Psychological Strategy Board

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The Psychological Strategy Board (PSB) was established by Presidential Directive of April 4, 1951, "to authorize and provide for the more effective planning, coordination, and conduct within the framework of approved national policies, of psychological operations."

The PSB was composed of the Undersecretary of State, the Deputy Secretary of Defense and the Director of Central Intelligence, or their designated representatives. The founding Presidential Directive instructed the PSB to report to the National Security Council "on the Board's activities on the evaluation of the national psychological operations, including implementation of approved objectives, policies, and programs by the departments and agencies concerned."

The Psychological Strategy Board succeeded the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee, which had been established during World War II to coordinate the Government's psychological warfare efforts. During the Truman Presidency, the PSB, in addition to its inherited coordination role, conducted planning for psychological operations undertaken by its constituent agencies. It did not conduct operations of its own.

According to Edward P. Lilly, the PSB's historian, the Board's basic function was to prevent interagency rivalries from developing among the agencies involved in psychological operations. Seventeen meetings of the PSB's constituent agency representatives were held during the last year and a half of Truman's administration.

During the Dwight D. Eisenhower presidency, the PSB became purely a coordinating body; all planning was discontinued. The Board was terminated by Executive Order 10483 of September 3, 1953, and its functions were transferred to the Operations Coordinating Board.

The Psychological Strategy Board had three directors during Harry S. Truman's presidency. Gordon Gray was the first director, serving from June 1951 to May 1952. Raymond H. Allen, the second director, served from May to September 1952. Third was Admiral Alan Kirk, who served the remainder of Truman's term. Charles E. Johnson was the Board's executive officer. Besides the office of the Director, the staff of the Psychological Strategy Board included the following offices: the Executive; Plans and Policy; Coordination; and Evaluation and Review.

The files of the Psychological Strategy Board were in the physical custody of the Central Intelligence Agency until they were turned over to the National Archives in about 1980. They were then divided chronologically into Truman and Eisenhower administration periods, and transferred to the appropriate Presidential Libraries.

The Truman Library's portion was opened for research in 1981. In December 1988, the PSB files were temporarily closed and were subsequently reviewed by the Central Intelligence Agency. Several hundred formerly open documents were restricted because of security classified content as a result of this review. The files were reopened for research in October 1989.

Taken from the *Guide to the Harry S. Truman Papers, White House Central Files: Psychological Strategy Board Files, Dates: 1951-53, at the Truman Presidential Library and Museum web files.


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