The perceived need for a Department of Defense (DoD) Intelligence Oversight (IO) program came about as a result of certain activities conducted by DoD intelligence and counter-intelligence units against U.S. persons involved in the Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam War movements. During the 1960s and 1970s, the United States experienced significant civil demonstrations from protesters associated with these movements. Some of these demonstrations were believed to be beyond the ability of civilian authorities to control, and military forces were used to assist in the restoration of order. Units deploying for this purpose discovered they needed basic pre-deployment intelligence to perform their missions. The Army, designated as executive agent for providing aid to civilian authorities, requested assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). When the FBI was unable to provide the information needed, the Army began collecting it. Over time, this collection mushroomed and led to abuse of the Constitutional rights of our citizens. Eventually, DoD intelligence personnel were using inappropriate clandestine and intrusive means to collect information on the legitimate political positions and expressions of U.S. persons, accumulating that information in a nationwide data bank, and sharing that information with law enforcement authorities. For example, during the 1960s and 1970s:


  • Military counterintelligence special agents established, maintained, and disseminated files on civil rights activists and organizers. These were not legitimate DoD targets.

    Counterintelligence special agents penetrated organizations such as the "Resistors in the Army" and the "Friends of Resistors in the Army" and recruited members of these organizations as informers. These organizations posed no foreign threat.

    So called "dissidents", actually U.S. persons who were exercising their First Amendment rights, were placed under surveillance and their movements were observed and recorded. These U.S. persons were not legitimate DoD counterintelligence targets.

    Radio communications of civil rights and anti-war demonstrators were intercepted by military intelligence personnel. The interception of these communications was improper.

    Using media cover, military counterintelligence special agents infiltrated the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. There was no legitimate Defense investigative purpose for this action.

    Information collected by Defense elements was routinely transferred to civilian law enforcement authorities without evidence of criminal activity or relevance to the law enforcement missions of the receiving authorities. This activity was improper.

In the early and mid 1970s several Congressional committees, including the Church, Pike, and Ervin committees, conducted investigations and public hearings. After three and a half years of investigation, these committees determined that what had occurred was a classic example of what we would today call "mission creep." What had begun as a simple requirement to provide basic intelligence to commanders charged with assisting in the maintenance and restoration of order, had become a monumentally intrusive effort. This resulted in the monitoring of activities of innocent persons involved in the constitutionally protected expression of their views on civil rights or anti-war activities. The information collected on the persons targeted by Defense intelligence personnel was entered into a national data bank and made available to civilian law enforcement authorities. This produced a chilling effect on political expression by those who were legally working for political change in domestic and foreign policies. Senator Ervin concluded "the collection and computerization of information by government must be tempered with an appreciation of the basic rights of the individual, of his right to privacy, to express himself freely and associate with whom he chooses." As a result of these investigations, DoD imposed severe restrictions on future surveillance of U.S. persons, required that information already in DoD files be destroyed, and established a structure to regulate future DoD intelligence collection.

In 1976, President Ford issued an Executive Order placing significant controls on the conduct of all intelligence activities. Executive Order (EO) 11905, as the charter for the Intelligence Community, included provisions for an intelligence oversight mechanism. Consequently, the Secretary of Defense directed establishment of an Inspector General for Intelligence in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, responsible for the independent oversight of all DoD intelligence activities. EO 12036, signed by President Carter in 1978, and the current Executive Order, EO 12333, signed by President Reagan in 1981, continued the requirement for oversight to maintain the proper balance between the acquisition of essential information by the Intelligence Community, and the protection of individuals' constitutional and statutory rights.

In November 1982, following the establishment of the DoD Inspector General, the Deputy Secretary of Defense directed that the Inspector General for Intelligence be redesignated as the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (Intelligence Oversight) (ATSD (IO)). In July 2014, this position was retitled as the Department of Defense Intelligence Official (DoD SIOO), after the position was aligned within the Office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer (DCMO).  The DoD SIOO reports on Intelligence Oversight activities at least quarterly to the Secretary of Defense and, through him, to the Intelligence Oversight Board (IOB), a standing committee of the President's Foreign Oversight Board (PIOB).


The DoD SIOO is responsible for the independent oversight of all intelligence, counterintelligence, and intelligence-related activities in the Department of Defense. The DoD SIOO ensures that all activities performed by intelligence, counterintelligence, and intelligence related units are conducted in accordance with Federal law, Executive Orders, DoD directives, regulations and policies.

The DoD SIOO is also charged with the management and direction of the DoD Intelligence Oversight program. The aim of the DoD program is to institutionalize: the orientation and training of all intelligence personnel in intelligence oversight concepts; an internal inspection program; and a channel for the reporting of questionable or improper intelligence activities to the DoD SIOO and the DoD General Counsel, who are responsible for informing the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense.

Included in the DoD SIOO program are the intelligence, counterintelligence, and intelligence related units, staffs, and activities of the Joint Staff, Combatant Commands, Military Services, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, National Reconnaissance Office, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.


The DoD SIOO conducts vigorous and independent inspections of DoD intelligence activities worldwide, ranging from intelligence staffs at strategic headquarters to tactical intelligence activities in the field. The DoD SIOO inspects all intelligence disciplines e.g. Human Intelligence, Imagery Intelligence, Signals Intelligence, Measurement and Signatures Intelligence, as well as Counterintelligence. The DoD SIOO verifies that personnel are trained in and comply with EO 12333 and DoD implementing authorities, and that they are familiar with their obligation to report questionable or improper intelligence activities.

The DoD SIOO is also responsible for determining the effectiveness of the Intelligence Oversight programs of the entire DoD intelligence community. To accomplish this task, the inspection programs of the Inspectors General of the Joint Staff, Military Services, Combatant Commands, and DoD intelligence agencies are monitored.


At the direction of the Secretary of Defense, upon request of other senior OSD officials, or on his own initiative, the DoD SIOO conducts special inquiries into allegations of questionable or improper activities by DoD intelligence components. His staff of experienced professionals can move rapidly and focus on difficult or sensitive issues. The DoD SIOO is authorized to obtain specialized support if needed from the DoD components.

The DoD SIOO directs DoD components to investigate allegations of illegal or improper activities by intelligence elements. The DoD SIOO reviews and analyzes reports of questionable activities received from DoD intelligence components, the general counsels, and the inspectors general of the Joint Staff, Military Services, Combatant Commands, and the Defense intelligence agencies. Questionable activities of a serious nature are investigated and the results are reported to the Secretary of Defense and the President's Intelligence Oversight Board.


The DoD SIOO is the designated DoD point of contact with the President's Intelligence Oversight Board (PIOB). As such, the DoD SIOO is responsible for the preparation of the quarterly intelligence oversight report submitted to the PIOB through the Secretary of Defense. This report is prepared in coordination with the DoD General Counsel and describes significant DoD intelligence oversight activities. It also includes the Intelligence Oversight submissions of the Joint Staff, Military Services, Combatant Commands, National Security Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Office, and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. The DoD SIOO responds to any requests from the PIOB concerning DoD intelligence.