Central Intelligence Agency

Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
Official Seal of the CIA
Agency overview
Formed September 18, 1947 (1947-09-18) (64 years ago)
Preceding agency Office of Strategic Services[1]
Headquarters George Bush Center for Intelligence

McLean, Virginia United States 38°57′06″N 77°08′48″W / 38.951796°N 77.146586°W / 38.951796; -77.146586

Employees Classified[2]

20,000 estimated[3]

Annual budget Classified[4][5]
Agency executives David H. Petraeus[6], Director
Michael J. Morell[7], Deputy Director
V. Sue Bromley[8], Associate Deputy Director
Parent agency Independent
The entrance of the CIA New Headquarters Building (NHB)

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers through means of covert psychological, cyber, and social warfare using non-military commissioned civilian Intelligence Agents to carry out these intelligence-gathering operations; many of whom are trained to avoid tactical situations. The CIA also oversees and sometimes engages in tactical and covert activities at the request of the President of the United States.[9]. Often, when such field operations are organized, the US military or other warfare tacticians carry these tactical operations out on behalf of the agency while the CIA oversees them. Although intelligence-gathering is the agency's main agenda, tactical divisions were established in the agency to carry out emergency field operations that require immediate suppression or dismantlement of a threat or weapon. The CIA is often used for intelligence-gathering instead of the U.S military to avoid a declaration of war.

It is the successor of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) formed during World War II to coordinate espionage activities against the Axis Powers for the branches of the United States Armed Forces. The National Security Act of 1947 established the CIA, affording it "no police or law enforcement functions, either at home or abroad".[10][11] Through interagency cooperation, the CIA has Cooperative Security Locations at its disposal. These locations are called "lily pads" by the Air Force.[12][13]

The primary function of the CIA is to collect information about foreign governments, corporations, and individuals, and to advise public policymakers, but it does conduct emergency tactical operations, covert operations [14][15], and exerts foreign political influence through its tactical divisions, such as the elite Special Activities Division.[16][17] The CIA and its responsibilities changed markedly in 2004. Before December 2004, the CIA was the main intelligence organization of the US government; it was responsible for coordinating the activities of the US Intelligence Community (IC) as a whole. The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 created the office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), which took over management and leadership of the IC.

Today, the CIA still has a number of functions in common with other countries' intelligence agencies[18][19][20][21] (see Relationships with foreign intelligence agencies). The CIA's headquarters is in Langley in McLean, unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia,[22] 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.[23][24] Other terms include The Company,[25][26][27][28] Langley and The Agency.



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


The overall US intelligence budget has been considered classified until recently. There have been numerous attempts to obtain general information about the budget.[29] As a result, it was revealed that CIA's annual budget in Fiscal Year 1963 was US $ 550 million (inflation adjusted US$ 3.9 billion in 2011),[30] and the overall intelligence budget in FY 1997 was US $ 26.6 billion (inflation adjusted US$ 36.4 billion in 2011).[31] There have also been accidental disclosures: for instance, 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.[32]

In Legacy of Ashes-The History of the CIA, Tim Weiner claims early funding was solicited by James Forrestal and Allen Dulles from private Wall Street and Washington DC sources. Next Forrestal convinced "an old chum", John W. Snyder, the US Secretary of the Treasury and one of Harry's closest allies to allow the use of the $200 million Exchange Stabilization Fund by CIA fronts to influence European elections, beginning with Italy[33] After the Marshall Plan was approved, appropriating $13.7 billion over five years, 5% of those funds or $685 million were made available to the CIA.[34]

Executive Office

The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (DCIA) reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI); in practice, he deals with the DNI, Congress (usually via the Office of Congressional Affairs), and the 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.[citation needed]

The Executive Office also facilitates the CIA's support of the US military by providing it with information it gathers, receiving information from military intelligence organizations, and cooperating 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 the 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.[35]

In the National Clandestine Services, an Associate Deputy Director for Operations for Military Affairs[36] 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.[37]

Executive staff

Staff offices with several general responsibilities report to the Executive Office. The staff also gather information and then report such information to the Executive Office.

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.[38]

In 2002, the 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."[39]

General Counsel and Inspector General

Two offices advise the Director on legality and proper operations. The Office of 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.

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, whose activities are independent of those of any other component in the Agency, reports directly to the Director of the CIA.[40][41]

Influencing public opinion

The Office of Public Affairs advises the Director of the CIA on all media, public policy, and employee communications issues relating to this person's role. This office, among other functions, works with the entertainment industry.[citation needed]

Directorate of Intelligence

The Directorate of Intelligence produces all-source intelligence analysis on key foreign issues.[42] It has four regional analytic groups, six groups for transnational issues, and two support units.[43]

Regional groups

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

Transnational groups

The Office of Terrorism Analysis[44] supports the National Counterterrorism Center in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. See CIA transnational anti-terrorism activities.[45]

The Office of Transnational Issues[46] assesses perceived 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[47] researches information on international crime for policymakers and the law enforcement community. As the CIA has no legal domestic police authority, it usually sends its analyses to the FBI and other law enforcement organizations, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

The Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control Center[48] 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[49] identifies, monitors, and analyzes the efforts of foreign intelligence entities, both national and non-national, against US government interests. It works with FBI personnel in the National Counterintelligence Executive of the Director of National Intelligence.

The Information Operations Center Analysis Group.[50] deals with threats to US computer systems. 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.

National Clandestine Service

The National Clandestine Service (NCS; formerly the Directorate of Operations) is responsible for collecting foreign intelligence, mainly from clandestine HUMINT sources, and covert action. The new name reflects its having absorbed some Department of Defense HUMINT assets. 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,[51] under the Defense Intelligence Agency which, with the Presidential decision, became part of the NCS.

The precise present organization of the NCS is classified.[52]

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.

For example, 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.[citation needed] 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. This interest has historically had two primary goals:

  • harnessing techniques for its own use
  • countering any new intelligence technologies the Soviets might develop.[53]

In 1999, the CIA created the venture capital firm In-Q-Tel to help fund and develop technologies of interest to the agency.[54] 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 organizational and administrative functions to significant units including:

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


The Office of Training begins with the Junior Officer Training program for new employees before going on to conducting 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.[citation needed]

For a later stage of training of student operations officers, there is at least one classified training area at Camp Peary, near Williamsburg, Virginia. 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."or the obituaries ref name=AOM CIA Operative"[55]

Relationship with other sources of intelligence

The CIA acts as the primary US HUMINT, HUMan INTelligence, and general analytic agency, under the Director of National Intelligence, who directs or coordinates the 16 member organizations of the United States Intelligence Community. In addition, it obtains information from other US government intelligence agencies, commercial information sources, and foreign intelligence services.

Other US intelligence agencies

A number of intelligence organizations are fully or partially under the budgetary control of the United States Secretary of Defense or other cabinet officers such as the United States Attorney General.

As do other analytic members of the US intelligence community, such as the Department of State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the analytic division of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), CIA's raw input includes imagery intelligence (IMINT) collected by the air and space systems of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), processed by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), signals intelligence (SIGINT) of the National Security Agency (NSA), and measurement and signature intelligence (MASINT) from the DIA MASINT center.

Open Source Intelligence

Until the 2004 reorganization of the intelligence community, one of the "services of common concern" that CIA provided was Open Source Intelligence from the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS).[56] FBIS, which had absorbed the Joint Publication Research Service, a military organization that translated documents,[57] which moved into the National Open Source Enterprise under the Director of National Intelligence.

CIA still provides a variety of unclassified maps and reference documents both to the intelligence community and the public.[58]

During the Reagan administration, Michael Sekora (assigned to the DIA), worked with agencies across the intelligence community, including the CIA, to develop and deploy a technology-based competitive strategy system called Project Socrates. Project Socrates was designed to utilize open source intelligence gathering almost exclusively. The technology-focused Socrates system supported such programs as the Strategic Defense Initiative in addition to private sector projects. [59]


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 headquarters. "We're looking at chat rooms and things that didn't exist five years ago, and trying to stay ahead."[61]


Many of the duties and functions of Intelligence Community activities, not the CIA alone, are being outsourced and privatized. Mike McConnell, former Director of National Intelligence, was about to publicize an investigation report of outsourcing by US intelligence agencies, as required by Congress.[62] However, this report was then classified.[63][64] Hillhouse speculates that this report includes requirements for the CIA to report:[63][65]

  • different standards for government employees and contractors;
  • contractors providing similar services to government workers;
  • analysis of costs of contractors vs. employees;
  • an assessment of the appropriateness of outsourced activities;
  • an estimate of the number of contracts and contractors;
  • comparison of compensation for contractors and government employees,
  • attrition analysis of government employees;
  • descriptions of positions to be converted back to the employee model;
  • an evaluation of accountability mechanisms;
  • an evaluation of procedures for "conducting oversight of contractors to ensure identification and prosecution of criminal violations, financial waste, fraud, or other abuses committed by contractors or contract personnel"; and
  • an "identification of best practices of accountability mechanisms within service contracts."

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.[66][67]

Congress has required an outsourcing report by March 30, 2008.[65]

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."[65]

Part of the contracting problem comes from Congressional restrictions on the number of employees in the IC. According to Hillhouse, this resulted in 70% 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."[65]

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 "how does heaven look", which missed objectives after $4 billion in cost overruns, was the result of this contract.[68][69]

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.[70]

Foreign intelligence services

Many intelligence services cooperate. There may even be a deniable communications channel with ostensibly hostile nations.

The role and functions of the CIA are roughly equivalent to those of the United Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Service (the SIS or MI6), the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki) (SVR), the Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), 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.

The closest links of the US IC to other foreign intelligence agencies are to Anglophone countries: Australia, Canada, 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.[71] 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, United Kingdom, and New Zealand.

Organizational history

The Central Intelligence Agency was created by Congress with the passage of 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 to create 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."[72] 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."[73][dead link]

The lives of 102 fallen CIA officers are represented by 102 stars on the CIA Memorial Wall in the Original Headquarters building.

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.[74] 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.[citation needed]

Immediate predecessors, 1946–47

The Office of Strategic Services, which was the first independent US intelligence agency, created for World War II, was broken up shortly after the end of the war, by President Harry S. Truman, on September 20, 1945 when he signed an Executive Order which made the breakup 'official' as of October 1, 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).[citation needed] 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, Operation Jedburgh, Morale Operations (black propaganda)

This division lasted only a few months. The first mention of the “Central Intelligence Agency” concept and term appeared on a US Army and Navy command-restructuring proposal presented by Jim Forrestal and Arthur Radford to the U.S. Senate Military Affairs Committee at the end of 1945.[75] Despite opposition from the military establishment, the United States Department of State and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI),[72] President Truman established the Central Intelligence Group (CIG) in January 1946 which was the direct predecessor to the CIA.[76] 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 Central Intelligence Agency.[77] Rear Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter was appointed as the first Director of Central Intelligence, and one of the first secret operations under him was the successful support of the Christian Democrats in Italy.[78]

The 16-foot (5 m) diameter CIA seal in the lobby of the Original Headquarters Building.

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."[79]

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.[80]

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.[citation needed] Those organizations, 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.[citation needed]

Early Cold War, 1953–1966

Lockheed U-2 "Dragon Lady", the first generation of near-space reconnaissance aircraft

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

The USAF's SR-71 Blackbird was developed from the CIA's A-12 OXCART.

During this period, there were numerous covert actions against nationalization of oil supplies and socialism. The CIA overthrew a democratically elected government for the first time during the 1953 Iranian coup d'état, after Iran moved to take control of its petroleum reserves. Some of the largest operations were aimed at Cuba after the overthrow of the Batista dictatorship, including assassination attempts against Fidel Castro and the failed 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.[81]

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.

Early CORONA/KH-4B imagery IMINT satellite

Indochina and the Vietnam War (1954–1975)

See also: Vietnam War and Phoenix Program

The OSS Patti mission arrived in Vietnam near the end of World War II, and had significant interaction with the leaders of many Vietnamese factions, including Ho Chi Minh.[82] 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 was communist in nature.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] Initially, the US focus in Southeast Asia was on Laos, not Vietnam.[citation needed]

During the period of US combat involvement in the Vietnam War, there was considerable argument about progress among the Department of Defense under Robert McNamara, the CIA, and, to some extent, the intelligence staff of Military Assistance Command Vietnam.[83] 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.[citation needed] Adams afterward wrote the book War of Numbers.

Abuses of CIA authority, 1970s–1990s

Things came to a head in the mid-1970s, around the time of Watergate.[citation needed] A dominant feature of political life during that period were the attempts of Congress to assert oversight of the US Presidency and the executive branch of the US Government. Revelations about past CIA activities, such as assassinations and attempted assassinations of foreign leaders (most notably Fidel Castro) and illegal domestic spying on US citizens, provided the opportunities to execute Congressional oversight of US intelligence operations.[84]

Hastening the CIA's fall from grace were the burglary of the Watergate headquarters of the Democratic Party by ex-CIA agents, and President Richard Nixon's subsequent attempt to use the CIA to impede the FBI's investigation of the burglary.[citation needed] In the famous "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 of Cuba.[85] In this way Nixon and Haldemann ensured that the CIA's #1 and #2 ranking officials, Richard Helms and Vernon Walters, communicated to FBI Director L. Patrick Gray that the FBI should not follow the money trail from the burglars to the Committee to Re-elect the President, as it would uncover CIA informants in Mexico.[citation needed] The FBI initially agreed to this due to a long standing agreement between the FBI and CIA not to uncover each other's sources of information. Though within a couple of weeks the FBI demanded this request in writing, and when no such formal request came, the FBI resumed its investigation into the money trail. Nonetheless, when the smoking gun tapes were made public, damage to the public's perception of CIA's top officials, and thus to the CIA as a whole, could not be avoided.[86]

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, claiming that the CIA had assassinated foreign leaders, and had illegally conducted surveillance on some 7,000 US citizens involved in the antiwar movement (Operation CHAOS).[84] The CIA had also experimented on people, who unknowingly took LSD (among other things).[84]

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).[84] In addition, President Gerald Ford created the Rockefeller Commission,[84] and issued an executive order prohibiting the assassination of foreign leaders.

During the investigation, Schlesinger's successor as DCI, William Colby, testified before Congress on 32 occasions in 1975, including about the "Family Jewels". Colby later stated that he believed that providing Congress with this information was the correct thing to do, and ultimately in the CIA's own interests.[87] As the CIA fell out of favor with the public, Ford assured Americans that his administration was not involved: "There are no people presently employed in the White House who have a relationship with the CIA of which I am personally unaware."[84]

Repercussions from the Iran-Contra affair arms smuggling scandal included the creation of the Intelligence Authorization Act in 1991.[citation needed] It defined covert operations as secret missions in geopolitical areas where the US 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".

2004, DNI takes over CIA top-level functions

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 functions that had previously been the CIA's. 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[88] amending Executive Order 12333 to strengthen the role of the DNI.[89]

Previously, the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) 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.

Currently, the CIA reports to the Director of National Intelligence. Prior to the establishment of the DNI, the CIA reported to the President, with informational briefings to 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 US intelligence agencies, including the National Security Agency, the Drug Enforcement Administration, etc. All 16 Intelligence Community agencies are under the authority of the Director of National Intelligence.

Mission-related issues and controversies

The history of CIA deals with several things, certainly including covert action, but also clandestine and overt intelligence collection, intelligence analysis and reporting, and logistical and technical support of its activities. Prior to the December 2004 reorganization of the intelligence community (IC), it also was responsible for coordinations of IC-wide intelligence estimates.

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 articles:

CIA analyses of issues such as the effect of emerging infectious diseases, and the detection of Weapons of mass destruction, 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 opponents) 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:

  • CIA sponsored regime change

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, US Congressional hearings, Blum's book[90] and Weiner's book[91] Note that the CIA has responded to the claims made in Weiner's book,[92] and that Jeffrey Richelson of the National Security Archive has also been critical of it.[93]

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, assassinations of militant leaders.

Security and counterintelligence failures

While the names change periodically, there are two basic security functions to protect the CIA and its operations. There is an Office of Security in the Directorate for Support, which is responsible for physical security of the CIA buildings, secure storage of information, and personnel security clearances. These are directed inwardly to the agency itself.

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.

Security failures

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 December 30, 2009, a suicide attack occurred in the Forward Operating Base Chapman attack, a major CIA base in the province of Khost, Afghanistan. Seven CIA officers, including the chief of the base, were killed and six others seriously wounded in the attack. The CIA is consequently conducting an investigation into how the suicide bomber managed to avoid the base's security measures.[94]

Counterintelligence failures

Perhaps the most disruptive period involving counterintelligence was James Jesus Angleton's search for a mole,[95] based on the statements of a Soviet defector, Anatoliy Golitsyn. A second defector, Yuri Nosenko, challenged Golitsyn's claims, with the two calling one another Soviet double agents.[96] Many CIA officers fell under career-ending suspicion; the details of the relative truths and untruths from Nosenko and Golitsyn may never be released, or, in fact, may not be fully understood. The accusations also crossed the Atlantic to the British intelligence services, who also were damaged by molehunts.[97]

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.[98]

Other defectors have included Edward Lee Howard, David Henry Barnett, both field operations officers, 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.[99]

Failures in intelligence analysis

The agency has also been criticized by some for ineffectiveness as an intelligence gathering agency. Former DCI Richard Helms commented, after the end of the Cold War, "The only remaining superpower doesn't have enough interest in what's going on in the world to organize and run an espionage service."[100] The CIA has come under particular criticism for failing to predict the collapse of the Soviet Union.

See the information technology section of the intelligence analysis management for discussion of possible failures to provide adequate automation support to analysts, and 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, such as John McLaughlin, who was deputy director and acting director of central intelligence from October 2000 to September 2004 have lamented CIA's inability to produce the kind of long-range strategic intelligence that it once did in order to guide policymakers. McLaughlin notes that CIA is drowned by demands from the White House and Pentagon for instant information, and said, "intelligence analysts end up being the Wikipedia of Washington."[101] 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.[citation needed]

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.[102] 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[citation needed].

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.[83] 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 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[citation needed].

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 Hayden. Hayden said its publication would "consume time and attention revisiting ground that is already well plowed.”[103] Tenet disagreed with the report's conclusions, citing his planning efforts vis-a-vis al-Qaeda, particularly from 1999.[104]

Questionable/controversial tactics

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, funding and training of groups and organizations that would later participate in killing of civilians and other non-combatants and would try or succeed in overthrowing democratically elected governments, 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".[105]

The CIA has been criticized for ineffectiveness in its basic mission of intelligence gathering. A variant of this criticism is that allegations of misconduct are symptomatic of lack of attention to basic mission in the sense that controversial actions, such as assassination attempts and human rights violations, tend to be carried out in operations that have little to do with intelligence gathering. The CIA has been charged with having more than 90% of its employees living and working within the United States, rather than in foreign countries, which is in violation of its charter. The CIA has also been accused of a lack of financial and whistleblower controls which has led to waste and fraud.[106]

External investigations and document releases

At various times since the creation of the CIA, the US Government has produced comprehensive reports on CIA actions that marked historical watersheds in how CIA went about trying to fulfill its vague charter purposes from 1947. These reports were the result of internal/presidential studies, external investigations by Congressional committees or other arms of the US Government, or even the simple releases and declassification of large quantities of documents by the CIA.

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.

Influencing public opinion and law enforcement

This is an area with many shades of gray. The CIA has much popular agreement in a set few instances wherein it has acted inappropriately, such as in providing technical support to White House operatives conducting both political and security investigations, with no reputed legal authority to do so. In many cases, ambiguity existing between law enforcement and intelligence agencies may expose a clandestine operation. This is a problem not unique to intelligence but also seen among different law enforcement organizations, where one wants to prosecute and another to continue investigations, perhaps reaching higher levels in a conspiracy.[107]

Al-Qaeda and the War on Terror

The CIA had long been dealing with terrorism originating from abroad, and in 1986 had set up a Counterterrorist Center to deal specifically with the problem. At first confronted with secular terrorism, the Agency found Islamist terrorism looming increasingly large on its scope.

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.[108] However, various authorities relate that the Agency brought both Afghans and Arabs to the United States for military training.[109][110] 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".[111]

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".[112] 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.

Around 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".[113]

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".[114]

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.[115] 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 al-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.[116][117][118]

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".[119] The new strategy was called the "Worldwide Attack Matrix".

Anwar al-Aulaki, a Yemeni-American U.S. citizen and al-Qaeda member, was killed on September 30, 2011 by an air attack carried out by the Joint Special Operations Command. After several days of surveillance of Mr. Aulaki by the Central Intelligence Agency, armed drones took off from a new, secret American base in the Arabian Peninsula, crossed into northern Yemen and unleashed a barrage of Hellfire missiles at al-Aulaki's vehicle. Samir Khan, a Pakistani-American al-Qaeda member and editor of the jihadist Inspire magazine, also reportedly died in the attack. The combined CIA/JSOC drone strike was the first in Yemen since 2002 — there have been others by the military’s Special Operations forces — and was part of an effort by the spy agency to duplicate in Yemen the covert war which has been running in Afghanistan and Pakistan. [120][121].

Operation Neptune's Spear

On May 1, 2011, President Barack Obama announced that Osama bin Laden was killed earlier that day by "a small team of Americans" acting under his direct orders in Abbottabad, Pakistan, during a CIA operation.[122][123] The raid was executed from a CIA forward base in Afghanistan by elements of the U.S. Navy's Naval Special Warfare Development Group and CIA paramilitary operatives.[124]

It resulted in the acquisition of extensive intelligence on the future attack plans of al-Qaeda.[125][126][127] The operation was a result of years of intelligence work that included the CIA's capture and interrogation Khalid Sheik Mohammad (KSM) leading to the identity of a courier of Bin Laden's,[128][129][130] the tracking of the courier to the compound by Special Activities Division paramilitary operatives and the establishing of a CIA safe house to provide critical tactical intelligence for the operation.[131][132][133]

Palestine Liberation Organization

Between the 1970s and 1980s, the CIA forged a relationship with individual members of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The CIA secretly brought Hanan Ashrawi, Hanna Seniora, Saeb Erakat, and Sari Nusseibeh to the United States for intensive briefings on integrating their politics with the United States. [134]

Israeli intelligence did not know part of the PLO was being funded and trained by the CIA at the same time that the Agency was pretending to work with Israel against the PLO. According to agents involved in the operation: "One of the PLO leaders argued that unless his fighters....were allowed to commit some actions against Israel, they would not be taken seriously. The CIA encouraged attacks on non-civilian targets in Israel." John Loftus argues the CIA was doing "everything possible to destroy the Mossad's counter-terrorist network." Loftus says, by the 1980s, oil company policy was CIA policy. Oil companies could bribe the PLO, but they could not bribe the Mossad. [135]

2003 War in Iraq

Whether or not the intelligence available, or presented by the Bush Administration justified the 2003 invasion of Iraq or allowed proper planning, especially for the occupation, is quite controversial. However, there were more than one CIA employee that asserted the sense that Bush administration officials placed undue pressure on CIA analysts to reach certain conclusions that would support their stated policy positions with regard to Iraq.[citation needed]

CIA Special Activities Division paramilitary teams were the first teams in Iraq arriving in July 2002. Once on the ground they prepared the battle space for the subsequent arrival of US military forces. SAD teams then combined with US Army Special Forces (on a team called the Northern Iraq Liaison Element or NILE).[136] This team organized the Kurdish Peshmerga for the subsequent US-led invasion. They combined to defeat Ansar al-Islam, an ally of Al-Qaeda. If this battle had not been as successful as it was, there would have been a considerable hostile force behind the US/Kurdish force in the subsequent assault on Saddam's Army. The US side was carried out by Paramilitary Operations Officers from SAD/SOG and the Army's 10th Special Forces Group.[136][137][138]

SAD teams also conducted high risk special reconnaissance missions behind Iraqi lines to identify senior leadership targets. These missions led to the initial strikes against Saddam Hussein and his key generals. Although the initial strike against Hussein was unsuccessful in killing the dictator, it was successful in effectively ending his ability to command and control his forces. Other strikes against key generals were successful and significantly degraded the command's ability to react to and maneuver against the US-led invasion force.[136][139]

NATO member Turkey refused to allow its territory to be used by the US Army's 4th Infantry Division for the invasion. As a result, the SAD, US Army Special Forces joint teams and the Kurdish Peshmerga were the entire northern force against Saddam's Army during the invasion. Their efforts kept the 1st and 5th Corps of the Iraqi Army in place to defend against the Kurds rather than their moving to contest the coalition force coming from the south. This combined US Special Operations and Kurdish force soundly defeated Saddam's Army, a major military success, similar to the victory over the Taliban in Afghanistan.[136] Four members of the SAD/SOG team received CIA's rare Intelligence Star for their "heroic actions."[140]

Drug trafficking

Two offices of CIA Directorate of Intelligence have analytical responsibilities in this area. The Office of Transnational Issues[46] 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.

CIA Crime and Narcotics Center[47] researches information on international narcotics trafficking and organized crime for policymakers and the law enforcement community. Since CIA has no domestic police authority, it sends its analytic information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) 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).

Another part of CIA, the National Clandestine Service, collects human intelligence (HUMINT) in these areas.

Research by Dr. Alfred W. McCoy, Gary Webb, and others has pointed to CIA involvement in narcotics trafficking across the globe, although the CIA officially denies such allegations.[141][142] During the Cold War, when numerous soldiers participated in transport of Southeast Asian heroin to the United States by the airline Air America[citation needed], the CIA's role in such traffic was reportedly rationalized as "recapture" of related profits to prevent possible enemy control of such assets. Gary Webb and other researchers have reported about similar operations during Reagan's Contra War against the democratically elected government of Nicaragua, US involvement in Afghanistan during the Cold War, and current CIA involvement with Pakistan's ISI intelligence agency, which allegedly has links to the refining of Afghan heroin in Pakistan.[citation needed]

Lying to Congress

Former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi has stated that the CIA repeatedly misled the Congress since 2001 about waterboarding and other torture, though Pelosi admitted to being told about the programs.[143][144] Six members of Congress have claimed that Director of CIA Leon Panetta admitted that over a period of several years since 2001 the CIA deceived Congress, including affirmatively lying to Congress. Some congressmen believe that these "lies" to Congress are similar to CIA lies to Congress from earlier periods.[145]

Covert programs hidden from Congress

On July 10, 2009, House Intelligence subcommittee Chairwoman Representative Jan Schakowsky (D, IL) announced the termination of an unnamed CIA covert program described as "very serious" in nature which had been kept secret from Congress for eight years.[146]

"It's not as if this was an oversight and over the years it just got buried. There was a decision under several directors of the CIA and administration not to tell the Congress."

Jan Schakowsky, Chairwoman, U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Subcommittee

CIA Director Panetta had ordered an internal investigation to determine why Congress had not been informed about the covert program. Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Representative Silvestre Reyes announced that he is considering an investigation into alleged CIA violations of the National Security Act, which requires with limited exception that Congress be informed of covert activities. Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee Chairwoman Schakowsky indicated that she would forward a request for congressional investigation to HPSCI Chairman Silvestre Reyes.

"Director Panetta did brief us two weeks ago—I believe it was on the 24th of June—... and, as had been reported, did tell us that he was told that the vice president had ordered that the program not be briefed to the Congress."

Dianne Feinstein, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

As mandated by Title 50 of the United States Code Chapter 15, Subchapter III, when it becomes necessary to limit access to covert operations findings that could affect vital interests of the US, as soon as possible the President must report at a minimum to the Gang of Eight (the leaders of each of the two parties from both the Senate and House of Representatives, and the chairs and ranking members of both the Senate Committee and House Committee for intelligence).[147] The House is expected to support the 2010 Intelligence Authorization Bill including a provision that would require the President to inform more than 40 members of Congress about covert operations. The Obama administration threatened to veto the final version of a bill that included such a provision.[148][149] On July 16, 2008 the fiscal 2009 Intelligence Authorization Bill was approved by House majority containing stipulations that 75% of money sought for covert actions would be held until all members of the House Intelligence panel were briefed on sensitive covert actions. Under the George W. Bush administration, senior advisers to the President issued a statement indicating that if a bill containing this provision reached the President, they would recommend that he veto the bill.[150]

The program was rumored vis-a-vis leaks made by anonymous government officials on July 23, to be an assassinations program,[151][152] but this remains unconfirmed. "The whole committee was stunned....I think this is as serious as it gets," stated Anna Eshoo, Chairman, Subcommittee on Intelligence Community Management, U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI).

Allegations by Director Panetta indicate that details of a secret counterterrorism program were withheld from Congress under orders from former US Vice President Dick Cheney. This prompted Senator Feinstein and Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee to insist that no one should go outside the law.[153] "The agency hasn't discussed publicly the nature of the effort, which remains classified," said agency spokesman Paul Gimigliano.[154]

The Wall Street Journal reported, citing former intelligence officials familiar with the matter, that the program was an attempt to carry out a 2001 presidential authorization to capture or kill al Qaeda operatives.[155]

Intelligence Committee investigation

On July 17, 2009, the House Intelligence Committee said it was launching a formal investigation into the secret program.[156] Representative Silvestre Reyes announced the probe will look into "whether there was any past decision or direction to withhold information from the committee".

"Is giving your kid a test in school an inhibition on his free learning?" Holt said. "Sure, there are some people who are happy to let intelligence agencies go about their business unexamined. But I think most people when they think about it will say that you will get better intelligence if the intelligence agencies don't operate in an unexamined fashion."

Rush Holt, Chairman, House Select Intelligence Oversight Panel, Committee on Appropriations[157]

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D, IL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, who called for the investigation, stated that the investigation was intended to address CIA failures to inform Congress fully or accurately about four issues: C.I.A. involvement in the downing of a missionary plane mistaken for a narcotics flight in Peru in 2001, and two "matters that remain classified", as well as the rumored-assassinations question. In addition, the inquiry is likely to look at the Bush administration's program of eavesdropping without warrants and its detention and interrogation program.[158] U.S. Intelligence Chief Dennis Blair testified before the House Intelligence Committee on February 3, 2010 that the U.S. intelligence community is prepared to kill U.S. citizens if they threaten other Americans or the United States.[159] The American Civil Liberties Union has said this policy is "particularly troubling" because U.S. citizens "retain their constitutional right to due process even when abroad." The ACLU also "expressed serious concern about the lack of public information about the policy and the potential for abuse of unchecked executive power."[160]


Threats to disband the agency date back to the Kennedy administration,[161] and following the Ames scandal Congress intensified the calls.[162] As recently as 2004, senators have repeated the need to end the agency.[163]

See also

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