PROBABLY the most secretive branch of the Invisible Government is
the National Security Agency. Even more than the CIA, the NSA has
sought to conceal the nature of its activities.
The CIA's functions were revealed in general outline by Congress in
the National Security Act of 1947. But the NSA's duties were kept
secret in the classified presidential directive which established
the agency in 1952.
The only official description of its activities is contained in the
U.S. Government Organization Manual, which states vaguely:
National Security Agency performs highly specialized technical and
coordinating functions relating to the national security."
Nevertheless, it is no secret that the NSA is the nation's
code-making and code-breaking agency. It is impossible, however, to
receive official confirmation of that obvious fact. Unlike Allen
Dulles and other high-ranking CIA men who have occasionally talked
to the press and on television, NSA officials have refused to grant
interviews under any circumstances.
As a sub-agency of the Defense Department, the NSA is watched over
by the deputy director of defense research and engineering. But the
various men who have held this post have been similarly
During the Eisenhower years, the job of overseeing the NSA was held
by military men. The Kennedy and Johnson Administrations turned to
civilians with broader scientific expertise. In 1963 the assignment
was taken on by Dr. Eugene G. Fubini, a fifty-year-old Italian-born
Fubini was confirmed by the Senate without difficulty despite a
challenge from Senator Thurmond, the South Carolina Democrat. During
the Armed Services Committee hearings on June 27, 1963, Thurmond
questioned Fubini closely on his political affiliations in Italy
prior to his emigration to the United States in 1939.
Fubini admitted that he had been a dues-paying member of the GUF,
the Fascist student organization in the universities. But he
explained that membership was "almost a compulsory thing" in
Mussolini's Italy, and that he finally left his homeland in
Fubini made it clear, to Thurmond's evident relief, that he had
never been associated with Communist or Socialist movements. His
biographical data also underscored the fact that he had served ably
as a scientific consultant and technical observer with the U.S. Army
and Navy in Europe during World War II.
After the war Fubini joined the Airborne Instruments Laboratory of
Long Island, New York. He worked on several classified electronic
projects and rose to become the vice-president of the company. By
the time he joined the Pentagon in 1961 he was thoroughly impressed
with the need for tight security. He became convinced that a mass of
vital national secrets was being given to the Russians through
careless public disclosure.
Fubini and his staff maintained a long list of security violations
which appeared in the press and elsewhere. Prominent on the list
were public statements by Defense Secretary McNamara and his deputy,
Roswell Gilpatric. In their zeal to defend administration policy,
notably in McNamara's television extravaganza after the Cuban
missile crisis, Fubini felt his bosses were sometimes imprudent
about national security.
Fubini's dedication to security was matched by the agency he
inherited. The NSA's U-shaped, three-story steel-and-concrete
building at Fort Meade, Maryland, is surrounded by a double
barbed-wire fence ten feet high. The fences are patrolled night and
day, and guards with ready machine guns are posted at the four
The interior, including the longest unobstructed corridor in the
world (980 feet long and 560 feet wide), is similarly patrolled. The
building is 1,400,000 square feet, smaller than the Pentagon but
larger than the CIA's Langley headquarters. It houses high-speed
computers and complicated radio and electronic gear. It is said to
have more electric wiring than any other building in the world.
Special security conveyor belts carry documents at the rate of a
hundred feet a minute and a German-made pneumatic tube system shoots
messages at the rate of twenty-five feet a second.
The NSA headquarters was built at a cost of $30,000,000 and was
opened in 1957. It contains a complete hospital, with operating
rooms and dental offices. It also houses eight snack bars, a
cafeteria, an auditorium and a bank. All of the building's windows
are sealed and none can be opened.
Comparable precautions have been taken with NSA employees. They are
subject to lie-detector tests on application and intensive security
indoctrination on acceptance. Periodically, the indoctrination
briefing is repeated and employees are required to sign statements
that they have reread pertinent secrecy regulations.
Even so, the NSA has had more than its share of trouble with
security violations. In 1960 two young mathematicians, William H.
Martin and Bernon F. Mitchell, defected to Russia. They held a news
conference in Moscow, describing in detail the inner workings of the
NSA. They were soon discovered to be homosexuals, a fact which led
indirectly to the resignation of the NSA's personnel director, and
the firing of twenty-six other employees for sexual deviation.
It also led on May 9, 1963 to a vote by the House, 340 to 40, to
give the Secretary of Defense the same absolute power over NSA
employees as the Director of Central Intelligence had over his
employees. Under the legislation, which was introduced by the
Un-American Activities Committee, the Secretary of Defense was
authorized to fire NSA employees without explanation and without
appeal if he decided they were security risks. The bill also
required a full field investigation of all persons before they were
The legislation was attacked by several congressmen.
Thomas P. Gill, the Hawaii Democrat, warned that the bill opened the
way to "arbitrary and capricious action on the part of government
administrators ... There has been much said about danger to the
national security. Democracy itself is a dangerous form of
government and in its very danger lies its strength. The protection
of individual rights by the requirement of due process of law, which
has long endured in this nation of ours, is a radical and dangerous
idea in most of the world today.
"This dangerous concept is outlawed in the Soviet Union, in Red
China, in Castro's Cuba, indeed, in all of the Communist bloc and
many of those countries aligned with it. I think we might well ask:
How does one destroy his enemy by becoming like him?"
Edwin E. Willis, the Louisiana Democrat and a member of the
Un-American Activities Committee, defended the bill on grounds that
"carries out the most delicate type intelligence operations
of our government ... The National Security Agency plays so highly
specialized a role in the defense and security of the United States
that no outsider can actually describe its activities. They are
guarded not only from the public but from other government agencies
as well. The Civil Service Commission, which audits all government
positions, is not allowed to know what NSA employees do."
If the bill was so important for the NSA, Willis was asked, why
shouldn't it be applied to all other sensitive agencies?
"As to the other agencies," Willis replied, "we will have to take
them one at a time."
Although the Martin and Mitchell case stirred the House to action,
it was only one of several sensational security scandals to hit the
In 1954 Joseph Sydney Petersen was tried and convicted on charges of
misusing classified NSA documents. He was accused of taking and
copying documents to aid another nation. In the court papers the
government said Petersen "copied and made notes from classified
documents indicating the United States' success in breaking codes
utilized by The Netherlands." The Dutch Embassy in Washington
admitted it had exchanged "secret intelligence" with Petersen on the
assumption that he had acted with the knowledge of his superiors.
In 1959, during his visit to the United States, Khrushchev bragged
that he had obtained top-secret American codes and had intercepted
messages from President Eisenhower to Prime Minister Nehru. "You're
wasting your money," Khrushchev remarked to Allen Dulles. "You might
as well send it direct to us instead of the middleman, because we
get most of it anyway. Your agents give us the code books and then
we send false information back to you through your code. Then we
send cables asking for money and you send it to us."
On July 22, 1963, Izvestia published a letter from Victor Norris
Hamilton, a naturalized American of Arab descent who had sought
asylum in the Soviet Union. Hamilton said he had worked for a
division of the NSA which intercepted and decoded secret
instructions from Arab countries to their delegations at the United
Nations. Hamilton claimed UN Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge had sent a
letter to the division thanking them for the information. The
Pentagon admitted Hamilton had been an employee of the NSA and said
he had been discharged in 1959 because he was "approaching a
paranoid-schizophrenic break." (The NSA has an unusually high rate
of mental illness and suicide.)
An even graver security breach at the NSA was also disclosed in July
of 1963. Army Sergeant First Class Jack E. Dunlap committed suicide
when he realized he had been discovered selling top-secret NSA
documents to Soviet officials. Dunlap reportedly received $60,000
during a two-year period for disclosing United States intelligence
on Russian weapons advances, the deployment of their missiles and
troops, as well as similar information about the NATO countries.
The playboy sergeant, who had a wife and five children, spent the
money on several girl friends, two Cadillacs and frequent trips to
the race track. A Pentagon official described the case as "thirty to
forty times as serious as the Mitchell and Martin defections."
These security violations revealed a mass of information about the
NSA. And most of it was indirectly confirmed by the Pentagon in its
contradictory statements on the case, and by the House Un-American
Activities Committee in issuing a public report stressing the
seriousness of the Martin and Mitchell defection.
Out of it all a
painstaking enemy analyst could have derived the following picture
of the National Security Agency:
NSA was divided into four main offices. The Office of Production
(PROD) attempted to break the codes and ciphers * and read the
messages of the Soviet Union, Communist China, other Communist
countries, United States Allies and neutral nations.
The Office of Research and Development (R/D) carried out research in
cryptanalysis, digital computing and radio propagation. It also
developed new communications equipment.
The Office of Communications Security (COMSEC) produced U.S. codes
and tried to protect them. And the Office of Security (SEC)
investigated NSA personnel, conducted lie-detector tests and passed
on the loyalty and integrity of employees.
While the NSA was reading the secret communications of over forty
nations, including the most friendly, it shared some of its secrets
through a relationship between its United Kingdom Liaison Office (UKLO)
and its British counterpart, the GCHQ. The NSA, at least according
to Martin and Mitchell, also provided code machines to other nations
and then intercepted their messages on the basis of its knowledge of
the construction and wiring of the machines.
The NSA gathered its raw information through more than 2,000
intercept stations around the world. They were designed to pick up
every electronic emanation and communication in the Communist bloc:
countdowns at missile sites, tell-tale sounds of industrial
construction, military orders for troop movements, and air defense
instructions to radar installations and fighter-plane squadrons.
In addition, the NSA sent its eavesdropping equipment along on
flights by the U-2 and other aircraft over the Soviet Union (until
1960) and over Communist China. Separate flights, called ELINT (for
electronic intelligence) missions, skirted Communist borders,
picking up the location and characteristics of enemy radar stations.
Occasionally, the planes would play "foxes and hounds," feinting
toward or into Soviet defenses so as to analyze the nature of the
response on nearby U.S. radar screens and listening gear.
The NSA also practiced what is known in the trade as "audio
surveillance" and in layman's terms as "bugging," or "telephone
It was clear that the United States had come a long way from that
day in 1929 when Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson closed the
"black chamber," the State Department's primitive code-breaking
section, with the explanation:
"Gentlemen do not read each other's mail."
* Codes use symbols or letter groups for whole words or thoughts.
Ciphers use letters or numbers for other letters or numbers.
Back to Contents
The NSA - The Super Secret National Security Agency
DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY (DIA)
THE DIA, the newest member of the Invisible Government and the most
powerful competitor of the CIA, owes its existence to the
post-Sputnik "missile gap" controversy of the late 1950s.
As the Soviets demonstrated the range and accuracy of their missiles
in a series of spectacular space shots, the Air Force demanded that
the United States embark on a massive ICBM program of its own.
Almost weekly in the period between 1957 and 1960 the Air Force went
before the United States Intelligence Board to argue that the
Russians were deploying hundreds of ICBMs and were tipping the
military balance of power in their favor.
To substantiate the claim, Air Force photo-interpreters introduced
scores of pictures taken by the U-2 spy plane, which started to fly
over the Soviet Union in 1956.
"To the Air Force every flyspeck on film was a missile," a CIA man
remarked scornfully. Allen Dulles, relying on the independent
interpretation of the photos by the CIA's Research Division,
challenged two thirds of the Air Force estimates.
USIB's meetings were dominated by long and bitter arguments over the
conflicting missile estimates. The situation reflected the perennial
problem of interservice rivalry. Each service tended to adopt a
self-serving party line and pursue it relentlessly. At budget time
each year the Air Force would see endless numbers of Soviet missiles
and bombers; the Navy would detect the latest enemy submarines just
off the East Coast; and the Army would mechanize a few dozen more
Overwhelmed by the constant bickering, USIB and the civilian leaders
of the Pentagon were anxious to find some mechanism for resolving
the conflict. They turned the problem over to a Joint Study Group
which was set up in 1959 to conduct a sweeping investigation of the
The group was composed of military men, active and retired, and
career intelligence officials in the State Department, the Defense
Department and the White House. It was headed by Lyman Kirkpatrick,
then the inspector general of the CIA. A polio victim who was
confined to a wheel chair, Kirkpatrick was often spotted overseas,
pursuing his many investigations.
The Joint Study Group submitted a comprehensive list of
recommendations late in 1960. One of the most important called for
the creation of the DIA and for the removal of the service
intelligence agencies from USIB. The DIA was to serve as the arbiter
of the conflicting service estimates and to present its findings to
USIB as the final judgment of the Pentagon.
The idea appealed strongly to Thomas S. Gates, Jr., the last
Secretary of Defense in the Eisenhower Administration. When the
Kennedy Administration took office in January, 1961, Gates
forcefully urged McNamara to put the recommendation into effect
McNamara was quickly persuaded of the wisdom of Gates' advice. After
a thorough study of the missile-gap claims, McNamara concluded that
there was no foundation in the argument that the United States was
lagging behind the Soviet Union in the production or deployment of
ICBMs. The study convinced him of the dangers inherent in the
fragmented intelligence operation at the Pentagon. He saw great
value in subordinating the service intelligence branches to a
centralized agency directly under his supervision.
Accordingly, McNamara recommended the speedy creation of the DIA.
But Dulles balked at the idea. Despite his many wrangles with the
services, Dulles felt it was imperative that they continue to have a
voice in the deliberations of the intelligence community. He feared
that the creation of the DIA would lead to the elimination of the
service intelligence branches from USIB.
Then the CIA would be cut off from direct access to the facts and
opinions developed by the military men and would be forced to rely
on whatever information the DIA saw fit to give it. Dulles was
impressed with the service argument, which ran something like this:
Yes, the services have been guilty at times of analyzing
intelligence from a parochial point of view. But other agencies of
the government are no less susceptible to self-serving judgments.
The function of USIB is to serve as a forum for all viewpoints --
even extreme viewpoints. Only then can the Director of Central
Intelligence, and through him the President, arrive at comprehensive
and objective assessments. Dissent should be aired at the highest
possible level and not suppressed outside the orbit of presidential
If the service intelligence branches were removed from USIB, the DIA
would become the sole representative of the government's biggest
producer and biggest consumer of intelligence. And the DIA as an
agency subordinate to a political appointee -- the Secretary of
Defense -- would be more vulnerable to political influences than are
the services which have a semi-autonomous status by law.
Dulles was particularly worried about the possibility that the DIA
would gain a monopoly over aerial reconnaissance. The Defense
Department controlled the reconnaissance equipment and Dulles feared
that the DIA would be tempted to hoard the photographs produced by
the equipment. He was determined to prevent any such thing.
During the U-2 era, the CIA had built up a skilled corps of civilian
photo-interpreters and they would surely quit if the Pentagon
monopolized aerial photographs. Without interpreters, the CIA would
have no way to verify Defense Department estimates. At a time when
electronic espionage was bulking ever larger, Pentagon control of
aerial reconnaissance could result in Pentagon dominance of the
entire intelligence community.
Dulles expressed his misgivings to McNamara, who responded with
assurances that the DIA would be only a coordinating body and that
it would not supplant the intelligence branches of the Army, Navy
and Air Force. Some of Dulles' advisers suspected that the Pentagon
had covert ambitions for the DIA which were being suppressed
temporarily for tactical reasons. But Dulles felt McNamara's pledge
left no ground for him to oppose the DIA. He went along with the
proposal. So did John McCone, then head of the AEC.
The DIA was created officially on October 1, 1961. Named as director
was Lieutenant General Joseph F. Carroll, who had been the inspector
general of the Air Force. Carroll started his career with the FBI
and was a leading assistant of J. Edgar Hoover at the time he moved
to the Air Force in 1947 to set up its first investigation and
CIA men delighted in pointing out that all of Carroll's experience
had been as an investigator and that he had no credentials as a
foreign or military intelligence analyst. More to the CIA's liking
were Carroll's two subordinates, both of whom had served with the
CIA: Major General William W. (Buffalo Bill) Quinn, a former West
Point football star, who was named deputy director; and Rear Admiral
Samuel B. Frankel, a Chinese and Russian-speaking expert on the
Communist world, who became the DIA's chief of staff.
Both of these men had worked closely with Allen Dulles. Frankel
served under him on USIB. Quinn, the G-2 for the Seventh Army in
Europe during World War II, acted as personal courier for the
information Dulles gathered in Switzerland on Nazi troop movements.
(Quinn left the DIA to become the commander of the Seventh Army in
The original charter for the DIA provided that the new agency was
(1) draw up a consolidated budget for all the intelligence units
within the Pentagon;
(2) produce all Defense Department estimates
for USIB and other elements of the intelligence community;
provide representation on USIB in the person of its director; and
(4) develop plans for integrating the intelligence schools run by
the various services.
Although the original list of functions seemed relatively modest, an
expansion of the DIA's responsibilities was clearly implied in its
authorization by McNamara to provide "overall guidance for the
conduct and management" of all duties retained by the individual
And with the inevitability of Parkinson's Law, the DIA quickly added
to its domain. By 1964, when the DIA became fully operational, it
had more than 2,500 employees. It had acquired 38,000 feet of
Pentagon office space and had submitted a request for a separate
It had succeeded in eliminating the separate service intelligence
publications and supplanting them with two of its own; and it had
launched a Daily Digest, which was viewed by the CIA as duplicatory
and competitive to its Own Central Intelligence Bulletin.
The DIA had also supplanted the J-2, the intelligence staff of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, both on USIB and in supplying information to
the Chiefs themselves. It had replaced the services in the
production of "order of battle" intelligence-estimates of the size
and deployment of enemy forces. And it was occasionally providing
information directly to the President without funneling it through
USIB. The DIA did so on request in 1963 when Kennedy wanted quick
intelligence on whether the Guatemalan Army would be able to handle
expected Communist riots.
By 1964 the DIA's control over military intelligence had expanded to
such a degree that the services were reduced to the role of
providing technical information on enemy weapons, running the
attache system and collecting -- but not analyzing -- raw
Most significantly, the leaders of the Invisible Government had
decided to remove the service intelligence agencies from USIB. Only
a veto by President Johnson could prevent the DIA from becoming the
sole military voice on the board. Allen Dulles' apprehensions were
"There is, of course, always the possibility," Dulles had observed
with monumental understatement, "that two such powerful and
well-financed agencies as CIA and DIA will become rivals and
Back to Contents
CIA - "IT'S
THROUGH the large picture window of his immaculate private dining
room atop the CIA's $46,000,000 hideaway in Langley, Virginia, the
Director of Central Intelligence can watch deer and other wild life
gambol in the woodland below.
When John McCone took over as CIA director in November, 1961, he
must have found a glimpse of an occasional passing fawn a pleasant
relief from the cares of office. He could dine, if he chose, in
utter isolation and complete quiet, twenty minutes and eight miles
from downtown Washington and the lunchtime hustle and bustle that is
the lot of less powerful, and less secluded, bureaucrats.
As far as the eye can see, the lovely rolling hills of Virginia's
Fairfax County surround the CIA building on all four sides. The
Pentagon is bigger; but that colossus is easily visible from almost
anywhere in the capital.
Appropriately, the CIA's concrete headquarters is invisible, an
architectural diadem set in bucolic splendor in the middle of
nowhere and modestly veiled by a thick screen of trees. In the State
Department, which does not always love its brothers in the
intelligence world, the CIA is often referred to as "those people
out in the woods." And it is literally true.
Part of the reason for this is that it makes guarding the building
much easier. The advantages of a rustic retreat were extolled by
Allen Dulles when he went before a House Appropriations Subcommittee
in June, 1956, to seek funds for the CIA headquarters. He submitted
a report which said:
"Located on a 125-acre tract forming an inconspicuous part of a
larger 750-acre government reservation, the Langley site was chosen
as the one location, among many sites inspected in detail, most
adequate for safeguarding the security of CIA's operations ... This
site, with its isolation, topography and heavy forestation, permits
both economical construction and an added measure of security
Three years later guests, in response to engraved invitations from
Dulles, attended the cornerstone-laying ceremony. Colonel Stanley
Grogan, the CIA's public information man at that time, handed out a
"The entire perimeter of the main part of the site is bounded by
trees," it noted, "and very little of the building will be visible
from the public highways."
One CIA official summed it up. "It's well hidden," he said with a
note of pride.
The fact that the CIA could send out public invitations to lay the
cornerstone of its hidden headquarters reflects a basic split
personality that plagues the agency and occasionally makes it the
butt of unkind jokes. This dichotomy pervades much of what the CIA
does. On the one hand it is supersecret; on the other hand it isn't.
When Allen Dulles became the CIA director in February, 1953, the
agency was housed in a ragged complex of buildings at 2430 E Street
in the Foggy Bottom section of the capital. A sign out front
proclaimed: "U.S. Government Printing Office."
Once President Eisenhower and his brother Milton set out to visit
Dulles. They were unable to find the place. Dulles investigated the
secrecy policy. When he discovered that even guides on sightseeing
buses were pointing out the buildings as "the CIA," he had the
printing-office sign taken down and one that said "Central
Intelligence Agency" put up.
When the CIA moved across the Potomac to its Langley home in 1961,
the matter of secrecy still proved bothersome. Large green and white
signs pointed the way to the CIA from the George Washington Memorial
Parkway, which had been extended to the new headquarters at a cost
of $8,500,000. Originally, the signs were erected to guide workmen
to the site during construction. After the CIA moved into the
building, some of its officials felt there was no need to leave them
up. As one put it: "We knew where it was."
But the signs stayed up -- for a while. As he drove to and from work
each day, Robert Kennedy, who lived in nearby McLean, Virginia,
would pass the signs that trumpeted the way to the CIA. One day they
abruptly disappeared. In their place, there was only a small green
and white marker reading "Parkway," with an arrow pointing along the
highway, and "B.P.R.," with an arrow pointing to the CIA
The lack of signs causes scant inconvenience. No outsiders venture
into the CIA anyhow unless they are on official business. No social
visiting is allowed. A CIA employee cannot tell his wife or
mother-in-law to drop in on him.
Another example of the now-you-see-it-now-you-don't atmosphere
surrounding the building is the way the CIA answers the telephone.
Other government-agency switchboards answer with the name of their
department. Although the CIA is listed in two places in the
Washington telephone book,
*2 a call to the number, 351-1100, is
answered by a switchboard girl who says simply, "Three five one, one
one hundred." Only a few officials can be reached by name; for most,
the caller must ask for the extension he wants.
Despite the atmosphere of secrecy which surrounds the building, a
KGB agent trying to find the CIA headquarters would have no
difficulty. He could drive to the nearest Amoco station and ask for
a map of Washington, which (like most other maps) clearly identifies
the CIA site at Langley. On the other hand, the Russian spy would
not have to drive; he could get to the CIA from downtown Washington
by taxi for $4.50. Or he could make the trip for forty-four cents on
a public-transit bus, as do hundreds of the CIA's regular employees.
(An enterprising few have commuted across the Potomac by canoe.)
A caller who asked the transit company for the schedule to Langley
received this reply:
"Going to CIA? Buses leave at 7:12 A.M., 7:46 A.M. and 8:16 A.M.,
and arrive at CIA thirty-four minutes later. Returning in the
evening at 4:38 P.M., 5:08 P.M. and 5:40. Have a nice trip."
If the Soviet spy were a top "illegal," as the Russians call their
agents who have no embassy cover, he could check the Washington Post
for a suitable location. In March, 1963, for instance, the paper
carried a large advertisement for the Broadfalls Apartments in Falls
Church, Virginia. Not only did the building advertise a Kelvinator
refrigerator and tiled baths in every apartment, but it also
headlined: "Convenient to CIA-Dulles Airport-Pentagon." And below
the inviting headline, leaving nothing to chance, there appeared a
map showing exactly how to get from the apartment house to the CIA.
There is such a thing as an apartment house becoming too convenient
to the CIA. Early in 1963, an enterprising realtor, who owned
thirteen acres adjacent to the CIA, applied to the local zoning
board for permission to build apartment houses on his land. It was
with a sense of growing horror that the CIA learned that from the
fourth or fifth floor, residents would be able, with a spyglass, to
look right into McCone's picture window and read his classified
documents. Secretly, the CIA ordered the government's General
Services Administration to buy up the land in the area forthwith.
What happened next is best told in the words of Dr. H. Hatch
Sterrett, a physician who lived on Saddle Lane near the CIA:
first I heard of it was when the GSA called my office and asked when
they could have an appointment to arrange to take over my property.
They kept saying they didn't know who wanted it or why it was wanted
and that the only reason for taking it was that there was an
established need for it. They said there was just no recourse, that
there wasn't anything I could do about it."
The distraught physician consulted with his attorney, Samuel E. Neel,
who was advised that the entire subject had been "classified." Neel
persevered, and finally diagnosed it as a severe case of CIA.
The agency killed off the apartment-house project by buying up most
of the land, but it finally permitted the doctor to keep his home.
Under the agreement, however, the CIA can screen and reject anyone
to whom he wishes to rent or sell. The reason? In the summer the CIA
is invisible behind the trees. But in winter, when the leaves are
gone, the CIA can be glimpsed through the branches from the Sterrett
The headquarters building has been a subject of some difficulty for
the CIA from the outset. When Bedell Smith was head of the CIA, he
requested $30,000,000 for a new building. To preserve security, the
request was concealed in the budget the agency sent to Capitol Hill.
When economy- minded congressmen discovered $30,000,000 with no
apparent purpose, they cut it out of the budget.
Not until after Dulles had become the director did Congress, in
July, 1955, finally vote the funds to begin planning and
construction. Although the CIA's main headquarters at that time was
the E Street complex, which had been used by the OSS in World War
II, the agency was scattered about in thirty-four buildings all over
Washington. An elaborate system of couriers and safeguards was
needed to shuffle papers back and forth with security.
L. K. White, a CIA deputy director, told the House Appropriations
Committee hearing in 1956 that by moving the agency into one
building, "we will save about 228 people who are guards,
receptionists, couriers, bus drivers and so forth." The CIA
estimated it would save $600,000 a year by eliminating time lost
shuttling between buildings.
Dulles had asked for a $50,800,000 building. The Budget Bureau
slashed this to $50,000,000 and Congress finally authorized
$46,000,000.*3 Noting that construction costs had risen, Dulles
testified that for $46,000,000 "we could have a very austere
building" which would house only "87 percent of the people for which
we had originally planned."
Dulles, of course, carefully omitted saying how many people that
was. And he foiled anyone who might try to compute precisely how
many people worked at Langley. Someone could attempt to do so by
dividing the standard amount of office space needed by a Washington
worker into the CIA building's net floor space of 1,228,100 square
"Our plans," Dulles told the House Committee, "are based on an
average net office space utilization per person which is
considerably below the government-wide average of net office space
per employee in Metropolitan Washington."
In the fall of 1961, the CIA moved in.
A visitor to the new headquarters turns off at the "B.P.R." sign at
Langley and comes shortly to a ten-foot-high wire-mesh fence, which
surrounds the entire CIA site. On the fence are various signs --
none saying CIA. One reads: "U.S. Government Property for Official
Business Only." Another says: "Cameras Prohibited." In case anyone
failed to get the message, a third sign says: "No Trespassing."
Beyond the gate is a guardhouse, but a visitor who appears to know
where he is going is waved through without having to stop and show
credentials. A sharp left, and the building, still half-hidden by
the trees, comes into view. Finally, several hundred feet farther
along, near the main entrance, the building emerges from the trees
for the first time.
It is massive, grayish-white concrete, several stories high and cold
in appearance. The windows are recessed and those on the lower
floors are barred with a heavy mesh. Off to the right of the main
entrance a separate domed structure housing a 500-seat auditorium
gives an almost Martian atmosphere to the grounds.
But what strikes the visitor most of all is the complete silence
outside the building. In the summertime, only the hum of the
building's air conditioners and the sound of crickets and birds can
be heard. In the winter, not even that. The effect is eerie. The
building might be a hospital or a huge private sanitarium in the
On this same site, half a century ago, Joseph Leiter, the son of a
millionaire Chicago businessman, built a beautiful home and called
it the Glass Palace. He and his wife entertained lavishly and
enjoyed the view of the Potomac. After Leiter died in 1932, the
government bought up the land. The Glass Palace burned down in 1945.
There is still glass in the CIA's concrete palace, but it is mainly
on the second and seventh floors, where the outside walls are formed
by continuous windows. On the grounds, there are twenty-one acres of
parking space for 3,000 cars. (Dulles had asked Congress for space
for 4,000.) The cafeteria seats 1,400 persons at a time.
On the roof, there are $50,000 worth of special radio antennas, a
vital part of the CIA's own world-wide communication system. Deep
inside the CIA headquarters is a central control room to which alarm
systems throughout the building are wired. Three security
incinerators, built at a cost of $105,000, gobble up classified
The domed auditorium outside is used mostly for training courses for
junior CIA executives, and as Colonel Grogan's press release noted,
it has, fittingly, "a small stage with a disappearing curved screen
Inside the vast headquarters, a visitor can get about as far as the
inscription in marble on the left wall --" And ye shall know the
truth and the truth shall make you free. John VIII-XXXII" -- before
he is stopped by a guard. He is then directed to a reception room,
where he signs in. A security escort takes him where he is going,
waits until he is through and escorts him back to the front door.
There, just inside the airy lobby, a mammoth official seal with the
words "Central Intelligence Agency" is set in the marble floor, with
an eagle's head in the center. As he walked through the corridors,
the visitor might have noticed that most of the doors to offices
were closed and unmarked, giving the false impression of a virtually
Like a battleship, the CIA headquarters is built in compartments. An
employee in one office would not necessarily know what was happening
a few feet away on the other side of the wall.
The CIA report to the House Appropriations Committee explained that
this was a major consideration in the plans drawn up by Harrison &
Abramovitz, the New York architects:
"The new building will consist
of block-type wings, readily compartmented from one another, so that
specially restricted areas can be established and special security
controls maintained in each section."
Among the building's special facilities is a $200,000 scientific
laboratory, where the CIA perfects some of its miniaturized weapons,
invisible inks, special explosives and other devices.
One of the really spooky instruments at Langley is the CIA's
electronic "brain," which stores and retrieves the mountains of
information that flow into the building. The CIA's library is split
into four parts: a regular library of books and documents, special
libraries known as "registers" which store biographic and industrial
intelligence, a document center -- and the electronic brain.
The brain is called WALNUT and it was developed just for the CIA by
IBM. A desired document is flashed in front of the CIA viewer by
means of a photo tape robot called Intellofax.
WALNUT and Intellofax, unlike humans, are infallible. Aside from the
vast amounts of classified data that come into the CIA, the agency
collects 200,000 newspapers, books and other "open" material each
month. The information is stored on 40,000,000 punch cards.
When a CIA man wants a particular item, be it a Castro speech or a
top-secret report on Khrushchev's health, he feeds into WALNUT a
list of key words -- perhaps twenty-five -- about the subject. The
brain finds the right microfilmed document and photographs it with
ultraviolet light. The tiny photo is then projected on the viewing
machine. The whole thing takes five seconds. The CIA has also been
experimenting with another brain called Minicard, developed by
Eastman Kodak for the Air Force.
The CIA also has a special spy-fiction library, which it does not
advertise. This library contains thousands of past and current
mystery and spy stories. It should please fans of Ian Fleming, Helen
MacInnes and Eric Ambler to know that the CIA makes a point of
keeping up with the latest tricks of fictional spy heroes. Before
Langley, the spy fiction was housed in the old Christian Heurich
Brewery near the State Department.
CIA men and women lead a cloistered life. By and large they stick to
themselves. Intermarriage is not unusual, the most notable recent
example being the U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers. After his release
by the Russians, Powers continued to work for the CIA at Langley.*5
He divorced his wife Barbara, and on October 26, 1963, in a quiet
ceremony at Catlett, Fauquier County, Virginia, he married Claudia
Edwards Downey, a twenty-eight-year-old divorcee and a CIA
psychologist. Mrs. Downey, the mother of a seven-year-old girl, was
said to have resigned from the CIA to become Mrs. Powers.
In Washington, a highly social city given to much partying and
mixing of many diverse circles, it is remarkable how few CIA men are
casually encountered on the cocktail circuit. The reason is that CIA
couples give parties mostly for each other.
In bygone years, CIA employees were barred from admitting where they
worked. In social situations they usually managed to hint at it
anyhow. Nowadays, overt employees are permitted to say where they
work -- although not to a foreign national. Those in the Clandestine
Services are not, however, normally allowed to say they work for the
And cover names are used even inside the CIA.
"I don't know the
names of everyone I deal with at the agency," one high official
confided. "We often use pseudonyms in house, in case a wire is
tapped or a piece of paper gets into the wrong hands. And we never
use real names in communications."
The CIA is constantly facing little problems that no other agency
faces. For example, suppose an agent in the Clandestine Services
breaks his arm in the line of duty. Blue Cross? Ah, but then Group
Hospitalization would find out his name when he filled out the
inevitable form. And for the first few years after the agency's
creation, that is exactly what happened, much to the CIA's
irritation. When agents were hospitalized, Group Hospitalization had
to know who they were. So in 1956 the CIA canceled its contract with
Blue Cross. It took its business to Mutual of Omaha, which
benevolently agreed to waive the paperwork on ailing spies.
Although CIA employees are not technically under Civil Service, they
qualify for the government's normal retirement provisions and their
pay is equivalent to those in Civil Service. Secretaries start at
GS-3, which is $3,820 a year. The director's salary is $30,000 The
deputy director gets $28,500.
In 1963 McCone asked Congress to set up a better retirement system
for his top people, similar to that of the State Department's
Foreign Service. A House Armed Services Subcommittee heard McCone's
plea in camera. Later, in 1964, Congress passed a law allowing
high-ranking agents with twenty years of service to retire at age
fifty. The CIAR, as the pension plan was called, would cost an
estimated $4,000,000 by 1969, or $900,000 a year.
The Armed Services Committee, in approving the measure, said that
"many CIA employees serve under conditions which are at least as
difficult and frequently more onerous and dangerous" than those
faced by the FBI and other agencies.
In a report to the House Committee, the CIA said the pension system
would help it to weed out older men in the ranks.
Intelligence Agency," it said, "needs to attract and retain a force
of highly motivated careerists ... agency requirements demand that
this group of careerists be composed of younger and more vigorous
officers than are generally required in government service."
Many of the CIA's younger people are recruited off college campuses.
The agency tries to select students standing near the top of their
class. CIA stays quietly in touch with college deans and hires most
of its research analysts this way. On every large campus there is
usually someone who serves secretly as the CIA's talent scout.
At Yale, for example, during the early 1950s, it was Skip Walz, the
crew coach. John Downey, who was imprisoned by Communist China in
1952, was recruited off the Yale campus in 1951. The college
recruits are enrolled as CIA JOTs -- junior officer trainees.
Recently, in the manner of large business corporations, the CIA
quietly published a booklet, The Central Intelligence Agency,
extolling the virtues of a career in the agency. The booklet's
cover, in yellow, red, brown, violet and white, portrays a handsome
young man with jaw on hand, pondering his future.
From every 1,000 persons considered, the CIA selects 200 for
security investigation. Of this 20 percent, about 11 percent are
screened out because,
"they drink too much, talk too much,
have relatives behind the iron curtain, which may make the
applicants subject to foreign pressures; for serious security
reasons 4 percent of this 11 percent are screened out. These
latter are individuals who have contacts that render them
undesirable for service in this highly sensitive agency."
What this boils down to is that 178 out
of 1,000 applicants are accepted.
From the start, the CIA has employed lie detectors. The polygraph is
standard equipment at the agency and all new employees take the
The most revealing information on this delicate subject came in a
televised interview with Allen Dulles, carried by the American
Broadcasting Company: 
Q: In that connection, sir, of how great a value is the lie detector
to an agency like CIA in detecting potential spies, agents and/or
A: In my experience in the CIA we found it of great indicative
value. No one is ever convicted or cleared just on a polygraph test,
a lie-detector test ...
Q: What kind of cases do you turn up most easily by using lie
A: Well, we turn up homosexual cases particularly, but not only
that. There can be other weaknesses ...
Q: Almost every CIA employee had to undergo a lie detector test as a
condition of employment?
A: Well, I won't say no, it is not a condition of employment. I know
of people who have said they didn't for various reasons want to take
the lie-detector test, and they have not been dismissed or
terminated for that reason.
Q: But were they hired?
A: But generally when people come on board, the general rule is that
they take the test. But it is not any formalized rule, as far as I
Should an applicant pass all these hurdles and be accepted by the
CIA, he must sign a security agreement in which he swears never to
divulge classified information or intelligence (except in the
performance of his official duties) unless he is specifically
authorized, in writing, by the director of the CIA. Employees are
thus barred from talking about their work even after they leave the
agency: they certainly cannot go out and write their memoirs about
their CIA experiences.
Criticism that the CIA is an "Ivy League" institution is only
partially accurate. Although the top twenty executives have always
been largely from Ivy League colleges, this is not true of the
agency generally. Nevertheless, a good education is highly prized.
About 60 percent of the senior 600 employees at the CIA have
advanced degrees, many of them Ph.D.s. This is not surprising in an
agency that devotes a major portion of its efforts to research and
To satisfy the interests of its scholarly employees, the CIA
publishes its own digest-sized magazine, the most exclusive magazine
in the world. It can't be purchased. It is not available at outside
libraries. It is called Intelligence Articles.
The magazine was begun because the CIA has so many former professors
who, for the most part, cannot publish on the outside. Intelligence
Articles provides an anonymous outlet for their scholarship. Like
any specialized periodical, it has studies of current interest in
the field, in this case, intelligence. But there is one difference:
most of the articles and book reviews have no bylines.
The literary style leans toward a rather heavy prose. There is an
attempt to treat on a high academic level such subjects as how to
keep a double agent from being tortured and shot by the enemy. Other
forms of mayhem are dealt with in a similar scholarly vein.
One issue not long ago featured an article explaining the difference
between a "write-in" and a "walk-in." (Both are volunteer spies: the
terms apply to the way in which they offer their services.) The
article, entitled " A Classic Write-In Case," was a study of Captain
Stephan Kalman, a Czech Army officer who in 1936 betrayed secrets to
the German High Command until he was caught and hanged.
"The agent of an adversary service," the article begins, "or a
person high in an adversary bureaucracy, if he wishes to make
contact with another intelligence or security service, can choose
from a number of different means. He can present himself physically
as a walk-in. He can use an intermediary in order to retain some
control, especially with respect to his own identity. He can send a
messenger, make a phone call, or establish a radio contact. Or he
can simply write a letter, anonymous or signed."
After detailing the story of Kalman's treachery, the CIA
publication, under the headline "Moral of the Story," asks: "What
conclusions can be drawn from the Kalman case?
... One conclusion derives from positive and negative aspects of the
Czech performance with respect to security. Security applies on
every echelon of command. There is no place for laxness, even if it
may seem overbureaucratic and ridiculous. The application of
security measures has to be executed precisely in every detail.
There is no place for overconfidence in friends and old
acquaintances. That Kalman, with his alien loyalties, came to be
trusted with sensitive materials is evidence of such
A discerning CIA reader might come to suspect that, all in all,
Intelligence Articles' academic objectivity leaves something to be
desired. Another excerpt worth quoting in this respect is from the
magazine's review of a book
*7 that presented ideas about foreign
policy not at all to the liking of the CIA reviewer. For one thing,
the book suggested that the CIA is ineffective.
After noting that the book was written under the pseudonym "John
Forth Amory," the equally anonymous CIA reviewer concludes:
identity is worth a search, one might look for a fervent
Jeffersonian and F. D. Rooseveltian who has some bookish knowledge
of the United States Government and of big business and who
entertains a particular sympathy for Indonesians, having had
opportunities to discuss with them their philosophy of social change
-- a neoacademic sort, probably juvenile or with development
arrested at the simplistic stage, possibly an instructor in some
local college course for fledgling foreign service officers."
If the CIA has its cloistered advantages for the scholar at Langley,
there are hazards for agents in the field. Espionage is a dangerous
business and some of the CIA's clandestine employees crack under the
pressure. (Even at Langley, there are strains. One deputy director
drove himself so hard, he had to be transferred to a less demanding
Many CIA employees, working irregular hours in odd corners of the
globe, suffer from what the agency itself calls "motivational
exhaustion." A CIA report to the House Armed Services Committee in
"This term is used to describe a gradual lessening
of interest and enthusiasm of an officer as a result of impingements
on his personal and family life. These stem from the transient
nature of his assignments, the complications and restrictions of
security requirements and intrusions on his family life."
The agency has a fairly high rate of suicides, which usually get
little attention outside of the Washington newspapers. In October,
1959, for example, a thirty-two-year-old CIA employee and his wife,
just back from a two-year tour of duty in Germany, jumped into the
Potomac River rapids in a suicide pact.
The CIA man, James A. Woodbury, drowned, but his blond wife was
pulled out. Police quoted her as saying her husband had a lot on his
mind. "They wanted to put him in a psycho ward," she said, "and we
figured it best to do away with ourselves." The police said Mrs.
Woodbury would not elaborate on her reference to "they."
Despite the risks, CIA employees have no job security. Under the
1947 law they can be fired by the director "in his discretion" with
no appeal. In at least one instance, this led to a series of
embarrassing disclosures about the agency's operations and
On January 30, 1961, Dulles fired a veteran CIA intelligence officer
and contact specialist named John Torpats, who then went into
Federal Court seeking reinstatement. Dulles filed an answer urging
the case be thrown out. In the course of it, Dulles stated that
"George B. Carey," an assistant director of the CIA, had notified "Emmet
Echols," the director of personnel, that Torpats was allowed to
discuss his case with "Ralph Poole" and "Fred Lott," both assistants
Torpats decided if Dulles could name names, so could he. In an
affidavit filed June 30, 1961, in answer to the CIA director,
"In early 1956 a situation had developed in a European mission of
CIA which my then area superiors, Frank G. Wisner, Richard Helms,
John M. Maury, Jr., and N. M. Anikeeff, felt had been mishandled by
the personnel of the mission. The mission reports were considered to
be unsatisfactory in our component. My superiors felt that I could
handle the problem more effectively and expeditiously and decided to
send me to do it. The principal figures in this particular mission
were Mr. Tracy Barnes, Mr. Thomas Parrott and Mr. Paul Losher. At
the time of my separation, Mr. Barnes and Mr. Parrott were employed
by the Agency in the Washington, D.C., office.
"Notice was given to the mission in April of 1956 that I was being
sent over. I was given no special instructions before I left; I was
to be on my own. The mission had sent a report on the problem which
I later proved was incorrect. Had the mission report been followed,
it would have done incalculable harm to the United States.
"When I finished my assignment, for which I received several
commendations from headquarters, but before I could file my report,
Mr. Barnes, on a complaint by Mr. Parrott, put me under house
arrest; ordered an investigation, shipped me home; cabled charges
against me to headquarters with a demand that I be fired."
The ousted CIA man then detailed a long history of his case as it
dragged on through the agency bureaucracy for several years. He said
one charge against him was that he had disobeyed a high CIA official
in the office of the DDP "and visited a station contrary to his
In addition, Torpats said, a CIA fitness report claimed he had an
"inability to handle agents" and "total lack of objectivity where
Estonian emigre matters are concerned." He said he was transferred
out of the Clandestine Services and eventually fired.
Dulles angrily filed an answer to Torpats on July 2, citing an old
Civil War case to support his contention that employees of secret
services cannot air their grievances in court. Torpats, Dulles said,
"understood that the nature of his work was secret, and that the
disclosure of his duties and the names of fellow employees would not
be in the best interest of his government. Moreover, he swore, as a
condition of his employment that he would never reveal such
If CIA employees can go into court every time they feel they are
treated unfairly, said Dulles, it would be no way to run an
"Operation of the Central Intelligence Agency,
with liability to publicity in this way," he said, "would be
Even CIA employees who make it to the top can look forward to little
overt recognition after their long years of service. President
Kennedy, speaking to CIA employees at Langley on November 28, 1961,
"Your successes are unheralded -- your failures are
President Eisenhower voiced a similar sentiment when he spoke at the
cornerstone-laying at Langley on November 3, 1959.
be advertised: failure cannot be explained," he said. "In the work
of intelligence, heroes are undecorated and unsung, often even among
their own fraternity."
This is not completely correct. The truth is that some CIA men are
decorated. Despite the fact that he was eased out after the Bay of
Pigs, for example, Richard M. Bissell received a secret intelligence
medal honoring him for his years as deputy director for plans.
There was no public announcement of the award, and Bissell was not
allowed to talk about his medal, to show it to anyone or to wear it.
As far as the CIA was concerned, officially the medal did not exist.
The Invisible Government had awarded him an invisible medal.
*1 The "B.P.R." stands for Bureau of Public Roads, which really does
have two buildings at Langley. One is a research laboratory for
testing road materials; the lab also has a wind tunnel to measure
the effect of breezes on suspension bridges.
Under Central Intelligence Agency and under United States
Government. The 1964 Washington phone book had something new -- it
listed a downtown "Employment Office" for the CIA.
The exact final construction cost is classified, according to a
spokesman for the General Services Administration.
Each worker in a government building takes up an average of about
150 square feet of office space, according to figures compiled
nationwide by the GSA since 1960. On this basis, the CIA building
would hold 8,187 people. However, as Dulles indicated, the
space-per-worker figure can be much lower. Washington's new Civil
Service Commission building has 135 square feet per worker, for
example. At that figure, the CIA would house 9,097 people. Based on
these space-utilization figures, some 8,000 to 10,000 people would
work at the CIA headquarters at Langley.
Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, which built the U-2 and along with
NASA served as a front for the CIA, announced on November 3, 1962,
that Powers had taken "a routine test pilot job" with Lockheed at
Burbank, California. "It involves checking out the U-2s that are
modified, maintained and overhauled," said a Lockheed
public-relations spokesman. A CIA source said the same day that
Powers had left the agency because "his work was finished." After
the U-2 was shot down in May, 1960, both NASA and Lockheed announced
that Powers was a civilian pilot employed by Lockheed. Actually, he
was flying for the CIA under a $30,000-a-year contract he had signed
with the intelligence agency in 1956.
From a twenty-page limited circulation booklet the CIA published
about itself in 1961.
Around the Edge of War, Clarkson N. Potter, Inc., New York, 1961.
Torpats lost his case. Both the U.S. District Court and the Court
of Appeals upheld Dulles.
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CIA - The Central Intelligence Agency