Why is protection an important government purpose and how does the US government fulfill that purpose through various government agencies?

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The most prominent security agency of the United States is the CIA, or Central Intelligence Agency.  Created in 1947 with the signing of the National Security Act by President Truman, the CIA has been extremely active in protecting the interests of the United States in the fight against Communist and terrorist nations.  Leon Panetta became director of this agency in February, 2009.

The CIA reports to the director whose responsibilities include the following:

  • Collecting intelligence through human sources and other appropriate means
  • Correlating and evaluating intelligence related to national security
  • Providing overall direction and coordination of the collection of national intelligence outside the United States through human resources and other authorized methods.
  • Performing such other duties and functions related to intelligence affecting the national security as the President or the Director of National Intelligence may direct.

The CIA is involved in such high-priority issues as counterterroism, nonproliferation, international organized crime and drug trafficking, environment, and arms control intelligence. 

The CIA has recently been in the news with relation to former Vice President Dick Cheney and the Special Operations. The news media has reported that Mr. Cheney ordered the CIA to conceal a highly-secret terrorist program from Congress for eight years, possibly in breach of long-standing oversight laws.

akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The concept of government protection is a goal as stated in the Preamble, or introduction, of the Constitution.  When the Preamble states, "to promote the general welfare" and "provide for the common defense," the framers made very clear that government's role of protection from threat is essential.  The Framers were mindful that the British, coming off of their loss in the American Revolution, might try to launch another attack.  They were also painfully aware of the inability to protect citizens in the wake of Shays' Rebellion.  Both of these realities from both international and domestic threats compelled the Framers to invoke the responsibility of  protection as a component of American Government.

Various agencies function in a protecting capacity within the government.  The Armed Forces, of which the President is Commander in Chief, is one such entity.  Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security helps to maintain protection from threats on a domestic front.  Finally, law enforcement, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and local law enforcement agencies, are protective extensions of the government.

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