Veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden offers a review in the Washington Times of Richard E. Schroeder's The Foundation of the CIA: Harry Truman, The Missouri Gang, and the Origins of the Cold War.
Although Harry S. Truman ranks high on my list of admired presidents, one of his earliest decisions was an outright blunder — but fortunately, one that he quickly corrected.
No sooner had the guns of World War II fallen silent than Mr. Truman disbanded the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), created as America’s first attempt at a unified intelligence organization.
The 1,655 member OSS research and analysis staff was shuffled off to an unwelcoming State Department. The 9,000 persons working in espionage and counterintelligence went to the Army.
The OSS’ wartime successes fell victim to Washington bureaucratic jealousies, from both J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI and the military services. Mr. Hoover especially objected to the rival agency.
Sensing that OSS faced a bleak post-war future, Director William Donovan had convinced President Franklin Roosevelt that the need for centralized intelligence would continue in peace. He wrote a plan for an independent intelligence authority under presidential supervision.
Critics pounced. The anti-FDR Chicago Tribune columnist Walter Trohan — to whom the plan was leaked — claimed that Donovan planned a “super Gestapo agency.” There was another factor: An early CIA historian wrote that Roosevelt likely had grown “weary and disenchanted with the flamboyant and ambitious Donovan.”
But even Mr. Truman’s naval aide, Clark Clifford, a fellow Missourian who became a Washington lawyer/wise man, felt that HST acted “prematurely, abruptly and unwisely” in terminating OSS. Mr. Clifford would write in his memoir that Mr. Truman was “persuaded by bitter critiques from army intelligence inspired by jealousy.”
Retired CIA officer Richard E. Schroeder relates how Mr. Truman moved to create a new intelligence organization from the wreckage of OSS and replaced it, first with the Central Intelligence Group (CIG) and then the Central Intelligence Agency. By coincidence, the chief players in the revival hailed from Mr. Truman’s home state:
In addition to Mr. Clifford, “The Missouri Gang” included one-time grocery chain executive Sidney Souers, a wartime rear admiral and intelligence officer; and a career naval officer, Adm. Roscoe Hillenkoetter, who had long experience in intelligence.
The first move, a stopgap, was the creation, by presidential order, of the Central Intelligence Group, initially headed by Mr. Souers. Thus Mr. Truman was given a single agency to produce what he called his “daily newspaper.”Tyler McCarthy at Fox News offers a piece on the best Thanksgiving-themed sitcoms.
You can read the rest of the review via the below link:
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