CIA Documentary: Hiding Secrets | Military Channel
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is one of the principal intelligence-gathering agencies of the United States federal government. An executive agency, it reports to the Director of National Intelligence.
The CIA has three principal activities, which are gathering information about foreign governments, corporations, and individuals; analyzing that information, along with intelligence gathered by other U.S. intelligence agencies, in order to provide national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers; and, upon the request of the President of the United States, carrying out or overseeing covert activities and some tactical operations by its own employees, by members of the U.S. military, or by other partners. It can, for example, exert foreign political influence through its tactical divisions, such as the Special Activities Division.
The CIA’s headquarters is in Langley, Virginia, a few miles west of Washington, D.C. Its employees operate from U.S. embassies and many other locations around the world.
The CIA succeeded the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), formed during World War II to coordinate secret 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”.
There has been considerable criticism of the CIA relating to security and counterintelligence failures, failures in intelligence analysis, human rights concerns, external investigations and document releases, influencing public opinion and law enforcement, drug trafficking, and lying to Congress. Others, such as Eastern bloc defector Ion Mihai Pacepa, have defended the CIA as “by far the world’s best intelligence organization,” and argued that CIA activities are subjected to scrutiny unprecedented among the world’s intelligence agencies.