The U.S. Intelligence Community
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Capable of flying three times faster than the speed of sound, the exact speed limit and operational ceiling of Lockheed's recently retired SR-71 "spy plane" remain classified (Wide World Photos).

Intelligence Origins and Operations

Spies in trench coats. Lightning-fast reconnaissance planes. Super-secret photo satellites. International eavesdropping. All make up an enormous multi-billion dollar bureaucracy that collects intelligence and carries out covert operations for the United States. The U.S. Intelligence Community reveals the bureaucratic reality often missing in the dramatic fables of best-selling spy novels. Here, previously inaccessible organizations and function manuals, unit histories, and internal directives provide researchers with the most comprehensive structural portrait of the U.S. espionage establishment ever published.

The U.S. Intelligence Community: Organization, Operations and Management, 1947-1989
Focus of the Collection

The U.S. Intelligence Community collection contains over 15,000 pages of documents--many only recently declassified--from key intelligence organizations. The majority of these documents are heretofore unpublished materials acquired through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The Archive painstakingly cataloged, indexed and arranged these documents by organization and intelligence activity.

It details the evolution of the U.S. intelligence community and the structure, activities and distribution of tasks among the twenty-five intelligence organizations that comprise the community. It looks at the bureaucratic reality underlying the most secret operations of the U.S. government, and highlights the complexity of the intelligence apparatus in the U.S. and the involvement of a diverse number of agencies in intelligence programs. It offers a greater understanding of the regulations, directives and manuals that have guided the organization and functions of the U.S. intelligence community, as well as the directives and committees employed to coordinate this complicated system. Of additional interest is the inclusion of the assessment of the intelligence community's performance by various outside commissions.

Inner Workings of Secret Agencies

Organizational manuals present detailed information regarding the structure of the agencies, their divisions and subdivisions. Specific agency regulations give a clear picture of the role each agency plays in intelligence gathering and the activities assigned to each. Histories contain background information concerning an agency's origins, structure and operations and provide a direction for further research. Directives divide responsibilities among different agencies and create mechanisms for coordinating intelligence activities.

Researchers can use manuals and histories provided in this collection to discover information not available elsewhere. For example, the Central Intelligence Agency considers classified the titles of National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) and information on the subcommittees of the National Foreign Intelligence Board. However, researchers will find these titles and information in U.S. military intelligence histories and regulations that have been declassified and released by intelligence elements within the Department of Defense.

Insight into U.S. Intelligence Activities

The materials in the collection shed light upon issues important to U.S. foreign and defense policy. Evidence of U.S. espionage and counterintelligence activities abroad, international intelligence agreements and discussions of China's initiative to build "the bomb" are found among these documents.

Through these documents researchers will become aware of the surprising number of agencies involved in intelligence work. Intelligence on Latin America has been collected and analyzed by the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research, the Army Intelligence and Threat Analysis Center, and the Southern Command (J-2) (Intelligence Directorate). Foreign space programs have been studied and documented by the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Air Force Foreign Technology Division, the Army Missile and Space Intelligence Center, and the Naval Technical Intelligence Center. Scholars will need these primary materials for background and direction in seeking out appropriate agencies to further their own FOIA requests.

Unprecedented Indexing Makes Every Document Accessible

The Archive prepares extensive, printed finding aids for the collection. The Guide contains an events chronology, glossaries of key individuals, acronyms and technical terms, a bibliography of relevant secondary sources and a document catalog. Organized by intelligence agency and intelligence activity, the catalog facilitates browsing through the document collection and allows researchers to preview key details within documents before perusing the microfiche. The Index contains a rich contextual cross-reference to subjects and names. The detail provided in each allows researchers to pinpoint relevant documents in their particular area of study.

The Collection Is a Necessity For

  • Scholars and students of: intelligence organizations and operations, regional and strategic studies, politics and intra-government coordination
  • Teachers of government and political science courses
  • Librarians and bibliographers
  • Investigative reporters
  • Government officials and contractors
  • Concerned citizens

  • Documents in the Collection Include:

  • Organization and Functions Manuals
  • Internal Classified Histories
  • Studies of Intelligence Community Performance Regulations
  • National Security Council Intelligence Directives
  • Director of Central Intelligence Directives

  • Key Intelligence Organizations Include:

  • National Security Council
  • Office of the Director of Central Intelligence
  • Central Intelligence Agency
  • National Security Agency
  • Defense Intelligence Agency
  • Army Intelligence and Security Command
  • Navy Operational Intelligence Center
  • Air Force Foreign Technology Division
  • Unified and Specified Command Intelligence Directorates
  • Department of State, Bureau of Intelligence and Research

  • Sample Document Titles

  • DIA, Defense Intelligence Organization: Operations and Management, 1979
  • Harry S. Truman, Communications Intelligence Activities, October 24,1952 (The Charter of the National Security Agency)
  • Department of Justice, Report on CIA-Related Electronic Surveillance Activities, 1976
  • Central Intelligence Agency, The Chinese Communist Atomic Energy Program, 1960
  • INSCOM Regulation 10-2, Organization and Functions, United States Army Intelligence and Security Command, April 1, 1982
  • National Security Council Intelligence Directive No. 5, U.S. Espionage and Counterintelligence Activities Abroad, various dates
  • United States Signals Intelligence Directive 4, SIGINT Support to Military Commanders, July 1, 1974
  • Director of Central Intelligence Directive 3/4, Production of Guided Missile and Astronautics Intelligence, 1965
  • Central Intelligence Agency, Report on CIA Chilean Task Force Activities, 15 September to 3 November 1970
  • National Security Agency, NSA Organizational Manual, October 21, 1986
  • Naval Security Group Command, Annual History Report for 1985; Golden Anniversary Celebration: 1935-1985

  • Overview


    The U.S. Intelligence Community: Organization, Operations and Management, 1947-1989


    Reproduces on microfiche over 15,000 pages of documents from key intelligence organizations.

    Arrangement and Access:

    Documents pertaining to agency structure, organization and responsibility are grouped by agency. Documents pertaining to inter-agency intelligence activities are grouped by activity. The unique identification numbers assigned to documents are printed in eye-legible type at the top right hand corner of the microfiche strip.


    Documents are reproduced on silver halide positive-reading microfiche at a nominal reduction of 24x in envelopes. They are archivally permanent and conform to NMA and BSI standards. Any microfiche found to be physically substandard will be replaced free of charge.


    A printed guide and index accompanies the microfiche collection. Volume I contains an events chronology, glossaries of key individuals, acronyms and technical terms, a bibliography of secondary sources and a document catalog. Volume II is an index providing in-depth, document-level access to names, subjects and organizations.

    Date of Publication:

    December 1990

    Orders and Inquiries

    The U.S. Intelligence Community: Editorial Board

  • William E. Burrows, Professor of Journalism Director, Science and Environmental Reporting Program, New York University Author, Deep Black: Space Espionage and National Security
  • David Kahn, Author, The Code Breakers and Hitler's Spies
  • John Prados, Author, The Soviet Estimate: U.S. Intelligence Analysis and Russian Military Strength
  • National Security Archive Project Staff

    Praise for The U.S. Intelligence Community, 1947-1989

    "The National Security Archive represents an idea that is so obvious--once you think of it--that it instantly makes the transition from novelty to necessity. The desirability of collecting in one location all the declassified and unclassified documentation on U.S. foreign policy is so compelling that we are certain to ask ourselves very soon how we managed to get along without it. . .All of us who have a professional interest in contemporary security and foreign policy issues can only rejoice at the appearance of this new institutional resource."

    Gary Sick
    Adjunct Professor of Middle East Politics
    Columbia University

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