Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
The Central Intelligence Agency or CIA is an organization in the United States government whose duty is to gather all kinds of information. Its members then provide this information to our country's leaders so that they can make effective decisions about national security. Their information may include threats by other countries to the United States. The CIA may also provide false information to other countries to confuse them about what our policies might be.
Sometimes the CIA obtains information about other countries secretly using various means. They might use people inside another country to find out what they need to know. They may be able to get into the communication and computer systems of other countries.
The CIA provides five different types of intelligence or information. They can provide facts which are current, that is, right now, about the world. They can give a warning to our leaders about an event which might be about to happen. The CIA can gather information and give the leaders some thoughts or estimates about what might happen regarding some specific subject. They can do a great amount of research about a special topic for a leader. They also can brief the leaders of the United States about the technology which foreign governments are using.
When the CIA is given a specific job to do by the President or some other leader, they follow certain steps to carry out the mission. First, they look at what they are asked to do and then plan as to how to proceed. Second, they collect information by as many means as possible. They read foreign newspapers, use satellite cameras, watch foreign television, plant hidden cameras and listening devices in locations not known to other countries. Overt means are the open ways they can find the information, like television or radio or newspapers. Covert methods are secret ways they can gather the information or intelligence.
Third, the CIA puts together all the intelligence they have found about the subject into a report. Fourth, they analyze what they have found and process it. They see what all the information is telling them. Finally, they give their analysis to the leader who asked for the intelligence. The leader may have more questions and come back to them.
The CIA is divided into four teams. Each has a specific role to play in the gathering of information. Two teams gather information. The third team looks at the intelligence and analyzes it. The fourth oversees the entire operation. One of the first two teams is called the National Clandestine Service. The members of this team are sometimes called spies. They work alone and go to foreign countries to secretly search out information.
People with many kinds of skills work for the Central Intelligence Agency. These include accountants, secretaries, scientists and technologists. Some have advanced degrees in their field. Those who choose to work for the NCS love to travel all over the world. They are very brave and dedicated to the United States. Their jobs may sometimes be very dangerous. Their names cannot usually be revealed so they do not become famous. Their fellow workers do appreciate all the work they do in secret, however.
President Harry Truman signed the National Security Act in 1947. It established the CIA and gave it the responsibility for gathering and coordinating all types of intelligence relating to the security of the United States. The CIA is in the town of Langley in Fairfax County, Virginia.
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