David Wise

David Wise

David Wise was born in New York in 1930. After graduating from Columbia College he became a journalist. In 1951 he joined the New York Herald Tribune. After the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960 Wise became the newspaper's White House correspondent.

Wise joined forces with Thomas Ross to research the events surrounding the shooting down of the Lockheed U-2 spy plane on 1st May, 1960. Their book, The U-2 Affair was published in 1962.

Wise and Ross now began work on a new book called Invisible Government. John McCone, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, discovered that the book intended to look at his links with the Military Industrial Congress Complex. The authors also claimed that the CIA was having a major influence on American foreign policy. This included the overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran (1953) and Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala (1954). The book also covered the role that the CIA played in the Bay of Pigs operation, the attempts to remove President Sukarno in Indonesia and the covert operations taking place in Laos and Vietnam.

John McCone called in Wise and Ross to demand deletions on the basis of galleys the CIA had secretly obtained from Random House. The authors refused to made these changes and Random House decided to go ahead and publish the book. The CIA considered buying up the entire printing of Invisible Government but this idea was rejected when Random House pointed out that if this happened they would have to print a second edition. McCone now formed a special group to deal with the book and tried to arrange for it to get bad reviews.

Invisible Government was published in 1964. It was the first full account of America's intelligence and espionage apparatus. In the book Wise and Ross argued that the "Invisible Government is made up of many agencies and people, including the intelligence branches of the State and Defense Departments, of the Army, Navy and Air Force". However, they claimed that the most important organization involved in this process was the CIA.

Other books by Wise includes The Espionage Establishment (1967), The Politics of Lying: Government Deception, Secrecy, and Power (1975), The American Police State: The Government Against the People (1978), The Spy Who Got Away (1988), Nightmover (1995), Cassidy's Run (2000), Spy: The Inside Story of How the FBI's Robert Hanssen Betrayed America (2002) and Democracy Under Pressure (2004).

© , September 1997 - April 2014

Primary Sources

(1) David Wise and Thomas Ross, Invisible Government (1964)

In I948, after the Communist takeover in Czechoslovakia, James Forrestal, as the first Secretary of Defense, became alarmed at signs that the Communists might win the Italian elections. In an effort to influence the elections to the advantage of the United States, he started a campaign among his wealthy Wall Street colleagues to raise enough money to run a private clandestine operation. But Allen Dulles felt the problem could not be handled effectively in private hands. He urged strongly that the government establish a covert organization to conduct a variety of special operations.

Because there was no specific provision for covert political operations spelled out in the 1947 Act, the National Security Council - in the wake of the events in Czechoslovakia and Italy - issued a paper in the summer of 1948 authorizing special operations. There were two important guide lines: that the operations be secret and that they be plausibly deniable by the government.

A decision was reached to create an organization within the CIA to conduct secret political operations. Frank G. Wisner, an ex-OSS man, was brought in from the State Department to head it, with a cover title of his own invention. He became Assistant Director of the Office of Policy Coordination.

Under this innocuous title, the United States was now fully in the business of covert political operations. (A separate Office of Special Operations conducted secret actions aimed solely at gathering intelligence.) This machinery was in the CIA but the agency shared control of it with the State Department and the Pentagon. On January 4, 1951, the CIA merged the two offices and created a new Plans Division, which has had sole control over secret operations of all types since that date.

It is doubtful that many of the lawmakers who voted for the I947 Act could have envisioned the scale on which the CIA would engage in operational activities all over the world. President Truman later maintained that he had no idea that this was going to happen. In a syndicated newspaper article, date-lined December 2 I, 1963, he wrote: "For some time I have been disturbed by the way CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the government.... I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak-and-dagger operations. Some of the complications and embarrassment that I think we have experienced are in part attributable to the fact that this quiet intelligence arm of the President has been so removed from its intended role that it is being interpreted as a symbol of sinister and mysterious foreign intrigue - and a subject for cold war enemy propaganda."

It was under President Truman, however, that the CIA began conducting special operations. Although the machinery was not established until i948, one small hint of what was to come was tucked away in a memorandum which Allen Dulles submitted to Congress back in 1947. It said the CIA should "have exclusive jurisdiction to carry out secret intelligence operations."

(2) David Wise and Thomas Ross, Invisible Government (1964)

The CIA is, of course, the biggest, most important and most influential branch of the Invisible Government. The agency is organized into four divisions: Intelligence, Plans, Research, Support, each headed by a deputy director.

The Support Division is the administrative arm of the CIA. It is in charge of equipment, logistics, security and communications. It devises the CIA's special codes, which cannot be read by other branches of the government.

The Research Division is in charge of technical intelligence. It provides expert assessments of foreign advances in science, technology and atomic weapons. It was responsible for analyzing the U-2 photographs brought back from the Soviet Union between 1956 and 1960. And it has continued to analyze subsequent U-2 and spy-satellite pictures. In this it works with the CIA in running the National Photo Intelligence Center.

Herbert "Pete" Scoville, who headed the Research Division for eight years, left in August of 1963 to become an assistant director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. He was replaced as the CIA's deputy director for research by Dr. Albert D. Wheelon.

The Plans Division is in charge of the CIA's cloak-and-dagger activities. It controls all foreign special operations, such as Guatemala and the Bay of Pigs, and it collects all of the agency's covert intelligence through spies and informers overseas.

Allen Dulles was the first deputy director for plans. He was succeeded as DDP by Frank Wisner, who was replaced in i958 by Bissell, who, in turn, was succeeded in 1962 by his deputy, Richard Helms.

A native of St. David's, Pennsylvania, Helms studied in Switzerland and Germany and was graduated from Williams College in 1935. He worked for the United Press and the Indianapolis Times, and then, during World War II, he served as a lieutenant commander in the Navy attached to the OSS. When the war ended and some OSS men were transferred to the CIA, he stayed on and rose through the ranks.

(3) David Wise and Thomas Ross, Invisible Government (1964)

Ralph E. Casey of the General Accounting Office, a watchdog arm of the Congress, testified in 1946 that McCone and his associates in the California Shipbuilding Company made $44,000,000 on an investment of $100,000.

"I daresay," Casey remarked, "that at no time in the history of American business, whether in wartime or in peacetime, have so few men made so much money with so little risk and all at the expense of the taxpayers, not only of this generation but of generations to come."

Again, McCone denied the accusation. He insisted that the investment of California Shipbuilding - including loans, bank credits and stock, in addition to the cash-amounted to over $7,000,000. He also disputed Casey's profit figures as inflated. In any event, he testified, the government got back 95 percent of the profits in taxes.

Another of McCone's business activities which provoked opposition was his long relationship with the international oil industry. During the Senate Armed Services Committee hearings on his nomination in January, 1962, McCone told of his former directorship of the Panama Pacific Tankers Company, a large oilcarrying fleet, and of the $1,000,000 in stock he held in Standard Oil of California, which operates extensively in the Middle East, Indonesia and Latin America.

"Every well-informed American knows," commented Senator Joseph Clark, the Pennsylvania Democrat, "that the American oil companies are deep in the politics of the Middle East (and) the CIA is deep in the politics of the Middle East."

Clark opposed McCone's appointment on the ground that his ownership of the oil stock amounted to "a legal violation and a very unwise holding." McCone offered to dispose of the stock but the committee refused to consider it. From the tenor of the questioning it was clear that the great majority of senators was not at all disturbed by McCone's record. They were, in fact, abundantly impressed.

"I have not had the opportunity of knowing Mr. McCone well, only through reputation," said Senator Strom Thurmond, the South Carolina Democrat, "but in looking over this biography, to me it epitomizes what has made America great."