Ray S. Cline

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Ray Steiner Cline (June 4, 1918 – March 16, 1996) was an official at the United States Central Intelligence Agency and is best known for being the chief CIA analyst during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Ray S. Cline
1973 U.S. Intelligence Board usib800.jpg
At 1973 U.S. Intelligence Board, 4th from left
Personal details
Ray Steiner Cline

(1918-06-04)June 4, 1918
Anderson Township, Clark County, Illinois, U.S.
DiedMarch 16, 1996(1996-03-16) (aged 77)
Arlington County, Virginia, U.S.
Cause of deathAlzheimer's disease
Spouse(s)Majorie Wilson m. 1941-1996
ChildrenJudith Fontaine, Sibyl W. MacKenzie
RelativesStefan Halper (former son-in-law)
Alma materHarvard University A.B. 1939; Ph.D. 1949 Balliol College, Oxford University 1939-40[1]
ProfessionChief CIA Analyst

Early life and family[edit]

Ray S. Cline was born in Anderson Township, Clark County, Illinois in 1918 and raised in Terre Haute, Indiana, graduating from Wiley High School in 1935. He earned a scholarship to study at Harvard University where he graduated with an A.B. in 1939. He received the Henry Prize Fellowship to Balliol College, Oxford University 1939-40. He returned to Harvard and earned an M.A. He was invited to join the Harvard Society of Fellows in 1941, but with the outbreak of World War II, he left after a year to join the war effort.[1][2] Cline married Majorie Wilson in 1941; the couple had two daughters, Judith and Sibyl. Until Sibyl's divorce, Cline was the father-in-law of Stefan Halper.[3]


U.S. Government[edit]

Cline served in World War II first as a crytanalyst for the U.S. Department of the Navy (1942-1943) and then joined the newly created Office of Strategic Services. He became Chief of Current Intelligence in 1944, serving until 1946. He later traveled to China where he worked with other OSS officers such as John K. Singlaub, Richard Helms, E. Howard Hunt, Paul Helliwell, Robert Emmett Johnson, and Lucien Conein. In 1946, he was assigned to the Operations Division of the General Staff of the United States Department of War, tasked with writing the history of the Operations Division.

According to Sterling Seagrave, Edward Lansdale found a large cache in caves and tunnels in the Philippines after World War II ended.[4][5][a] Cline stated that both Paul Helliwell and Robert Anderson created 176 "black gold" banking accounts in 42 countries after moving loot from the Philippines by ship to support future United States operations.[4][5][7][8][9]

Cline joined the newly founded Central Intelligence Agency in 1949 as an intelligence analyst, having completed his Ph.D. at Harvard that year. He was initially responsible for intelligence on Korea, but he failed to predict North Korea's 1950 invasion of South Korea, which began the Korean War. From 1951 to 1953, he served as an attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Great Britain[1] under the supervision of Brigadier General E. C. Betts. From 1953 to 1957, he was the CIA desk officer charged with monitoring the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China; in this capacity, he correctly predicted the Sino-Soviet split. In 1958 he became Chief of the CIA station in Taiwan, with his official title being chief of the United States Naval Auxiliary Communications Center.[2]

In 1962, Cline moved to Washington, D.C. as the head of CIA's Directorate of Intelligence, the agency's analytical branch. He replaced Robert Amory Jr who had held this Office in 1953–1962. Cline played a crucial role in the Cuban Missile Crisis when, under Cline's leadership, the Directorate of Intelligence concluded after study of U2 spy plane photographs of Cuba that the Soviet Union had shipped nuclear warheads to Cuba; Cline was among those who informed President John F. Kennedy of this development.[2]

Cline played a role in the formation of the World League for Freedom and Democracy in 1966.

Cline remained head of the Directorate of Intelligence until 1966, when, disillusioned with President Lyndon B. Johnson, he determined to leave the CIA. His old friend Richard Helms intervened to have Cline posted as Special Coordinator and Adviser to the United States Ambassador to Germany in Bonn.

In 1969, Cline returned to the United States when President Richard Nixon nominated him as Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research and he subsequently held this office from October 26, 1969 until November 24, 1973. In this capacity, he oversaw U.S. intelligence in the build-up to the Yom Kippur War.[10]

Cline expressed his displeasure at the declination of US Citizenship for a former Nazi.


Cline left government service in 1973, becoming an executive director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies at Georgetown University. While at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, he became a prolific author on American intelligence and foreign policy. He also became an ardent defender of the CIA in testimony before the United States Congress and in the media.[2]

Cline was head of the U.S. Global Strategy Council.[11]



Book contributions[edit]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ On October 19, 1945, Edward Lansdale began his fact finding mission after he arrived in Manila Bay aboard the United States Army Transport Ship (USAT) USS Uruguay.[6]


  1. ^ a b c Gernand, Bradley, ed. (2010). "Biographical note." Finding Aid to the Ray S. Cline Papers. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress.
  2. ^ a b c d Weiner, Tim (Mar. 16, 1996). "Ray S. Cline, Chief C.I.A. Analyst, Is Dead at 77" (obituary). New York Times. Section 1, p. 49. Archived from the original.
  3. ^ Greenwald, Glenn (May 19, 2018). "The FBI Informant Who Monitored the Trump Campaign, Stefan Halper, Oversaw a CIA Spying Operation in the 1980 Presidential Election". The Intercept. Retrieved May 20, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Sterling.
  5. ^ a b Johnson, Chalmers (November 20, 2003). "The Looting of Asia": A review of Gold Warriors: America's Secret Recovery of Yamashita's Gold by Sterling Seagrave and Peggy Seagrave Verso, 332 pp. London Review of Books v. 25, no. 22. Archived from the original on November 19, 2003. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  6. ^ Anderson 2020, pp. 127–130.
  7. ^ "Edward Lansdale". Spartacus Educational. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  8. ^ "Ray S. Cline". Spartacus Educational. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  9. ^ "Paul Helliwell". Spartacus Educational. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  10. ^ "Israeli Intelligence and the Yom Kippur War of 1973". Jewishvirtuallibrary.org. Retrieved 2012-05-31.
  11. ^ Small Arms Survey (2011), Small Arms Survey 2011: States of Security, Cambridge University Press, p84
  12. ^ a b Ashland University, Ray S. Cline, Major Issues Lecture Series, Topic: A Historical Perspective on American Intelligence, Tuesday, September 16, 1986

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research
October 26, 1969 – November 24, 1973
Succeeded by