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The Invisible Government

THERE ARE two governments in the United States today. One is visible. The other is invisible.

The first is the government that citizens read about in their newspapers and children study about in their civics books. The second is the interlocking, hidden machinery that carries out the policies of the United States in the Cold War.

This second, invisible government gathers intelligence, conducts espionage, and plans and executes secret operations all over the globe.

The Invisible Government is not a formal body. It is a  loose, amorphous grouping of individuals and agencies drawn from many parts of the visible government. It is not limited to the Central Intelligence Agency, although the CIA is at its heart. Nor is it confined to the nine other agencies which comprise what is known as the intelligence community: the National Security Council, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, Army  Intelligence, Navy Intelligence, Air Force Intelligence, the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, the Atomic Energy Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Invisible Government includes, also, many other units and agencies, as well as individuals, that appear outwardly to be a normal part of the conventional government. It even encompasses business firms and institutions that are seemingly private.

To an extent that is only beginning to be perceived, this shadow government is shaping the lives of 190,000,000  Americans. Major decisions involving peace or war are taking place out of public view. An informed citizen might come to suspect that the foreign policy of the United States often works publicly in one direction and secretly through the Invisible Government in just the opposite  direction.

This Invisible Government is a relatively new institution. It came into being as a result of two related factors: the  rise of the United States after World War II to a position of pre-eminent world power, and the challenge to that power by Soviet Communism.

It was a much graver challenge than any which had previously confronted the Republic. The Soviet world strategy threatened the very survival of the nation. It employed an espionage network that was dedicated to the subversion of the power and ideals of the United States. To meet that challenge the United States began constructing a vast intelligence and espionage system of its own. This has mushroomed to extraordinary proportions out of public view and quite apart from the traditional political process.

By 1964 the intelligence network had grown into a massive, hidden apparatus, secretly employing about 200,000 persons and spending several billion dollars a year.

"The Nationa1 Security Act of 1947," in the words of Allen W. Dulles, ". . . has given Intelligence a more influential position in our government than Intelligence enjoys in any other government of the world." [1]

Because of its massive size and pervasive secrecy, the  Invisible Government became the inevitable target of suspicion and criticism. It has been accused by some  knowledgeable congressmen and other influential citizens, including a former President, Harry S. Truman, of conducting a foreign policy of its own, and of meddling deep1y in the affairs of other countries without presidential authority.

The American people have not been in a position to assess these charges.  They know virtually nothing about the Invisible Government. Its employment rolls are classified. Its activities are top- secret. Its budget is concealed in other appropriations. Congress provides money for the Invisible Government without knowing how much it has appropriated or how it will be spent. A handful of  congressmen are supposed to be kept informed by the Invisible Government, but they know relatively little about how it works.

Overseas, in foreign capitals, American ambassadors are supposed to act as the supreme civilian representatives of the President of the United States. They are told they have control over the agents of the Invisible Government.  But do they? The agents maintain communications and codes of their own. And the ambassador's authority has been judged by a committee of the United States Senate to be a "polite fiction."

At home, the intelligence men are directed by law to leave matters to the FBI. But the CIA maintains more than a score of offices in major cities throughout the United States; it is deeply involved in many domestic activities, from broadcasting stations and a steamship company to the university campus.

The Invisible Government is also generally thought to be under the direct control of the National Security Council. But, in fact, many of its major decisions are never discussed in the Council. These decisions are handled by a small directorate, the name of which is only whispered.  How many Americans have ever heard of the "Special  Group"? (Also known as the "54/12 Group.") The name  of this group, even its existence, is unknown outside the  innermost circle of the Invisible Government.

The Vice-President is by law a member of the National Security Council, but he does not participate in the discussions of the Special Group. As Vice-President, Lyndon B.  Johnson was privy to more government secrets than any of his predecessors. But he was not truly involved with the Invisible Government until he was sworn in as the thirty-sixth President of the United States.

On November 23, 1963, during the first hour of his first full day in office, Johnson was taken by McGeorge Bundy -- who had been President Kennedy's personal link with the Special Group -- to the Situation Room, a restricted command post deep in the White House basement.

There, surrounded by top-secret maps, electronic equipment and communications outlets, the new President was briefed by the head of the Invisible Government, John Alex McCone, [i] Director of Central Intelligence and a  member of the Special Group. Although Johnson knew the men who ran the Invisible Government and was aware of much of its workings, it was not until that morning that he began to see the full scope of its organization and secrets.

This book is an attempt, within the bounds of national security, to reveal the nature, size and power of the Invisible Government. It is not intended to be an expose, although much of the material has never been printed anywhere else before. It is an attempt to describe a hidden  American institution which the American people, who finance it, have a right to know about.

The premise of this book is that even in a time of Cold War, the United States Government must rest, in the words of the Declaration of Independence, on "the consent of the governed." And there can be no meaningful consent where those who are governed do not know to what they are consenting.

In the harsh conditions of the mid-twentieth century, the nation's leaders have increasingly come to feel that certain decisions must be made by them alone without popular consent, and in secret, if the nation is to survive. The area of this secret decision-making has grown rapidly, and the size of the Invisible Government has increased proportionately.

To what extent is this secret government compatible with the American system, or necessary to preserve it?  Will it gradually change the character of the institutions it seeks to preserve? If the American people are to try to answer these questions they must first achieve a greater level of understanding about the secret government itself.

"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves," said Thomas  Jefferson, "and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion."

This book is an effort to thus inform the American people. It traces the history of the Invisible Government:  how it was created by President Truman and how it has functioned under President Eisenhower, President Kennedy and President Johnson. It discloses how the Invisible Government has operated in Washington to expand and consolidate its power, and how it has operated overseas  in attempts to bolster or undermine foreign governments.  For beyond the mere gathering of intelligence, the secret government has engaged in "special operations," ranging from political warfare to paramilitary activities and full-scale invasion.

Under certain conditions, and on a limited, controlled basis, such special operations may sometimes prove necessary. But they cannot become so unwieldy that they are  irreconcilable with the kind of society that has launched  them. When that happens, the result is disaster. This was nowhere better illustrated than on the beaches of Cuba.

Because it has now passed into history and because it is a deeply revealing example of how the Invisible Government works, we shall begin with the story of the Bay of Pigs.



i. On April 11, 1965, President Johnson replaced McCone with retired Vice-Admiral William F. Raborn, who served only 14 months as CIA director and was in turn replaced, on June 18, 1966, by Deputy Director Richard M. Helms, a career CIA operator.

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