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NSAM 55


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NSAM 55 gave control of paramilitary operations to the Joint Chiefs. My copy is reprinted below.

JUNE 28, 1961

NATIONAL SECURITY ACTION MEMORANDUM NO. 55

TO: The Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

SUBJECT: Relations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the President in Cold War Operations

I wish to inform the Joint Chiefs of Staff as follows with regard to my views of their relations to me in Cold War Operations:

a. I regard the Joint Chiefs of Staff as my principal military advisor responsible both for initiating advice to me and for responding to requests for advice. I expect their advice to come to me direct and unfiltered.

b. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have a responsibility for the defense of the nation in the Cold War similar to that which they have in conventional hostilities. They should know the military and paramilitary forces and resources available to the Department of Defense, verify their readiness, report on their adequacy, and make appropriate recommendations for their expansion and improvement. I look to the Chiefs to contribute dynamic and imaginative leadership in contributing to the success of the military and paramilitary aspects of Cold War programs.

c. I expect the Joint Chiefs of Staff to present the military viewpoint in governmental councils in such a way as to assure that the military factors are clearly understood before decisions are reached. When only the Chairman or a single Chief is present, that officer must represent the Chiefs as a body, taking such preliminary and subsequent actions as may be necessary to assure that he does in fact represent the corporate judgment of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

d. While I look to the Chiefs to present the military factor without reserve or hesitation, I regard them to be more than military men and expect their help in fitting military requirements into the overall context of any situation, recognizing that the most difficult problem in Government is to combine all assets in a unified, effective pattern.

cc. Secretary of Defense

General Taylor

Is it strange that NSAM 55 was produced within days of General Taylor being selected to study the Bay of Pigs fiasco? Is it even stranger that Preident Kennedy would "cc" this memo to Taylor, but not to Admiral Burke or Allen Dulles that were also members of the four man study team along with Taylor and Bobby Kennedy? Kennedy supposedly did not know Taylor before this period of time but within days of their "first meeting" the Joint Chiefs of Staff would usurp control of paramilitary ops from the CIA with, it seems, Taylor in the loop. Within months Taylor would facilitate his own rise to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and control of paramilitary ops.

In March of 1951 General Taylor had written a memorandum, "indicating that his staff was perparing a study on the use of eastern European refugees, as indivduals or in units, to conduct UW (Unconventional Warfare)" Aaron Bank, From OSS to Green Berets.

Taylor planted the seeds in 1951 that would produce the fruit he would harvest when he possitioned himself within the Kennedy administration.

As I recall, in Taylor's first post assassination meeting with LBJ, LBJ, at the request of Taylor, reaffirmed NSAM 55.

Jim Root

Edited by Jim Root
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NSAM 55 gave control of paramilitary operations to the Joint Chief.  My copy is reprinted below.

JUNE 28, 1961

NATIONAL SECURITY ACTION MEMORANDUM NO. 55

TO: The Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

SUBJECT: Relations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the President in Cold War Operations

I wish to inform the Joint Chiefs of Staff as follows with regard to my views of their relations to me in Cold War Operations:

a. I regard the Joint Chiefs of Staff as my principal military advisor responsible both for initiating advice to me and for responding to requests for advice. I expect their advice to come to me direct and unfiltered.

b. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have a responsibility for the defense of the nation in the Cold War similar to that which they have in conventional hostilities. They should know the military and paramilitary forces and resources available to the Department of Defense, verify their readiness, report on their adequacy, and make appropriate recommendations for their expansion and improvement. I look to the Chiefs to contribute dynamic and imaginative leadership in contributing to the success of the military and paramilitary aspects of Cold War programs.

c. I expect the Joint Chiefs of Staff to present the military viewpoint in governmental councils in such a way as to assure that the military factors are clearly understood before decisions are reached. When only the Chairman or a single Chief is present, that officer must represent the Chiefs as a body, taking such preliminary and subsequent actions as may be necessary to assure that he does in fact represent the corporate judgment of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

d. While I look to the Chiefs to present the military factor without reserve or hesitation, I regard them to be more than military men and expect their help in fitting military requirements into the overall context of any situation, recognizing that the most difficult problem in Government is to combine all assets in a unified, effective pattern.

cc. Secretary of Defense

General Taylor

Is it strange that NSAM 55 was produced within days of General Taylor being selected to study the Bay of Pigs fiasco?  Is it even stranger that Preident Kennedy would "cc" this memo to Taylor, but not to Admiral Burke or Allen Dulles that were also members of the four man study team along with Taylor and Bobby Kennedy?  Kennedy supposedly did not know Taylor before this period of time but within days of their "first meeting" the Joint Chiefs of Staff would usurp control of paramilitary ops from the CIA with, it seems, Taylor in the loop.  Within months Taylor would facilitate his own rise to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and control of paramilitary ops.

In March of 1951 General Taylor had written a memorandum, "indicating that his staff was perparing a study on the use of eastern European refugees, as indivduals or in units, to conduct UW (Unconventional Warfare)"  Aaron Bank, From OSS to Green Berets. 

Taylor planted the seeds in 1951 that would produce the fruit he would harvest when he possitioned himself within the Kennedy administration. 

As I recall, in Taylor's first post assassination meeting with LBJ, LBJ, at the request of Taylor, reaffirmed NSAM 55.

Jim Root

Hi Jim-

Wouldn't you think that this would put Taylor firmly at odds with the CIA in general, and more specifically with the right-wing reactionary elements of the CIA (men like E Howard Hunt and the boys down at JM/WAVE)?

Unless of course, Taylor was unhappy with Kennedy's foreign policy (choosing the blockade option in Oct '62, cutting the deal he did with Kruschchev over the missiles in Cuba, back channel talks with same, the test ban treaty, NSM 263, etc.) despite the authority Kennedy granted him in NSM 55, and those same right-wing militant elements of the Agency and General Taylor found some common ground. That being the necessity- the "patriotic" obligation- to remove Kennedy from office. Their motivations being the advancement of their world view and ideology, their pursuits of Cuba and Vietnam. Not to mention a much more hard line approach with the USSR. Although they know they are technically talking about treason and murder here, they also know that they can make a somewhat legit case for incapacity to perform as POTUS based on his drug usage (recreational and medicinal), his "secret" negotations with NK, and his sleeping with women like Judith Campbell and Ellen Rometsch, all during very dangerous times (Cuba, Cold War). So they gather evidence and put together their case for incapacity and take it to LBJ as a done deal. With a faction of the CIA on board, along with Generals Taylor, Walker, & LeMay, Adm. Lemnitzer, et al., while LBJ faces being dropped from the ticket (potentially) in '64 along with serious legal jeopardy without the protection his office affords him, what else would he say... except "Go"?

Jim, you seem to know quite a bit about Max Taylor. Are you aware of any possible connection he may have had with the more extreme right-wing and militant elements of the Agency?

Just a thought.

Edited by Greg Wagner
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This just shows a fluid and disturbing question existed between the prerogatives of the civilian and military executives at the time of Kennedy's murder.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Greg

Sorry it has taken so long to answer.

In short I believe that Taylor would have more control/influence with the NSA or Military Intelligence. It seems to me that Taylor wished to take more of the operational control of "unconventional warfare" missions away from the CIA.

Jim Root

Edited by Jim Root
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I seem to recall that the CIA and the military were both unhappy with NSAM 55 and it came to be conveniently forgotten, or however such things are disposed of. But a quick search hasn't turned up anything, so maybe I just dreamed it.

Ron

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Jim

You are right.

After 1963 the JCS and defense department took the lead in consolidating

joint operations, and enrolling the CIA civilian agency into military sponsored covert operations worldwide.

This is made very clear in the book America in Vietnam by Guenter Lewy, which exposes this process in relation to Wm Colby, the PHOENIX counter revolutionary assassination program and General Taylor.

JFK's assassination was the turning point in this consolidation of joint agency operations.

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I found the source on NSAM 55 that I was trying to remember. It was Fletcher Prouty at the 1994 COPA conference as summarized in Fair Play.

While I don’t consider Prouty a very reliable source on the JFK assassination (e.g. he invented the 112th MI stand-down order myth, and told the ARRB that he had never read a word of the Warren Commission Report), he did work at the Pentagon and so was certainly knowledgeable on military matters at the time, which is why I would assume he knew something about NSAM 55:

“Prouty referenced National Security Action Memoranda 55, 56, and 57, published June 28, 1961. NSAM 55, he said, was designed to take the CIA out of the covert operation business and pass control of same over to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. These NSAMs never did become operative. According to Prouty, ‘The very existence of these powerful documents made the events of Dallas '63 imperative to the Power Elite.’"

Is it not true that these did not become operative?

http://spot.acorn.net/jfkplace/09/fp.back_...sue/thirty.html

Ron

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