Central Intelligence Agency

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The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is a part of the United States intelligence community, established in 1947 by President Harry S. Truman to advise the president of the United States on matters relating to national security. Established by a National Security Act, the CIA was given wide powers to gather information ("intelligence"), and some limited powers to act, in the interests of national security. It had an overall coordinating role until passage of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which created the office of the Director of National Intelligence; the office of Director of Central Intelligence became the office of the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (DCIA); see DNI reorganization below.

The present present functions include clandestine human-source intelligence collection, intelligence analysis, and covert action. Leon Panetta is the DCIA. Many CIA reports are classified information, and, further, under compartmented control system additional controls. CIA produces a wide range of intelligence analysis studies for government policymakers, and to some extent these incorporated information gained by clandestine human-source intelligence i.e. by espionage. Gathering information is generally considered a legitimate and indeed an essential role of governments, although the legitimacy of the means of gathering information may be questioned. Far more controversial, however, was the covert action role of the CIA, which included black propaganda, subversion, political warfare, sabotage, and other actions of which the U.S. government could deny knowledge. Some of these capabilities were used to overthrow governments and other missions that, in hindsight, may not have been in the long-term interest of the United States.


During World War II, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) had been established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to conduct espionage on behalf of the USA. It established a very large team of agents behind enemy lines, and gave substantial help to the resistance movements in areas of Europe occupied by the Axis powers, and also to Mao Zedong's Red Army in China and to the Viet Minh in French Indochina who were fighting the Japanese. At the end of the war, President Truman ordered the OSS to be closed, leaving only a small intelligence organization, the Strategic Services Unit, within the War Department.

The role of the postwar CIA, which took over the intelligence gathering and analytical activities of the OSS, was to evaluate intelligence reports and coordinate the intelligence activities of the various government departments in the interest of national security. At first it was not given the clandestine human-source intelligence or covert action capabilities of the OSS - these activities, popularly understood as "spying", were at first undertaken by other agencies, but in 1952 such missions came under the CIA. A restriction against "police, law enforcement or internal security functions" first appeared in President Truman's order establishing the Central Intelligence Group in 1946. [1] [2] [3]Also, see clandestine human-source intelligence and covert action for some of the organizational thinking that went into the new organization.

DNI reorganization

Until 2004, the Director of Central Intelligence headed both the CIA and the wider United States intelligence community. Partly as a result of recommendations from the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States ("9/11 Commission")[4] and the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction[5], the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 created a new Director of National Intelligence, with the DCI renamed the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA remained responsible for a wide range of analysis functions, as well as being the central human-source intelligence organization of the U.S. government, sharing responsibility for covert action with military organizations.

When discussing the CIA, it is thus important to distinguish between the older responsibilities and its present responsibilities. The effectiveness of the intelligence community of the USA is still thought to be adversely affected by inter-agency rivalries, [6] and an increasing number of interagency "centers", as well as the Intellipedia information sharing mechanism, have been established to resolve differences.


The overall U.S. intelligence budget has been considered classified until recently. There have been numerous attempts to get general information.[7]There have been accidental disclosures. [8] Mary Margaret Graham, a former CIA official and deputy director of national intelligence for collection in 2005, said the annual intelligence budget was $44 billion.


In its present form, the CIA has an executive office and several agency-wide functions, and four major directorates:

  • 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

Executive Office

The Director of the CIA now reports to the DNI; in practice, he deals with the DNI, Congress, and 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. Historically, its budget, as well as that of the entire intelligence community, was classified information, but the total intelligence budget is now made public, and there is a strong drive to have the next level of detail, at the major agency level, published.

Strong Directors of the CIA have had a considerable influence on the Agency's culture; see Director of Central Intelligence. [9]

In 2006, the third-ranking position in the CIA, Executive Director, who was more hands-on than the Deputy Director, was replaced with an Associate Deputy Director.[10]

The CIA supports the military with information it gathers, receives information from military intelligence organizations, and cooperates 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 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[11]

In the National Clandestine Service, an Associate Deputy Director for Operations for Military Affairs[12] deals with specific clandestine human-source intelligence and covert action in support of military operations.

The CIA also makes national-level intelligence available to tactical organizations, usually to their all-source intelligence group. [13]

Executive Staff

There are an assortment of staff offices that report to the executive offices.

General Publications

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.[14]

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."[15]

General Counsel and Inspector General

Two offices advise the Director on legality and proper operations. The Office of the 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. One particular General Counsel, Lawrence (Larry) Houston, was a key advisor several DCIs on both legal and broader issues.

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 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 CIA. The Office conducts inspections, investigations, and audits at Headquarters and in the field, and oversees the Agency-wide grievance-handling system. It provides a semiannual report to the Director of the CIA 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 CIA, Michael 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".[16] 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. [17] There was congressional concern that restrictions on the OIG might adversely affect 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 CIA employees understand his processes, but that can be done without an approach that can threaten the inspector general’s independence

Public Affairs

The Office of Public Affairs advises the Director of the CIA on all media, public policy, and employee communications issues relating to his role. See CIA influence on public opinion for developments in the means by which the Agency, among other functions, works with the entertainment industry.

Directorate of Intelligence

The Directorate of Intelligence produces all-source intelligence analysis on key foreign issues.[18]. It has four regional analytic groups, six groups for transnational issues, and two support units.[19]

Regional groups

There is an Office dedicated to Iraq, and regional analytical Offices covering:

Transnational groups

The Office of Terrorism Analysis[20] supports the National Counterterrorism Center in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. See CIA transnational counter-terrorism activities.

The Office of Transnational Issues[21] assesses 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[22] researches information on international crime for policymakers and the law enforcement community. As the CIA has no domestic police authority, it sends its analyses to the FBI and other law enforcement organizations, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration of the United States Department of Justice.

The Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control Center[23] 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[24] identifies, monitors, and analyzes the efforts of foreign intelligence entities, both national and non-national, against US interests. It works with FBI personnel in the National Counterintelligence Executive of the Director of National Intelligence.

The Information Operations Center Analysis Group.[25] deals with threats to U.S. computer systems. Again, 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.

Directorate of Operations

With the creation of the ODNI, the CIA was given charge of all US human intelligence, which many consider the core of the agency, although its analytical work may be equally important. As a compromise for having given up most of its HUMINT capabilities, the United States Department of Defense was given additional budget for special operations. There has been more of an emphasis on the military running larger paramilitary operations.

The National Clandestine Service (NCS; formerly the Directorate of Operations) is responsible collecting foreign intelligence, mainly from clandestine HUMINT sources, and covert action. The new name reflects its having absorbed some Department of Defense HUMINT assets, which collected strategic human intelligence HUMINT for the Department of Defense (which retained HUMINT directly related to military). 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. The Department of Defense had organized the Defense HUMINT Service,[26] which, with the Presidential decision, became part of the NCS.

Counterintelligence Force Protection Source Operations, directly related to the protection of military forces and facility, stay under military authority. Another HUMINT area that remains with Department of Defence is direct support to special operations, by an organization, originally called the Intelligence Support Activity (ISA) are part of the United States Special Operations Command, where their classified names and special access program designations are changed frequently.[27]

The precise present organisation of the NCS is classified.[28].

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. Albert D. "Bud" Wheeler (1963-66) and Carl E. Duckett (1966-76) built the directorate into a strong component of the CIA and then guided it through its golden age of technical innovation. By contrast, decisions by Ruth David (1995-98) contributed, Richelson (2001) argues, to a decline in the importance and status of the directorate as it lost control over key responsibilities, including the analysis of satellite photography.

Richelson (2001) explains the major DS&T's achievements, especially reconnaissance airplanes and a series of increasingly sophisticated surveillance satellites, with cameras that could photograph Soviet bomber bases and missile sites with startling clarity from orbits deep in space. In 1960, the first effective satellite produced coverage of more than one million square miles, surpassing all previous U-2 photography combined. This imagery revealed that the Soviets had far fewer bombers and (later) ICBMs than the Pentagon expected. The worst-case estimates of the U.S. Air Force proved wildly exaggerated, and the myths of the bomber and missile "gaps" were punctured by empirical data.

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.[29]It had two primary goals

  1. harnessing techniques for its own use
  2. countering any new intelligence technologies the Soviets might develop.

In 1999, the CIA created the venture capital firm CIA-Outside#In-Q-Tel to help fund and develop technologies of interest to the agency.[30] 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 many traditional organizational administrative functions, such as personnel, security, communications, and financial operations, but in a manner consistent with the needs of highly sensitive operations. Significant units include

  • The Office of Security
  • The Office of Communications
  • The Office of Information Technology

Logistics and proprietaries

Under the original NSC 10/2 authorization, the CIA was made responsible not just for covert action during the cold war, but for such action during major wars, in collaboration with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. When DCI Walter Bedell Smith created the Directorate of Plans and ended the autonomy of the OPC and OSO, he also recommended, in 1952, that the CIA could obtain logistical support from the Department of Defense, making internal budget transfers to repay the Department of Defence. [31]

While some support functions still were unique to CIA requirements, Smith proposed that wherever possible, those functions could be tenant organizations on military bases. He wrote,

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 ...

When military transportation would be too obvious, CIA needed an alternative, which led to the creation of the CIA proprietary airlines, whose relationship to the US government was not public.[32] These consolidated them into Air America, which was was heavily involved in support with the war in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam in the 1960s.


The Office of Training, begins Junior Officer Training program for new employees, but conducts courses in a wide range of specialized professional disciplines. So that the initial course might be taken by employees who had not received final security clearance and thus were not permitted unescorted access to the Headquarters building, a good deal of basic training has been given at office buildings in the urban areas of Arlington, Virginia.

For a later stage of training of student operations officer, there is at least one classified training area at Camp Peary, Virginia, near Williamsburg. 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. [33] 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. [34] 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.

Organizational history

The CIA was created by Congress with the National Security Act of 1947, signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. It is the descendant of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) of World War II, which was dissolved in October 1945 and its functions transferred to the State and War Departments. Eleven months earlier, in 1944, William J. Donovan, the OSS's creator, proposed to President Franklin D. Roosevelt creating a new organization directly supervised by the President: "which will procure intelligence both by overt and covert methods and will at the same time provide intelligence guidance, determine national intelligence objectives, and correlate the intelligence material collected by all government agencies."[35] Under his plan, a powerful, centralized civilian agency would have coordinated all the intelligence services. He also proposed that this agency have authority to conduct "subversive operations abroad," but "no police or law enforcement functions, either at home or abroad."[3]

From the start isolationists warned of the danger that the CIA might become an out-of-control "American Gestapo" like the Nazi secret police, which could trample American civil liberties On the other side was fear of a nuclear Pearl Harbor without warning. In general Congress deferred to the White House until the 1970s on intelligence matters. Only a few members of a few select committees had any legislative oversight; they kept floor debate and written records to a minimum.

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 human-source intelligence 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.

Immediate predecessors, 1946-1947

In 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt was relying on intelligence information provided by British intelligence (and slanted by them to favor their position.) In 1941 he created the Office of Strategic Services, which was the first independent US intelligence agency. The OSS was broken up shortly after the end of the war, by President Truman, on September 20, 1945. The rapid reorganizations that followed reflected the routine sort of bureaucratic competition for resources, but also trying to deal with the proper relationships of clandestine intelligence collection and covert action (i.e., paramilitary and psychological operations). See Clandestine HUMINT and Covert Action for a more detailed history of this problem, which was not unique to the US during and after World War II. In October 1945, the functions of the OSS were split between the Departments of State and War:

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, Jedburghs, Morale Operations (black propaganda)

This division lasted only a few months.Despite opposition from the military establishment, the United States Department of State and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI),[35] President Truman established the Central Intelligence Group (CIG) in January 1946 which was the direct predecessor to the CIA.[36] The CIG was an interim authority established under Presidential authority. The assets of the SSU, which now constituted a streamlined "nucleus" of clandestine intelligence was transferred to the CIG in mid-1946 and reconstituted as the Office of Special Operations (OSO).

Early CIA, 1947-1952

In September 1947, the National Security Act of 1947 established both the National Security Council and the CIA.[37] Rear Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter was appointed as the first Director of Central Intelligence.

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."[38]

In 1949, the Central Intelligence Agency Act 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 identity documentation and economic support.[39]

The structure stabilizes, 1952

Then-DCI Walter Bedell Smith, who enjoyed a special degree of Presidential trust, having been Dwight D. Eisenhower's primary Chief of Staff during World War II, insisted that the CIA -- or at least only one department -- had to direct the OPC and OSO. Those organization, as well as some minor functions, formed the euphemistically named Directorate of Plans, in 1952.

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.

Early Cold War, 1953-1964

Allen Dulles, who had been a key OSS operations officer in Switzerland during the Second World War, took over from Smith, at a time where US policy was dominated by intense anticommunism. Various sources were involved, the most visible being the investigations and abuses of Senator Joseph McCarthy, and the more quiet but systematic containment policy developed by George Kennan, and the Korean War. Dulles enjoyed a high degree of flexibility, as his brother, John Foster Dulles, was simultaneously Secretary of State.

This arbitrary period is defined as being between the Eisenhower Administration taking office, and the first overt U.S. combat role in Vietnam following the Gulf of Tonkin incident. See declassified signals intelligence about that incident.

The main headquarters complex in Langley, Virginia, consolidating many temporary facilities in the Washington metropolitan area, was built in this period. . On the memorial wall at CIA headquarters, stars memorialize CIA personnel who have died on duty, some with no name attached, because it would reveal the identity of a clandestine officer. [40]

Intelligence on Soviet affairs

During this period, there were much intelligence analysis of Soviet intentions, as well as covert actions against perceived Communist expansion, some more reflexive than calmly assessed both for probability of success and for the significance that a success could have. Some Soviet defectors in place, such as Oleg Penkovsky[41] and Pyotr Popov [42]. See the specific entries in CIA activities in Europe and Russia.

Intelligence and covert action in Indochina

From 1954 onwards, CIA personnel were involved with Indochina/Vietnam. CIA's predecessor, the OSS, had interacted with Ho Chi Minh immediately after the end of World War II, but Ho's offer to work with the U.S. was rejected. [43] While the Patti mission forwarded Ho's proposals for phased independence, with the French or even the United States as the transition partner, the US policy of containment opposed forming any government that might be Communist.

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.

Latin America

In a general trend to support any anticommunist, CIA was involved in the overthrow of the president of Guatemala, Jacobo Árbenz, in 1954.

There was intense interest in Cuba after the overthrow of the Batista government, including assassination attempts against Fidel Castro and the Bay of Pigs Invasion.

Imagery intelligence

The CIA, working with the military, formed the joint National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to operate reconnaissance aircraft such as the SR-71 and later reconnaissance satellites, and the National Photointerpretation Center (NPIC) to analyze the photography. "The fact of" the United States operating reconnaissance satellites, like "the fact of" the existence of NRO, was highly classified for many years. NPIC later became part of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).

The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, however, involved extensive CIA intelligence analysis, particularly of imagery. 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.


There was no immediate prediction of the [[CIA activities in Asia-Pacific#China|Chinese first test in October 1964. To put this in perspective, if there are no HUMINT assets in an area where a nuclear test is being prepared, the specific warning is more likely to come from SIGINT and IMINT, with the actual detection through MASINT.

Complications of Indochina and the Vietnam War (1966-1972)

As the US military and electorate were affected by Vietnam, so was the CIA and intelligence community. There were tensions over allowing political views to impact on analysis and formal estimates, and on the role for covert action.

Analytical arguments over Southeast Asia

American intervention in Southeast Asia began in Laos, not Vietnam as is widely believed. Over 100 National Intelligence Estimates (NIE), and literally thousands of intelligence reports, were issued on the region.

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 for Vietnam (MAC-V).[44] 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.

Domestic activities

Questionable domestic actions became public from 1972 onwards, as a result of disclosures surrounding the Watergate burglary, when it became known that some of the burglars had CIA connections, and that the Nixon Administration political operatives had, until Deputy Director of Central Intelligence Vernon Walters cut it off, requested and received technical support from the CIA.

There were also activities directed at possible Communist infiltration of the antiwar movement. Some of these activities were conducted by Federal agencies not authorized to participate in domestic law enforcement, such as the CIA and Army intelligence.


Cuba remained a subject of intense interest, but a new focus was on the leftist Allende government in Chile. CIA provided covert political support to selected parties before and after the 1964 elections and after Allende’s 1970 election. Once Allende was elected, the CIA assisted various coup plotters in both kidnapping Army Commander Rene Schneider, and then overthrowing President Salvador Allende. Both Schneider and Allende died in the separate attacks, although there is no strong evidence that either death was planned. It is, however, hard to credit that Nixon himself did not very specifically intend for Allende to be overthrown. [45]

After Allende was overthrown, the CIA cooperated with the increasingly authoritarian leader of Chile, General Augusto Pinochet. [46] See CIA activities in Chile.

Actions leading to collapse of Soviet Union and abuses of CIA authority, 1972-1991

This period had successes, successes with unexpected consequences, and successful and unsuccessful intelligence analysis.

Soviet-related issues

Actions against the Soviets include proxy war against the Soviets in Afghanistan through covert support of the mujahedin. Some of the people in the supported groups later joined anti-American groups such as Al-Qaeda.

The CIA predicted problems with the Soviet system, but did not predict the collapse in the form in which it came. [47]

Congress increases oversight

During that period were increased attempts of Congress to assert oversight. Revelations about past CIA activities, such as assassinations and attempted assassinations of foreign leaders, illegal domestic spying on U.S. citizens, provided the opportunities to execute Congressional oversight of U.S. intelligence operations. Intensifying the demand for external oversight were the burglary of the Watergate headquarters of the Democratic Party by ex-CIA personnel, and President Richard Nixon's subsequent use of the CIA to impede the FBI's investigation of the burglary. In the "smoking gun" recording that led to President Nixon's resignation, Nixon ordered his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, to tell the CIA that further investigation of Watergate would "open the whole can of worms" about the Bay of Pigs Invasion, and, therefore, that the CIA should tell the FBI to cease investigating the Watergate burglary, due to reasons of "national security".[48]

In 1973, then-DCI James R. Schlesinger commissioned reports — known as the "Family Jewels" — on illegal activities by the Agency. In December 1974, journalist Seymour Hersh broke the news of the "Family Jewels" in The New York Times, revealing that the CIA had attempted or supported the assassination of foreign leaders, and had conducted surveillance on some seven thousand American citizens involved in the antiwar movement (Operation CHAOS).

Congress responded to the charges in 1975, investigating the CIA in the Senate via the Church Committee,[49] chaired by Senator Frank Church (D-Idaho), and in the House of Representatives via the Pike Committee, chaired by Congressman Otis Pike(D-NY). The Pike Committee report was not accepted by the House. In addition, President Gerald Ford created the United States Commission on CIA activities within the United States,[50] usually called the [[Rockefeller Commission], and issued an Executive Order prohibiting the assassination of foreign leaders.

No immediate warning of the [[CIA activities in the Middle East and South Asia#India|Indian nuclear test on 18 May 1974 was given, although earlier analytical reports correctly predicted the way in which India would present it. Again, CIA would provide the immediate warning if it had a HUMINT source in the relevant organization. Otherwise, IMINT or SIGINT are more likely to give warning, while MASINT would detect the event.

1991-2004, the post-Cold War environment

Following the Cold War, the priority of operations against the Soviet Union obviously disappeared when the U.S.S.R. was dissolved on 25 December 1991. The Agency had been following the growth of terrorism since the 1970s, and that received more attention. The complex issue of foreign governmental and corporate scientific & technical intelligence collection became more a matter of concern.

Economic and scientific intelligence in a multipolar world

DCI James Woolsey, shortly after his appointment, publicly announced, in 1993 that economic intelligence was now a CIA program. French intelligence had been aggressively going after information from American executives. Woolsey said "No more Mr. Nice Guy." [51]

In a statement in 1995 entitled "A National Security Strategy of Engagement and Enlargement", President Bill Clinton detailed just what his administration expected from American intelligence with regard to protecting or pursuing American economic interests [52]


Given increasing awareness of transnational terror, including the 1983 attack on US and French troops, observers for the United Nation, and the increasing awareness of possible militant Islamist groups as "blowback" from support of the Afghan rebels against the Soviet-controlled government, developing intelligence on such movements received a new emphasis.


In the context of transnational terrorist groups with access both to significant financial resources, and both weapons and expertise left over after the fall of the Soviet Union, WMD proliferation was a special concern. Efforts were not limited to transnational groups, but such issues as transfers from China to Pakistan, and eventually from Pakistan to other nations.

Justification and oversight of covert action

Repercussions from the Iran-Contra Affair included the Intelligence Authorization Act of 1991's prohibition of covert action without authorization. The Act defined covert operations

"an activity or activities of the United States Government to influence political,

economic, or military conditions abroad, where it is intended that the role of the

United States Government will not be apparent or acknowledged publicly.

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".

There was a general drive to understand and refine covert action. With respect to the CIA and NCS, the term must be understood to reflect a continuum, from bribes and black propaganda at the least intrusive end, through various kinds of support of overt political groups in a given country, to noncombat support of insurgents, to paramilitary action.[53]

2004, Director of Central Intelligence takes over CIA top-level functions

Previously, the Director of Central Intelligence oversaw the Intelligence Community, serving as the president's principal intelligence advisor, additionally serving as head of the CIA. The DCI's title now is "Director of the Central Intelligence Agency" (DCIA), serving as head of the CIA.


  1. Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations, United States Senate ("Church Committee") (April 26, 1976), Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans. Book II
  2. Warner, Michael (expanded from Fall 1995), "Salvage and Liquidation: The Creation of the Central Intelligence Group", Studies in Intelligence
  3. 3.0 3.1 Troy, Thomas F. (1993-09-22). Truman on CIA p.6. Center for the Study of Intelligence.
  4. National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (26 July 2004), Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
  5. The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction (31 March 2005), Report to the President
  6. Theoharis, Athan (2007). The Quest for Absolute Security; The Failed Relations Among U.S. Intelligence Agencies. Ivan R. Dee. ISBN 1-56663-697-3. 
  7. Declaration of Steven Aftergood, 5 May 2003, Case No. 02-1146 (RMU)
  8. Shane, Scott (8 November 2005), "Official Reveals Budget for U.S. Intelligence", New York Times
  9. Painter, Charles N. (2002), Early leader Effects on the Process of Institutionalization Through Cultural Embedding: The Cases of William J. Donovan, Allen W. Dulles, and J. Edgar Hoover, Doctoral dissertation, University of Vermont
  10. Statement by Director of the Central Intelligence Agency General Michael V. Hayden, 2006-07-16
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