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Dale Banham

Student Question: JFK and the CIA

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My Year 10 (aged 14-15) are now starting on a piece of coursework: 'Why is JFK remembered so positively?'. I have attached the questions they came up with in groups. Answers and different views from experts would be great for when we start back in September or for pupils to look at over the Summer.

Question: What were JFK’s plans for the CIA, had he been re-elected?

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A definitive answer to that question is impossible to my view but we do have some directions e.g. JFK was much more enamored of the Special Forces concept than the CIA's covert operations and was in the progress of moving that sort of responsiblity back to the Army and the Joint Chiefs.

He actually was always interested in the professional military view even though he had a low regard for some individual senior officers. There is good evidence to show that in his Cuban plans he was relying more on the Army than the CIA for any future operation against Cuba.

Whether or not he would have taken the agency apart is questionable but I think it's safe to say that it's operations element would have moved back under the military. As to counter intelligence certainly he was not naive enough to know he needed someone to go head to head with the KGB and other intelligence sources like Cubas. Whether or not he would have left technical intelligence collection with CIA or trusted NSA with it all is a question.

My personal view is that he would have taken CIA largely back to what it was set up to be in the first place - a central place to collect and analyze information - and present it. The Plans/Operations guys might well have ended up looking for jobs elsewhere.

-- Larry

looking for owrk

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Question: What were JFK’s plans for the CIA, had he been re-elected?

There are many theories and claims on this. The New York quoted JFK as talking about splintering the CIA into a thousand pieces. The most likely change, however, would have been removing the CIA's paramilitary function, and transferring that to the Department of Defense, as the CIA was never very good at it.

Martin Shackelford

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