The Department of State Reacts to Public Revelations of Intelligence Activities, 1964

Today’s post is written by David Langbart, an Archivist in the Textual Records Division at the National Archives at College Park.

The book The Invisible Government, published by Random House Publishers in 1964, is one of the first major exposés of the activities of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  The book was written by the journalists David Wise and Thomas Ross.[1]  In it, they discuss CIA operations in Guatemala, Iran, Indonesia, and Cuba, among other topics, putting forth the then-new thesis that the intelligence community had grown so large as to threaten domestic democracy.  According to the New York Times, when the CIA threatened to purchase all copies to prevent the books dissemination, Random House said it would just print more.

Expecting adverse international reaction to the revelations in the book, the Department of State sent the following telegram in order to alert American diplomatic and consular officials to its publication and to provide guidance on how to deal with questions about it.[2]

US POL 1 Circular 2443.1
Circular Telegram 2443, June 26, 1964 p1 NAID 580618
US POL 1 Circular 2443.2
Circular Telegram 2443, June 26, 1964 p2 NAID 580618

[1] Wise and Ross wrote an earlier book about the May 1960 shootdown of a U.S. U-2 reconnaissance plane over the Soviet Union and a later book about the espionage scene.  Wise also wrote several other books on intelligence subjects.   Interestingly, Thomas Ross became the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs from 1977 to 1981.

[2] Source: Department of State to All Diplomatic Posts, the U.S. Mission Berlin, and the consulates general in Barbados, Curacao, Georgetown, Hamilton, Hong Kong, Lourenco Marques, Luanda, Nassau, Paramaribo, Salisbury, and Singapore, Circular Telegram 2443, June 26, 1964, file POL 1 US, 1964-66 Subject-Numeric File (NAID 580618), RG 59: General Records of the Department of State.  A review of the book published by the CIA in its journal Studies in Intelligence and declassified in 1995 is now available online.