Flawed by Design: The Evolution of the CIA, JCS, and NSC

Flawed by Design: The Evolution of the CIA, JCS, and NSC

by Amy Zegart
     
 

ISBN-10: 080474131X

ISBN-13: 9780804741316

Pub. Date: 08/28/2000

Publisher: Stanford University Press

In this provocative and thoughtful book, Amy Zegart challenges the conventional belief that national security agencies work reasonably well to serve the national interest as they were designed to do. Using a new institutionalist approach, Zegart asks what forces shaped the initial design of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the

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Overview

In this provocative and thoughtful book, Amy Zegart challenges the conventional belief that national security agencies work reasonably well to serve the national interest as they were designed to do. Using a new institutionalist approach, Zegart asks what forces shaped the initial design of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the National Security Council in ways that meant they were handicapped from birth.

Ironically, she finds that much of the blame can be ascribed to cherished features of American democracy—frequent elections, the separation of powers, majority rule, political compromise—all of which constrain presidential power and give Congress little incentive to create an effective foreign policy system. At the same time, bureaucrats in rival departments had the expertise, the staying power, and the incentives to sabotage the creation of effective competitors, and this is exactly what they did.

Historical evidence suggests that most political players did not consider broad national concerns when they forged the CIA, JCS, and NSC in the late 1940s. Although President Truman aimed to establish a functional foreign policy system, he was stymied by self-interested bureaucrats, legislators, and military leaders. The NSC was established by accident, as a byproduct of political compromise; Navy opposition crippled the JCS from the outset; and the CIA emerged without the statutory authority to fulfill its assigned role thanks to the Navy, War, State, and Justice departments, which fought to protect their own intelligence apparatus.

Not surprisingly, the new security agencies performed poorly as they struggled to overcome their crippled evolution. Only the NSC overcame its initial handicaps as several presidents exploited loopholes in the National Security Act of 1947 to reinvent the NSC staff. The JCS, by contrast, remained mired in its ineffective design for nearly forty years—i.e., throughout the Cold War—and the CIA’s pivotal analysis branch has never recovered from its origins. In sum, the author paints an astonishing picture: the agencies Americans count on most to protect them from enemies abroad are, by design, largely incapable of doing so.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780804741316
Publisher:
Stanford University Press
Publication date:
08/28/2000
Edition description:
1
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
757,073
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

List of Figures
List of Tables
Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Introduction1
1Toward a Theory of National Security Agencies12
2Origins of the National Security Council System: A "Brass-Knuckle Fight to the Finish"54
3Evolution of the National Security Council System: "From King's Ministers to Palace Guard"76
4Origins of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: "Fighting for the Very Life of the Navy"109
5Evolution of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: "The Swallows Return to Capistrano"131
6Origins of the Central Intelligence Agency: "Those Spooky Boys"163
7Evolution of the Central Intelligence Agency: "One of the Weakest Links in Our National Security"185
8Conclusion223
App. ANotes on Tabulation of Foreign Policy Interest Groups239
App. BNew York Times Coverage of National Security Advisers, 1947-1998241
App. CLegislative Changes to the Joint Chiefs of Staff243
App. DValue of Defense Contracts Awarded, FY 1994 by Region245
Notes247
Bibliography273
Index303

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