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Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

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Published by: Malik M. Rizwan Yasin on Jul 02, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)INTRODUCTION
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), United States government agency created in 1947 to gatherinformation and conduct secret operations to protect the country’s national security. The information thatthe CIA gathers is known as intelligence. The CIA also coordinates the activities of the United Statesintelligence community, which includes agencies such as the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and theNational Security Agency (NSA). In addition, the CIA takes overall responsibility for gathering informationfrom other U.S. intelligence agencies, analyzing the separate pieces of information from each source, andproviding a recommendation to the president of the United States and the president’s advisers.
The president dictates the CIA’s general tasks and assignments, a process known as tasking. The nature of the tasks has changed over the years. Today, for example, the CIA’s responsibilities include identifyingterrorists and halting terrorist attacks, anticipating threats to international oil supplies, and preventing thetheft of trade secrets from U.S. businesses. The CIA did not have responsibility for these problems in theagency’s early years.Some responsibilities have remained constant, however. The foremost of the CIA’s jobs is assessing thelong-term potential threat to the United States by other countries. The CIA must ask basic questions, suchas “What is Russia’s military strength, and how do the Russians intend to use it?” The CIA also has topredict short-term military threats, so it operates a warning system to protect the United States and itsallies from surprise attack. In addition, the CIA works in cooperation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to conduct counterespionage—the process of preventing spies from finding out U.S.national security secrets.Several presidents have also ordered the CIA to conduct covert operations—the use of secret means toachieve foreign policy objectives. Covert operations might include providing weapons to a rebel army,kidnapping an individual leader who is seen as hostile to U.S. interests, or even organizing the removal of a government through a coup d’état, the seizure of an existing government by a small group. The CIA’scovert operations are controversial for many reasons, often because they involve conducting violentactions in other countries without a congressional declaration of war. In other instances the operations areuncontroversial and are covert in name only, and may become the subject of debate in open sessions of Congress and in the news media.The CIA also has the responsibility of gathering information from other U.S. intelligence agencies andproducing joint reports known as estimates. The NSA, for example, often breaks secret codes used byother countries and then intercepts the countries’ secret communications. The NSA passes the importantmessages to the CIA, which then integrates this information with the intelligence provided by other U.S.government intelligence agencies and with intelligence from the CIA’s own sources. The CIA sends theseestimates to the president and other members of the National Security Council (NSC), which includes thechairperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (representing the armed forces), the secretaries of defense andstate, and certain other members of the government’s executive branch.
 The CIA is part of the Executive Office of the President of the United States, which means that thepresident has direct control of the agency. The president appoints the CIA director and deputy directorwith the consent of the United States Senate, and the two directors are responsible for ensuring that theCIA follows the president’s instructions. The president’s appointees sometimes come into conflict withcareer (permanent) CIA officials if the president tries to push the CIA in a direction that career officialsview as unwise. The CIA also has to work to coordinate its efforts with the strategy established by theNSC. In practice, however, because the CIA’s day-to-day operations and its budget are secret, the agencyhas more discretion to act than nearly all other parts of the U.S. government.Within the CIA, the director of central intelligence (DCI) and the deputy director of central intelligence
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Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
supervise four additional deputy directors. Each of these four deputy directors leads a directorate (branch)of the agency. The Operations Directorate is the best known because it conducts covert action andcounterintelligence around the world. The Operations Directorate has specialized divisions for each regionof the world. The Science and Technology Directorate interprets data gathered from code-breakingactivities; from telephone, radio, and other electronic transmissions; and from detailed photographs takenby spy satellites. The Intelligence Directorate takes the information provided by other parts of the CIA,other agencies in the intelligence community, and from publicly available sources, and produces analysesand estimates for policy makers. The Administration Directorate arranges the agency’s finances, personnelmatters, computer facilities, and medical services. It also assumes the critical task of internal security—including detecting spies and potential spies within the agency.Besides all this work concentrated in the CIA’s headquarters building in Langley, Virginia, the agencyundertakes fieldwork in foreign countries. The CIA has an office, or station, in almost every nation,whether friend or potential foe. Each office is headed by a station chief, whose real job is hidden by afictitious job known as a cover. A station chief’s cover is often as an official within the U.S. Embassy. Thestation chief must find out what is happening in the host country that may have a bearing on U.S. nationalsecurity. Station chiefs are officers of the CIA and do not usually conduct actual spying, but they often hirespies to achieve their goals.To ensure that the CIA meets these various responsibilities in a proper manner, the agency has aninspector general, who audits its secret accounts and investigates malpractice. In an attempt to limit theresponsibilities and therefore the power of the director of central intelligence, Congress provided in 1947that the CIA should not collect intelligence in the United States. The CIA only monitors the domesticactivities of U.S. citizens when it believes they may be involved in espionage or international terroristactivities. Since then, Congress has periodically investigated the agency. In the mid-1970s, both the U.S.House of Representatives and the Senate set up permanent committees to oversee the CIA, and thesecommittees have established procedures for the monitoring of covert operations.
 The excitement of spying and secret operations sometimes leads people to assume that a piece of information is important just because it is secret. In reality, CIA analysts spend much of their timegathering and analyzing information from newspapers, television and radio broadcasts, speeches byforeign leaders, and other public sources. CIA analysts call these open sources, and they are sometimesadequate to predict how a country is likely to act in the future. This enables the president, Congress, andother important officials to formulate effective U.S. policy. In many cases, however, open sources provideonly an incomplete picture of how a country will act. In some instances, in fact, governments maydeliberately publicize false information in order to fool the United States and other countries.In many cases open sources do not provide enough information to enable analysts to draw firmconclusions. A piece of the picture will often be missing or unclear. Analysts must find the missing piece of the picture, which is often deliberately concealed by potential enemies of the United States. Once theanalysts have found the piece, they must rely on their training and judgment to recognize where it fits intothe overall picture. To help CIA analysts develop a complete understanding of world events, the CIAsupplements open sources with three clandestine (secret) sources. The clandestine sources include humanintelligence provided by CIA field officers, electronic intelligence gathering, and intelligence provided byother agencies. Analysts sift through and evaluate all the open and clandestine sources to develop ageneral assessment of how a country will act. The analysts pass these assessments to their superiors, whoforward important reports to the director of central intelligence, who takes responsibility for keeping thepresident informed.
A) Field Officers
The CIA deploys hundreds of field officers all over the world to gather intelligence for the United States.The field officers report to CIA headquarters through the station chief in the country where they areplaced. Each station chief supervises several field officers, assessing the information they have gatheredand sending it to CIA headquarters. Field officers are expected to have detailed knowledge of the country
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Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
where they are stationed, although the CIA has sometimes been criticized for sending out unqualified andpoorly trained personnel. Field officers must be United States citizens.Field officers rarely break into foreign military bases, infiltrate political parties, or otherwise try to collectsensitive information themselves. Instead they usually persuade foreign citizens to provide information.Sometimes foreign citizens volunteer to give secret information to the CIA. In oppressive regimes, theirmotive is sometimes altruistic and even patriotic—they feel they can best serve their country by providingthe CIA with information that will help bring about social and political change or diminish the possibility of war. Such a spy is known as a defector in place.In other situations CIA field officers use money or blackmail to convince foreign citizens to betray theircountry. The CIA field officer’s most difficult job is figuring out who might be willing to spy for the UnitedStates, and then using the right amount of persuasion and coercion to turn the foreign citizen to theAmerican cause. The process of identifying and turning a foreign citizen is delicate because the bestsources of information are often senior government and military officials. Approaching the wrong officialmight lead the foreign government to arrest or even kill the field officer. Even after a subject has beenturned, field officers must constantly assess the accuracy of the information that he or she provides.Because turning a foreign citizen is difficult and the intelligence received is sometimes unreliable, the mostvaluable spy is often not someone who has been turned, but a defector in place. At times, such “humanassets” have supplied vital information that could not have been obtained by technical means. Forexample, from 1953 until his execution by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) sometime in1959 or 1960, Pyotr Semyonovich Popov, a lieutenant colonel in the Soviet army, supplied the CIA withimportant information about USSR missile systems. Popov’s information helped the CIA understand theSoviet military threat before the advent of satellites made it possible to spy on the USSR from space.
B) Electronic Intelligence Gathering
 The CIA Science and Technology Directorate uses a wide variety of electronic techniques to gatherintelligence. These include planting bugs (microphones or other listening devices), intercepting radiotransmissions, and using seismic sensors and satellites to monitor military activity around the world. TheCIA relies on the National Security Agency for a large portion of its electronically gathered data, but alsoconducts some electronic intelligence gathering on its own. During the Cold War—the period from 1945 tothe early 1990s, when the United States and the USSR vied for global dominance—the CIA operated itsown “listening stations” in Norway, Iran, Australia, and other places. But since the end of the Cold War, theCIA has reduced its electronic intelligence operations and relied more heavily on the NSA. The CIA Scienceand Technology Directorate still contribute significant research, such as developing techniques to detectand measure dangerous gases from long distances.
C) Information from Other Agencies
 The CIA receives and analyzes information from several other elements of the U.S. intelligencecommunity. These elements include the DIA, NSA, the intelligence branches of the Army, Navy, Air Force,and Marines, the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, the Treasury Department andits Secret Service, and the FBI. The CIA also manages some joint programs with other parts of theintelligence community. The CIA and the NSA, for example, work together to provide eavesdroppingequipment to the CIA’s stations around the world. Similarly, the CIA works with the Air Force to coordinatesatellite reconnaissance. The CIA also receives information from the intelligence services of friendlypowers. Britain’s MI6 and Israel’s Mossad are the most notable examples. Although the CIA sometimeshas disputes with MI6 and Mossad over when and how to share intelligence, the generally closecooperation between these agencies reflects the strong ties that link the United States with Britain andIsrael.
D) Analysis and Reporting
 CIA analysts have the difficult task of sorting through information from open sources, field officers,electronic intelligence, and intelligence from agencies in the United States and other countries. In many
Malik Rizwan YasinCSS Notes0300-9289949

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