An intelligence agency
is a governmental agency
that is devoted to the information gathering
(known in the context as "intelligence
") for purposes of national security
. Means of information gathering may include espionage
, communication interception
, cooperation with other institutions, and evaluation of public sources. The assembly and propagation of this information is known as intelligence analysis
Intelligence agencies can provide the following services for their national governments.
- provide analysis in areas relevant to national security;
- give early warning of impending crises;
- serve national and international crisis management by helping to discern the intentions of current or potential opponents;
- inform national defense planning and military operations;
- protect secrets, both of their own sources and activities, and those of other state agencies; and
- may act covertly to influence the outcome of events in favor of national interests
Intelligence agencies are also involved in defensive activities such as counter-espionage or counter-terrorism.
Some agencies are accused of being involved in assassination, arms sales, coups d'état, and the placement of misinformation (propaganda) as well as other covert operations, in order to support their own or their governments' interests.
- Encyclopedia of espionage, intelligence, and security, hrg. von K. Lee Lerner und Brenda Wilmoth Lerner, 3 Bände, Detroit [u.a.] : Gale [u.a.], 2004
- Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones, Cloak and Dollar: A History of American Secret Intelligence, Yale University Press, 2002
- Richard C. S. Trahair, Encyclopedia of Cold War espionage, spies, and secret operations, Westport, Conn. [u.a.] : Greenwood Press, 2004
- Amy B. Zegart, Flawed by design : the evolution of the CIA, JCS, and NSC, Stanford, Calif. : Stanford Univ. Press, 1999
- The journal of intelligence history