What is the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)?

The flag of the CIA.
The flag of the CIA.

5. Structure

The CIA has a director as well as an executive office and five major departments within the organization. They are The Directorate of Digital Innovation, The Directorate of Analysis, The Directorate of Operations, The Directorate of Support, and The Directorate of Science and Technology. All 21,575 staff can be organized under these positions and a diagram of the CIA's structure can be found here. The President of the United States holds the ultimate authority over the CIA and any covert operations in other countries must be approved by the president.

4. Membership

Across the globe, the CIA employs an estimated 21,575 staff. Robert Baer, who is an acclaimed political author as well as an ex-CIA agent, stated that employees would usually take a polygraph (lie-detector) test every 3 to 5 years to ensure they were not concealing anything from the organization. The CIA also has its own "university", holding 200 to 300 training courses per year which consists of new employees as well as experienced staff. The facilities used for these courses, as well as for later training, have been located in Virginia, USA since the 1950s. To become an employee of the CIA you must undergo vigorous training and constant aptitude tests, which can be very demanding on a human's psyche.

3. Objectives

The official motto of the CIA is: "The Work of a Nation. The Center of Intelligence." The CIA also has an unofficial motto: "And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32). The modern CIA has evolved from an organization that gathered and analyzed intelligence to that of a broad organization that works to tackle many problems. These issues include counter-terrorism, non-proliferation, counterintelligence, and most recently cyber intelligence.

2. Founding

After World War 2, President Truman of the United States signed a document called the National Security Act. This document and subsequent policy were created due to how seemingly unprepared the United States was during Pearl Harbor, as well as the realization that the Soviet Union was also preparing similar policy domestically and internationally. Consequently, the CIA originally started as an organization that would distribute foreign intelligence and analysis to the United States government in the aftermath of WWII. The CIA came into formal existence on September 18, 1947.

1. Present State

Today, the modern CIA aims to "collect, analyze, evaluate, and disseminate (distribute) foreign intelligence" both domestically and internationally. The CIA is involved in covert operations in countries such as Russia, China, Cuba, North Korea, and Iraq among others. Some of the activities the CIA has been involved with since its inception include locating Osama Bin Laden, attempting to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro during the Cold War, the mass surveillance of the internet and emails, as well as being a part of the disturbing torture allegations during the presidency of George W. Bush. Although the accurate budget of the CIA has never been officially released, some estimates put the figure upwards of $15 billion. The CIA is constantly depicted in fictional works such as movies, television, and books which have somewhat glamorized the organization.


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