99. Editorial Note

On December 13, 1951, President Truman directed the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, assisted by the Director of Central Intelligence, to appoint a committee to examine United States Government Communications Intelligence (COMINT) efforts and to recommend measures to improve their conduct and security. (Truman Library, President’s Secretary’s File) The committee was headed by prominent New York attorney George A. Brownell and included Charles E. Bohlen, representing the Department of State, General John Magruder, representing the Department of Defense, and William H. Jackson, representing the Central Intelligence Agency. The committee submitted a five-part report on June 13, 1952. Part I was a history of U.S. COMINT efforts, Part II dealt with the role of COMINT, Part III laid out the then-current organization of the COMINT community, Part IV detailed the actual conduct of COMINT activities, and Part V consisted of the report’s conclusions and recommendations.

The major findings of the report were that the four existing COMINT organizations (Army, Navy, Air Force, and Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA), which was controlled by the JCS) were conducting duplicative operations in many areas and that the U.S. Communications Intelligence Board (USCIB) lacked adequate authority to correct the situation. The report recommended that AFSA be given greatly expanded authority over the service organizations, that the AFSA director report directly to the Secretary of Defense, and that USCIB be replaced by a new, strengthened COMINT Board chaired by the DCI.

In October 1952, the President and the NSC adopted most of the Brownell Committee’s recommendations and issued a revised version of NSCID No. 9 on October 24, 1952 (Document 257). In place of AFSA, the National Security Agency was created. NSA had the same resources as AFSA, but a different charter. The JCS was removed from the chain of command. The Secretary of Defense was made executive agent for the government as a whole for COMINT, subordinate to a special committee of the NSC consisting of himself and the Secretary of State, advised by the Director of Central Intelligence.

The Brownell Committee report is in National Archives, RG 457, SRH–123, Brownell Committee Report; a declassified version is available in George A. Brownell, The Origins and Development of the National Security Agency (Laguna Hills, CA: Aegean Park Press, 1981).