The Genesis of the CIA

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                           The Genesis of the CIA

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 (NSC) and the Central
Intelligence Agency (CIA) were established.

Most of the specific assignments given to the CIA by the National Security
Act, as well as the prohibitions on police and internal security functions,
closely follow the Presidential directive creating the Central Intelligence
Group and were influenced by Donovan's 1944 plan.

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

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

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