Intelligence Community A History of essay

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This would create a reactionary agency which, rather than gathering intelligence to the extension of its security, would approach what would come to be known as the 'containment theory,' using whatever resources and tactics were at its disposal to deflect against the spread of communism.

At its time, the 1947 Act would be seen as projecting considerable vision. As one conservative think-tank reports on this idea, "until fairly recently, CIA considered its appropriate time horizon to be fairly long. It was, I believe, generally longer than the focus of either the Defense Intelligence Agency or the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR). The Directorate of Intelligence made forecasts in some areas that went out 20 years, and collectors and analysts tried to anticipate events 'over the horizon' -- situations policymakers did not then know they were likely to be worrying about in the future. CIA did this because it knew that developing information sources and expertise was and is time consuming, and that it could not wait until policymakers expressed interest in subjects to begin to develop them." (FAS, 1) To be sure, this is an approach that would allow for the compiling of a vast wealth of data and experience in the interaction with other nations, helping to avail the Intelligence Community with the wherewithal to address evolving situations rather than to allow them to first occur. This is, however, a premise which has been largely paid only lip service by the intelligence community, with political pressures such as those which stimulated heightened fear over the threat of communism playing a significant part in the day-to-day operation of the organization. Quite to this idea, the belief that it was capable of establishing a policy horizon while centering its policy approach on Soviet and communist behavior denoted a perception of Soviet nationalism as a force with a defining longevity ahead of it. Naturally, with the decline and collapse of the Soviet Union, it would become increasingly clear that the fitting of intelligence goals to its existence would cause a need for eventual reorganization once again.

To a large part, this type of reorganization would be conceived in earnest in the mid-1970s. It was at this juncture that public hostility over the mishandling of the Vietnam War, the flagging economy and the shattering revelations of the Watergate scandal had produced a widespread popular discontent and a Congress emboldened to improve its own oversight opportunities on these various corrupted appendages of the government. Indeed, with inception of the 1970s, it was apparent that Congress and the public intended to see the Intelligence Community reigned in to both conform with the laws of the United States and to achieve a greater efficiency in achieving its goals than had previously been reached. Among the key initiatives to begin to gain ground at this time was the empowerment of the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) who nominally controlled the intelligence community and who simultaneously sat as head of the CIA. In this dual role, it was generally argued by members of the Nixon administration and of Congress that greater coordination and interagency information sharing was necessary to ensure a more ethically and effectively postured CIA. This is a process which would begin "with the signing of the National Security Decision Memorandum 40, 'Responsibility for the Conduct Supervision and Coordination of Covert Action Operations' on February 17, 1970." (Richelson, 384) According to the new policy, the DCI, was required to 'obtain policy approval for all major and/or politically sensitive covert action operations through the (Nixon-appointed) 40 Committee. The memorandum also called for an annual review of all covert action programs previously approved." (Richelson, 384)

Essentially, this would reflect the drive to create an intelligence community more centrally administered and less isolated from other aspects of government. This would segue into the findings of the Watergate break-in and the markedly increased willingness to scrutinize government behaviors. Therefore, in 1976, such pressures as channeled through Congress has created the Rockefeller Commission for investigation into intelligence community wrongdoings. "In June 1975, the Commission issued its report which, among other things, confirmed the existed of a CIA domestic mail opening operation; found that in the last 1960s and early 1970s the Agency had kept files on 300,000 U.S. citizens and organizations relating to domestic dissident activities; found that President Nixon tried to use CIA for political ends; and concluded that the CIA had no involvement in President Kennedy's assassination." (Johnson, 226) Excepting the last of these findings, the others would indicate massive failures in creating an agency which was beneficial to the American public. In an era of paranoia, the CIA would prove an agency geared toward magnifying American discomfort. Even still, major reforms to the end of greater coordination between intelligence, military and government to the promotion of some checks and balances over the intelligence community would not be forthcoming.

Though here the intelligence community did demonstrate greater foresight in creating a system of greater accountability, it was of course a reactionary response to perceived problems that would never truly manifest properly. With the reinvigoration of the Cold War first under Ronald Reagan and subsequently the president of former CIA DCI George Bush, Congress would meet considerable future blockage to reform. (Johnson, 231) In many ways, the secretive nature of the CIA would persist well up until the events of 9/11when the next call for reform would emerge.

In the years leading up to the event, Federation of American Scientists argues, the intelligence community was essentially undermined by this reactionary tendencdy. As an article from 2008 denotes, "for reasons that heavily reflect its changing internal culture, CIA has begun to think much more myopically. It even claims now that it is emphasizing "tactical" projects and largely eliminated 'strategic' work. In the DI, these terms are new ones for what formerly were 'current intelligence' and 'research,' respectively (18)." (FAS, 1)

Quite to the point, the major reorganization of the intelligence community still underway today was fully forged in response to the events of September 11th, with many of the old Cold War themes of domestic spying, covert international action and the fabrication of justification for foreign interventionism remaining dominant. By no coincidence, the ambitions to create a more empowered and interdynamic DCI would finally be accomplished at this juncture, with the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) creating a newly independent DCI office with a staff of differing cabinet-level agency emissaries. It bears noting that many of the early advocates from the Nixon administration of this reformation would be high-ranking members of the George W. Bush administration.

Most changes to the IC at this time would be designed to improve the information flow between agencies which in their bureaucratic retardation failed to collectively forecast and prevent 9/11. However, it seems likely that history will view the impact of the created DHS, the new office of the DCI and the various deconstructive tactics of the 2004 Act as having been distinctly reactionary and dangerously short-sighted.

Certainly, in spite of such claims of a need for systemic recalibration and the legislative manifestation of those claims in the form of the reactionary IRTPA and Patriot Act, the 9/11 Commission report, released in August of 2004, countered such assertions of systemic intelligence community barriers, assessing that: "before 9/11 the C.I.A. And the F.B.I. exaggerated the degree to which they were forbidden to share information. This was a managerial failure, not an institutional one." (Posner 2004)

And while there was a very apparent effort in this previous administration to convey the notion that the intelligence community has been significantly structured to meet modern threats, the previous White House's security policy was only superficially constructed to confront terrorism and all which it implies. This is reflected in the president's own explication of the security strategy after the 9/11 attacks, where he warned that "the U.S. national security strategy will be based on a distinctly American internationalism that reflects the union of our values and our national interests. The aim of this strategy is to help make the world not just safer but better." (Bush 2002) Like the failures of the CIA during the Cold War, Bush's War on Terrorism would orient the Intelligence Community toward a threat with clear immediacy, continuing a tradition of recalibrating the IC altogether to address a matter of symptomatic rather than defining importance in America's security outlook. To date, it remains unclear what the next phase will look like for an intelligence community still if transformational flux today. However, if it is to achieve its expected role of providing for the security and longevity of the United States, it must take a form more suited to long-term rather than political and temporal challenges.

Works Cited:

Answers. (2009). United States Intelligence, History. Answers Corp. Online at http://www.answers.com/topic/united-states-intelligence-history

Bush, G.W. (2002). The National Security Strategy of the United…[continue]

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