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Memorandum for the Secretary of War
March 25, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
The attached is a letter from Assistant Secretary of State, Mr. Berle, to General Miles regarding a meeting to be held this afternoon by representatives of the Departments of State, War, Navy, and Justice (Mr. Hoover).1 Arrangements are to be made for the coordination by a single agency (Vincent Astor as Area Controller) of intelligence and investigational activities in the New York area.2
Mr. Berle’s memorandum indicates the concurrence of the War Department. General Miles tells me he has not heard of the matter heretofore.
I have known that Mr. Astor has been engaged in some such service in New York since 1939. As a matter of fact I was called to the White House with Admiral Stark on at least one occasion late at night to discuss with the President some item regarding which Mr. Astor had telephoned him.
Has there been any discussion of this with the President? General Miles is prepared to make his contribution to the coordination, but would like to know just what commitments have already been made.
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. The editors have not found Berle’s letter.
2. Regarding the coordination of domestic intelligence operations, Miles first contacted Adolf A. Berle on September 26, 1940. Berle noted in his diary: “He has been thinking over some suggestions of several weeks ago, realizing that there is more to this job of internal defense than merely intelligence and police work. He feels that J. Edgar Hoover, who is a good policeman, does not wholly take in the entire situation.“ (Navigating the Rapids, p. 337.)
In mid-February, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Hoover charged that the Military Intelligence Division had exceeded its authority and was conducting domestic intelligence activities which were the province of the F.B.I. The G-2 staff replied that “some of the allegations and assumptions are so far from the truth as to be ridiculous. . . . The crux of the matter is that allegations have been made continually by FBI and sent to high authority without any attempt being made to verify thru or straighten them out by direct contact.” Moreover, Hoover had declined to meet with G-2 to discuss the issues involved. (Hoover to Miles, February 10, 1941, NA/RG 107 [SW Safe, FBI—G-2]; staff memorandum “Charges Contained in Letter of February 10, 1941,” [March 26, 1941], ibid.)
On March 19, 1941, Roosevelt appointed wealthy businessman and personal friend W. Vincent Astor as area controller of intelligence for New York. Astor, a commander in the Naval Reserve, set up a clearinghouse to establish priorities for intelligence gathering and assign responsibility to the various governmental departments for intelligence activities. (D. J. Callaghan Memorandum for the President, March 14, 1941; Roosevelt to Grace Tully, March 19, 1941; Astor to Roosevelt, April 3, 1941, FDRL/ F. D. Roosevelt Papers [PSF, Astor].)
Recommended Citation: The Papers 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), p. 453,