Dec 27, 2007

The Intelligence Community, 1950–1955


On Dec 21, the Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, U.S. Department of State, released a retrospective intelligence volume in the Foreign Relations of the United States series, documenting the development and consolidation of the intelligence community.

The Intelligence Community, 1950–1955 [867-page pdf]:

This volume is organized along chronological lines in one large chapter covering 1950–1955, and a second chapter that includes the key National Security Council Intelligence Directives of the period. The volume documents the institutional growth of the intelligence community during the first half of the 1950s. When Lt. General Walter Bedell Smith took over as Director of Central Intelligence in October 1950, he inherited an agency that was widely believed to have been unable to establish itself as the central institution of the U.S. intelligence community. Utilizing his great prestige, and a national security directive from President Truman, Smith established the multiple directorate structure within the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that has continued to this day, brought the clandestine service into the CIA, and worked to effect greater inter-agency coordination through a strengthened process to produce National Intelligence Estimates. The exponential growth of the national security establishment and of the intelligence community was due to the impact of two factors: NSC 68 (a clarion call for more active containment of the Soviet Union) and the Korean War. The Central Intelligence Agency was called upon to expand the clandestine service, and the intelligence community was required to provide better and more definitive intelligence on the Soviet bloc and China. When Allen Dulles took over as Director of Central Intelligence in February 1953, these pressures continued. By 1955, the general consensus of two commissions appointed by President Eisenhower to review the intelligence effort was that the clandestine service had grown too rapidly and was plagued by poor management. In general, the commission implied that the clandestine service’s growth had come at the expense of the agency’s intelligence analysts.

This volume presented the editors with documentary challenges. The documents used to compile this volume were unique by Foreign Relations standards. Rather than documenting the formulation of foreign policy decisions or important diplomatic negotiations, this volume is a record of high-level policy plans, discussions, administrative decisions, and managerial actions that transformed the intelligence community from its somewhat shaky establishment into a community that collected intelligence worldwide; provided extensive analysis of that intelligence for policy makers; and carried out covert operations, as approved by the United States Government, on a global scale. The intelligence community under President Eisenhower in 1955 was a much more significant player and a more robust bureaucracy than it was under President Truman in the late 1940s. This volume documents that growth and development.


For those who fear that their machine may choke on a document of this size, State also provides a page which permits downloads of the volume in sections.

2 comments:

mark said...

Superb catch!

Meatball One said...

We thank ye for so felicitating us, von Zen. It always feels good - and of course it's quite the honor.