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Memorandum for Mr. McCloy
June 28, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
With reference to the attached draft regarding the designation of a Coordinator of Information: While I personally have not had time to inform myself as to the various aspects of the matter, in general I would be opposed to what is proposed in the draft.1
I am attaching a chart which presents, in a tentative manner, the character of the organization that I think should be set up, unless we have a fundamental, governmental reorganization in regard to the establishment of a higher staff with a Chief of Staff in direct contact with the President and, in effect, over and above all Cabinet officials so far as the national defense is concerned. This last seems to me wholly out of the question in our form of government. Therefore, I turn to some such organization as indicated on the chart.2
As I told you, at the moment I am not interested in the details of the actual organization of this debatable intelligence group or who is to be the head of it; what I am vitally interested in is where it is to be placed in the national defense scheme.
There is also attached a draft which I have not had time to analyze carefully, which might be utilized to put into effect an organization of the type indicated on the chart.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. Overlapping intelligence activities by the army, the navy, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation had caused conflict by early 1941. Several proposals to coordinate these functions had been considered by the War Department. William J. Donovan, a World War officer and former assistant attorney general of the United States, submitted his own plan for a joint intelligence committee to Secretary Stimson. According to his plan, this committee would analyze and coordinate the exchange of intelligence information between governmental departments. President Roosevelt wanted Donovan to assume the rank of major general and report directly to him. On June 24 Marshall advised Stimson that, according to this plan, the coordinator would supplant the chief of staff’s responsibility to the president. Stimson revised the proposal, making the new office a civilian position. (Preliminary proposals for a joint intelligence committee are in NA/RG 319 [G-2, MIS, 310.11 and 350.05]; on the bureaucratic conflict within the intelligence community, see Memorandum for the Secretary of War, March 25, 1941, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-402 [2: 453]; Marshall’s opinions on the Donovan plan are in Yale/H. L. Stimson Papers [Diary, 34: 143, 146-47].)
2. Neither the draft document mentioned nor Marshall’s organizational chart are in the Marshall papers. On July 3 Donovan met with Stimson and McCloy and “agreed upon the general principles. . . . The routine channels for the recommendations as to intelligence and information were to be coordinated by Donovan as they came from all the Departments which collected them—the Army, the Navy, FBI, the State Department, and all the others—information, economic and military—and then should go up through the channels, through the Joint Board and then through the Chief of Staff and the Chief of Operations of the Navy, the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy, to the President.” (Yale/H. L. Stimson Papers [Diary, 34: 168].)
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr.(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 552-554.