John A. McCone
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|Director of Central Intelligence|
November 29, 1961 – April 28, 1965
|President||John F. Kennedy
|Deputy||Charles P. Cabell
|Preceded by||Allen Dulles|
|Succeeded by||William Raborn|
|Chair of the Atomic Energy Commission|
July 14, 1958 – January 20, 1961
|Preceded by||Lewis Strauss|
|Succeeded by||Glenn T. Seaborg|
|United States Under Secretary of the Air Force|
June 15, 1950 – October 12, 1951
|Preceded by||Arthur S. Barrows|
|Succeeded by||Roswell Gilpatric|
|Born||John Alexander McCone
January 4, 1902
San Francisco, California, U.S.
|Died||February 14, 1991
Pebble Beach, California, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of California, Berkeley|
John Alexander McCone (January 4, 1902 – February 14, 1991) was an American businessman and politician who served as Director of Central Intelligence from 1961 to 1965, during the height of the Cold War.
McCone was born in San Francisco, California. His father ran iron foundries across California, a business started in Nevada in 1860 by McCone's grandfather. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1922 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, beginning his career in Los Angeles' Llewellyn Iron Works. He rose swiftly and in 1929, when several works merged to become the Consolidated Steel Corporation, he became executive vice president. He also founded Bechtel-McCone. A prominent industrialist, McCone also served for more than twenty years as a governmental advisor and official, including head positions at the Atomic Energy Commission and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). He also worked for the ITT corporation. In 1946, Ralph Casey of the General Accounting Office implied that McCone was a war profiteer, testifying that McCone and his associates of the California Shipbuilding Corporation had made $44,000,000 on an investment of $100,000." McCone's political affiliation was with the Republican Party.
Atomic Energy Commission
In 1958, he became chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. According to journalist Seymour Hersh, in December 1960, while still Atomic Energy Commission chairman, McCone revealed CIA information about Israel's Dimona nuclear weapons plant to The New York Times. Hersh writes that President John F. Kennedy was "fixated" on the Israeli nuclear weapons program and one of the reasons that contributed to McCone's appointment as CIA director was his willingness to deal with this and other nuclear weapons issues – and despite the fact that McCone was a conservative Republican.
Director of Central Intelligence
After the disaster of the Bay of Pigs Invasion, president John F. Kennedy forced the resignation of CIA director Allen Dulles and some of his staff. McCone replaced Dulles as DCI on November 29, 1961.
McCone was not Kennedy's first choice; the president had tentatively offered the job to Clark Clifford, his personal lawyer, who politely refused (Clifford would later serve as Secretary of Defense for Lyndon Johnson); and then to Fowler Hamilton, a Wall Street lawyer with experience in government service during the Roosevelt and Truman administrations. Hamilton accepted, but when a problem developed at the Agency for International Development, he was shifted there. Thus Kennedy, urged on by his brother Robert, turned to McCone.
He was a key figure in the Executive Committee of the National Security Council (EXCOMM) during the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. In the Honeymoon telegram of September 20, 1962, he insisted that the CIA remain imaginative when it came to Soviet weapons policy towards Cuba, as a September 19 National Intelligence Estimate had concluded it unlikely that nuclear missiles would be placed on the island. The telegram was so named because McCone sent it while on his honeymoon in Paris, France, accompanied not only by his bride, Theiline McGee Pigott but by a CIA cipher team.
McCone's suspicions of the inaccuracy of this assessment proved to be correct, as it was later found out the Soviet Union had followed up its conventional military buildup with the installation of MRBMs (Medium Range Ballistic Missiles) and IRBMs (Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles), sparking off the crisis in October when they were later spotted by CIA's Lockheed U-2 surveillance flights.
While McCone was DCI, the CIA was involved in many covert plots, including ones involving Laos (with the Hmong), Ecuador, Brazil, and Cuba. He apparently disapproved of Operation Mongoose, the plot to assassinate Fidel Castro. He would later tell DCI Stansfield Turner that the CIA actions in Chile were the work of Richard Helms, who did not tell McCone what he was doing. However he was involved in the 1964 Brazilian coup d'état; he was friends with ITT president Harold Geneen whose company stood to lose its Brazilian subsidiary if president João Goulart nationalized it. McCone would later work for ITT.
McCone represented the CIA's opposition to U.S. support of a coup in South Vietnam against President Ngo Dinh Diem, but such objections were overruled by November 1963, when the State Department managed to convince Kennedy to allow the coup to proceed.
McCone resigned from his position of DCI in April 1965, believing himself to be unappreciated by President Lyndon B. Johnson, who, he complained, would not read his reports, including on the need for full-fledged inspections of Israeli nuclear facilities. Upon his resignation, McCone submitted a final policy memorandum to Johnson arguing that Johnson's expansion of the war in Vietnam would arouse national and world discontent before it brought down the North Vietnamese regime.
John A. McCone died on February 14, 1991 of cardiac arrest at his home in Pebble Beach, Calif. He was 89 years old.
McCone was portrayed by Peter White in the 2000 docudrama about the Cuban Missile Crisis, Thirteen Days and by actor Matt Craven in the 2011 film X-Men: First Class. An unnamed fictionalized version of McCone also appears in the 2004 video game Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.
- "DCI John McCone Creates the Directorate of Science and Technology".
- Burn Before Reading, Stansfield Turner, 2005, Hyperion, chapter on JFK
- Halberstam, David (1972). The Best and the Brightest. Random House. p. 153. ISBN 0394461630.
- Seymour Hersh, The Samson Option: Israel's Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy, Random House, 1991, 72-73, 105, 120.
- Excerpted from Gus Russo, Live by the Sword (Baltimore: Bancroft, 1998), pp. 31- 36., from David A. Reitzes jfk-online.com
- David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest, page 152
- David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest, page 152
- Seymour Hersh, 151.
- Governor's Commission on the Los Angeles Riots; John McCone, Chairman, Warren M. Christopher, Vice-Chairman (1965-12-02). "Violence in the City -- An End or a Beginning?". Archived from the original on 2007-03-08. Retrieved 2007-04-06. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- McCartney, Laton (1988). Friends in High Places: The Bechtel Story, The Most Secret Corporation and How It Engineered the World. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-47415-4. OCLC 17300223.
- Andrew, Christopher (1995). For the president's eyes only: secret intelligence and the American presidency from Washington to Bush. New York: Harper Perennial. ISBN 0-06-017037-9. OCLC 31377151. Chapters 7–8, and pp. 321–322.
- Constructing Cassandra : the Social Construction of Strategic Surprise at the Central Intelligence Agency, 1947- 2001 https://catalogue.kent.ac.uk/Record/764718
- Laqueur, Walter (1985). World of Secrets. London: Wiedenfield and Nicolson. ISBN 0-297-78745-4.
- Annotated Bibliography for John A. McCone from the Alsos Digital Library for Nuclear Issues
- Papers of John A. McCone, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library
- Guide to the John A. McCone Papers at The Bancroft Library
- on YouTube
- Announcement of the Recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
- FBI files on John McCone
Arthur S. Barrows
|United States Under Secretary of the Air Force
|Chair of the Atomic Energy Commission
Glenn T. Seaborg
|Director of Central Intelligence