The US government is always on the high alert when it comes to matter pertaining national security. In addition to the US discipline force, additional security and intelligence services were required to be enacted. This served as a monitor for any terrorist activity not only in the US but also all over the world. There are certain events that prompted reevaluation of the intelligence force to ensure security is not compromised. The three major events are the World War 2, the congressional Reports of the 1970s as well as the Gulf War 2 in 2003.
The World War II
After the Second World War on July 26, 1947, President Harry Truman signed the National Security. The act established the National Security Council, merged the War and the naval departments into the National Military Establishment (NME) and separated the US Air force from the US Army. There was appointment of the three heads of these units of the NME. Initially, these three secretaries played an inactive role in the cabinet meetings of the US government. In 1947, the NME was decided to be named the Department of Defense.
Earlier, in 1946, the president had established the Central Intelligence Group. The act provided for renaming of the group to Central Intelligence Agency, the first independent intelligence agency. The act also approved Truman’s decision to create the post of Director of Central Intelligence, DCI to head the CIA (Warner-2001).
Some members of the then congress were reluctant to approve of these changes. They argued that this system would stifle civil liberty. However, the administration was quick to rectify that the system was meant for foreign intelligence and not domestic intelligence.
What about domestic intelligence? The Federal Bureau of Investigation would deal with that. The CIA would therefore have neither any law enforcements powers nor police.
It was the first huge step of the US intelligence since no other country had established a foreign intelligence agency.
The Congressional Changes of the 19670s
During the establishment of the CIA, the Congress had little influence on the operations of the agency. The mid 1970s marked a very difficult time for the agency. It was therefore agreed that the Congress would have formal influence on the agency. The two organs coordinated to ensure efficient operation in strict accordance to the US laws. The Congress established two committees to oversee intelligence activities. These were the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
In 1975, there were very many allegations against the NSA by the media and the public. The agency was allegedly overstepping its mandate. This led to the establishment of the Church Committee, headed by Senator Frank Church. The committee was to monitor CIA’s governmental operations in relation to intelligence. During its 15 months of operation, the committee conducted 126 formal hearings and 21 public hearings. It also conducted 800 interviews and released 14 volumes of the reports gathered. The committees report showed hoe the CIA has breached its legal mandate. It was at this point that the senate demanded for a closer oversight of the agency’s operation. It requested foe access to the CIA’s secret files and highly confidential information. From then on, the Congress, through its two committees started having closer authority over the CIA. It was also established that of the 15 members of the SSCI committee, not more than six would come from the majority party in the senate.
This marked the onset of a more collaborative and transparent relationship between the Congress and the intelligence community.
Effects of September 2001 and Iraq War on the Intelligence Community
After the 9/11 bombing, it was clear that there was an intelligence failure. Reports that followed the ordeal stated that there was need for a complete overhaul of the scope, activities, organization and the authorities of the intelligence community. The Congress suggested for complete dissolution of the intelligence agencies and creation of new ones. Though the then president George W. Bush was for the idea of drastic changes in the intelligence community, he was against total disbandment. He argued that the information gotten from the two reports could be used to instill reforms in the intelligence community. In 2004, the Intelligence Reforms and Terrorists Act were enacted. It provided for a new Director of National Intelligence, who had greater authority on access of intelligence information. The new DNI office was separate from the CIA and had more budget allocation and control. The office also commanded a lot of respect from the intelligence community than the DCI office (ACLU -2002).
The Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act. This act allows the intelligence operatives more authority in tracking, intercepting and gathering information both for purpose of intelligence as well as law enforcement. It also suggests for stricter measures concerning borders. It seeks for closure of the US boundaries. According to the act, this will prevent foreign terrorists from entering the US. It also allows for removal and detention of the ones within the US. Apart from that, the act allows the Secretary of The Treasury to deal with corruption of US financial organs and institutions aimed at foreign money laundering. Even though this act is well supported by the Department of Justice, its critics say that it does excessively far. These include issues dealing with the border as well as creation of new crimes, new penalties and setting up efficiencies in dealing with domestic and foreign terrorists (Doyle-2002.)
Overall, the intelligence community of the US has evolved a lot. All these are in efforts to combat terrorism and assure Americans of better security.
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