The Intelligence Community (IC) is among the most important aspects of the national security and defense sectors of the United States. They allow for credible and comprehensive intelligence gathering and analysis for various national and human security threats while keeping the United States well defended from all threats. While the Intelligence Community has succeeded multiple times, including during the Russian Invasion of Ukraine, at providing solid intelligence which aided in the conduct of combat or foreign policy. This was not always the case however.
The field of intelligence was haphazardly and very poorly constructed as well as being dominated by power-hungry and rather devious figures prior to the 1947 National Security Act.
As Phyllis Provost McNeil, a federal prosecutor and Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, notes, “prior to the 1880s, intelligence activities were devoted almost exclusively to support of military operations, either to support deployed forces or to obtain information on the views or participation of other countries in a particular conflict”. This was predominantly controlled by members of the U.S. Army or Navy Intelligence with the Bureau of Investigation (BOI – the precursor to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)) only coming about in 1908 and predominantly taking part in domestic intelligence. As Provost further notes, “At the time the United States entered the [First World] war, it lacked a coordinated intelligence effort. As a champion of open diplomacy, President Woodrow Wilson had disdained the use of spies and was generally suspicious of intelligence,” however, this view changed drastically when war began and the U.S. became closer to their British allies. Many of these units created for wartime were disbanded following victory in Europe, with the only similar agency remaining behind the BOI. It seems to me the creation of a permanent intelligence service, either a law enforcement or civilian version, was not in the minds of many government officials or executive administrations.