PART 1 OF 2A History
THE INVISIBLE GOVERNMENT was born December 7, 1941, in the smoke and rubble of Pearl Harbor. It was still a child when the Cold War began after World War II, an adolescent during the 1950s, and it reached its majority a year after President Kennedy took office.
Whatever else the multitude of inquiries into Pearl Harbor proved, they did show that the United States was badly in need of a centralized intelligence apparatus. There were plenty of warning signs before Pearl Harbor of the coming Japanese attack, but they were not pulled together, analyzed and brought forcefully to the attention of the government.
"The CIA," the Hoover Commission said in 1955, "may well attribute its existence to the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and to the postwar investigation into the part Intelligence or lack of Intelligence played in the failure of our military forces to receive adequate and prompt warning of the impending Japanese attack."
The United States shed its isolationist traditions and emerged from World War II as the leader of the West. Regardless of Pearl Harbor, its new global responsibilities and objectives would have, in any event, led to the creation of a global American intelligence network. Added to this, the early emergence of the Soviet Union as an adversary almost before the V-J celebrations had ended made the growth of an Invisible Government in the United States virtually inevitable.
Even in the absence of a clash between Western democracy and international Communism, the conduct of United States foreign policy in the postwar world would have required intelligence information upon which the policy makers could base their decisions.
This was stated in characteristic style by President Truman in 1952. On November 21, shortly after President Eisenhower's election, Truman stole away from the White House to deliver a talk behind closed doors at a CIA training session.
"It was my privilege a few days ago," Truman said, "to brief the general, who is going to take over the office on the twentieth of January, and he was rather appalled at all that the President needs to know in order to reach decisions -- even domestic decisions." The modern presidency, Truman declared, carried power beyond parallel in history, more power than that of Genghis Khan, Caesar, Napoleon or Louis XIV.
No central intelligence organization existed when he became President in 1945, Truman continued. "Whenever it was necessary for the President to have information, he had to send to two or three departments ... and then he would have to have somebody do a little digging to get it.
"The affairs of the presidential office, so far as information was concerned, were in such shape that it was necessary for me, when I took over the office, to read a stack of documents that high [gesturing], and it took me three months to get caught up."
President Roosevelt had been concerned about the same problem. In 1940 he sent William J. Donovan, then a New York attorney, on an informal intelligence-gathering mission to England, the Mediterranean and the Balkans. "Wild Bill" Donovan returned with the information Roosevelt wanted -- and a recommendation that a central intelligence organization be established.
Out of this emerged the Office of Coordinator of Information, with General Donovan as its head. On June 13, 1942, this was split into the Office of Strategic Services, under Donovan, and the Office of War Information. The function of the OSS was to gather intelligence, but it first became famous by dropping parachutists behind enemy lines in France, Norway, Italy, Burma and Thailand, setting a pattern of combining special operations with information-gathering that is still followed by the CIA.
By 1944 Donovan had prepared for Roosevelt a plan to establish a central intelligence agency. It was referred to the Joint Chiefs, and pigeonholed. But after Truman became President (and dug his way out from under the stack of papers he later complained about) he sent for Admiral William D. Leahy and asked him to look into the whole problem.
In the meantime Truman issued an order, on September 20, 1945, disbanding the OSS. Some of the OSS agents went into Army Intelligence. Others were transferred to the State Department. There they formed the nucleus of what became the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, an important branch of the Invisible Government.
Four months after the OSS closed up shop, Truman, on January 22, 1946, issued an executive order setting up a National Intelligence Authority and, under it, a Central Intelligence Group, which became the forerunner of the CIA. The Authority's members were Secretary of State James F. Byrnes, Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson, Secretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal and Admiral Leahy. The Central Intelligence Group was the Authority's operating arm. To head it, Truman selected Rear Admiral Sidney W. Souers, the deputy chief of Navy Intelligence. Souers had been a businessman in St. Louis before the war; the nation's first Director of Central Intelligence once headed the Piggly Wiggly Stores in Memphis.
Souers was anxious to get back to his business interests, and five months later, in June, Truman named Air Force General Hoyt S. Vandenberg to the post. He served until May 1, 1947, when Truman appointed Rear Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter. An Annapolis graduate who spoke three languages, Hillenkoetter had several years' experience in Navy Intelligence. He had been wounded while aboard the battleship West Virginia at Pearl Harbor. Later he set up an intelligence network for Admiral Chester W. Nimitz in the Pacific.
When the CIA was created by the National Security Act of 1947, Hillenkoetter became its first director. The CIA came into being officially on September 18, 1947. The Act is the same as that which established a Department of Defense and unified the armed services. It also created the National Security Council [i] and, under it, the CIA.
The duties of the CIA were set forth in five short paragraphs:
"(1) to advise the National Security Council in matters concerning such intelligence activities of the government departments and agencies as relate to national security;
"(2) to make recommendations to the National Security Council for the coordination of such intelligence activities ...;
"(3) to correlate and evaluate intelligence relating to the national security, and provide for the appropriate dissemination of such intelligence within the government ... Provided that the Agency shall have no police, subpena, law-enforcement powers, or internal-security functions ...;
"(4) to perform, for the benefit of the existing intelligence agencies, such additional services of common concern as the National Security Council determines can be more efficiently accomplished centrally;
"(5) to perform such other functions and duties related to intelligence affecting the national security as the National Security Council may from time to time direct."
On the face of it, the law appeared simply to give the CIA the task of correlating, evaluating and coordinating the collection of intelligence. How, then, could the CIA mount an invasion of 1,400 men at the Bay of Pigs, complete with its own air force and navy? How could it topple foreign governments, as it has done and was attempting to do at the Bay of Pigs?
The answer lies in the "other functions" which the CIA may perform under the 1947 Act, at the discretion of the National Security Council.
Almost from its inception, the agency has engaged in special operations -- clandestine activities, sometimes on a military scale. In 1948, after the Communist takeover in Czechoslovakia, James Forrestal, as the first Secretary of Defense, became alarmed at signs that the Communists might win the Italian elections. In an effort to influence the elections to the advantage of the United States, he started a campaign among his wealthy Wall Street colleagues to raise enough money to run a private clandestine operation. But Allen Dulles felt the problem could not be handled effectively in private hands. He urged strongly that the government establish a covert organization to conduct a variety of special operations.
Because there was no specific provision for covert political operations spelled out in the 1947 Act, the National Security Council -- in the wake of the events in Czechoslovakia and Italy -- issued a paper in the summer of 1948 authorizing special operations. There were two important guidelines: that the operations be secret and that they be plausibly deniable by the government.
A decision was reached to create an organization within the CIA to conduct secret political operations. Frank G. Wisner, an ex-OSS man, was brought in from the State Department to head it, with a cover title of his own invention. He became Assistant Director of the Office of Policy Coordination.
Under this innocuous title, the United States was now fully in the business of covert political operations. (A separate Office of Special Operations conducted secret actions aimed solely at gathering intelligence.) This machinery was in the CIA but the agency shared control of it with the State Department and the Pentagon. On January 4, 1951, the CIA merged the two offices and created a new Plans Division, which has had sole control over secret operations of all types since that date.
It is doubtful that many of the lawmakers who voted for the 1947 Act could have envisioned the scale on which the CIA would engage in operational activities all over the world.
President Truman later maintained that he had no idea that this was going to happen. In a syndicated newspaper article, date-lined December 21, 1963, he wrote:
"For some time I have been disturbed by the way CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the government ...
"I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak- and-dagger operations. Some of the complications and embarrassment that I think we have experienced are in part attributable to the fact that this quiet intelligence arm of the President has been so removed from its intended role that it is being interpreted as a symbol of sinister and mysterious foreign intrigue -- and a subject for cold war enemy propaganda." 1
It was under President Truman, however, that the CIA began conducting special operations.
Although the machinery was not established until 1948, one small hint of what was to come was tucked away in a memorandum which Allen Dulles submitted to Congress back in 1947. It said the CIA should "have exclusive jurisdiction to carry out secret intelligence operations." 2
Like the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, the "other functions" proviso of the National Security Act has been stretched to encompass activities by the CIA that are not even hinted at in the law. It is not generally realized that the CIA conducts secret political warfare under interpretations of that law. Nor is it widely understood that under the law and subsequent presidential fiat, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency wears two hats. Not only is he the head of the CIA, but more important, as Director of Central Intelligence he is in charge of the entire intelligence community, of which the CIA is only one, albeit the most powerful, branch.
In 1949 the Central Intelligence Agency Act was passed, exempting the CIA from all Federal laws that required the disclosure of the "functions, names, official titles, salaries, or numbers of personnel employed by the Agency." And it gave the Director of Central Intelligence the staggering and unprecedented power to spend money "without regard to the provisions of law and regulations relating to the expenditure of government funds." It granted him the unique right to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars in his secret annual budget simply by signing his name. The law allowed "such expenditures to be accounted for solely on the certificate of the director." That and that alone, the law said, "shall be deemed a sufficient voucher." [ii]
Senator Millard E. Tydings, the Maryland Democrat who was chief sponsor of the 1949 Act, explained why he felt it was necessary: "Men in this agency frequently lose their lives. Several have already done so, and under not very pretty circumstances. If we forced the agency to have a record of vouchers, foreign agents could pick up information as to the identity of our agents and what they were doing." 3
By 1950 the broader outlines of the Invisible Government had begun to take shape, with the CIA at its center. In that year the Intelligence Advisory Committee was created as a board of directors of the covert government. Later its name was changed to the present United States Intelligence Board. Although the names of the men (and of some of the agencies) represented on the board have changed, the main components of the secret government have remained fairly constant. Its overall size, of course, has increased vastly.
Code-breaking and cryptology were consolidated in 1952 in the new National Security Agency, established by presidential directive as part of the Defense Department. And, finally, the military intelligence agencies were brought together under the newly created Defense Intelligence Agency in 1961. But these were essentially administrative reorganizations. What has really changed since 1947 is not the general amorphous shape of the Invisible Government, but its size, technology, scope, power and importance- all of which have increased in geometric progression with a minimum of Congressional or public examination or understanding.
During the first three years of the CIA's life Admiral Hillenkoetter remained its director. He was replaced at a critical moment in the Korean War by General Walter Bedell Smith, Eisenhower's Chief of Staff during World War II, a former Ambassador to Moscow and the first four-star general in the U.S. Army who was never graduated from West Point or any other military school.
The agency became more aggressive under "Beedle" Smith, who played an important role in the Korean conflict and its intelligence post-mortems. But from the start, the man who placed his personal stamp upon the Invisible Government more than any other was Allen Welsh Dulles.
Dulles was consulted when Congress created the CIA in 1947. The next year Truman named him to head the three-man committee to see how well the new agency was working. [iii]
Dulles submitted the report to Truman after his re-election. In 1950 General Smith summoned Dulles to Washington. He came, expecting, he often said later, to stay six weeks. Instead, he remained eleven years. On August 23, 1951, Dulles was appointed deputy director.
Soon after President Eisenhower was elected, he appointed Smith as Under Secretary of State and on February 10, 1953, named Dulles as Director of Central Intelligence. He took office sixteen days later. Up to that point two admirals and two generals had held the job. Dulles became the first truly civilian director of the CIA.
To the post he brought a brilliant reputation as the wartime OSS chief in Switzerland. Perhaps even more important, his brother was Secretary of State. The emergence of the Invisible Government in the 1950s to a position of unprecedented strength cannot be comprehended unless a word is said about the Dulles brothers and their relationship. Uniquely, they embodied the dualism -- and indeed the moral dilemma -- of United States foreign policy since World War II.
John Foster Dulles and his younger brother were the sons of Allen Macy Dulles, a Presbyterian clergyman in upstate Watertown, New York. Allen Dulles was born there on April 7, 1893.
Some thought they detected traces of a clergyman's zeal in the sternly moralistic public posture of Foster Dulles as he conducted the nation's foreign policy during the Eisenhower years: the United States would contain the advance of international Communism as it sought to subvert the underdeveloped nations; but America would scrupulously avoid any interference in the internal affairs of other countries. The United States would not, in short, adopt the evil tactics of subversion and secret manipulation practiced by the Communist enemy.
In this, Foster Dulles reflected the American ethic; the world as we would like it to be. While he took this public position, his brother was free to deal with nastier realities, to overturn governments and to engage in backstage political maneuvers all over the globe with the CIA's almost unlimited funds. He was, as Allen Dulles once put it, able to "fight fire with fire" 4 in a less than perfect world. Because he was equally dedicated in his own secret sphere, it was under Allen Dulles' stewardship that the CIA enjoyed its greatest expansion, particularly in the field of government- shaking secret operations overseas.
In pursuing this dual foreign policy, these special operations were largely kept secret from the American people. The exception, of course, was when something went wrong, as at the Bay of Pigs.
This is not to say that the same two-sided foreign policy would never have evolved had the director of the CIA and the Secretary of State not been brothers. It very likely would have. But the natural friction between the objectives and methods of the diplomats and the "spooks," between the State Department and the CIA, was to an extent reduced because of the close working relationship of the Dulles brothers. [iv]
There was consequently less of a check and balance.
In a sense, one might say the Dulles brothers were predestined to take over the levers of power in the conduct of U. S. foreign affairs. Their mother's father, John Watson Foster, was Secretary of State under Benjamin Harrison [v] in 1892-3. Robert Lansing, an uncle by marriage, was Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson. Another uncle, John Welsh, was Minister to England under Rutherford B. Hayes. [vi] With such a heritage, it is not surprising that Foster and Allen were weaned on a diet of heady discussions of the affairs of state.
Allen Dulles was educated at Auburn, New York, Paris and Princeton. He taught English for a time in an agricultural school in Allahabad, India; and in China and Japan as well. Then he joined the diplomatic service in 1916, serving in Vienna and, during the war, in Berne, chiefly as an intelligence officer. Three years later the two brothers were together in Paris as staff members of the American delegation to the Versailles Peace Conference. Their uncle, Secretary of State Lansing, was a member of the delegation. The following year Allen Dulles married Clover Todd, the daughter of a Columbia University professor. (They had a son, Allen Macy, and two daughters, Clover Todd and Joan.)
In 1926, after service in Berlin, Constantinople and Washington, Allen Dulles left the world of diplomacy to begin a fifteen-year period of law practice with his brother in the Wall Street firm of Sullivan and Cromwell. As an international lawyer, he knew the political and industrial elite of Europe, and of Germany. This became useful during World War II when General Donovan assigned Dulles as chief of the OSS mission in Switzerland. He had diplomatic cover as an assistant to the minister in the American Legation. But he operated as a master spy from a fifteenth-century house in Berne overlooking the Aar River.
He has been credited with two outstanding feats for the OSS -- first, penetrating the German Abwehr, Hitler's intelligence service, and second, negotiating the surrender of German troops in Italy.
After the war it was natural enough that Allen Dulles would soon gravitate away from his law practice into the more exciting world of espionage. While it is impossible to make any definite judgment about the talents of a man who operated, for the most part, out of view, the constant and bitter personal attacks upon him by the Communist bloc provide one significant indication of his effectiveness. He certainly bothered them.
The CIA director projected a deceptively grandfatherly image, with his white hair, rimless glasses, his pipe and his sense of humor. There was no official in Washington more charming. Beneath this outward Mr. Chips demeanor was a man fascinated by the world of intelligence, by secret operations and by espionage and of its ramifications. Although he seemed to fumble a good deal with his pipe and his tobacco, Mr. Dulles perhaps quietly enjoyed the incongruousness of his appearance and his vocation. He was not without a sense of the dramatic.
Dulles was occasionally accused of being too much of a public figure for the head of a secret service. And in 1955 a Hoover Commission task force criticized him for having "taken upon himself too many burdensome duties and responsibilities on the operational side of CIA activities."
"Allen," commented one CIA associate, "couldn't administer himself."
But if the CIA was run in a tweedy, relaxed, pipe-and-slipper manner under Dulles, it was also true that morale was high, and he was well liked within the agency as well as outside of it.
Except for his closest friends, few people knew of the great personal tragedy in Dulles' life. His son, wounded in Korea, suffered brain damage that left him with very little recognition of people or events, and it was finally necessary to place him in an institution in Germany on Lake Constance, just over the Swiss border.
For most of the nine years that Dulles headed the intelligence community, he worked with the same three assistants at the CIA:
Charles Pearre Cabell, a gray-haired but youthful-looking four-star Air Force general and West Point graduate, was his deputy director. A Texan from Dallas (where his brother Earle was the mayor), he was the former head of Air Force Intelligence. He came to the CIA in 1953.
Richard Bissell, the deputy director for plans, who joined the CIA in 1954.
Robert Amory, the brother of the writer Cleveland Amory, and a former Harvard Law School professor. A tall, dark-haired man, he had intelligence and combat experience in World War II. He became the CIA's deputy director for intelligence in 1953.
This was the group which led the CIA during its period of greatest expansion in the 1950s. But even before this, it was evident that the agency was involved in a wide range of activities in many parts of the world.
Only six months after the CIA had come into existence, it found itself under fire for what would become a familiar complaint over the years -- alleged failure to predict a major international upheaval. In this case, it was the assassination of Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, the popular Liberal Colombian leader, on April 9 on a street in Bogota. The shooting touched off the "Bogotazo," two days of bloody riots that disrupted the Ninth Inter-American Conference and greatly embarrassed Secretary of State George C. Marshall, who headed the American delegation. Marshall blamed the riots on Communist october 20. [vii]
The post-mortem had its strange aspects. In the first place, expecting the CIA to forecast an assassination, is, in most instances, to endow it with supernatural powers. There are limits to what intelligence can predict. In the second place, Admiral Hillenkoetter, hauled before a House Executive Expenditures Subcommittee on April 15, read the text of secret CIA dispatches into the open record for the first and only time in history. This action, which raised hackles at the time, would, if done today, cause pandemonium.
The admiral maintained that although the Communists seized on Gaitan's assassination, the Colombian leader was slain in "a purely private act of revenge" by one Jose Sierra. The CIA chief said Gaitan, as an attorney, had just successfully defended in a murder trial the killer of Sierra's uncle.
Hillenkoetter testified that, furthermore, the CIA had predicted trouble at Bogota as far back as January 2. Then he dropped a bombshell. He charged that a March 23 CIA dispatch from Bogota, warning of Communist agitation, was withheld from Secretary Marshall by Orion J. Libert, a State Department advance man in Bogota, acting with the support of Ambassador Willard L. Beaulac.
The CIA dispatch, dated March 23, said:
Have confirmed information that Communist-inspired agitators will attempt to humiliate the Secretary of State and other members of the United States delegation to the Pan-American conference upon arrival in Bogota by manifestations and possible personal molestation.
Have passed this information on to the Ambassador and other interested embassy personnel with the request that full details on the arrival of delegation be submitted to this office for transmission to local police, who are anxious to give maximum possible protection ...
Advanced delegate O. J. Libert, who has been apprised of above, does not consider it advisable to notify the State Department of this situation, since he feels adequate protection will be given by police and does not want to alarm the delegates unduly. 5
Hillenkoetter then placed a whole sheaf of top-secret dispatches into the record, telling in some detail of Communist plans to disrupt the conference. Possibly Hillenkoetter was egged on by the fact that a few hours before he testified, Truman had told a news conference that he was as surprised as anyone about the riots in Bogota. He had, said Truman, received no advance warning. The government had received information that there might be picketing or demonstrations. But, he added a trifle plaintively, there had been no indication that anyone was going to get shot.
At the State Department, Lincoln White said it was "inconceivable" that the department had suppressed any CIA communications. Besides, he said, Secretary Marshall had known all about the Communist plans and had brushed them aside with what White diplomatically called "salty remarks." That about ended this painful episode. It did not, however, end the recurring question of the adequacy of the CIA's forecasting abilities.
To an extent, the CIA's role in the Korean War became clouded and fuzzed because it was caught up in the emotional storm touched off when Truman finally decided to fire General Douglas MacArthur. What the CIA had or had not predicted, and its freedom or lack of freedom to operate within MacArthur's command, became a subject of dispute between the imperious general and the angry chief executive. Yet the main outline of the CIA's performance and the precise issues in dispute are not difficult to pinpoint from the record.
Harry Truman was sitting in the library of his home in Independence, Missouri, on Saturday, June 24, 1950, when the telephone rang a bit after 10:00 P.M. It was Secretary of State Dean Acheson, calling to say that the North Koreans had invaded South Korea.
Truman hastened back to the capital the next day. On Monday he summoned to the White House the man he assumed should have had the most advance knowledge about what had happened -- Admiral Hillenkoetter.
It was something like Bogota all over again, although of course much more serious. The intelligence agency again had to defend itself for not precisely predicting a future event. And once again the CIA had become a subject of domestic political controversy.
After the meeting with Truman, Hillenkoetter told reporters at the White House that his agency had predicted the possibility of such an attack for a year. "The capabilities were there for a year, anyway," he said. He then hurried to Capitol Hill to give the same explanation to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Before testifying, he talked to newsmen about the Communist build-up along the 38th parallel.
"The condition existed for a long time," he said. "It has been expected for a year." Had the attack been anticipated over the weekend? "You can't predict the timing," the admiral replied.
Then the CIA chief appeared in secret before the Senate committee. One of the members said afterward that Hillenkoetter had read a series of reports on troop and tank concentrations in North Korea. The CIA reports covered a period of a year. The last one was dated June 20, four days before the attack. "If I had received those reports," said the senator, who asked that his name not be used, "I certainly would have been alerted to the danger." 6
Five years later Truman, in his memoirs, supported in part the position Hillenkoetter had taken. He wrote:
"The intelligence reports from Korea in the spring of 1950 indicated that the North Koreans were steadily continuing their build-up of forces and that they were continuing to send guerrilla groups into South Korea.
"There were continuing incidents along the 38th parallel, where armed units faced each other.
"Throughout the spring the Central Intelligence reports said that the North Koreans might at any time decide to change from isolated raids to a full-scale attack. The North Koreans were capable of such an attack at any time, according to the intelligence, but there was no information to give any clue as to whether an attack was certain or when it was likely to come." 7
As the UN forces regained the initiative in Korea, the next major question faced by the CIA (and MacArthur) was whether Communist China would intervene if UN troops pushed north to the Yalu River. The question became crucial just about the time Truman replaced Hillenkoetter with Walter Bedell Smith.
In his memoirs, Truman, again, has shed some light on this:
"On October 20 [viii] the CIA delivered a memorandum to me which said that they had reports that the Chinese Communists would move in far enough to safeguard the Suiho electric plant and other installations along the Yalu River which provided them with power." 8
Truman's account was backed up by Allen Dulles eight years later: "I can speak with detachment about the 1950 Yalu estimates, for they were made just before I joined the CIA. The conclusions of the estimators were that it was a toss-up, but they leaned to the side that under certain circumstances the Chinese probably would not intervene. In fact, we just did not know what the Chinese Communists would do, and we did not know how far the Soviet Union would press them or agree to support them if they moved." 9
It seems reasonably clear, therefore, that the CIA did not, initially, predict the massive Chinese intervention that occurred.
However, some two weeks later, in November, according to Truman, the CIA did warn that Communist China had 200,000 troops in Manchuria and that their entry into Korea might push the UN forces back. Truman also wrote that MacArthur had launched his ill-fated home-by-Christmas offensive on November 24 despite the CIA summary made available to the general that very day. The summary, Truman went on to say, had warned that the Chinese were strong enough to force the UN armies back into defensive positions.
Truman, who had been gingerly dealing with MacArthur almost as with another chief of state, at last fired the general on April 9, 1951. Testifying at the Senate inquiry into his dismissal, MacArthur cast new confusion over the CIA's role by saying that "in November" the CIA said "there was little chance of any major intervention on the part of the Chinese forces." If the CIA ever made any such optimistic report in November, replied Truman, it was news to him.
Bogota and Korea raised, but did not answer, the fundamental question of how much should be expected of the CIA in its forecasting role. They also set a pattern that has since become familiar -- when trouble came, the overt, political officers of the visible government almost invariably would say they had no advance warning. The CIA in turn would say it had provided adequate warning. The public would be left to take its choice, provided it could weave its way through the maze of self-serving semantics from both sides.
1952: Air-Drops Over Red China
During the Korean War, another war was waged in secret against Communist China. On November 23, 1954, a broadcast from Peking announced the capture and sentencing of two Americans, John Thomas Downey and Richard George Fecteau.
At Yale, John Thomas Downey was liked and respected for his strength, moral and physical. He was a quiet, clean-living, athletic lad, an honor student as well as a varsity football player and the captain of the wrestling team. He spent a good deal of time at home, in nearby New Britain, Connecticut, where his mother taught school. He was the type of young man the CIA was looking for.
Richard George Fecteau, of Lynn, Massachusetts, had less of an academic background. He was three years older than Downey. He once enrolled at Boston University with the idea of becoming a football coach, but he decided there was little future or money in it. Instead, he went to work for the government. So did Downey, who was recruited off the Yale campus in 1951, at age twenty- one. Both men later turned up in Japan. That did not seem unusual; with the Korean War on, thousands of young men were being shipped to the Far East.
On November 9, 1952, Jack Downey and Richard Fecteau were captured by the Communist Chinese. This was not revealed by Peking, however, until the announcement more than two years later. The broadcast on that day said that Downey, "alias Jack Donovan," and Fecteau, were "special agents of the Central Intelligence Agency, a United States espionage organization." They were charged with having helped to organize and train two teams of Chinese agents. The men, Peking said, had been air-dropped into Kirin and Liaoning Provinces for "subversive activities," and both Downey and Fecteau were captured when their plane was downed as they attempted to drop supplies and contact agents inside Communist China. It was also claimed that nine Chinese working for the CIA men were taken prisoner with them.
Downey was sentenced to life. Fecteau got twenty years.
That same day, Peking announced it had sentenced eleven American airmen as "spies," charging that the plane carrying these men was shot down January 12, 1953, over Liaoning Province, while on a mission which had as its purpose the "air-drop of special agents into China and the Soviet Union."
Communist China claimed that, all told, it had killed 106 American and Chinese agents parachuted into China between 1951 and 1954 and had captured 124 others. They also said these agents were trained in "secret codes, invisible writing, secret messages, telephone tapping, forging documents, psychological warfare, guerrilla tactics and demolition."
The State Department immediately branded the charges against Downey, Fecteau and the eleven airmen "trumped up." The Defense Department called the accusations against all thirteen men "utterly false."
The American consul general at Geneva was instructed by the State Department to make the "strongest possible protest" to Peking. [ix] The charges against the "two civilians," Downey and Fecteau, were "a most flagrant violation of justice," the State Department said. "These men, John Thomas Downey and Richard George Fecteau, were civilian personnel employed by the Department of the Army in Japan. They were believed to have been lost in a flight from Korea to Japan in November, 1952.
"How they came into the hands of the Chinese Communists is unknown to the United States ... the continued wrongful detention of these American citizens furnishes further proof of the Chinese Communist regime's disregard for accepted practices of international conduct."
The Pentagon was equally indignant. "Messrs. Downey and Fecteau," the Defense Department declared, "were Department of the Army civilian employees. They were authorized passengers on a routine flight from Seoul to Japan in a plane which was under military contract to the Far East Air Force. A search instituted at the time failed to produce any trace of the plane, and Messrs. Downey and Fecteau were presumed to have been lost. It is now apparent that they were captured ..."
In September, 1957, a group of forty-one young Americans on an unauthorized trip to Red China visited Downey and Fecteau in prison. Afterward they reported that during the interview, Fecteau was asked whether he worked "for the Central Intelligence Agency."
"Yes," Fecteau replied, according to a Reuters account of the report issued by the visiting Americans. The same Reuters dispatch reported that Downey, suntanned and crew-cut, said he had received 680 letters in prison, including some from "lonely hearts." He said he spent a lot of time reading books.
The following month Charles Edmundson, a former USIA official in Korea, who left the government in a dispute over foreign policy, wrote an article for the Nation, in which he indicated that Downey and Fecteau were CIA operatives.
At this writing, both men are still in a Chinese prison. The government has never acknowledged them to be CIA agents. As far as Washington is concerned, they are still officially listed as "civilian personnel employed by the Department of the Army."
1950-1954: Formosa and Western Enterprises, Inc.
During these years the CIA operated on Formosa as Western Enterprises, Inc. This cover was so thin it became a source of some merriment on the island. The experience of one State Department employee who arrived on Formosa in 1953 is typical.
A fellow employee was showing her the sights as they drove in from the airport. Pointing to one building, her guide said: "And that's Western Enterprises."
"What's that?" she asked innocently.
"Oh, you'll find out," her friend replied.
A few days later, at a party with Chinese government officials, she asked one of them: "By the way, what is Western Enterprises?"
"Oh, that," said the Chinese, with a inscrutable oriental smile, "is your CIA."
State Department employees on Formosa did not get along very well with their counterparts in Western Enterprises, Inc. For one thing, the State Department workers felt that the CIA people were being paid far too well and had special privileges.
One of the CIA operatives who turned up on Formosa in 1953 was Campbell "Zup" James, a Yale graduate who affected an English accent, mustache and fancy walking stick. To anyone who asked, he told the outrageously phony story that he was a wealthy Englishman managing a family tea plantation on Formosa. By continuing to maintain this pose, even though almost everyone knew he worked for the CIA, James became a legend throughout Southeast Asia. He turned up later in Laos, still masquerading as a pukka Englishman straight out of the pages of Kipling. He was spotted in Bangkok as recently as the summer of 1963, mustache, cane and Mayfair accent intact. Despite his unlikely cover, some observers said he was an effective agent.
By 1954 the CIA's cover on Formosa was so threadbare that the agency changed its name to "Department of the Navy."
There is reason to believe that at least in the past, the CIA trained, equipped and financed Chinese Nationalist commando raids on the mainland, launched from the offshore islands of Quemoy and Matsu.
Early in 1963 a spate of interesting stories appeared from Formosa about renewed Nationalist guerrilla raids on the mainland. The Chiang Kai-shek government announced that the frogmen and commando teams were most active in Kwangtung Province, near Formosa. The chief of the Nationalist Intelligence Bureau estimated that 873 guerrilla agents had infiltrated into the mainland between March and December of 1962.
But guerrilla raids are small actions compared to an operation that changes a government. There is no doubt at all that the CIA organized and directed the 1953 coup that overthrew Premier Mohammed Mossadegh and kept Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi on his throne. But few Americans know that the coup that toppled the government of Iran was led by a CIA agent who was the grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt.
Kermit "Kim" Roosevelt, also a seventh cousin of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, is still known as "Mr. Iran" around the CIA for his spectacular operation in Teheran more than a decade ago. He later left the CIA and joined the Gulf Oil Corporation as "government relations" director in its Washington office. Gulf named him a vice-president in 1960.
One legend that grew up inside the CIA had it that Roosevelt, in the grand Rough Rider tradition, led the revolt against the weeping Mossadegh with a gun at the head of an Iranian tank commander as the column rolled into Teheran.
A CIA man familiar with the Iran story characterized this as "a bit romantic" but said: "Kim did run the operation from a basement in Teheran -- not from our embassy." He added admiringly: "It was a real James Bond operation."
General Fazollah Zahedi, [x] the man the CIA chose to replace Mossadegh, was also a character worthy of spy fiction. A six-foot-two, handsome ladies' man, he fought the Bolsheviks, was captured by the Kurds, and, in 1942, was kidnapped by the British, who suspected him of Nazi intrigues. During World War II the British and the Russians jointly occupied Iran. British agents, after snatching Zahedi, claimed they found the following items in his bedroom: a collection of German automatic weapons, silk underwear, some opium, letters, from German parachutists operating in the hills; and an illustrated register of Teheran's most exquisite prostitutes.
After the war Zahedi rapidly moved back into public life. He was Minister of Interior when Mossadegh became Premier in 1951. Mossadegh nationalized the British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in April and seized the huge Abadan refinery on the Persian Gulf.
The refinery was shut down; thousands of workers were idled and Iran faced a financial crisis. The British, with the backing of Western governments, boycotted Iran's oil and the local workers were unable to run the refineries at capacity without British technicians.
Mossadegh connived with the Tudeh, Iran's Communist party, and London and Washington feared that the Russians would end up with Iran's vast oil reserves flowing into the Soviet Union, which shares a common border with Iran. Mossadegh, running the crisis from his bed -- he claimed he was a very sick man -- had broken with Zahedi, who balked at tolerating the Tudeh party.
It was against this background that the CIA and Kim Roosevelt moved in to oust Mossadegh and install Zahedi. At the time of the coup Roosevelt, then thirty-seven, was already a veteran intelligence man. He was born in Buenos Aires. His father, the President's second son, was also named Kermit. Kim was graduated from Harvard just before World War II, and he taught history there and later at the California Institute of Technology. He had married while still at Harvard. He left the academic life to serve in the OSS, then joined the CIA after the war as a Middle East specialist. His father had died in Alaska during the war; his uncle, Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt, died on the beaches of Normandy a year later.
The British and American governments had together decided to mount an operation to overthrow Mossadegh. The CIA's estimate was that it would succeed because the conditions were right; in a showdown the people of Iran would be loyal to the Shah. The task of running the operation went to Kim Roosevelt, then the CIA's top operator in the Middle East.
Roosevelt entered Iran legally. He drove across the border, reached Teheran, and then dropped out of sight. He had to, since he had been in Iran before and his face was known. Shifting his headquarters several times to keep one step ahead of Mossadegh's agents, Roosevelt operated outside of the protection of the American Embassy. He did have the help of about five Americans, including some of the CIA men stationed in the embassy.
In addition, there were seven local agents, including two top Iranian intelligence operatives. These two men communicated with Roosevelt through cutouts -- intermediaries -- and he never saw them during the entire operation.