The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. Its primary function is collecting and analyzing information about foreign governments, corporations, and persons in order to advise public policymakers. Prior to December 2004, the CIA was literally the central intelligence organization for the US government. The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 created the office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), who took over some of the government and intelligence community (IC)-wide function that had previously been under the CIA. The DNI manages the United States Intelligence Community and in so doing it manages the intelligence cycle. Among the functions that moved to the DNI were the preparation of estimates reflecting the consolidated opinion of the 16 IC agencies, and preparation of briefings for the President. On July 30, 2008, President Bush issued Executive Order 13470 amending Executive Order 12333 to strengthen the role of the DNI.
When discussing the CIA, it is critical to distinguish whether one is speaking of the agency as it was during the period that it bore IC-wide responsibilities, or as it is today, given its present set of responsibilities. The IC still has internal politics, although an increasing number of interagency "centers", as well as the Intellipedia information sharing mechanism, are hoped to be improvements.
The current CIA still has a number of functions in common with other countries' intelligence agencies; see relationships with foreign intelligence agencies. The agency both collects and analyzes intelligence. The CIA's headquarters is in the community of Langley in the McLean CDP of Fairfax County, Virginia, a few miles west of Washington, D.C. along the Potomac River.
Sometimes, the CIA is referred to euphemistically in government and military parlance as Other Government Agencies (OGA), particularly when its operations in a particular area are an open secret. Other terms include The Company and The Agency.
The CIA has an executive office, four major directorates, and a variety of specialized offices. Prior to the creation of the Office of the Director of National Intelligences, it had some additional responsibilities for the IC as a whole.
Currently, the Central Intelligence Agency answers directly to the Director of National Intelligence, although the CIA Director may brief the President directly. The CIA has its budget approved by the Congress, a subset of which do see the line items. The intelligence community, however, does not take direct orders from the Congress. The National Security Advisor is a permanent member of the National Security Council, responsible for briefing the President with pertinent information collected by all 16 U.S. Intelligence Community agencies are under the policy, but not necessarily budgetary, authority of the Director of National Intelligence.
The effect of the personalities of the DCIs on the structure and behavior of the Agency and indeed the IC is analyzed in Painter's dissertation on "Early Leader Effects" of Donovan, Dulles and Hoover
Until the creation of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), the Director of the CIA met regularly with the President to issue daily reports on ongoing operations. After the creation of the post of DNI, currently Mike McConnell, the report is now given by the DNI—who oversees all US Intelligence activities, including intelligence community operations outside of CIA jurisdiction. Former CIA Director Porter Goss, who had been a CIA officer, denied this has had a diminishing effect on morale, but promoted his mission to reform the CIA into the lean and agile counter-terrorism focused force he believes it should be.
A Deputy Director of the CIA (DDCIA) Assists the Director in his duties as head of the CIA and exercises the powers of the Director when the Director’s position is vacant or in the Director’s absence or disability. Either the Director or Deputy Director may be a military officer, but both positions may not be filled, at the same time, by military officers.
On July 5, 2006, the position of Executive Director, who managed day-to-day operations and budget, was replaced with an Associate Deputy Director of the CIA (ADD)
The Office of Military Affairs provides intelligence and operational support to the US armed forces.
President George W. Bush, in creating the National Clandestine Service (NCS), made it clear policy that the CIA would be in charge of all human intelligence (HUMINT) operations. NCS, (formerly the Directorate of Operations, and earlier the "Directorate of Plans"), collects clandestine human intelligence collection, and conducts deniable psychological operations (psyops) and paramilitary operations. See, Psychological Operations (United States). Creation of the NCS was the culmination of a years old turf war regarding influence, philosophy and budget between the United States Department of Defense and the CIA. The Pentagon, through the DIA, wanted to take control of the CIA's paramilitary operations and many of its human assets. DoD had organized the Defense HUMINT Service, which, with the Presidential decision, became part of the NCS.
The CIA, which has for years held that human intelligence is the core of the agency, successfully argued that the CIA's decades long experience with human resources and civilian oversight made it the ideal choice. Thus, the CIA was given charge of all US human intelligence, but as a compromise, the Pentagon was authorized to include increased paramilitary capabilities in future budget requests. The military is also authorized to run Counterintelligence Force Protection Source Operations, which are directly related to the protection of military forces and facility. Another HUMINT area that remains with DoD is direct support to special operations, by an organization, originally called the Intelligence Support Activity (ISA), which is a special access program (i.e., separate from sensitive compartmented intelligence activities that must be reported to the Congressional intelligence committees). ISA and its successors transferred to the United States Special Operations Command, where their classified names and special access program designations are changed frequently.
The Tactical Exploitation of National Capabilities (TENCAP) program is a system of making national intelligence available to warfighters. TENCAP information most commonly comes from space-based and national-level aircraft programs, where CIA's responsibilities have moved, in many cases, to NRO, NSA, NGA, and DIA. Nevertheless, CIA still can serve such information, with the emphasis on HUMINT, and on technical sensors that need to be emplaced clandestinely in denied areas.
The C.I.A. has a secretive group called the Special Activities Division, prior to 1997 the group was called the special activities staff, little is known about the group.
While DHS, like the military, is seen principally as a consumer of national intelligence, but its border and transportation security functions will produce intelligence. At present, however, there is no well-defined way for DHS to task intelligence collection agencies with its requirements. One proposal suggests using the AD/MS as a prototype, to create an AD/Homeland Security in the CIA, and possibly an equivalent position in the Justice Department, which, through the FBI and other agencies, legally collects domestic intelligence. This proposal is one of many to improve coordination and avoid intelligence failures caused by not "connecting the dots", when the dots are held by different agencies.
Another function, however, was preparing "estimates", which try to predict the future. Estimates are a product of the intelligence community as a whole. National Intelligence Estimates were the most extensively coordinated documents, often that could be scheduled on a regular basis, such as a regular report on Soviet intentions. Special National Intelligence Estimates (SNIE) were quick-response publications, often providing guidance in a crisis, but were still interagency consensus rather than CIA alone.
CIA had a separate and prestigious office, going by different names and organizations, such as the Office of National Estimates, Board of National Estimates, or a set of National Intelligence Officers, which would seek out the consensus of all the intelligence agencies, and then have some of the most senior analysts write a draft. The idea of such estimates is often credited to Sherman Kent,sometimes called the father of US intelligence analysis, with special emphasis on the production of estimates. This function is now in the National Intelligence Council of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Originally defined in 1950, this responsibility stated "CIA is now in the business of producing what are called National Intelligence Estimates (NIE) along the lines laid down in NSC 50. These papers are interdepartmental in character, designed to focus all available intelligence on a problem of importance to the national security." In the early days of the process, CIA used the State Department's intelligence staff for drafting the NIEs, but a "small top level Office of National Estimates" was set up to integrate the departmental drafts. A senior CIA analyst responsible for the document would work out differences. There is also a process by which an agency can disagree with a comment called a "reclama", which is a footnote expressing an alternate position. For an example of such dissents, see Special National Intelligence Estimate 10-9-65 in CIA activities in Asia and the Pacific#Vietnam 1965: Viet Cong and DRV Reactions, where there are dissents to various parts from all or part of the military, and from the Department of State.
Upon approval by an interagency review committee, the paper becomes a NIE and is sent by the Director of Central Intelligence to the President, appropriate officers of Cabinet level, and the NSC.
Some open source intelligence OSINT, such as the Foreign Broadcast Information Service, were, at different times, part of the Directorate of Intelligence or the Directorate of Science & Technology. Along with other OSINT functions, the National Open Source Enterprise is now in the ODNI.
The Office of Transnational Issues applies unique functional expertise to assess existing and emerging threats to US national security and provides the most senior US policymakers, military planners, and law enforcement with analysis, warning, and crisis support.
The CIA Crime and Narcotics Center researches information on international narcotics trafficking and organized crime for policymakers and the law enforcement community. Since the CIA has no domestic police authority, it sends its analytic information to the FBI and other law enforcement organizations, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The Weapons, Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control Center provides intelligence support deals with national and non-national threats, as well as supporting threat reduction/arms control. This works with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
Again cooperating with the FBI for domestic activity, the Counterintelligence Center Analysis Group identifies, monitors, and analyzes the efforts of foreign intelligence entities, both national and non-national, against US interests.
The Information Operations Center Analysis Group evaluates foreign threats to US computer systems, particularly those that support critical infrastructures. It works with critical infrastructure protection organizations in the United States Department of Defense (e.g., CERT Coordination Center) and the Department of Homeland Security (e.g., United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team)
The Office of Policy Support customizes DI analysis and presents it to a wide variety of policy, law enforcement, military, and foreign liaison recipients.
While the NCS organization chart has not been published, although there have been prior descriptions of the Directorate of Plans or the Directorate of Operations, a fairly recent organization chart of the Defense HUMINT Service will indicate functions transferred into the NCS, and may well be fairly close to the overall NCS organizational structure.
There are references to earlier structures in various historical documents. For example, in a CIA paper on the internal probe into the Bay of Pigs, there are several comments on the Directorate of Plans organizational structure in 1962. Even though any large organization will constantly reorganize, the basic functions will stay and can be a clue to future organization.
At the top level, Deputy Director for Plans Richard Bissell had two Assistant Deputy Directors, C. Tracy Barnes and Richard Helms. Warner explains "operational details fell to Branch 4 (Cuba) of the DDP's Western Hemisphere Division (WH)", with some exceptions. Jacob Esterline, chief of the Cuba Branch, reported directly to Bissell and Barnes rather than to his division chief, J.C. King "although King was regularly informed and often consulted. To confuse matters still further, Branch 4 had no direct control over the Brigade's aircraft, which were managed by a separate DDP division that also took some orders directly from Deputy Director of Central Intelligence (DDCI) Charles P. Cabell, a US Air Force general who liked to keep his hand in the planning of airdrops and other missions," Air operations, therefore, were in a separate division either for covert support, paramilitary operations, or both.
Cuba Branch had a "Foreign Intelligence Section," foreign intelligence being a term of art for HUMINT. The branch, however, established "a separate "G-2" unit subordinate to its Paramilitary Section, which planned the actual invasion. This gives us the model of a geographic branch with subordinate sections, at least, for intelligence collection and paramilitary actions.
Warner's paper also mentions that certain DDP groups were outside the scope of the post-mortem by Executive Director Lyman Kirkpatrick, but their mention tells us that these were representative components of the DDP: "... the Havana station or the Santiago base, the development of foreign intelligence assets and liaison contacts, Division D's technical collection programs, or counter-intelligence work against the Cuban services." CIA "stations" are the parts of the embassy with officers under diplomatic cover, in a typical diplomatic office building. "Bases", however, are large facilities for supporting operations, typically with an airfield, secure warehouses, barracks and training areas. Division D was the joint CIA-NSA collection effort, where CIA would use clandestine operations personnel to emplace NSA SIGINT sensors. The reference to counter-intelligence work appears to refer to a main counterintelligence division, presumably the Counterintelligence Staff under James Jesus Angleton.
Its website mentions its priorities being in:
In January 2008, its featured collaboration was with Streambase Systems, makers of a "high-performance Complex Event Processing (CEP) software platform for real-time and historical analysis of high-volume intelligence data," using a new processing paradigm for Structured Query Language (SQL), allowing queries against multiple real-time data streams still updating the data base.
Smith presented the concept that the CIA would need a worldwide system of support bases, which usually could be tenant organizations on military bases. According to Smith's memo,
A major logistical support base will consist of a CIA base headquarters, training, communications, medical accommodation for evacuees and storage for six months’ hot war requirements as well as provide logistical support for CIA operational groups or headquarters... Informal planning along the lines indicated has been carried out by elements of CIA with ... the Joint Chiefs of Staff ...
The CIA was expected to reimburse "extraordinary expenses" incurred by the military services.
While military transportation might be appropriate for some purposes, there would be cases where the arrival of a military aircraft at a location other than a military base might draw undue attention. This was the origin of the idea of the CIA operating proprietary airlines, whose relationship to the US government would not be public. Among these organizations were airlines that provided covert logistical support, such as Civil Air Transport, Southern Air Transport, and consolidated them into Air America. The latter was heavily involved in support with the war in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam in the 1960s.
It is known, although not acknowledged by the U.S. Government, that the CIA runs at least two operations training facilities. One is known as The Farm, at Camp Peary, Virginia. The other is known as The Point at Harvey Point, North Carolina. While the course outline has never been revealed, it is believed to include such things as surveillance, countersurveillance, cryptography, paramilitary training as well as other tradecraft. The course is believed to be slightly less than a year and runs at irregular intervals depending on circumstances. Operations training is delivered by experienced operations officers.
Student progress is monitored by experienced evaluators that meet to discuss a recruit's progress and have the power to dismiss a recruit even before his or her training is complete. Evaluation techniques for the CIA's World War II predecessor, the OSS, were published as the book Assessment of Men, Selection of Personnel for the office of Strategic Services. See Roger Hall's You're Stepping on my Cloak and Dagger for an accurate but amusing account of Hall's OSS duty, which included finding unexpected solutions to things in the assessment process as well as his experience in real operations. He described a specific assessment period at a rural facility called "Station S". Hall said he tried to find out why it was called Station S, and finally decided the reason was that "assess" has more "S" letters than any other.
Psychological stress is part of operations training, but of a different type than military special operations force evaluation, such as the Navy SEAL Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL course or Army Special Forces Assessment and Selection. For instance, an operations training officer will often lie to a recruit saying they have evidence that will result in the recruit to be arrested and tried for felony crimes. This is a test of the recruit's ability to maintain a cover under stress.
Contrary to popular belief or what is seen in film and television series, American-born, professional employees trained to work for the National Clandestine Service (CIA) are never referred to as "secret agents", "spies", "agents" or "special agents", they are known as 'Operations Officers' or 'Case Officers', or Officer for short. To highlight this point: within the intelligence community, the equivalent of an FBI Special Agent is a CIA Officer. Within the law enforcement community, the equivalent of a CIA 'agent' is an FBI informant. There does not exist any working title or job position known as 'CIA Agent', agents of the CIA are usually always foreigners who choose to betray their own country by passing along secret information to the government through CIA Case Officers, who are posted at U.S. embassies worldwide.
These CIA Case Officers recruit foreign agents, known as 'assets', to give information to the CIA. There are a wide range of motivations for a person to become an asset; see CIA Case Officers are normally sent abroad under a cover identity, most commonly as a diplomat but sometimes under "nonofficial cover" using an assumed identity and having no immunity.
CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence maintains the Agency's historical materials and promotes the study of intelligence as a legitimate and serious discipline. The CIA since 1955 has published an in-house professional journal known as Studies in Intelligence that addresses historical, operational, doctrinal, and theoretical aspects of the intelligence profession. The Center also publishes unclassified and declassified Studies articles, as well as other books and monographs. A further annotated collection of Studies articles was published through Yale University Press under the title Inside CIA's Private World: Declassified Articles from the Agency's Internal Journal, 1955-1992.
In 2002, CIA's Sherman Kent 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."
The Office of Inspector General promotes efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability in the administration of Agency activities. OIG also seeks to prevent and detect fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement. The Inspector General is nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The Inspector General, whose activities are independent of those of any other component in the Agency, reports directly to the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. OIG conducts inspections, investigations, and audits at Headquarters and in the field, and oversees the Agency-wide grievance-handling system. The OIG provides a semiannual report to the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency which the Director is required by law to submit to the Intelligence Committees of Congress within 30 days.
In February 2008, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Michael V. Hayden, sent a message to employees that Inspector General John L. Helgerson will accept increased control over the investigations by that office, saying "John has chosen to take a number of steps to heighten the efficiency, assure the quality and increase the transparency of the investigation process". The Washington Post suggested this was a response to senior officials who believe the OIG has been too aggressive in looking into counterterrorism programs, including detention programs. The changes were the result of an investigation, begun in April 2007, by one of Hayden's assistants, Robert L. Deitz. There was congressional concern that restrictions on the OIG might have a chilling effect on its effectiveness. Senator Ron Wyden , a Democratic member of the Intelligence Committee, did not disagree with any of Hayden's actions, said the inquiry “should never have happened and can’t be allowed to happen again.”...“I’m all for the inspector general taking steps that help C.I.A. employees understand his processes, but that can be done without an approach that can threaten the inspector general’s independence
As do other analytic members of the U.S. intelligence community such as the Department of State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the analytic division of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), its raw input includes imagery intelligence IMINT collected by air and space systems of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) processed by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), signal intelligence SIGINT of the National Security Agency (NSA), and measurement and signature intelligence MASINT from the DIA MASINT center.
CIA still provides a variety of unclassified maps and reference documents both to the intelligence community and the public.
As part of its mandate to gather intelligence, CIA is looking increasingly online for information, and has become a major consumer of social media. "We're looking at YouTube, which carries some unique and honest-to-goodness intelligence," said Doug Naquin, director of the DNI Open Source Center (OSC) at CIA. "We're looking at chat rooms and things that didn't exist five years ago, and trying to stay ahead.
According to investigative journalist Tim Shorrock, "...what we have today with the intelligence business is something far more systemic: senior officials leaving their national security and counterterrorism jobs for positions where they are basically doing the same jobs they once held at the CIA, the NSA and other agencies - but for double or triple the salary, and for profit. It's a privatization of the highest order, in which our collective memory and experience in intelligence - our crown jewels of spying, so to speak - are owned by corporate America. Yet, there is essentially no government oversight of this private sector at the heart of our intelligence empire. And the lines between public and private have become so blurred as to be nonexistent.
Congress has required an outsourcing report by March 30, 2008.
The Director of National Intelligence has been granted the authority to increase the number of positions (FTEs) on elements in the Intelligence Community by up to 10% should there be a determination that activities performed by a contractor should be done by a US government employee.
Part of the contracting problem comes from Congressional restrictions on the number of employees in the IC. According to Hillhouse, this resulted in0% of the de facto workforce of the CIA's National Clandestine Service being made up of contractors. "After years of contributing to the increasing reliance upon contractors, Congress is now providing a framework for the conversion of contractors into federal government employees--more or less."As with most government agencies, building equipment often is contracted. The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), responsible for the development and operation of airborne and spaceborne sensors, long was a joint operation of the CIA and the United States Department of Defense. NRO had been significantly involved in the design of such sensors, but the NRO, then under DCI authority, contracted more of the design that had been their tradition, and to a contractor without extensive reconnaissance experience, Boeing.
The next-generation satellite Future Imagery Architecture project, which missed objectives after $4 billion in cost overruns, was the result of this contract.
Some of the cost problems associated with intelligence come from one agency, or even a group within an agency, not accepting the compartmented security practices for individual projects, requiring expensive duplication.
The role and functions of the CIA are roughly equivalent to those of the United Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki) (SVR), 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 US State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research are purely analytical agencies. See List of intelligence agencies.
The closest links of the US IC to other foreign intelligence agencies are Australia, Canada, Israel, 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 US military communications network. Previously, the marking of NOFORN (i.e., No Foreign Nationals) required the originator to specify which, if any, non-US countries could receive the information. A new handling caveat, USA/AUS/CAN/GBR/NZL Eyes Only, used primarily on intelligence messages, gives an easier way to indicate that the material can be shared with Australia, Canada, Great Britain, and New Zealand.
CIA personnel have died on duty, some in accidents and some by deliberate hostile action. On the memorial wall at CIA headquarters, some of the stars have no name attached, because it would reveal the identity of a clandestine officer. Both the OSS and its British counterparts, as do other agencies worldwide, struggle with finding the right organizational balance among clandestine intelligence collection, counterintelligence, and covert action. See Clandestine HUMINT and Covert Action for a historical perspective on this problem. These issues also bear on the reasons that, in the history below, some "eras" overlap. Also see the Wikipedia article Director of Central Intelligence, which contains an expanded history of CIA by director; the priorities and personalities of individual directors have had a strong influence on Agency operations.
|New Unit||Oversight||OSS Functions Absorbed|
|Strategic Services Unit (SSU)||War Department||Secret Intelligence (SI) (i.e., clandestine intelligence collection) and Counter-espionage (X-2)|
|Interim Research and Intelligence Service (IRIS)||State Department||Research and Analysis Branch (i.e., intelligence analysis)|
|Psychological Warfare Division (PWD) (not uniquely for former OSS)||War Department, Army General Staff||Staff officers from Operational Groups, Operation Jedburgh, Morale Operations (black propaganda)|
The National Security Council Directive on Office of Special Projects, June 18, 1948 (NSC 10/2) further gave the CIA the authority to carry out covert operations "against hostile foreign states or groups or in support of friendly foreign states or groups but which are so planned and conducted that any US Government responsibility for them is not evident to unauthorized persons."
In 1949, the Central Intelligence Agency Act (Public Law 81-110) authorized the agency to use confidential fiscal and administrative procedures, and exempting it from most of the usual limitations on the use of Federal funds. It also exempted the CIA from having to disclose its "organization, functions, officials, titles, salaries, or numbers of personnel employed." It also created the program "PL-110", to handle defectors and other "essential aliens" who fall outside normal immigration procedures, as well as giving those persons cover stories and economic support.
Also in 1952, United States Army Special Forces were created, with some missions overlapping those of the Department of Plans. In general, the pattern emerged that the CIA could borrow resources from Special Forces, although it had its own special operators.
Concern regarding the Soviet Union and the difficulty of getting information from its closed society, which few agents could penetrate, led to solutions based on advanced technology. Among the first success was with the Lockheed U-2 aircraft, which could take pictures and collect electronic signals from an altitude above Soviet air defenses' reach. After Gary Powers was shot down by an SA-2 surface to air missile in 1960, causing an international incident, the SR-71 was developed to take over this role.
During this period, there were numerous covert actions against perceived Communist expansion. Some of the largest operations were aimed at Cuba after the overthrow of the Batista government, including assassination attempts against Fidel Castro and the dubiously deniable Bay of Pigs Invasion. There have been suggestions that the Soviet attempt to put missiles into Cuba came, indirectly, when they realized how badly they had been compromised by a US-UK defector in place, Oleg Penkovsky.
The CIA, working with the military, formed the joint National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to operate reconnaissance aircraft such as the SR-71 and later satellites. "The fact of" the United States operating reconnaissance satellites, like "the fact of" the existence of NRO, was highly classified for many years.
The first CIA mission to Indochina, under the code name Saigon Military Mission arrived in 1954, under Edward Lansdale. US-based analysts were simultaneously trying to project the evolution of political power, both if the scheduled referendum chose merger of the North and South, or if the South, the US client, stayed independent. Initially, the US focus in Southeast Asia was on Laos, not Vietnam.
During the period of American combat involvement in the Vietnam War, there was considerable arguments about progress among the Department of Defense under Robert S. McNamara, the CIA, and, to some extent, the intelligence staff of the Military Assistance Command Vietnam. In general, the military was consistently more optimistic than the CIA. Sam Adams, a junior CIA analyst with responsibilities for estimating the actual damage to the enemy, eventually resigned from the CIA, after expressing concern, to Director of Central Intelligence Richard Helms with estimates that were changed for interagency and White House political reasons, writing the book War of Numbers.
In 1973, then-DCI James R. Schlesinger commissioned reports known as the "Family Jewels" on illegal activities by the Agency. In December 1974, Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh broke the news of the "Family Jewels" in a front-page article in The New York Times, revealing that the CIA had assassinated foreign leaders, and had conducted surveillance on some seven thousand American citizens involved in the antiwar movement (Operation CHAOS).
Congress responded to the disturbing charges in 1975, investigating the CIA in the Senate via the Church Committee, chaired by Senator Frank Church (D-Idaho), and in the House of Representatives via the Pike Committee, chaired by Congressman Otis Pike (D-NY). In addition, President Gerald Ford created the Rockefeller Commission, and issued an Executive Order prohibiting the assassination of foreign leaders.
Repercussions from the Iran-Contra Affair arms smuggling scandal included the creation of the Intelligence Authorization Act in 1991. It defined covert operations as secret missions in geopolitical areas where the U.S. is neither openly nor apparently engaged. This also required an authorizing chain of command, including an official, presidential finding report and the informing of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, which, in emergencies, requires only "timely notification".
Currently, the Central Intelligence Agency reports to the Director of National Intelligence. Prior to the establishment of the DNI, the CIA reported to the President, with informational briefings to U.S. Congressional committees The National Security Advisor is a permanent member of the National Security Council, responsible for briefing the President with pertinent information collected by all U.S. intelligence agencies, including the National Security Agency, the Drug Enforcement Administration, et cetera; all sixteen Intelligence Community agencies are under the authority of the Director of National Intelligence.
These articles are organized in two different ways: By geographical region (for state actors or non-state actors limited to a country or region) and by transnational topic (for non-state actors).
CIA operations by region, country and date are discussed in detail in the following Wikipedia articles:
CIA analyses of issues such as the effect of emerging diseases, and the detection of WMDs, are inherently transnational, and are discussed in the following articles. CIA operations and, where appropriate, authorizations for covert operations (for example, NSDD 138 authorizing direct action against terrorists) by transnational topic are discussed in the following Wikipedia articles:
In addition, a view of covert US activity specifically oriented towards regime change actions is given in the following Wikipedia article:
Major sources for this section include the Council on Foreign Relations of the United States series, the National Security Archive and George Washington University, the Freedom of Information Act Reading Room at the CIA, U.S. Congressional hearings, Blum's book and Weiner's book Note that the CIA has posted a rebuttal to Weiner's book, and that Jeffrey Richelson of the National Security Archive has also been sharply critical of it.
Areas of controversy about inappropriate, often illegal actions include experiments, without consent, on human beings to explore chemical means of eliciting information or disabling people. Another area involved torture and clandestine imprisonment. There have been attempted assassinations under CIA orders and support for assassinations of foreign leaders by citizens of the leader's country, and, in a somewhat different legal category that may fall under the customary laws of war, targeted killing of terrorist leaders.
In what is now the National Clandestine Service, there is a counter-intelligence function, called the Counterintelligence Staff under its most controversial chief, James Jesus Angleton. This function has roles including looking for staff members that are providing information to foreign intelligence services (FIS) as moles. Another role is to check proposals for recruiting foreign HUMINT assets, to see if these people have any known ties to FIS and thus may be attempts to penetrate CIA to learn its personnel and practices, or as a provocateur, or other form of double agent.
This agency component may also launch offensive counterespionage, where it attempts to interfere with FIS operations. CIA officers in the field often have assignments in offensive counterespionage as well as clandestine intelligence collection.
The "Family Jewels" and other documents reveal that the Office of Security violated the prohibition of CIA involvement in domestic law enforcement, sometimes with the intention of assisting police organizations local to CIA buildings.
On February 24, 1994, the agency was rocked by the arrest of 31-year veteran case officer Aldrich Ames on charges of spying for the Soviet Union since 1985.
Other defectors have included Edward Lee Howard, a field operations officer, and William Kampiles, a low-level worker in the CIA 24-hour Operations Center. Kampiles sold the Soviets the detailed operational manual for the KH-11 reconnaissance satellite.
See the information technology section of the intelligence analysis management for discussion of possible failures to provide adequate automation support to analysts, and US intelligence community A-Space for a IC-wide program to collect some of them. Cognitive traps for intelligence analysis also goes into areas where CIA has examined why analysis can fail.
Agency veterans have lamented CIA's inability to produce the kind of long-range strategic intelligence that it once did in order to guide policymakers. John McLaughlin, who was deputy director and acting director of central intelligence from October 2000 to September 2004, said that drowned by demands from the White House and Pentagon for instant information, "intelligence analysts end up being the Wikipedia of Washington. In the intelligence analysis article, orienting oneself to the consumers deals with some of ways in which intelligence can become more responsive to the needs of policymakers.
For the media, the failures are most newsworthy. A number of declassified National Intelligence Estimates do predict the behavior of various countries, but not in a manner attractive to news, or, most significantly, not public at the time of the event. In its operational role, some successes for the CIA include the U-2 and SR-71 programs, and anti-Soviet operations in Afghanistan in the mid-1980s.
Among the first analytic failures, before the CIA had its own collection capabilities, it assured President Harry S Truman on October 13, 1950 that the Chinese would not send troops to Korea. Six days later, over one million Chinese troops arrived. See an analysis of the failure; also see surrounding text for the two Koreas and China, and the time period before the Korean War. Earlier, the intelligence community failed to detect the North Korean invasion, in part because resources were not allocated to SIGINT coverage of the Korean peninsula.
The history of US intelligence, with respect to French Indochina and then the two Vietnams, is long and complex. The Pentagon Papers often contain pessimistic CIA analyses that conflicted with White House positions. It does appear that some estimates were changed to reflect Pentagon and White House views.. See CIA activities in Asia and the Pacific for detailed discussions of intelligence and covert operations from 1945 (i.e., before the CIA) onwards.
Another criticism is the failure to predict India's nuclear tests in 1974. A review of the various analyses of India's nuclear program did predict some aspects of the test, such as a 1965 report saying, correctly, that if India did develop a bomb, it would be explained as "for peaceful purposes".
A major criticism is failure to forestall the September 11, 2001 attacks. The 9/11 Commission Report identifies failures in the IC as a whole. One problem, for example, was the FBI failing to "connect the dots" by sharing information among its decentralized field offices. The report, however, criticizes both CIA analysis, and impeding their investigation.
The executive summary of a report which was released by the office of CIA Inspector General John Helgerson on August 21, 2007 concluded that former DCI George Tenet failed to adequately prepare the agency to deal with the danger posed by Al Qaeda prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001. The report had been completed in June, 2005 and was partially released to the public in an agreement with Congress, over the objections of current DCI General Michael V. Hayden. Hayden said its publication would "consume time and attention revisiting ground that is already well plowed.” Tenet disagreed with the report's conclusions, citing his planning efforts vis-a-vis al-Qaeda, particularly from 1999.
The CIA has been called into question on several occasions for some of the tactics it employs to carry out its missions. At times these tactics have included torture, training of groups and organizations that would later participate in killing of civilians and other non-combatants, human experimentation, and targeted killings and assassinations.
In understanding the CIA's role in human rights, there are challenging problems of ethics. John Stockwell, a CIA officer who left the Agency and became a public critic, said of the CIA field officers: "They don't meet the death squads on the streets where they're actually chopping up people or laying them down on the street and running trucks over their heads. The CIA people in San Salvador meet the police chiefs, and the people who run the death squads, and they do liaise with them, they meet them beside the swimming pool of the villas. And it's a sophisticated, civilized kind of relationship. And they talk about their children, who are going to school at UCLA or Harvard and other schools, and they don't talk about the horrors of what's being done. They pretend like it isn't true.".
Most recently, in 2007, Red Cross investigators concluded in a secret report that the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation methods for high-level al Qaeda prisoners constituted torture which could make the Bush administration officials who approved them guilty of war crimes.
Several investigations (e.g., the Church Committee, Rockefeller Commission, Pike Committee, etc.), as well as released declassified documents, reveal that the CIA, at times, operated outside its charter. In some cases, such as during Watergate, this may have been due to inappropriate requests by White House staff. In other cases, there was a violation of Congressional intent, such as the Iran-Contra affair. In many cases, these reports provide the only official discussion of these actions available to the public.
While the United States was involved in the prosecution of war criminals, US military and intelligence agencies protected some war criminals in the interest of obtaining technical or intelligence information from them, or taking part in ongoing intelligence or engineering (e.g., Operation Paperclip). Multiple US intelligence organizations were involved, and many of these relationships were formed before the creation of the CIA in 1947, but the CIA, in some cases, took over the relationships and concealed them for nearly 60 years.
The network that became known as al-Qaeda ("The Base") grew out of Arab volunteers who fought the Soviets and their puppet regimes in Afghanistan in the 1980s. In 1984 Abdullah Azzam and Osama bin Laden set up an organization known as the Office of Services in Peshawar, Pakistan, to coordinate and finance the "Afghan Arabs", as the volunteers became known.
The CIA also channeled US aid to Afghan resistance fighters via Pakistan in a covert operation known as Operation Cyclone. It denied dealing with non-Afghan fighters, or having direct contact with bin Laden. However, various authorities relate that the Agency brought both Afghans and Arabs to the United States for military training. Azzam and Bin Laden set up recruitment offices in the US, under the name "Al-Khifah", the hub of which was the Farouq Mosque in Brooklyn's Atlantic Avenue. This was "a place of pivotal importance for Operation Cyclone".
Among notable figures at the Brooklyn center was the Egyptian "double agent" Ali Mohamed, who worked for the CIA, the Green Berets, Egyptian Islamic Jihad and al-Qaeda at various times in the 1980s and 1990s. FBI special agent Jack Cloonan called him "bin Laden's first trainer". Another was "Blind Sheikh" Abdel Rahman, a leading recruiter of mujaheddin, who obtained US entry visas with the help of the CIA in 1987 and 1990.
In about 1988 Bin Laden set up al-Qaeda from the more extreme elements of the Services Office. But it was not a large organization. When Jamal al-Fadl (who had been recruited through the Brooklyn center in the mid 1980s) joined in 1989, he was described as Qaeda's "third member".
In January 1996 the CIA created an experimental "virtual station", the Bin Laden Issue Station, under the Counterterrorist Center, to track Bin Laden's developing activities. Al-Fadl, who defected to the CIA in spring 1996, began to provide the Station with a new image of the Qaeda leader: he was not only a terrorist financier, but a terrorist organizer too. FBI special agent Dan Coleman (who together with his partner Jack Cloonan had been "seconded" to the Bin Laden Station) called him Qaeda's "Rosetta Stone".
In 1999 CIA chief George Tenet launched a grand "Plan" to deal with al-Qaeda. The Counterterrorist Center, its new chief Cofer Black and the center's Bin Laden unit were the Plan's developers and executors. Once it was prepared Tenet assigned CIA intelligence chief Charles E. Allen to set up a "Qaeda cell" to oversee its tactical execution. In 2000 the CIA and USAF jointly ran a series of flights over Afghanistan with a small remote-controlled reconnaissance drone, the Predator; they obtained probable photos of Bin Laden. Cofer Black and others became advocates of arming the Predator with missiles to try to assassinate Bin Laden and other Qaeda leaders. After the Cabinet-level Principals Committee meeting on terrorism of September 4, 2001, the CIA resumed reconnaissance flights, the drones now being weapons-capable.
The CIA set up a Strategic Assessments Branch in 2001 to remedy the deficit of "big-picture" analysis of al-Qaeda, and apparently to develop targeting strategies. The branch was formally set up in July 2001, but it struggled to find personnel. The branch's head took up his job on September 10, 2001.
After 9/11, the CIA came under criticism for not having done enough to prevent the attacks. Tenet rejected the criticism, citing the Agency's planning efforts especially over the preceding two years. He also considered that the CIA's efforts had put the Agency in a position to respond rapidly and effectively to the attacks, both in the "Afghan sanctuary" and in "ninety-two countries around the world". The new strategy was called the "Worldwide Attack Matrix".
Two offices of the CIA Directorate of Intelligence have analytical responsibilities in this area. The Office of Transnational Issues applies unique functional expertise to assess existing and emerging threats to US national security and provides the most senior US policymakers, military planners, and law enforcement with analysis, warning, and crisis support.
The CIA Crime and Narcotics Center researches information on international narcotics trafficking and organized crime for policymakers and the law enforcement community. Since the CIA has no domestic police authority, it sends its analytic information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other law enforcement organizations, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the United States Department of the Treasury (OFAC).