26
Jul
08

On This Day, 7-26-08: The National Security Act

Truman signs the National Security Act

President Harry S. Truman signs the National Security Act, which becomes one of the most important pieces of Cold War legislation. The act established much of the bureaucratic framework for foreign policymaking for the next 40-plus years of the Cold War.

By July 1947, the Cold War was in full swing. The United States and the Soviet Union, once allies during World War II, now faced off as ideological enemies. In the preceding months, the administration of President Truman had argued for, and secured, military and economic aid to Greece and Turkey to assist in their struggles against communist insurgents. In addition, the Marshall Plan, which called for billions of dollars in U.S. aid to help rebuild war-torn Western Europe and strengthen it against possible communist aggression, had also taken shape. As the magnitude of the Cold War increased, however, so too did the need for a more efficient and manageable foreign policymaking bureaucracy in the United States. The National Security Act was the solution.

The National Security Act had three main parts. First, it streamlined and unified the nation’s military establishment by bringing together the Navy Department and War Department under a new Department of Defense. This department would facilitate control and utilization of the nation’s growing military. Second, the act established the National Security Council (NSC). Based in the White House, the NSC was supposed to serve as a coordinating agency, sifting through the increasing flow of diplomatic and intelligence information in order to provide the president with brief but detailed reports. Finally, the act set up the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The CIA replaced the Central Intelligence Group, which had been established in 1946 to coordinate the intelligence-gathering activities of the various military branches and the Department of State. The CIA, however, was to be much more–it was a separate agency, designed not only to gather intelligence but also to carry out covert operations in foreign nations.

The National Security Act formally took effect in September 1947. Since that time, the Department of Defense, NSC, and CIA have grown steadily in terms of size, budgets, and power. The Department of Defense, housed in the Pentagon, controls a budget that many Third World nations would envy. The NSC rapidly became not simply an information organizing agency, but one that was active in the formation of foreign policy. The CIA also grew in power over the course of the Cold War, becoming involved in numerous covert operations. Most notable of these was the failed Bay of Pigs operation of 1961, in which Cuban refugees, trained and armed by the CIA, were unleashed against the communist regime of Fidel Castro. The mission was a disaster, with most of the attackers either killed or captured in a short time. Though it had both successes and failures, the National Security Act indicated just how seriously the U.S. government took the Cold War threat.

“Truman signs the National Security Act.” 2008. The History Channel website. 26 Jul 2008, 12:42 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2740.

 

On This Day

1775 – A postal system was established by the 2nd Continental Congress of the United States. The first Postmaster General was Benjamin Franklin.

1788 – New York became the 11th state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

1881 – Thomas Edison and Patrick Kenny execute a patent application for a facsimile telegraph (U.S. Pat. 479,184).

1945 – Winston Churchill resigned as Britain’s prime minister.

1948 – U.S. President Truman signed executive orders that prohibited discrimination in the U.S. armed forces and federal employment.

1953 – Fidel Castro began his revolt against Fulgencio Batista with an unsuccessful attack on an army barracks in eastern Cuba. Castro eventually ousted Batista six years later.

1956 – Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal.

1971 – Apollo 15 was launched from Cape Kennedy, FL.

1999 – 1,500 pieces of Marilyn Monroe’s personal items went on display at Christie’s in New York, NY. The items went on sale later in 1999.

 

Liberian independence proclaimed

The Republic of Liberia, formerly a colony of the American Colonization Society, declares its independence. Under pressure from Britain, the United States hesitantly accepted Liberian sovereignty, making the West African nation the first democratic republic in African history. A constitution modeled after the U.S. Constitution was approved, and in 1848 Joseph Jenkins Roberts was elected Liberia’s first president.

“Liberian independence proclaimed.” 2008. The History Channel website. 26 Jul 2008, 12:43 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5208.

FBI founded

On July 26, 1908, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is born when U.S. Attorney General Charles Bonaparte orders a group of newly hired federal investigators to report to Chief Examiner Stanley W. Finch of the Department of Justice. One year later, the Office of the Chief Examiner was renamed the Bureau of Investigation, and in 1935 it became the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“FBI founded.” 2008. The History Channel website. 26 Jul 2008, 12:44 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6970.

Real-life Psycho Ed Gein dies

On July 26, 1984, Ed Gein, a serial killer infamous for skinning human corpses, dies of complications from cancer in a Wisconsin prison at age 77. Gein served as the inspiration for writer Robert Bloch’s character Norman Bates in the 1959 novel Psycho, which in 1960 was turned into a film starring Anthony Hopkins and directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Edward Theodore Gein was born in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, on July 27, 1906, to an alcoholic father and domineering mother, who taught her son that women and sex were evil. Gein was raised, along with an older brother, on an isolated farm in Plainfield, Wisconsin. After Gein’s father died in 1940, the future killer’s brother died under mysterious circumstances during a fire in 1944 and his beloved mother passed away from health problems in 1945. Gein remained on the farm by himself.

In November 1957, police found the headless, gutted body of a missing store clerk, Bernice Worden, at Gein’s farmhouse. Upon further investigation, authorities discovered a collection of human skulls along with furniture and clothing, including a suit, made from human body parts and skin. Gein told police he had dug up the graves of recently buried women who reminded him of his mother. Investigators found the remains of 10 women in Gein’s home, but he was ultimately linked to just two murders: Bernice Worden and another local woman, Mary Hogan.

Gein was declared mentally unfit to stand trial and was sent to a state hospital in Wisconsin. His farm attracted crowds of curiosity seekers before it burned down in 1958, most likely in a blaze set by an arsonist. In 1968, Gein was deemed sane enough to stand trial, but a judge ultimately found him guilty by reason of insanity and he spent the rest of his days in a state facility.

In addition to Psycho, films including Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Silence of the Lambs were said to be loosely based on Gein’s crimes.

“Real-life Psycho Ed Gein dies.” 2008. The History Channel website. 26 Jul 2008, 12:47 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=57191.

 

The very concept of history implies the scholar and the reader. Without a generation of civilized people to study history, to preserve its records, to absorb its lessons and relate them to its own problems, history, too, would lose its meaning.
George F. Kennan

Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.
John Maynard Keynes

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