Directors of Central Intelligence

Walter Bedell Smith (1895-1961) - DCI, 7 Oct. 1950-9 Feb. 1953

Included here:

1. Material on Smith

2. Smith's Writings/Speeches

1. Material on Smith

"Smith is remembered as one of the CIA's most effective DCIs, a leader who defined its structure and mission. He earned his reputation in his first months in office, when, with administration support and a strong sense of wartime crisis, he created a role for the new Agency." CIA History Staff, "Fifteen DCIs First 100 Days," Studies in Intelligence 38, no. 5 (1995): 55.

Walter Pforzheimer believed that "General Smith was unbelievable [as DCI]. He really got the Agency firmly established.... He doesn't get the credit for a lot of reasons. Ike didn't leave him at CIA as long as he might have, because he needed someone to manage State.... I think others would agree that he was a great Director, but he's not as well known as some others." William Nolte, "Interviewing an Intelligence Icon: Walter Pforzheimer Reminisces," Studies in Intelligence 10 (Winter-Spring 2001): 41.

Very brief biography at http://home.sandiego.edu/~cgravell/dci/dci.html. See also, David M. Barrett, The CIA and Congress: The Untold Story from Truman to Kennedy (Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2005).

Campbell, Kenneth J. "Bedell Smith's Imprint on the CIA." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 1, no. 2 (1986): 45-62.

Crosswell, Daniel K.R.

1. The Chief of Staff: The Military Career of General Walter Bedell Smith. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1991.

Peake, Studies, 55.3 (Sep. 2011), notes this work is based on the author's doctoral dissertation and presents Smith as "Eisenhower's tough consigliere and an All-American boy, a characterization Crosswell came to regret -- it was too uncritical."

2. Beetle: The Life of General Walter Bedell Smith. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2010.

For Peake, Studies, 55.3 (Sep. 2011), this second biography of Smith by the author "is an absorbing book" that is "[e]xtensively documented." It is "a weighty contribution" to World War II history. Nevertheless, "[t]he chapter on Smith's three-year tenure as DCI is of mixed quality" and contains errors, specifically concerning Philby, Burgess, and Maclean. Crane, Parameters 41.2 (Summer 2011), finds that while "[t]he general narrative ... will be familiar to those who have read the earlier biography,... most of the coverage has been significantly enriched with more detail and added research."

Montague, Ludwell Lee. General Walter Bedell Smith as Director of Central Intelligence, October 1950-February 1953. University Park, PA: Penn State Press, 1992.

Grose, FA 71.5 (Sep.-Oct. 1992), sees this as "an insider's terse view of the organizational growing pains in a peacetime intelligence service." Montague "regards 'Beetle' Smith as the real founder of the CIA, inheriting a faltering and diffident bureaucratic morass and pounding it into shape for combat in the looming Cold War. Montague, himself an intelligence officer, offers a perspective quite different from that of Arthur Darling, academic author of the first of the formerly classified studies.... Taken in tandem, the two histories reveal the agonizing controversies that arose in the drive to make the new intelligence agency effective."

MacPherson, I&NS 10.2, also contrasts this volume with Darling's work. Montague "argues that the first three DCIs were primarily responsible for the friction with the military, the FBI, and the State Department.... [Walter Bedell] Smith is credited with applying a firm grip on CIA, and with establishing effective command and control over the organization by clarifying the DCI's authority.... Montague ... shares with Darling the distinction of writing a volume that provides a starting point for scholarly inquiry and debate on CIA origins, not the final word.... The relative influence of Donovan and OSS compared with outside agencies like the US military remain unresolved by CIA's own official studies."

According to Thomas Powers, NYRB (13 May 1993) and Intelligence Wars (2004), 295-320, both Darling and Montague have written books "with intellectual vigor and a wealth of fascinating detail," and their "footnotes identify many important documents." In his book, Darling provides "a thorough account of the founding of the Office of Policy Coordination, the CIA's covert arm, whose chief was to be named by the Secretary of State and approved by the National Security Council, so long as he was 'acceptable' to the Director of Central Intelligence. Montague ... gives a sometimes lurid account of the organizational stresses created by this weird flow chart, which ended a few years later with the forced marriage of OPC with the Office of Special Operations."

Richard Gid Powers, AHR 99.2, believes that Montague's work "reflects orthodox CIA doctrine on Smith's transformation of the weak and doomed agency under the first three directors into the powerful intelligence gathering and covert activities force that Smith handed over to his successor.... [His] hermetically sealed account of administrative changes within the agency and bureaucratic turf battles with national security rivals will induce claustrophobia in anyone interested in what the agency was doing outside of Washington." Berkowitz and Goodman have "supplied a well-informed introduction."

Pforzheimer, Walter. "In Memoriam: General Walter Bedell Smith, 5 October 1895-9 August 1961." Studies in Intelligence 5, no. 5 (Fall 1961): A1-A13.

Materials from the former DCI's life.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Intelligence, Policy, and Politics: The DCI, the White House, and Congress, at: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/historical-collection-publications/intel-policy-and-politics/index.html.

"[O]ver 800 recently declassified documents[,]... covering 1946 to 1953, focus on the activities of the first four DCIs: Sidney W. Souers, Hoyt S. Vandenberg, Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter and Walter B. Smith, and include office logs, memorandums, reports and various correspondence from each DCI's tenure."

2. Smith's Writings/Speeches

Smith, Walter Bedell. My Three Years in Moscow. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1950. [Chambers]

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