The Organization of National Security

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Chapter 2
The Organization of National Security


The U.S. national security framework consists of government agencies and offices with responsibilities in various disciplines: policy making, military activities, intelligence gathering and analysis, diplomacy, criminal investigation, immigration control, and law enforcement. Interaction and cooperation between separate government entities and disciplines is crucial to ensure that U.S. goals are met for foreign policy and homeland security. Coordination of all functions is ultimately the responsibility of the president of the United States, who is the commander in chief of the nations military forces and the chief decision maker for matters related to national security.


The National Security Council (NSC) is the top entity in the U.S. national security structure. It lies within the executive office of the president and includes decision makers at the highest levels of government. Table 2.1 lists the regular members and occasional attendees associated with the NSC. It was created following World War II (19391945) by the National Security Act of 1947, which was amended in 1949.

The NSC provides a forum for the president to discuss national security issues with his top advisers. The decisions and policies resulting from these meetings are implemented by the department heads within the government, chiefly the secretaries of the U.S. Departments of State (foreign affairs), Defense (military affairs), and the Treasury (economic affairs). The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the highest ranking officer within the U.S. military and advises the president on military issues. The director of national intelligence heads a collection of agencies devoted to intelligence gathering and analysis. The assistant to the president for national security affairs is more commonly called the national security adviser. This person is not a member of a particular department or branch within the government but is chosen by the president to offer an independent viewpoint on national security matters.


The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) traces its history back to 1789, when it was created as the Department of War under the administration of President George Washington (17321799). Some of the nations armed forces (U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps) were already in operation, having been established in 1775 for the Revolutionary War (17751783). Following World War II Congress created a civilian (nonmilitary) agency within the government, led by a secretary of defense who had direct control over the armed forces including the newly created U.S. Air Force. This agency was eventually called the Department of Defense.

Figure 2.1 lists the main entities organized under the DOD. The Department of the Army evolved from the old Department of War. The Department of the Navy (which oversees the U.S. Marine Corps) was created in 1798. The Department of the Air Force was created following enactment of the National Security Act of 1947. The Office of the Inspector General is responsible for auditing the operations and finances of the DOD to ensure they are carried out in accordance with U.S. law and government policy.

The combatant commands are the operational arms of the U.S. combat forces. Some combatant commands have global responsibilities, whereas others are assigned specific geographic regions, for example, the European command covers most of Europe, parts of the Middle East, and most of Africa. Each combatant command includes forces from two or more military services (army, navy, marines, or air force).

The Joint Chiefs of Staff are planners and advisers on issues of national security. This office includes a chairman and a vice chairman and four chiefs of the military

TABLE 2.1 Membership of the National Security Council, 2008
SOURCE: Adapted from Membership of the National Security Council, in National Security Council, Office of the President of the United States, 2008, (accessed July 30, 2008)
Regular attendeesVice President
 Secretary of State
 Secretary of the Treasury
 Secretary of Defense
 Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
Military advisorChairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Intelligence advisorDirector of National Intelligence
Invited to any meetingThe Chief of Staff to the President
Counsel to the President
Assistant to the President for Economic Policy
Attend meetings pertaining to their responsibilitiesThe Attorney General
Director of the Office of Management and Budget
Attend meetings when appropriateThe heads of other executive departments and agencies, as well as other senior officials.

services: the chief of staff of the army, the chief of naval operations, the chief of staff of the air force, and the commandant of the marine corps. The Joint Chiefs advise the president, the secretary of defense, and the NSC.

Reserve Components

Besides the regular forces of the U.S. military, there is an additional contingency force that makes up the reserve components. These include the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Reserves and two National Guard components: the Army National Guard and Air National Guard. The personnel in the reserve components are part time, meaning that they are technically civilians but can be called to service when needed. The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Reserves provide a backup source of trained personnel to their respective services. Many reservists were previously members of the regular armed forces.

The National Guard evolved from the colonial militias of early colonial America, which used trained civilian fighters

TABLE 2.2 Average troop strength for counterterror operations, 200107
[In thousands]
Note: Average strength computed by the Defense Manpower Data Center by totaling the number of days deployed for each service member in a year and then dividing that figure by the 365 days in the year. Numbers may not add due to rounding.
a Activated reservists in the United States are training up for deployments, backfilling the positions of deployed active-duty personnel, or providing enhanced security at U.S. installations.
b Not available.
FY = Fiscal Year.
OIF = Operation Iraqi Freedom.
OEF = Operation Enduring Freedom.
ONE = Operation Noble Eagle.
SOURCE: Amy Belasco, Table 7. Average Troop Strength for Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Counter-Terror Operations, FY2001FY2007, in The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations since 9/11, Congressional Research Service, June 23, 2008, (accessed July 25, 2008)
Average deployed by service5177220216245247256
Marine Corps043225353232
Air Force14263524252727
Activated reserves state-sideaNAb519287665046
All OIF/OEF/ONE military personnel50129312304312297303

who were under state control. It became a backup source for troops for the regular military services. The modern National Guard plays a dual federal-state role. State governments use the troops to provide security and protection services during natural disasters or other public emergencies. At the federal level the troops are trained, equipped, and deployed worldwide to support national security concerns. While deployed, these troops are integrated into the forces under the combatant commands.

Military Personnel

The DOD explains in DOD 101: An Introductory Overview of the Department of Defense (September 2008, that it has nearly 670,000 civilian employees and over 1.3 million personnel on active military duty. Another 1.1 million people serve in the National Guard and Reserves.

In The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations since 9/11 (June 23, 2008,, Amy Belasco of the Congressional Research Service (CRS) discusses the average number of service members deployed per year to Iraq, Afghanistan, and other counterterror operations. In fiscal year (FY) 2007 an average of 303,000 military personnel were deployed as part of the War on Terror. (See Table 2.2.) More than half (156,000) served in the U.S. Army.

JoAnne OBryant and Michael Waterhouse of the CRS state in U.S. Forces in Iraq (July 24, 2008, that as of June 1, 2008, the United States had 99,600 regular U.S. Army

personnel in Iraq and much smaller contingents of regular forces from the U.S. Marine Corps (20,200), the U.S. Navy (19,800), and the U.S. Air Force (10,800). (See Figure 2.2.) The reserve component included 18,300 members of the Army National Guard and 6,700 members of the Army Reserves. (See Figure 2.3.) Much smaller numbers of National Guard and Reserve personnel had been deployed for the other services.


Intelligence is information, specifically information with strategic importance. Intelligence gathering means collecting information about individuals, groups, or nations that may pose a threat to U.S. national security. Reliable intelligence helps policy makers make sound decisions, plan effective strategies, and set reasonable priorities for the nation. Thus, intelligence is useful across many areas of national security, including military activities, foreign affairs, and law enforcement. Counterintelligence is a related field in which the goal is to thwart the intelligence gathering and hostile acts of ones enemies. For example, counterintelligence operations might include passing false information to known enemy spies. Both intelligence and counterintelligence are areas in which secretiveness and espionage (spying) play important roles.

The intelligence community (IC) consists of sixteen federal agencies and departments engaged in intelligence activities. (See Table 2.3.) The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is the primary agency concerned with U.S. intelligence and is self-contained. All other agencies are part of larger organizations devoted to other tasks within government. For example, eight of the agencies are part of the DOD. Their mission is primarily to support military operations. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) also maintains an intelligence agency, which is devoted mainly to furthering the diplomatic and foreign policy goals of the United States. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) focuses on internal threats posed by people and organizations physically located within the United States, whether foreign or domestic.

Even though the IC components have differing focal points, their roles are supposed to overlap with that of

TABLE 2.3 Components of U.S. intelligence community
Note: As defined at 50 U.S.C. 401a(4).
SOURCE: Adapted from Richard A. Best, Jr., Intelligence Community, in Intelligence Issues for Congress, Congressional Research Service, May 30, 2008, (accessed July 30, 2008)
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Department of State (INR)
Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)
National Security Agency (NSA)
National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA)
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Army intelligence
Navy intelligence
Air Force intelligence
Marine Corps intelligence
Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
Coast Guard (CG)
Treasury department
Energy department
Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)

homeland security intelligence. (See Figure 2.4.) Cooperation and sharing of information between IC components is considered critical to protecting national security.


Military intelligence is information important to military decisions and activities. The conduct of military intelligence is coordinated by the Defense Intelligence

Agency (DIA). The DIA (2008, states that its mission is to provide timely, objective, and cogent [convincing or conclusive] military intelligence to warfighters, defense planners, and defense and national security policymakers. In 2008 it had over twelve thousand military and civilian employees. The agency is headquartered at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Other major facilities are located at the DIA Center at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C.; the Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Center at Fort Det-rick in Frederick, Maryland; and the Missile and Space Intelligence Center at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.

Evolution of Military Intelligence

Military intelligence has been practiced in the United States since the American Revolution. According to the CIA, in Factbook on Intelligence (2000,, President Washington asked and received permission from Congress to establish a secret service fund to pay for secret intelligence activities conducted by the new United States. This fund reportedly grew to more than 10% of the entire federal budget and was used to finance a number of undercover spy missions and paramilitary operations (military-type operations conducted with civilian participants) against foreign powers.

During the Civil War (18611865) the Union and Confederate sides used spies, sabotage, and propaganda to support their military efforts. Later in the nineteenth century, the first official permanent military intelligence agencies were formed in the U.S. Army and Navy. Both proved important during the Spanish-American War (1898). However, federal budget cuts and a lack of attention over the following decades left the agencies weakened, which hurt U.S. intelligence efforts during the United States participation in World War I from 1917 through 1918.

Counterintelligence operations were much more successful and succeeded in stopping many enemy activities secretly undertaken in the United States by German intelligence agents. In the decades leading up to World War II, the U.S. Army and Navy intelligence agencies developed highly sophisticated cryptologic techniques. Cryptology is the science of secret codes. During World War II the Allies succeeded in breaking the extremely complex secret code used by the Germans to transmit military information internally. Code-breaking became a priority and a specialty of U.S. intelligence agencies, particularly during the cold war. Even before World War II ended the U.S. Armys Signal Intelligence Service began a small secret program to decode encrypted Soviet diplomatic communications. The program, later named Venona, would last for decades and reveal the identities of dozens of spies working for the Soviets in the United States. Near the end of the twentieth century international terrorism became a greater threat than the Soviet Union to U.S. national security. The military intelligence agencies were forced to change their organization and tactics to deal with new enemies not structured like traditional military hierarchies.


The CIA is a civilian agency charged with collecting and analyzing intelligence and taking action to protect U.S. national security. The CIA headquarters are located in Langley, Virginia, at the George Bush Center for Intelligence. The number of employees is classified.

The CIA is the leading provider of U.S. intelligence and the primary support provider for the other IC agencies. Its analytical capabilities are supposed to be all-encompassing, and its reach is intended to be worldwide (outside the borders of the United States). In Strategic Intent 20072011 (June 2, 2008,, the CIA describes itself as follows:

We are the nations first line of defense. We accomplish what others cannot accomplish and go where others cannot go. We carry out our mission by:

  • Collecting information that reveals the plans, intentions and capabilities of our adversaries and provides the basis for decision and action.
  • Producing timely analysis that provides insight, warning and opportunity to the President and decision-makers charged with protecting and advancing Americas interests.
  • Conducting covert action at the direction of the President to preempt threats or achieve US policy objectives.

Figure 2.5 shows the organization chart for the major components of the CIA as of 2007.

History of the CIA

The CIAs roots lie in the Office of the Coordinator of Informationan office created in July 1941 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt (18821945). The surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, later that year was viewed as an immense intelligence failure and spurred the creation of a much more sophisticated and powerful agency called the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). The OSS began operating in June 1942. According to the CIA, in Factbook on Intelligence, OSS intelligence activities did not extend to Latin America (which was the responsibility of the FBI) and did not overlap with the ongoing work of DOD and DOS IC agencies. After World War II ended in 1945, the OSS was officially abolished, and its functions were transferred to the competing agencies.

In 1946 President Harry S. Truman (18841972) created a new civilian intelligence agency called the Central

Intelligence Group (CIG). The CIG was tasked with detecting strategic threats to the United States via the operation of clandestine (secret) activities around the world. It was designated an all-source component and granted access to all intelligence gathered by other IC agencies. The CIG was led by the first director of central intelligence (DCI), Rear Admiral Sidney W. Souers (18921973).

The National Security Act of 1947 created a new intelligence structure in which a Central Intelligence Agency operated under the direction of a National Security Council and the president. The act established the DCI as not only head of the CIA but also head of the entire IC and a key adviser to the president. However, the scope of the CIA was limited to matters outside of law enforcement and outside U.S. borders.

The passage of the Central Intelligence Agency Act in 1949 granted the CIA unprecedented financial freedom. In Factbook on Intelligence, the CIA notes that the act exempted CIA from many of the usual limitations on the expenditure of federal funds. It provided that CIA funds could be included in the budgets of other departments

and then transferred to the Agency without regard to the restrictions placed on the initial appropriation. The act also allowed the agency to use confidential fiscal and administrative procedures. In other words, the CIAs budget and spending became state secrets.

In 2004 the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act amended the National Security Act to create a director of national intelligence who took over some of the tasks formerly performed by the DCI and established a separate position, the director of the CIA.


In the 1970s DOD and CIA intelligence operations came under fire when stories were published in the media about surveillance conducted against U.S. civilians. In 1970 the former army intelligence officer Christopher H. Pyle alleged his agency had collected massive amounts of intelligence on Americans engaged in protest activities, primarily against the Vietnam War (19551975). Pyle also claimed that plainclothes under-cover army agents had been spying on protest groups since the 1960s. The allegations resulted in federal investigations led by Senator Sam J. Ervin (1896 1985; D-NC) and Senator Frank Forrester Church III (19241984; D-ID).

In 1974 Seymour M. Hersh stunned the nation when he alleged in Huge C.I.A. Operation Reported in U. S. against Antiwar Forces, Other Dissidents in Nixon Years (New York Times, December 22, 1974) that the CIA had engaged in a massive, illegal domestic intelligence operation against antiwar protestors and other groups. Hersh claimed that the CIA had intelligence files on at least ten thousand U.S. citizens and had engaged in illegal surveil-lance activities, such as wiretapping and mail interdiction since the 1950s. Spying on Americans was a direct violation of the CIA charter.

The U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives investigations that followed uncovered more questionable activities by the CIA, including attempts to assassinate foreign leaders in Chile, the Congo, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Vietnam. In response, President Gerald R. Ford (19132006) issued an executive order banning the assassination of foreign officials. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 established a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) from which authorization must be obtained for the conduct of electronic surveillance or physical searches of people alleged to be acting on behalf of a foreign power to threaten U.S. national security. Originally, the FISC included seven district judges; in 2001 the U.S. Patriot Act amended FISA to require eleven judges on the FISC. More detailed information about FISA and the FISC is provided in Chapter 8.


According to the U.S. Intelligence Community (2008,, there are six major intelligence collection disciplines:

  1. Human Intelligence (HUMINT)the collection of intelligence from human sources. This includes both overt (open) activities by diplomats and military attachés and covert actions conducted by spies. HUMINT sources include documents, photographs, and people who live or work in foreign countries or travel to them. This intelligence discipline is widely used by the CIA, the DOS, the DOD, and the FBI.
  2. Signals Intelligence (SIGINT)the interception of electronic communications or other transmitted signals. The National Security Agency, which is headquartered at Fort Meade, Maryland, oversees SIGINT operations for the IC and is considered the nations premier cryptologic organization.
  3. Imagery Intelligence (IMINT)the analysis of images obtained via photography, radar imaging, and other optical and electronic methods. The National Geo-spatial Intelligence Agency, which is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, manages all IMINT activities for the IC.
  4. Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASINT) the derivation of intelligence data from sources other than IMINT and SIGINT. This discipline relies on techniques in a variety of scientific fields, including acoustics, optics, chemistry, and materials science. The DIA operates the central MASINT organization for the IC.
  5. Geospatial Intelligencethe analysis and production of images of security-related facilities and activities around the world. This form of intelligence is conducted primarily by the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.
  6. Open-Source Intelligencethe collection and translation of publicly available information from non-U.S. media sources accessed through the Internet, television, newspapers, radio, and commercially produced databases. The major collectors of OSINT are the Foreign Broadcast Information Service and the DODs National Air and Space Intelligence Center.


The National Security Act of 1947 defines counter-intelligence as information gathered and activities conducted to protect against espionage, other intelligence activities, sabotage, or assassinations conducted by or on behalf of foreign governments or elements thereof, foreign organizations, or foreign persons, or international terrorist activities. The National Counterintelligence Policy Board explains in National Counterintelligence

Strategy of the United States (2007, that the IC conducts counterintelligence activities in both a defensive and offensive manner. The board lists four specific objectives for the nations counterintelligence efforts:

  • Secure the nation against foreign espionage and electronic penetration
  • Protect the integrity of the U.S. intelligence system
  • Support national policy and decisions
  • Protect U.S. economic advantage, trade secrets, and know how


The DOS is the primary agency tasked with representing U.S. interests abroad through the use of diplomacy. Diplomacy is defined by Merriam Websters Collegiate Dictionary (2003) as the art and practice of conducting negotiations between nations and skill in handling affairs without arousing hostility. In a modern political sense, diplomacy can be defined as any foreign policy action short of armed aggression, for example, a trade embargo imposed on another nation to punish it for some transgression.


The DOS was created in 1789 from a previous agency known as the Department of Foreign Affairs. Historians consider Benjamin Franklin (17061790) to be the nations first diplomat. In 1778 he was pivotal in securing two treaties with France: the Treaty of Amity and Commerce (which promoted trade) and the Treaty of Alliance (which formed a military alliance between the two nations). Franklin was called a plenipotentiary, a word derived from a Latin phrase meaning full power. In other words, he had been granted full power to represent the U.S. government abroad.

The Treaty of Amity and Commerce was the first of many treaties the United States would forge with other nations regarding peaceful relations, commerce, travel, navigation, extradition of criminals, and other nonmilitary affairs. The Treaty of Alliance would be the only bilateral military agreement assumed by the United States for nearly two centuries.

Mission and Goals

In Diplomacy: The U.S. Department of State at Work (June 2008, 46839.pdf), the DOS states that it has four major goals:

  • Protect the United States and Americans
  • Advance democracy, human rights, and other global interests
  • Promote international understanding of American values and policies
  • Support U.S. diplomats, government officials, and all other personnel at home and abroad who make these goals a reality

The DOS explains that it has three contingents of employees. The Foreign Service includes more than eleven thousand Americans who work in foreign countries. Over thirty-seven thousand foreign nationals are employed by the DOS around the world. The Civil Service comprises more than nine thousand U.S. employees who work primarily in DOS offices in Washington, D.C.

At the highest level, DOS officials craft U.S. foreign policy in concert with the president and negotiate with the leaders and foreign ministers of other nations. The DOS is headed by the secretary of state, who is also a member of the presidents cabinet and the NSC. Figure 2.6 shows the organization chart for the main components of the DOS as of January 2008.

U.S. Diplomatic Relations

According to the DOS, in the fact sheet Independent States in the World (August 19, 2008,, the United States recognized 194 independent states around the world in 2008. An independent state is defined by the DOS as people politically organized into a sovereign state with a definite territory. The United States maintains embassies in most of these countries. An embassy is the central office of a diplomatic mission to another country and is typically located in that countrys capital city. Officially, the ground occupied by a U.S. embassy is considered U.S. soil. (Likewise the ground occupied by any foreign embassy in the United States is considered the soil of that country.) Embassy branches, called consulates, may be located in other parts of the country. Each U.S. embassy is headed by an ambassador, who speaks for the U.S. government.

The DOS indicates that as of August 2008 the United States had official diplomatic relations with all but 4 of the 194 recognized independent states. Those four nations were:

Bhutan is a tiny mountainous country located between India and Tibet. For decades, Bhutan has chosen to remain isolated from the outside world to protect its deeply religious Buddhist society. The United States conducts informal relations with Bhutan through the U.S. embassy in India.

On January 3, 1961, the United States broke diplomatic ties with Cuba after it became obvious that Fidel Castro (1926), the new Cuban leader, intended to form a communist government. In 1977 the United States opened an Interests Section office in Havana, Cuba. Even though it is staffed by U.S. Foreign Service personnel, the office is officially a part of the Swiss embassy. The U.S. Interests Section handles requests for visas and performs other diplomatic functions. Cuba maintains a similar office at the Swiss embassy in Washington, D.C.

On April 7, 1980, the United States broke diplomatic relations with Iran after the Iranian government refused to intervene on behalf of U.S. diplomats taken hostage by Iranian militants at the U.S. embassy. A U.S. Interests Section office was later opened at the Swiss embassy in Tehran, Iran. Likewise, Iran maintains an Interests Section office at the Pakistani embassy in Washington, D.C.

Following World War II the Korea Peninsula was split into two occupied territories: the north under Soviet control and the south under U.S. control. This was supposed to be a temporary arrangement until the two halves could be reunited as one nation. In 1948 South Korea adopted a constitution and became a sovereign nation. However, cold war politics and the Korean War (1950 1953) prevented reunification from occurring. The United States did not form diplomatic relations with the communist government that assumed power in North Korea.

In addition, the United States does not maintain an embassy in Taiwan, because that state is claimed by the Peoples Republic of China.

Language Shortfalls

As representatives of the U.S. government and people, DOS staff at foreign posts come into contact with many foreign nationals. Effective communication is one of the hallmarks of successful diplomacy. However, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports in State Department: Staffing and Foreign Language Shortfalls Persist Despite Initiatives to Address Gaps False that in 2005 it found many foreign-language deficiencies in foreign-language skill requirements among DOS staff working in the more than three thousand positions. The GAO divided foreign languages into three broad categories based on the difficulty associated with learning the languages by native English speakers (see Figure 2.7):

  • World languageslanguages related to English, such as French, Italian, and Spanish. Just over half (55%) of the DOS positions analyzed required proficiency in world languages.
  • Hard languageslanguages with significant differences from English with particular linguistic difficulties. This category includes many languages, including Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Persian, Russian, and Turkish. Twenty-nine percent of language-designated posts required skills in hard languages.
  • Superhard languagesArabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. These languages are considered extremely difficult to learn. Sixteen percent of language-designated posts required skills in superhard languages.

In an earlier report on the same subject, State Department: Staffing and Foreign Language Shortfalls Persist Despite Initiatives to Address Gaps (August 2006,, the GAO finds that in 2005, 75% of DOS personnel working in world-language posts were proficient in the required language. Proficiency was slightly worse (70%) among staff working in countries where hard languages are spoken. The largest deficiencies were found in DOS personnel required to be skilled in superhard languages. Less than two-thirds (62%) of these people met the language requirements of their posts. A breakdown by superhard language indicates 83% proficiency in Korean, 62% proficiency in Arabic, and 60% proficiency in Japanese and Chinese.

The gaps in language proficiency in Arabic and Korean among DOS staff are particularly troublesome because many of the U.S. national security issues are associated with the Middle East and North Korea.

Travel Documents: Passports and Visas

One of the functions performed by the DOS is the issuance of international travel documents: passports for U.S. citizens and visas for foreign citizens.

A passport is an official travel document that verifies a persons identity and nationality. The DOS issues passports to U.S. citizens. Most foreign governments require U.S. visitors to possess a passport and show it when entering and leaving their countries. Likewise, a passport is typically required for U.S. citizens to reenter the United States after traveling abroad.

A visa is a document that indicates permission has been given by a government for a person of foreign nationality to travel to that country. DOS offices at U.S. embassies and consulates can grant visas to foreign nationals to travel to the United States. A U.S.-granted visa indicates a person is eligible to enter the United States for a specific purpose. However, the determination on whether or not to grant entry is made by immigration officers at U.S. ports of entry (airports and land border crossings). In Diplomacy, the DOS notes that it reviews over eight million visa applications per year. There are two main types of visas: immigrant visas and nonimmigrant visas.

IMMIGRANT VISAS . Immigrant visas are required for foreign citizens who intend to live permanently in the United States. In general, these visas require the sponsorship of a relative or prospective employer in the United States. For example, immigrant visas are issued to foreign citizens who are related to U.S. citizens or U.S. Legal Permanent Residents by blood, adoption, or marriage. There is another category of immigrant visas for special immigrants. These include Amerasians (Vietnam Warera children of U.S. soldiers and Vietnamese women) and the widows, widowers, and battered spouses or children of U.S. citizens.

The DOS also conducts an annual lottery to make available fifty thousand permanent resident visas to applicants from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program uses a computer-generated random drawing to select the foreign applicants. Residents of countries that have sent more than fifty thousand immigrants to the United States within the past five years are not eligible for the lottery. No one country participating in the lottery can receive more than 7% of the Diversity Immigrant Visas given out in any year.

According to the DOS (2008,, 434,374 immigrant visas were issued during FY 2007. The vast majority (85%) went to applicants with immediate relatives or family sponsors in the United States. Asian applicants made up 44% of the total, accounting for the largest number of immigrant visas issued. (See Figure 2.8.) North American applicants made up 30% of the total and were the second-largest contingent. The DOS notes that the five nations whose citizens received the most U.S. immigrant visas during FY 2007 were:

  • Mexico53,327 visas
  • The Philippines44,193 visas
  • China34,153 visas
  • India30,930 visas
  • Vietnam21,739 visas

Together, these countries accounted for 42% of all visas issued.

NONIMMIGRANT VISAS . Nonimmigrant visas are issued to people approved to visit the United States on a temporary basis, for example, to study, work, vacation, seek medical care, or conduct business.

The DOS (2008, FY07AnnualReportTableXVIA.pdf) notes that 4.5 million (70%) of the visas were B-series documents issued to foreigners visiting the United States for business and/or pleasure reasons.

Asian applicants made up 41% of the total nonimmigrant visas, followed by European applicants with 23% of the total. (See Figure 2.9.) According to the DOS (2006,, the five nations with the largest numbers of nonimmigrant visa recipients in FY 2005 were:

  • Mexico906,622 visas
  • South Korea386,524 visas
  • India378,039 visas
  • China325,955 visas
  • Brazil200,321 visas


One of the historic diplomatic policies of the United States has been foreign aid (or foreign economic assistance as it is officially known). This includes humanitarian aid designed to generate goodwill for the United States. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, foreign economic assistance has been increasingly viewed as a tool of national security.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is the principal U.S. agency engaged in providing foreign economic assistance. Even though USAID is considered an independent agency, its administrator (the director of foreign assistance) reports to the secretary of state. USAID describes its mission and goals in Strategic Plan: Fiscal Years 20072012 (May 7, 2007, http://wwwstategov/documents/organization/86291pdf). According to the agency, its mission is to advance freedom for the benefit of the American people and the international community by helping to build and sustain a more democratic, secure, and prosperous world composed of well-governed states that respond to the needs of their people, reduce widespread poverty, and act responsibly within the international system. Furthermore, it has seven strategic goals, which are defined in Table 2.4.

USAID tracks foreign aid amounts in U.S. Overseas Loans and Grants, Obligations and Loan Authorizations Report, which is commonly called the Greenbook. The

TABLE 2.4 U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development strategic goal framework, May 2007
SOURCE: Department of State/USAID Joint Strategic Goal Framework, in Strategic Plan: Fiscal Years 20072012, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development, May 7, 2007, (accessed August 8, 2008)
Strategic goal 1: Achieving peace and security
Weapons of mass destruction and destabilizing conventional weapons
Security cooperation and security sector reform
Conflict prevention, mitigation, and response
Transnational crime
Homeland security
Strategic goal 2: Governing justly and democratically
Rule of law and human rights
Good governance
Political competition and consensus building
Civil society
Strategic goal 3: Investing in people
Social services and protection for especially vulnerable populations
Strategic goal 4: Promoting economic growth and prosperity
Private markets
Trade and investment
Energy security
Strategic goal 5: Providing humanitarian assistance
Protection, assistance, and solutions
Disaster prevention and mitigation
Orderly and humane means for migration management
Strategic goal 6: Promoting international understanding
Offer a positive vision
Marginalize extremism
Nurture common interests and values
Strategic goal 7: Strengthening consular and management capabilities
Consular services (visas, passports, American citizen services)
Major management functions

online version of the Greenbook is available at As of September 2008, the most recent year included in the Greenbook database was 2006. The United States provided nearly $40 billion in foreign economic assistance in that year.

Of the twenty countries that received U.S. economic assistance between 1997 and 2006, Iraq received the most: $22 billion. (See Table 2.5.) Other countries in the top five include Russia ($8.3 billion), Israel ($8 billion), Afghanistan ($6.7 billion), and Colombia ($5.7 billion). In 2006 alone, Iraq was the top recipient of U.S. economic assistance in 2006 with $4.4 billion. Afghanistan was second with $1.9 billion. The United States invaded Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003, respectively, as part of its War on Terror and has invested billions of dollars in their rebuilding and stabilization.

In January 2006 Condoleezza Rice (1954), the U.S. secretary of state, announced a new approach to the nations foreign policy called transformational development. Larry Nowels and Connie Veillette of the CRS suggest in Restructuring U.S. Foreign Aid: The Role of the Director of Foreign Assistance (June 16, 2006, that this approach is designed to transform countries, through far-reaching, fundamental changes in institutions of governance, human capacity, and economic structure that enable a country to sustain further economic and social progress without depending on foreign aid. In other words, the goal is to help countries mature economically, politically, and socially so that they do not need U.S. assistance anymore. There are five primary objectives within the program:

  • Peace and security from external and internal conflicts
  • Just and democratic governance and strong rule of law
  • People investments, such as health, education, and environment
  • Economic growth, trade policy, and fiscal accountability
  • Humanitarian assistance through emergency relief

Table 2.6 lists the foreign assistance program areas associated with each priority objective. Table 2.7 shows the framework for countries at various stages within their development. There are five stages of development:

  • Rebuilding countriesthese are postconflict countries lacking stability
  • Developing countrieslow-income and lower-middle-income countries that do not yet meet the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporations (MCC) performance criteria (the MCC is a government-owned corporation that oversees the Millennium Challenge Accounta foreign aid program for developing countries that meet certain performance criteria)
  • Transforming countrieslow-income and lower-middle-income countries that meet MCC performance criteria and political rights criterion
  • Sustaining partnership countrieshigher income countries that have economic, trade, and security relationships with the United States
  • Restrictive countriesthese are states of concern because of significant governance issues

In addition, Table 2.7 notes that some foreign assistance activities are applied at a regional or global level.

As of September 2008, the MCC listed forty countries that were eligible for MCC assistance.


Public diplomacy is diplomacy directed toward the foreign public at large, rather than just toward foreign governments. In U.S. Public Diplomacy: State Department

TABLE 2.5 Top twenty countries receiving U.S. economic assistance, 19972006
[In millions, historical $US]
Country name1997199819992000200120022003200420052006Total
SOURCE: Adapted from Economic Assistance, Total, in U.S. Overseas Loans and Grants (Greenbook), U.S. Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development, September 2006, (accessed August 2, 2008)
Serbia and Montenegro1.610.8141.2320.8377.4262.1253.3251.3226.15.81,850
Bosnia & Herzegovina186.5302210.9117.9148.16379.563.646.662.21,280
TABLE 2.6 U.S. foreign assistance objectives and program areas
GoalTo help build and sustain democratic, well-governed states that respond to the needs of their people, reduce widespread poverty and conduct themselves responsibly in the international system.
ObjectivesPeace and securityGoverning justly and democraticallyInvesting in peopleEconomic growthHumanitarian assistance
Other USG agency contributions
USG = United States Government.
WMD = Weapons of Mass Destruction.
SOURCE: Adapted from Appendix I: Foreign Assistance Framework, in Strategic Plan: Fiscal Years 20072012, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development, May 7, 2007, (accessed August 8, 2008)
Foreign assistance program areasCounter terrorism
Combating WMD
Stabilization operations and defense reform
Transnational Crime
Conflict mitigation and response
Rule of law and human rights
Good governance
Political competition and consensus-building
Civil society
Social services and protection for vulnerable populations
Macroeconomic foundation for growth
Trade and investment
Financial sector
Private sector competitiveness
Economic opportunity
Protection, assistance and solutions
Disaster readiness
Migration management

Efforts to Engage Muslim Audiences Lack Certain Communication Elements and Face Significant Challenges (May 2006,, the GAO mentions that the purpose of public diplomacy is to understand, inform, engage, and influence the attitudes and behavior of global audiences in ways that support the United States strategic interests.

Public diplomacy projects are conducted by various entities within the U.S. government, including the DOS, the DOD, USAID, and the Broadcasting Board of Governors. The projects are designed in accordance with guidance provided by the White House and the NSC (specifically the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications and global outreach).

Broadcasting Board of Governors

The Broadcasting Board of Governors oversees government and government-sponsored international broadcasting

TABLE 2.7 U.S. foreign assistance framework
 Category definitionEnd goal of U.S. foreign assistanceGraduation trajectory
*Millennium Challenge Corporation.
SOURCE: Adapted from Appendix I: Foreign Assistance Framework, in Strategic Plan: Fiscal Years 20072012, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development, May 7, 2007, (accessed August 8, 2008)
Rebuilding countriesStates in or emerging from and rebuilding after internal or external conflict.Stable environment for good governance, increased availability of essential social services, and initial progress to create policies and institutions upon which future progress will rest.Advance to the developing or transforming category.
Developing countriesStates with low or lower-middle income, not yet meeting MCC* performance criteria, and the criterion related to political rights.Continued progress in expanding and deepening democracy, strengthening public and private institutions, and supporting policies that promote economic growth and poverty reduction.Advance to the transforming category.
Transforming countriesStates with low or lower-middle income, meeting MCC performance criteria, and the criterion related to political rights.Government, civil society and private sector institutions capable of sustaining development progress.Advance to the sustaining partnership category or graduate from foreign assistance.
Sustaining partnership countriesStates with upper-middle income or greater for which U.S. support is provided to sustain partnerships, progress, and peace.Continued partnership as strategically appropriate where U.S. support is necessary to maintain progress and peace.Continue partnership or graduate from foreign assistance.
Restrictive countriesStates of concern where there are significant governance issues.Civil society empowered to demand more effective democracies and states respectful of human dignity, accountable to their citizens, and responsible towards their neighbors.Advance to other relevant foreign assistance category.
Global or regionalActivities that advance the five objectives, transcend a single country's borders, and are addressed outside a country strategy.Achievement of foreign assistance goal and objectives.Determined based on criteria specific to the global or regional objective.

services, including both radio and television. Even though these services have a variety of different audiences, they have the common goal of delivering information about U.S. actions, goals, culture, and opinions to people who might otherwise not have access to them. The Board of Governors (2008, states that broadcasting services reach approximately 175 million people per week. The International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB; March 12, 2008, performs the administrative and marketing activities of the Board of Governors and provides transmission services for the broadcasters. In 2008 there were seven broadcasters:

  • Voice of Americathis service began operating on the radio in 1942 and has grown to include programs in fifty-three languages. It airs more than one thousand hours per week of news, information, and educational and cultural shows. Its worldwide audience is estimated at ninety-four million people.
  • AlhurraAlhurra means the free one in Arabic. It is a commercial-free network that provides Arabic-language news and feature stories throughout the Middle East. Alhurra is operated by the Middle Eastern Television Network, a nonprofit organization funded by Congress.
  • Radio Sawathis Arabic-language radio service began broadcasting in 2002 throughout the Middle East and features pop music, news, sports, and other features. It is transmitted via various radio frequencies, including AM, FM, short wave, and the Internet. For example, Radio Sawa is found on FM station 100.4 in Baghdad, Iraq. Internet users in Egypt, the Persian Gulf, Iraq, Morocco, Sudan, and the Levant (countries along the eastern Mediterranean Sea) can also listen to live broadcasts.
  • Radio FardaFarda means tomorrow in Farsi (or Persian), one of the primary languages of Iran. Radio Farda, a collaboration of Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, airs news and music programming via AM and shortwave radio, digital audio satellite, and the Internet.
  • Radio and TV Martíthese two services are operated by the Office of Cuba Broadcasting. They include programs on a variety of topics.
  • Radio Free Europe/Radio Libertythis service can be heard across eastern Europe and Central and Southwestern Asia. The broadcasts are in thirty-two languages and are available over the radio and Internet.
  • Radio Free Asiathis service broadcasts approximately two hundred hours per week by radio in ten languages to Burma, Cambodia, China, Laos, North Korea, Tibet, and Vietnam and provides audio streams over the Internet.


U.S. law enforcement agencies play an important part in defending national security through counterterrorism and counterintelligence operations. They attempt to

TABLE 2.8 U.S. law enforcement agencies engaged in counterterrorism, 2008
SOURCE: Adapted from U.S. Counterterrorism Team, in U.S. Counterterrorism Team, U.S. Department of State, 2006, August 11, 2008)
Department of the Treasury
Office of Foreign Assets Control
Office of Terrorist and Financial Intelligence
Department of Justice
Counterterrorism training and resources for law enforcement
Federal Bureau of InvestigationCounterterrorism
FBIMost Wanted Terrorists
Department of Homeland Security
Coast Guard
Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
Directorate for Preparedness
Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Policy Directorate
Research and Technology Centers of Excellence
Transportation Security Agency (TSA)
U.S. Secret Service

detect potential terrorists or other foreign agents and prevent them from carrying out harmful actions. If spying or a terrorist attack does occur, they investigate the incident and help capture those responsible. Table 2.8 provides a list of the main agencies that, along with the White House, the DOS, USAID, the DOD, and the IC, are considered part of the U.S. counterterrorism team.

Patriot Act

After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, law-makers quickly put together a new law designed to help the United States fight the terrorist threat. The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT) Act of 2001 is known simply as the Patriot Act. The act consists of ten titles:

  • Title IEnhancing Domestic Security against Terrorism
  • Title IIEnhanced Surveillance Procedures
  • Title IIIInternational Money Laundering Abatement and Antiterrorist Financing Act of 2001
  • Title IVProtecting the Border
  • Title VRemoving Obstacles to Investigating Terrorism
  • Title VIProviding for Victims of Terrorism, Public Safety Officers, and Their Families
  • Title VIIIncreased Information Sharing for Critical Infrastructure Protection
  • Title VIIIStrengthening the Criminal Laws against Terrorism
  • Title IXImproved Intelligence
  • Title XMiscellaneous

One of the purposes of the act is to facilitate better cooperation and information sharing between government agencies, particularly between the IC and law enforcement agencies.

Law Enforcement Agencies

The law enforcement agencies making up the U.S. counterterrorism team fall under the U.S. Departments of the Treasury, Justice, and Homeland Security. (See Table 2.8.)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY. The U.S. Department of the Treasury contains two offices related to counterterrorism and counterintelligence. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) oversees and enforces economic and trade sanctions that the United States places on foreign entities (countries, terrorists, criminals, and other individuals and organizations). In certain situations, this office can also freeze foreign assets held in the United States and wield control over foreign financial transactions taking place in the United States. As of August 2008, the OFAC had sanctions in place with thirteen countries. (See Table 2.9.)

The Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence combines intelligence and enforcement functions to protect the U.S. financial system against foreign threats, including rogue nations, narcotics traffickers, and terrorist financiers and money launderers.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE . The primary agency of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) devoted to counterterrorism and counterintelligence is the FBI. As mentioned earlier, the FBI focuses on threats posed by people and organizations physically located within the United States. John F. Fox explains in The Birth of the Federal Bureau of Investigation: Office of Public/Congressional Affairs (July 2003, libref/historic/history/artspies/artspies.htm) that the FBI

TABLE 2.9 Sanction programs, August 2008
 Program last updated:
SOURCE: OFAC Country Sanctions Programs, in OFAC Country Sanctions Program, U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control, August 2008, (accessed August 8, 2008)
Balkans sanctions03/04/2008
Belarus sanctions05/20/2008
Burma sanctions07/29/2008
Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) sanctions09/19/2006
Cuba sanctions08/01/2008
Democratic Republic of the Congo sanctions03/30/2007
Iran sanctions11/20/2007
Iraq sanctions07/08/2008
Former Liberian Regime of Charles Taylor sanctions05/23/2007
North Korea sanctions06/26/2008
Sudan sanctions07/31/2008
Syria sanctions07/10/2008
Zimbabwe sanctions07/25/2008

was created in 1908 during the administration of President Theodore Roosevelt (18581919). Its primary focus was the investigation of a handful of federal crimes, such as land fraud. During World War I (19141918) the FBI acquired new responsibilities in counterintelligence, particularly the prevention of espionage and sabotage. One of the DOJ agents involved in this work was a young man named J. Edgar Hoover (18951972). In 1924 Hoover was appointed head of the FBI. It was a position he held until his death in 1972.

During the 1920s and 1930s the agency was preoccupied with gangsters and bank robbers. At the onset of World War II, the FBI once again took a key role in combating foreign spies. It was also granted power by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to investigate subversives (people who attempt to undermine or overthrow the government). Throughout the cold war the FBI considered Communist Party members and sympathizers within the United States a serious threat to national security. During the late 1960s a new element arose within American society that concerned the FBI. It was called the new left and included violent antiVietnam War, antiestablishment protestors and activists. Hoover established a massive surveil-lance program called the Counter Intelligence Program that would later arouse claims that the agency had violated the civil liberties of law-abiding Americans engaged in peaceful antiwar protests. During the 1970s new limits were placed on the FBIs abilities to conduct counterintelligence and domestic security investigations.

International terrorism became a priority for the nation as the cold war fizzled out. In 1986 Congress gave the FBI jurisdiction over terrorist acts committed against American citizens outside U.S. borders. The agency played a crucial role in investigating the bombings at the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996, the bombings at two U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998, and a terrorist attack against the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000. The FBI also played a crucial role in investigating the terrorism bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The Patriot Act greatly expanded the FBIs role in counter-terrorism by allowing broader use of surveillance techniques by intelligence agents.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY . The U.S. Department of Homeland Security was established by President George W. Bush (1946) in 2002 and began operations in 2003. Major counterterrorist and counter-intelligence agencies within this department are the Transportation Security Agency, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the U.S. Secret Service. (See Table 2.8.) The roles of these agencies are discussed at length in Chapter 5.

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