CHRONOLOGY




c.6000 B.C.
The rise of the great ancient civilizations, beginning 6,000 years ago in Mesopotamia, begat institutions and persons devoted to the security and preservation of their ruling regimes and founded the need for espionage, intelligence, and security operations.
c.3500 B.C.
Underground passages first used as hiding places and escape routes during times of war.
c.1980 B.C.
Egyptian pharaoh Amenemhet I is targeted as one of the first recorded victims of political assassination.
c.1500 B.C.
Between 1500 B.C. and 1200 B.C., Greece's many wars with its regional rivals lead to the development of new military and intelligence strategies. The early Greeks relied on deception as a primary means of achieving surprise attacks on their enemies.
c.1000 B.C.
From 1,000 B.C. onwards, Egyptian espionage operations focused on foreign intelligence about the political and military strength of rivals Greece and Rome. Egyptian spies were the first to develop the extensive use of poisons, including toxins derived from plants and snakes, to carry out assassinations or acts of sabotage.
c.500 B.C.
Chinese military logician Sun-tzu stresses the importance of intelligence gathering and deception in his treatise The Art of War. In this work, added to by later philosophers, Sun-tzu detailed methods of espionage that included the use of defectors, double agents, and organized spy rings.
c.480 B.C.
Demaratus of Sparta uses an early form of secret writing, concealing a message on a wooden tablet covered with wax to warn his countrymen of invasion by the Persian empire.
c.400 B.C.
The Spartans use a cryptographic system called a scytale on papyrus wrapped around wooden scrolls.
c.400 B.C.
Tunneling first used in warfare.
c.300 B.C.
Arthasastra , an ancient Indian manual on politics, discusses mining, metallurgy, medicine, pyrotechnics, poisons, and fermented liquors.
c.300 B.C.
During the Etruscan wars, Roman consul Fabius Maximus sends his brother to spy on Umbrians. Romans develop use of intelligence to gain treaties and scout military forces.
44 B.C.
Assassination of Julius Caesar; records have established that the Roman intelligence community knew of the plot and even provided information to Caesar or his assistants providing the names of several conspirators. In a pattern to be repeated throughout the ages, the information from the intelligence community was ignored.
c.100 A.D.
Roman records dating to the first century mention the presence of a secret police force, the frumentarii .
c.900 A.D.
Lack of records conceals facts of espionage during the Middle Ages, but the birth of large nation-states, such as France and England, in the ninth and tenth centuries facilitated the need for intelligence in a diplomatic setting.
1095
Pope Urban II calls for the first Crusade, a military campaign to recapture Jerusalem and the Holy Lands from Muslim and Byzantine rule. Over the next four centuries, the Catholic Church masses several large armies, and employs spies to report on defenses surrounding Constantinople and Jerusalem. Special intelligence agents also infiltrate prisons to free captured crusaders, and sabotage rival palaces, mosques, and military defenses.
c.1200
Thirteenth-century Church councils establish laws regarding the prosecution of heretics and anti-clerical political leaders. The ensuing movement became known as the Inquisition. Espionage was an essential component of the Inquisition. The Church relied on vast networks of informants to find and denounce suspected heretics and political dissidents.
1245
A Franciscan monk, Carpini, is used by Pope Innocent IV to gather intelligence about Mongols.
1520
Niccolo Machiavelli, a Florentine political philosopher, publishes a series of book detailing the qualities and actions of effective rulers. In his works, The Prince , and The Art of War , Machiavelli advocates that rulers routinely employ espionage tradecraft, engaging in deception and spying to insure protection of their power and interests. His advice, much of which was culled from rediscovered works of Aristotle and Cicero, was intended for the ruling Medici princes of Florence. However, the works gained popularity several centuries after their 1520 publication.
c.1550
Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth I nurture a spy network to locate and infiltrate Catholic loyalist cells that threaten the English monarchy. The Elizabethan intelligence community employs linguists, scholars, authors, engineers, and scientists, relying on professional experts to seek and analyze intelligence information.
1574
Francis Walsingham, joint secretary of state under Queen Elizabeth I of Britain, mounts an elaborate and effective spy network that uncovers a plot against Elizabeth by the imprisoned Mary, Queen of Scots, who was then executed. Later, in 1587, the spy network provides Elizabeth with information warning of the impending attack of the Spanish Armada.
1593
Christopher Marlowe, English dramatist/playwright/poet, is murdered in a Deptford tavern after being accused of being a spy.
c.1600
Chemists invent invisible inks, and the rebirth of complex mathematics revives long-dormant encryption and code methods. Later, in the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment, the development of telescopes, magnifying glasses, the camera obscura, and clocks facilitates remote surveillance and the effective use of "dead drops" to pass information between agents.
1670
Secret treaty between Charles II and Louis XIV.
c.1700
The Age of Empires: espionage further develops in the numerous conflicts and wars that occur in Europe and between rival colonial powers in Europe and abroad. Industrialization, economic and territorial expansion, the diversification of political philosophies and regimes, and immigration all transform the world's intelligence communities.
1703
Although concepts of disease are primitive, in an act of biological warfare, Sir Jeffrey Amherst, commander-in-chief of British forces in North America, suggests grinding the scabs of smallpox pustules into blankets intended for Native American tribes known to trade with the French.
1776
Benjamin Thompson (Count Rumford), an English physicist whose work contributed to the formulation of the second law of thermodynamics, acts as Tory spy during the American Revolution.
1776
Nathan Hale hanged by the British as a spy during the American Revolution. His last words are reputed to have been, "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country."
1780
General Benedict Arnold betrays the colonial revolution when he promises secretly to surrender the fort at West Point to the British army. Arnold flees to England; his co-conspirator, British spy Major John Andre, is hanged.
1789
Congress passes the Judiciary Act, which establishes the federal justice system and creates the Office of the Attorney General, as well as the U.S. Marshal Service.
1789
U.S. Customs Service begins operation on July 31.
1789
Congress establishes the Department of State on September 15.
1789
French spy Richeborg (a dwarf) is disguised as a baby in diapers, and carried in girl's arms, so he can eavesdrop on conversations and carry secret letters through Paris during the French Revolution.
1789
During the French Revolution, Robespierre's informant networks denounce traitors to the new republic and track down refugee aristocrats and clergy for trial and execution. The wide application of treason charges marks one of the greatest abuses of intelligence powers in the modern era.
1790
France introduces the metric system.
1794
First army air corps established when revolutionary France creates a military balloon contingent.
1795
Martin Heinrich Klaproth, German chemist, isolates a new metal and names it titanium, after the Titans of Greek mythology. He gives full credit to English mineralogist William Gregor, who first discovered it in 1791.
1798
Government legislation is passed to establish hospitals in the United States devoted to the care of ill mariners. This initiative leads to the establishment of a hygenic laboratory, which eventually grows to become the National Institutes of Health.
1798
Geologists accompany Napoleon's expeditionary force to Egypt.
1798
U.S. Congress establishes the Department of the Navy, which also includes the Marine Corps.
1799
Chinese emperor Kia King's ban on opium fails to stop the lucrative British opium trade.
1800
Records indicate use of chloral hydrate in the "Mickey Finn," an anesthetic cocktail used to abduct or lure sailors to serve on ships bound for sea.
1800
Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta, Italian physicist, announces his invention of the voltaic pile, which is the first battery. His work duplicating Galvani's 1791 "animal electricity" experiment leads him to discover that it is the contact of dissimilar metals that causes the electricity. He arranges suitable pairs of metallic plates in a certain order, separates them by pieces of leather soaked in brine, and creates a pile, or battery, that produces a continuous and controllable electric current.
c.1800
Colonial rulers and powers employ secret police and agents of espionage throughout their territorial holdings, hoping to quell anti-colonial rebellions and separatist movements.
1802
John Dalton introduces modern atomic theory into the science of chemistry.
1804
Joseph Fouché, a French revolutionary and minister of police, sets up the first modern police state, and uses his spy network to uncover and foil a plot by George Cadoudal against Napoleon Bonaparte.
1805
Joseph-Louis Gay-Lussac, French chemist, establishes that precisely two volumes of hydrogen combine with one volume of oxygen to form water.
1812
Second U.S. war with Great Britain, commonly called the War of 1812.
1817
German pharmacist Frederick Serturner announces the extraction of morphine from opium.
1818
Augustin-Jean Fresnel, French physicist, publishes his Mémoire sur la diffraction de la lumière in which he demonstrates the ability of a transverse wave theory of light to account for such phenomena as reflection, refraction, polarization, interference, and diffraction patterns.
1820
André Marie Ampère, French mathematician and physicist, extends Ørsted's work and formulates one of the basic laws of electromagnetism.
1823
Monroe Doctrine declares Western Hemisphere a U.S. "sphere of influence."
1827
Georg Simon Ohm, German physicist, experiments with electricity using wires of different length and diameter and discovers that a long, thick wire passes less current than a short, thin wire. He states what becomes Ohm's law.
1828
Friedrich Wöhler synthesizes urea. This is generally regarded as the first organic chemical produced in the laboratory, and an important step in disproving the idea that only living organisms can produce organic compounds. Work by Wöhler and others establish the foundations of organic chemistry and biochemistry.
1828
Luigi Rolando, Italian anatomist, achieves the first synthetic electrical stimulation of the brain.
1831
Michael Faraday, English physicist and chemist, discovers electromagnetic induction. After laboring for ten years to achieve the opposite of what Ørsted had done—to convert magnetism into electricity—he finally produces for the first time an induction current using a magnet. This is the first electric generator. With such a device, mechanical energy can be converted into electrical energy.
1837
Invention of the Daguerreotype, the first practical form of photography. When widely incorporated into intelligence practices in the 1860s, the photograph permitted agents of espionage to portray targets, documents, and other interests.
1839
First Opium War begins between Britain and China. The conflict lasts until 1842. Imperial Chinese commissioner Lin Tse-hsü seizes or destroys vast amounts of opium, including stocks owned by British traders. The result was a Chinese payment of an indemnity of more than 21 million silver dollars and Hong Kong being ceded to Britain under the Treaty of Nanking.
1839
Theodore Schwann extends the theory of cells to include animals and helps establish the basic unity of the two great kingdoms of life. He publishes Microscopical Researches into the Accordance in the Structure and Growth of Animals and Plants , in which he asserts that all living things are made up of cells, and that each cell contains certain essential components. He also coins the term "metabolism" to describe the overall chemical changes that take place in living tissues.
1839
Invention of microfilm by John Dancer.
1840
Friedrich Gustav Jacob Henle publishes the first histology textbook, General Anatomy . This work includes the first modern discussion of the germ theory of communicable diseases.
1841
Eugene-Melchoir Peligot isolates the element uranium.
1843
Charles-Frédéric Gerhardt, French chemist, simpli-fies chemical formula-writing, so that water becomes H 2 0 instead of the previous H 4 0 2 .
1843
Howard Aiken develops first mechanical programmable calculator.
1844
Samuel Morse sends the first message via telegraph. His code (Morse code) and telegraph were able to send messages over lines in a matter of minutes, requiring only knowledge of the operational code. As soon as governments began to use telegraphs to send vital communications, rival intelligence services learned to tap the line, gaining access to secret communications and conducting detailed surveillance from a comfortable distance. Use of the telegraph necessitated the development of complex codes and the creation of specialized cryptology departments. By the turn of the twentieth century, most national intelligence operations in Europe and the United States were involved communications surveillance and the tapping of both wired and wireless telegraphs.
1845
Christian Friedrich Schönbein, German-Swiss chemist, prepares guncotton. He discovers that a certain acid mixture combines with the cellulose in cotton to produce an explosive that burns without smoke or residue.
1846
Ascanio Sobrero, Italian chemist, slowly adds glycerin to a mixture of nitric and sulfuric acids and first produces nitroglycerine. He is so impressed by the explosive potential of a single drop in a heated test tube and so fearful of its use in war that he makes no attempt to exploit it. It is another 20 years before Alfred Nobel learns the proper formula and puts it to use.
1846
U.S. forces victorious in Mexican War, which results in annexation of what is today the southwestern United States.
1848
U.S. Congress passes Drug Importation Act that allows U.S. Customs Service inspection to stop entry of foreign drugs.
1849
First aerial bombardment campaign, by Austrians against Venetians, using 200 unpiloted hot-air balloons containing bombs set on timers.
1852
Jean Foucault invents gyroscope, an important instrument still used in modern navigation and guidance systems.
1855
Henri-Etienne Sainte-Claire Deville, French chemist, first produces aluminum in a pure state. He produces the metal in quantity by heating aluminum chloride with metallic sodium.
1856
Second Opium War begins between Britain and China. The conflict lasts until 1860. Also known as the Arrow War, or the Anglo-French War in China, the war broke out after a British-flagged ship, the Arrow , is impounded by China. France joins Britain in the war after the murder of a French missionary. China is again defeated, resulting in another large indemnity and the legalization of opium under the Treaty of Tientsin.
1857
Louis Pasteur demonstrates that lactic acid fermentation is caused by a living organism. Between 1857 and 1880, he performs a series of experiments that refute the doctrine of spontaneous generation. He also introduces vaccines for fowl cholera, anthrax, and rabies, based on attenuated strains of viruses and bacteria.
1858
Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace agree to a joint presentation of their theory of evolution by natural selection.
1858
Rudolf Ludwig Carl Virchow publishes his landmark paper "Cellular Pathology" and establishes the field of cellular pathology. Virchow asserts that all cells arise from preexisting cells ( Omnis cellula e cellula ). He argues that the cell is the ultimate locus of all disease.
1858
A group of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) forms another revolutionary group, the Fenian Brotherhood, with the goal of freeing Ireland from British rule.
1861
U.S. Civil War (1861–1865). Morphine gains wide medical use during the conflict.
1861
President-elect Abraham Lincoln arrives secretly in Washington to foil assassination plot brewing in Baltimore.
1861
Balloonist and Ohioan Thaddeus Lowe is accused by irate South Carolina citizens of being a Yankee spy after his balloon lands following a 500 mile aerial flight. Lowe eventually volunteers his services to Union forces and becomes director of the Union's balloon corps. His resignation two years later brings the corps to an end.
1861
Rose O'Neal Greenhow is arrested as Confederate spy after warning General P.G.T. Beauregard of a planned Union attack on Manassas in July 1861. She is released in 1862 but dies in a shipwreck.
1862
Department of Agriculture establishes the Bureau of Chemistry, the organizational forerunner of the Food and Drug Administration.
1862
Legal Tender Act authorizes the U.S. government to issue currency notes through the Treasury Department. These notes, which Treasury continues to issue until 1971, are known as U.S. notes.
1862
In September, President Lincoln suspends the right of habeas corpus in order to allow federal authorities to arrest and detain suspected Confederate sympathizers and draft resisters without arrest warrants or speedy trials. The following year, Congress reaffirms the suspension in the Habeas Corpus Act of 1863.
1863
Ferdinand Reich, German mineralogist, and his assistant Hieronymus Theodor Richter examine zinc ore spectroscopically and discover the new, indigo-colored element iridium. It is used in the next century in the making of transistors.
1863
Geology plays decisive role in the Battle of Gettysburg as Union troops hold key high-ground positions.
1863
Belle Boyd, a Confederate spy, is released from prison in Washington.
1864
James Clerk Maxwell develops equations of electromagnetic wave propagation.
1864
First Geneva Convention addresses "the amelioration of the condition of the wounded on the field of battle," resulting in principles for protecting noncombatant personnel caring for the wounded. The convention also establishes the International Red Cross.
1865
An epidemic of rinderpest kills 500,000 cattle in Great Britain. Government inquiries into the outbreak pave the way for the development of contemporary theories of epidemiology and the germ theory of disease.
1865
Gregor Mendel presents his work on hybridization of peas to the Natural History Society of Brno, Moravia. The paper is published in the 1866 issue of the society's Proceedings . Mendel presents statistical evidence that hereditary factors are inherited from both parents in a series of papers on "Experiments on Plant Hybridization" published between 1866 and 1869. His experiments provide evidence of dominance, the laws of segregation, and independent assortment, although the work is generally ignored until 1900.
1865
U.S. Secret Service established to interdict counterfeit currency and its manufacturers.
1865
President Lincoln is shot in Washington, D.C., by John Wilkes Booth. Lincoln dies the next day; Andrew Johnson assumes the presidency.
1865
The Molly McGuires, a secret society of Irish miners, attacks coal-mine operators and owners for mistreatment of workers.
1867
Alfred Nobel, Swedish inventor, invents dynamite, a safer and more controllable version of nitroglycerine. He combines nitroglycerine with "kieselguhr," or earth containing silica, and discovers that it cannot be exploded without a detonating cap.
1867
Secret Service responsibilities broadened to include "detecting persons perpetrating frauds against the government."
1869
Dimitri Ivanovich Mendeleev, Russian chemist, and Julius Lothar Meyer, German chemist, independently put forth the Periodic Table of Elements, which arranges the elements in order of atomic weights. However, Meyer does not publish until 1870, nor does he predict the existence of undiscovered elements as Mendeleev does.
1870
Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet showes the importance of statistical analysis for biologists and provides the foundations of biometry.
1870
Congress creates the Department of Justice.
1871
U.S. president Ulysses S. Grant establishes Office of the Surgeon General.
1872
Ferdinand Julius Cohn publishes the first of four papers entitled "Research on Bacteria," which establishes the foundation of bacteriology as a distinct field. He systematically divides bacteria into genera and species.
1873
James Clerk Maxwell, Scottish mathematician and physicist, publishes Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism in which he identifies light as an electromagnetic phenomenon. He determines this when he finds his mathematical calculations for the transmission speed of both electromagnetic and electrostatic waves are the same as the known speed of light. This landmark work brings together the three main fields of physics—electricity, magnetism, and light.
1876
German bacteriologist Robert Koch publishes a paper on anthrax that implicates a bacterium as the cause of the disease, validating the germ theory of disease.
1876
Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone.
1876
The first microphone is invented by Emile Berliner.
1877
Congress passes legislation prohibiting the counterfeiting of any coin, gold, or silver bar.
1878
Charles–Emanuel Sedillot introduces the term "microbe." The term becomes widely used as a term for a pathogenic bacterium.
1878
In a backlash against 12 years of martial law in the southern United States, Congress passes the Posse Comitatus Act, which forbids the military from enforcing domestic law.
1880
First attempt at passage of a nationwide food and drug law. Although defeated in Congress, U.S. Department of Agriculture's findings of widespread food adulteration spur continued interest in food and drug legislation.
1880
Louis Pasteur develops a method of weakening a microbial pathogen of chicken, and uses the term "attenuated" to describe the weakened microbe.
1881
President James A. Garfield is shot on July 2, 1881, in Washington, D.C., by anarchist Charles J. Guiteau. Garfield dies on September 19; Chester A. Arthur assumes the presidency.
1882
Robert Koch discovers the tubercle bacillus and enunciates "Koch's postulates," which define the classic method of preserving, documenting, and studying bacteria.
1882
Establishment of the Office of Naval Intelligence, which by the early twenty-first century will be the oldest continually operating intelligence agency in the United States.
1883
George Francis Fitzgerald, Irish physicist, first suggests a method of producing radio waves. From his studies of radiation, he concludes that an oscillating current will produce electromagnetic waves. This is later verified experimentally by Hertz in 1888 and used in the development of wireless telegraphy.
1883
U.S. Secret Service is officially embodied as a distinct organization within the Treasury Department.
1883
British inventor Hiram Stevens Maxim invents the machine gun.
1884
Louis Pasteur and coworkers publish a paper titled "A New Communication on Rabies." Pasteur proves that the causal agent of rabies can be attenuated and the weakened virus can be used as a vaccine to prevent the disease. This work serves as the basis of future work on virus attenuation, vaccine development, and the concept that variation is an inherent characteristic of viruses.
1885
U.S. Army establishes its Division of Military Information, its formal military intelligence organization.
1887
Ernst Mach, Austrian physicist, is the first to note the sudden change in the nature of the airflow over a moving object that occurs as it approaches the speed of sound. Because of this, the speed of sound in air is called Mach 1. Mach 2 is twice that speed, and so on.
1888
Heinrich Rudolf Hertz, German physicist, for the first time generates electromagnetic (radio) waves and devises a detector that can measure their wavelength. From this he is able to prove experimentally James Clerk Maxwell's hypothesis that light is an electromagnetic phenomenon. Hertz's work not only discovers radio waves, but experimentally unites the three main fields of physics—electricity, magnetism, and light.
1889
Frederick Augustus Abel, English chemist, and James Dewar, Scottish chemist and physicist, invent cordite and pioneer the production of smokeless powder. Their new mixture borrows from previous discoveries but proves safer to handle.
1889
Johann Philipp Ludwig Julius Elster and Hans Friedrich Geitel, both German physicists, study the photoelectric effect (when an electric current is created upon the exposure of certain metals to light) and produce the first practical photoelectric cells that can measure the intensity of light.
1890
Oliver Joseph Lodge, English physicist, invents the coherer, a detector of radio waves that, although replaced, makes him one of the pioneers of early radio communication. He also suggests correctly that the sun emits radio waves.
1892
George M. Sternberg publishes his Practical Results of Bacteriological Researches . Sternberg's realization that a specific antibody was produced after infection with vaccinia virus and that immune serum could neutralize the virus becomes the basis of virus serology. The neutralization test provides a technique for diagnosing viral infections, measuring the immune response, distinguishing antigenic similarities and differences among viruses, and conducting retrospective epidemiological surveys.
1892
U.S. Congress awards Harriet Tubman a pension for her work as a Union nurse, spy and scout during the Civil War.
1894
U.S. Secret Service begins part-time protection of U.S. president Grover Cleveland.
1895
Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, German physicist, discovers x rays. While working on cathode ray tubes and experimenting with luminescence, he notices that a nearby sheet of paper that is coated with a luminescent substance glows whenever the tube is turned on. For seven weeks he continues to experiment, and near the end of the year is able to report the basic properties of the unknown rays he names "x RAYS."
1896
Antoine-Henri Becquerel, French physicist, discovers radioactivity in uranium ore.
1896
Guglielmo Marconi, Italian electrical engineer, travels to England to apply for and obtain the first patent in the history of radio. By this time, he has sent and received a radio signal over nine miles.
1896
Johann Elster and Hans Friedrich Geitel study the newly discovered radioactivity and demonstrate that external effects do not influence the intensity of radiation. They are also the first to characterize radioactivity as being caused by changes that occur within the atom.
1897
Joseph John Thomson, English physicist, discovers the electron. He conducts cathode ray experiments and concludes that the rays consist of negatively charged "electrons" that are smaller in mass than atoms.
1898
Marie Sklodowska Curie and Pierre Curie discover the radioactive element radium. They spend the next four years refining eight tons of pitchblende to obtain a full gram of radium.
1898
Spanish-American War.
1899
First Hague Conference establishes international laws of conduct in warfare.
1900
Carl Correns, Hugo de Vries, and Erich von Tschermak independently rediscover Mendel's laws of inheritance. Their publications mark the beginning of modern genetics. Using several plant species, de Vries and Correns perform breeding experiments that parallel Mendel's earlier studies and independently arrive at similar interpretations of their results. Therefore, upon reading Mendel's publication, they immediately recognized its significance. William Bateson describes the importance of Mendel's contribution in an address to the Royal Society of London.
1900
Ernest Rutherford, British physicist, first determines radioactive half-life.
1900
Friedrich Ernst Dorn, German physicist, demonstrates that radium emits a gas as it produces radioactivity. This proves to be the first evidence that in the radioactive process one element is actually transmuted into another.
1900
Karl Landsteiner discovers the blood-agglutination phenomenon and the four major blood types in humans.
1901
President William McKinley is assassinated by anarchist Leon Czolgosz.
1901
United States acquires rights from Cuba to use Guantanamo Bay indefinitely as a naval base.
1901
Antoine Henri Becquerel, French physicist, studies the rays emitted by the natural substance uranium and concludes that the only place they could be coming from is within the atoms of uranium. This marks the first clear understanding of the atom as something more than a featureless sphere. Becquerel's discovery of radioactivity and his focus on the uranium atom make him the father of modern atomic and nuclear physics.
1901
After the assassination of President William McKinley, Congress formally places the U.S. Secret Service—which first began guarding presidents during the second Grover Cleveland administration seven years before—in charge of protecting the president.
1901
Henry Classification System devised for fingerprint analysis by Sir Edward Henry.
1902
The Secret Service assumes full-time responsibility for protection of the president. Two operatives are assigned full time to the White House detail.
1902
U.S. Congress passes Spooner Act, which authorizes the United States to purchase the assets of a French company that had attempted to build a canal through Panama, and to begin a U.S. effort toward building a canal.
1902
Oliver Heaviside, English physicist and electrical engineer, and Arthur Edwin Kennelly, British-American electrical engineer, independently and almost simultaneously make the first prediction of the existence of the ionosphere, an electrically conductive layer in the upper atmosphere that reflects radio waves. They theorize correctly that wireless telegraphy works over long distances because a conducting layer of atmosphere exists that allows radio waves to follow Earth's curvature instead of traveling off into space.
1903
For their work in the physics of radioactivity, Antoine Becquerel, Pierre Curie, and Marie Curie are awarded the Nobel Prize for physics.
1903
Panama secedes from Colombia. The new government will cooperate in the building of the Panama Canal.
1903
U.S. Army implements the concept of a permanent general staff, and with it the idea, pioneered in Europe, of the four sections of a military command. The Division of Military Information thus becomes G-2.E170.
1903
Orville and Wilbur Wright make the first powered flight.
1904
Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine asserts that the United States has the right to assume the defacto role of an international police power.
1904
Congress creates Panama Canal Zone, and in the summer construction on the Panama Canal begins.
1905
Bloody Sunday incident in Russia. Tsarist troops fire on marchers in St. Petersburg.
1905
Sinn Fein political movement for Irish independence is founded.
1905
Albert Einstein, German-Swiss physicist, publishes his second paper on relativity including his famous equation stating the relationship between mass and energy: E = mc 2 . In this equation, E is energy, m is mass, and c is the velocity of light. This contains the revolutionary concept that mass and energy are simply different aspects of the same phenomenon.
1906
Congress passes Sundry Civil Expenses Act, which provides funds for presidential protection by the Secret Service.
1906
Secret Service operatives began to investigate the western land frauds. The investigations return millions of acres of land to the government. Operative Joseph A. Walker is murdered on November 3, 1907, while working on one of these cases, becoming the first operative killed in the line of duty.
1907
Triple Entente formed as Great Britain formally joins the defense pact between France and Russia.
1907
Bertram Borden Boltwood, American chemist and physicist, discovers what he believes is a new element which he calls ionium. It is later determined to be a radioactive isotope of thorium. Boltwood also invents a radioactive dating procedure.
1907
Second Hague Conference establishes further international laws of conduct in warfare, with a focus on war in a maritime environment.
1907
Establishment of Aeronautical Section of the U.S. Army Signal Corps—first incarnation of the U.S. Air Force. This becomes the Aviation Section in 1914.
1908
Large deposits of petroleum are discovered in the Middle East.
1908
Ernest Rutherford and Hans Wilhelm Geiger develop an electrical alpha-particle counter. Over the next few years, Geiger continues to improve this device which becomes known as the Geiger counter.
1908
Secret Service begins protecting the president-elect.
1908
A Sundry Civil Service Bill declares that Secret Service employees accepting assignments by any department other than Treasury (except in counterfeiting cases) would be suspended for two years. The provision became effective July 1, and prevented the practice of agencies like the Department of Justice (DOJ) borrowing investigators for specific cases.
1908
Formal beginning of the Bureau of Investigation (BOI), which became the FBI in 1935.
1909
U.S. Congress passes Copyright Law.
1909
Alfred Stock, German chemist, first synthesizes boron hydrides (compounds of boron and hydrogen). Forty year later, boron hydrides prove useful to space exploration as additives to rocket fuel.
1909
An intelligence report in the British Parliament leads to the establishment of the Secret Service Bureau, precursor to both MI5 and MI6.
1910
The United States sends military forces to Mexico during Mexican revolution.
1910
Britain signs an agreement with China to dismantle the opium trade. However, the profits made from its cultivation, manufacture, and sale were so enormous that no serious interruption would be effected until World War II closed supply routes throughout Asia.
1910
Congress passes the White Slave Traffic Act on June 25. Also known as the Mann Act, this new law significantly increases BOI jurisdiction over interstate crime.
1911
At 11:01 a.m. on January 18, the U.S. Navy's Eugene Ely lands a Curtiss pusher aircraft on a specially built platform aboard the USS Pennsylvania. Thus is born the concept of the aircraft carrier.
1911
Fritz Pregl, Austrian chemist, first introduces organic microanalysis. He invents analytic methods that make it possible to determine the empirical formula of an organic compound from just a few milligrams of the substance.
1911
Heike Kamerlingh-Onnes, Dutch physicist, first discovers the phenomenon of superconductivity when he studies the properties of certain metals subjected to the low temperatures of liquid helium. He finds that some metals, like mercury and lead, undergo a total loss of electrical resistance. He also discovers that a form of liquid helium is produced which has properties unlike any other substances.
1911
Marie Curie receives the Nobel Prize in chemistry for the discovery of the elements radium and polonium, for the isolation of radium, and for investigating its compounds. It is Curie's second Nobel Prize.
1911
Georg von Hevesy conceives the idea of using radioactive tracers. Von Hevesy later wins the Nobel Prize in 1943.
1911
Italians make first use of aircraft in combat during 1911–12 war against Turkey. On October 23, Italians conduct first reconnaissance in an airplane, against Turkish troops near Tripoli in what is now Libya. On November 1, the Italians again make aviation history when they conduct the first aerial bombing raid against an enemy.
1912
U.S. Marines invade Honduras, Cuba, and Nicaragua to protect American interests. U.S. troops will remain in Nicaragua until 1930s.
1912
The U.S. Public Health Service is established.
1912
Joseph Thomson develops a forerunner of mass spectrometry and separation of isotopes.
1912
Max von Laue, German physicist, obtains diffraction pattern for x rays through a crystal and offers evidence that x rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation and are waves. This marks the beginning of studies on the physics of solids as an analysis of the periodic and regular disposition of atoms in a crystal.
1912
Paul Ehrlich discovers a chemical cure for syphilis. This is the first chemotherapeutic agent for a bacterial disease.
1912
Theodore Roosevelt survives assassination attempt on October 14 in Milwaukee while campaigning for a second term as president.
1913
U.S. troops assist in pursuit of Mexican rebel leader Francisco Pancho Villa in northern Mexico.
1913
Congress authorizes permanent protection of the president and the statutory authorization for president-elect protection.
1913
Harry Brearly, English metallurgist, accidentally discovers a nickel-chromium alloy that is corrosion resistant. It becomes stainless steel.
1913
Max Bodenstein, German physical chemist, develops the concept of a chain reaction in which one molecular change triggers another, and so on.
1913
U.S. Congress passes Federal Reserve Act, creating Federal Reserve System.
1913
Ratification of Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which gives Congress power to levy taxes.
1914
The assassination of Austrian Archduke Francis Ferdinand precipitates World War I.
1914
World War I places additional responsibilities on the BOI. On April 6, 1917, Congress declares war on Germany and President Woodrow Wilson authorizes the BOI to detain enemy aliens.
1914
Panama Canal opens on August 15.
1915
Germany uses poison gas at the Battle of Ypres.
1915
A U-boat sinks the British ship Lusitania, a passenger ship also carrying military supplies from the United States to Britain.
1915
Frederick William Twort publishes the landmark paper An Investigation of the Nature of Ultra-Microscopic Viruses . Twort notes the degeneration of bacterial colonies and suggests that the causative agent is an ultra-microscopic-filterable virus that multiplies true to type.
1915
President Wilson directs the secretary of the treasury to have the Secret Service investigate espionage in the United States.
1915
U.S. Coast Guard founded.
1915
British nurse Edith Cavell is shot as a spy by a German firing squad for assisting British soldiers seeking to escape the Germans.
1915
After denouncing them as spies, the United States expels German attaches.
1916
German use of zeppelins, important both as surveillance craft and bombers during the first two years of World War I, begins to decline in September, after Allies develop special explosive bullets capable of downing airships.
1916
The Black Tom explosion. On July 29, German agents set fire to a complex of warehouses and ships in the New York harbor that hold munitions, fuel, and explosives bound to aid the Allies in their fight. Though the United States is technically a neutral nation at the time of the attack, their general policies greatly favor the Allies. The attack persuades many that the United States should join the Allies and intervene in the war in Europe.
1916
The Home Section of the British Secret Service Bureau becomes MI5, or the Security Service.
1916
Mexican guerrilla leader Pancho Villa conducts a raid on Columbus, New Mexico, killing 17 Americans.
1917
The British issue a declaration calling for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
1917
Congress authorizes permanent protection of the president's immediate family and "threats" directed toward the president become a federal violation.
1917
Tsarist Russia's February Revolution begins with rioting and strikes in St. Petersburg. Alexander Kerensky ultimately assumes control of democratic socialist provisional government, exposes undercover agents of the Okhrana.
1917
British signal intelligence, having cracked the German cipher, intercepts a message from German foreign minister Arthur Zimmermann to the Mexican president, promising to return territories Mexico had lost to the United States in the Mexican War if Mexico will enter the war on Germany's side.
1917
Mata Hari (the pseudonym of Dutch dancer Margaretha Geertruida Zelle), who joined the German secret service in 1907, is executed by French firing squad. Mata Hari betrayed many military secrets that were gained from Allied officers who were on intimate terms with her.
1917
United States declares war on Germany.
1917
The U.S. Army creates the Cipher Bureau within the Military Intelligence Division.
1917
American engineer Gilbert S. Vernam develops the first significant automated encryption and decryption device when he brings together an electromagnetic ciphering machine with a teletypewriter.
1917
U.S. Congress passes the Espionage Act, criminalizing the disclosure of military, industrial, or government secrets related to national security. The act also prohibits antiwar activism and refusal of conscription, sparking controversy.
1917
V.I. Lenin returns from exile to Russia following Romanov abdication of the Russian throne. Lenin leads a Bolshevik revolution in November.
1918
German radio officer Fritz Nebel develops the ADFGX cipher.
1918
Russia signs the Brest-Litovsk treaty, ending Russian participation in World War I.
1918
Bolsheviks execute Tsar Nicholas II and his family.
1918
Major Joseph O. Mauborgne of the U.S. Army devises the one-time pad, whereby sender and receiver possess identical pads of cipher sheets that are used once and then destroyed—a virtually unbreakable system.
1918
German engineer Arthur Scherbius invents a three-rotor cipher machine, the Enigma.
1918
Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicates and World War I ends in Europe after 20 million casualties and six million deaths.
1918
U.S. president Wilson's fourteen-point peace proposal introduced.
1918
Sedition Act of 1918 amends Espionage and Sedition Acts to broaden the arrest powers granted to federal agents in apprehending and detaining individuals suspected of treason or antiwar activity.
1918
Socialist Party leader Eugene V. Debs is convicted and sentenced to a ten-year prison term under the Espionage Act for an antiwar speech he delivers in Canton, Ohio. Debs is later pardoned by President Warren G. Harding in December 1921.
1918
Hungary overthrows the Austro-Hungarian monarchy.
1918
An influenza epidemic spreads across Asia and warravaged Europe to the Americas. The epidemic eventually kills 20 million people, including 500,000 Americans.
1919
The Treaty of Versailles requires Germany, now under the Weimar Republic, to cede territory to France, Belgium, and Poland; relinquish its colonies; and pay extensive war reparations that will eventually cripple the German economy. The U.S. Senate refuses to ratify the treaty.
1919
U.S. House of Representatives refuses to seat socialist Victor Berger, a congressman elected from Wisconsin.
1919
U.S. fears increase after anarchist groups target government and business leaders with bombs in April and May; the terrorist wave culminates in a series of bombings in eight U.S. cities on June 2. Under the orders of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, federal agents begin round-up of suspected communists and anarchists in November. The Palmer Raids, as they became known, last until March 1920 and result in the arrest of 6,000 suspects.
1919
Anarchists Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman are deported by the United States to Russia.
1919
Establishment of British Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) in November.
1919
Congress passes the National Motor Vehicle Theft Act, also known as the Dyer Act, on October 28. This act authorizes the Bureau of Investigation to investigate auto thefts that cross state lines.
1920
The League of Nations first meets in Geneva.
1920
Bolshevist or anarchist terrorists accused of September 16 bombing on Wall St. in New York City which kills 35 people and injures hundreds more.
1920
Iraq is placed under British mandate.
1921
Except for six counties in Protestant Northern Ireland, the British Parliament grants Ireland dominion status.
1921
William Marston develops first modern polygraph.
1921
Twenty-six-year-old J. Edgar Hoover is named assistant director of BOI.
1922
Militants in the Irish Sinn Fein party form the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
1922
White House police force created at request of President Warren G. Harding. Ultimately this will become the uniformed division of the U.S. Secret Service.
1922
On March 20, U.S. Navy commissions the Langley, its first aircraft carrier. Later that year, the United States and other powers sign the Washington Naval Limitation Treaty, which controls battleship inventories, thus spurring carrier production. Congress authorizes the conversion of the unfinished battleships Lexington and Saratoga to become the navy's second and third carriers.
1922
Benito Mussolini becomes Italian dictator and forms a Fascist government.
1923
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) formed.
1923
Adolf Hitler, leader of the German Nazi party, attempts to seize power. He is arrested and sentenced to prison.
1923
Works published before 1923 are now in the public domain, meaning that they no longer hold a copyright, though a particular translation, made more recently, may be copyrighted. For works published after 1923, there are specific provisions as to when the item becomes part of the public domain. Some of these provisions, and other aspects of U.S. copyright law, are governed by the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, which the United States signed in 1989.
1924
Lenin dies, to be succeeded by a triumvirate of leaders headed by Joseph Stalin.
1924
The U.S. Navy creates its first cryptanalytic group within the Code and Signal Section of the Office of Naval Communications.
1924
From prison, Adolf Hitler publishes Mein Kampf, in which he outlines the plan for the conquest of eastern Europe and the extermination of the Jews, which he will undertake as German leader less than a decade later.
1924
J. Edgar Hoover designated director of the BOI.
1924
BOI establishes an identification division after Congress authorizes "the exchange of identification records with officers of the cities, counties, and states."
1925
France begins construction of defensive Maginot Line against future German aggression. The line eventually proves useless as Hitler's troops bypass the line during their 1940 conquest of France.
1925
Johannes Hans Berger, German neurologist, records the first human electroencephalogram (EEG).
1925
Patrick Blackett, English physicist, takes the first photographs of a nuclear reaction in progress. To achieve this he uses a Wilson cloud chamber and takes over 20,000 photographs of more than 400,000 alpha particle tracks and observes eight actual collisions of an alpha particle and a nitrogen molecule.
1925
Special Agent Edwin C. Shanahan becomes the first BOI agent killed in the line of duty.
1926
Jiang Jie-shi (Chiang Kai-shek) assumes control of the Chinese government.
1926
The passage of the Air Commerce Act creates the earliest predecessor of the FAA, called the Aeronautics Branch.
1926
U.S. Army Air Service becomes Army Air Corps.
1926
Emperor Showa Tenno Hirohito assumes power in Japan.
1926
U.S. forces intervene in Nicaragua against leftist nationalist insurgency led by Augusto Cesar Sandino.
1927
Jiang Jie-shi defeats Communist Mao Zedong's (Mao Tse-tung) "Autumn Harvest" rebellion.
1927
Charles Lindbergh makes first nonstop solo transatlantic flight.
1927
German physicist Werner Heisenberg publishes uncertainty principle.
1928
George Gamow, Russian-American physicist, develops the quantum theory of radioactivity which is the first theory to successfully explain the behavior of radioactive elements, some of which decay in seconds and others after thousands of years.
1928
Hermann Weyl, German mathematician, publishes his Gruppen theorie und Quatenmechanik in which he shows that most of the regularities of quantum phenomena on the atomic level can be most simply understood using group theory. His book helps mold modern quantum theory.
1928
Sixty-two nations sign the Kellogg-Briand Pact (including the United States, Great Britain, Japan, and Italy) and renounce war as a means to solve international disputes.
1929
Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes becomes Yugoslavia.
1929
Scottish biochemist Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin. He observes that the mold Penicillium notatum inhibits the growth of some bacteria. This is the first antibiotic, and it opens a new era of "wonder drugs" to combat infection and disease.
1929
John Douglas Cockcroft, English physicist, and Irish physicist Ernest Thomas Sinton Walton devise the first particle accelerator, which produces proton beam energies up to 600,000 volts. Three years later, they will use the accelerator to bombard lithium and produce two alpha particles (having combined lithium and hydrogen to produce helium). This is the first nuclear reaction that has been brought about through the use of artificially accelerated particles and without the use of any form of natural radioactivity; it will prove highly significant to the creation of an atomic bomb.
1929
Julius Arthur Nieuwland, Belgian-American chemist, develops neoprene, the first successful synthetic rubber.
1929
U.S. stock market crash in October ushers in Great Depression.
1930
U.S. Food, Drug, and Insecticide Administration is renamed Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
1930
Nils Edlefsen constructs the first cyclotron under the direction of the American physicist Ernest Orlando Lawrence. This first instrument is a small machine that is used to produce directed beams of charged particles. Over the next few years, Lawrence continues to build larger instruments, which eventually contribute to the discovery of new elements.
1930
U.S. Treasury Department creates Bureau of Narcotics, which will remain the principal anti-drug agency of the federal government until the late 1960s.
1930
Establishment of U.S. Army Signal Intelligence Service (SIS) to consolidate all military operations in cryptography and cryptanalysis.
1930
Primitive anthrax vaccine developed.
1931
Japanese invade Manchuria.
1932
James Chadwick, English physicist, proves the existence of the neutral particle of the atom's nucleus, called the neutron. It proves to be by far the most useful particle for initiating nuclear reactions.
1932
Werner Heisenberg wins the Nobel Prize in physics for the creation of quantum mechanics, which has led to the discovery of the allotropic forms of hydrogen.
1932
Aldous Huxley publishes the novel Brave New World, which presents a dystopian view of genetic manipulations of human beings.
1932
The BOI starts the international exchange of fingerprint data with friendly foreign governments. Later halted as war approached, the program was not reinstituted until after World War II.
1932
In response to the Lindbergh kidnapping case and other high-profile cases, the Federal Kidnapping Act is passed to authorize BOI to investigate kidnappings perpetrated across state borders.
1932
Iraq declared an independent state.
1932
BOI establishes technical laboratory.
1933
In January, Adolf Hitler and Nazi Party take power in Germany. By the end of the year, Hitler proclaims Third Reich.
1933
U.S. president-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt escapes assassination attempt in Miami.
1933
Gilbert Newton Lewis, American chemist, is the first to prepare a sample of water in which all the hydrogen atoms consist of deuterium (the heavy hydrogen isotope). Called "heavy water," this will later play an important role in the production of the atomic bomb.
1934
Frédéric Joliot-Curie and Irène Joliot-Curie, a husband-and-wife team of French physicists, discover what they call artificial radioactivity . They bombard aluminum to produce a radioactive form of phosphorus. They soon learn that radioactivity is not confined only to heavy elements like uranium, but that any element can become radioactive if the proper isotope is prepared. For producing the first artificial radioactive element they win the Nobel Prize in chemistry the next year.
1934
John Marrack begins a series of studies that leads to the formation of the hypothesis governing the association between an antigen and the corresponding antibody.
1934
In an attempt to reduce organized crime violence, the U.S. Congress passes the National Firearms Act, which places restrictions on the sale of certain weapons favored by gang members.
1935
German Nazi party formalizes anti-Semitism with passage of Nuremberg laws.
1935
In violation of the Versailles Treaty, Germany begins to rearm and reconstitutes the German Air Force (Luftwaffe).
1935
Federal Bureau of Narcotics, forerunner of the modern Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), begins a campaign portraying marijuana as a drug that leads to addiction, violence, and insanity. The government produces films such as Marihuana (1935), Reefer Madness (1936), and Assassin of Youth (1937).
1935
Irish Protestants in Belfast riot against Catholics, provoking Catholic retaliation.
1935
Patrick Maynard Stuart Blackett, English physicist, demonstrates that when gamma rays pass through lead, they sometimes disappear and give rise to a positron and an electron. This is the first demonstrable case of the conversion of energy into matter and as such, is a confirmation of Einstein's famous E=mc 2 equation.
1935
Robert Watson-Watt develops design for RADAR.
1935
Italian forces invade Ethiopia. The League of Nations, formed after World War I as an international body to ensure stability, fails to act.
1935
The BOI officially becomes the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on July 1.
1936
Spanish Civil War begins and becomes an international battleground pitting Francisco Franco's Fascist right against Marxist republican forces. Germany and Italy support Franco, while Soviet Union backs republicans. War will end with Franco's victory in 1939.
1936
Joseph Stalin begins a "great purge." Lysenkoism, a repressive pseudoscientific set of beliefs, also begins to gain strength in Soviet politics.
1936
Sulphonamides, a class of antibiotics, introduced.
1936
Adolf Hitler includes synthetic fuel production as a priority in his Four-Year Plan.
1936
Eugene Paul Wigner, Hungarian-American physicist, proposes the theory of neutron absorption which comes into play when nuclear reactors are built.
1936
Germany reoccupies the Rhine River area, a key move toward later expansion in Europe.
1936
Italy and Germany sign Axis Pact, to which Japan will become a signatory in 1940.
1936
President Roosevelt asks FBI to report on the activities of Nazi and communist groups.
1937
Italy withdraws from the League of Nations to join a Germany-Japan pact.
1937
Emilio Segre, Italian-American physicist, and Carlo Perrier bombard molybdenum with deuterons and neutrons to produce element 43, technetium. This is the first element to be prepared artificially that does not exist in nature.
1937
William Thomas Astbury, English physicist, first obtains information about the structure of nucleic acids by means of x-ray diffraction.
1937
Japan invades eastern China.
1938
German Nazis attack Jews and Jewish businesses during night of violence termed Kristallnacht.
1938
Hitler annexes Austria.
1938
At Munich conference in September, Germany, backed by Italy, gains title to the Sudetenland in western Czechoslovakia. Britain, led by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, and France, comply in this act of diplomatic conquest. After appeasing Hitler, Chamberlain returns to Britain and proclaims, "Peace in our time!"
1938
Otto Frisch and Lise Meitner advance theory of uranium fission.
1938
Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann at Sandoz Laboratories synthesizes LSD. After initial testing on animals, Hoffman's subsequent accidental ingestion of the drug in 1943 reveals LSD's hallucinogenic properties.
1938
German scientists develop sarin while researching pesticides.
1938
The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC; sometimes called the Dies Committee) is initially charged with ferreting out Nazi activity in the United States but also begins to attempt to investigate Communist activity.
1938
Orson Welles' radio drama based on H.G. Wells' novel War of the Worlds causes panic among listeners who believe Martians have invaded Earth.
1938
Debut of the Minox camera, designed by Walter Zapp of Latvia, which was destined to become one of the most widely used miniature cameras by intelligence services on both sides of the iron curtain.
1939
In Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh creates the Viet Minh party to oppose French colonialism.
1939
Ernest Chain and H.W. Florey refine the purification of penicillin, allowing the mass production of the antibiotic.
1939
President Roosevelt assigns responsibility for investigating espionage, sabotage and other subversive activities jointly to the FBI, the Military Intelligence Service of the War Department (MID), and the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI).
1939
Leo Szilard, Hungarian-American physicist, and Canadian-American physicist Walter Henry Zinn confirm that fission reactions (nuclear chain reactions) can be self-sustaining using uranium.
1939
Marguerite Perey, French chemist, first isolates element number 87 from among the breakdown products of uranium. She names it francium, after her country.
1939
Niels Bohr, Danish physicist, proposes liquid-drop model of the atomic nucleus and offers his theory of the mechanism of fission. His prediction that it is the uranium-235 isotope that undergoes fission is proved correct when work on an atomic bomb begins in the United States.
1939
Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassman publish results in which they observe that fission reactions can be self-sustaining because of the chain reaction that occurs. This discovery eventually makes the construction of an atomic bomb feasible.
1939
Paul Hermann Müller, Swiss chemist, discovers the insect-killing properties of DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane). It is used during WW II to kill disease-carrying lice, fleas, and mosquitoes, and after the war to kill agricultural pests. It is later proved to be a harmful environmental pollutant and its use in the United States is banned in 1972.
1939
Richard Brooke Roberts, American biophysicist, discovers that uranium fission does not release all the neutrons it produces at one time. This phenomenon of delayed neutrons eventually proves to be an important element in the safety of nuclear reactors.
1939
U.S. Geological Survey strategic mineral program started.
1939
The little-known tank battle at Nomonhan in August discourages Japanese hopes of easy victory against Soviets—a major factor motivating the Japanese refusal to join Germans in attacking Soviet Union two years later.
1939
Nazi Germany and Soviet Union sign Non-Aggression Pact on August 23.
1939
Albert Einstein sends a letter to President Roosevelt informing him of German atomic research and the potential for the development of an atomic bomb.
1939
World War II begins with the German invasion of Poland on September 1. Britain and France declare war on Germany.
1940
Germany launches a full-scale air war against England and extends persecution of the Jews into Poland, Romania, and the Netherlands.
1940
Winston Churchill succeeds Neville Chamberlain as Britain's prime minister.
1940
Ernest Chain and E.P. Abraham detail the inactivation of penicillin by a substance produced by Escherichia coli . This is the first bacterial compound known to produce resistance to an antibacterial agent.
1940
Leon Trotsky is assassinated in Mexico City by agents of SMERSH ( SMERrt SHpionam or "Death to Spies").
1940
The British begin to intercept German non-Morse teleprinter text that used the Baudot Code, an international standard where each letter is represented by five binary elements.
1940
The FBI participates in the growing Red Scare by conducting additional arrests of suspected Communist agents under powers granted by the 1940 Smith Act, which permits the arrest of any individual inciting the overthrow of the government.
1940
The FBI establishes a Special Intelligence Service (SIS).
1941
The Lend-Lease Act allows the United States to send military supplies to Britian and other allies.
1941
Arnold O. Beckman, American physicist and inventor, invents the spectrophotometer. This instrument measures light at the electron level and can be used for many kinds of chemical analysis.
1941
Glenn Theodore Seaborg, American physicist, and his colleagues prepare the transuranium element 94, plutonium.
1941
Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife first produced and used by Allies in World War II.
1941
U.S. Army Air Corps becomes Army Air Force. Six years later, the National Security Act of 1947 will transform this group into a full military service, the U.S. Air Force.
1941
On June 22, Germany launches largest land invasion in history against Soviet Union. Initial German efforts will meet with success, but three Russian winters, combined with Russian resistance, will result in German defeat by early 1944.
1941
U.S. president Roosevelt appoints William J. (Wild Bill) Donovan as Coordinator of Information, a proto intelligence service.
1941
On December 7, the Japanese attack the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. In response, the United States enters World War II. The FBI is authorized to act against dangerous enemy aliens and to seize enemy aliens and contraband (e.g. short-wave radios, dynamite, weapons, and ammunition).
1942
German Nazi party makes Jewish extermination a systematic state policy, termed the "Final Solution."
1942
In the United States, economic depression is relieved by war production of planes, tanks, and other military supplies.
1942
The largest detainment of American citizens in the name of national security (ultimately resulting in the internment of 110,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II) begins two months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The U.S. Department of Justice orders the detention of about 2,200 Japanese, 1,400 German, and 269 Italian nationals. More than 47,000 Issei (Japanese-born residents) are barred under federal law from gaining American citizenship, and 80,000 of their American-born family members, called Nissei, are subject to internment under Executive Order 9066, signed by President Roosevelt in February.
1942
Despite early losses in the war, Allied forces rally, defeating German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in North Africa.
1942
Office of Strategic Services formed by President Roosevelt and led by William J. Donovan.
1942
Alcohol Tax Unit (ATU) formed and given responsibility for enforcing the Firearms Act.
1942
The U.S. military creates the Army-Navy Communications Intelligence Board (ANCIB).
1942
The Manhattan Project is formed to secretly build the atomic bomb before the Germans.
1942
Enrico Fermi, Italian-American physicist, heads a Manhattan Project team at the University of Chicago that produces the first controlled chain reaction in an atomic pile of uranium and graphite. With this first self-sustaining chain reaction, the atomic age begins.
1942
Frank Harold Spedding, American physicist, develops the necessary methods to produce pure uranium in very large quantities for the U.S. atomic bomb effort. Spedding's laboratory produces two tons in November, to be used for the first "atomic pile."
1942
The Clinton Engineer Works is built in Oak Ridge, Tennessee (later renamed the Oak Ridge National Laboratory). The Clinton Pile, the first true plutonium production reactor, begins operation in November 1943.
1942
Harvard University chemist Louis F. Fieser invents napalm.
1942
U.S. Geological Survey establishes military geology branch.
1942
Selman Waksman suggests that the word "antibiotics" be used to identify antimicrobial compounds that are made by bacteria.
1942
British Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) renamed the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) to conceal its cryptologic mission.
1942
U.S. Naval intelligence breaks the Japanese navy's JN–25 code, providing valuable intelligence from the Battle of Midway to the end of World War II.
1942
U.S. naval victories against Japan in the naval battles of the Coral Sea in May and Midway in June. Fought primarily with carriers and aircraft, the first of these marks history's first naval battle in which opposing fleets' ships never came in sight of one another.
1942
Four German saboteurs come ashore from a U-boat on the beach near Amagansett, Long Island. Within the week, a second team of German saboteurs lands in Florida. Some saboteurs surrender and within two weeks the FBI captures the others.
1943
Mussolini overthrown and arrested on July 25; Prime Minister Pietro Badoglio, who has secretly been in contact with Allies, becomes Italian leader. Italy surrenders to the Allies. Mussolini is later rescued in a daring German airborne raid on September 12. He will spend the remainder of the war (and his life) as head of a puppet government based in the northern Italian town of Salo.
1943
The Soviet army defeats German troops at Stalingrad.
1943
Stalin abolishes the Soviet Comintern and the KGB and GRU (Soviet Army Intelligence) assume all espionage activities.
1943
J. Robert Oppenheimer, American physicist, is placed in charge of U.S. atomic bomb production at Los Alamos, New Mexico. He supervises the work of 4,500 scientists and oversees the successful design construction and explosion of the bomb.
1943
Lars Onsager, Norwegian-American chemist, works out the theoretical basis for the gaseous-diffusion method of separating uranium-235 from the more common uranium-238. This is essential for producing a nuclear bomb or nuclear power.
1943
First operational nuclear reactor is activated at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
1943
Construction starts (completed 1945) at the Hanford Site in Richland, Washington, where plutonium is to be produced.
1943
Colossus Mark I, the world's first programmable computing machine, built.
1943
Lockheed establishes its advanced development programs headquarters at Palmdale, California. Over the years that follow, this facility, known as the "Skunk Works," will be the birthplace of extraordinary aircraft such as the U-2, the SR-71, and the F-117A.
1943
U.S. Army renames SIS as the Signal Security Agency, or SSA.
1943
The SZ43 cipher machine is first used by Germany in WWII. The German military did not replace Enigma with the SZ42 for general use because the SZ42's complexity made it too heavy for the field.
1943
On January 15, just 16 months after the September 11, 1941, groundbreaking, the new Pentagon building is dedicated in Washington, D.C.
1943
U.S. Army's Signal Intelligence Service, a forerunner of NSA, formally begins program codenamed VENONA to break encrypted Soviet diplomatic communications.
1943
Amy Elizabeth Thorpe, a U.S. born British spy known as "Cynthia" acts as World War II's "Mata Hari."
1944
To combat battle fatigue during World War II, nearly 200 million amphetamine tablets are issued to U.S. soldiers stationed in Great Britain during the war.
1944
Massive Allied invasion of European continent at Normandy in France on June 6 (D Day). Invasion, under the command of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, is preceded by deception effort designed to convince Germans that the action will occur elsewhere.
1944
Allies liberate France, allow French troops under de Gaulle to ceremonially enter Paris first. Nazi puppet government at Vichy, France, collapses.
1944
Assassination attempt on Hitler and several other high-ranking officials. Himmler suspects that the plot was the work of agents inside of the government, most especially the Abwehr.
1944
Colossus II computer becomes operational.
1944
Otto Hahn receives the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his discovery of nuclear fission.
1944
Soviet Viktor Kravchenko defects to United States.
1944
Stalin orders creation of Department S, which will use American scientists as Russian spies.
1944
Britain's MI6 establishes a section devoted to Soviet espionage and subversion. Unfortunately, its director is Harold (Kim) Philby, a Soviet agent.
1945
Yalta Summit sets forth terms of a divided postwar Europe.
1945
U.S. troops liberate Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald.
1945
Italian dictator Benito Mussolini killed by partisans on April 28, Adolf Hitler commits suicide April 30, and Germany surrenders to the Allies on May 7. Germany is divided and occupied by the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and France.
1945
First atomic bomb is detonated by the United States at Trinity test site near Almagordo, New Mexico. The experimental bomb generates an explosive power equivalent to 15–20 thousand tons of TNT. The United States then destroys the Japanese city of Hiroshima with a nuclear fission bomb based on uranium-235 on August 6. Three days later a plutonium-based bomb destroys the city of Nagasaki. Japan surrenders on August 14 and World War II ends. This is the first use of nuclear power as a weapon.
1945
U.S. Department of State intelligence experts join Army-Navy Communications Intelligence Board (ANCIB) to form combined State-Army-Navy Communications Intelligence Board (STANCIB).
1945
United States develops a radar-absorbent paint containing iron.
1945
Army Security Agency (ASA) begins to provide the U.S. Army with signal intelligence and security information (ASA operates until 1976).
1945
OSS is abolished; operations transfer to its successor, Central Intelligence Group (CIG).
1945
League of Arab States formed; United Nations (UN) is created on October 24.
1946
In a January 22 presidential directive, President Harry S. Truman first uses the term "Director of Central Intelligence" (DCI) which he designates as the lead position in the CIG within the National Intelligence Authority (NIA). NIA will be abolished, and the DCI will eventually lead the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
1946
U.S. diplomat George Kennan's "Long Telegram" provides the ideological foundation for postwar policy toward the Soviet Union. Referring to the repressive Soviet domination of the Eastern Bloc states, British former prime minister Winston Churchill states that an "iron curtain" has come down across Europe.
1946
The organizational structure of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is changed in response to the increased need for national security in Canada. Personnel are assigned to the Special Branch, which deals specifically with issues of national security.
1946
State-Army-Navy Communications Intelligence Board (STANCIB) becomes the U.S. Communications Intelligence Board (USCIB). FBI intelligence officers join the working group.
1946
In a postwar reorganization of the U.S. Army, the Military Intelligence Division is placed over the Army Security Agency and the Counter Intelligence Corps.
1946
U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command (SAC) established at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. It eventually becomes the command center for the defense "triad": the strategic bombers and ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) of the Air Force, and the U.S. Navy's submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
1946
On March 5, United States and United Kingdom sign UKUSA agreement, which brings together signals intelligence efforts of U.S., British, Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand agencies.
1946
American Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC), is completed by the U.S. Army. ENIAC is considered the world's first computer until information on Colossus was finally declassified in the 1970s.
1946
Establishment of Bureau of Intelligence & Research, intelligence arm of U.S. State Department.
1946
U.S. Army School of the Americas established in Panama.
1946
Baruch Plan for international control of atomic weapons presented to the UN.
1946
The United States tests a nuclear bomb on Bikini Atoll, an island in the Pacific.
1946
In August, Congress passes the Atomic Energy Act, creating Atomic Energy Commission, and makes FBI responsible for investigating persons having access to restricted nuclear data. The FBI will also be responsible for investigation of criminal violations of this act.
1946
First Vietnam war, between Viet Minh and France, begins December 19.
1947
Voice of America begins regular radio broadcasts to Russia from transmitters in Munich, Manila, and Honolulu in February.
1947
William Shockley, John Bardeen, and Walter Brattain invent the transistor.
1947
Vice-President Richard Nixon speaks in Congress, attacking Gerhart Eisler, who had been revealed as a German communist spy and who was then being detained on Ellis Island for passport fraud and refusing to testify before HUAC. The House agrees with Nixon and votes a contempt charge, but Gerhart escapes to East Germany as a stowaway.
1947
The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 bans members of the Communist Party from holding leadership positions in American labor unions.
1947
Three "pillars" of the containment policy are in place: Truman Doctrine (March 12), Marshall Plan (June 5), National Security Act (July 28). Supporting instruments include DOD, CIA, SAC, advance bases in Turkey and Libya. Stalin creates the Cominform, or Information Bureau of Communist parties, in August, at the meeting in Poland of the Soviet, East European, French and Italian communist parties. Andrei Zhadov reports to the conference that America and Russia are locked in a two-camp struggle for world domination.
1947
Major Charles E. "Chuck" Yeager breaks the sound barrier in a Bell XS-1 rocket-powered research plane in October.
1947
HUAC subpoenas 41 witnesses in an investigation of communism in Hollywood films. Ten witnesses who refuse to testify are jailed for contempt; supporters sign an amici curiae Supreme Court brief and many are subsequently refused work in the film industry.
1947
The UN proposes a division of what is now Israel almost equally between Israelis and Arabs. Arab countries reject this proposal.
1947
On December 19, the National Security Council gives the CIA orders to conduct its first covert operation, influencing the general elections in Italy to prevent a Communist victory. The operation is successful, resulting in victory for the Christian Democrat party in 1948.
1948
Soon after Israel becomes a state in May, it is attacked by Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Syria. Though outnumbered, the Israelis defeat the Arab nations, and Israeli territory expands to encompass an area larger than that allotted in the original UN partition.
1948
NSC directive creates Office of Policy Coordination to conduct covert operations for the CIA. Former Wehrmacht officer Reinhard Gehlen is recruited to carry out espionage against Russia in Eastern Europe. Gehlen warns the CIA about the coming blockade of Berlin but is ignored.
1948
The United States organizes the Berlin airlift to break the blockade of Berlin (entirely within the Soviet sector of Germany) imposed by Soviets.
1948
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk is killed in a "fall" from his office window following a communist coup on February 25.
1948
Yugoslavia expelled from the Cominform.
1948
DPRK (North Korea) established.
1948
Executive Order 9835 establishes Federal Employee Loyalty Program. FBI begins background investigations and refers questionable cases to loyalty boards. Federal employees are subject to dismissal for specific acts including disclosure of confidential information and association with subversive organizations.
1948
Congress creates the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.
1948
Nuclear tests in the South Pacific (Operation Sandstone) pave the way for mass production of weapons that previously had to be assembled by hand. By late 1948, the United States has 50 nuclear bombs.
1948
Indictments issued against leaders of the U.S. Communist Party for violation of Smith Act (advocating violent overthrow of the government).
1948
Germanium crystals are used by the Bell Telephone Company in the United States to build the first transistors.
1948
World Health Organization (WHO) formed. The WHO subsequently becomes the principal international organization managing public health related issues on a global scale. Headquartered in Geneva, the WHO will eventually become an organization of more than 190 member countries, contributing to international public health in areas including disease prevention and control, promotion of good health, vaccination programs, and development of treatment and prevention standards.
1948
Alger Hiss testifies that he has never been a communist, never participated in espionage, and does not know Whittaker Chambers. Chambers, a former communist and editor for Time magazine previously testified to the HUAC that Hiss had once supplied him with stolen documents. Chambers then produced microfilm of secret documents hidden inside a pumpkin on his Maryland farm. Hiss is indicted on charges of perjury. Eventually he is convicted and serves a prison sentence.
1949
Victory of Mao Zedong in China forces Nationalist government to flee to Formosa, where it establishes the Republic of China. Meanwhile, the world's largest population falls under communist rule as the People's Republic of China.
1949
FDA publishes "black book" guide to toxicity of chemicals in food.
1949
Armed Forces Security Agency established to coordinate military communications intelligence and security activities.
1949
Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and German Democratic Republic (East Germany) are established.
1949
In April, ten countries (Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal) join the United States and the United Kingdom to form the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
1949
Judith Coplon becomes the first U.S. citizen convicted as a spy, a conviction that was later reversed because of illegal FBI wiretaps.
1949
May 12, the Soviets finally lift the blockade on Berlin. Train and auto transport resumes into the city. Allied Airlift operations continue through September until supplies regularly reach Berlin via train and truck.
1949
The Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949 provides special administrative authorities and responsibilities for the agency and the director.
1949
Russia announces that its first A-bomb was successfully tested July 14.
1949
The CIA-sponsored Radio Free Europe begins broadcasting to Soviet-controlled Eastern Europe.
1950
Puerto Rican nationalists attempt to assassinate President Truman. As a result of this incident, in which a Secret Service agent is killed, Congress greatly expands the duties of the Secret Service.
1950
President Truman orders the Atomic Energy Commission to begin work to develop the hydrogen bomb (H-bomb).
1950
Wisconsin senator Joseph McCarthy launches an effort to identify and eliminate communism in America. "McCarthyism" is used to describe McCarthy's tactics of public denunciation without proof and forcing testimony through intimidation.
1950
British security agents in February arrest Los Alamos physicist Klaus Fuchs after an investigation based on an FBI tip derived from Soviet telegrams decrypted and decoded by the Army Signals Agency with FBI investigative assistance.
1950
East German government, with the assistance of the Soviet intelligence community, establishes the Stasi.
1950
The FBI initiates the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives Program in May in order to draw national attention to dangerous criminals who have avoided capture.
1950
McCarran Internal Security Act enacted, mandating that all communist organizations must register with the attorney general. The act also prohibits communists from working in national defense and prevents those who are members of "totalitarian" organizations from entering the United States.
1950
North Korea invades South Korea, igniting the Korean War. U.S. military troops sent to expel North Korean forces as part of a UN coalition.
1950
Determined to create a framework and mechanism for the production of reliable intelligence estimates, General Walter Bedell Smith, when he becomes Director of Central Intelligence in October, institutes the concept and practice of developing national intelligence estimates.
1950
Arrest of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who are tried, convicted, and later executed for espionage against the United States.
1950
MacArthur crosses the 38th parallel in an attempt to liberate North Korea.
1950
President Truman escapes assassination attempt unhurt as two Puerto Rican nationalists shoot their way into Blair House in Washington, D.C. Officer Leslie Coffelt, of the White House police, is shot and killed. In response, Congress enacts legislation the following year that permanently authorizes Secret Service protection of the president, his immediate family, the president-elect, and the vice president.
1950
North Korean troops gain easy victories against UN forces, but when MacArthur launches a bold offensive at Inchon, he cuts the North Korean army in half. By Thanksgiving, he promises that U.S. troops will be home by Christmas, but on November 25, China enters the war, and drives the UN forces back to the 38th parallel. Allied bombing ensures that this line remains the boundary between North and South Korea.
1951
In Dennis v. U.S., the Supreme Court upholds decisions declaring U.S. Communist Party illegal because the party constitutes a "clear and present danger." The Court reverses itself in 1957.
1951
The United States forms a special committee to analyze the nation's intelligence and cryptographic efforts. The committee is, in part, composed of the secretaries of state, defense, and the DCI (CIA director). Later in the year, President Truman issues a top-secret directive creating the National Security Agency (NSA).
1951
Mossad, Israel's chief intelligence collection, counterterrorism, and covert action agency, established on April 1.
1951
CIA is given responsibility to determine the overall requirements of foreign economic intelligence.
1951
General MacArthur, eager for victory against the Chinese in Korea, attempts to defy President Truman's orders to stand down, and calls for American citizens' support of his plan to invade China. For this act of insubordination, Truman relieves him of duty on April 11, and replaces him with General Matthew B. Ridgway.
1951
The first usable electricity from nuclear fission is produced.
1952
British scientists develop VX nerve agent while studying insecticides.
1952
First thermo-nuclear device is exploded successfully by the United States at the Eniwetok Atoll in the South Pacific. This hydrogen-fusion bomb (H bomb) is the first such bomb to work by nuclear fusion and is considerably more powerful than the atomic bomb exploded over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.
1952
First use of isotopes in medicine.
1952
The Treasury Department's Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) becomes the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). BIR's Alcohol Tax Unit—latest in a series of offices through which Treasury has enforced federal alcohol, tobacco, and firearms policy over the years—becomes the IRS Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division.
1952
Greece and Turkey join NATO.
1952
First U.S. overflights of Soviet airspace, using B-47 Stratojets.
1952
In National Security Council Intelligence Directive (NSCID) No. 9, a secret memorandum issued on October 24, President Truman establishes the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).
1952
McCarran-Walter Act is revised. The new immigration quota laws allow more Asians but exclude "subversives" and give the attorney general the right to deport immigrants found to be communists even after they acquired U.S. citizenship.
1952
Great Britain explodes its first nuclear device.
1953
Joseph Stalin dies and a political power struggle starts in the U.S.S.R.
1953
James D. Watson and Francis H. C. Crick publish two landmark papers in the journal Nature . The papers are titled "Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid" and "Genetic Implications of the Structure of Deoxyribonucleic Acid." Watson and Crick propose a double helical model for DNA and call attention to the genetic implications of their model. Their model is based, in part, on the x-ray crystallographic work of Rosalind Franklin and the biochemical work of Erwin Chargaff. Their model explains how the genetic material is transmitted.
1953
U.S. Federal Security Agency becomes the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW).
1953
United States receives information on VX nerve agent production from United Kingdom and sets up lab in Edgemont, Maryland to study it.
1953
U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower delivers "Atoms for Peace" speech to the UN, calling for the creation of an organization to control and develop the use of atomic energy. He later publicly predicts the potential for a nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union.
1953
An armistice on July 27 brings an end to the Korean War.
1953
In August, Operation AJAX, conducted by British and American intelligence, deposes Iraqi prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh, and restores Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to the throne.
1954
CIA-supported coup in Guatemala overthrows President Jacobo Arbenz.
1954
U.S. policy of massive retaliation to any Communist aggression (forerunner of MAD—Mutually Assured Destruction—policy).
1954
French garrison at Dien Bien Phu falls to Viet Minh on May 7, and in July, French agree to leave Vietnam.
1954
Site-R, an underground government communications and operations facility in Pennsylvania, is completed.
1954
U.S. Navy commissions its first nuclear sub, Nautilus, on September 30.
1954
Televised Army-McCarthy hearings. Senator McCarthy focuses his hunt for communists on the highest echelons of the military, is finally denounced for his unscrupulous tactics, and is ultimately censured by the Senate.
1954
Manhattan Project physicist Robert Oppenheimer is stripped of his security clearance and is dismissed from government service, suspected of being a communist sympathizer.
1954
Atomic Energy Act is passed.
1954
Communist Control Act is passed, briefly outlawing the Communist Party in the United States.
1955
West Germany joins NATO. The Soviet Union and eight Eastern European states respond by forming the Warsaw Pact.
1955
National Institutes of Health organizes a Division of Biologics Control within FDA, following a death caused by a faulty polio vaccine.
1955
Cesium atomic clock developed.
1955
Boeing B-52 Stratofortress introduced.
1955
U.S. Navy Fleet Intelligence Center Pacific (FICPAC) established.
1955
ASA expands its mission to include electronic intelligence and electronic warfare functions that had formerly been the responsibility of the signal corps. Because its role now encompasses more than intelligence and security, it is reassigned from G-2 (military intelligence) to the U.S. Army Chief of Staff.
1955
The Berlin tunnel (operational from March 1955 until its discovery by Soviet troops in April 1956) allowed Western intelligence agencies to tap Soviet and East German communications.
1955
President Eisenhower signs a bill authorizing $46 million for construction of a CIA Headquarters Building.
1955
A United Airlines DC-6B explodes near Longmont, Colorado, on October 1, killing all 39 passengers and 5 crewmembers. The FBI provides assistance from its Disaster Squad in identifying the deceased.
1955
In December, U.S. Air Force launches Project GENETRIX, a surveillance operation using balloons over communist countries. The unsuccessful effort comes to an end three months later.
1955
President Eisenhower sends first U.S. military and civilian advisers into Vietnam, which in 1955 is divided into northern and southern portions.
1956
President Eisenhower establishes the President's Board of Consultants on Foreign Intelligence Activities, predecessor to the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.
1956
First U-2 overflight of Soviet Union on July 5.
1956
Hungarian revolution is crushed by Soviet military.
1956
Suez Crisis when Western powers, worried over Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser's close ties with the Soviet bloc, refuse assistance in building Aswan High Dam. In response, Nasser seizes the Suez Canal. Britain and France form an alliance with Israel, which invades on October 26.
1956
Fidel Castro launches Cuban revolution against the Batista regime.
1956
Soviet First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev, speaking about the West, states "History is on our side. We will bury you." The following year, he becomes premier of the Soviet Union.
1956
Pakistan officially becomes an Islamic state.
1957
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is formed as an autonomous UN body to verify that nuclear materials are not used in a prohibited manner.
1957
In March, President Eisenhower proclaims the Eisenhower Doctrine, whereby "the United States regards as vital to the national interest and world peace the preservation of the independence and integrity of the nations of the Middle East."
1957
The Soviet Union launches Sputnik.
1957
Civil Rights Act of 1957 establishes U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
1957
The sodium reactor experiment at Santa Susana, California, provides the first power generated from a civilian nuclear reactor.
1957
June 21, the FBI arrests Colonel Rudolf Ivanovich Abel, a Soviet espionage agent.
1957
United States conducts first underground nuclear test in a tunnel 100 miles from Las Vegas.
1958
U.S. National Defense Education Act dedicates resources to math, science, and language education.
1958
United States establishes NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration).
1958
Explorer 1, the first U.S. satellite, launched with a cosmic ray detector onboard.
1958
U.S. Department of Defense establishes Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA).
1958
The Federal Aviation Act passes, creating the Federal Aviation Agency.
1958
Congress passes Defense Reorganization Act, which creates unified military commands within the U.S. Department of Defense.
1958
United States conducts nuclear tests high above the Pacific Ocean. The explosions send out an extremely high-frequency electromagnetic pulse that turns off street lights in Hawaii and disrupts radio navigation as far away as Australia for up to 18 hours.
1958
Iraqi monarchy is overthrown in a military coup.
1958
Following the Geneva Conference on the Discontinuance of Nuclear Weapons Tests, the United States, Great Britain, and Soviet Union declare temporary testing moratoriums.
1959
The microchip, forerunner of the microprocessor, is invented.
1959
Fidel Castro takes power in Cuba on January 1.
1959
Launch of the Forrestal, the first of many large carriers deployed by the U.S. Navy. The Forrestal includes rectangular extensions on the rear part of the flight deck, which greatly expand the deck area.
1959
U.S. Navy's Marine Mammal Program established near Los Angeles, CA.
1959
Discoverer XIV, the first successful mission of the Corona satellite program, which was developed the previous year to photograph sites in the Soviet Union. The returning capsule, containing 20 pounds of film and suspended from a parachute, is snatched from midair by a U.S. C-119 aircraft.
1959
President Eisenhower approves a secret program, proposed by the CIA, to depose communist Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
1960
Chinese criticisms of the Soviet Union cause a split in Sino-Soviet relations.
1960
Vietcong seek to overthrow South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem.
1960
First U.S. Key Hole intelligence satellite launched.
1960
Theodore Harold Maiman, American physicist, develops the first laser. He uses a ruby cylinder that emits a light that is coherent (all in a single direction) and monochromatic (a single wavelength). He finds that it can travel thousands of miles as a beam without dispersing, and that it can be concentrated into a small, super-hot spot. Laser is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.
1960
France explodes its first nuclear device.
1960
Premier Nikita Khrushchev vows the Soviet Union will support "wars of national liberation."
1960
The NSA begins intercepting messages and communications revealing the Soviet military buildup in Cuba, including the installation of air defense systems and missile capabilities.
1960
U.S. Navy Fleet Intelligence Center Europe (FICEUR) established.
1960
Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) established as Defense Communications Agency.
1960
In September, NSA cryptographers William H. Martin and Bernon F. Mitchell defect to the Soviet Union and issue the first public revelations as to NSA's mission.
1960
A Soviet missile shoots down an American U-2 spy plane near Sverdlovsk. The pilot Francis Gary Powers is detained and tried by the Soviet Union as a spy. After nearly two years, Powers is exchanged for a captured Soviet spy. Soviet outrage over the incident leads to the collapse of the Paris summit of the Conference on Discontinuance of Nuclear Weapons Trials.
1961
In his inauguration speech, President John F. Kennedy sets the tone for modern U.S. foreign policy when he states, "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty."
1961
National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC) formed.
1961
U.S. Strategic Air Command activates its Airborne Command Post on February 3. Known as Looking Glass for the fact that equipment aboard its planes mirrors control systems on the ground, Looking Glass will remain in continuous operation for the next 29 years.
1961
Soviet Union launches first cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, into space.
1961
Cuba establishes what will become its largest intelligence agency, the Dirección General de Inteligencia (DGI; General Intelligence Directorate), within the Ministry of the Interior.
1961
Cuban exiles organized and armed by the CIA invade Cuba on April 17, in a failed attempt to overthrow the leftist leader Fidel Castro. The event became known as the "Bay of Pigs," in reference to the small bay on the southern coast of Cuba where the invasion commenced.
1961
Congress creates the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), devoted to policy making for conventional and nuclear armament.
1961
United States introduces the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the Enterprise.
1961
First U.S. aircraft hijacking on May 1. The hijacker takes over the plane at gunpoint and forces pilots to fly to Havana, Cuba, where he is granted asylum.
1961
In August, the Soviet Union and East Germany erect the Berlin Wall to divide West and East Berlin.
1961
In a letter published in the September issue of Life magazine, President Kennedy advises Americans to build fallout shelters to reduce American vulnerability to Soviet nuclear attack. "Shelter-mania" ensues as Americans prepare for potential nuclear attack.
1961
Defense Intelligence Agency established.
1961
Soviet Union resumes nuclear weapons testing after dispute on verification provisions of test ban agreements. Two weeks later the United States resumes testing.
1962
Commissioning of the first Navy SEAL (sea, air, land) teams.
1962
Cuban missile crisis, triggered by the Soviet deployment to Cuba of medium-range, nuclear-armed ballistic missiles, brings the world to the brink of nuclear war. The United States blockades Cuba for 13 days until the Soviet Union agrees to remove its missiles. The United States also agrees to remove its missiles from Turkey. The crisis marks the first time the NSA creates an around-the-clock command center.
1962
During the Cuban Missile Crisis in October, President Kennedy becomes concerned with faulty communications technology in the national security communications apparatus. After the crisis ends, he calls for a study to improve communications coordination and technology, ultimately leading to the formation of the National Communication System.
1963
A nuclear submarine, the USS Thresher, sinks off the coast of Cape Cod in 8,400 feet of water, killing all 129 sailors aboard.
1963
Development of Canada Geographic Information System, the first modern geographic information system, begins.
1963
Coup in Iraq led by the Arab Socialist Ba'th Party (ASBP).
1963
Directorate of Science and Technology, the arm of the CIA responsible for technological development, is formed.
1963
Britain's war minister, Lord John Dennis Profumo, is discovered to be sleeping with Christine Keeler, who is also having an affair with a Soviet spy. The scandal becomes known as the Profumo affair.
1963
Israel's Mossad assists in the defection of an Iraqi airman, who delivers to Israel a Soviet MiG-21 fighter jet.
1963
The United States and Soviet Union set up a hotline (teletype) between the White House and the Kremlin.
1963
The United States and Soviet Union sign the Limited Test Ban Treaty, which prohibits underwater, atmospheric, and outer space nuclear tests. More than 100 countries have ratified the treaty since 1963.
1963
Assassination of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem on November 1.
1963
November 22, Lee Harvey Oswald assassinates President Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. Lyndon B. Johnson becomes president.
1964
American refusal to fly the Panamanian flag over a high school in the Panama Canal Zone sparks riots that leave 23 Panamanians and four U.S. Marines dead. Afterward, Panama calls for new treaty discussions with the United States.
1964
U.S. Navy introduces E-2 Hawkeye airborne early warning and command and control aircraft.
1964
North Vietnamese gunboats open fire on U.S. destroyer Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin on August 2. This results in the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, passed by U.S. Senate, which gives President Johnson power to vastly escalate U.S. commitment in Vietnam.
1964
China conducts its first nuclear test.
1965
American troops sent to the Dominican Republic to prevent a communist takeover.
1965
Congress passes Drug Abuse Control Amendments—legislation that forms the FDA Bureau of Drug Abuse Control and gives the FDA tighter regulatory control over amphetamines, barbiturates, and other prescription drugs with high abuse potential.
1965
Congress authorizes protection of former presidents and their spouses during their lifetime and minor children until age 16.
1965
In June, first U.S. ground troops arrive in Vietnam.
1965
Anthrax vaccine adsorbed (AVA), is approved for use in the United States.
1965
First bombings against Israel by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
1966
France withdraws its troops from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). French President de Gaulle argues for a Europe free from both American and Soviet intervention.
1966
Marshall Nirenberg and Har Gobind Khorana lead teams that decipher the genetic code. All of the 64 possible triplet combinations of the four bases (the codons) and their associated amino acids are determined and described.
1966
NORAD Combat Operations Center in Cheyenne Mountain becomes fully operational.
1966
Naval Investigative Service, predecessor of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, formed as an office within the Office of Naval Intelligence.
1967
FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCIC) becomes operational.
1967
Congress passes Freedom of Information Act, which limits the ability of U.S. federal government agencies to withhold information from the public by classifying that information as secret.
1967
In the Six-Day War, fought in the first week of June, Israel defeats a much larger Arab force, and gains control of the west bank of the Jordan River, which was previously Jordanian territory.
1967
CIA launches Phoenix program to fight Vietcong infrastructure in South Vietnam.
1967
A cosmic gamma ray burst leads to the discovery of a new phenomenon for astronomers to study. The burst is detected while U.S. Vela spy satellites remain alert for potential Soviet nuclear testing in space. Part of an unclassified research and development program, the Vela program was designed to develop nuclear monitoring technology. Vela satellites carried x-ray, gamma-ray, neutron detectors, EMP detectors and other instruments.
1968
An overwhelming North Vietnamese attack on South Vietnamese cities, called the Tet Offensive, ultimately proves to be a crucial psychological turning point in the Vietnam War.
1968
FDA administratively moves to Public Health Service.
1968
During testing exercise of VX nerve agent, 6,400 sheep are killed near Dugway, Utah.
1968
Following passage of the Gun Control Act, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division of IRS becomes the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) Division.
1968
U.S. Navy Fleet Intelligence Center Atlantic (FICLANT) established.
1968
U.S. anti-drug agencies in the Treasury and Health, Education, and Welfare departments merged to form the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs under the Justice Department.
1968
National Institute of Justice established under the authority of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act to provide independent, evidence-based tools to assist state and local law enforcement.
1968
Creation of first national contingency plan to deal with oil spills in the United States.
1968
Israel's Mossad successfully captures eight missile boats that Israel had ordered from France, but which President Charles de Gaulle had placed under embargo. Mossad also captures and brings to trial nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu, who had revealed Israeli nuclear secrets to the British press.
1968
Prague Spring reforms in Czechoslovakia ended by Soviet invasion.
1968
James Earl Ray assassinates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4. The FBI opens a special investigation based on the violation of Dr. King's civil rights so that federal jurisdiction in the matter can be established.
1968
As a result of Senator Robert F. Kennedy's assassination on June 5, Congress authorizes protection of major presidential and vice-presidential candidates and nominees.
1968
Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT)—calling for halting the spread of nuclear weapons capabilities—is signed.
1968
Final flight of X-15 hypersonic aircraft on October 24.
1969
President Richard Nixon begins troop withdrawal from Vietnam.
1969
On July 20, U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong becomes the first man to walk on the moon.
1969
Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) begin between the United States and the Soviet Union.
1969
United States and Soviet Union begin period of diplomatic détente.
1969
By Executive Order, the United States renounces first-use of biological weapons and restricts future weapons research programs to issues concerning defensive responses (e.g., immunization, detection, etc.).
1969
Microprocessor developed.
1969
Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) establishes ARPANET, a forerunner to the Internet.
1969
Muammar Qaddafi seizes power from King Idris in Libya on September 1.
1970
The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 is signed, requiring the federal government to review the environmental impact of any action—such as construction of a building—that might significantly affect the environment.
1970
United States Congress passes Controlled Substance Act (CSA), delineating a hierarchy of commonly abused drugs and establishing corresponding penalties for misuse.
1970
United States Environmental Protection Agency established.
1970
White House Police Force renamed the Executive Protective Service.
1970
The UN assigns the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) the task of NPT monitoring and for developing nuclear safeguards.
1970
The Consolidated Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, a bureau of the Department of the Treasury, is established as an organization to provide training for all federal law-enforcement personnel. Today known as the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, it is now part of the Department for Homeland Security.
1970
In October, a group advocating the separation of Quebec from Canada kidnaps two government officials and murders one of them. The crisis causes the temporary imposition of martial law in the country and renews calls for a dedicated security agency.
1970
Congress approves the Organized Crime Control Act in October. This law contains a section known as the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act or RICO. RICO becomes an effective tool in convicting members of organized criminal enterprises.
1971
CIA activity in Laos, termed by critics a "secret war," is exposed.
1971
Chinese defense minister Lin Biao attempts a coup against Mao Zedong but is killed in a plane crash. China is officially seated in the UN and launches its first space satellite.
1971
Stolen by Defense Department official Daniel Ellsberg, a classified set of papers detailing compromising U.S. involvement in Vietnam, "The Pentagon Papers," is published by the New York Times and the Washington Post .
1971
United Kingdom passes the Misuse of Drugs Act.
1971
Canada Geographic Information System becomes operational.
1971
Congress authorizes Secret Service protection for visiting heads of a foreign state or government, or other official guests, as directed.
1971
The NSA receives operation control over the cryptologic agencies of the air force, army and navy. The three agencies are reorganized into the newly created Central Security Service (CSS) headed by the NSA director. The move centralizes the government's signals intelligence (SIGINT) and communications security (COMSEC) programs under the NSA.
1971
Spy satellite called Hexagon is launched carrying a KH-9 camera.
1972
U.S. president Nixon meets with Mao Zedong in Beijing. The meeting eases U.S.-China animosities.
1972
President Nixon visits Soviet Union.
1972
United States and Soviet Union under Premier Leonid Brezhnev) negotiate reductions in nuclear arsenals.
1972
Defense Investigative Service (changed in 1997 to Defense Security Service) established on January 1.
1972
Recombinant technology emerges as one of the most powerful techniques of molecular biology. Scientists are able to splice together pieces of DNA to form recombinant genes. As the potential uses, therapeutic and industrial, become increasingly clear, scientists and venture capitalists establish biotechnology companies.
1972
Landsat I satellite launched, providing the first publicly available satellite imagery.
1972
Congress passes the Consumer Product Safety Act, creating the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which is charged with protecting the public from risk or injury involved with defective or unsafe products.
1972
The ATF Division of IRS becomes a separate Treasury bureau, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
1972
Computer axial tomography, commonly known as CAT scanning, is introduced. A CAT scan combines many high-definition, cross-sectional x-rays to produce a two-dimensional image of a patient's anatomy.
1972
President Nixon issues Executive Order 11652, which stipulates that virtually all national security records should be declassified after 30 years.
1972
Five men ultimately discovered to have ties to anti-Castro forces, the American CIA, and the White House are arrested inside the Democratic National Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. Known as a "plumbers" team, the intelligence operatives carried electronic surveillance equipment and cameras. A subsequent cover-up of the break-in, destruction of taped conversations related to the cover-up, and revelations of a history political dirty tricks form the core of the Watergate scandal that ultimately leads to criminal prosecutions of top officials and President Nixon's resignation in August 1974.
1972
The Antiballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty is signed by the United States and the Soviet Union. The treaty is one of two treaties produced by the first series of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I) between the two countries; the other is an interim agreement limiting offensive nuclear weapons.
1972
U.S. Department of Defense directs Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) name change to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in March. DARPA is established as a separate defense agency under the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
1972
The FBI Academy opens a new training facility on the Marine Corps Base at Quantico, Virginia in May.
1972
Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention first signed. BWC prohibits the offensive weaponization of biological agents (e.g., anthrax spores). The BWC also prohibits the transformation of biological agents with established legitimate and sanctioned purposes into agents of a nature and quality that could be used to effectively induce illness or death.
1972
"Bloody Friday": on July 21, an IRA bomb attack kills 11 people and injures 130 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Ten days later, three additional IRA attacks in the village of Claudy leave six dead.
1972
Establishment of U.S. Air Force Intelligence Service in June.
1972
After 11 Israeli athletes are murdered by Palestinian terrorists with the Black September organization at the Munich Olympics in September, Israel's Mossad establishes an action team, Wrath of God. Over the next two years, the team tracks down and kills a dozen members of Black September.
1972
Iraq and Soviet Union sign 15-year Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation.
1973
The peace treaty ending the Vietnam War, the Paris Peace Accords, is signed. South Vietnam collapses two years later after the last U.S. troops are withdrawn.
1973
Atmospheric Release Advisory Capability (ARAC) concept has its origins when the Department of Energy (DOE) seeks assistance from scientists at California's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in assessing potential and ongoing atmospheric hazards.
1973
Concerns about the possible hazards posed by recombinant DNA technologies, especially work with tumor viruses, leads to the establishment of a meeting at Asilomar, California. The proceedings of this meeting are subsequently published by the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory as a book entitled Biohazards in Biological Research.
1973
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) created on July 1.
1973
Libya claims the Gulf of Sidra in defiance of international protocol.
1973
General Augusto Pinochet, with the support of the CIA, overthrows Marxist president Salvador Allende in Chile in September. Allende dies—either by suicide (according to Pinochet) or by murder (according to Allende's supporters).
1973
Arab-Israeli Yom Kippur War. Fourth Arab-Israeli war begins with a combined Egyptian and Syrian attack against Israel in October. When military efforts fail, the Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries (OPEC) announces a cutback in oil production, raising gasoline prices and precipitating an energy crisis in the United States.
1974
Congress passes the Energy Reorganization Act, which abolishes the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and replaces it with two other agencies: the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Energy Research and Development Administration.
1974
Members of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) kidnap heiress Patricia Hearst on February 5. Hearst, allegedly brainwashed by the group, adopts the name "Tania" and participates in bank robberies. Most members, including leader Donald DeFreeze, are killed in a May 1974 shootout with authorities, and Hearst is captured by the FBI in September 1975. In January 2001, outgoing president William J. Clinton pardons her.
1974
Treaty on Underground Nuclear Weapons Tests (also known as the Threshold Test Ban Treaty) is signed by the United States and Soviet Union, prohibiting underground nuclear weapons tests using weapons that produce yields greater than 150 kilotons.
1974
U.S. Navy Fleet Intelligence Center (FIC) Europe (FICEUR) and FIC Atlantic (FICLANT) merge to form FIC Europe-Atlantic (FICEURLANT).
1974
Cuba's National Liberation Directorate (DLN), which is responsible for fomenting communist revolutions worldwide, becomes the America Department (DA) of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee. During the years that follow, DA will provide support to communist insurgents and terrorists in numerous locales.
1974
Congress passes Privacy Act of 1974, greatly restricting the authority of agencies to collect information on individuals, or to disclose that information to persons other than the individual. The Privacy Act also requires agencies to furnish individuals with any information on them that the agency has in its files.
1974
New era of congressional oversight in intelligence begins with passage of Hughes-Ryan Act amending the Foreign Service Act. Written in the wake of covert activities that helped bring down the Marxist regime of Salvador Allende in Chile, Hughes-Ryan requires the president to submit plans for covert actions to the relevant congressional committees.
1974
The New York Times publishes a report concerning a CIA domestic intelligence campaign involving interception of private mail.
1974
India conducts its first nuclear test—an explosion in the Rajasthan Desert.
1974
British Prevention of Terrorism Act permits the arrest of suspected terrorists without a warrant and allows authorities to detain them for a week without bringing charges. While being interned, detainees are subject to a range of harsh practices that include "hooding"—being isolated and forced to wear a hood over their heads—noise bombardment, and sleep and food deprivation.
1974
Bar-coded products arrive in American stores, along with the laser scanners used at checkout stations to read the codes.
1975
American Apollo 18 and Soviet Soyuz 19 join in an orbital linkup.
1975
Puerto Rican nationalists bomb a Wall Street bar, killing four and injuring 60; two days later, the Weather Underground claims responsibility for an explosion in a bathroom at the U.S. Department of State in Washington.
1975
The duties of Executive Protective Service are expanded to include protection of foreign diplomatic missions located throughout the United States and its territories.
1975
U.S. Nuclear Emergency Support Team established to analyze and respond to cases involving nuclear threats.
1975
On April 30, Saigon falls to North Vietnamese. In the following year, Vietnam is united under a communist government.
1975
Commissioning, in May, of the Nimitz, first in a super-class of large modern aircraft carriers deployed by the U.S. navy.
1975
President Gerald R. Ford signs Executive Order 11828, creating the Commission on CIA Activities within the United States.
1975
Investigations by congressional committees headed by Idaho senator Frank Church and New York representative Otis Pike reveal that government agencies, including the NSA, performed clandestine surveillance on U.S. citizens who participated in the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements.
1975
FBI special agents Jack R. Coler and Ronald A. Williams are murdered while conducting an investigation on an Indian reservation in South Dakota. American Indian Movement leader Leonard Peltier is convicted of committing the murders.
1975
President Ford escapes an assassination attempt in Sacramento, California, by Lynette Alice (Squeaky) Fromme, who pointed a gun at him but did not fire. A few weeks later, Ford escaped another assassination attempt in San Francisco, California, when Sara Jane Moore was prevented from firing at him by a bystander.
1976
Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai and Central Committee Chairman Mao Zedong die.
1976
Church Committee submits its final report on April 26. Meanwhile, on January 29, just two days before the Pike Committee was to complete its investigation, the House votes not to make its findings public. (The report was later leaked to journalist Daniel Schorr, who passed it on to the Village Voice. )
1976
On May 19, the Senate establishes its permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. On July 14, 1977, the House puts in place its own such committee.
1976
On the night of July 3–4, members of Israel's Mossad conduct a raid on a French airliner, hijacked by Palestinian terrorists, in the Uganda city of Entebbe. The Israelis rescue all but four of the plane's 97 passengers, losing a single officer, along with 20 Ugandan soldiers, in the process.
1976
A military junta overthrows the government of Argentina.
1977
The United States vetoes a UN Security Council resolution calling for total Israeli withdrawal from Arab areas.
1977
U.S. ambassador Francis E. Melroy is killed in Beirut.
1977
U.S. president James E. Carter and Panamanian military dictator Omar Torrijos sign the Panama Canal Treaty on September 7, which abolishes the Canal Zone, terminates all prior treaties regarding the canal, and provides for the full transfer of the canal to Panama on December 31, 1999. A separate Neutrality Treaty guarantees the neutrality of the canal in perpetuity. Congress ratifies both treaties the following year.
1977
Introduction of E-3 Sentry AWACS (airborne warning and control system). Packed with electronics, the aircraft—based on the Boeing 707—serves purposes that include identifying enemy aircraft, jamming enemy radar, guiding bombers to their targets, and managing the flow of friendly aircraft.
1977
The last reported smallpox case recorded. Ultimately, the WHO declares the disease eradicated.
1977
Office of Intelligence Support (OIS) established as the intelligence office of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. OIS thus replaces Office of National Security, established in 1961.
1977
U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) goes into operation on January 1.
1977
In November, Delta Force is activated. Established by Colonel Charles Beckwith at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Delta Force becomes one of the leading U.S. counterterrorist units.
1977
A new security and intelligence command known as Headquarters, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, replaces ASA.
1977
Department of Energy Organization Act signed into law by President Carter on October 1. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) replaces the Energy Research and Development Administration and consolidates Federal energy programs and activities.
1978
The United States recognizes the People's Republic of China (PRC).
1978
On January 24, President Carter signs Executive Order 12036, "United States Foreign Intelligence Activities," which restructures the U.S. Intelligence Community and provides explicit guidance on all facets of intelligence activities.
1978
A bomb disguised as a package goes off at Northwestern University. This is the first of 16 attacks, over the course of 17 years, by an individual dubbed the "Unabomber" for his principal targets, universities and airlines.
1978
Camp David meetings between U.S. president Carter, Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, offer hope for peace in Middle East.
1978
Dissident Georgi Markov is assassinated by an umbrella tip laced with ricin in London by the Bulgarian secret service.
1978
Congress passes the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to regulate electronic intelligence gathering. The act includes the creation of a special court to handle requests by the NSA to perform electronic surveillance on targeted U.S. persons.
1978
Executive Order 12046 establishes National Telecommunications Information Administration to serve as president's advisory on matters involving the radio frequency spectrum.
1978
President Carter, in Executive Order 12065, calls for a review of national security records after 20 years with an eye toward declassification.
1978
DOE initiates its Nuclear Threat Assessment Program at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in September.
1978
The U.S. government defines a cipher algorithm for standard use by all government departments, the Digital Encryption Standard.
1978
Kidnapping of Italian former prime minister Aldo Moro; he was seized by the Red Brigade and assassinated 55 days later.
1978
The United States cancels development of the neutron bomb, which would theoretically destroy life but cause minimal physical destruction. The bomb was initially developed, in part, to ensure the maximal survival of European cultural treasures in the advent of nuclear war and thus enhance the credibility of U.S. threats to use the bomb against possible Soviet aggression in western Europe.
1978
The FBI Laboratory Division begins use of laser technology to detect latent crime scene fingerprints.
1979
Egyptian president Sadat and Israeli prime minister Begin sign a peace treaty; other Arab nations protest the treaty.
1979
Congress passes Panama Canal Act. Among its many provisions, the act creates the Panama Canal Commission, which will act as custodian over the canal for the next 20 years.
1979
Sandinistas gain control of Nicaragua.
1979
As a result of a March 28 accident at the Three Mile Island plant outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, portions of the reactor's core melts, potentially threatening the health and perhaps even the lives of nearby residents. For several weeks, the nation is gripped by terror as government agencies, including the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, respond to the disaster. No deaths occur as a result of the Three Mile Island accident, but construction of new commercial reactors will be delayed for more than two decades. ARAC and the National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center (NARAC) at Livermore first prove their capabilities by providing DOE and other federal agencies with assessment of the incident.
1979
Use of illegal drugs in the United States reaches its peak, as three out of 10 youth, and one in five adults, reports having used an illegal substance.
1979
President Carter issues an executive order creating the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
1979
Saddam Hussein becomes president of Iraq.
1979
The Iranian shah flees Iran, and Shiite Muslim leader Ayatollah Khomeini assumes control of the fundamentalist Islamist revolution. The shah, suffering from cancer, seeks treatment and asylum in the United States. Islamist revolutionaries (mostly Iranian students) seize the American embassy and take 66 Americans hostage. Thirteen hostages are soon released, but the remaining 53 are held until January 20, 1981. The hostage crisis consumes the remainder of U.S. president Carter's term and critics claim that his failure to act decisively to secure the release of the hostages ultimately emboldens a generation of Islamist fundamentalists to commit acts of terrorism against the United States.
1979
Less than a month after the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran, the U.S. embassies in Tripoli, Libya, and Islamabad, Pakistan, are attacked.
1979
Soviets invade Afghanistan on December 24.
1980
CNN, the first 24-hour-a-day cable television news channel, is launched, inspired in part by intense public interest in the Iranian hostage crisis.
1980
After Lech Walesa leads a strike by shipyard workers, Poland's Solidarity Party becomes an independent labor union, the first in the sphere of Soviet influence.
1980
More than five months after the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran, the United States mounts an attempt to rescue the hostages, but fails when helicopters collide in the desert. The crash forces leaders to abort the mission. Eight Americans die and five are injured in the attempt.
1980
The U.S. Supreme Court rules that a living organism developed by General Electric (a microbe used to clean up an oil spill) can be patented.
1980
Congress passes the Classified Information Procedures Act, which presents guidelines for the use of classified information by both the government and defendants in legal cases.
1980
The United States and 57 other countries boycott the summer Olympics in Moscow to protest Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
1980
Intelligence Oversight Act replaces the armed services committees with intelligence committees as the principal arm of legislative oversight over the CIA in both houses of Congress.
1980
Iran shells Iraqi border installations at the start of the Iran/Iraq war. Two weeks later, Iraq attacks Iranian air bases.
1980
The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (also known as Superfund) is passed in response to the discovery in the late 1970s of a large number of abandoned, leaking hazardous waste dumps. Under Superfund, the Environmental Protection Agency identifies hazardous sites, takes appropriate action, and sees that the responsible party pays for the cleanup.
1980
The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act is passed, making states responsible for the disposal of their own low-level nuclear waste, such as from hospitals and industry.
1981
AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is recognized and tracked as an epidemic.
1981
Ronald Reagan inaugurated as president of the United States. Fearing Reagan's promise to renew and use American military strength to protect U.S. citizens and interests, Islamist militant revolutionaries in Iran release U.S. hostages held for 444 days.
1981
President Ronald Reagan signs Intelligence Authorization Act of 1981, mandating congressional over-sight of covert actions. As part of its oversight of the intelligence community, Congress has passed intelligence authorization acts in every fiscal year since.
1981
President Reagan wounded in assassination attempt by John W. Hinckley, Jr.; three others also wounded.
1981
Israel launches air attacks to destroy an Iraqi nuclear research center at Tuwaythah, Iraq, a city near Baghdad.
1981
In August, two U.S. F-14 Tomcat fighters dispatched by the U.S. Sixth Fleet shoot down two Libyan Su-22 fighter-bombers over the Gulf of Sidra.
1981
Egyptian president Anwar Sadat assassinated by Islamic militants on October 6.
1981
President Reagan reconstitutes the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and names 19 distinguished citizens outside of government to serve on the Board.
1981
President Reagan signs Executive Order 12333 on December 4, which clarifies ambiguities of previous orders and sets clear goals for the Intelligence Community in accordance with law and regard for the rights of Americans.
1981
Murder of missionaries, December 4: three American nuns and one lay missionary are found murdered outside San Salvador, El Salvador. They are assumed to have been assassinated by a right-wing death squad.
1981
In order to avoid mid-air collisions of increasingly traveled skies, the FAA adopts the aircraft Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance Systems I and II (TCAS I and II). The system combines radio transmitters and receivers, directional antennas, and computer and cockpit displays to transmit signals called interrogations. Other airplanes in the area receive these signals and transmit replies. Finally, computers calculate the distance between the planes based on time between the interrogation and the reply.
1982
Israel invades Lebanon and ousts PLO forces. In consolidating its occupation of southern Lebanon, which it first invaded in 1978, Israel becomes the first nation to make significant use of unmanned reconnaissance drones in combat.
1982
American journalist James Bamford publishes The Puzzle Palace, an expose on the work of the U.S. National Security Agency.
1982
In January, federal law enforcement reorganization gives DEA and FBI concurrent jurisdiction in drug-related criminal matters.
1982
The FDA issues regulations for tamper-resistant packaging after seven people die in Chicago from ingesting Tylenol capsules laced with cyanide. The following year, the federal Anti-Tampering Act is passed, making it a crime to tamper with packaged consumer products.
1982
Spain joins NATO.
1982
With Executive Order 12356, President Reagan bucks the trend of earlier administrations with regard to declassification of national security materials. Reagan tightens the standards with the order, which favors continued classification and even provides conditions for the reclassification of previously declassified documents.
1982
United States withdraws from comprehensive test ban negotiations indefinitely.
1982
President Reagan signs Executive Order 12382, which establishes the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC), a presidential advisory board composed of leaders in the telecommunications, finance, and aerospace industries.
1982
U.S. authorities convict four Castro aides of smuggling drugs into the United States, and subsequently uncover a vast Cuban drug-smuggling ring that operates in cooperation with Panamanian leader General Manuel Noriega, as well as with Colombian drug lords.
1982
On June 23, President Reagan signs into law the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, making it a felony to reveal the names of covert intelligence personnel.
1982
In December, Congress passes Boland Amendment to War Powers Act of 1973, forbidding CIA or Department of Defense to support anti-Sandinista forces in Nicaragua.
1983
On January 1, U.S. Defense Department and all participants in its ARPANET officially adopt TCP/IP, a revolutionary new system for network connectivity. Some regard this event as the birth of the Internet.
1983
The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 is signed, authorizing the development of a high-level nuclear waste repository.
1983
February 13 attack on law enforcement officers in Medina, North Dakota, by the Sheriff's Posse Comitatus is the first significant incident involving an anti-government right-wing terrorist group in the United States.
1983
Bombing of U.S. embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, April 18: sixty-three people, including the CIA's Middle East director, are killed and 120 injured in a 400-pound suicide truck-bomb attack on the U.S. embassy. Islamic Jihad claims responsibility.
1983
Democratic rule is restored in Argentina.
1983
U.S. president Reagan terms the Soviet Union the "evil empire" and announces the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars), a satellite-based defense system that can destroy incoming missiles and warheads in space.
1983
The FBI Hostage Rescue Team becomes fully operational.
1983
In October, President Reagan launches Operation Urgent Fury, the first significant U.S. military action since Vietnam, to overturn a coup on the Caribbean island of Grenada.
1983
Simultaneous suicide truck-bomb attacks on U.S. and French compounds in Beirut, Lebanon. A 12,000-pound bomb destroys the U.S. compound, killing 242 Americans, while 58 French troops are killed when a 400-pound device destroys a French base. Islamic Jihad claims responsibility.
1984
Crime-fighting efforts bolstered by the Sentencing Reform Act, which stiffens prison sentences, requiring mandatory terms for certain crimes and abolishing federal parole; and by the Victims of Crime Act. Throughout the 1980s, numerous national and community-based organizations are formed to provide support to victims of rape, spousal abuse, drunk driving, and other crimes.
1984
Congress enacts legislation making the fraudulent use of credit and debit cards a federal violation.
1984
The Canadian Security and Intelligence Service Act is approved, creating Canadian Security and Intelligence Service.
1984
The DOE, Office of Health and Environmental Research, U.S. Department of Energy (OHER, now Office of Biological and Environmental Research), and the International Commission for Protection Against Environmental Mutagens and Carcinogens (ICPEMC) cosponsor the Alta, Utah, conference highlighting the growing role of recombinant DNA technologies. OTA incorporates the proceedings of the meeting into a report acknowledging the value of deciphering the human genome.
1984
President Reagan issues a directive giving the NSA responsibility of maintaining security of government computers.
1984
DOE Office of Security establishes Central Training Academy. Now known as Nonproliferation and National Security Institute, this facility provides training in counterintelligence and other areas to more than 100 government departments and agencies.
1984
Islamic Jihad kidnaps and later murders CIA station chief William Buckley in Beirut, Lebanon. Other U.S. citizens not connected to the U.S. government are subsequently seized over a two-year period.
1984
With Executive Order 12472, signed on April 3, President Reagan expands the mission of the National Communications System.
1984
Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO) chartered in April by secretary of defense Caspar Weinberger.
1984
CIA Information Act, signed by President Reagan on October 15, exempts the agency from the search and review requirements of the Freedom of Information Act.
1984
Eighteen U.S. servicemen are killed and 83 people are injured in a bomb attack on a restaurant near a U.S. air force base in Spain. Hezbollah claims responsibility.
1984
Sikh terrorists seize the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India. One hundred people die as Indian security forces retake the Sikh holy shrine.
1984
Assassination of Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi, October 31; she is shot to death by members of her security force.
1985
Mikhail Gorbachev becomes general secretary of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union. Gorbachev institutes economic reforms and policies such as "glasnost" (openness) to ease Cold War tensions.
1985
Called "the year of the spy," 1985 features a series of high-profile espionage cases and arrests. In May, the John Walker Spy Ring is arrested. Former navy personnel John Walker, Jerry Whitworth, Arthur Walker, and Michael Walker are convicted of or plead guilty to passing classified material to the Soviet Union. On November 21, Jonathan Jay Pollard, a navy intelligence analyst, is arrested for spying for Israel. On November 23, Larry Wu Tai Chin, a former CIA analyst, is arrested on charges of spying for the People's Republic of China since 1952. On November 25, a third major spy, former National Security Agency employee William Pelton, is arrested and charged with selling military secrets to the Soviets.
1985
Alec Jeffreys develops "genetic fingerprinting," a method of using DNA polymorphisms (unique sequences of DNA) to identify individuals. The method, which is subsequently used in paternity, immigration, and murder cases, is generally referred to as "DNA fingerprinting."
1985
David Deutsch advances theory of quantum computing.
1985
Kary Mullis, working at Cetus Corporation, develops the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a new method of amplifying DNA. This technique quickly becomes one of the most powerful tools of molecular biology. Cetus patents PCR and sells the patent to Hoffman-LaRoche, Inc. in 1991.
1985
The Global Positioning System (GPS) becomes operational.
1985
U.S. air force and army join forces to develop the J STARS (Joint Surveillance and Target Acquisition Radar System) aircraft.
1985
Federal Radiological Preparedness Coordinating Committee, appointed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), completes the U.S. Federal Radiological Emergency Response Plan, a blueprint for the federal response to a hazard involving nuclear radiation.
1985
TWA hijacking, June 14: A Trans-World Airlines flight is hijacked en route to Rome from Athens by two Lebanese Hezbollah terrorists and forced to fly to Beirut. The eight crew members and 145 passengers are held for 17 days, during which one American hostage, a U.S. sailor, is murdered. After being flown twice to Algiers, the aircraft is returned to Beirut after Israel released 435 Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners.
1985
Achille Lauro hijacking, October 7: Four Palestinian Liberation Front terrorists seize an Italian cruise ship in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, taking more than 700 hostages. One elderly U.S. passenger is murdered.
1985
The Soviet Union announces a nuclear testing moratorium.
1986
The space shuttle Challenger explodes shortly after lift-off. Gaskets weakened by unusually cold weather are blamed for the accident, which leads to intense scrutiny of NASA safety procedures.
1986
Explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the Ukraine causes severe radiation leakage and an estimated 8,000 near-term deaths.
1986
U.S. sales of arms to Iran during its war with Iraq and the use of profits to fund anti-government, or Contra, forces in Nicaragua fuels the Iran-Contra scandal.
1986
DNA analysis conducted by the Scientific Intelligence Unit of England's Scotland Yard leads to the first conviction of a criminal—Colin Pitchfork, accused of rape and murder—on the basis of DNA evidence.
1986
Tension escalates between the United States and Libya in the Gulf of Sidra, off the coast of Libya, as U.S. and Libyan forces skirmish. The conflict culminates on April 15 in devastating U.S. air strikes on targets within Libya.
1986
Congress passes Anti-Drug Abuse Act. This federal law includes mandatory minimum sentences for first time offenders with harsher penalties for possession of crack cocaine than powder cocaine.
1986
Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is enacted, defining federal computer crimes.
1986
U.S. intelligence community establishes Intelligence Community Staff Committee on MASINT (measurement and signatures intelligence) to oversee all relevant activities.
1986
Congress passes Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), which establishes guidelines whereby federal agencies assist local communities in the event of a toxic chemical spill or related incident.
1986
U.S. Defense Department establishes Chemical and Biological Defense Analysis Center.
1986
Congress passes Goldwater-Nichols Act, the fourth major reorganization of the U.S. Department of Defense since World War II. The act calls on the White House to issue an annual National Security Strategy.
1986
United States Congress passes the Electronic Communication Privacy Act.
1986
Clayton Lonetree, the only U.S. Marine convicted of espionage, turns himself in to the CIA.
1987
Congress passes the Computer Security Act, which makes unclassified computing systems the responsibility of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and not the NSA with regard to technology standards development.
1987
Iraqi government uses nerve agents including sarin against Kurds in Northern Iraq.
1987
Founding of U.S. Special Operations Command, which brings together special operations forces from the army, navy, and air force.
1987
The PLO's terrorist campaign against Israel becomes acute during its first Intifada (or "shaking off") of Israeli authority in the occupied territories.
1987
North Korean agents plant a bomb that destroys Korean Air Lines Flight 858.
1987
Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act designates Yucca Mountain, Nevada, as candidate site for the nation's first geological repository for high-level radioactive waste.
1987
Soviet president Gorbachev and U.S. president Reagan sign the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
1987
The idea to use patterns of the iris of the eye as an identification marker is patented, along with the algorithms necessary for iris identification.
1988
U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. W. Higgins is kidnapped and murdered by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group while serving with the UN Truce Supervisory Organization (UNTSO) in Lebanon.
1988
Congress passes the Prescription Drug Marketing Act designed to maintain the sale and distribution of prescription drugs through legitimate commercial channels. The new law requires state-level licensing for drug wholesalers, restricts drug reimportation from other countries, institutes regulations regarding drug samples, and prohibits the traffic or counterfeiting of redeemable drug coupons.
1988
The Food and Drug Administration Act officially establishes the FDA as an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services. The act provides for a Commissioner of Food and Drugs appointed by the president and outlines the responsibilities of the secretary and the commissioner for research, enforcement, education, and information.
1988
The Human Genome Organization (HUGO) is established by scientists in order to coordinate international efforts to sequence the human genome.
1988
First test flight of J-STARS (Joint Surveillance and Target Acquisition Radar System) aircraft.
1988
Congress passes National Defense Authorization Act, establishing the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board as an independent agency charged with over-seeing the disposition of defensive nuclear materials.
1988
Iran-Iraq ceasefire begins, monitored by the UN Iran-Iraq Military Observer Group (UNIIMOG).
1988
The federal Polygraph Protection Act prohibits employers from using polygraphs for employment screening.
1988
Libyan intelligence operatives plant a bomb aboard Pan-Am flight 103, which crashes into the village of Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 aboard and 11 persons on the ground. Two Libyan intelligence officers are ultimately tried under Scottish law in The Hague. One of them, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, is found guilty in January 2001; the other, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, is acquitted.
1989
After nine years of war, Soviet forces withdraw from Afghanistan.
1989
British Parliament passes Security Service Act, which for the first time confers legal status on MI5.
1989
Charles H. Bennett and Gilles Brassard develop first quantum computer.
1989
United States signs Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.
1989
The New People's Army (NPA) assassinates U.S. army colonel James Rowe in Manila in April. The NPA also assassinates two U.S. government defense contractors in September.
1989
The Berlin Wall is torn down, as many communist governments in Eastern Europe collapse.
1989
In December, U.S. forces attack Panama to remove General Manuel Noriega in Operation Just Cause. The U.S. army uses loud music as part of a psychological operation to dislodge Noriega from his refuge at the Vatican embassy.
1989
Nicolae Ceausescu, communist dictator of Romania, is overthrown and executed.
1990
Yugoslavia overthrows Communist Party and ethnic tensions mount.
1990
U.S. embassy in Peru bombed by the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement.
1990
Syrian troops intervene in Lebanon's civil war.
1990
Iraq invades Kuwait. UN Security Council passes resolution 660 calling for full Iraqi withdrawal. President George H.W. Bush vows "this aggression will not stand" and launches Operation Desert Shield, a buildup of U.S. forces in the region in preparation for a possible armed confrontation.
1990
U.S. military personnel receive vaccinations against anthrax prior to duty in the Persian Gulf.
1990
UN, via resolution 661, imposes economic sanctions on Iraq.
1990
East and West Germany reunited.
1990
Former Solidarity union leader Lech Walesa becomes president of post-communist Poland.
1990
NATO and Warsaw Pact nations sign Conventional Armed Forces in Europe treaty (CFE), which promises mutual non-aggression.
1990
U.S. Strategic Air Command brings to an end the 24-hour-a-day operation of its Airborne Command Post, Looking Glass, on July 24.
1990
Iraq hangs Farzad Bazoft, an Iranian-born journalist with the London Observer newspaper, whom Hussein accuses of spying on Iraqi military installations.
1990
Space shuttle Atlantis completes secret mission to place a spy satellite in orbit.
1991
First-ever use of the strategic petroleum reserve to stabilize world oil prices following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
1991
Launch of Operation Desert Storm against Iraq on January 17. The initial bombing campaign lasts approximately 100 hours, and the entire military operation takes only 42 days. The result is overwhelming Iraqi defeat.
1991
Carbon-graphite coils capable of generating an electromagnetic pulse or otherwise disabling electronics are used in U.S.-led raids on Baghdad, Iraq.
1991
J-STARS aircraft gain their first combat experience in Operation Desert Storm.
1991
Saddam Hussein orders Iraqi forces to brutally suppress Kurd and Shia rebellions in northern and southern Iraq.
1991
IAEA's Iraq Action Team begins inspecting suspect sites in Iraq under UN Security Council mandate. UN also establishes a safe-haven in northern Iraq, north of latitude 36 degrees north, for the protection of the Kurds. Subsequently, the United States orders Iraq to end all military activity and establishes north and south "no-fly" zones.
1991
Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev announces that the Soviet Union will unilaterally cease nuclear testing for one year.
1991
The United States and Soviet Union sign historic agreement to cut back long-range nuclear weapons by more than 30 percent over the next seven years.
1991
The Warsaw Pact is officially dissolved.
1991
The Baltic republics—Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia—declare their independence and the Soviet Union crumbles. A commonwealth of independent states takes the place of the former Soviet empire. Boris Yeltsin becomes president of Russia.
1991
U.S. Navy Fleet Intelligence Center (FIC) Pacific (FICPAC) and FIC Europe-Atlantic (FICEURLANT) absorbed into National Military Joint Intelligence Center (NMJIC).
1991
U.S. Army Intelligence Agency ceases to exist; absorbed by Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM).
1991
Lustration law enacted in the Czech Republic, barring persons who had collaborated with the secret police during communist rule from serving in most public posts.
1991
In December, Britain's MI5 signals a new era of openness when it announces the appointment of a new director-general, Stella Rimington, the first MI5 chief to be publicly identified.
1992
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia collapses; fierce fighting between ethnic groups ensues.
1992
The U.S. Army begins collecting blood and tissue samples from all new recruits as part of a "genetic dog tag" program aimed at better identification of soldiers killed in combat.
1992
Naval Criminal Investigative Service formed as an entity separate from the Office of Naval Intelligence.
1992
In August, DEA creates its Intelligence Division.
1992
Land Remote Sensing Policy Act of 1992 establishes legal basis for ownership and operation of commercial remote sensing satellites in the United States.
1992
The FBI establishes a Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division.
1992
The United States conducts its last nuclear explosion test in September.
1993
Czechoslovakia dissolves into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
1993
The Maastricht Treaty officially forms the European Union.
1993
U.S. Congress passes the Domestic Chemical Diversion Control Act, aimed to stop the conversion of legal substances into illegal substances.
1993
February 26: the World Trade Center in New York City is badly damaged when a car bomb planted by Islamic terrorists explodes in an underground garage. The bombing leaves six people dead and 1,000 injured. The men carrying out the attack were followers of Umar Abd al-Rahman, an Islamic cleric who preached in the New York City area.
1993
After a 51-day siege by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, federal teams assault a compound held by the Branch Davidians, a religious sect charged with hoarding illegal weapons. The Branch Davidians set the buildings on fire, killing 76 people, including cult leader David Koresh.
1993
On April 14, Iraqi intelligence agents attempt to assassinate former president George H.W. Bush during a visit to Kuwait. Two months later, President William J. Clinton launches a cruise missile attack on the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.
1993
U.S. Department of Defense closes the Naval Intelligence Command, whose functions—along with those of the Naval Technical Intelligence Center, Task Force 168, and the Navy Operational Intelligence Center—are absorbed by the Office of Naval Intelligence.
1993
China defies informal global moratorium on nuclear testing with a weapons test.
1993
The final Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) is placed into orbit and the GPS system becomes fully operational.
1993
Explosive growth of Internet begins as a result of two factors: the full opening of the National Science Foundation's NSFNET, and the development of the first browsers, Mosaic (forerunner of Netscape Navigator) and Microsoft Internet Explorer.
1993
In October, U.S. Air Force Air Intelligence Agency replaces Air Force Intelligence Service.
1993
On October 3, 18 U.S. Rangers, participants in a UN peacekeeping force in Somalia, are killed in a firefight on the streets of Mogadishu.
1993
In the wake of a congressional ban on the deployment of space-based weapons, the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) forms. The collapse of the former Soviet Union makes a large-scale attack upon the United States appear much less likely and Congress seeks to push the DOD to update missile defense programs to address the dangers of the post-Cold War world. In this changed political climate, secretary of defense Les Aspin announces that former president Reagan's ten-year-old Strategic Defense Initiative (popularly known as "Star Wars") will be terminated, with missile defense responsibilities transferred to the newly formed BMDO.
1993
Time magazine names the personal computer as its "man of the year," as personal computer sales skyrocket, changing the way people around the world work, play and communicate.
1994
The Genetic Privacy Act, the first U.S. Human Genome Project legislative product, proposes regulation of the collection, analysis, storage, and use of DNA samples and genetic information. These rules were endorsed by the ELSI Working Group.
1994
Aldrich Ames, a 30-year CIA veteran, and his wife, Maria del Rosario Casas Ames, are arrested on espionage charges for selling secrets to the former Soviet Union.
1994
Jewish right-wing extremist and U.S. citizen Baruch Goldstein kills Muslim worshippers at a mosque in the West Bank town of Hebron, killing 29 and wounding about 150.
1994
North Korea withdraws its membership from IAEA over dispute regarding nuclear inspections.
1994
U.S. Navy, Marine, and Coast Guard intelligence agencies begin operating jointly from the National Maritime Intelligence Center in Suitland, Maryland.
1994
Congress reduces the lifetime-protection provisions for U.S. presidents, authorizing Secret Service protection only for the first 10 years after leaving office. The new law applies to all presidents in office after January 1, 1997.
1994
Britain's Parliament passes Intelligence Services Act, which gives MI6 new statutory grounding. The Act defines the responsibilities and functions of MI6 and its chief, and sets in place a framework of government oversight for MI6 activities.
1994
U.S. military action in Haiti restores government of ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
1994
After Rwandan dictator Major General Juvenal Habyarimana dies in a plane crash on April 6, his Hutu supporters blame the Tutsi-controlled Rwandan Patriotic Front, and launch a campaign of genocide that results in more than 800,000 deaths.
1994
Russia invades Chechnya on October 11, launching a war that will last almost two years.
1995
Combinatorial chemistry, a technique which quickly surveys huge numbers of chemical combinations in order to select the most desirable molecular configurations, attracts the attentions of chemical companies. Scientists predict the possibility of creating numerous new chemicals to serve the needs of industrial and pharmaceutical development, along with defense technology.
1995
President Clinton signs Executive Order 12968 on February 22, which provides rules for access to classified information.
1995
Study by the Rand Corporation finds that every dollar spent in drug treatment saves society seven dollars in crime, policing, incarceration, and health services.
1995
UN Security Council resolution 986 allows partial resumption of Iraqi oil exports, with the original intent to allow Iraq to sell oil to buy food and medicine (the "oil-for-food program"). Iraq subsequently diverts funds from sales to additional weapons purchases and the building of offices and places for the Hussein government. Malnutrition and improper medical care becomes widespread in Iraq.
1995
After thwarting UN weapons inspectors, the government of Iraq admits to producing over 8,000 liters of concentrated anthrax as part of the nation's biological weapons program.
1995
Twelve are killed and 5,700 injured in a sarin nerve gas attack on a crowded subway station in the center of Tokyo. Aum Shinri-kyu cult is blamed for the attacks.
1995
A truck bomb explodes outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal office building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on April 19, collapsing walls and floors. The massive explosion kills 169, including 19 children and one person who dies in the rescue effort. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols are later convicted in the anti-government plot to avenge the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco, Texas, exactly two years earlier.
1995
Concerned by revelations that agents of the CIA have committed human rights violations in Guatemala, the CIA draws up guidelines prohibiting the agency from hiring agents with records of human-rights violations.
1995
June 1995, while Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) negotiations are still under way, France announces that it will resume nuclear testing.
1995
President Clinton issues Presidential Decision Directive 39, "U.S. Policy on Counterterrorism," calling for a number of specific efforts to deter terrorism in the U.S. as well as attacks on its citizens and allies abroad.
1995
Radical Sunni Muslims set off a bomb at a national guard facility in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, killing five Americans.
1995
NATO launches air strikes against Bosnian Serb positions to force the Bosnian Serbs to negotiate a peace settlement. NATO deploys Implementation Force (Ifor) to monitor and enforce a ceasefire.
1995
Dayton Accords end fighting in Bosnia.
1996
Defense Authorization Act directs Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) to once again be named the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
1996
An Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb detonates in London on February 9, killing two persons and wounding more than 100 others, including two U.S. citizens.
1996
International participants in the genome project meet in Bermuda and agree to formalize the conditions of data access. The agreement, known as the "Bermuda Principles," calls for the release of sequence data into public databases within 24 hours.
1996
National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) created by the consolidation of several existing government and military agencies.
1996
The Health Care Portability and Accountability Act incorporates provisions to prohibit the use of genetic information in certain health-insurance eligibility decisions. The Department of Health and Human Services is charged with the enforcement of health-information privacy provisions.
1996
U.S. signs the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, but the Senate ultimately refuses (in 1999) to ratify the treaty.
1996
In an effort to reduce counterfeiting, federal government makes first major change to U.S. currency in 70 years.
1996
The Chemical and Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF), a unit of the U.S. Marines devoted to countering chemical or biological threats at home and abroad, is activated.
1996
World chess champion Garry Kasparov, able to compute the ramifications of 2–3 chess moves per second, loses a chess match to IBM's Deep Blue computer, able to compute the ramifications of 200 million moves per second.
1996
France conducts its last nuclear weapons test and immediately afterwards French president Jacques Chirac announces his support for a comprehensive test ban.
1996
A fuel truck carrying a bomb explodes outside the U.S. military's Khobar Towers housing facility in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on June 25, killing 19 U.S. military personnel and wounding 515 persons, including 240 U.S. personnel. Thirteen Saudis and a Lebanese, all alleged members of Islamic militant group Hezbollah, are eventually indicted.
1996
China conducts its last nuclear explosion test.
1996
Bombing at Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park on July 27, during the Olympic Games, kills two people and injures 112. Eric Robert Rudolph is charged with the crime, but he evades the authorities until his capture in 2003.
1996
Dolphins and sea lions used to protect waters off San Diego during the Republican Party convention.
1996
On October 11, President Clinton signs into law the Economic Espionage Act, which makes it a federal crime to use unauthorized means to obtain any trade secret whose transfer to other parties would cause economic harm to its lawful owner.
1996
Twenty-three members of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) take several hundred people hostage at a party given at the Japanese Ambassador's residence in Lima, Peru on December 17. Among the hostages were several U.S. officials, foreign ambassadors and other diplomats, Peruvian Government officials, and Japanese businessmen. The group demanded the release of all MRTA members in prison and safe passage for them and the hostage takers. The terrorists released most of the hostages in December but held 81 Peruvians and Japanese citizens for several months.
1996
U.S. Economic Espionage Act passed.
1997
Ian Wilmut of the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, Scotland, announces the birth of a lamb called Dolly, the first mammal cloned from an adult cell, specifically, a cell in a pregnant ewe's mammary gland.
1997
The National Center for Human Genome Research (NCHGR) at the National Institutes of Health becomes the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI).
1997
U.S. National Cancer Institute estimates that 160 million people in the United States were exposed to some level of iodine 131 from prior U.S. nuclear tests conducted in Nevada, and that these exposures would, over time, cause 30,000–75,000 cases of thyroid cancer.
1997
Congress passes the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which establishes rights involving records from consumer reporting agencies.
1997
Department of Energy creates Chemical and Biological National Security Program to develop systems and technologies to protect civilian populations against the threats associated with chemical, biological, and nuclear attacks.
1997
The corrupt regime of Mobutu Sese Seko, a longtime U.S. ally in Zaire, is overthrown by rebel forces under the leadership of Laurent Kabila. Kabila will change the country's name back to Congo, but his regime will bring few democratic reforms, and he will be killed by his own bodyguards in 2001.
1997
Tourist killings in Egypt, November 17. Al-Gama'at al-Islamiyya (IG) gunmen shoot and kill 58 tourists and four Egyptians and wound 26 others at the Hatshepsut Temple in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor.
1997
The FBI announces its new National DNA Index System (NDIS) on December 8, allowing forensic science laboratories to link serial violent crimes to each other and to known sex offenders through the electronic exchange of DNA profiles.
1998
The Hebron Accord, designed to promote peace between Israel and Palestine, is undermined by both sides as terrorism breaks out and the building of new settlements defies non-expansionist agreements.
1998
Craig Venter forms a company (later named Celera), and predicts that the company will decode the entire human genome within three years. Celera plans to use a "whole genome shotgun" method, which will assemble the genome without using maps. Venter says that his company will not follow the Bermuda principles concerning data release.
1998
DNA analyses of semen stains on a dress worn by White House aide Monica Lewinsky are found to match DNA from a blood sample taken from President Clinton.
1998
DNA fingerprinting used to identify remains of Russian Imperial Romanov family.
1998
India and Pakistan conduct underground nuclear tests. Exaggerated results are detected using seismic records.
1998
Controversy breaks out over the reported NSA Echelon project, which privacy groups describe as a worldwide surveillance network that eavesdrops on communications traffic and shares intelligence gathered by the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
1998
International Atomic Energy Agency Iraq Action Team withdraws from Iraq because of a lack of "full and free access" to Iraqi sites.
1998
Congress passes Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the most comprehensive overhaul of copyright law in a generation.
1998
Presidential Decision Directive 61, issued by President Clinton in February, reorganizes DOE Office of Intelligence.
1998
U.S. Army combines its Chemical and Biological Defense Command and Soldier Systems Command to form U.S. Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command (SBCCOM).
1998
Due to heightened concerns over technology leaks from the U.S. Commerce Department to China, commerce secretary William Daley announces plans to tighten security and limit access to classified information within the department.
1998
Presidential Decision Directive 63, signed by President Clinton in May, establishes the Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office (CIAO) of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
1998
Real IRA explodes a car bomb outside a store in Banbridge, Northern Ireland.
1998
U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa, August 7, 1998: A bomb explodes at the rear entrance of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, killing 12 U.S. citizens, 32 foreign service workers, and 247 Kenyan citizens. About 5,000 Kenyans, six U.S. citizens, and 13 foreign service workers are injured. Almost simultaneously, a bomb detonates outside the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killing seven foreign service workers and three Tanzanian citizens, and injuring one U.S. citizen and 76 Tanzanians. The U.S. government holds Osama Bin Laden responsible.
1998
Formation, in October, of the U.S. National Domestic Preparedness Office as the coordination center for all federal efforts in response to weapons of mass destruction.
1998
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) passed.
1998
Iraq expels UN weapons inspectors on October 31. In December, the United States and Britain launch Operation Desert Fox to attempt to destroy Iraq's nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs.
1999
Vladimir Putin becomes prime minister of Russia.
1999
The Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland become the first former Soviet bloc states to join NATO, taking the alliance's borders some 400 miles towards Russia.
1999
President Clinton signs Executive Order 13142, which amends Executive Order 12958 by extending the period of classification for some sensitive documents.
1999
Taiwanese-born computer scientist Wen Ho Lee is fired from his job in March and subsequently arrested by the FBI. Charged with not properly securing classified materials and failing to report meetings with individuals from "sensitive" countries, Lee will be held for a year and eventually convicted in 2000.
1999
Beginning March 24, NATO forces conduct a 78-day campaign of air strikes to end Serb "ethnic cleansing" in the Albanian enclave of Kosovo and to break the hold of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic.
1999
Melissa virus (actually a form of malicious data wedded to a particular type of virus program, a macro virus) spreads through the e-mail systems of the world on March 26, causing $80 million worth of damage, primarily in the form of lost productivity resulting from the shutdown of overloaded mailboxes.
1999
Osama bin Laden is added to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list in June, in connection with the U.S. embassy bombings in eastern Africa.
1999
FBI personnel travel to Kosovo on June 23 to assist in the collection of evidence and the examination of forensic materials in support of the prosecution of Slobodan Milosevic and others before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
1999
Congress releases a bipartisan report asserting that China stole nuclear secrets regarding U.S. weapons. The systematic espionage campaign by the Chinese is alleged to date to the 1970s.
1999
A nuclear accident at Japan's Tokaimura facility occurs on September 30 when a criticality event, or unplanned chain reaction, exposes 39 workers to radiation contamination and causes the evacuation of families within 350 meters of the facility.
1999
Russia invades Chechnya on October 1, resuming hostilities that had abated since 1996.
1999
IKONOS, the world's first commercial remote sensing satellite with 1 meter resolution, is launched.
1999
UN Security Council resolution 1284 creates the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) as a replacement for UNSCOM. Saddam Hussein rejects the resolution. In March 2000, Hans Blix becomes chairman of UNMOVIC.
1999
A merger of the ACDA and U.S. State Department creates a number of new bureaus, including the Bureau of Arms Control.
1999
As the year 2000 approaches, the world prepares itself for the possible deleterious effects of a computer shortcut (a protocol developed when memory was scarce) that used only the last two digits of a year to indicate the year. Termed the Y2K problem, fears approach near hysteria as people and governments prepare for computers to malfunction and adversely effect critical infrastructure. Adequate preparation, considerable investment in programming solutions, and monitoring turn the dawn of 2000 into a grand worldwide party but a non-event with regard to Y2K fears. Minimal disruptions are reported.
2000
Mokhtar Haouari and Abdel Ghani Meskini are charged with collaborating with Ahmed Ressam and others in a wide-ranging terrorist conspiracy to bomb U.S. sites during the January 1, 2000, millennium celebrations. The FBI/New York Police Department Joint Terrorist Task Force, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service, and Canada's Department of Justice collaborate in the investigation.
2000
Islamic extremist group Asbat al-Ansar carries out a rocket-propelled grenade attack on the Russian embassy in Beirut in January 2000.
2000
The Jaish-e-Mohammed, an Islamic extremist group based in Pakistan, is formed by Masood Azhar upon his release from prison in India in early 2000.
2000
President Clinton signs an executive order prohibiting federal departments and agencies from using genetic information in hiring or promoting workers.
2000
NNSA begins operations on March 1, 2000. NNSA has the mission of improving national security through defense uses of nuclear energy.
2000
Beginning in October, OIS divides its functions between its Information Security Services Center and its new Office of Information Assurance and Critical Infrastructure Protection.
2000
October 12, terrorist bombing of USS Cole kills 17 of its crew and wounds 39 others. Two suicide bombers, ultimately linked to al-Qaeda, pull alongside the vessel near the port in Aden, Yemen, and detonate explosives near the Cole 's hull.
2000
The PLO's terrorist campaign against Israel again intensifies with start of a second Intifada.
2000
Former U.S. senator John Danforth, conducting an independent review of FBI actions in the 1993 FBI assault on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, releases his final report exonerating the FBI of wrongdoing. The Government Operations Committee reaches a similar conclusion.
2001
On January 5, just 15 days before leaving office, President Clinton issues Presidential Decision Directive (PDD) 75, "U.S. Counterintelligence Effectiveness—Counterintelligence for the Twenty-first Century."
2001
A U.S. Navy P-3 on a surveillance mission over the South China Sea collides with a Chinese fighter plane, killing the Chinese pilot and forcing the American plane to make an emergency landing on China's Hainan Island. Although the Chinese pilot is blamed for the collision, Washington issues "regrets" but no apology (as is demanded by the Chinese) to secure the release of the U.S. crew after they are held for 11 days.
2001
The FBI announces on January 5 the National Infra Guard program at the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center. The program centers on securely sharing information about computer intrusions and intrusion threats between business and law enforcement so that the confidentiality of potentially affected businesses is protected.
2001
The complete draft sequence of the human genome is published in February. The public sequence data is published in the British journal Nature and the Celera sequence is published in the American journal Science. Increased knowledge of the human genome allows greater specificity in pharmacological research and drug interaction studies.
2001
FBI Agent Robert Philip Hanssen is arrested on February 18 for conspiracy to commit espionage. The affidavit in support of an arrest warrant for Hanssen charges that he engaged in a lengthy relationship with the KGB and its agencies.
2001
Following years of Iraqi firings upon U.S. and British airplanes patrolling the northern and southern "no fly" zones, the United States and Britain carry out bombing raids in February with the intent to disable Iraq's air defense network.
2001
President George W. Bush presents the Congressional Gold Medal to World War II Navajo code talkers (windtalkers).
2001
In May, Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi admits to a German newspaper that Libya was behind a Berlin discotheque bombing in 1986 that killed a U.S. serviceman and a Turkish civilian, and injured some 200 others. At a trial in November, four defendants are convicted for roles in the bombing.
2001
Hamas claims responsibility for the bombing of a popular Israeli nightclub that causes more than 140 casualties.
2001
A U.S. grand jury indicts fourteen Hezbollah members on June 21 for the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing.
2001
Ahmad Shah Massoud, the leader of the rebels in the Afghanistan Northern Alliance, widely regarded as the most popular opposition figure to the ruling Taliban (the regime providing asylum to al-Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden) is assassinated on September 9.
2001
September 11, Islamist terrorists mount coordinated attacks on New York and Washington. The World Trade Center towers are destroyed, killing nearly 3,000 people. In Washington, a plane slams into the Pentagon, while passengers aboard another hijacked airliner, aware of the other terrorist attacks, fight back. During the struggle for the aircraft, it crashes into a Pennsylvania field, thwarting the terrorists' plans to crash the plane into either the U.S. Capitol or the White House. The FBI dedicates 7,000 of its 11,000 special agents and thousands of FBI support personnel to the PENTTBOM investigation. "PENTTBOM" is short for Pentagon, Twin Towers Bombing.
2001
Letters containing a powdered form of Bacillus anthracis , the bacteria that causes anthrax, are mailed by an unknown terrorist or terrorist group (foreign or domestic) to government representatives, members of the news media, and others in the United States. More than 20 cases and five deaths are eventually attributed to the terrorist attack.
2001
On October 7, United States launches Operation Enduring Freedom against the al-Qaeda terror network and Afghanistan's Taliban regime. The Taliban regime is toppled and many al-Qaeda operatives are killed, but Osama bin Laden evades capture.
2001
Following the September 11 attacks, NATO secretary-general George Robertson invokes Article Five of the alliance's constitution, which states that an attack on one member nation is seen as an attack on all. Washington chooses, however, not to involve NATO in the U.S.-led military campaign which follows.
2001
QuickBird satellite launched, providing sub meter commercial satellite images.
2001
On October 16, President Bush signs Executive Order 13231, "Critical Infrastructure Protection in the Information Age."
2001
On October 26, President Bush signs the USA Patriot Act into law, giving the FBI and CIA broader investigatory powers and allowing them to share confidential information about suspected terrorists with one another. Under the act, both agencies can conduct residential searches without a warrant and without the presence of the suspect and immediately seize personal records. The provisions are not limited to investigating suspected terrorists, but may be used in any criminal investigation related to terrorism. The Patriot Act also grants the FBI and CIA greater latitude in using computer tracking devices such as the Carnivore (DCS 1000) to gain access to Internet and phone records.
2001
Disarmament operations begin in the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia.
2001
Chernobyl nuclear power plant begins decommissioning.
2001
In United States v. Scarfo, a federal judge in Newark, New Jersey, grants the government's motion to suppress information on an FBI computer keystroke recording device under the Classified Information Protection Act (CIPA).
2001
Fourth Marine Expeditionary Brigade formed. It consists of the Marine Security Force Battalion, the Marine Security Guard Battalion, the Chemical and Biological Incident Response Force, and the new anti-terrorism battalion. The latter had evolved from the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, which had been hit in the 1983 bombings of U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon.
2001
On November 19, President George W. Bush signs into law the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA), which creates the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and authorizes TSA to direct a team of air marshals and federal airport security screeners.
2001
United Kingdom passes a new counter-terrorist bill in December, the Anti-Terrorism, Crime, and Security Act. The act allows British authorities to detain suspected terrorists for up to six months before reviewing their cases and for additional six-month periods after that. As in the United States, civil liberty advocate groups in the United Kingdom criticize the new law for potentially infringing upon a basic civil liberty, specifically the right to avoid unlawful detention and gain access to a speedy trial.
2001
The Chemical and Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) sends a 100-member initial response team into the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington on December 2 alongside EPA specialists to detect and remove anthrax spores which had been introduced into the building in a letter. A similar mission was undertaken at the Longworth House Office Building in October, during which time samples were collected from more than 200 office spaces.
2001
FBI Director Mueller orders the reorganization of FBI operations on December 3 to respond to a revised agency mission that emphasizes terrorism prevention and internal accountability, and strengthens partnerships with domestic and international law enforcement.
2001
Enough closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV) are installed in public places in Britain that, on an average day in any large British city, security experts calculate that a person will have over 300 opportunities to be captured on CCTV during the course of normal daily activities.
2001
U.S. unmanned plane completes trans-Pacific flight from California to Australia.
2001
Brian Regan, retired U.S. Air Force master sergeant and cryptanalyst, is arrested on charges of spying for Iraq, Libya and China.
2002
In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the U.S. government dramatically increases funding to stockpile drugs and other agents that could be used to counter a bioterrorism attack.
2002
An explosives-laden boat rams the French oil tanker Limburg off the coast of Yemen, killing one member of the tanker's crew, tearing a hole in the vessel and spilling 90,000 barrels of oil. U.S. experts believe that the attack was perpetrated by al-Qaeda members.
2002
Industrialized nations pledge $10 billion to help Russia secure Soviet era nuclear weapons and materials.
2002
The planned destruction of stocks of smallpox-causing Variola virus at the two remaining depositories in the United States and Russia is delayed over fears that large-scale production of vaccine might be needed in the event of a bioterrorist action.
2002
More than 1,300 FBI personnel, along with representatives of other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, ensure safety at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. Preparations for the games began in May 1998 and included multiple training exercises involving weapons of mass destruction scenarios.
2002
Scientists at Russia's DS Likhachev Scientific Research Institute for Cultural Heritage and Environmental Protection successfully breed a new kind of highly efficient explosives sniffer dog. The new breed is a cross between a jackal and a Russian Husky.
2002
The Pathogen Genomic Sequencing program is initiated by DARPA to focus on characterizing the genetic components of pathogens in order to develop diagnostics, treatments and therapies for the diseases they cause.
2002
GAO reports that 13 of the hijackers involved in the September 11 attacks had not been interviewed by U.S. consular officials prior to the granting of visas.
2002
DARPA initiates the Biosensor Technologies program in 2002 to develop fast, sensitive, automatic technologies for the detection and identification of biological warfare agents.
2002
A report released in March by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine concludes that AVA anthrax vaccine is "acceptably safe."
2002
Russian and NATO foreign ministers reach final agreement in May on the establishment of the NATO-Russia Council, in which Russia and the 19 NATO countries will have an equal role in decision-making on policy to counter terrorism and other security threats.
2002
NATO secretary-general George Robertson visits Ukrainian capital in July and welcomes Ukraine's declared desire for membership, but he states that further political, economic, and military reforms are necessary before Ukraine can join.
2002
The United States withdraws from the ABM treaty in July.
2002
President Bush calls upon the UN to confront the Iraqi threat and usurp potential Iraqi transfer of weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups.
2002
On October 1, the U.S. Strategic Command and U.S. Space Command merge to form USSTRATCOM, located at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.
2002
Under threat of serious consequences, including potential military action based on UN Resolution 1441, Iraq allows IAEA's Iraq Action Team to resume inspections in Iraq. The Iraq Action Team is renamed the Iraq Nuclear Verification Office (INVO).
2002
London police arrest seven men in connection with ricin manufacture.
2002
On November 26, President Bush signs into law the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, intended to cover the private sector in the event of terrorist attacks such as those that occurred on September 11.
2002
Seven countries—Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, are invited to join the European Union at a summit meeting in Prague.
2002
Congress passes and President Bush signs the Homeland Security Act of 2002 into law creating the Department of Homeland Security.
2002
In November, a CIA-operated Predator drone fires a missile that kills Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant in Yemen, Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi, and five other al-Qaeda suspects.
2002
A group of Swiss researchers at the Lausanne-based Dalle Molle Institute for Perceptual Artificial Intelligence claim they are 95 percent certain that a tape purported to show Osama Bin Laden and played on Arabic television network Al-Jazeera was a fake. U.S. officials continue to assert that the tape is probably genuine. Investigators claim that the poor tape quality defeats sophisticated efforts using aural spectrogram machines that rely on biometric algorithms to analyze breath patterns, syllable emphasis, frequency of speech, rate of speech, and other factors. Over the next several months, additional tapes are released with experts generally agreeing only that the voice alleged to be that of bin Laden could be genuine. The authenticity of the tapes was critical to determine if the al-Qaeda leader had survived the U.S. war against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
2002
Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri—allegeded to be leader of al-Queda operations in the Persian Gulf—is captured. Nashiri, also known as Abu Asim al-Makki, is suspected of masterminding the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole.
2002
Anas al-Liby, one of the FBI's most-wanted fugitives, is captured in Afghanistan. Al-Liby was allegedly linked to the 1998 bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
2002
Ramzi Binalshibh, allegedly one of the most senior al-Qaeda members, is arrested in Pakistan.
2002
Trial of Mounir al-Motassadek begins in Germany. Al-Motassadek, a Moroccan, is the first man to stand trial in the September 11 attacks and is charged with being an accessory to more than 3,000 murders in New York and Washington, and of belonging to an al-Qaeda cell in Hamburg. Motassadek claims he knew the hijackers, but only socially; he is convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison for being a co-conspirator.
2002
Zacarias Moussaoui, a 34-year-old French citizen of Moroccan origin, is charged with six counts of conspiracy and faces a possible death sentence for alleged involvement in the September 11 attacks. Moussaoui is referred to as the "20th hijacker"; it is suspected that he was unable to participate in the mission because he had been placed under arrest on an unrelated charge. Moussaoui denies involvement in the attacks but admits to being a member of the al-Qaeda network and at his trial publicly supports the actions of the terrorists.
2002
In December, North Korea expels IAEA inspectors, removes surveillance equipment from nuclear facilities, and announces an intent to make plants operational.
2003
Office of Homeland Security becomes Department of Homeland Security on January 24.
2003
President Bush announces formation of Project BioShield during his 2003 State of the Union Address.
2003
Scientists at Sandia National Laboratory report achieving limited controlled fusion using a pulsed power source.
2003
North Korea pulls out of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
2003
U.S. secretary of state Colin L. Powell presents to the UN Security Council evidence of Iraq's continued development of prohibited biological weapons.
2003
NATO's internal divisions are highlighted as France, Germany, and Belgium temporarily block U.S. moves to offer military support to Turkey in the event of war in Iraq.
2003
Ten suspected terrorists mysteriously vanish from a high-security prison in Yemen. Among the escapees are two top suspects in the bombing of the USS Cole.
2003
Richard Reid, the "shoe bomber" who attempted a suicide bombing of an American Airlines Paris-to-Miami flight in December 2001, pleads guilty on all eight charges against him and declares himself a follower of Osama bin Laden. Reid is sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.
2003
U.S. government officials claim that the capture of top al-Qaeda lieutenant Khalid Sheik Mohammed, allegedly al-'s chief operations planner, also yields valuable documents and computer files outlining al-Qaeda operations.
2003
August 19: a truck-bomb explodes near the UN Iraq headquarters in Baghdad, killing 17, including Sergio Vieira de Mello, head of the UN delegation in Iraq.
2003
Virtually all agencies scheduled for transfer to the new Department of Homeland Security are officially moved in a March 1 ceremony attended by President Bush.
2003
Break-up of the space shuttle Columbia upon reentry. Scientists use GIS technology to map debris field.
2003
Carbon-graphite coils capable of generating an electromagnetic pulse or otherwise disabling electronics are used in U.S.-led raids on Baghdad, Iraq.
2003
Dolphins and sea lions used in mine detection and swimmer defense in waters off of Iraq.
2003
U.S. intelligence sources indicate that at least 17 nations around the globe have offensive biological weapons programs.
2003
On March 17, U.S. president Bush gives Saddam Hussein and his sons 48 hours to leave Iraq or face war. On March 20, American missiles hit "targets of opportunity" in Baghdad, marking the start of the war to oust Hussein. Intelligence sources on the ground in Iraq have indicated that Hussein and other elements of the Iraqi leadership are meeting in a bunker in Baghdad. In less than 45 minutes, a U.S. B-2 stealth bomber armed with "bunker-buster" munitions attempts to eliminate the Iraqi leadership. For several weeks the fate of Hussein is debated, with Iraqi television showing images of Hussein that do not definitively verify his survival. Within days, U.S. and British ground troops enter Iraq from the south, and on April 9, U.S. forces advance into central Baghdad. Hussein government is toppled, but U.S. efforts to establish order and a new government are hampered by sporadic attacks and sectarian violence.
2003
PLF leader Abu Abbas, found guilty of the murder of an elderly American during the 1985 terrorist hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro, is discovered and arrested in Baghdad following Operation Iraqi Freedom.
2003
UN Security Council approves resolution backing the U.S.-led administration in Iraq and plan to lift economic sanctions. U.S. administrator abolishes the Baath Party and security institutions of Saddam Hussein's regime.
2003
August 19: a truck-bomb explodes near the UN Iraq headquarters in Baghdad, killing 17, including Sergio Vieira de Mello, head of the UN delegation in Iraq.
2003
September 23: two U.S. military personnel who have been working at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility, where suspected al-Qaeda members are being held, are accused of espionage.



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