Research: Publications

Blueprint for intelligence reform

June 5, 2006 | Report

By Melvin A. Goodman

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The United States was relatively late in establishing the Central Intelligence Agency, an organization that grew out of the smaller and more limited wartime Office of Strategic Services. In contrast, government organizations devoted to intelligence gathering existed in the sixteenth century in Great Britain, in the eighteenth century in czarist Russia, and by the nineteenth century in France.1 President Harry Truman’s creation of the CIA in 1947 met with resistance within the government bureaucracy, particularly from the FBI and the Pentagon. The most significant opponent of the CIA was J. Edgar Hoover, the director of the FBI. Hoover did not want competition in the field of counter intelligence, particularly clandestine collection of intelligence. The Pentagon enjoyed its key role in intelligence collection and analysis, and feared competition and independence in the production of finished intelligence. The Pentagon’s approach to finished intelligence was one of worst-case analysis, which was used to justify increased defense spending and the procurement of specific weapons systems. The last thing the Pentagon wanted was an intelligence arm that might be used to monitor and verify arms control and disarmament, which was not in the interest of the military. There was domestic opposition from the left, which feared the intrusive role of an intelligence agency, but particularly from the right, which feared a debate of intelligence issues that would challenge the exaggerated threat perceptions during the Cold War.

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