1952 October 24

Secret Truman Order Creates National Security Agency


President Harry Truman on this day issued a secret National Security Intelligence Directive creating of the National Security Agency (NSA), which came formally into existence on November 4, 1952. The agency was not mentioned in the U.S. Government Organization Manual until 1957, however.

The firs-ever public testimony by the head of the NSA before Congress occurred on October 29, 1975, as part of the Senate Church Committee investigation of abuses by the intelligence agencies. (See January 27, 1975, for the creation of the Church Committee.) Illegal spying by the NSA under President George W. Bush was exposed by the New York Times on December 16, 2005.

Even greater illegal spying by the NSA was exposed on June 5, 2013, by documents leaked to selected journalists by former NSA contract employee Edward Snowden. The revelations from the Snowden-related documents led to the intelligence reform law on June 2, 2015 which marked the first time Congress actually scaled back U.S. intelligence gathering.

Learn more about the NSA from the foremost expert: James Bamford, The Puzzle Palace (1982); The Shadow Factory (2008)

Read about the spying under President Bush: Eric Lichblau, Bush’s Law: The Remaking of American Justice (2008)

Get the full story about Edward Snowden: Luke Harding, The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man (2014)

Learn more about the national security industry: Dana Priest and William Arkin, Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State (2012)

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