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Warren Commission Hearings: Vol. V - Page 127« Previous | Next »

(Testimony of Richard M. Helms)

Mr. Mccone.
careful of here, would be to rather clearly define the type of information which should be transmitted, because after all, there are hundreds of thousands or millions of Americans going back and forth every year, and those records are the records of the Immigration Service, the Passport Division.
Mr. Dulles.
I was thinking of a person who having defected might, of course, have become an agent and then reinserted into the United States and if you were informed of the first steps to that you might help to prevent the second step.
Mr. Mccone.
Well, certainly information on defectors or possible recruitments should be, and I have no question is being, transmitted.
Representative Ford.
What I was getting at was whether the procedures were adequate or inadequate, whether the administration was proper or improper in this particular case, and if some files you have that started when he attempted to defect are inadequate why we ought to know, and we ought to know whether the basic regulations were right or wrong, whether the administration was proper or improper, that is what I am trying to find out. I would like your comment on it.
Mr. Mccone.
Well, I think the basic regulations should be examined very carefully to be sure that they are copper-riveted down and absolutely tight. What I am saying, however, is because of the vast number of Americans who go abroad and stay in foreign countries for indefinite periods of time, it would be an impossible task to transmit all information available in the State department and Immigration Service as files to the Central Intelligence Agency. It would not be a productive exercise. What must be transmitted and is being transmitted, while I cannot recite the exact regulations is information that is, becomes, known to the various embassies of suspicious Americans that might have been recruited and defected, and then returned so that they would be agents in place.
Representative Ford.
In this case, Oswald attempted to defect, he did not, he subsequently sought the right to return to the United States, he had contact with the Embassy. Was the Central Intelligence Agency informed of these steps, step by step, by the Department of State?
Mr. Mccone.
You might answer that.
Mr. Helms.
Mr. Ford, in order to answer this question precisely I would have to have the file in front of me. I have not looked at it in some time so I don't have it all that clearly in mind. But it is my impression that we were not informed step by step. When I say that there is no requirement that I am aware of that the State Department should inform us and when I said a moment ago that we had minimal information from them, this was not in any sense a critical comment but a statement of fact.
But an American going to the American Embassy would be handled by the Embassy officials, either consular or otherwise. This would be a matter well within the purview of the State Department to keep all the way through, because we do not have responsibility in the Central Intelligence Agency for the conduct or behavior or anything else of American citizens when they are abroad unless there is some special consideration applying to an individual, or someone in higher authority requests assistance from us. So that the State Department, I think, quite properly would regard this matter as well within their purview to handle themselves within the Embassy or from the Embassy back to the Department of State without involving the Agency in it while these events were occurring.
Representative Ford.
I think it could be argued, however, that the uniqueness of this individual case was such that the Department of State might well have contacted the Central Intelligence Agency to keep them abreast of the developments as they transpired. This is not--and when I say this, I mean the Oswald case---is not an ordinary run-of-the-mill-type of case. It is far from it. Even back in the time, well, from the time he went, and particularly as time progressed, and he made application to return, there is nothing ordinary about the whole situation.
Mr. Mccone.
That is quite correct; there is no question about that.
Representative Ford.
And I am only suggesting that if the regulations were not adequate at the time and are not now, maybe something ought to be done about it.
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