News | June 20, 2023

The Central Intelligence Act of 1949

By Dr. David Hadley Article

The Central Intelligence Act of 1949, passed seventy-four years ago this summer, did not create the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); the agency had been created in 1947, in a brief section of the gargantuan National Security Act of 1947. The 1949 Act, however, set the groundwork for what the agency would become in the following decades, by exempting if from public disclosure regarding its activities, budget, and personnel. That nearly two years passed between the founding of the agency and the legislation that permitted it to conduct its activities without public disclosure may seem surprising to those familiar with what the CIA would go on to do, but the delay speaks to the ambiguity and uncertainty within Congress, the executive branch, and the national security establishment as to just what kind of agency the CIA should be, and what it should be expected to do. It took a long, winding path to get to the point where something like the CIA Act of 1949 could become law. Read the rest of Dr. David Hadley's article on the CIA Act of 1949 here.