961 to October 1962 a Special Group (Augmented), whose membership was the same as the Special Group plus Attorney General Robert Kennedy and General Taylor (as Chairman), exercised responsibility for Operation Mongoose, a major covert action program aimed at overthrowing the Castro regime in Cuba. When President Kennedy authorized the program in November, he designated Brigadier General Edward G. Lansdale, Assistant for Special Operations to the Secretary of Defense, to act as chief of operations, and Lansdale coordinated the Mongoose activities among the CIA and the Departments of State and Defense. CIA units in Washington and Miami had primary responsibility for implementing Mongoose operations, which included military, sabotage, and political propaganda programs./9/
/9/See Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, vol. X, Documents 270 and 278.
270. Editorial Note
At a meeting in the White House on November 3, 1961, President Kennedy authorized the development of a new program designed to undermine the Castro government in Cuba. The program was codenamed Operation Mongoose. The meeting that the President called to consider the program convened at noon and lasted until 12:55 p.m. According to the President's Appointment Book the meeting was attended, in addition to the President, by Attorney General Robert Kennedy; by Ball, U. Alexis Johnson, Wymberley Coerr, and Robert Hurwitch from the Department of State; by Cabell, Bissell, Amory, and King from the CIA; and by McGeorge Bundy and Goodwin from the White House staff. (Kennedy Library, President's Appointment Book) Robert Kennedy's handwritten notes on the meeting, which suggest that McNamara, Nitze, and General Edward Lansdale also attended, read as follows: "McNamara, Dick Bissell, Alexis Johnson, Paul Nitze, Lansdale (the Ugly American). McN said he would make latter available for me--I assigned him to make survey of situation in Cuba--the problem and our assets. My idea is to stir things up on island with espionage, sabotage, general disorder, run & operated by Cubans themselves with every group but Batistaites & Communists. Do not know if we will be successful in overthrowing Castro but we have nothing to lose in my estimate." (Kennedy Library, Papers of Robert F. Kennedy, Attorney General Papers, Handwritten Notes, 11/7/61)
No other record of this meeting has been found, but the decisions that were taken during and following the meeting are summarized in Document 278.
On November 6 Goodwin discussed the meeting in a telephone conversation with Ball:
"Goodwin said the Cuban thing discussed on Friday is moving ahead. Ball said Alex had given him a report on Saturday. Goodwin said it was moderating and toning down and assuming a more logical approach to it. The Lansdale problem with CIA will be worked out. Goodwin talked to Bissell and asked he appoint someone to work with Lansdale. On the over-all thing there are two things: the economic part which is non-covert and the diplomatic relations status. Goodwin asked if a memo could be prepared on what has been done and how it is being handled, since it is non-covert. Then he and Ball should talk with them and decide how to work it in the over-all thing. Ball said he would get the work started on this right away. Goodwin asked that it be done in the next couple of days." (Kennedy Library, Papers of George W. Ball, Subject Series, Cuba, 1/24/61-12/30/62)
According to subsequent testimony before a Senate Select Committee chaired by Senator Frank Church, Lansdale prepared a report, in response to Robert Kennedy's instruction, in which he observed that Castro enjoyed considerable popular support in Cuba. Lansdale concluded that if the United States sought to undermine the Castro government, it should adopt a different approach from the "harassment" operations that had been directed against Castro up to that time. In contrast to operations conceived and led by CIA officials, Lansdale proposed a program in which the United States would work with Cuban exiles who had been opposed to Batista and later became disillusioned with Castro. The objective of Lansdale's proposed program was to have "the people themselves overthrow the Castro regime rather than U.S. engineered efforts from outside Cuba." Lansdale's concept for Operation Mongoose envisioned the development of leadership elements among Cubans opposed to Castro. At the same time he proposed to develop "means to infiltrate Cuba successfully" and to organize opposition "cells and activities" inside Cuba. Lansdale testified that his plan was designed so as not to "arouse premature actions, not to bring great reprisals on the people there and abort any eventual success." (Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders: An Interim Report of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations With Respect to Intelligence Activities, United States Senate (Washington, 1975), pages 140-141)
Lansdale's recommendations became the conceptual basis for the Mongoose operation, knowledge of which was carefully controlled and limited. Overall control of the operation was entrusted to a new group established for the purpose, called the Special Group (Augmented), a slightly expanded version of the NSC 5412 Special Group, which oversaw covert operations. The Special Group (Augmented) consisted of the regular Special Group members, McGeorge Bundy, U. Alexis Johnson, Roswell Gilpatric, John McCone, and General Lyman Lemnitzer, augmented by Robert Kennedy and General Maxwell Taylor. Although Secretary of State Rusk and Secretary of Defense McNamara were not regular members of the group, they occasionally attended meetings. President Kennedy appointed Taylor as chairman of the group, but Robert Kennedy was the principal motive force within the group and the informal link between the group and the President. General Lansdale was appointed Chief of Operations and coordinated the CIA's Mongoose operations with those of the Departments of State and Defense. Within the CIA, the Mongoose operation was run by Task Force W, under the direction of William Harvey, with overall guidance from Lansdale and the Special Group (Augmented). The CIA developed an operational force of approximately 400 people at CIA headquarters and at its Miami Station, and had primary responsibility for the implementation of the Mongoose operation. (Ibid., page 140)
278. Memorandum From President Kennedy
Washington, November 30, 1961.
//Source: Kennedy Library, President's Office Files, Countries Series, Cuba, Security, 1961. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Internal evidence indicates that the memorandum was apparently drafted by McGeorge Bundy. An earlier version of this memorandum was sent to the same seven people on November 22. (Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/11-2261) The most significant difference between the two memoranda was that the responsibilities assigned to General Lansdale under point 2 in the November 30 memorandum had been assigned to Attorney General Kennedy in the November 22 memorandum, with Lansdale in a subordinate role as the Attorney General's Chief of Operations. Point 4 in the November 22 memorandum reads "The NSC 5412 group will be informed of activities." The Attorney General was included under point 6 in the November 22 memorandum among those listed as controlling dissemination of knowledge of the operation.
The Secretary of State
The Secretary of Defense
The Director of CIA
The Attorney General
The following is a summary of the major decisions which have been made in regard to the Cuba Operation.
1. We will use our available assets to go ahead with the discussed project in order to help Cuba overthrow the communist regime.
2. This program will be conducted under the general guidance of General Lansdale, acting as Chief of Operations. It will be conducted by him through the appropriate regular organizations and Departments of the government.
3. The program will be reviewed in two weeks in order to determine whether General Lansdale will continue as Chief of Operations.
4. The NSC 5412 group will be kept closely informed of activities and be available for advice and recommendation.
5. The Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency will appoint senior officers of their department as personal representatives to assist the Chief of Operations as required. These senior officers should be able to exercise--either themselves or through the Secretaries and Director--effective operational control over all aspects of their Department's operations dealing with Cuba.
6. Knowledge of the existence of this operation should be restricted to the recipients of this memorandum, members of the 5412 group and the representatives appointed by the Secretaries and the Director. Any further dissemination of this knowledge will be only with the authority of the Secretaries of State or Defense or the Chief of Operations.
President Kennedy also established a Special Group (Counter-Insurgency) on January 18, 1962, when he signed NSAM No. 124. The Special Group (CI), set up to coordinate counter-insurgency activities separate from the mechanism for implementing NSC 5412/2, was to confine itself to establishing broad policies aimed at preventing and resisting subversive insurgency and other forms of indirect aggression in friendly countries. In early 1966, in NSAM No. 341, President Johnson assigned responsibility for the direction and coordination of counter-insurgency activities overseas to the Secretary of State, who established a Senior Interdepartmental Group to assist in discharging these responsibilities./10/
/10/For text of NSAM No. 124, see ibid., vol. VIII, Document 68. NSAM No. 341, March 2, 1966, is printed ibid., 1964-1968, vol. XXXIII, Document 56.
[Volumes VIII and XXXIII are not yet published.]
NSAM No. 303, June 2, 1964, from Bundy to the Secretaries of State and Defense and the DCI, changed the name of "Special Group 5412" to "303 Committee" but did not alter its composition, functions, or responsibility. Bundy was the chairman of the 303 Committee./11/
/11/For text of NSAM No. 303, see ibid., Document 204.
[Volume XXXIII are not yet published.]
The Special Group and the 303 Committee approved 163 covert actions during the Kennedy administration and 142 during the Johnson administration through February 1967. The 1976 Final Report of the Church Committee, however, estimated that of the several thousand projects undertaken by the CIA since 1961, only 14 percent were considered on a case-by-case basis by the 303 Committee and its predecessors (and successors). Those not reviewed by the 303 Committee were low-risk and low-cost operations. The Final Report also cited a February 1967 CIA memorandum that included a description of the mode of policy arbitration of decisions on covert actions within the 303 Committee system. CIA presentations were questioned, amended, and even on occasion denied, despite protests from the DCI. Department of State objections modified or nullified proposed operations, and the 303 Committee sometimes decided that some agency other than CIA should undertake an operation or that CIA actions requested by Ambassadors on the scene should be rejected./12/
/12/Final Report of the Select Committee To Study Governmental Operations With Respect to Intelligence Activities, United States Senate, Book I, Foreign and Military Intelligence, pp. 56-57.