U.S. INTELLIGENCE IN BERLIN
West Berlin provided the United States and its Western Allies with an opportunity too valuable to ignore: the city was the best place in the world from which to conduct spy operations against the Soviet Union.
A number of the nations in World War II already had well-established intelligence services long before the war began, but this was not true of the United States. It was with the advent of war and the emergence of America as a world power that the necessity for a permanent intelligence service responsible for state security was recognized. The war had illustrated the tremendous importance to the Americans of intelligence as an arm of government, and its role in international relations. As the United States became locked into the postwar arms race with the Soviet Union, the only nation capable of challenging America’s world leadership, intelligence operations had already began to receive top priority in all aspects of foreign relations.
During the war the United States had created the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) as a primary intelligence agency headed by William Donovan. At first, it was a learning process for the United States, but soon the OSS began to grasp the art of secret warfare. In recognizing the crucial importance of intelligence in developing policy, the Americans were also able learn from their British ally, who had long since regarded the practice of intelligence as an essential tool in the conduct of government.