By Bob Koford
On January 22, 1946, President Truman created the Central Intelligence Group, which would be under the National Intelligence Authority. The CIG was the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency. It came to be because the President had felt that he “was not receiving properly coordinated intelligence reports."
On June 26th, 1947, the National Intelligence Authority held its tenth meeting. In attendance were: Secretary of State George Marshall “in the chair”, Secretary of War Robert Patterson, Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal, Fleet Admiral William Leahy, who was acting as the personal Representative of the President, and Rear Admiral R. H. Hillenkoetter, Director of Central Intelligence. Also present at the meeting were the Assistant Secretary of War Howard Peterson, Under Secretary of the Navy John Sullivan, Mr. William Eddy of the State Department, Major General S, J. Chamberlin U.S. Army, Rear Admiral Thomas Inglis, United States Navy, Rear Admiral E. T. Wooldridge, United States Navy, and Mr. Donald Edgar of the Central Intelligence Group. The Secretary of the NSC was Mr. J. S. Earman.
The meeting took place in room 5142 in the New State Department building, at 10:30 A.M.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the authority that had been granted to the Director of Central Intelligence, by the NIA, at the ninth meeting. Both Admiral Hillenkoetter, and Navy Secretary Forrestal were of the opinion that the DCI had been granted too much power, and they believed it should be toned down.
After Secretary Marshall asked Admiral Hillenkoetter to explain the situation, Hillenkoetter stated that “at the present time the Director of Central Intelligence did not need this authority and he felt that its recission (sic) would create a better feeling with the member Intelligence Advisory Board agencies. However, he would be the first to request its reinstatement if ever needed.”
Secretary Patterson agreed. Admiral Leahy questioned it. Under Secretary of the Navy asked Hillenkoetter “if he thought the withdrawal of the authority in question would result in better cooperation between the member IAB agencies. Admiral Hillkoetter replied that in his opinion this was correct.”
A very telling response, in my opinion, came from the future Secretary of Defense (SECDEF), Forrestal. He “stated the authority granted the Director of Central Intelligence to operate within the jurisdiction as the agent for the Secretaries of State, War and Navy and to issue directives in their names made the CIG appear as a Gestapo and caused unnecessary friction.”
General Chamerlin agreed that Admiral Hillenkoetter was correct to question such authority. When Secretary Marshall queried Hillenkoetter whether-or-not this reduction of authority would “adversely affect the status of CIG and its relationship with the agencies. Admiral Hillenkoetter replied that on the contrary he expected it would improve the relationship.”
Though other items of interest were discussed at this meeting, this writer thought it was important to note both Secretary Forrestal’s and Admiral Hillenkoetter’s attitude. Far from a conspiracy, they acted with the best of intentions toward the American public, and seemed honest in their approach to this new National Security system.
See, at the Central Intelligence FOIA Electronic Reading Room: “NIA_meeting_26_Jun_47.pdf”