CIA - History

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The United States has carried on foreign intelligence activities since the days of George Washington, but only since World War II have they been coordinated on a government-wide basis. Even before Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was concerned about American intelligence deficiencies. He asked New York lawyer William J. Donovan to draft a plan for an intelligence service. The Office of Strategic Services was established in June 1942 with a mandate to collect and analyze strategic information required by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and to conduct special operations not assigned to other agencies. During the War, the OSS supplied policy makers with essential facts and intelligence estimates and often played an important role in directly aiding military campaigns. But the OSS never received complete jurisdiction over all foreign intelligence activities. Since the early 1930s the FBI had been responsible for intelligence work in Latin America, and the military services protected their areas of responsibility.

In October 1945, the OSS was abolished and its functions transferred to the State and War Departments. But the need for a postwar centralized intelligence system was clearly recognized. Eleven months earlier, Donovan, by then a major general, had submitted to President Roosevelt a proposal calling for the separation of OSS from the Joint Chiefs of Staff with the new organization having direct Presidential supervision. Donovan proposed an "organization which will procure intelligence both by overt and covert methods and will at the same time provide intelligence guidance, determine national intelligence objectives, and correlate the intelligence material collected by all government agencies." Under his plan, a powerful, centralized civilian agency would have coordinated all the intelligence services. He also proposed that this agency have authority to conduct "subversive operations abroad," but "no police or law enforcement functions, either at home or abroad."

Donovan's plan drew heavy fire. The military services generally opposed a complete merger. The State Department thought it should supervise all peacetime operations affecting foreign relations. The FBI supported a system whereby military intelligence worldwide would be handled by the armed services, and all civilian activities would be under FBI's own jurisdiction.

In response to this policy debate, President Harry S. Truman established the Central Intelligence Group in January 1946, directing it to coordinate existing departmental intelligence, supplementing but not supplanting their services. This was all to be done under the direction of a National Intelligence Authority composed of a Presidential representative and the Secretaries of State, War and Navy. Rear Admiral Sidney W. Souers, USNR, who was the Deputy Chief of Naval Intelligence, was appointed the first Director of Central Intelligence. Twenty months later, the National Intelligence Authority and its operating component, the Central Intelligence Group, were disestablished.

Under the provisions of the National Security Act of 1947 (which became effective on 18 September 1947) the National Security Council and the Central Intelligence Agency were established. Most of the National Security Act's specific assignments given the CIA~ as well as the prohibitions on police and internal security functions, closely follow both the original 1944 Donovan plan and the Presidential directive creating the Central Intelligence Group. The 1947 Act charged the CIA with coordinating the nation's intelligence activities and correlating, evaluating and disseminating intelligence which affects national security. In addition, the Agency was to perform such other duties and functions related to intelligence as the NSC might direct. The Act also made the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) responsible for protecting intelligence sources and methods.

In 1949, the Central Intelligence Agency Act was passed supplementing the 1947 Act by permitting the Agency to use confidential fiscal and administrative procedures and exempting CIA from many of the usual limitations on the expenditure of federal funds. It provided that CIA funds could be included in the budgets of other departments and then transferred to the Agency without regard to the restrictions placed on the initial appropriation. This Act is the statutory authority for the secrecy of the Agency's budget. In order to protect intelligence sources and methods from disclosure, the 1949 Act further exempted the CIA from having to disclose its "organization, functions, names? Officials, titles, salaries, or numbers of personnel employed."

The office of Deputy Director of Central Intelligence (DDCI) evolved gradually. Until 1953, Deputy Directors were appointed by the Director, and it was General Walter Bedell Smith, the fourth DCI, who established the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence in the role he has since played in CIA. Congress recognized the importance of the position in April 1953 by amending the National Security Act of 1947 to provide for the appointment of the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. This amendment also provided that commissioned officers of the armed forces, whether active or retired, could not occupy both DCI and DDCI positions at the same time. The DDCI assists the Director by performing such functions as the DCI assigns or delegates. He acts for and exercises the powers of the Director during his absence or disability, or in the event of a vacancy in the position of the Director.

Under these Statutes, the Director serves as the principal adviser to the President and the National Security Council on all matters of foreign intelligence related to national security. CIA's responsibilities are carried out subject to various directives and controls by the President and the NSC.

Today the CIA reports regularly to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, as required by the Intelligence Oversight Act of 1980 and various Executive Orders. The Agency also reports regularly to the Defense Subcommittees of the Appropriations Committees in both houses of Congress. Moreover, the Agency provides substantive briefings to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the Armed Services Committees in both bodies as well as other Committees and individual members.

CIA Organizational Development

[Adapted from: United States Senate Select Committee on Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, Foreign and Military Intelligence -- Book I, 94th Congress, 2nd Session, 26 April 1976, pages 102-118.]

The Central Intelligence Group was authorized in spring of 1946 to establish an Office of Reports and Estimates (ORE). ORE's functions were manifold -- the production of national current intelligence, scientific, technical, and economic intelligence as well as interagency coordination for national estimates. With its own research and analysis capability, the CIG could carry out an independent intelligence function without having to rely on the other departments for data. The change made the CIG an intelligence producer, while still assuming the continuation of its role as a coordinator for estimates. Yet acquisition of a research and analysis role meant that independent production would outstrip coordinated intelligence as a primary mission. Fundamentally, it would be far easier to assimilate and analyze data than it had been or would be to engage the Departments in producing "coordinated" analysis. The same 1946 directive which provided the CIG with an independent research and analysis capability also granted the CIG a clandestine collection capability.

The passage of the National Security Act in July 1947 legislated the changes in the Executive branch that had been under discussion since 1945. The Act established an independent Air Force, provided for coordination by a committee of service chiefs, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), and a Secretary of Defense, and created the National Security Council (NSC). The CIG became an independent department and was renamed the Central Intelligence Agency.

Under the Act, the CIA's mission was only loosely defined, since efforts to thrash out the CIA's duties in specific terms would have contributed to the tension surrounding the unification of the services. The four general tasks assigned to the Agency were to advise the NSC on matters related to national security; to make recommendations to the NSC regarding the coordination of intelligence activities of the Departments; to correlate and evaluate intelligence and provide for its appropriate dissemination and "to perform such other functions ... as the NSC will from time to time direct...."

The Act did not alter the functions of the CIG. Clandestine collection, overt collection, production of national current intelligence and interagency coordination for national estimates continued, and the personnel and internal structure remained the same. The Act affirmed the CIA's role in coordinating the intelligence activities of the State Department and the military-determining which activities would most appropriately and most efficiently be conducted by which Departments to avoid duplication.

In 1947 the Intelligence Advisory Committee (IAC) was created to serve as a coordinating body in establishing intelligence requirements 2 among the Departments. Chaired by the DCI, the Committee included representatives from the Departments of State, Army, Air Force, the Joint Chiefs of Stag, and the Atomic Energy Commission. Although the DCI was to establish priorities for intelligence collection and analysis, he did not have the budgetary or administrative authority to control the departmental components. Moreover, no Department was willing to compromise what it perceived as-its own intelligence needs to meet the collective needs of policy makers as defined by the DCI.

As the CIA evolved between 1947 and 1950, it never fulfilled its estimates function but continued to expand its independent intelligence production. In July 1949 an internal study conducted by a senior ORE staff member stated that ORE's emphasis in production had shifted "from the broad long-term type of problem to a narrowly defined short-term type and from the predictive to the non-predictive type." In 1949 ORE had eleven regular publications. Only one of these addressed national intelligence questions and was published with the concurrence or dissent of the other departments. Less than one-tenth of ORE's products were serving the purpose for which the CIG and the CIA had been created.

By the time Walter Bedell Smith became DCI in 1950, it was c]car that the CIA's record on the production of national intelligence estimates had fallen far short of expectation. ORE had become a directionless service organization, attempting to answer requirements levied by all agencies related to all manner of subjects -- politics, economics, science, and technology. The wholesale growth had only confused ORE's mission and ]ed the organization into attempting analysis in areas already adequately covered by other departments.

Smith embarked on a program of reorganization. His most significant change was the creation of the Office of National Estimates (ONE), whose sole purpose was to produce National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs). There were two components in ONE, a staff which drafted the estimates and a senior body, known as the Board of National Estimates, which reviewed the estimates, coordinated the judgments with other agencies, and negotiated over their final form.

Smith also attempted to redefine the DCI's position in relation to the departmental intelligence components. From 1947 to 1950 the DCIs had functioned at the mercy of the Departments rather than exercising direction over them. By formally stating his position as the senior member of the Intelligence Advisory Committee, Smith tried to assume a degree of administrative control over departmental activities. Nonetheless, the obstacles remained, and personal influence, rather than recognized authority, determined the effectiveness of Smith and his successors in interdepartmental relationships.

In January 1952, CIA's intelligence functions were grouped under the Directorate for Intelligence (DDI), ORE was dissolved and its personnel were reassigned. In addition to ONE, the DDI's intelligence production components included: the Office of Research and Reports (ORE), which handled economic and geographic intelligence; the Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI), which engaged in basic scientific research; and the Office of Current Intelligence (OCI), which provided current political research. Collection of overt information was the responsibility of the Office of Operations (NO). The Office of Collection and Dissemination (OCD) engaged in the dissemination of intelligence as well as storage and retrieval of unevaluated intelligence.

The immediate pressures for information generated by the Korean War resulted in continued escalation in size and intelligence production. Government-wide demands for the Agency to provide information on Communist intentions in the Far East and around the world justified the increases. By the end of 1953 DDI personnel numbered 3,338. Despite the sweeping changes, the fundamental problem of duplication among the Agency and the Departments remained. DDI's major effort was independent intelligence production rather than coordinated national estimates.

The establishment of the office of National Intelligence Programs Evaluation (NIPE) in 1963 was the first major effort by a DCI to insure consistent contact and coordination with the community. Yet, from the outset DCI McCone accepted the limitations on his authority; although Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara agreed to provide him with access to the Defense Department budget (which still constitutes 80 percent of the intelligence community's overall budget), McCone could not direct or control the intelligence components of the other departments. The NIPE staff directed most of its attention to sorting out intelligence requirements through USIB and attempting to develop a national inventory for the community, including budget, personnel and materials. Remarkably, this had never before been done.

The most pressing problem for the community was the adjustment to the impact of technical collection capabilities. The large budgetary resources involved, and the value of the data generated by overhead reconnaissance systems precipitated a major bureaucratic battle over their administration and control. From 1963 to 1965, much of McCone's and the senior NIPE staff officer's community efforts were directed toward working out an agreement with the Air Force on development, production, and deployment of overhead reconnaissance systems.

Internally, the Agency was also adjusting to the impact of technical and scientific advances. In 1963, the Directorate for Science and Technology (DDS&T) was created. Previously, scientific and technical intelligence production had been scattered among the other three directorates. The process of organizing an independent directorate meant wresting personnel and resources from the existing components. Predictably, the resistance was considerable, and a year and a half passed between the first attempts at creating the Directorate and its actual establishment.

The new component included the Office of Scientific Intelligence and the office of ELINT (electronic intercepts) from DDI, the Data Processing Staff from DDA, the Development Projects Division (responsible for overhead reconnaissance) from the DDP, and a newly created Office of Research and Development. Later, the Foreign Missile and Space Analysis Center was added.

The Directorate's specific functions included, and continue to include, research, development, operation, data collection, analysis, and contributions to National Intelligence Estimates. The Directorate was organized on the premise that close cooperation should exist between research and application on the one hand, and technical collection and analysis all the other. This close coordination along with the staffing anti career patterns in the Directorate have contributed to the continuing vitality and quality of the DDS&T's work.

The DDP began and remained a closed, self-contained component; the DDI evolved into a closed, self-contained component. However, the DDS&T was created with the assumption that it would continue to rely on expertise and advice from outside the Agency. A number of arrangements insured constant interchanges between the Directorate and the scientific and industrial communities. First, since all research and development for technical systems was done through contracting, the DDS&T could draw on and benefit from the most advanced technical systems nationwide. Second, to attract high-quality professionals from the industrial and scientific communities, the Directorate established a competitive salary scale. The result has been personnel mobility between the DDS&T and private industry. It has not been unusual for individuals to leave private industry, assume positions with DDS&T for several years, then return to private industry. This pattern has provided the Directorate with a constant infusion and renewal of talent. Finally, the Directorate established the practice of regularly employing advisory groups as well as fostering DDS&T staff participation in conferences and seminars sponsored by professional associations.


[Central Intelligence Agency, Factbook on Intelligence, December 1992, pages 4-5.]

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