Allen Welsh Dulles ( April 7, 1893 – January 29, 1969) was an American diplomat and lawyer who became the first civilian Director of Central Intelligence and its longest-serving director to date. As head of the Central Intelligence Agency during the early Cold War, he oversaw the 1954 Guatemalan coup d’état, Operation Ajax (the overthrow of Iran’s elected government), the Lockheed U-2 aircraft program and the Bay of Pigs Invasion. Following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Dulles was one of the members of the Warren Commission. Between his stints of government service, Dulles was a corporate lawyer and partner at Sullivan & Cromwell. His older brother, John Foster Dulles, was the Secretary of State during the Eisenhower Administration.
In 1950, Smith recruited Dulles to oversee the agency’s covert operations as Deputy Director for Plans. The same year Dulles was promoted to Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, second in the intelligence hierarchy. After the election of Dwight Eisenhower in 1952, Bedell Smith shifted to the Department of State and Dulles became the first civilian Director of Central Intelligence.
The Agency’s covert operations were an important part of the Eisenhower administration’s new Cold War national security policy known as the “New Look”. Under Dulles’ direction, the CIA created MK-Ultra, a top secret mind control research project managed by Sidney Gottlieb. Dulles also personally oversaw Operation Mockingbird, a program that influenced foreign and domestic media companies.
At Dulles’ request, President Eisenhower demanded that Senator Joseph McCarthy discontinue issuing subpoenas against the CIA. In March 1950, McCarthy had initiated a series of investigations into potential communist subversion of the Agency. Although none of the investigations revealed any wrongdoing, the hearings were potentially damaging, not only to the CIA’s reputation but also to the security of sensitive information. Documents made public in 2004 revealed that the CIA, under Dulles’ orders, had broken into McCarthy’s Senate office and fed disinformation to him in order to discredit him, in order to stop his investigation of communist infiltration of the CIA.
In the early 1950s, the United States Air Force conducted a competition for a new photo reconnaissance aircraft. Lockheed Aircraft Corporation’s Skunk Works submitted a design number called the CL-282, which married sailplane-like wings to the body of a supersonic interceptor. This aircraft was rejected by the Air Force, but several of the civilians on the review board took notice, and Edwin Land presented a proposal for the aircraft to Dulles. The aircraft became what is known as the U-2 ‘spy plane’, and it was initially operated by CIA pilots. Its introduction into operational service in 1957 greatly enhanced the CIA’s ability to monitor Soviet activity through overhead photo surveillance. The aircraft eventually entered service with the Air Force. The Soviet Union captured a U-2 in 1960 during Dulles’ term as CIA chief.
Dulles is considered one of the essential creators of the modern United States intelligence system and was an indispensable guide to clandestine operations during the Cold War. He established intelligence networks worldwide to check and counter Soviet and eastern European communist advances as well as international communist movements.
On November 29, 1963, President Lyndon Baines Johnson appointed Dulles as one of seven commissioners of the Warren Commission to investigate the assassination of the U.S. President John F. Kennedy. The appointment was later criticized by some historians, who have noted that Kennedy had fired him, and he was therefore unlikely to be impartial in passing the judgments charged to the Warren Commission. In the view of journalist and author Stephen Kinzer, Johnson appointed Dulles primarily so that Dulles could “coach” the Commission on how to interview CIA witnesses and what questions to ask, because Johnson and Dulles were both anxious to ensure that the Commission did not discover Kennedy’s secret involvement in the administration’s illegal plans to assassinate Castro and other foreign leaders
In 1966, Princeton University’s American Whig-Cliosophic Society awarded Dulles the James Madison Award for Distinguished Public Service.
Dulles published the book The Craft of Intelligence in 1963 and edited Great True Spy Stories in 1968.
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