[FOUNTAIN]Intelligence reformU.S. intelligence agencies have experienced three major pressures for reform. The first one occurred in 1941 right after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The second one came in 1991 after the demise of the Soviet Union, and the last one in 2001 after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The first and the third pressures for reform took place after the U.S. intelligence agencies experienced fatal breakdowns, and the second came following the end of Cold War.
Until 1941, the United States had only two intelligence agencies: the Army’s G-2 and the Navy’s Communication Intellig-ence Corp. The United States depended heavily on the intelligence power of its allies during World War I. Even though many warned that it was dangerous for the United States to depend on foreign intelligence, the atmosphere at the time did not allow the establishment of a general agency for intelligence. But with the attack on Pearl Harbor, everything changed. The Office of Strategic Service, the first U.S. general intelligence agency, was created in February 1942. Because of the conflicts surrounding the agency, anti-espionage work and the secret information part were transferred to the War Department and the research part to the State Department. But as the United States became a superpower, the Central Intelligence Agency eventually was created.
The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 brought great pressure to reform the CIA. President Bill Clinton wanted to reform the agency so that it focused on economic intelligence. But he was unable to take money from the Defense Department that controls more than 80 percent of the intelligence budget, which reaches $30 billion.
The department, which controls more than three satellite agencies, including the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, desperately tried to stop the reform of the agencies.
After Sept. 11. the U.S. Congress demanded a reform of the intelligence system, saying that the failure was not because of budget or personnel but because the system itself failed.
Reforming Korea’s National Intelligence Service has generated controversy. However, the situation here is better because, unlike the United States, it is not a reform forced by failure. But once the new government decided to reform the service, the reform should not be a bureaucratic or personnel reform but a reform that contributes to making an appropriate “system.”
by Kim Seok-hwan
The writer is a JoongAng Ilbo editorial writer.