Warning: Constant ABSPATH already defined in /home/public/wp-config.php on line 27
The Military and The CIA — Why Now?
On-line Opinion Magazine…OK, it's a blog
Random header image... Refresh for more!

The Military and The CIA

The Central Intelligence Agency was formed from the Office of Strategic Services, which was originally parceled out to the Defense Department and the State Department. While the Agency itself wasn’t formally created until the passage of the National Security Act of 1947, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency came into existence in 1946.

The first four men to hold the office were active duty military officers, reflecting the nature of those who were recruited to create the agency, veterans of World War II and they were all appointed and served under President Truman. Since the appointment of Allen Dulles in February of 1953, no active duty officer has been the Director.

Only two retired officers have been the Director, both Navy Admirals. William Raborn was Director for 14 months under President Johnson, and Stansfield Turner was the Director for his Naval Academy classmate, President Carter.

Director Term
Rear Adm. Sidney Souers, USNR 01/23/1946 – 06/10/1946
Lt. Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, USA 06/10/1946 – 05/01/1947
Rear Adm. Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter, USN 05/01/1947 – 10/07/1950
Gen. Walter Bedell Smith, USA 10/07/1950 – 02/09/1953
Allen W. Dulles 02/26/1953 – 11/29/1961
John McCone 11/29/1961 – 04/28/1965
Vice Adm. William Raborn, USN (Ret.) 04/28/1965 – 06/30/1966
Richard M. Helms 06/30/1966 – 02/02/1973
James R. Schlesinger 02/02/1973 – 07/02/1973
William E. Colby 09/04/1973 – 01/30/1976
George H. W. Bush 01/30/1976 – 01/20/1977
Adm. Stansfield Turner, USN (Ret.) 03/09/1977 – 01/20/1981
William J. Casey 01/28/1981 – 01/29/1987
William H. Webster 05/26/1987 – 08/31/1991
Robert M. Gates 11/06/1991 – 01/20/1993
R. James Woolsey 02/05/1993 – 01/10/1995
John M. Deutch 05/10/1995 – 12/15/1996
George J. Tenet 07/11/1997 – 07/11/2004
Porter J. Goss 09/24/2004 – 05/05/2006

No Republican has ever appointed a military officer to head the CIA, and no President since Truman has appointed an active duty military officer. That’s why this is a big deal.

I would note that Stansfield Turner really screwed up the CIA by shifting the emphasis away from gathering “human intelligence” towards a heavier reliance on technology, as was the military custom. This was caused in some part by the Church Commission, but it was also a military bias for technology.

As a former Director of NSA, Hayden would obviously have the same bias, which is not a good idea when dealing with terrorists who do not use technology, but are more apt to use human messengers.


1 Michael { 05.10.06 at 9:52 am }

Shouldn’t that be three retired officers? George H. W. Bush was a Navy pilot, after all. Or is there a substantive distinction between retiring after 20+ years and being mustered out at war’s end?

2 Bryan { 05.10.06 at 10:14 am }

There’s a definite distinction between being a veteran with military service and being retired from the military. Being retired means that the military was your profession, rather than a job you had outside of your main field of competence.

3 andante { 05.10.06 at 1:52 pm }

Somewhat OT but related…

A friend’s father was OSS in WWII – parachuted behind German lines, etc. He remained for the transformation to CIA for a few years, then changed professions (probably around 1948 or thereabouts). He was out of the spook business for well over 50 years when he died, but the CIA still came calling to search his personal papers.

4 Bryan { 05.10.06 at 2:14 pm }

You should have seen the mess when I was trying to volunteer for the Peace Corps in Russia. The Russians finally made it clear I wasn’t ever going to get a visa, but the US government wasn’t much better. Once a spook, always a spook as far as the security people are concerned.

5 The CultureGhost { 05.11.06 at 12:37 am }

As always, Bryan, an outstanding capsule of an aspect not covered well or at all by The Media Populi. Made me question some of my initial reactions to the nomination.

Being chief spymaster is a gruelling and unsavory posting. Didn’t LeCarre’s George Smiley refer to it as the “second oldest profession”? Is Hayden the most qualified candidate for the position? From where I sit, his credentials seem quite impressive for the task at hand. Does he have a political bias to his current bosses? How does a career military officer impart morale to a civilian agency? And how do you make spies feel good about themselves?

6 Bryan { 05.11.06 at 1:28 am }

CG, you don’t order intelligence people around and you don’t tell them how to think. To be any good, intelligence people have to present unvarnished reality and the truth as they believe it to be.

In many ways it is much easier to gather intelligence on military affairs, because there is a lot of structure that will mold responses, and known limits on action. It is easy to use technology to watch the military, because the military is the primary user of technology in most countries.

The CIA is responsible for “all other,” and you have to improvise to deal with multiple possibilities. The CIA people need much more autonomy to do their job.

Looking at Hayden’s career, he hit a long plateau and then went up through the ranks at a rather amazing rate, which normally indicates a “horse”, someone pulling for them.

I have to suspect that his willingness to go along with the Shrubbery on the wiretaps represents a major reason for his advancement. He appears to be “political”, and that does not bode well for anything he commands.

Having someone among the top three who is military makes coordination with the DoD much easier for joint missions, but the man at the top needs to reflect the majority of the people in the organization. There will be tensions.

Hayden doesn’t have CIA-type experience because that’s not how the military functions.