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Digital National Security Archive (DNSA): U.S. Intelligence Community: Organization, Operations and Management, 1947–1989

About this Collection

Previously inaccessible documents — functional manuals, unit histories, and internal directives — provide research with the most comprehensive structural portrait of the U.S. espionage establishment ever published.

Research Value of the Collection

The documents reproduced in The U.S. Intelligence Community provide a unique documentary record of U.S. intelligence community organizations, operations and management. They portray the bureaucratic reality underlying some of the most highly secret activities of the U.S. government. Thus, the varied organization and functions manuals provide detailed information on the structure and responsibilities of the numerous and often obscure intelligence organizations that make up the U.S. intelligence community. The level of detail in these manuals exceeds that available even in the most comprehensive books on the U.S. intelligence community.

The regulations issued by the various intelligence organizations give the researcher insight into the procedures and activities involved in performing specific missions--whether the mission be intelligence analysis, intelligence collection (such as signals intelligence or nuclear monitoring), or the acquisition of foreign military equipment. A researcher will be able to examine entire regulations of interest, rather than to rely solely on the portions quoted or paraphrased in other works.

Also of great value are the interagency directives (that is, the presidential national security decision documents, the National Security Council Intelligence Directives, the Director of Central Intelligence Directives and the United States Signals Intelligence Directives) that form a significant part of the document collection. Included are all available directives from the inception of each series (1947 in some cases). Thus, a researcher will have access to a comprehensive collection of currently-in-force directives as well as past directives.

Two further categories of documents will be of significant value to researchers. The command histories of numerous military intelligence units provide yearly, often detailed, accounts of the activities of these units. They often provide surprising details concerning the production of national intelligence estimates, the structure of National Foreign Intelligence Board committees and other aspects of national intelligence operations that cannot be obtained from the CIA.

In addition, the document set includes all presently available official studies that have been done concerning the operations of the U.S. intelligence community or some subset of the community. Included are studies performed by the National Security Council, the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice during the period 1949 to 1976. These documents provide valuable background information on changes in the organization and operation of the intelligence community. On occasion, they provide information that continues to be excised from other government documents released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).