Political Science the United States Intelligence Community Term Paper

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Political Science

The United States Intelligence Community from World War II to the Present

The enormous political and economic changes of the years since the Second World War have dramatically changed the way governments collect and use intelligence. During that period of time, the United States went from a nation with only a small, primarily wartime intelligence community, to a state in possession of an extensive national security apparatus. The "national security state" arose first in response to the perceived threat of communism, and eventually grew to encompass many other potential dangers. Terrorism, economic espionage, as well as rogue states and foreign domestic disturbances are now included within the purview of the contemporary American intelligence community. Numerous reforms of America's intelligence system have been implemented, the most significant being those of the period just after World War II, again in the 1970s, and most recently, those that followed in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the Iraq War. These changes to the intelligence community have come largely in the form of reactions to altered circumstances and greater public awareness of threats real and perceived. In each case, the United States intelligence community has been transformed in ways that might have seemed inconceivable only a short time before.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Term Paper on Political Science the United States Intelligence Community Assignment

During the Second World War, the primary goal of the United States intelligence community had been the obtaining of information that would be useful in the prosecution of the war against Nazi Germany, Japan, and their allies. With the War's end, the office of Strategic Services was disbanded, to be replaced the national Intelligence Authority, or NIA, and its operative arm, the Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA. 1 The National Security Act of 1947 established the formal organization and purpose of this new post-war intelligence community. The Central Intelligence Agency would be accorded the following five chief functions:

To advise the National Security Council in matters concerning such intelligence activities of the government departments and agencies as relate to national security

To make recommendations to the National Security Council for the coordination of such intelligence activities of the departments and agencies of the government as relate to national security

To correlate and evaluate the intelligence relating to national security, and to provide for the appropriate dissemination of such intelligence within the Government, using, where appropriate, existing agencies and facilities

To perform for the benefit of existing intelligence agencies such additional services of common concern as the National Security Council determines can be more effectively accomplished centrally

To perform other such functions and duties related to intelligence affecting the national security as the National Security Council may from time to time direct 2

By 1947, communism had come to dominate among the perceived threats to American national security. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the Soviet Union had emerged as the sole major rival to American power. Joseph Stalin's communist regime controlled directly, or through satellite states, virtually all of Eastern Europe, much of central Europe, and a huge swath of Northern and Central Asia. As shown by the notorious "communist witch hunts," led by Senator Joseph McCarthy, ordinary Americans greatly feared the proliferation of communist ideology, and with it, the establishment of an encircling network of Soviet allies. In 1949, mainland China, too, became communist under the People's Republic of China, and the American intelligence community seemed to set to battle the forces of a vigorous, and triumphant international communist movement. Much as the senator from Wisconsin took it upon himself to shape American domestic policy in the direction of an anti-communist crusade, the presidents of the United States assumed increasing powers to direct the nation's foreign policy, its overt, and covert, wars. Originally under control of the State Department, the country's security apparatus quickly came to be dominated by the president's own personally appointed national security staff, giving to the chief executive unprecedented power to control the collection and usage of sensitive information, and a far-reaching ability to shape and manage global affairs. 3

The CIA was barred from conducting domestic operations, and so concentrated on conducting psychological operations, for example, in Eastern Europe. 4 The Agency's Office of Policy Coordination, or OPC, conducted covert operations all over the world. Starting off with a staff of 300, in 1949, the agency counted more than 6000 operatives by the end of the Korean War. 5

The Central Intelligence Agency's increasing emphasis on clandestine paramilitary operations exacerbated political situations around the world. The Bay of Pigs, though not the first of these operations, was one of the more notable. America's presidents were developing a test for hidden machinations that not infrequently led the country into international crises, or even worse, open war. The failure of the Bay of Pigs operation erupted in scandal, but still the national security community suffered from few restrictions - Congress remained averse to interfere in its affairs, and the chief executive's supposed prerogatives. 6

Yet Vietnam and Watergate would prove the undoing of the old CIA, and bring dramatic changes to the way the nation handled its national security. After years of acquiescing to presidential power grabs that had given the White House almost a free hand in the conduct of war and foreign policy, 7 Congress at last reacted to what it saw as the provocations of the Vietnam War and President Nixon's unilateral policy decisions:

President Nixon had challenged Congress by impounding appropriated funds, secretly bombing Cambodia, and asserting unlimited executive privilege. The CIA itself had angered many members of Congress by its secret actions in Indochina and by withholding crucial information about Watergate. 8

Finally, the CIA's failure to inform Congress of its covert operations in Chile led directly to the Hughes-Ryan amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act. 9 Enacted on December 31, 1974, this law mandated stricter controls on covert actions. President Ford set up an Intelligence Oversight Board, and signed an executive order prohibiting assassination plots, while each house of congress established its own intelligence oversight board, and further extended the activities of their judiciary and military affairs committees to include investigations of and controls on the intelligence community: 10

Congressional staff experts pored over budgets, organized hearings, and, less formally, met with intelligence officers to evaluate their operations. With various degrees of enthusiasm, lawmakers posed questions at hearings, visited the secret agencies, and traveled abroad to speak with field operatives in U.S. embassies.... The intelligence agencies had become a part of the regular government and now faced the full panoply of oversight procedures. 11

Congress' actions were reflecting a new mood among the public - one that did not look kindly on secret government and abuse of power.

The reforms of the United States intelligence community that occurred in the 1970s were largely in response to public perceptions of a system that was out-of-control. Watergate had tipped off Americans to the abuses that were possible in a system where the chief executive had assumed almost unchallenged authority to gather and process information, and to take action on that information. Worse still, Nixon's, and the CIA's actions in places like Chile and Vietnam, had revealed intelligence networks that operated almost on their own. They possessed their own agendas, conducting covert operations that, at best, challenged Americans' long-held assumptions about the basic goodness of their country, or at worst, toppled foreign governments, and resulted in the deaths of thousands, possibly millions, of innocent men, women, and children. The reforms of the 1970s were a clear reaction to a situation that no longer seemed acceptable. The present dangers of communism - of the Soviet Union and China especially - appeared to be disappearing amid the more placid atmosphere of detente. The same President who would go down in Watergate, and who would be responsible for many of the abuses that led directly to the Congressionally-mandated reforms, would also be the man to open up China, and work seriously toward a general easing of tensions between the superpowers. Americans no longer trusted their government to make the right decisions, not if they felt these decisions affected them adversely. Spying on citizens and disseminating information were only appropriate if these activities could be seen as benefiting the American people. In tandem with the curtailment of so many of the intelligence community's covert geopolitical activities came growing support for programs of economic espionage wherein agents of the United States government could conceivably collect information from foreign sources and give them to American corporations. They could also protect American business form hostile operatives. 12

The stage was being set for a come back in America's intelligence community.

The next, and most recent, major reforms of the United States Intelligence Community occurred in just such an atmosphere of a public demand for the perceived benefits of a more active, more invasive, and interestingly, a more secretive intelligence community. The catastrophic attacks of September 11, 2001 appeared to end America's sublime isolation from the ethnic and religious violence plaguing other corners of the globe. Terrorism had… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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