THE INVISIBLE GOVERNMENT was born December 7, 1941, in the smoke and
rubble of Pearl Harbor. It was still a child when the Cold War began
after World War II, an adolescent during the 1950s, and it reached
its majority a year after President Kennedy took office.
Whatever else the multitude of inquiries into Pearl Harbor proved,
they did show that the United States was badly in need of a
centralized intelligence apparatus. There were plenty of warning
signs before Pearl Harbor of the coming Japanese attack, but they
were not pulled together, analyzed and brought forcefully to the
attention of the government.
"The CIA," the Hoover Commission said in 1955, "may well attribute
its existence to the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and to the
postwar investigation into the part Intelligence or lack of
Intelligence played in the failure of our military forces to receive
adequate and prompt warning of the impending Japanese attack."
The United States shed its isolationist traditions and emerged from
World War II as the leader of the West. Regardless of Pearl Harbor,
its new global responsibilities and objectives would have, in any
event, led to the creation of a global American intelligence
network. Added to this, the early emergence of the Soviet Union as
an adversary almost before the V-J celebrations had ended made the
growth of an Invisible Government in the United States virtually
Even in the absence of a clash between Western democracy and
international Communism, the conduct of United States foreign policy
in the postwar world would have required intelligence information
upon which the policy makers could base their decisions.
This was stated in characteristic style by President Truman in 1952.
On November 21, shortly after President Eisenhower's election,
Truman stole away from the White House to deliver a talk behind
closed doors at a CIA training session.
"It was my privilege a few days ago," Truman said, "to brief the
general, who is going to take over the office on the twentieth of
January, and he was rather appalled at all that the President needs
to know in order to reach decisions -- even domestic decisions."
modern presidency, Truman declared, carried power beyond parallel in
history, more power than that of Genghis Khan, Caesar, Napoleon or
No central intelligence organization existed when he became
President in 1945, Truman continued. "Whenever it was necessary for
the President to have information, he had to send to two or three
departments ... and then he would have to have somebody do a little
digging to get it.
"The affairs of the presidential office, so far as information was
concerned, were in such shape that it was necessary for me, when I
took over the office, to read a stack of documents that high
[gesturing], and it took me three months to get caught up."
President Roosevelt had been concerned about the same problem. In
1940 he sent William J. Donovan, then a New York attorney, on an
informal intelligence-gathering mission to England, the
Mediterranean and the Balkans. "Wild Bill" Donovan returned with the
information Roosevelt wanted -- and a recommendation that a central
intelligence organization be established.
Out of this emerged the Office of Coordinator of Information, with
General Donovan as its head. On June 13, 1942, this was split into
the Office of Strategic Services, under Donovan, and the Office of
War Information. The function of the OSS was to gather intelligence,
but it first became famous by dropping parachutists behind enemy
lines in France, Norway, Italy, Burma and Thailand, setting a
pattern of combining special operations with information-gathering
that is still followed by the CIA.
By 1944 Donovan had prepared for Roosevelt a plan to establish a
central intelligence agency. It was referred to the Joint Chiefs,
and pigeonholed. But after Truman became President (and dug his way
out from under the stack of papers he later complained about) he
sent for Admiral William D. Leahy and asked him to look into the
In the meantime Truman issued an order, on September 20, 1945,
disbanding the OSS. Some of the OSS agents went into Army
Intelligence. Others were transferred to the State Department. There
they formed the nucleus of what became the Bureau of Intelligence
and Research, an important branch of the Invisible Government.
Four months after the OSS closed up shop, Truman, on January 22,
1946, issued an executive order setting up a National Intelligence
Authority and, under it, a Central Intelligence Group, which became
the forerunner of the CIA. The Authority's members were Secretary of
State James F. Byrnes, Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson,
Secretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal and Admiral Leahy.
Central Intelligence Group was the Authority's operating arm. To
head it, Truman selected Rear Admiral Sidney W. Souers, the deputy
chief of Navy Intelligence. Souers had been a businessman in St.
Louis before the war; the nation's first Director of Central
Intelligence once headed the Piggly Wiggly Stores in Memphis.
Souers was anxious to get back to his business interests, and five
months later, in June, Truman named Air Force General Hoyt S.
Vandenberg to the post. He served until May 1, 1947, when Truman
appointed Rear Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter. An Annapolis
graduate who spoke three languages, Hillenkoetter had several years'
experience in Navy Intelligence. He had been wounded while aboard
the battleship West Virginia at Pearl Harbor. Later he set up an
intelligence network for Admiral Chester W. Nimitz in the Pacific.
When the CIA was created by the National Security Act of 1947,
Hillenkoetter became its first director. The CIA came into being
officially on September 18, 1947. The Act is the same as that which
established a Department of Defense and unified the armed services.
It also created the National Security Council
*1 and, under it, the
The duties of the CIA were set forth in five short paragraphs:
"(1) to advise the National Security Council in matters concerning
such intelligence activities of the government departments and
agencies as relate to national security;
"(2) to make recommendations to the National Security Council for
the coordination of such intelligence activities ...;
"(3) to correlate and evaluate intelligence relating to the national
security, and provide for the appropriate dissemination of such
intelligence within the government ... Provided that the Agency
shall have no police, subpoena, law-enforcement powers, or
internal-security functions ...;
"(4) to perform, for the benefit of the existing intelligence
agencies, such additional services of common concern as the National
Security Council determines can be more efficiently accomplished
"(5) to perform such other functions and duties related to
intelligence affecting the national security as the National
Security Council may from time to time direct."
On the face of it, the law appeared simply to give the CIA the task
of correlating, evaluating and coordinating the collection of
intelligence. How, then, could the CIA mount an invasion of 1,400
men at the Bay of Pigs, complete with its own air force and navy?
How could it topple foreign governments, as it has done and was
attempting to do at the Bay of Pigs?
The answer lies in the "other functions" which the CIA may perform
under the 1947 Act, at the discretion of the National Security
Almost from its inception, the agency has engaged in special
operations -- clandestine activities, sometimes on a military scale.
In 1948, after the Communist takeover in Czechoslovakia, James
Forrestal, as the first Secretary of Defense, became alarmed at
signs that the Communists might win the Italian elections. In an
effort to influence the elections to the advantage of the United
States, he started a campaign among his wealthy Wall Street
colleagues to raise enough money to run a private clandestine
operation. But Allen Dulles felt the problem could not be handled
effectively in private hands. He urged strongly that the government
establish a covert organization to conduct a variety of special
Because there was no specific provision for covert political
operations spelled out in the 1947 Act, the National Security
Council -- in the wake of the events in Czechoslovakia and Italy --
issued a paper in the summer of 1948 authorizing special operations.
There were two important guidelines: that the operations be secret
and that they be plausibly deniable by the government.
A decision was reached to create an organization within the CIA to
conduct secret political operations. Frank G. Wisner, an ex-OSS man,
was brought in from the State Department to head it, with a cover
title of his own invention. He became Assistant Director of the
Office of Policy Coordination.
Under this innocuous title, the United States was now fully in the
business of covert political operations. (A separate Office of
Special Operations conducted secret actions aimed solely at
gathering intelligence.) This machinery was in the CIA but the
agency shared control of it with the State Department and the
Pentagon. On January 4, 1951, the CIA merged the two offices and
created a new Plans Division, which has had sole control over secret
operations of all types since that date.
It is doubtful that many of the lawmakers who voted for the 1947 Act
could have envisioned the scale on which the CIA would engage in
operational activities all over the world.
President Truman later maintained that he had no idea that this was
going to happen. In a syndicated newspaper article, date-lined
December 21, 1963, he wrote:
"For some time I have been disturbed by the way 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." 
It was under President Truman, however, that the CIA began
conducting special operations.
Although the machinery was not established until 1948, one small
hint of what was to come was tucked away in a memorandum which Allen
Dulles submitted to Congress back in 1947. It said the CIA should
"have exclusive jurisdiction to carry out secret intelligence
Like the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, the "other functions"
proviso of the National Security Act has been stretched to encompass
activities by the CIA that are not even hinted at in the law. It is
not generally realized that the CIA conducts secret political
warfare under interpretations of that law. Nor is it widely
understood that under the law and subsequent presidential fiat, the
Director of the Central Intelligence Agency wears two hats. Not only
is he the head of the CIA, but more important, as Director of
Central Intelligence he is in charge of the entire intelligence
community, of which the CIA is only one, albeit the most powerful,
In 1949 the Central Intelligence Agency Act was passed, exempting
the CIA from all Federal laws that required the disclosure of the
"functions, names, official titles, salaries, or numbers of
personnel employed by the Agency." And it gave the Director of
Central Intelligence the staggering and unprecedented power to spend
money "without regard to the provisions of law and regulations
relating to the expenditure of government funds."
It granted him the unique right to spend
the hundreds of millions of dollars in his secret annual budget
simply by signing his name. The law allowed "such expenditures to be
accounted for solely on the certificate of the director." That and
that alone, the law said, "shall be deemed a sufficient voucher."
Senator Millard E. Tydings, the Maryland Democrat who was chief
sponsor of the 1949 Act, explained why he felt it was necessary:
"Men in this agency frequently lose their lives. Several have
already done so, and under not very pretty circumstances. If we
forced the agency to have a record of vouchers, foreign agents could
pick up information as to the identity of our agents and what they
were doing." 
By 1950 the broader outlines of the Invisible Government had begun
to take shape, with the CIA at its center. In that year the
Intelligence Advisory Committee was created as a board of directors
of the covert government. Later its name was changed to the present
United States Intelligence Board. Although the names of the men (and
of some of the agencies) represented on the board have changed, the
main components of the secret government have remained fairly
constant. Its overall size, of course, has increased vastly.
Code-breaking and cryptology were consolidated in 1952 in the new
National Security Agency, established by presidential directive as
part of the Defense Department. And, finally, the military
intelligence agencies were brought together under the newly created
Defense Intelligence Agency in 1961. But these were essentially
administrative reorganizations. What has really changed since 1947
is not the general amorphous shape of the Invisible Government, but
its size, technology, scope, power and importance- all of which have
increased in geometric progression with a minimum of Congressional
or public examination or understanding.
During the first three years of the CIA's life Admiral Hillenkoetter
remained its director. He was replaced at a critical moment in the
Korean War by General Walter Bedell Smith, Eisenhower's Chief of
Staff during World War II, a former Ambassador to Moscow and the
first four-star general in the U.S. Army who was never graduated
from West Point or any other military school.
The agency became more aggressive under "Beedle" Smith, who played
an important role in the Korean conflict and its intelligence
post-mortems. But from the start, the man who placed his personal
stamp upon the Invisible Government more than any other was Allen
Dulles was consulted when Congress created the CIA in 1947. The next
year Truman named him to head the three-man committee to see how
well the new agency was working.*3
Dulles submitted the report to Truman after his re-election. In 1950
General Smith summoned Dulles to Washington. He came, expecting, he
often said later, to stay six weeks. Instead, he remained eleven
years. On August 23, 1951, Dulles was appointed deputy director.
Soon after President Eisenhower was elected, he appointed Smith as
Under Secretary of State and on February 10, 1953, named Dulles as
Director of Central Intelligence. He took office sixteen days later.
Up to that point two admirals and two generals had held the job.
Dulles became the first truly civilian director of the CIA.
To the post he brought a brilliant reputation as the wartime OSS
chief in Switzerland. Perhaps even more important, his brother was
Secretary of State. The emergence of the Invisible Government in the
1950s to a position of unprecedented strength cannot be comprehended
unless a word is said about the Dulles brothers and their
relationship. Uniquely, they embodied the dualism -- and indeed the
moral dilemma -- of United States foreign policy since World War II.
John Foster Dulles and his younger brother were the sons of Allen
Macy Dulles, a Presbyterian clergyman in upstate Watertown, New
York. Allen Dulles was born there on April 7, 1893.
Some thought they detected traces of a clergyman's zeal in the
sternly moralistic public posture of Foster Dulles as he conducted
the nation's foreign policy during the Eisenhower years: the United
States would contain the advance of international Communism as it
sought to subvert the underdeveloped nations; but America would
scrupulously avoid any interference in the internal affairs of other
countries. The United States would not, in short, adopt the evil
tactics of subversion and secret manipulation practiced by the
In this, Foster Dulles reflected the American ethic; the world as we
would like it to be. While he took this public position, his brother
was free to deal with nastier realities, to overturn governments and
to engage in backstage political maneuvers all over the globe with
the CIA's almost unlimited funds. He was, as Allen Dulles once put
it, able to "fight fire with fire"  in a less than perfect world.
Because he was equally dedicated in his own secret sphere, it was
under Allen Dulles' stewardship that the CIA enjoyed its greatest
expansion, particularly in the field of government- shaking secret
In pursuing this dual foreign policy, these special operations were
largely kept secret from the American people. The exception, of
course, was when something went wrong, as at the Bay of Pigs.
This is not to say that the same two-sided foreign policy would
never have evolved had the director of the CIA and the Secretary of
State not been brothers. It very likely would have. But the natural
friction between the objectives and methods of the diplomats and the
"spooks," between the State Department and the CIA, was to an extent
reduced because of the close working relationship of the Dulles
brothers.*4 There was consequently less of a check and balance.
In a sense, one might say the Dulles brothers were predestined to
take over the levers of power in the conduct of U. S. foreign
affairs. Their mother's father, John Watson Foster, was Secretary of
State under Benjamin Harrison
*5 in 1892-3. Robert Lansing, an uncle
by marriage, was Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson. Another
uncle, John Welsh, was Minister to England under Rutherford B.
Hayes.*6 With such a heritage, it is not surprising that Foster and
Allen were weaned on a diet of heady discussions of the affairs of
Allen Dulles was educated at Auburn, New York, Paris and Princeton.
He taught English for a time in an agricultural school in Allahabad,
India; and in China and Japan as well. Then he joined the diplomatic
service in 1916, serving in Vienna and, during the war, in Berne,
chiefly as an intelligence officer. Three years later the two
brothers were together in Paris as staff members of the American
delegation to the Versailles Peace Conference. Their uncle,
Secretary of State Lansing, was a member of the delegation. The
following year Allen Dulles married Clover Todd, the daughter of a
Columbia University professor. (They had a son, Allen Macy, and two
daughters, Clover Todd and Joan.)
In 1926, after service in Berlin, Constantinople and Washington,
Allen Dulles left the world of diplomacy to begin a fifteen-year
period of law practice with his brother in the Wall Street firm of
Sullivan and Cromwell. As an international lawyer, he knew the
political and industrial elite of Europe, and of Germany. This
became useful during World War II when General Donovan assigned
Dulles as chief of the OSS mission in Switzerland. He had diplomatic
cover as an assistant to the minister in the American Legation. But
he operated as a master spy from a fifteenth-century house in Berne
overlooking the Aar River.
He has been credited with two outstanding feats for the OSS --
first, penetrating the German Abwehr, Hitler's intelligence service,
and second, negotiating the surrender of German troops in Italy.
After the war it was natural enough that Allen Dulles would soon
gravitate away from his law practice into the more exciting world of
espionage. While it is impossible to make any definite judgment
about the talents of a man who operated, for the most part, out of
view, the constant and bitter personal attacks upon him by the
Communist bloc provide one significant indication of his
effectiveness. He certainly bothered them.
The CIA director projected a deceptively grandfatherly image, with
his white hair, rimless glasses, his pipe and his sense of humor.
There was no official in Washington more charming. Beneath this
outward Mr. Chips demeanor was a man fascinated by the world of
intelligence, by secret operations and by espionage and of its
ramifications. Although he seemed to fumble a good deal with his
pipe and his tobacco, Mr. Dulles perhaps quietly enjoyed the
incongruousness of his appearance and his vocation. He was not
without a sense of the dramatic.
Dulles was occasionally accused of being too much of a public figure
for the head of a secret service. And in 1955 a Hoover Commission
task force criticized him for having,
"taken upon himself too many
burdensome duties and responsibilities on the operational side of
"Allen," commented one CIA associate, "couldn't administer himself."
But if the CIA was run in a tweedy, relaxed, pipe-and-slipper manner
under Dulles, it was also true that morale was high, and he was well
liked within the agency as well as outside of it.
Except for his closest friends, few people knew of the great
personal tragedy in Dulles' life. His son, wounded in Korea,
suffered brain damage that left him with very little recognition of
people or events, and it was finally necessary to place him in an
institution in Germany on Lake Constance, just over the Swiss
For most of the nine years that Dulles headed the intelligence
community, he worked with the same three assistants at the CIA:
Charles Pearre Cabell, a gray-haired but youthful-looking four-star
Air Force general and West Point graduate, was his deputy director.
A Texan from Dallas (where his brother Earle was the mayor), he was
the former head of Air Force Intelligence. He came to the CIA in
Richard Bissell, the deputy director for plans, who joined the CIA
Robert Amory, the brother of the writer Cleveland Amory, and a
former Harvard Law School professor. A tall, dark-haired man, he had
intelligence and combat experience in World War II. He became the
CIA's deputy director for intelligence in 1953.
This was the group which led the CIA during its period of greatest
expansion in the 1950s. But even before this, it was evident that
the agency was involved in a wide range of activities in many parts
of the world.
Only six months after the CIA had come into existence, it found
itself under fire for what would become a familiar complaint over
the years -- alleged failure to predict a major international
upheaval. In this case, it was the assassination of Jorge Eliecer
Gaitan, the popular Liberal Colombian leader, on April 9 on a street
in Bogota. The shooting touched off the "Bogotazo," two days of
bloody riots that disrupted the Ninth Inter-American Conference and
greatly embarrassed Secretary of State George C. Marshall, who
headed the American delegation. Marshall blamed the riots on
The post-mortem had its strange aspects. In the first place,
expecting the CIA to forecast an assassination, is, in most
instances, to endow it with supernatural powers. There are limits to
what intelligence can predict. In the second place, Admiral
Hillenkoetter, hauled before a House Executive Expenditures
Subcommittee on April 15, read the text of secret CIA dispatches
into the open record for the first and only time in history. This
action, which raised hackles at the time, would, if done today,
The admiral maintained that although the Communists seized on
Gaitan's assassination, the Colombian leader was slain in "a purely
private act of revenge" by one Jose Sierra. The CIA chief said
Gaitan, as an attorney, had just successfully defended in a murder
trial the killer of Sierra's uncle.
Hillenkoetter testified that, furthermore, the CIA had predicted
trouble at Bogota as far back as January 2. Then he dropped a
bombshell. He charged that a March 23 CIA dispatch from Bogota,
warning of Communist agitation, was withheld from Secretary Marshall
by Orion J. Libert, a State Department advance man in Bogota, acting
with the support of Ambassador Willard L. Beaulac.
The CIA dispatch, dated March 23, said:
Have confirmed information that Communist-inspired agitators will
attempt to humiliate the Secretary of State and other members of the
United States delegation to the Pan-American conference upon arrival
in Bogota by manifestations and possible personal molestation.
Have passed this information on to the Ambassador and other
interested embassy personnel with the request that full details on
the arrival of delegation be submitted to this office for
transmission to local police, who are anxious to give maximum
possible protection ...
Advanced delegate O. J. Libert, who has been apprised of above, does
not consider it advisable to notify the State Department of this
situation, since he feels adequate protection will be given by
police and does not want to alarm the delegates unduly. 
Hillenkoetter then placed a whole sheaf of top-secret dispatches
into the record, telling in some detail of Communist plans to
disrupt the conference. Possibly Hillenkoetter was egged on by the
fact that a few hours before he testified, Truman had told a news
conference that he was as surprised as anyone about the riots in
Bogota. He had, said Truman, received no advance warning. The
government had received information that there might be picketing or
demonstrations. But, he added a trifle plaintively, there had been
no indication that anyone was going to get shot.
At the State Department, Lincoln White said it was "inconceivable"
that the department had suppressed any CIA communications. Besides,
he said, Secretary Marshall had known all about the Communist plans
and had brushed them aside with what White diplomatically called
"salty remarks." That about ended this painful episode. It did not,
however, end the recurring question of the adequacy of the CIA's
To an extent, the CIA's role in the Korean War became clouded and
fuzzed because it was caught up in the emotional storm touched off
when Truman finally decided to fire General Douglas MacArthur. What
the CIA had or had not predicted, and its freedom or lack of freedom
to operate within MacArthur's command, became a subject of dispute
between the imperious general and the angry chief executive. Yet the
main outline of the CIA's performance and the precise issues in
dispute are not difficult to pinpoint from the record.
Harry Truman was sitting in the library of his home in Independence,
Missouri, on Saturday, June 24, 1950, when the telephone rang a bit
after 10:00 P.M. It was Secretary of State Dean Acheson, calling to
say that the North Koreans had invaded South Korea.
Truman hastened back to the capital the next day. On Monday he
summoned to the White House the man he assumed should have had the
most advance knowledge about what had happened -- Admiral
It was something like Bogota all over again, although of course much
more serious. The intelligence agency again had to defend itself for
not precisely predicting a future event. And once again the CIA had
become a subject of domestic political controversy.
After the meeting with Truman, Hillenkoetter told reporters at the
White House that his agency had predicted the possibility of such an
attack for a year. "The capabilities were there for a year, anyway,"
he said. He then hurried to Capitol Hill to give the same
explanation to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Before
testifying, he talked to newsmen about the Communist build-up along
the 38th parallel.
"The condition existed for a long time," he said. "It has been
expected for a year." Had the attack been anticipated over the
weekend? "You can't predict the timing," the admiral replied.
Then the CIA chief appeared in secret before the Senate committee.
One of the members said afterward that Hillenkoetter had read a
series of reports on troop and tank concentrations in North Korea.
The CIA reports covered a period of a year. The last one was dated
June 20, four days before the attack.
"If I had received those
reports," said the senator, who asked that his name not be used, "I
certainly would have been alerted to the danger." 
Five years later Truman, in his memoirs, supported in part the
position Hillenkoetter had taken. He wrote:
"The intelligence reports from Korea in the spring of 1950 indicated
that the North Koreans were steadily continuing their build-up of
forces and that they were continuing to send guerrilla groups into
"There were continuing incidents along the 38th parallel, where
armed units faced each other.
"Throughout the spring the Central Intelligence reports said that
the North Koreans might at any time decide to change from isolated
raids to a full-scale attack. The North Koreans were capable of such
an attack at any time, according to the intelligence, but there was
no information to give any clue as to whether an attack was certain
or when it was likely to come." 
As the UN forces regained the initiative in Korea, the next major
question faced by the CIA (and MacArthur) was whether Communist
China would intervene if UN troops pushed north to the Yalu River.
The question became crucial just about the time Truman replaced
Hillenkoetter with Walter Bedell Smith.
In his memoirs, Truman, again, has shed some light on this:
"On October 20
*8 the CIA delivered a memorandum to me which said
that they had reports that the Chinese Communists would move in far
enough to safeguard the Suiho electric plant and other installations
along the Yalu River which provided them with power." 
Truman's account was backed up by Allen Dulles eight years later:
can speak with detachment about the 1950 Yalu estimates, for they
were made just before I joined the CIA. The conclusions of the
estimators were that it was a toss-up, but they leaned to the side
that under certain circumstances the Chinese probably would not
intervene. In fact, we just did not know what the Chinese Communists
would do, and we did not know how far the Soviet Union would press
them or agree to support them if they moved." 
It seems reasonably clear, therefore, that the CIA did not,
initially, predict the massive Chinese intervention that occurred.
However, some two weeks later, in November, according to Truman, the
CIA did warn that Communist China had 200,000 troops in Manchuria
and that their entry into Korea might push the UN forces back.
Truman also wrote that MacArthur had launched his ill-fated
home-by-Christmas offensive on November 24 despite the CIA summary
made available to the general that very day. The summary, Truman
went on to say, had warned that the Chinese were strong enough to
force the UN armies back into defensive positions.
Truman, who had been gingerly dealing with MacArthur almost as with
another chief of state, at last fired the general on April 9, 1951.
Testifying at the Senate inquiry into his dismissal, MacArthur cast
new confusion over the CIA's role by saying that "in November" the
CIA said "there was little chance of any major intervention on the
part of the Chinese forces." If the CIA ever made any such
optimistic report in November, replied Truman, it was news to him.
Bogota and Korea raised, but did not answer, the fundamental
question of how much should be expected of the CIA in its
forecasting role. They also set a pattern that has since become
familiar -- when trouble came, the overt, political officers of the
visible government almost invariably would say they had no advance
warning. The CIA in turn would say it had provided adequate warning.
The public would be left to take its choice, provided it could weave
its way through the maze of self-serving semantics from both sides.
1952: Air-Drops Over Red China
During the Korean War, another war was waged in secret against
Communist China. On November 23, 1954, a broadcast from Peking
announced the capture and sentencing of two Americans, John Thomas
Downey and Richard George Fecteau.
At Yale, John Thomas Downey was liked and respected for his
strength, moral and physical. He was a quiet, clean-living, athletic
lad, an honor student as well as a varsity football player and the
captain of the wrestling team. He spent a good deal of time at home,
in nearby New Britain, Connecticut, where his mother taught school.
He was the type of young man the CIA was looking for.
Richard George Fecteau, of Lynn, Massachusetts, had less of an
academic background. He was three years older than Downey. He once
enrolled at Boston University with the idea of becoming a football
coach, but he decided there was little future or money in it.
Instead, he went to work for the government. So did Downey, who was
recruited off the Yale campus in 1951, at age twenty- one. Both men
later turned up in Japan. That did not seem unusual; with the Korean
War on, thousands of young men were being shipped to the Far East.
On November 9, 1952, Jack Downey and Richard Fecteau were captured
by the Communist Chinese. This was not revealed by Peking, however,
until the announcement more than two years later. The broadcast on
that day said that Downey, "alias Jack Donovan," and Fecteau, were
"special agents of the Central Intelligence Agency, a United States
espionage organization." They were charged with having helped to
organize and train two teams of Chinese agents.
The men, Peking
said, had been air-dropped into Kirin and Liaoning Provinces for
"subversive activities," and both Downey and Fecteau were captured
when their plane was downed as they attempted to drop supplies and
contact agents inside Communist China. It was also claimed that nine
Chinese working for the CIA men were taken prisoner with them.
Downey was sentenced to life. Fecteau got twenty years.
That same day, Peking announced it had sentenced eleven American
airmen as "spies," charging that the plane carrying these men was
shot down January 12, 1953, over Liaoning Province, while on a
mission which had as its purpose the "air-drop of special agents
into China and the Soviet Union."
Communist China claimed that, all told, it had killed 106 American
and Chinese agents parachuted into China between 1951 and 1954 and
had captured 124 others. They also said these agents were trained in
"secret codes, invisible writing, secret messages, telephone
tapping, forging documents, psychological warfare, guerrilla tactics
The State Department immediately branded the charges against Downey,
Fecteau and the eleven airmen "trumped up." The Defense Department
called the accusations against all thirteen men "utterly false."
The American consul general at Geneva was instructed by the State
Department to make the "strongest possible protest" to Peking.*9 The
charges against the "two civilians," Downey and Fecteau, were "a
most flagrant violation of justice," the State Department said.
"These men, John Thomas Downey and Richard George Fecteau, were
civilian personnel employed by the Department of the Army in Japan.
They were believed to have been lost in a flight from Korea to Japan
in November, 1952.
"How they came into the hands of the Chinese Communists is unknown
to the United States ... the continued wrongful detention of these
American citizens furnishes further proof of the Chinese Communist
regime's disregard for accepted practices of international conduct."
The Pentagon was equally indignant. "Messrs. Downey and Fecteau,"
the Defense Department declared, "were Department of the Army
civilian employees. They were authorized passengers on a routine
flight from Seoul to Japan in a plane which was under military
contract to the Far East Air Force. A search instituted at the time
failed to produce any trace of the plane, and Messrs. Downey and
Fecteau were presumed to have been lost. It is now apparent that
they were captured ..."
In September, 1957, a group of forty-one young Americans on an
unauthorized trip to Red China visited Downey and Fecteau in prison.
Afterward they reported that during the interview, Fecteau was asked
whether he worked "for the Central Intelligence Agency."
"Yes," Fecteau replied, according to a Reuters account of the report
issued by the visiting Americans. The same Reuters dispatch reported
that Downey, suntanned and crew-cut, said he had received 680
letters in prison, including some from "lonely hearts." He said he
spent a lot of time reading books.
The following month Charles Edmundson, a former USIA official in
Korea, who left the government in a dispute over foreign policy,
wrote an article for the Nation, in which he indicated that Downey
and Fecteau were CIA operatives.
At this writing, both men are still in a Chinese prison. The
government has never acknowledged them to be CIA agents. As far as
Washington is concerned, they are still officially listed as
"civilian personnel employed by the Department of the Army."
1950-1954: Formosa and Western Enterprises, Inc.
During these years the CIA operated on Formosa as Western
Enterprises, Inc. This cover was so thin it became a source of some
merriment on the island. The experience of one State Department
employee who arrived on Formosa in 1953 is typical.
A fellow employee was showing her the sights as they drove in from
the airport. Pointing to one building, her guide said:
"What's that?" she asked innocently.
"Oh, you'll find out," her friend replied.
A few days later, at a party with Chinese government officials, she
asked one of them:
"By the way, what is Western Enterprises?"
"Oh, that," said the Chinese, with a inscrutable oriental smile, "is
State Department employees on Formosa did not get along very well
with their counterparts in Western Enterprises, Inc. For one thing,
the State Department workers felt that the CIA people were being
paid far too well and had special privileges.
One of the CIA operatives who turned up on Formosa in 1953 was
Campbell "Zup" James, a Yale graduate who affected an English
accent, mustache and fancy walking stick. To anyone who asked, he
told the outrageously phony story that he was a wealthy Englishman
managing a family tea plantation on Formosa.
By continuing to
maintain this pose, even though almost everyone knew he worked for
the CIA, James became a legend throughout Southeast Asia. He turned
up later in Laos, still masquerading as a pukka Englishman straight
out of the pages of Kipling. He was spotted in Bangkok as recently
as the summer of 1963, mustache, cane and Mayfair accent intact.
Despite his unlikely cover, some observers said he was an effective
By 1954 the CIA's cover on Formosa was so threadbare that the agency
changed its name to "Department of the Navy."
There is reason to believe that at least in the past, the CIA
trained, equipped and financed Chinese Nationalist commando raids on
the mainland, launched from the offshore islands of Quemoy and Matsu.
Early in 1963 a spate of interesting stories appeared from Formosa
about renewed Nationalist guerrilla raids on the mainland. The
Chiang Kai-shek government announced that the frogmen and commando
teams were most active in Kwangtung Province, near Formosa. The
chief of the Nationalist Intelligence Bureau estimated that 873
guerrilla agents had infiltrated into the mainland between March and
December of 1962.
But guerrilla raids are small actions compared to an operation that
changes a government. There is no doubt at all that the CIA
organized and directed the 1953 coup that overthrew Premier Mohammed
Mossadegh and kept Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi on his throne. But few
Americans know that the coup that toppled the government of Iran was
led by a CIA agent who was the grandson of President Theodore
Kermit "Kim" Roosevelt, also a seventh cousin of President Franklin
D. Roosevelt, is still known as "Mr. Iran" around the CIA for his
spectacular operation in Teheran more than a decade ago. He later
left the CIA and joined the Gulf Oil Corporation as "government
relations" director in its Washington office. Gulf named him a
vice-president in 1960.
One legend that grew up inside the CIA had it that Roosevelt, in the
grand Rough Rider tradition, led the revolt against the weeping
Mossadegh with a gun at the head of an Iranian tank commander as the
column rolled into Teheran.
A CIA man familiar with the Iran story characterized this as "a bit
romantic" but said: "Kim did run the operation from a basement in
Teheran -- not from our embassy." He added admiringly: "It was a
real James Bond operation."
General Fazollah Zahedi,*10 the man the CIA chose to replace Mossadegh, was also a character worthy of spy fiction. A
six-foot-two, handsome ladies' man, he fought the Bolsheviks, was
captured by the Kurds, and, in 1942, was kidnapped by the British,
who suspected him of Nazi intrigues. During World War II the British
and the Russians jointly occupied Iran. British agents, after
snatching Zahedi, claimed they found the following items in his
bedroom: a collection of German automatic weapons, silk underwear,
some opium, letters, from German parachutists operating in the
hills; and an illustrated register of Teheran's most exquisite
After the war Zahedi rapidly moved back into public life. He was
Minister of Interior when Mossadegh became Premier in 1951.
Mossadegh nationalized the British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company
in April and seized the huge Abadan refinery on the Persian Gulf.
The refinery was shut down; thousands of workers were idled and Iran
faced a financial crisis. The British, with the backing of Western
governments, boycotted Iran's oil and the local workers were unable
to run the refineries at capacity without British technicians.
Mossadegh connived with the Tudeh, Iran's Communist party, and
London and Washington feared that the Russians would end up with
Iran's vast oil reserves flowing into the Soviet Union, which shares
a common border with Iran. Mossadegh, running the crisis from his
bed -- he claimed he was a very sick man -- had broken with Zahedi,
who balked at tolerating the Tudeh party.
It was against this background that the CIA and Kim Roosevelt moved
in to oust Mossadegh and install Zahedi. At the time of the coup
Roosevelt, then thirty-seven, was already a veteran intelligence
man. He was born in Buenos Aires. His father, the President's second
son, was also named Kermit. Kim was graduated from Harvard just
before World War II, and he taught history there and later at the
California Institute of Technology. He had married while still at
Harvard. He left the academic life to serve in the OSS, then joined
the CIA after the war as a Middle East specialist. His father had
died in Alaska during the war; his uncle, Brigadier General Theodore
Roosevelt, died on the beaches of Normandy a year later.
The British and American governments had together decided to mount
an operation to overthrow Mossadegh. The CIA's estimate was that it
would succeed because the conditions were right; in a showdown the
people of Iran would be loyal to the Shah. The task of running the
operation went to Kim Roosevelt, then the CIA's top operator in the
Roosevelt entered Iran legally. He drove across the border, reached
Teheran, and then dropped out of sight. He had to, since he had been
in Iran before and his face was known. Shifting his headquarters
several times to keep one step ahead of Mossadegh's agents,
Roosevelt operated outside of the protection of the American
Embassy. He did have the help of about five Americans, including
some of the CIA men stationed in the embassy.
In addition, there were seven local agents, including two top
Iranian intelligence operatives. These two men communicated with
Roosevelt through cutouts -- intermediaries -- and he never saw them
during the entire operation.
As the plan for revolt was hatched, Brigadier General H. Norman
Schwarzkopf, who used to appear on radio's "Gang Busters," turned up
in Teheran. He had reorganized the Shah's police force there in the
1940s. He was best known for his investigation of the Lindbergh baby
kidnapping case when he headed the New Jersey State Police in 1932.
Schwarzkopf, an old friend of Zahedi's, claimed he was in town "just
to see old friends again." But he was part of the operation.
On August 13 the Shah signed a decree dismissing Mossadegh and
naming Zahedi as Premier. The uncooperative Mossadegh arrested the
unfortunate colonel who brought in his notice of dismissal. Mobs
rioted in the streets; the thirty-three-year-old Shah and his queen
(at that time the beautiful Soraya) fled to Baghdad by plane from
their palace on the Caspian Sea.
For two chaotic days, Roosevelt lost communication with his two
chief Iranian agents. Meanwhile, the Shah had made his way to Rome;
Allen Dulles flew there to confer with him. Princess Ashraf, the
Shah's attractive twin sister, tried to play a part in the
international intrigue, but the Shah refused to talk to her.
In Teheran, Communist mobs controlled the streets; they destroyed
statues of the Shah to celebrate his departure. Suddenly, the
opposition to Mossadegh consolidated. The Army began rounding up
demonstrators. Early on August 19 Roosevelt, from his hiding place,
gave orders to his Iranian agents to get everyone they could find
into the streets.
The agents went into the athletic clubs of Teheran and rounded up a
strange assortment of weight- lifters, muscle-men and gymnasts. The
odd procession made its way through the bazaars shouting pro-Shah
slogans. The crowd grew rapidly in size. By mid-morning it was clear
the tide had turned against Mossadegh and nothing could stop it.
Zahedi came out of hiding and took over. The Shah returned from
exile. Mossadegh went to jail and the leaders of the Tudeh were
In the aftermath, the British lost their monopoly on Iran's oil. In
August, 1958, an international consortium of Western oil companies
signed a twenty-five-year pact with Iran for its oil. Under it, the
former Anglo-Iranian Oil Company got 40 percent, a group of American
*11 got 40 percent, Royal Dutch Shell got 14 percent, and
the Compagnie Francaise des Petroles 6 percent. Iran got half of the
multimillion-dollar income from the oil fields under the deal, and
Anglo-Iranian was assured a compensation payment of $70,000,000.
The United States, of course, has never officially admitted the
CIA's role. The closest Dulles came to doing so was in a CBS
television show in 1962, after his retirement from the CIA. He was
asked whether it was true that,
"the CIA people spent literally
millions of dollars hiring people to riot in the streets and do
other things, to get rid of Mossadegh. Is there anything you can say
"Well," Dulles replied, "I can say that the statement that we spent
many dollars doing that is utterly false."
The former CIA chief also hinted at the CIA's Iran role in his book
The Craft of Intelligence.
" ... support from the outside was given
... to the Shah's supporters,"  he wrote, without directly
saying it came from the CIA.
Although Iran remained pro-West after the 1953 coup, little was done
to alleviate the terrible poverty in that ancient land. Somehow, the
oil wealth of Iran never trickled down to the people. A total of
$1,300,000,000 in United States aid poured in during twelve years
since 1951, but much of it appeared to stick to the fingers of the
hopelessly corrupt officialdom. In 1957 a report of the House
Committee on Government Operations said that American aid to Iran
was so badly handled that "it is now impossible -- with any accuracy
-- to tell what became of these funds."
A typical Iranian scandal involved a close friend of Princess
Ashraf, Ehsan Davaloo, the "Caviar Queen," who earned the sobriquet
by paying officials to get a $450,000-a-year caviar monopoly.
With this stark contrast -- caviar and utter poverty side by side --
Iran remained a ripe breeding ground for Communism. With the help of
a President's swashbuckling grandson, the Invisible Government had
brought about a political coup d'etat. It had bought time. But the
United States seemed unable to follow this up with badly needed
social and economic reforms.
1955: Mr. X Goes to Cairo
Two years after his operation in Iran, Kim Roosevelt turned up
across the Red Sea in a mysterious episode in a new setting.
On September 27, 1955, Egyptian Premier Gamal Abdel Nasser announced
to the world that he had concluded an arms deal with the Soviet
bloc. Washington had been unwilling to sell weapons to Egypt on
Nasser's terms, and the Arab leader turned to the East.
The news threw Washington into a turmoil, although the deal had been
predicted beforehand by the CIA. It was one case, however, where
John Foster Dulles had not been inclined to take too seriously the
reports coming from his brother.
The State Department and the CIA had agreed to send Roosevelt to
Cairo for a first-hand look. Roosevelt, by now the assistant
director of the CIA for the Middle East, did so, and reported back
that the negotiations were about to be completed. Foster Dulles sent
him a long telegram reiterating his skepticism. Roosevelt fired back
a pointed message advising the Secretary of State to read his
morning papers, which would carry Nasser's announcement.
Roosevelt was right. On September 28, the day after Nasser's defiant
disclosure, George V. Allen, Assistant Secretary of State for Near
Eastern Affairs, was summoned to the office of Herbert Hoover, Jr.,
Under Secretary of State. Hoover was Acting Secretary that day
because Dulles was in New York. In George Allen's presence, Hoover
telephoned the Secretary of State; it was agreed that George Allen
should be sent to see Nasser right away.
It was now 2:00 P.M. By five o'clock Allen was leaving New York on a
Paris-bound plane. His hasty departure was announced by the State
Department only three minutes before he took off from New York.
Secretary Dulles, who returned to Washington the same day, termed
George Allen's trip "only a more or less routine visit." It was far
from that. With him, George Allen carried a letter from Secretary
Dulles, warning that the arms deal could hand Egypt over to the
Communists. Dulles had signed the quickly drafted letter in New York
just before Allen departed. While Allen was winging his way to the
land of the Sphinx the United States wire services sent out
dispatches speculating that he took with him an "ultimatum" to
At this point, the CIA's "Mr. Iran" became the central figure in
some shadowy backstage maneuvering in the Egyptian capital. British
newspaper accounts of the episode later referred to a "Mr. X", a
mysterious American official. In reality, he was Kim Roosevelt.
One version of the affair that became widely accepted was given by
Nasser himself in a blood-and- thunder speech at Alexandria on July
26, 1956, the same day he seized the Suez Canal.
"After the arms deal was announced," Nasser told a crowd already
worked up by his oratory, "Washington sent a representative to
Egypt, Mr. George Allen ...
"An American official contacted me and sought a special interview.
He said that ... Allen has a strong note from the U.S. Government
which might prejudice Egyptian nationality and prestige. I assure
you that this note will have no effect because we shall be able to
remove its effect. I advise you to accept this message.
"I asked him: 'What is the insult to Egyptian nationality and
prestige about?' He said: 'This is a message from Mr. Dulles and is
strongly worded. We are astonished how it was sent. We ask you to
have cool nerves. You always had cool nerves. Accept this message
with cool nerves ...'
"He said that no practical outcome would emanate from this message
and guaranteed this. I told him: 'Look ... if your representative
comes to my offices and says something unpleasant, I shall throw him
"This happened at the beginning of October. Then he came again and
told me that he had told this to Mr. Allen and that Mr. Allen was
wondering whether he would be thrown out when he came to convey his
message to me, and also whether Mr. Dulles would throw him out if he
went back without conveying this message." [Applause]
George Allen did see Nasser, and he was
not thrown out. But the disturbing story circulated in Washington
that a certain "Mr. X," a high CIA official, had undercut the
official foreign policy of the United States by getting in ahead of
George Allen and telling Nasser to forget whatever the special envoy
What had happened, as best it can be pieced together, was this:
When Allen's plane landed in Cairo, he was unaware of the storm
kicked up there by reports that he was bringing an ultimatum from
the Eisenhower Administration. A mob of Western and Egyptian newsmen
were waiting at the airport. Ambassador Henry A. Byroade sprinted
aboard the plane to warn George Allen of the situation.
Forearmed, the Assistant Secretary of State was cautiously
noncommittal to newsmen who surrounded him when he stepped off the
plane. In the crowd, Allen spotted Kim Roosevelt. He nodded to the
CIA man, but they kept their distance from each other in public.
Before Allen's arrival, Byroade and Roosevelt had agreed that it
would be an intolerable loss of face if the envoy were refused an
interview with Nasser. So, in the seclusion of the embassy,
Roosevelt, Byroade and Eric H. Johnston, who was there negotiating a
water agreement, sat down with Allen and went over the letter from
Secretary Dulles. They told Allen it was so patronizing that Nasser
would take it as an insult and throw him out of the office. They
urged that at the very least, he read the letter instead of handing
it to Nasser formally.
As result of this, George Allen sent a cable to Secretary Dulles
recommending that he deliver the tough message orally. That way,
Nasser would not have a letter to make public afterward. Dulles
cabled back, telling Allen to use his best judgment.
Meanwhile Kim Roosevelt, who knew Nasser well, had gone to see him.
Roosevelt's defenders insist he did so to ease the way for Allen.
They maintain that he joshed Nasser, told him to act like a grown
man and not blow up, and asked him to listen politely when George
Allen read his letter. Roosevelt did not, they say, ask Nasser to
disregard Allen's message, as Nasser indicated later.
At his own meeting with Nasser on October 1, Allen was accompanied
by Byroade. Allen told Nasser that the United States recognized
Egypt's right to buy arms where it wanted, but pointed out that the
United States had refused to sell jets to Israel and was anxious not
to escalate the arms race in the Middle East.
"You wouldn't sell me arms," said Nasser. "I had to buy where I
Nasser was vague when Allen pressed to find out whether the arms
deal was a prelude to something bigger. Finally, Allen pulled out
the letter and formally read its text to Nasser. There was no
translation, since the Egyptian Premier's English was entirely
adequate. However, Allen did not leave the letter with Nasser.
What is clear, at any rate, is that the assistant director of the
CIA saw Nasser ahead of the Assistant Secretary of State.
Eisenhower could not have known of this at the time, because he was
under an oxygen tent in Denver, having suffered his heart attack
there on September 25. On October 4 Secretary Dulles told a news
conference that as a result of the talks between Allen and Nasser
there had been achieved a "better understanding."
If by this the Secretary of State meant that through the
intervention of "Mr. X," the Assistant Secretary of State for Near
Eastern Affairs had not been thrown out of the office of the Premier
of Egypt, he was correct.
With Soviet arms flowing into Egypt, relations between Nasser and
Washington deteriorated rapidly. On July 19, 1956, Secretary of
State Dulles pulled the rug out from under the fiery Arab leader.
The United States withdrew its offer to help Egypt harness the Nile
by constructing a high dam at Aswan (a task which the Russians
happily moved in to perform).
Nasser, driven into a rage, seized the Suez Canal a week later.
Israel invaded Egypt on October 29 and Britain and France joined in
with a Halloween Day attack. The United States condemned the
invasion, Moscow threatened to rain missiles on London and Paris,
and the assault was called off. All of this happened in the midst of
the Hungarian revolt and the windup of the presidential campaign in
the United States.
When the sands had settled in the Middle East, Allen Dulles was in a
difficult position; the question, once again, was whether the CIA
had failed to predict an event -- in this case, the Suez invasion.
Foster Dulles undercut the CIA's position by telling a Senate
committee: "We had no advance information of any kind." 
Seven years later Allen Dulles offered an explanation of this. There
were many times, said Allen Dulles, when intelligence had guessed
correctly, but could not advertise the fact. He added:
"This was true of the Suez invasion of 1956. Here intelligence was
well alerted as to both the possibility and later the probability of
the actions taken by Israel and then by Britain and France. The
public received the impression that there had been an intelligence
failure; statements were issued by U.S. officials to the effect that
the country had not been given advance warning of the action. Our
officials, of course, intended to imply only that the British and
French and Israelis had failed to tell us what they were doing. In
fact, United States intelligence had kept the government informed
without, as usual, advertising its achievement." 
The difficulty with this explanation is that it is not what Foster
Dulles told the Senate.
On February 1, 1957, Secretary Dulles was being questioned by
Senator Mansfield before a joint meeting of the Senate Foreign
Relations and Armed Services committees. He was asked whether
Washington had knowledge of the Israeli attack on Egypt or of the
British and French participation. "We had no advance information of
any kind," he said. "... The British-French participation also came
as a complete surprise to us."
It is true that this testimony, if taken alone, could be interpreted
to mean simply that there had been no advance warning to Washington
by the invaders. But two weeks earlier, on January 15, testifying
before the same Senate committees, Secretary Dulles was more
specific under questioning by Senator Henry M. Jackson, of
Washington, who asked whether "the people within the executive
branch of the government" knew of the impending Israeli attack on
"No," Dulles replied, "we had no such knowledge."
"At the appropriate time, Mr. Chairman," said Jackson, "I would like
to go into that question when we get into executive session. I will
not pursue it any further here now ... the reason I am not pursuing
further questioning along this line is obvious."
What was obvious, of course, was that Jackson was referring to the
CIA. (Later questions and answers about whether the CIA had advance
knowledge were so heavily censored in the published transcript of
the executive session as to be meaningless.)
The questioning took place against a background of continuing
domestic and international controversy over Suez. In England, France
and the United States, there had been suggestions that the
Eisenhower Administration had known in advance of the invasion
plans, and had been hypocritical in its outraged reaction and
intervention. Democrats felt the pre-election crisis had helped
defeat Adlai Stevenson and re-elect Eisenhower. Jackson's questions
seemed designed to explore whether the CIA had known all along that
the invasion was coming. If this had been the case, Secretary Dulles
could ill afford, for political reasons, to say so.
But Jackson's question and the Secretary of State's answer are on
the record. Dulles was clearly saying that "the executive branch of
the government" -- which of course includes the CIA -- had "no
knowledge" in advance of the Israeli attack which began the Suez
The truth is always elusive; the truth about a secret agency doubly
so. Future historians of the Cold War will have an unenviable task.
1956: Costa Rica
The Invisible Government's activities have not been restricted to
chaotic countries, dominated or threatened by Communism. In the
mid-1950s CIA agents intruded deeply into the political affairs of
Costa Rica, the most stable and democratic republic in Latin
America. Knowledgeable Costa Ricans were aware of the CIA's role.
The CIA's purpose was to promote the ouster of Jose (Pepe) Figueres,
the moderate socialist who became President in a fair and open
election in 1953.
In March of 1954, in the course of a Senate speech, Senator
Mansfield cited a newspaper report  to the effect that "a CIA
man was caught red-handed" in the "tapping of the telephone of Jose
Figueres ... I do not need to point out the tremendous impact which
this sort of activity could have in our foreign policy," he said, in
calling for tighter Congressional control over the CIA. His warning
had no noticeable effect on the CIA's anti-Figueres activities,
Figueres had risen to national prominence as the leader of a
guerrilla movement organized to install Otilio Ulate as President in
1948. Ulate had won the election, but a right-wing government (with
Communist support) and a packed legislature had refused to recognize
him. In April of 1948, however, Figueres forced them to back down
and the following year Ulate was installed.
Figueres' success vaulted him into the presidency in 1953. But Ulate
organized an opposition movement against his former political ally.
Local CIA agents joined in the efforts to unseat Figueres. Their
major grievance was that Figueres had scrupulously recognized the
right of asylum in Costa Rica -- for non-Communists and Communists
alike. The large influx of questionable characters complicated the
agency's job of surveillance and forced it to increase its staff.
The CIA's strategy was twofold: to stir up embarrassing trouble
within the Communist Party in Costa Rica, and to attempt to link
*13 with the Communists. An effort to produce evidence that Figueres had been in contact with leading Communists during a trip
to Mexico was unsuccessful. But CIA agents had better luck with the
first part of their strategy -- stirring up trouble for the
Communists. They succeeded in planting a letter in a Communist
newspaper. The letter, purportedly from a leading Costa Rican
Communist, put him on record in opposition to the Party line on the
Unaware that the letter was a CIA plant, the leading officials in
the American Embassy held an urgent meeting to ponder its meaning.
The political officer then dispatched a long classified report to
Washington, alerting top policy makers to the possibility of a
startling turn in Latin American Communist politics.
No one bothered to tell the embassy or the State Department that the
newspaper article was written by the CIA.
1956: The Khrushchev Speech
The CIA's manufacture of bogus Communist material has not always led
to a happy result. But the agency has had one noteworthy success in
obtaining a real Communist document.
When Khrushchev delivered his historic secret speech attacking
Stalin's crimes at the 20th Communist Party Congress in Moscow in
February, 1956, Allen Dulles ordered a vast and intensive hunt for
the text. He assumed there had to be one, because Khrushchev had
spoken for seven hours.
The word went out inside the CIA: whoever could deliver the document
would be amply recognized by Dulles as an intelligence ace. At
whatever price, the CIA was determined to obtain the secret speech.
First, analysts determined what individuals and what Communist
nations might have been given a copy -- in other words, where to go
looking for it. Then agents fanned out all over the Communist world
to find it.
One top CIA operator turned up in Belgrade with an intriguing scheme
-- he would make a direct pitch to the Yugoslav Government to
bootleg him a copy. Tito and Stalin, after all, had split in 1948.
With the permission of Ambassador James W. Riddleberger, the CIA man
called on a certain high Yugoslav official.
For nearly two hours he argued his case, listing the reasons why
Washington deserved a copy of the top-secret document. The sales
talk must have been convincing, for at one point the Yugoslav seemed
ready to hand over a copy. But then he thought better of it, and
The CIA did finally get its hands on a text -- but not in Moscow.
Money and other considerations changed hands. The man who made the
deal to deliver the speech claimed he needed the money, not for
himself, but to make arrangements to protect others who might be
involved. At least that is what he told the CIA.
With the speech in Dulles' hands, a new problem had to be faced.
Dulles did not want to release the 26,000-word text unless he could
be sure it was genuine. For several weeks during May, 1956, the CIA
had the text in hand, but said nothing.
CIA analysts pored over the text, examining every word, each phrase
in an attempt to authenticate it. The experts finally decided that
the document contained information that only Khrushchev could have
been in a position to know. Together with other clues buried in the
text, this convinced the analysts the document was bona fide. Dulles
gave his approval, and on June 4 the State Department released the
To this day the CIA does not know precisely what document it
obtained: whether it was the speech that Khrushchev prepared for
delivery at the Congress, or the verbatim speech he did deliver, or
possibly a slightly altered version for distribution to certain
satellite nations. The CIA does not know which it is because the
text-as-delivered was never published by Khrushchev. On the other
hand, Moscow has not flatly denied its authenticity.*14
"There is no fatal inevitability of war," Khrushchev said in the
speech, in rejecting one of the basic tenets of Lenin. The CIA felt
a deserved sense of satisfaction in having run the speech to ground.
For it was the first tangible evidence of the historic split between
Communist China and the Soviet Union.
1960: The U-2
The U-2 spy plane was developed by Richard Bissell, Trevor Gardner
of the Air Force and Clarence L. (Kelly) Johnson of Lockheed, after
initially being turned down by the Pentagon on June 7, 1954. The
Defense Department finally did approve the ultra-secret espionage
project in December of that year. The first model was flying by
During the four years, starting in 1956, that the spy
plane flew over Russia, it brought back invaluable data on Russian
"airfields, aircraft, missiles, missile testing and training,
special weapons storage, submarine production, atomic production and
aircraft deployments."  It flew so high (well over 80,000 feet)
that the Russians were unable to shoot it down at first.
The summit conference of Eisenhower, Macmillan, De Gaulle and
Khrushchev was scheduled to take place on May 16, 1960. As the date
approached, the intelligence technicians who ran the U-2 program
decided to get one last U-2 flight in under the wire before the
conference. They feared the Paris meeting might result in a detente
that would ground the spy plane indefinitely. The feeling within the
intelligence community was that a successful conference, followed by
Eisenhower's planned trip to Moscow, would make flying the U-2
Eisenhower approved each general series of U-2 flights. These
groupings allowed considerable flexibility for a set number of
missions to be flown within a given time span. Eisenhower did not
suspend the program as the summit date approached.
On May 1, 1960, Francis Gary Powers, a CIA pilot from the hill
country of Virginia, was downed in his U-2 over Sverdlovsk,
*15 in the
Urals. Khrushchev announced on May 5 that a plane had been shot
down. This set off an incredible period of confusion in the highest
councils of the United States Government.
At first, Washington insisted it was a NASA weather plane that had
drifted over the border from Turkey when its pilot had oxygen
trouble. After waiting two days for this explanation to sink in,
Khrushchev triumphantly revealed he had the pilot and the plane. At
that, the State Department admitted the spy flight, but said it had
not been authorized in Washington. Two days later Eisenhower
reversed this position, took responsibility for the U-2 program and
issued a statement widely interpreted to mean that the flights over
Soviet territory would continue.
That did it. Khrushchev stormed and demanded an apology at Paris.
Eisenhower finally announced at the summit table that no more U-2s
would be sent over Russia. But the 1960 summit meeting collapsed.
Why had the CIA and the Eisenhower Administration so confidently
issued its original "cover story" about a "weather" plane? One
important reason was that Powers had been instructed to blow up his
plane in the event of trouble over Russia. This, the CIA expected,
would destroy evidence.
The U-2 contained a destructor unit with a three-pound charge of
cyclonite -- enough to blow it up. U-2 pilots were instructed in the
event of trouble to activate a timing device and eject from the
plane. It would then explode, so they were told. But Allen Dulles
was aware that some of the U-2 pilots were worried about the
workings of this intriguing and delicate destructor mechanism. They
were not really sure how many seconds they had to get out.
At a Senate hearing  after his release by the Russians, Powers
testified: "My first reaction was to reach for the destruct switches
... but I thought that I had better see if I can get out of here
before using this. I knew that there was a seventy-second time delay
between the time of the actuation of the switches and the time that
the explosion would occur."
Powers testified that he was unable to use the automatic ejection
seat because he had been thrown forward in the cockpit. He said he
then decided just to climb out. But after he did, he testified, he
was unable to reach back into the U-2 "so that I could actuate these
A CIA report issued after Powers had been held for twenty-four days
and secretly interrogated by the agency, set forth substantially the
same story and stated that "the destruct switches ... take four
separate manipulations to set." The CIA report said Powers lived up
to his contract and his "obligations as an American" and would get
his back pay. 
At the friendly Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, no one
asked Powers whether he had been under a mandatory order to destroy
his plane. It was obvious that the CIA did not relish any close
scrutiny of the fascinating workings of the destructor mechanism.
Some of the weightier political analyses of the confusion in
Washington during the U-2 affair have failed to pay enough attention
to the vital business of the destructor unit. The cover stories were
based on the assumption that Francis Gary Powers had actuated those
destructor switches. He had not.
Only the CIA knows what would have happened had he done so.
1963: Trouble for General Gehlen
Any casual newspaper reader knows that 1963 was a banner year for
spy cases, but one of the most significant received the least
attention in the United States, considering that it deeply involved
the CIA. On July 11, in a Karlsruhe courtroom, Judge Kurt Weber
sentenced three former West German intelligence agents to prison
terms for spying for the Soviet Union.
Heinz Felfe, forty-five, drew fourteen years. Hans Clemens,
sixty-one, got ten years. Erwin Tiebel, sixty, their courier, got
off with three years. The trio had confessed to delivering 15,000
photographs of top-secret West German intelligence files and twenty
spools of tape recordings to Soviet agents in East Berlin.
All three had been employed by the West German Federal Intelligence
Agency (FIA), better known as the "Gehlen organization" for its
founder and chief, the mysterious ex-Nazi general, Reinhard Gehlen.
The defendants confessed they had systematically betrayed state
secrets from 1950 until their arrest in 1961.
Ironically, their work was so pleasing to both sides, that shortly
before their arrest Felfe and Clemens received citations for ten
years of meritorious service from both of their employers. From
General Gehlen they received a plaque bearing an illustration of St.
George slaying the dragon. From Alexander N. Shelepin, then Chairman
of the Soviet KGB,*17 they got a letter of commendation and a cash
As Judge Weber summed it up succinctly: "For ten years the Soviet
intelligence service had two experienced spies sitting right in the
center of the enemy's organization."
Since the Gehlen organization was financed and controlled by the
United States Central Intelligence Agency, the Felfe-Clemens Tiebel
case meant nothing less than that the CIA's most vital European
subsidiary had been penetrated at the top, virtually from its
The CIA poured millions into the Gehlen apparatus, but the 1963 case
raised grave questions about the effectiveness and worth of the
whole operation. It also raised moral and political questions in
West Germany, where some newspapers were asking why ex-Nazis were
running the Bundesrepublik's intelligence service in the first
Gehlen, a member of the German General Staff under Hitler, was
placed in charge of wartime intelligence for Foreign Armies East.
This meant that he ran Germany's espionage against the Soviet Union
and Eastern Europe. He is said to have surrendered his organization
and files to the United States Army Counter Intelligence Corps when
the Nazi empire collapsed in 1945.
With his knowledge of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, it was
not long before Gehlen was back in business, this time for the
United States. When the CIA was casting about for a network in West
Germany, it decided to look into the possibility of using Gehlen's
talents. And while they were making up their mind about the
ex-general, Henry Pleasants, the CIA station chief in Bonn for many
years, moved in and lived with Gehlen for several months.
Pleasants, once the chief music critic of the Philadelphia Evening
Bulletin, and a contributor to the music pages of the New York
Times, was a highly literate and respected musicologist. His wife
Virginia was one of the world's leading harpsichordists. He also
probably had the distinction of being the only top U.S. spy to
become the center of a literary storm. He had continued to write
books after joining the CIA, and in 1955 his Agony of Modern Music
(Simon & Schuster, New York) caused considerable controversy for its
attacks on all contemporary music except jazz.
Gehlen had named his price and his terms, but it took some months
before the CIA said yes. After that Gehlen consolidated an
intelligence network that operated in utter secrecy -- as far as the
West German public was concerned -- from a heavily guarded villa in
Pullach, outside of Munich. Officially, the Gehlen network was not
part of the Bonn Government.
The mystery general reportedly lived in a two-story lakeside villa
at Starnberg, Bavaria (fifteen miles southwest of Munich); a sign on
the fence surrounding the house said: Warnung vor dem Hunde (Beware
the Dog). No outsider has ever seen Gehlen. No picture of Gehlen has
been taken since 1944 -- and that one shows him bemedaled in his
The evidence indicates that Gehlen staffed his organization with
many former SS and Wehrmacht intelligence officers. During the war
Felfe ran the Swiss department of the Reich security service, and
Clemens and Tiebel were his assistants.
Felfe, while awaiting possible war crimes prosecution, suddenly was
given a clean bill of health by a British Zone court and was hired
by the Gehlen organization in 1951. He testified he had been
approached by a former SS colonel who asked if he was interested in
returning to his "old trade."
That trade was also being plied by Dr. Otto John, head of West
Germany's Office for the Protection of the Constitution. Dr. John
disappeared into East Berlin on July 20, 1954. Since John was the
head of West Germany's official counter-intelligence organization,
it was as astounding as if J. Edgar Hoover had suddenly turned up in
Otto John chose the tenth anniversary of the unsuccessful
bomb plot against Hitler to do his vanishing act. He had been active
in the plot himself and managed to escape afterwards; his brother
Hans was executed. On the day of his disappearance he had attended
memorial services at the site of the executions.
Washington, stunned by the news, described John as one of the "two
or three best-informed persons in West Germany" on intelligence
operations. But the tail end of a New York Times dispatch from
Berlin gave the most tantalizing reason for John's action:
"Dr. John's organization also was believed to have been in serious
competition and difficulties with a more extensive German
organization headed by Reinhard Gehlen, a former high-ranking
Wehrmacht intelligence officer." 
On July 20, 1955, again on the anniversary of the bomb plot, West
Germany announced that it was taking over the Gehlen organization,
henceforth to be known as the Bundesnachrichtendienst,
*19 or Federal
Intelligence Agency (FIA).
With John's defection and the official recognition of the FIA by
Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, Gehlen was the unchallenged spymaster of
*20 The Gehlen Apparat was now part of the Bonn
Government (although it nowhere appears in any official government
table of organization). The relationship between the CIA and the FIA
remained intimate. That is why the 1963 trial meant, not only
trouble for Gehlen, but trouble for the CIA.
During the trial the three defendants admitted that they supplied
the Soviet Union with the names of West German agents of the FIA
(ninety-five in all ) as well as other secret information that was
smuggled out in canned baby food, trick suitcases and on special
writing paper. Felfe and Clemens testified they were paid about
$40,000 each during the ten-year period.
At the time of his arrest, Felfe was the director of the East
Division of the Gehlen agency, in charge of spying in Eastern
In asking for long prison terms for the trio, the West German
prosecutor said it was "without doubt the worst espionage case ever
experienced in the Federal Republic." Felfe and Clemens, he said,
had done "serious damage to the Federal Republic and to American
He did not have to spell out the initials CIA to make his meaning
The extraordinary growth of the clandestine activities of the United
States in all parts of the world has been pointed up in this brief
review of the important operations of the Invisible Government in
Germany, as well as in Bogota, Korea, Communist China, Formosa,
Iran, Egypt, Costa Rica and the Soviet Union. Other operations, even
more fascinating and sometimes disturbing, have been conducted in
Burma, Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam and Guatemala.
*1 As constituted in 1964 the NSC was composed of the President, the
Vice-President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense and
the Director of the Office of Emergency Planning.
*2 The 1949 Act also allowed the CIA director to bring in 100 aliens
a year secretly and outside of normal immigration laws.
*3 The other two members were William H. Jackson, New York investment
banker, a wartime intelligence officer and the managing director of
J. H. Whitney & Co.; and Mathias F. Correa, a former OSS man and a
special assistant to Forrestal. Jackson later became the deputy
director of the CIA.
*4 Some evidence of the closeness of Foster and Allen Dulles was
provided even after the Secretary of State had died. President
Kennedy had been thinking of changing the name of Washington's new
jetport from Dulles, so designated in honor of Foster, to Chantilly,
which is the name of the Virginia community where it is located.
Under this plan the main building would still have been called the
"Dulles Terminal." Allen Dulles and his sister, Eleanor Lansing
Dulles, a former official in the German section of the State
Department, heard about it and raised hob with the President.
Kennedy called it Dulles Airport.
*5 And later a private adviser to the Empress of China, Tz'u Hsi.
*6 Welsh earned this ministerial plum in an odd way. President Hayes
had assured Senator Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania (who had been in
Lincoln's Cabinet during the Civil War) that he would appoint anyone
Pennsylvania wanted to the London post. Cameron promptly named his
father. Hayes, annoyed, appointed Welsh instead.
*7 Fidel Castro, then an unknown Cuban student, participated in the Bogota riots with a group of his friends.
*8 Actually, the Chinese had begun crossing the Yalu four days
*9 The protest apparently had some effect. On August 2, 1955,
Communist China notified the United States at Geneva that the eleven
airmen had been released on July 31.
*10 He died September 1, 1963, at age sixty-seven.
*11 Gulf Oil, Standard Oil of New Jersey and California, The Texas
Company and Socony-Mobil.
*12 The story was sufficiently upsetting to Senator Paul H. Douglas,
the Illinois Democrat, so that he quietly investigated it later
during a trip to the Middle East.
*13 While the CIA was plotting to get rid of Figueres during this
period, Ambassador Robert F. Woodward was urging President
Eisenhower to lend his prestige to the Costa Rican President by
inviting him to Washington. Figueres stepped down in 1958 when his
candidate lost the Presidential election.
*14 Although Dulles had hinted previously at the CIA's role, he
publicly and unequivocally disclosed the CIA's tour de force in a
speech in Washington in June, 1963, and in a television interview
two months later. It was a startling statement, because it was one
of the few times that the CIA had openly taken credit for an
espionage feat. Dulles said: "You remember ... Khrushchev's famous
speech in 1956, which we got, the CIA got that speech, and I thought
it was one of the main coups of the time I was there ..." 
*15 By a Russian SA-2 missile, the CIA concluded.
*16 A few days after his Senate testimony, however, Powers seemed less
certain of this. In a radio interview at his home in Pound,
Virginia, with James Clarke, then of WGH, Norfolk, he said he
thought he had seventy seconds on that particular U-2. It was an
uncertainty shared by other U-2 pilots. The fact is the pilots did
not know precisely how much time they had before the explosion.
*17 KGB stands for Komitat Gosudarstvennoi Bezopasnosti (Committee for
State Security). It is one arm of the Soviet espionage apparatus,
the other being the GRU, or Glavnoye Razvedyvatelnoye Upravlenie,
the Soviet Military Intelligence. The KGB is the successor to the
Cheka, OGPU, NKVD, MVD and other initials used over the years to
designate the often reorganized, purged and renamed Soviet secret
police and espionage network.
*18 As recently as April 15, 1962, while he was still the CIA station
chief in Bonn, Pleasants had a byline article in the New York Herald
Tribune, filed from Zurich. It told of the state theater's
production of Meyerbeer's Le Prophete.
*19 Literally, Federal news service.
*20 John returned to West Berlin on December 13, 1955. He was tried,
convicted of treasonable conspiracy and served nineteen months of
his four-year sentence.
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