THE VIEW FROM LANG LE Y
Address to the Fund for Peace Conference on
CIA and Covert Actions by
William E. Colby on
Friday,4 Mr. Borosage, Ladies and Gentlemen:
m happy to be here, my statement might be used tothe credibility of the Intelligence Community. m happy to serveonstitution which, in my view, brings me here. ight have constructed the program of this conference somewhat differently, it reflects the workings of our free society. It is thus incumbent upon our Government officials to explain to the public the functions and activities of their particular organizations,nclude in this, as you can see by my presence here, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Intelligence Community.
Our military forces must be responsive to our public, but our public does not demand that our war plans be published. Our judicial system must meet the public's standards of justice, but our judicial conferences and grand jury proceedings are not conducted in public. It is even necessary for the Congress to conduct some of its business in executive session, whileaccountable to the voters for the legislation it passes. Similarly,
I believe it ia feasible to explain to tbe American people the functions and activities of CIA and the Intelligence Community while at the same time maintaining the necessary secrecy of the sources and methods of ourwhich would dry up if publicized.
Inan respond to legitimate public inquiry through general discussions of our activities, omitting the critical names and details. In otheran respond to the public's need for assurance by reporting fully to Congressional committees or other bodies appointed by the public's representatives to receive and retain this sensitiveand to make value judgments about our functions and activities. Another test of our effectiveness lies in the opinions of those in the Executive and Legislature who are provided the intelligence results of our operational and analytical efforts, but not how these were obtained and produced. Thereinal control, of course, in the fact that some of our activities, if badly handled, come to public attentionomewhat clamorous way.
There have been some "bad secrets" concerning intelligence; their exposure by our academic, journalist and political critics certainly is an essential part of the workings of our Constitution. There have been some "non-secrets" which did not need to beaverogram of bringing these into the open. hink that responsible Americans realise that our country must protect some "goodt is for this
reasonm proposing legislation which will impose penalties on those who take upon themselves the choice of which secrets to reveal, rather than relying on the established declassification procedures of ouright clarify that my proposal would not apply to the news media or any other persons than those who consciously assume the obligation to respect the secrecy to which they are admitted as Government employees or similar, and that the reasonableness of the classification would be subject to judicial review.
If our laws provide for criminal penalties for the unauthorizedof certain census information, income tax information. Selective Service information, and cotton and other agriculturalhink it reasonable that there should also be penalties for the unauthorizedof foreign intelligence sources and methods upon which the safety of the nation could well depend.
The title of this conference is "The CIA and Covert Actions. " In my letter accepting Mr. Borosage's invitation to appearommentedas somewhat surprised that there was no attempt in the agenda to examine the need for the contribution that objective and independentcan make to policy decisions. In fact,ote that there has been considerable discussion of our intelligence activities, such as, in addition to our covert action role.
In thisould like to clarify that the predominant focus of CIA and the Intelligence Community today is clearly on our information and analytical responsibilities. In this field, we endeavor to serve the Executive Branch by providing intelligence on the facts of the world about us* and our assessments of likely future developments. We also try to serve the Congress and the public by providing the output of the intelligence investment made by the United States, to support them in their role in American decision-making. Thus, CIA has appeared beforeommittees onccasions this year (Armed Services, Appropriations, Foreign Affairs, Atomic Energy, andestifyingariety of subjects. We have cleared forsome of this testimony on the economies of the Soviet Union and China and on the Soviet presence in the Indian Ocean. We alsoumber of unclassified publications and distribute them through the Library of Congress toibraries and institutes around the country, as well as making publicly available our reports of foreign broadcasts and translated documents. Inave talkedewsmen in the past year, andave come to CIA for briefings by our analysts on substantive questionsforeign countries, thus benefiting from our accumulated information from our most sensitive sources.
Ittrange anomaly that our country makes publicly available vast amounts of material on thehereas the corresponding material about
our potonti.il adversaries must be collected by intelligence techniquesost of hundreds of millions of dollars. In this situation, if we cannotour intelligence sources andear we mayituation in which our adversaries profit from our openness while we are blinded by their aecrecy.
Dr. Scoville has quite properly indicated the revolution in intelligence which has been achieved through the growth of technology over the past two decades. This intelligence, however, ia still limited to what physically exists. It does not give us the intentions, the research ideas, and the decision-making dynamics of the countries which mighthreat to the United States. In today's accelerating technology, we are condemned always to be well behind if we rely only on what han appeared in the marketplace instead of what is planned for the future. In addition,orld which can destroy itself through misunderstanding or miscalculation, it is important that our leaderslear perception of the motives, intentions and strategies of other powers ao that they can be deterred, negotiated about, or countered in the interests of peace or, if necessary, the ultimate security of our country. These kinds of insights cannot be obtained only through technical means or analysis. From closed societies they can only be obtained by secret intelligence operations, without which our country must riskto possible adversaries.
To turn to covert action, which is included In those "other functions and duties related to intelligence affecting the national security as the National Security Council may from time to times stated in the National Security Act, there Is debate as to the degree Congress intended CIA to engage in these actions when passing the legislation The OSS precedent, the National Security Act's clear authorization of functions "related to intelligence" by reason of secret techniques and frequent use of the same assets, and the periodic briefings given to the Congress over the years through its authorised committees, clearly establish tbe Agency's authority to perform these functions.
The Agency conducts such activities only when specifically authorized by the National Security Council. Thus, CIA covert actions reflect national policy. National policy has beentate of change, and CIA'sin covert action has correspondingly changed. In the early days of the "coldhen national policy-makers believed it essential toan aggressive Communist subversive effort in many areas of the world and in the international organizational sphere, therereat deal of this sort of effort. Some was revealed in7 disclosures of ourwith various American groups which helped their country to present the American position and support America's friends in this arena duringss. The record is clear that the assistance given to these
institutions by the CIA was to enable them to participate in foreign activitiea; there was no attempt to interfere in internal American domestic activities. CIA aid helped such groups as the National Student Association to articulate the views of American students abroad and meet the Communist-subsidized effort toanoply of international front organizations. ight quote Ms. Gloria Steinem, one of those so assisted, who commented that tho CIA "wanted to do what we wanted to doealthy, diverse view of the United States"I neveras being dictated to at all. "
There have also been, and are still, certain situations in the world in which some discreet support can assist America's friends against her adversaries in their contest for controloreign nation's political direction. While these instances are few today compared toelievo it only prudent for our nation to bc able to act In such situations, and thereby forestall greater difficulties for us in the future.
In other situations, especially after Niklta Khrushchev's enthusiastic espousal of the thesis of "wars of nationalhe United States believed it essential to provide paramilitary support to certain groups and nations. resident Kennedy, for national policy reasons, did not want to use the uniformed forces of the United States in Laos, but also did not want to be limitedere diplomatic protest against the continued
presenceorth Vietnamese troops in Laos in violation of the Geneva Accords, and their expansion of control over communities who wished to resist them.
Thus, CIA was directed to provide support to thoseuty which grewajor effort, known and approved by the Laobut not confronting North Vietnam and its alliesirect and overt U. S. challenge. Mr. lianfmann has told you of some of the terrible human problems involved in any war when it growsonventional scale involving artillery, air bombardment, and ao forth. What has perhaps not been fully perceived is that the American assistance to this effortmall commitment of CIA Americansmall expenditure over the many yoars in which this action was undertaken; and that,esult of the defensive efforts of the forces supported by CIA, the battle lines at the end of the period were essentially unchanged from those at the opening.
As with the Bay of Pigs, when the activity became too large, it no longer remained secret. hink the CIA people who conducted this effort deserve the praise of our citizens for the effective but modest manner in which President Kennedy's mission was carried outission, by the way, that cost the liveB of eight CIA officers there. This activity was reported to and appropriated foregular basis by the authorized elements of the Congress the war was no secret from them.
But it is clear that American policy today is different from when it was confronting worldwide Communist subversion ins orinsurgency ins. Our involvement haa been reduced in many areas, inight add, by tbe fact that many of the Communist efforts during those years were unsuccessful. CIA's covert actions in many of these instances thus assisted in laying the groundwork for the new period of detente which we pursue in our relationships with the Communist world today. esult, CIA's involvement in covert action is very small indeed compared to those earlier periods. o not say that we do not now conduct sucherely state that they are undertaken only as directed by the National Security Council, they are frankly and regularly reported to the appropriate committees of the Congress, and they requiremall proportion of our effort at this time.
I am not being more precise on these various covert actions. Some you are aware of because of exposure, leak or failure such as the Bay of Pigs. Some you are not aware of because they have been effectively handled and have achieved their objectives. bide by what one President said about CIA, that our successes are unheralded and our failures trumpeted.
It is advocated by some that the United States abandon covert action. Thisegitimate question, and in light of current American policy,ave indicated, it would notajor impact on our current activities or
tho current security of tho United States. elieve, however,overeign nation must look aheadhanging circumslances. an envisage situations in which the United States might well need to conduct covert action in the face of some new threat that developed in the world.
4 we sank the brand new battleship "Washington"emonstration of our belief in disarmament. At about the same time, we disbanded anelement in the Department of State on the thesia that "gentlemen do not read each other's mail. " During the same period, we declined theburdens of membership in the League of Nations. elieve our post-World War II history, with all its costs, constituted an improvement on our post-Worldolicies and didorlduring these thirty years. hus would think it mistaken to deprive our nation of the possibility of some moderate covert action responseoreign problem and leave us with nothingiplomatic protest and sending the Marines.
Bills in Congress today would amend the National Security Act7 toequirement that the Congress be kept informed "in such manner as the Congress may prescribe" of any "functions and duties related to intelligence affecting the national security" carried out by CIA. ully support this change in the CIA's basic legislative charter, which would establish in law the practice we follow today.
In Mr. Boroaage's announcement with reaped to this conference, he expressed the concern that untrammeled secret powerhreat to our liberties and that our program of covert activities abroad must bebefore similar techniques are employed to subvert our democracy at home. ave indicatedo not believe that CIA's covert actions abroad constitute "untrammeled secret power" in view of our responsibilities to the Executive and to the legislature.
With respect to the second part of Mr. Borosage's concern about these techniques being employed in the Unitedgain pointill being considered in the Congress, which would make it crystal clear that CIA's activities lie only in the field of foreign intelligence, by adding the word "foreign" wherever the word "intelligence" appears in the National Security Act. ully support this wording, and in fact originally suggested it in my confirmation hearings. My predecessorsave admitted that CIA did exceed its authority in sevoral instances with respect to Watergate. We have taken steps within the Agency to ensure that such actions do not occur again. The proposed change in our legislative charter would makeatter of statutory direction. But the factetired CIA employee becomes involved In some illegal activity in the United States should no moreunction essential to our nation than should the factietnam veteran commits a
crime be user, as the basis to deprive the United States Army of its pistols. And the concern of all of us that CIA not be used against U. S. citizens should not bar it from lawfully collecting that foreign intelligence available within the United States.
With that, Mr.ave covered some of the major considerations affecting CIA and covert actions. ould only beg your indulgenceew remarksew of the more salient mattersnderstand arose in the past two days. ould then certainly be prepared to answer any further questions which might be posed by the audience here.
Thank you very much.
Since my testimony on Chile was given in Executive Session, from which it has unfortunatelyo not propose to discuss the details of our activities there other than to point out that they fall within the generalave outlined above. epeatave previously said, that CIA had no connection with the military coup there We did look forwardhange in government, but in the elections6 by the democratic political forces. ould add thai, in my review of theof that testimony, there is no referencerototype" nor to the term "destabilize. " The latter especially isair description of our national policy1 on of encouraging the continued existence of democratic forces looking toward future elections.
I would also comment that this unfortunate leak once again raises the dilemma of how we are to provide the Congress such delicate information without its exposure and consequent adverse impact on those who put their faith in our secrecy and those who might be contemplatingelationship elsewhere in the future. Thisatter, of course, for Congress to decide,ave every confidenceully satisfactory solution will eventuate.
This subject has been badly misunderstood in public discussions. estified fully on this subjectut selective quotes from that testimony havo been used to indicaterogram of assassination, murder,esulting in the deaths ofietnamese. hen deniedtill flatly denyharge or such an interpretation of this program.
Phoenix was oneumber of programs under the general pacification effort of the government of Vietnam. On detail from CIA to the Department ofas the principal adviser and supervised American support of the pacification program. The pacification program was focused on securing the willing participation of the population of South Vietnam against terror and invasion by the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong. The GVN's pacification program consisted of:
Assistance to the local territorial forces to increase the security
of the villages;
he distributionalf million weapons to the population to use In unpaid self-defense groupsnow of few governments in the world which would undertakeenture and have it meet with such success
he inducement, reception and resettlement ofetecting members of the Viet Cong;
he temporary support and return to village of hundreds of thousands of refugees;
he election of local village chiefs and provincial councils;he decentralization of economic development funds and programs to locally elected officials and councils instead of Saigon bureaucrats. One of these pacification activities was the Phoenix program, aimed at identifying, capturing, rallying and, if necessary, attacking the leadership elements of the Viet Cong enemy apparatus. umber of abuses took place in Vietnam over the years of war, as they have in other such situations, but the Phoenix program, startingas designed and carried out to reduce and hopefully eliminate such abuses. Thus, under Vietnamesedirection:
It distinguished enemy leaders from simple followers in order to reduce pressure on the latter;
It developed procedures for the proper and timely handling of captives and interrogees;
t revised procedures to ensure the participation of elected village chiefs and elected provincial council chairmen in decisions about detentions;
--It published the entire program in order to secure public support and public control, rather than letting itecret police operation. Theestified to included members of the enemy apparatus who had beenho hadnd who had been Of thoseere killed by regular and paramilitary forcesy police and similar elements. Thus it is clear that the vast preponderance of those who were killed were killed in firelights, protective ambushes or similar military combat, and most of the remainder were killed in police actions attempting to capture them.
1 have admitted that unjustified abuses took place,nsist that these were few, exceptional, and against policy. lso recognize that procedural improvements were not instantly or wholly effective. However, the real purpose and effect of the Phoenix program was to bring as much regularity and propriety as possiblear whose chaos and brutality on both sides must be charged more to its Communist protagonists than to its South Vietnamese defenders.Original document.