A CIA look back: The first director of Central Intelligence

Before the National Security Act of 1947 established the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), a small organization known as the Central Intelligence Group (CIG) was charged with consolidating intelligence reports into daily summaries for President Harry Truman.

Sidney Souers
Sidney Souers

The CIG was CIA’s immediate predecessor organization, formed in January 1946, shortly after the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was dissolved following World War II.

President Truman chose Rear Admiral Sidney Souers, the deputy chief of Naval Intelligence at the end of World War II, to lead the CIG, making Souers the first person to hold the title of Director of Central Intelligence (DCI).

Souers, eager to return home after years of fighting in the war, agreed to serve as DCI for no more than six months.

Souers’ role as DCI was to get the CIG up-and-running, enabling it to eventually evolve into a more robust intelligence agency, says an article posted on the CIA’s own Web site. President Truman regarded the CIG as his personal intelligence service and became an avid consumer of its work.

The CIG’s first Daily Summary was produced on Feb. 15, 1946. As the president’s demands for intelligence increased, the group began conducting interdepartmental studies across intelligence elements.

Before Souers left the CIG in June 1946, he submitted a progress report stating that the organization was ready to expand its mission into new areas. These included collecting foreign intelligence by clandestine methods, producing intelligence studies of foreign countries and engaging in basic research and analysis.

Despite Souers’ short tenure as DCI, he succeeded in establishing the framework for what would become the CIA one year later.