The National Security Agency (NSA) was established on the 4th of November, 1952. The NSA is an intelligence-gathering organization that comes under the command of the Director of National Intelligence. Its origins can be traced back to 1949, after the establishment of the Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA). Created with the Joint Chiefs’ backing and charged with coordinating communications and electronic intelligence activities for the army, naval, and air force, the AFCA held very little real power as it was primarily symbolic.
In late 1951, the director of the CIA, Walter Bedell Smith, sent a memo to James Lay, the executive secretary of the National Security Council. He noted that “control over and coordination of communications intelligence had proved ineffective.” He recommended carrying out a comprehensive survey that would take control away from individual departments or agencies in favor of one single group capable of handling all intelligence demands to solve this problem.
The proposal was quickly approved, and the resulting document came to be known as “Brownell’s Report.” It saw a need for increased coordination of intelligence work across all agencies to maintain national security.
President Truman authorized the creation of NSA in a letter he wrote to his chief counsel, which remained classified for decades. The official establishment of the NSA came about on November 4th through the NSC Intelligence Directive 9 revision with more than 200 employees at its inception. By the end of the Cold War, the NSA was the most prominent organization within the US intelligence community.
Congressional hearings later stripped away some of the secrecy surrounding the NSA. Capitol Hill has usually criticized the agency for allegedly failing to adjust to a post-Cold War environment. As a result, it runs a global surveillance network that purportedly intrudes on the privacy of countless U.S citizens who pose no threat to national security.
The NSA is one of the leading US intelligence organizations tasked with protecting the US information and communications infrastructure, global monitoring and countering of cyber-threats, collection and processing of domestic and foreign intelligence, and counterintelligence operations.
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