TRIALS BY FIRE - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

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TRIALS BY FIRE - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

President Truman signs the National Security Act Amendment of 1949 in the Oval Office.(Source National Archives and Records Administration.)• Founded the National Security Council (NSC). The NSC is an executivecouncil that advises the President on national security affairs, establishesexecutive control over foreign policy and directs covert action.• Established the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). This new organization’smission was to conduct all-source analysis, clandestine operationsand covert action. The Act limited CIA’s power, however, statingthat the organization would have neither law enforcement powers nordomestic security functions.One of the main purposes of the National Security Act was to centralize thenational security decision-making process. In doing so, the Act reaffirmedthe central role of the executive branch on national security-related issues,an authority over which the President already had a great deal of formal andinformal control. 8• This centralization of control forced the entrenched national securitybureaucracy—a motley series of quasi-independent, military-dominatedorganizational fiefdoms—to work together in a reasonablycohesive manner, despite fierce resistance from various establishedagencies and departments. 9• The Act also institutionalized the business of spying and intelligencegathering, which had been performed in an informal manner datingback the Revolutionary War; with CIA’s founding, many national12 Trials by Fire: Counterterrorism and the Law

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