Development of the CIA

Lesley Wray, 6th period

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1. October 1945: Truman Abolishes the Office of Strategic Services (OSS)

The OSS had been established in June of 1942.


Role: “to collect and analyze strategic information required by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and to conduct special operations not assigned to other agencies”


Its jobs were given to the State and War Departments.

2. January 1946: Truman Establishes the Central Intelligence Group (CIG) and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA)

The CIG had access to all-source intelligence.


The CIG had two mission:
  1. To provide strategic warning
  2. To conduct important clandestine activities


The CIG functioned under the NIA.


The NIA was formed of the secretaries of State, War, and the Navy, as well as a presidential representative.


These two groups were disbanded 20 months later.

3. September 1947: The National Security Act Establishes the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Council (NSC)

The CIA was given four general tasks:
  1. To advise the NSC on matters related to national security
  2. To make recommendations to the NSC regarding the coordination of intelligence activities of the Departments
  3. To correlate and evaluate intelligence and provide for its appropriate dissemination
  4. To perform other intelligence-related functions given by the NSC


The Director of Central Intelligence position was created
  • Head of the Intelligence Community and CIA
  • Principle intelligence adviser to the president
  • Became responsible for protecting intelligence sources and methods


The CIA was prohibited from engaging in law enforcement and restricted internal security functions.

4. 1949: The Central Intelligence Agency Act Is Passed

This act allowed the CIA to use confidential fiscal and administrative procedures. It also exempted the CIA from limitations on the spending federal funds.

Why Is an Intelligence Agency Necessary?

Before an intelligence agency existed, intelligence efforts were carried out by the military and the FBI. This led to duplication, competition, and a lack of coordination.
  • For example, because of the competition between the army and the navy branches, FDR was not given sensitive information about Japan in the months leading up to the Pearl Harbor attack.


FDR created the OSS during WWII because he was concerned about the cooperation between the State and War Departments.


Truman abolished the OSS once the war ended because he believed that there would be no need for an intelligence agency during peacetime. Additionally, the OSS was regarded by many in Congress as a temporary "war agency" that needed to be dismantled after the war. However, the USSR and looming Cold War convinced Truman of the need for a centralized intelligence system.


Thus, the CIG was created. However, the roles it fulfilled were not quite what Truman had hoped, and so the National Security Act of 1947 replaced the CIG with the CIA. The CIA took on the responsibilities of the CIG as well as new tasks.