Cold War Spying:1946
January 10, 1946: The first meeting of the United Nations convenes in London.
January 24, 1946: By now, having dismantled the OSS, Truman sees that he has created a snafu and he decides to set it straight. He appoints Rear Admiral Sidney Souers to command a short-lived organization called the Central Intelligence Group. Souers commands nearly two thousand intelligence officers and support staff who control files on some 400,000 individuals. Souers is given no direction from the White House, and almost no one else in government recognizes the new group’s legitimacy.
Souers lasts less than 100 days as director. He leaves behind a top secret memo that pleads:
There is an urgent need to develop the highest possible quality of intelligence on the USSR in the shortest possible time.
February 1946: Earl Browder, acting head of the Communist Party in the US (CPUSA) since 1930, is expelled from the party for deviationism — that is, for being too much of a moderate in supporting the policies of FDR.
February 22, 1946: George F. Kennan of the State Department, known as “Mr. X” for reasons of security, sends his famous “long telegram,” a 19 page 8,000 word essay that explains the Soviet need for expansion. According to Kennan, the Soviets have a “traditional and instinctive issue of insecurity.” Kennan advocates a policy of containment, and warns that the notion of “peaceful coexistence” with the USSR is a pipe dream. For more on containment read Cold War Containment: First Iran.
March 1946: Future Director of Central Intelligence, General Walter Bedell Smith, arrives in Moscow as the newly appointed American ambassador. He will be schooled by George Kennan, the charge d’affaires at the American Embassy. Kennan gains fame as the greatest Kreminologist in the American government.
March 5, 1946: As a guest of President Harry Truman, Winston Churchill delivers his famous speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri:
From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, and Iron Curtain has descended across the Continent . . .”
March 21, 1946: The Strategic Air Command (SAC), the Tactical Air Command (TAC), and the Air Defense Command (ADC) are established by General Carl Spaatz.
June 10, 1946: General Hoyt Vandenberg becomes the second Director of Central Intelligence. He lacks 3 essential tools: money, power, and people.
In the judgment of Lawrence Houston, general counsel for Central Intelligence from 1946 to 1972, the Central Intelligence Group stood outside the law. The president couldn’t legally create a federal agency out of thin air. Without the consent of Congress, Central Intelligence couldn’t legally spend money. No money. No power.
Vandenberg creates a new Office of Special Operations to conduct spying and subversion overseas. He wrangles $15 million under the table from a handful of congressmen to carry out the missions. He wants to know everything about the Soviet forces in Eastern and Central Europe.
Richard Helms is in charge of espionage in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary. He has 228 overseas personnel. Helms later determines that at least half the information on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in the CIA’s files is pure falsehood. His stations in Berlin and Vienna are factories of fake intelligence.
July 17, 1946: Two of Vandenberg’s aides meet with Truman’s White House counsel, Clark Clifford. They argue that “the original concept of the Central Intelligence Group should be altered to make it an ‘operating agency.’” It becomes one.
On that same day, Vandenberg personally asks Secretary of War Robert Patterson and Secretary of State James Byrnes to slip him an additional $10 million in secret funds to finance the work of “intelligence agents all over the world.” They did. His intent is to prepare the first covert operation of the cold war in R0mania.
Vandenberg’s Office of Special Operations sets out to create an underground resistance force in Romania. Lieutenant Ira C. Hamilton and Major Thomas R. Hall are ordered to organize Romania’s National Peasant Party into a resistance force.
October 5, 1946: Working with the new Central Intelligence station in occupied Vienna, the Americans smuggle the former foreign minister of Romania and 5 other members of the would-be liberation army into Austria. In just a few weeks, Soviet intelligence and the Roumanian secret police sniff out the spies.
Communist security forces crush the mainstream Roumanian resistance. By winter’s end, a brutal dictatorship takes control of Romania, its rise to power hastened by the failure of American covert action.