National Security Council Authorizes CIA Covert Actions
In one of its earliest actions, the National Security Council authorized the CIA to conduct covert actions: In this case, secretly giving financial support to centrist and non-Communist political parties in the 1948 Italian elections. Reportedly, the CIA spent over $1 million on this effort. Congress later gave the CIA official statutory authority to conduct covert actions, on June 18, 1948.
Read: Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA (2007)
Learn more: Hugh Wilford, The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America (2008)
Watch a documentary on CIA covert actions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJZ8THm_0Jo