PART 1 OF 4Part One
South Bend, Indiana April 1956
Hundreds of companies come to the university to interview students for possible employment. I hadn't signed up for any interviews but I've just had my first, and probably only, job interview. To my surprise a man from the CIA came out from Washington to see me about going into a secret junior executive training programme. Virginia Pilgrim must have recommended me. I'd forgotten she mentioned a programme like this when she stayed with us in Tampa last year -- said she would dearly love to see the son of her oldest friends come into the CIA. Somehow I have the impression she is one of the highest-ranking women in the CIA -- worked on the Clark Task Force that investigated the CIA under the Hoover Commission.
I told Gus, ‡ the recruiter, that I had already been accepted for law study. He was surprised. Virginia didn't know my plans. He said the JOT (Junior Officer Trainee) Program consists of six to nine months, in some cases even a year, of increasingly specialized training on the graduate school level. After the course you begin CIA work on analysis, research, special studies and reports writing, administration or secret operations. He said he couldn't say much about the course or the work because it is all classified.
Gus asked me about my military service situation and when I told him I would have to do it sooner or later he mentioned a possible combination. For JOT'S who haven't done military service the CIA arranges for them to take a special course in the Army or the Air Force, which is really controlled by the CIA. It takes about a year to get an officer's commission and then you have to serve a year on a military assignment. Then it's back to Washington for the JOT training programme and finally assignment to a job at CIA headquarters in Washington. According to his calculations it would take five or six years to be assigned overseas if I wanted to go into secret operations. Too long to wait before getting to the good part, I thought.
Gus knew a lot about me: student government, academic honours and the rest. I said that what I liked best was being Chairman of the Washington's Birthday Exercises in February when we gave the Patriotism Award to General Curtis Lemay. I told Gus that the Exercises are the most important expression of the 'country' part of the Notre Dame motto ('For God, Country, and Notre Dame '). He said I should keep the CIA in mind if I changed my plans. I would consider the CI A if the military combination worked but Gus emphasized that they only want people prepared for a career in the CIA. That leaves me out.
I suppose the CIA works closely with General Lemay and his Strategic Air Command. This is the most important part of the speech he gave at the Exercises:
Tampa, Florida June 1956
Our patriotism must be intelligent patriotism. It has to go deeper than blind nationalism or shallow emotional patriotic fervour. We must continually study and understand the shifting tides of our world environment. Out of this understanding we must arrive at sound moral conclusions. And we must see to it that these conclusions are reflected in our public policies .... If we maintain our faith in God, our love of freedom, and superior global air power, I think we can look to the future with confidence.
It's a strange feeling being back in Florida for the summer with no plans to return to the cold north in the fall. The miserable weather and the long distance from home and all the other negative aspects of studying at Notre Dame seemed to fade away during Commencement Week-end.
No more bed check or lights out at midnight. No more compulsory mass attendance and evening curfew. No more Religious Bulletin to make you feel guilty if you didn't attend a novena, benediction or rosary service. And no more fear of expulsion for driving a car in South Bend. The end has come too, I hope, to the loneliness and frustration of living in an all-male institution isolated from female company.
What will it be like to live without the religion and discipline of the university? It may have been hard but they were teaching us how to live the virtuous life of a good Catholic. Even so, I still have this constant fear that after all I might die by accident with a mortal sin on my soul. Eternity in hell is a worry I can't seem to shake off. But the main thing is to keep on trying -- not to give up. After having to take all those courses on religion the only person to blame, if I really don't make it, will be me. It is the discipline and religion that makes Notre-Dame men different, and after four years of training I ought to be able to do better.
Admiral Arleigh Burke, Chief of Naval Operations, discussed this in his speech at the graduation ceremony. He really impressed me:
Notre-Dame symbolizes many virtues. It blends the virtues of religion and patriotism -- service to God, service to country. Notre-Dame stands for faith -- faith in self and faith in country .... Self discipline and determination and fighting spirit are an integral part of the curriculum ... We are living in a great country where there is equality of opportunity, where justice is a reality.... We are a generous nation.... We will never wage a war of aggression.... We are a strong nation.... We have strong allies.... But greater than all this strength is the strength of our moral principles.... Our nation is the symbol of freedom, of justice and opportunity, regardless of flag or political beliefs .... Communism has been, and still is, a prison for the millions who are denied the opportunity to learn responsibility -- who are compelled to let the few do the thinking for the many who will do the labor .... Should we relax our efforts, either spiritual or physical, we would find our ship without a rudder; we would find our strength not sufficient to cope with the strong adverse winds which at some time will confront us. It takes a man with strength and a stout heart to steer in a gale.
Admiral Burke writes a great speech -- couldn't have been more accurate or more inspiring. At Notre Dame we learned how one's responsibilities extend beyond oneself to family, community and nation, and that respect for authority is the virtue of a respectable citizen.
I will be driving a truck this summer to earn money for law school in the fall.Tampa, Florida December 1956
Studying law at the University of Florida was a mistake. I didn't feel I belonged -- I wasn't comfortable -- in the fraternity whirl and the' hail fellow' routine. But I'm not an ascetic either. I suppose it was the lack of a sense of purpose or maybe I couldn't adjust to secular learning after four years of Jesuits and four at Notre Dame. At least I did realize it, and only stayed three months.
I checked with the draft board and they said I have about six months before I'll be called up. It's a sad prospect, two years wasted as a private, washing dishes and peeling potatoes. For a few months anyway I'll live with my parents in Florida and try to save some money. A draftee only makes about eighty dollars a month and that's hardly enough for booze and cigarettes.
The problem is what to do about the business. My father and grandfather are just starting a big expansion and they're counting on me to take my place with them. I know I'll make a lot of money but I can't get enthusiastic about it. Why the reluctance to go into a family business? When I switched to philosophy studies after a year of business administration at Notre Dame I thought I was doing it for the sake of a higher form of education. Like so many others I could learn to run a business once I got into it. Well now I'm in it and I feel the same as when I rejected business administration for philosophy. I wish I could speak to my father or grandfather about it but it would look as if I think I'm too good for something they've dedicated their lives to.
No hasty decisions. I've got six months to work with them and then two years in the Army.Tampa, Florida February 1957
There has got to be a way to avoid two lost years in the Army. I've written to the CIA, reminding them of my meeting with Gus, and asking to be reconsidered. I've received application forms, returned them, advised Virginia Pilgrim by telephone, and now have to wait. Virginia said her friends in the personnel department would process my application as fast as possible because of the problem of the draft but it looks as if I may be too late. She said the security clearance takes about six months so the draft will probably win.
Gus said the JOT programme is strictly for people who want to make the CIA a career and I've been wondering about this. No way to know until I learn more about what CIA work is like, but I really am interested in politics and international relations. And the more I live here the less enthusiastic I get for a lifetime in the family business.
We'll see what kind of alternative the CIA can provide. It will mean three years' military duty instead of two if they take me, but I'll be an officer -- more pay, better work (especially at the CIA), and time to decide.Washington DC April 1957
I've been called to Washington for an interview with the JOT office which is in Quarters Eye near the Potomac River. I waited in a reception room until a secretary came for me, filled out a visitor's pass form giving name, address and purpose of visit, and the receptionist added the hour and stamped in large letters MUST BE ACCOMPANIED. Then she gave me a plastic clip-on badge which I had to wear at all times. The secretary signed as responsible for me and I followed her to the JOT office.
The man who interviewed me is named Jim Ferguson. ‡ We spent about a half-hour discussing Notre Dame, the family business and my interest in a career in foreign affairs. I remembered the conversation with Gus and emphasized that while I am interested in a CIA career I know so little about the Agency that my reasons are necessarily restricted to an interest in foreign affairs. He said that they had arranged a series of tests and interviews with officers in charge of the JOT programme, including Dr Eccles, ‡ the Program Director. If the testing and interviews go well a complete security background investigation will be made: which could take about six months. But in my case, with the problem of the draft, they could ask for priority action and hope for the best.
The secretary gave me a piece of plain white paper with the building names, offices and times I was to report for the testing - it would take three days in all. She explained that at each building I would have to report to the receptionist, who would call the office where I had the appointment for someone to come and sign me in. She also reminded me to wear the visitor's badge at all times in the buildings and to return it with the pink visitor's pass on leaving. I would use the shuttle, an exclusive Agency bus, to get around the different buildings.
During that first visit to the JOT office, I immediately sensed the fraternal identification among the CI A people. I suppose it was partly because they used a special 'inside' language. No one spoke of 'CIA', 'Central Intelligence Agency', or even 'The Agency'. Every reference to the Agency used the word 'company'.
My first appointment was at the North Building with the Medical Staff and after that I alternated between those people and the office called ;Assessment and Evaluation' in the Recreation and Services Building on Ohio Drive. Although it seemed that the Medical Staff were looking for physical and mental health, and that 'A and E' were looking for the special qualities needed in an intelligence operative, there seemed to be little distinction between them. It was exhausting: endless hours filling in answer sheets to vocational, aptitude and personality tests. I've read of the elaborate testing procedures developed by the Office of Strategic Services during World War II and now I see it's still going on. Stanford, Minnesota, Strong, Wechsler, Guilford, Kudor, Rorschach -- some tests are administered and others just written. The worst was the interview with the psychiatrist at the Medical Staff -- he really bugged me.
I finally finished about noon on the afternoon of the third day, and I had a couple of hours before I had to report back to the JOT office so I decided to do some sightseeing. I grabbed a sandwich at a blind stand and then took the shuttle to the Executive Office Building. (Those blind stands -- sandwich bars operated by blind people -- are in practically every building. I guess it's a good thing for the blind people to have that work, and the company can let them in the buildings because they can't read secret papers. Everybody wins.)
Then out to the Washington Monument. Looking out from the top of the Monument at the buildings where our national life is guided, where our integrity in the face of grave external threat is defended, and where the plurality of conflicting domestic interests finds harmony, I admitted to myself that participation in government is my long-range goal. It won't matter if I live below my parents' material level or even without fixed roots in a community. Working in the Central Intelligence Agency, preferably overseas, with intimate knowledge of the functioning and decisions of friendly and hostile governments will provide a forever stimulating and exciting atmosphere as well as an intellectually challenging occupation. I'll be a warrior against communist subversive erosion of freedom and personal liberties around the world -- a patriot dedicated to the preservation of my country and our way of life.
I left the Monument through the circle of American flags and walked back to Quarters Eye feeling more confident and self-possessed than at any time since arriving. After the usual sign-in, pink slip, badge and escort procedure, I was received again by Ferguson ‡ who told me the first reports on the testing looked pretty good. While waiting to see Dr Eccles, Ferguson said he would brief me on the military programme they had in mind. First, however, he warned me that the programme was classified and not to be discussed with anyone outside the Agency. At his request I signed a statement acknowledging that what I learned was information relating to national security and promising that I would not reveal it.
Ferguson outlined the military programme. When the security clearance is completed I will be called back to Washington where I will enlist in the Air Force. After three months' basic training I will be assigned to the first available class at Officer Candidate School -- all at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. Following OCS I will be assigned to an Air Force base somewhere in the US, and, with luck, my duties will be in air intelligence. Ferguson explained that the company doesn't control assignments made by the Air Force after completion of OCS, but more and more of the company military trainees are getting intelligence assignments during the obligatory year of strictly military duties. After a year at the Air Force base I will be transferred to an Air Force unit in Washington that is actually a company cover unit, and my formal company training will begin.
The secretary appeared and said Dr Eccles would see me. I still had to get past him and I had primed myself for this meeting. Virginia had told me that Dr Eccles's approval was necessary for acceptance. He turned out to be a bushy-browed, bespectacled man of about sixty with an unavoidable authoritative glare. He asked me why I wanted to be an intelligence officer and when I replied that foreign affairs is one of my main interests he tried to make me uncomfortable. He said that foreign policy is for diplomats; intelligence officers only collect information and pass it to others for policymaking. He added that maybe I should try the State Department. I said maybe I should but that I don't know enough about the Agency yet to decide, adding that I'd like to come into the programme to see. He then gave me a little lecture; they don't want men who will quit the CIA as soon as they finish military service. They want only men who will be career intelligence officers. After that he turned into a kind old grandfather and said we'd see how the security clearance turned out. Heshook my hand and said they'd like to have me. Made it! I'm in -- but it seems too easy.
Back in Ferguson's office where he continued to describe the programme. At no time will I be connected openly with the company, and I am to tell no one that I am being considered by it for employment. Assuming the security investigation is favourable, they will arrange for me to be hired as a civilian by the Department of the Air Force, actually by an Air Force cover unit of the company, when I am called back to Washington. A few weeks later I will enlist in the Air Force and be sent to Lackland for basic training. While in the Air Force I will be treated just like any other enlistee and no one will know of my company connection. Keeping the secret will be part of my training -- learning to live my cover. A violation of cover could lead to dismissal from the programme. My assignments afterwards will also be determined in part by how well I have concealed my company affiliation. Back in Florida I must keep the plan secret, but notify Ferguson if I receive any orders from the draft board.
I'm beginning to feel a kind of satisfaction in having a secret and of being on the threshold of an exclusive club with a very select membership. I am going to be my own kind of snob. Inside the Agency I'll be a real and honest person. To everyone outside I'll have a secret lie about who and what I am. My secret life has begun.Washington DC July 1957
Salvation! The security clearance ended before the call-up came, and I drove to Washington loaded with books, hi-fi, records and tennis gear. Georgetown is the 'in' area where a CIA officer trainee feels most comfortable, so I've moved in with some former Notre Dame classmates who are doing graduate study at Georgetown University. We're living in a restored Federalist house on Cherry Hill Lane, a narrow brick street between M Street and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. I have that feeling of being just the right person in just the right place. These friends don't know I'm going into the CIA so this will be my first real test of living a cover.
At the JOT office Ferguson told me whom I am working for. My 'employer' is the Department of the Air Force, Headquarters Command, Research and Analysis Group, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington. He gave me the names of my commander, an Air Force colonel, and of my immediate supervisor, a major, both of whom are fictitious. I have to memorize all this so I can reel it off to people I meet. My Bolling Air Force Base telephone number rings in the Agency Central Cover Division where they have some male telephone operators who roll dice each morning to see who will play the colonel and who will play the major.
I signed another secrecy agreement -- the wording makes it permanent, eternal and universal about everything I learn in the company - and Ferguson sent me over to my first assignment at 1016 16th Street. I rushed over but discovered nobody was expecting me. Finally I was called up to the fourth floor and welcomed to the Personnel Pool. All we do is fold maps and have crossword puzzle competitions.
The Personnel Pool is a holding area for all prospective employees who lack the final nihil obstat for the security clearance -- we're all waiting for the same happy event: the polygraph or lie detector. We're about thirty people. Some of them have been in the pool for over a month and they're the rumour-mongers. It seems that the polygraph, or 'technical interview' as it's officially called, has been a real trauma for some. We have been warned that nobody talks about the 'poly' and that makes the rum ours all the more mysterious. It seems that the main part of the apparatus crosses the breasts, which makes some of the girls nervous, and the main questioning is on homosexual experience, which makes some of the boys nervous. There are stories of nervous breakdowns, ambulances and even suicide. There's no doubt, however, what's going to happen when you get advised of an appointment at Building 13.Washington DC July 1957
After two weeks of folding maps my turn finally came. How stupid to think I could beat the machine! Yesterday I was 'polyed' and now I'm back at the Personnel Pool but on a different floor and with people who've already taken the test. We're kept away from those who haven't taken it so they won't know much about it. The interrogators don't tell you right away about the results of the test -- they make you wait. Nothing but gloom here.
The shuttle doesn't stop at Building 13 so I had to ask the driver to leave me as near as possible. When he acknowledged Building 13 in a loud voice (on purpose, I'm sure) the cold, knowing eyes of the other passengers focused right on me and I felt like a leper. They knew I was about to make a secret, intimate confession. Bad joke.
At 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue, the driver announced Building 13 and pointed me towards a complex of temporary buildings, barracks style, beyond a parking lot towards the Watergate. The buildings are surrounded by high chain-link fences topped by several strands of barbed-wire tilting towards the outside. All the windows. have the same type of chain-link mesh and every third or fourth window has an air-conditioner. None of them are open and the buildings look impenetrable.
I made my way along the fence and the first building I noticed after getting to a gate was one with a discreet 13 near the entrance. After a short wait with the receptionist I was greeted by a man about thirty-five -- clean-cut, clean-shaved and clear-eyed. He took me a short distance down a hallway, opened a door, and we passed into a small room with acoustical tile covering the walls and ceiling. There was a standard government leather easy chair that backed up to a desk-like construction with a built-in apparatus of dials, graph paper and odd, narrow, metal pens. In an effort to keep me from more than a swift glance at the machine, he conducted me immediately to a sitting position in the easy chair. From behind the desk he brought a straight chair and sat down in front of me.
The interrogator announced that I had reached the final phase of the security clearance procedure necessary for access to Top Secret material and, of course, for employment with the company. He assured me that all employees of the company, even Mr. Dulles, submit to the polygraph -- not just once when they're hired, but periodically throughout their careers. Then he asked me to sign a prepared statement acknowledging that I was submitting to the test of my own volition and that I would hold no claim against any person or the company afterwards no matter what the outcome. I eagerly signed this quit claim -- in advance -- and also another secrecy agreement, pledging myself to speak to no one of the questions or other details of the interview.
We then reviewed the questions, all of which were to be answered simply 'yes' or 'no'. Is my name Philip Burnett Franklin Agee? Was I born on 19 January 1935? Have I ever used any other name or identity? Have I filled out my job application form honestly? Have I ever been a member of any of the subversive organizations on the Attorney-General's list? Have I ever been a communist or belonged to any communist organization? Have I ever been in a foreign country? In a communist country? Have I known any officials of a foreign government? Of a communist government? Have I ever known an intelligence officer of a foreign country? Have I ever worked for a foreign government? For a foreign intelligence service? For a communist intelligence service? Have I been asked by anyone to obtain employment with the CIA? Have I told anyone outside the CIA of my attempt to obtain employment? Have I ever engaged in homosexual activities? Have I ever taken drugs? Have I taken tranquillizers today?
The pre-test interview lasted over an hour as the interrogator explored each question in depth, noting all names, dates, places, and finally rephrasing the question to include an 'other than' or 'except for' clause that would qualify the question and still allow for a 'yes' or 'no' answer. During this discussion the interrogator explained to me that the lie detector is used exclusively in the company by the Office of Security which is responsible for protecting the company against employment of security risks or against penetration by hostile intelligence services. He also assured me that everything I said during the interview is strictly confidential and will be restricted to my Office of Security File which is available only to security officers of the same office. I didn't have the courage to ask how many security officers that meant, but as I wondered I felt a creeping discomfort that behind one of those thousands of holes in the acoustical tiles there was a microphone secretly recording our conversation. I also began to wonder if I was having incipient symptoms of the paranoia that some people say is the personality trait sine qua non of the effective intelligence officer.
Now we were ready for the test. The polygraph consists of three apparatuses which are attached to the body of the person being interrogated and which connect by tubes or cords to the desk ensemble. Each apparatus measures physiological changes, marked on moving graph paper by three pens. There are, accordingly, a blood pressure cuff that can be attached either to the arm or leg, a corrugated rubber tube about two inches in diameter that is placed snugly around the chest and fastened in the back, and a hand-held device with electrodes that is secured against the palm by springs that stretch across the back of the hand. The cuff measures changes in pulse and blood pressure, the chest-tube measures changes in breathing rhythm, and the hand instrument measures changes in perspiration. I was hooked into the machine, told to look straight ahead at the wall, to be very still, and to answer only 'yes' or 'no' to each question. The interrogator was behind me at the desk ensemble facing the back of my head. He asked the questions to my back and I answered to the wall in front.
During the pre-test interview I had given my interrogator several half-truths, partly because I simply resisted his invasion of my life, and partly because I was curious about the effectiveness of the machine. Foolish child! As the cuff inflated I was conscious of increased pulse and my hands began to sweat profusely. Anticipating the questions that I should react on, I started to count the holes in the tiles in order to distract myself from the test. The interrogator passed very slowly from one question to another, pausing between each question. I answered 'yes' or 'no' and at the end he slipped in an unannounced question: had I answered all the questions truthfully? Dirty trick. I said 'yes' and after a few seconds the cuff deflated.
I heard a shuffling of paper and he reviewed the chart as I remained still. He told me I could move a little but that if I was not particularly uncomfortable he would like me to remain seated and hooked up. Fine. He stayed behind the desk behind my chair behind my back and started asking me what I was thinking about when I answered the question on whether anyone had asked me to obtain employment with the CIA. Nothing in particular. He insisted but I couldn't come up with an answer other than that I was thinking that indeed no one had asked me. Discussion. Then he asked me what I was thinking when I answered the question about telling anyone outside the C (A of my attempt to obtain employment. Nothing in particular. Discussion. Then the question on homosexual experience. Then drugs. As we passed from question to question he insisted with increasing intensity that I try to remember what I was thinking when I answered the question, emphasizing that my cooperation is essential for a successful testing. Successful? I wondered if successful for him is the same as successful for me. Obviously not. I would stick to my half-truths. They weren't lies anyway, and besides I have heard that you can beat the machine if you stay consistent.
We started again. Up went the blood pressure cuff and out came the questions. In went the 'yes's' and 'no's' and up and down went the faintly scratching pens. I fiercely counted the holes in the tiles and was gaining in confidence. Down went the cuff followed by more post-test discussion. This time I was' having difficulty' on two more questions. I repeated and insisted that I was being truthful and that when answering each question I had been thinking only of the question and of its only possible truthful answer -- which I gave.
The interrogator said we would go through the questions again and that I hadn't done too well on the first two runs, adding that there is no way for me to be hired without successfully passing the test. Was there anything I wanted to say or clarify? No. I was being truthful and maybe something was wrong with the machine. That hurt. His tone cooled, the cuff inflated and we did another test. At the end he said I was obviously having trouble. With an air of finality he unhooked me from the machine.
At that moment I got scared and feared I wouldn't be hired. As I was about to confess he said he would leave me alone to think things over for five or ten minutes. He closed a lid to the desk ensemble and left the room taking the charts with him. I stood up and looked at my watch which I had been asked to remove and place on the desk behind me. I had been at Building 13 for over two hours. The interrogator was gone for at least twenty minutes. During that time I decided to tell the full truth. Why risk losing the job out of silly pride or the illusion that I could beat the machine? But as the door opened and my interrgator rejoined me I suddenly became frightened of admitting deception. I decided not to change any answer. Besides, in the Personnel Pool I had heard that some people who have difficulty are called back for a second or third time for the polygraph. I would have another day if I really failed this time.
We passed through the questions two more times. After both tests the interrogator insisted that I was having trouble on the same questions and I insisted that I was answering truthfully no matter what difficulty I was having. At last he said that would be all. I asked if I had passed and he answered sceptically that he didn't know, that I would be advised after the Security Office had reviewed my case and the charts. He was very pessimistic, and as I was leaving I feared that they might not even call me back for another test. I was exhausted -- went home, had a couple of drinks and slept for twelve hours.
When I called Virginia in the morning and told her I thought I'd failed the test, she said not to worry, that they always make people think they've failed. She thinks it's to avoid disappointment and fewer problems with those who really aren't going to be hired. Virginia's news is temporary relief, but the wait is agonizing. No more arrogant jokes about the polygraph in the Pool now -- and nobody's reckless enough to discuss his interrogation with anyone else. Everybody's just sitting.Washington DC July 1957
I couldn't stand it any longer. After three days' waiting, I called Ferguson to admit I was lying and to volunteer to take the test again. Before I could say anything he said he had some good news and to come over to his office. The tone of his voice gave infinite relief -- I knew I had passed.
At the JOT office Ferguson told me he has started my processing for enlistment in the Air Force but it will take three or four weeks. Meanwhile he wants me to take a training course on international communism and, if there is time, a course on the bureaucratic organization of the company. These aren't the courses I'll be taking when I get back but they'll be useful, he thinks, even if they're pretty elementary. He also had the secretary arrange to get me a badge -- I can come and go now without being signed in - and he made an appointment for me with Colonel Baird, ‡ the Director of Training.
I missed the meeting with Baird and after being chastised at the JOT office I finally saw him in his office at T-3 (another of the Potomac Park temporaries). I hadn't realized how important Colonel Baird is -- he set up the JOT programme in 1950 under direct supervision of General Walter Bedell Smith who was then Agency Director. With Princeton, Oxford, and the headmastership of a boys' school behind him, Baird is considerably more formidable than his military rank. He oozes firm leadership, old hand super-confidence and a Dunhill special blend for special pipes. He's tall, greying, very tanned and very handsome -- irresistible to the ladies, I'm sure. He didn't say much -- just to work hard at OCS.
Ferguson and everyone else, since the polygraph, have greeted me with' welcome aboard', as if these words are the official greeting for newcomers. Maybe there are a lot of ex-Navy men in the CIA -- or maybe these people like to think they're on a ship because of the isolation imposed by cover and security.Baltimore, Maryland August 1957
The two weeks studying communism and two weeks reading organizational charts of the headquarters' bureaucracy leave me happy to leave Washington.
Yesterday morning Ferguson gave me my final briefing on joining the Air Force. Arrangements had been made, he said, at the main Air Force recruiting office in Washington for me to be taken into the Air Force on a normal five-year enlistment, which was the standard procedure for all Air Force enlistees. However, after basic training I will receive a special appointment by the Secretary of the Air Force to the first OCS class. I would have to be prepared to cover this appointment because we JOT'S are the only exceptions to the Air Force regulation that five years' service is needed before an enlisted man can even apply for OCS. Ferguson said I can refer to a little known (so little known, in fact, that it doesn't exist) Air Force programme for college graduates if I am pressed, but I can probably avoid giving explanations. He warned me, however, not to tell anyone that I am going to OCS until the assignment is actually announced to me at Lackland Air Force Base.
I signed another secrecy agreement and Ferguson said I'll have to take the polygraph again when I get back in two years' time. Then I took the bus to the recruiting office carrying only an overnight bag with some toilet articles and a change of underwear and socks.
I told the paunchy, weather-beaten recruiting sergeant my name as pleasantly as I could. He answered 'yeah' and when I noticed it was a question I wondered whether to say' here I am' or 'I want to enlist'. I decided to say both, trying to sound unrehearsed, and I added that I thought I was expected. The recruiting sergeant understandably looked back as if he thought I thought the Air Force was about to be saved.
He gave me some forms to fill in and asked if I wanted to go in thirty, sixty or ninety days. I said cheerfully that I was ready to go right then, which made his eyes narrow and his mouth screw up into that' another case' expression. He motioned me over to a table across the room where I filled in the forms, wondering all the while whether the sergeant was really attached to the JOT office and was testing my ability to maintain the cover story. I returned the forms which he looked over and then he disappeared into a back office.
After a few minutes he returned with another recruiting sergeant and both expressed considerable scepticism. We spent the next half-hour discussing why a philosophy graduate wanted to enlist for five years in the Air Force in order to learn to be a radar mechanic. Finally I admitted that it was indeed kind of strange and I accepted their invitation to think it over for a few days. I carried my little bag of essentials out of the recruiting office wishing I could find somewhere to hide.
From a telephone booth I called Ferguson to advise that apparently the Air Force didn't want me -- not that day anyway. He gulped and stammered for me to call him back in two hours. I wondered what clown had missed his cue while at the same time I dreaded facing the recruiting sergeant again. When I called back, Ferguson told me to go back to the recruiting office, that everything was all right now. When I pressed him for an explanation his voice turned cold and he warned me not to discuss classified matters over the telephone. Back in the recruiting office there was a new sergeant who' simply gave me a ticket for the bus to Baltimore for the medical examination and swearing in.
At Fort Holabird they took me. Tonight I fly to San Antonio to begin two years away from CIA headquarters -- Ferguson said I must consider this time as part of the JOT training, a time for 'maturing', I think he said.San Antonio, Texas Christmas 1957
Tony and I had Christmas dinner at the dining-hall, the low point of a miserable day. Next week, New Year's Eve to be exact, we report to OCS. We're going to live it up meanwhile except neither of us has any money.
There are only three of us going into this class; Tony, who's from Princeton; Bob, from Williams, and me. A couple of nights ago we met in a hotel downtown with the six JOT'S who started OCS in the last class. They are going to be upper classmen now -- the course is three months lower and three months upper class -- which means they will be harassing us. That's normal and necessary for cover.
For the meeting we took security precautions as Ferguson instructed when he came to see us in October. No one can take any chances by a show of prior knowledge or special camaraderie between the triple Xer's. Those three X's which are in brackets after our names on all our documents, are the Air Force's way of keeping track of CIA trainees.
The guys from the upper class told us not to be surprised if they put the heat on us -- they have to because of the resentment on the part of the others in the class who had to work years to get into OCS. It seems these non-corns aren't happy about our miniscule bunch (there are about 300 cadets altogether in OCS) being specially privileged by entering straight from basic training. I suppose we'll run into the same.San Antonio, Texas June 1958
In a few days I'll be a Second Lieutenant unless the OCS Commandant decides my insult was too much to take. A couple of weeks ago he called me in to tell me I was going to be eligible for a regular commission instead of a reserve commission. Only the top six OCS graduates get regular commissions and for an aspiring career officer it's the end of the rainbow -- you practically can't get discharged. The Commandant also said it looked as if I might graduate first in the class. I made a panic call to Ferguson and he told me to turn the regular commission down. I told the Commandant who said it might not help our cover situation (he's the only officer on the OCS staff who knows of our CIA sponsorship), if the top graduate refuses a regular commission. I got the hint and am holding back an academic paper which should drop me a notch or two. But the Commandant took my refusal of the regular commission like a slap in the face. Guess this hasn't come up before.
My orders after commissioning are for transfer to the Tactical Air Command. It's too good to believe: assignment as intelligence officer to a fighter squadron at a base just outside Los Angeles.Victorville, California June 1959
My orders finally came for transfer back to Washington -- to the company bogus unit, I mean. It's been a marvellous year, driving up and down those motorways to Mexico, San Francisco, Yosemite, Monterey. I finally got busy training the pilots in targeting because we have the new F-104 and nuclear targets in China. I've also done some training in evasion and escape because some of the targets are one-way ditch missions. The only big mistake was volunteering for the Survival School at Reno, Nevada because they sent me to the January course and the week-long trek in the mountains was on snowshoes -- pure misery.
I've been seeing Janet, my girlfriend from college, almost every week-end since last summer. I've told her about my work in the company and about my hopes to be assigned abroad. We've talked a lot about marriage but we're not sure what to do. She would like to stay in California, and I wonder if I should wait until after the JOT course is over a year from now. I'll be leaving for Washington in a couple of weeks and we'll see how we endure the separation.Washington DC September 1959
It didn't take a long time for us to decide. Less than a month after I left California we agreed we didn't want to wait any longer, so now we begin a life together. We were married at Notre Dame as a kind of compromise because Janet's family is Congregationalist and she felt a wedding in a Catholic Church in her home town might raise difficulties. We took a small apartment in the building complex where Vice-President Nixon and his wife first lived when they came to Washington after his election to the House. We have furniture to buy, but family and friends have been exceedingly generous and new gifts arrive every day. We can save some money by shopping at the military commissaries because I'm still on active duty.
My military cover unit is an Air Intelligence Service Squadron at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington. My cover telephone number has changed but the same two telephone operators are rolling the same dice to see who will be the colonel and who the major.
Ferguson said I probably won't be discharged until June or July of next year, which will coincide with the end of the JOT training programme.
All the JOT'S in the OCS class ahead of me, my class, and the one behind me are united in the JOT programme. Even so, we make up only about fifteen of the sixty-odd in the class - which includes only six women. The JOT classes, which have just started, are held in the Recreation and Services Building, the same one where I was tested by the Assessment and Evaluation staff two years ago. The 'A and E' routines are even longer now than before and I'm going through all of those monotonous tests again. The only thing we lack is a mammoth Potomac Park football stadium for Saturday afternoon frenzy -- the rest is the old college routine once more.
The opening sessions in the training course were welcoming speeches by Allen Dulles, Colonel Baird, and others who have been showering us with affection and praise for following them into this life of deliberate self-abnegation, unknown sacrifice and silent courage as secret warriors in the battles of our time. Very romantic. Each one of us in the class represents the one in a hundred, or one in a thousand, of the total number of applicants for the JOT programme who were finally accepted. The company leaders tell us we're entering the world's second oldest profession (maybe even the first, but that can't be proved) and if there are any uneasy consciences in the group they have been soothed by Biblical quotations showing that no less a figure than God himself instituted spying. So much for the moral question.
But our country had forgotten the lesson of Jericho. In 1929 Secretary of State H. L. Stimson closed the code-breaking operation known as the Black Chamber with the scolding that 'gentlemen don't read other people's mail'. Until Pearl Harbor foreign intelligence in the United States was all but forgotten. Then there were the heroics of the OSS during the war followed by the decision of President and Congress alike not to risk another surprise attack by leaving early warning to peace-time military neglect once again. So the civilian CIA was established in 1947 to provide a centralized agency for processing all foreign intelligence and for producing a national intelligence product blessed by enlightenment from all possible sources.
After two years away with the Air Force these first sessions have been stimulating and even exciting -- almost like a raging thirst being finally quenched. The JOT office has arranged evening language courses for anyone interested, and Janet and I have a class in Spanish three nights a week. It's nice that the company includes the wives as much as possible. Otherwise they would really be at a distance, because everything we study and read, almost, is classified. We selected Spanish only because that was my language at school, but there is a monetary awards programme for maintenance and improvement of foreign languages and it might be a way to earn a little extra. Things are working out just right.Washington DC October 1959
We've just finished a month studying communism and Soviet foreign policy, and soon we'll begin studying the government organization for national security, where the Agency fits in, and the bureaucratic organization of headquarters. Each of us has periodic sessions with one of the JOT counsellors to discuss possible future assignments and where to continue training after Christmas. Almost everyone seems to want to go into secret operations, which will mean six months' special training away from Washington at a place called 'the farm'. I told Ferguson I wanted to go to 'the farm', but he was non-committal.
The lectures and readings in communism have been especially interesting. The Office of Training stays away from philosophy -- dialectical materialism wasn't even mentioned -- while concentrating on the Soviets. It's a practical approach, of sorts, because what the CIA is up against, one way or another, is Russian expansion directed by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union -- CPSU. The Leninist concept of the party, particularly its elitist and secretive nature, and the CPSU's difficulties in reconciling pragmatism with ideology (Russian domination of the minority nationalities, NEP, collectivization and elimination of the kulaks, united front doctrine, the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact) are seen as related to one goal: obtaining, retaining and expanding power.
Subservience of foreign communist parties to the CPSU is another theme given considerable emphasis -- it's hard to believe that the Soviets with a straight face preach that the first obligation of every communist, no matter what nationality, is to defend the Soviet Union. Institutions such as the Comintern and Cominform served that purpose in their time, but the KGB is the principal organ. Much importance, of course, is given to the Soviet security organizations, from the Cheka down.
The writings of defectors from communism were the most interesting: Louis Budenz, Howard Fast, The God that Failed, Kravchenko, Gouzenko, Petrov. But the most devastating for the Soviets, because of his criticism of Leninist party doctrine, is Milovan Djilas. The other day we split into small groups and interviewed Peter Deriabin ‡ -- he's the highest-ranked KGB defector yet. It was done through closed-circuit television so that he could not see us (to protect our security) and he was disguised and spoke through an interpreter (to protect his security because he is living in the Washington area).
The central theory is that communist attempts to set up dictatorships around the world are really manifestations of Soviet expansion which in turn is determined by the need to maintain CPSU power at home. Our country is the real target, however, and the Soviets have said often enough that peace is impossible until the US is defeated. Now we're going to study how the government, and the CIA in particular, are set up to counter the Soviet threat.