Intelligence Community History in the USA

Subject: History
Pages: 11
Words: 2826
Reading time:
10 min
Study level: College


The United States Intelligence Community, commonly referred to as IC, refers to a joint association of seventeen distinguished United States administration outfits that operate independently and jointly to carry out intelligence operations. These operations are essential for the performance of overseas affairs and the safeguard of the state-run safety of the United States (A Framework for Reform of the U.S. Intelligence Community 2010). Affiliate associations of the IC consist of intelligence organizations, armed forces intelligence, and resident intelligence and scrutiny administrative centers inside national decision-making units. The Director of National Intelligence, DNI, is the person in charge of the IC, he or she reports to the President of the United States.

Amongst their wide-ranging duties, the associates of the Intelligence Community gather as well as generate distant intelligence, home intelligence, chip in to armed forces scheduling, and carry out surveillance. The IC was set up by Executive Order 12333 it was subsequently assented in December fourth of the year nineteen eighty one by President Ronald Reagan.

In prop up of the work of the sixteen foremost units, The Washington Post has detailed that there are about one thousand two hundred and seventy one government bodies. There also exist one thousand nine hundred and thirty one concealed corporations in ten thousand localities in the United States that are working at counter-terrorism, motherland safety, and intelligence. The intelligence fraternity as a complete entity comprises of eight hundred and fifty four thousand persons who hold classified clearances.

Intelligence refers to the information that various organizations gather, scrutinize and dole out in reaction to regime persons’ in charge queries and requisites. It is a wide-ranging expression, with it entailing gathering, evaluating, and production of insightful information. This information is used to prop up state security heads, as well as strategy crafters, armed forces commanding officers and Members of Congress.

It also entails upholding these procedures and data by way of counterintelligence doings and carrying out of concealed procedures backed up by the head of the nation (Warner and McDonald 2005, 97). The IC makes every effort to offer important insight on key matters by collecting new intelligence, scrutinizing that information in perspective, and coming up with well-timed and significant outcomes for consumers at all echelons of state-run security, that is, all the way from the war-fighter in the battle field to the President in Washington.

The by and large association of the Intelligence Community is principally presided over by the National Security Act of the year nineteen forty seven and Executive Order 12333. The constitutional directorial affiliations were to a large extent modified with the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, IRTPA modifications to the National Security Act of 1947.

Despite the fact that the Intelligence Community sets itself apart as an association of its constituent facets, it’s by and large framework is well again set apart as an association as a result of it being short of a clearly distinguished, cohesive headship and authority framework (Warner and McDonald 2005, 102). Before 2004, the Intelligent Community was headed by the Director of Central Intelligence, DCI, who still served as the executive of the CIA. The main denigration of this system was that the DCI held petite or no concrete power over the budgetary powers of the other Intelligence Community units and as a result had restricted control over their procedures.

Reforms in the Intelligence Community

The United States Intelligence Community has gone through remarkable change at three points in the last 100 years. These stages comprise of World War II, the Congressional investigations of the 1970s, and as a result of September 11, 2001 and the War in Iraq initiated in March 2003.

This study looks at the starting points, circumstances and outcomes of these four major official studies and reforms that have taken place in the period following the Second World War. It looks at the grounds upon these studies were instigated, the proposals made concerning them, and the most important outcomes that they came up with (Arthur, Darling 1990).

From the time when World War II began, presidents, members of Congress, armed force commandants, and a horde of administrators have perplexed over the vague capacity and patchy show of the United States intelligence organization. From time to time, particularly in periods of emergency, Congress and the executive have embarked on changing it around or readdressing the path of its advancement.

Suggestions for restructuring and transformation, however, every so often let somebody see diminutive understanding or facts of the way in which intelligence units’ have gone forward over the years, how these units in point of fact work, and how they fit together. To figure out the way in which the American intelligence framework works as a scheme and the way in which it has been altered over time is an overwhelming undertaking even for the people who work in it. Inattentiveness to the Intelligence Community’s past and institutionalized perspective may be of importance in giving details why earlier period efforts to transform it have in most times come up with inadequate and patchy change.

To be aware of the Intelligence community as it exists at present in consequence calls for some grounding in the way it has moved forward from World War II into its current multifaceted, spread, and frequently perplexing form.

World War II and the period after

The United States got universal tasks in World War II, but neither Congress nor the White House at first had a comprehensible plan of the way in which to fulfill them. The unplanned period of war procedures that President Franklin Roosevelt had embarked on prior to his passing away in April of 1945 now required to be weighed up with a decisive eye. When he rose to the presidency, Harry Truman accounted afterward, one of his strongest fervors was that the old-fashioned security arrangement of the United States needed to be put in order speedily.

In the same way, in September 1945 the Joint Chiefs of Staff raised calls for intelligence transformation (Michael, Warner 2002, 74). With the advancement in the sector of modern weapons at the time, a well-organized and professional intelligence service was imperative. This had to be to an extent never arrived at and never imagined in times gone by. Failure to make available such a set up could bring nationwide adversity. As a result, the question at the time was not if modernizing intelligence was necessary but the way in which it could be carried out.

Every one of the Truman government appeared to hold it its own thoughts concerning the lessons drawn from the war and the appropriate manner for intelligence to prop up policymakers and commandants. A bulk of these thoughts was commonly conflicting, and few officers had the perceptivity to see the entire expanse of the United States’ new capacities.

All the same, in the commencement of 1946 the Truman government came up with three essential resolutions for postwar intelligence. These resolutions were systemized by National Security Act of 1947 and jointly they set the track of United States intelligence for decades to come. The first resolution was from Truman himself and he wanted no recur of Pearl Harbor. According to him, the Japanese assault could possibly have been thwarted if there had been an aspect of harmonization of information in the administration. There was without a doubt no such thing in 1941 as the armed forces did not have full acquaintance of what the State Department knew. Diplomatists also did not have acquaintance to all the military knew. Truman endorsed an arrangement that his Joint Chiefs of Staff had put forward. This was an autonomous centralized unit to fulfill the fusion of departmental intelligence.

The Truman government’s next key resolution came about after creation of the Central Intelligence Group. This was early on in 1946 and it entailed getting a person in charge and a home for the concealed outfitted means put up in the course of the war. It also led to the combination of administrative intelligence fusion and operational synchronization in a single central agency of the same kind as that Truman had endorsed at the beginning of 1946 (Michael, Warner 2002, 74).

The merger of these two utilities in the new Central Intelligence Group was a rejoinder to a definite set of past situations in the instantaneous after effects of the Second World War. This made the Director of Central Intelligence ostensible leader of United States intelligence. As head he or she was to watch over an intelligence organization with two major undertakings: offering tactical forewarning of dangers to the nation and directing undercover activities out of the country.

The Truman government’s third major resolution was to make certain that United States intelligence stay put as a free association of groups with no well-built bearing from either national or armed forces decision makers. The idea here was that every branch needed its own intelligence. This step, though, bore some unforeseen outcomes. The president and his advice-givers did not have up to date knowledge of the factual situation of departmental intelligence.

Congressional investigations of the 1970s

The most notable researches of intelligence in the 1970s were from Congress. In 1975 and 1976, two select commissions investigated disclosures of a number of Central Intelligence Agency abuses that first came out in the press in 1974. Senate came up with a commission at the beginning of 1975 to look into foreign and internal intelligence activities, comprising accusations of unlawful activity and the capability of the regulations and supervision systems presiding over the Intelligence Community.

The commission was chaired by Frank Church and was popularly known as the Church Committee (Warner and McDonald 2005, 104). The commission’s main duty came to be the establishment of what clandestine governmental doings are essential and how they best can be carried out under the rule of law.

Church’s committee took fifteen months and came up with a well researched and laid out report. In fact, some of the proposals in the report go well together with those of current executive branch studies, a good example being the idea that the Director of Central Intelligence needs to lay emphasis on society dealings and hand over express administration of the Central Intelligence Agency to a second-in-command.

The committee also reiterated on the importance of enhanced congressional as well as policymaker supervision of intelligence. The breakthrough for this committee was in its management of the operational part of United States intelligence. Expenditure and effectiveness which had not been easy for recent studies were not an issue. The commission proposed that intelligence needs to be a gatherer of information and producer of data, and a tool for executing American foreign policy.

The Church committee’s accomplishment in drawing two-way resolutions and winning executive division endorsement to giving a civic account stands in disparity to the outcomes of other congressional researches carried out at the time. The congressional committee, moderated by Otis Pike, took an adversarial set about to the intelligence sector and then protested that the decision-making branch was hindering its research. Early in 1976, the full House refused to make public the complete report. Sections of the report nonetheless soon seeped out to the press and the House made known its recommendations.

A majority of these resolutions recommended restrictions on internal and foreign procedures. This included an outlaw on blackwashes and on all concealed paramilitary force goings-on with the exception of times of war. The committee’s proposal on Intelligence Community was to the effect that the Director of Central Intelligence be set apart from any of the outfitted and diagnostic intelligence units (Warner and McDonald 2005, 111). This was meant to keep him or her accountable for the administration and management of all units of America involved in overseas intelligence. The sensible outcomes of the two congressional studies took a number of years to come out. The most immediate effect was on congress itself: its two chambers before long set up enduring select committees to oversee intelligence activities.

The period after 9/11 and the 2003 war in Iraq

The events of eleventh September 2001 impelled calls for specialized inquiry of what had taken place to allow a devastation of such extent to take place. Two such explorations brought to the fore broad analysis of the Intelligence Community’s performance and got extensive interest. One of the proposals brought up by these committees was that of the signing up of a Director of National Intelligence set apart from the usual administration of the Central Intelligence Agency, who would oversee enlarged budgetary and managerial powers to manage the Intelligence community (The 9/11 Commission Report 2004, 403–406). At the same time as the 9/11 Commission carried out its vocation for a period of 18 months, a number of congressmen brought bills to the house to put into operation resolutions comparable to those established by the mutual inquest.

The 9/11 Commission’s Report recommended across-the-board adjustment in the Intelligence Community. A number of its proposals were in line to those of prior researches. One of the suggestions was that the Director of Central Intelligence’s responsibilities should be divided between the person in charge of the Intelligence Community and a director of the Central Intelligence Authority. The fellow in charge of the Intelligence Community would brandish full power.

The National Intelligence Director would oversee three second-in-commands National Intelligence Directors for homeland safety, security intelligence, and far-off intelligence, each of whom would also bear mutual engagements as higher second-in-commands in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Authority and the Defense Department.

Another reform proposed by the commission, which is conceivably the most original was the one to the effect that domestic and far-off terrorism investigation and tactical scheduling be carried out by a National Counterterrorism Center, NCTC, under the National Intelligence Director’s say-so. The NCTC would be an amalgam institute to connect, and this is in relation to terrorism.

The Director of Central Intelligence was allowed the task to implement his powers to the full degree of the legislation. Orders assented to by President Bush called attention to the director’s responsibility to make available intelligence against all dangers to the United States, regardless of where the intelligence emerged from. This is all in a bid to make certain that the amalgamation of Intelligence Community actions and to come up with state-run centers to tackle high-precedence intelligence areas.

The director was also given new powers to keep an eye on the Defense Department’s expenditure on strategic intelligence and to be in accord in the designations and occupancy of the persons in charge of other intelligence units.

In the early October 2004, the House and Senate independently voted for comprehensive alterations to the National Security Act (The 9/11 Commission Report 2004, 411-414). These long pieces of legislation comprised of rather incongruent aspects for the function of acquiring extensive hold up in their individual chambers. The Senate’s bit was almost as that of the 9/11 Commission’s suggestions, with it providing a more modernized directorial system for the new director as compared to what the commission had proposed.


At the same time as a good deal of reform in the Intelligence Community has been more unsystematic and unplanned, the routine impulsion to hire a comprehensive study when thinking of alteration is nearly inescapable. These reforms are largely seen to be ad hoc since they come about in the period following an event where the security of citizens is threatened (A Framework for Reform of the U.S. Intelligence Community 2010).

There are two vital things that a study commission has to get right in order to bring about noteworthy reform to the Intelligence Community. These are process and substance. Process refers to the particular course of action intended to achieve the end result while substance is the choicest or most essential or most vital part of the suitable ideas or proposals. Both these need to be carried out effectively with the aim of achieving the required desirable outcomes. It also should not be forgotten that the recommendations put forward need to have in mind the long-term and not just the short-term. They need to be as comprehensive as possible.

Reforms as a result of the aforementioned events have ensured that the Intelligence Community has known changes and alterations throughout. What comes out clearly here is that a majority of these reforms have been reactive as they are out to deal with events that have already taken place. They are basically in readiness for any future repeat of such happenings. Other than this, these reforms should be forward-looking and proactive with the point of dealing with future trends and patterns in national security and national economic threats.

There is an important lesson that should be drawn from this study as regards to the bigger course of intelligence alteration. All-encompassing intelligence alteration is uncommon as it is so complicated. To come up with more than additive alteration, the American Constitution needs wide-ranging collaboration by two whole chambers of government.


The 9/11 Commission Report, (2004). 403–406, 411–14.

Michael, Warner and Kenneth McDonald. US Intelligence Community Reform Studies since 1947.

Michael, Warner, “Prolonged Suspense: The Fortier Board and the Transformation of the Office of Strategic Services,” Journal of Intelligence History 2 (June 2002): 74–76.

Arthur, Darling. The Central Intelligence Agency: An Instrument of Government, to 1950 (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1990), 299.

A Framework for Reform of the U.S. Intelligence Community, Web.