Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Steadies and One-Timers

The flow of oddball letters and phone calls increases perceptibly when CIA is in the news. Less than 48 hours after President Johnson announced he would nominate Admiral Raborn to be the DCI, a Detroit man had sent the Director-designate 8,000 words of complaint about the high cost of prescription medicines and a New Yorker had asked his help in controlling a whistling brain. The file of letters to him was mounting even before his appointment had been confirmed. On 17 April a Massachusetts man sent him some well-intentioned advice. "Dear Admiral," he wrote, "as you may be aware, L.B.J. ain't got much Brains or he wouldn't be President. I dealt with his type for 37 years. The best way to get along with him is humor him."

But a faithful nucleus of loyal intelligence fans always contributes about 25 percent of the total. Probably most of the cranks are as harmless as the childish codes they sometimes use. The trouble is, they're unpredictable. A few might have complaints worth hearing; others might pose a real threat to an unsuspecting officer who received them.

Nut-and-dolt visits to headquarters offices have practically disappeared since CIA moved out to Langley; an occasional walk-in still calls at its personnel office downtown. Its overt or semi-overt domestic offices, which are more approachable, have now compiled an impressive record of coping with off-beat visitors.

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