President Harry Truman created the job of director of central intelligence (DCI) in 1946 so that he and other senior administration officials could turn to one person for foreign intelligence briefings. The DCI was the head of the Central Intelligence Group until 1947, when he became the director of the newly created Central Intelligence Agency. This book profiles each DCI and explains how they performed in their community role, that of enhancing
cooperation among the many parts of the nation’s intelligence community and reporting foreign intelligence to the president. The book also discusses the evolving expectations that U.S. presidents through George W. Bush placed on their foreign intelligence chiefs.
Although head of the CIA, the DCI was never a true national intelligence chief with control over the government’s many arms that collect and analyze foreign intelligence. This limitation conformed to President Truman’s wishes because he was wary of creating a powerful and all-knowing intelligence chief in a democratic society. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress and President Bush decided to alter the position of DCI by creating a new director of national intelligence position with more oversight and coordination of the government’s myriad programs. Thus this book ends with Porter Goss in 2005, the last DCI.
Douglas Garthoff’s book is a unique and important study of the nation’s top intelligence official over a roughly fifty-year period. His work provides the detailed historical framework that is essential for all future studies of how the U.S. intelligence community has been and will be managed.