Intelligence Community the History Essay

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Intelligence Community

The history of deception and intelligence is deeply seated within the American way of life and the roots of democracy. The creation of the republic which began with a declaration of independence from a tyrant monarch gave birth to the institution that is protected by intelligence gathering techniques and operations.

Since that time, enemies of the state have existed and attempted to infiltrate the American way of life through a variety of means. Each actor appears to be attempting to influence the political structure. Angevine, R.(2004) wrote "the importance of military intelligence has long been a matter of debate. More than two millennia ago, the Chinese general and military theorist Sun Tzu asserted that secret operations are essential in war, yet the term "military intelligence" is still often only half-jokingly described as an oxymoron."

The purpose of this essay is to identify and discuss the individuals and organizations outside the U.S. intelligence community and how these organizations seek to politicize the intelligence collection and analysis process. These factors will be discusses in this essay throughout the history of the United Sates, starting with revolutionary war. This essay will also discuss some of the finer points that are often discussed with intelligence and who these aspects can best be used to strengthen the national interests and minimize the risks that are associated with these actions.

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Essay on Intelligence Community the History of Assignment

It is important to first understand the parameters of this argument by defining some key terms. Intelligence is something that is not material and is therefore an abstract term that can and often is used in a variety of settings. Intelligence is something that both collective and the individual possess making the idea a very flexible and wide spanning term. Merriam Webster dictionary defines the word as "the ability to learn or understand things or to deal with new or difficult situation," and " secret information that a government collects about an enemy or possible enemy; also: a government organization that collects such information." This definition is suitable for this discussion as it presents a fair and balanced examination of the word. Words often have many meanings making them only superficially effective when dealing with intelligence. Knowledge, on the other hand, is true intelligence, where words are not needed but to accent and articulate what is already known.

Another key term in this discussion that requires some discussion is political. Politics are played by everyone and for all types of reasons. In this essay, politics will be used to help contextualize and explain the reasoning of why the chosen individuals or organizations are being impacted upon the intelligence community. The community itself will be understood as being the components of the Federal Government, local intelligence gathering units, political intelligence gathering units and individuals themselves.

The Birth of A Nation and Military Intelligence

The main role and purpose of intelligence as a component of the U.S. Government is a silent and sublime tool to help manifest the larger national strategy as set out by leaders within the country. Although many of the intelligence techniques and models that are currently in use by the intelligence community, the practice of this craft began over 200 years ago as the American Revolution took hold.

It must be realized that creation of this country was essentially a usurping of power from an established monarch of England. By all measureable means, the patriots of those days such as Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, George Washington and James Madison, would be considered terrorists in today's terms. The use of violence and fear tactics were not avoided in the brutal and violent birth of America. Sayle (2008) wrote "actually, the United States has been involved in intelligence operations from the time of the American Revolution. In its early days, intelligence was conducted on a highly personal and private basis by talented amateurs responsible solely to the President. Only much later did intelligence become conducted by professionals serving the government's top echelon decision makers."

Since war and violence are the epitome of extreme action and chaos, intelligence became an obvious important tool in helping maintain some sense of order on the battlefield and provide military leaders with some information that could help win battles and achieve goals and important objectives with its help. Records show that shortly after taking command of the Continental Army in 1775, Washington paid an unidentified agent to live in Boston and surreptitiously report by use of "secret correspondence" on the movements of British forces. Indeed, Washington recruited and ran a number of agents, set up spy rings, devised secret methods of reporting, analyzed the raw intelligence gathered by his agents, and mounted an extensive campaign to deceive the British armies. Historians cite these activities as having played a major role in the victory at Yorktown and in the ability of the Continental Army to evade the British during the winters at Valley Forge.

In the early days of the country, politics was less powerful as rugged individualism marked the character of many of the people who fled to this country to escape institutional pressures and obstacles. The role of intelligence during this time was strictly a military function as the need for such drastic measures that would soon arise were simply not necessary. Communication and travel was slow and intelligence had time to breath and surface which eliminated many of the problems that are present here today.

The Civil War

In a unique and deadly war that saw the United States fractured and weakened, The Civil War provided another stage of development for the use of intelligence. Still, during this stage of history, strictly military applications were the only practical use for intelligence. Both sides of the battle, Union and Confederate, had intelligence bureaus in place during this bloody conflict which saw millions of American men die and perish for questionable reasons.

The South established a unit entitled the Signal and Secret Service Bureau which aimed at simply attaining printed newspapers from the North which would provide much intelligence for the strategic planning. The Departments of War and State were the intelligence community for the North at this time. Hot air balloons and code breaking technology were some of the aspects of the intelligence gathering community for the Union forces. Either (2007) wrote "with no end to the war in sight, the military information game diversified. Signal towers were used increasingly as intelligence posts -- which aided Union forces armed with the key to Confederate signals. And while spies worked for each side, the more celebrated moles, such as Elizabeth Van Lew and Rose Greenhow, were less valuable in the long run than the anonymous agents and "false deserters" groomed by the North and South and dispatched to relay false information.

Politically, the Civil War is quite confusing and provides some very useful lessons about intelligence and history. When is country is divided, such as it was during this time, outsiders were a significant number as represented by the Confederate States of America. There were many conflicting and diverse interests at stake, and the many causes and problems that were ignited because of this war, is a sad commentary on the way we treat our fellow citizens.

The issue of race and slavery truly came to life during the aftermath of this war and still resonates in the political spectrum today. While slavery should be viewed as a consensual act, it is often not described in these simple terms. Intelligence gathering operations used race and slavery to its advantage during this time and proved to be a useful technique in helping garner success in developing adequate information. To note the limited role of intelligence in peace time during this stage of history is signified by the fact that The Bureau of Military Intelligence was disestablished at the end of the war. A byproduct of its dissolution was the Secret Service, established in 1865 to combat counterfeiting.

Intelligence in the Industrial Age

Before the 20th century, the intelligence community was limited to military use. Only during war did the government find any real purpose for intelligence. At the beginning of the 20th century, the administration of President Teddy Roosevelt began to ramp up the ability of the government to gather intelligence. It has been duly noted throughout the annals of history that Roosevelt used intelligence operatives to incite a revolution in Panama to justify annexing the Panama Canal. In 1907, the President also relied on practical and useable intelligence that demonstrated how the military build-up of the Japanese as justification to launch the worldwide cruise of the "Great White Fleet" as a display of U.S. naval force.

In 1908 the Justice Department's Bureau Of Investigation which would soon evolve into the Federal Bureau of Investigation was created out of a sense of political infighting and paranoia. "Theodore Roosevelt became President of the United States in 1901; four years later, he appointed Bonaparte to be attorney general. In 1908, Bonaparte applied that Progressive philosophy to the Department of Justice by… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Intelligence Community the History" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Intelligence Community the History.  (2013, December 11).  Retrieved September 20, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Intelligence Community the History."  11 December 2013.  Web.  20 September 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Intelligence Community the History."  December 11, 2013.  Accessed September 20, 2020.