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1952: Memorandum from President Truman re: COMINT and NSA

Thursday, October 24, 2019
1952: Memorandum from President Truman re: COMINT and NSA

24 October 1952: President Harry S. Truman issued a memorandum to the U.S. Secretary of State and the U.S. Secretary of Defense regarding Communication Intelligence Activities.

President Truman's memorandum revokes the provisions of NSCID 9 with regard to the composition, responsibilities, and procedures of the U.S. Communications Intelligence Board. It establishes the USCIB as an entity "acting for and under" a newly created Special Committee of the National Security Council for COMINT, consisting of the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense.

More significantly, Truman's memo, along with a Department of Defense directive, established NSA, and transformed communications intelligence from a military activity divided among the three services to a unified national activity. Thus, the first sentence states that "The communications intelligence (COMINT) activities of the United States are a national responsibility."

The memorandum instructs the Special Committee to issue a directive to the Secretary of Defense which defines the COMINT mission of NSA as being to "provide an effective, unified organization and control of the communications intelligence activities of the United States conducted against foreign governments." Thus, "all COMINT collection and production resources of the United States are placed under his operational and technical control."

The directive provided the NSA director with no authority regarding the collection of electronic intelligence (ELINT)—such as intelligence obtained from the interception of the emanations of radarsor of missile telemetry. Responsibility for ELINT remained with the military services.

NSCID 9 of December 1952 replaces its 1950 predecessor as mandated by Truman's directive. Often using identical language to that in the Truman directive, it revises the responsibilities of the United States Communications Intelligence Board as well as defining the role of the newly created National Security Agency and enumerating the responsibilities of its director.

Excerpted from GWU's National Security Archive. Read more via the link below.

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About Us

The NCMF directly supports the National Cryptologic Museum (NCM), the first public museum in the U.S. Intelligence Community. We think you will agree it is truly a "museum like no other."

Located adjacent to the National Security Agency (NSA) in Maryland, the NCM houses a priceless collection of artifacts that represent our Nation's history in code making and code breaking, as well as a world class library of cryptologic media. The NCMF acquires the best artifacts for the NCM and supports new educational and interactive exhibits.

The NCMF provides exceptional cryptologic programs throughout the year, encourages young minds to explore cryptology and innovation through valued awards, and hosts educational, cryptology-related exhibits at various community events.

As part of the Foundation's partnership with NSA to build the Cyber Center for Education and Innovation - Home of the National Cryptologic Museum (CCEI-NCM), the NCMF also serves as a leader in the field of cybersecurity - striving to provide the best in educational resources and programs.

The NCMF and NCM share a joint three-fold mission to Educate, Stimulate, and Commemorate. Learn more about our MISSION.