|Seal of the C.I.A. - Central Intelligence Agency of the United States Government (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is one of the principal intelligence-gathering agencies of the United States federal government. The CIA's headquarters is in Langley, Virginia, a few miles west of Washington, D.C. Its employees operate from U.S. embassies and many other locations around the world. The only independent U.S. intelligence agency, it reports to the Director of National Intelligence.
The CIA has three traditional principal activities, which are gathering information about foreign governments, corporations, and individuals; analyzing that information, along with intelligence gathered by other U.S. intelligence agencies, in order to provide national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers; and, upon the request of the President of the United States, carrying out or overseeing covert activities and some tactical operations by its own employees, by members of the U.S. military, or by other partners. It can, for example, exert foreign political influence through its tactical divisions, such as the Special Activities Division.
The CIA has increasingly taken on offensive roles, including covert paramilitary operations
The CIA succeeded the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), formed during World War II to coordinate secret espionage activities against the Axis Powers for the branches of the United States Armed Forces. The National Security Act of 1947 established the CIA, affording it "no police or law enforcement functions, either at home or abroad".
There has been considerable criticism of the CIA relating to security and counterintelligence failures, failures in intelligence analysis, human rights concerns, external investigations and document releases, influencing public opinion and law enforcement, drug trafficking, and lying to Congress. Others, such as Eastern bloc defector Ion Mihai Pacepa, have defended the CIA as "by far the world’s best intelligence organization," and argued that CIA activities are subjected to scrutiny unprecedented among the world's intelligence agencies.
According to its fiscal 2013 budget, the CIA has five priorities:
- Counterterrorism, the top priority given the ongoing Global War on Terror.
- Nonproliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, with North Korea described as perhaps the most difficult target.
- Warning American leaders of important overseas events, with Pakistan described as an "intractable target".
- Counterintelligence, with China, Russia, Iran, Cuba, and Israel described as "priority" targets.
- Cyber intelligence.
- The Directorate of Intelligence, responsible for all-source intelligence research and analysis
- The National Clandestine Service, formerly the Directorate of Operations, which does clandestine intelligence collection and covert action
- The Directorate of Support
- The Directorate of Science and Technology
The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (D/CIA) reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI); in practice, he deals with the DNI, Congress (usually via the Office of Congressional Affairs), and the White House, while the Deputy Director is the internal executive. The CIA has varying amounts of Congressional oversight, although that is principally a guidance role.
The Executive Office also facilitates the CIA's support of the U.S. military by providing it with information it gathers, receiving information from military intelligence organizations, and cooperating on field activities. Two senior executives have responsibility, one CIA-wide and one for the National Clandestine Service. The Associate Director for Military Support, a senior military officer, manages the relationship between the CIA and the Unified Combatant Commands, who produce regional/operational intelligence and consume national intelligence; he is assisted by the Office of Military Affairs in providing support to all branches of the military.
In the National Clandestine Services, an Associate Deputy Director for Operations for Military Affairs deals with specific clandestine human-source intelligence and covert action in support of military operations.
The CIA makes national-level intelligence available to tactical organizations, usually to their all-source intelligence group.
Staff offices with several general responsibilities report to the Executive Office. The staff also gather information and then report such information to the Executive Office.
The CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence maintains the Agency's historical materials and promotes the study of intelligence as a legitimate discipline.
In 2002, the CIA's School for Intelligence Analysis began publishing the unclassified Kent Center Occasional Papers, aiming to offer "an opportunity for intelligence professionals and interested colleagues—in an unofficial and unfettered vehicle—to debate and advance the theory and practice of intelligence analysis."
General Counsel and Inspector General
Two offices advise the Director on legality and proper operations. The Office of General Counsel advises the Director of the CIA on all legal matters relating to his role as CIA director and is the principal source of legal counsel for the CIA.
The Office of Inspector General promotes efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability in the administration of Agency activities, and seeks to prevent and detect fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement. The Inspector General, whose activities are independent of those of any other component in the Agency, reports directly to the Director of the CIA.
Influencing public opinion
The Office of Public Affairs is often in charge of creating state funded propaganda for the masses. Such as the 9/11 counter terror administration advises the Director of the CIA on all media, public policy, and employee communications issues relating to this person's role. This office, among other functions, works with the entertainment industry.
Directorate of Intelligence
The Directorate of Intelligence produces all-source intelligence investigation on key foreign and intercontinental issues relating to powerful and sometimes anti-government sensitive topics. It has four regional analytic groups, six groups for transnational issues, and two support units.
There is an Office dedicated to Iraq, and regional analytical Offices covering:
- The Office of Middle East and North Africa Analysis (MENA)
- The Office of South Asia Analysis (OSA)
- The Office of Russian and European Analysis (OREA)
- The Office of Asian Pacific, Latin American and African Analysis (APLAA)
The Office of Terrorism Analysis supports the National Counterterrorism Center in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. See CIA transnational anti-terrorism activities.
The Office of Transnational Issues assesses perceived existing and emerging threats to US national security and provides the most senior policymakers, military planners, and law enforcement with analysis, warning, and crisis support.
The CIA Crime and Narcotics Center researches information on international crime for policymakers and the law enforcement community. As the CIA has no legal domestic police authority, it usually sends its analyses to the FBI and other law enforcement organizations, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
The Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control Center provides intelligence support related to national and non-national threats, as well as supporting threat reduction and arms control. It receives the output of national technical means of verification.
The Counterintelligence Center Analysis Group identifies, monitors, and analyzes the efforts of foreign intelligence entities, both national and non-national, against US government interests. It works with FBI personnel in the National Counterintelligence Executive of the Director of National Intelligence.
The Information Operations Center Analysis Group. deals with threats to US computer systems. This unit supports DNI activities.
Support and general units
The Office of Collection Strategies and Analysis provides comprehensive intelligence collection expertise to the Directorate of Intelligence, to senior Agency and Intelligence Community officials, and to key national policymakers.
The Office of Policy Support customizes Directorate of Intelligence analysis and presents it to a wide variety of policy, law enforcement, military, and foreign liaison recipients.
National Clandestine Service
The National Clandestine Service (NCS; formerly the Directorate of Operations) is responsible for collecting foreign intelligence, mainly from clandestine HUMINT sources, and covert action. The new name reflects its role as the coordinator of human intelligence activities among other elements of the wider U.S. intelligence community with their own HUMINT operations. The NCS was created in an attempt to end years of rivalry over influence, philosophy and budget between the United States Department of Defense and the CIA. In spite of this, the Department of Defense recently organized its own global clandestine intelligence service, the Defense Clandestine Service, under the Defense Intelligence Agency.
The precise present organization of the NCS is classified.
Directorate of Science and Technology
The Directorate of Science & Technology was established to research, create, and manage technical collection disciplines and equipment. Many of its innovations were transferred to other intelligence organizations, or, as they became more overt, to the military services.
For example, the development of the U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft was done in cooperation with the United States Air Force. The U-2's original mission was clandestine imagery intelligence over denied areas such as the Soviet Union. It was subsequently provided with signals intelligence and measurement and signature intelligence capabilities, and is now operated by the Air Force.
Imagery intelligence collected by the U-2 and reconnaissance satellites was analyzed by a DS&T organization called the National Photointerpretation Center (NPIC), which had analysts from both the CIA and the military services. Subsequently, NPIC was transferred to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).
The CIA has always shown a strong interest in how to use advances in technology to enhance its effectiveness. This interest has historically had two primary goals:
- harnessing techniques for its own use
- countering any new intelligence technologies the Soviets might develop.
In 1999, the CIA created the venture capital firm In-Q-Tel to help fund and develop technologies of interest to the agency. It has long been the IC practice to contract for major development, such as reconnaissance aircraft and satellites.
Directorate of Support
The Directorate of Support has organizational and administrative functions to significant units including:
- The Office of Security
- The Office of Communications
- The Office of Information Technology
The CIA established its first training facility, the Office of Training and Education, in 1950. Following the end of the Cold War, the CIA's training budget was slashed, which had a negative effect on employee retention. In response, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet established CIA University in 2002. CIA University holds between 200 and 300 courses each year, training both new hires and experienced intelligence officers, as well as CIA support staff. The facility works in partnership with the National Intelligence University, and includes the Sherman Kent School for Intelligence Analysis, the Directorate of Intelligence's component of the university.
For later stage of training of student operations officers, there is at least one classified training area at Camp Peary, near Williamsburg, Virginia. Students are selected, and their progress evaluated, in ways derived from the OSS, published as the book Assessment of Men, Selection of Personnel for the Office of Strategic Services. Additional mission training is conducted at Harvey Point, North Carolina.
The primary training facility for the Office of Communications is Warrenton Training Center, located near Warrenton, Virginia. The facility was established in 1951 and has been used by the CIA since at least 1955.
Details of the overall United States intelligence budget are classified. Under the Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949, the Director of Central Intelligence is the only federal government employee who can spend "un-vouchered" government money. The government has disclosed a total figure for all non-military intelligence spending since 2007; the fiscal 2013 figure is $52.6 billion. According to the 2013 mass surveillance disclosures, the CIA's fiscal 2013 budget is $14.7 billion, 28% of the total and almost 50% more than the budget of the National Security Agency. CIA's HUMINT budget is $2.3 billion, the SIGINT budget is $1.7 billion, and spending for security and logistics of CIA missions is $2.5 billion. "Covert action programs", including a variety of activities such as the CIA's drone fleet and anti-Iranian nuclear program activities, accounts for $2.6 billion.
There were numerous previous attempts to obtain general information about the budget. As a result, it was revealed that CIA's annual budget in Fiscal Year 1963 was US $550 million (inflation-adjusted US$ 4.1 billion in 2013), and the overall intelligence budget in FY 1997 was US $26.6 billion (inflation-adjusted US$ 38 billion in 2013). There have been accidental disclosures; for instance, Mary Margaret Graham, a former CIA official and deputy director of national intelligence for collection in 2005, said that the annual intelligence budget was $44 billion, and in 1994 Congress accidentally published a budget of $43.4 billion (in 2012 dollars) in 1994 for the non-military National Intelligence Program, including $4.8 billion for the CIA.
In Legacy of Ashes-The History of the CIA, Tim Weiner claims that early funding was solicited by James Forrestal and Allen Dulles from private Wall Street and Washington, D.C. sources. Next Forrestal convinced "an old chum," John W. Snyder, the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and one of Truman's closest allies, to allow the use of the $200 million Exchange Stabilization Fund by CIA fronts to influence European elections, beginning with Italy.
After the Marshall Plan was approved, appropriating $13.7 billion over five years, 5% of those funds or $685 million were made available to the CIA.
Robert Baer, a CNN analyst and former CIA operative, stated that normally a CIA employee undergoes a polygraph examination every three to four years.
Relationship with other intelligence agencies
The CIA acts as the primary US HUMINT, human intelligence, and general analytic agency, under the Director of National Intelligence, who directs or coordinates the 16 member organizations of the United States Intelligence Community. In addition, it obtains information from other U.S. government intelligence agencies, commercial information sources, and foreign intelligence services.
CIA employees form part of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) workforce, originally created as a joint office of the CIA and US Air Force to operate the spy satellites of the US military.
The Special Collections Service is a joint CIA and National Security Agency (NSA) office that conducts clandestine electronic surveillance in embassies and hostile territory throughout the world.
Foreign intelligence services
The role and functions of the CIA are roughly equivalent to those of the United Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Service (the SIS or MI6,)the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), the Egyptian General Intelligence Service, the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki) (SVR), the Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the French foreign intelligence service Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (DGSE) and Israel's Mossad. While the preceding agencies both collect and analyze information, some like the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research are purely analytical agencies.
The closest links of the U.S. IC to other foreign intelligence agencies are to Anglophone countries: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. There is a special communications marking that signals that intelligence-related messages can be shared with these four countries. An indication of the United States' close operational cooperation is the creation of a new message distribution label within the main U.S. military communications network. Previously, the marking of NOFORN (i.e., No Foreign Nationals) required the originator to specify which, if any, non-U.S. countries could receive the information. A new handling caveat, USA/AUS/CAN/GBR/NZL Five Eyes, used primarily on intelligence messages, gives an easier way to indicate that the material can be shared with Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, and New Zealand.
The task of the division called "Verbindungsstelle 61" of the German Bundesnachrichtendienst is keeping contact to the CIA office in Wiesbaden..