December 12, 2005

Truman on the CIA

Jonathan Kwitny used this quote to start his book, The Crimes of Patriots.

For some time I have been disturbed by the way [the] CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational arm and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas.

I never had any thought when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations. Some of the complications and embarrassments 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.

With all the nonsense put out by Communist propaganda about "Yankee imperialism," "exploitive capitalism," "war-mongering," "monopolists" in their name-calling assault on the West, the last thing we needed was for the CIA to be seized upon as something akin to a subverting influence in the affairs of other people....

But there are now some searching questions that need to be answered. I, therfore, would like to see the CIA be restored to its original assignment as the intelligence arm of the President, and whatever else it can properly perform in that special field, and that its operational duties be terminated or properly used elsewhere.

We have grown up as a nation, respected for our free institutions and for our ability to maintain a free and open society. There is something about the way the CIA has been functioning that is casting a shadow over our historical position, and I feel that we need to correct it.

--Harry S. Truman, December 22, 1963

Harry Truman was talking in the month following the death of JFK and after the Bay of Pigs had been exposed. No matter, I cannot help but feel that he would be enormously saddened to see what his creation has wrought.

Posted by Mary at December 12, 2005 12:59 AM | History | Technorati links |

The Nat'l Security Agency is yet another body of folks under control of the executive branch with NO congressional oversight.

Posted by: Darryl Pearce at December 12, 2005 03:50 PM

Not to mention that the CIA wasn't good enough for Rumsfeld and Cheney so they set up their own intelligence gathering operation. Yeah, Truman (and any other President from that time) would be appalled.

Posted by: thehim at December 12, 2005 07:55 PM