Central Intelligence Agency
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Seal of the Central Intelligence Agency
Flag of the Central Intelligence Agency
|Formed||September 18, 1947|
|Preceding Agency||Office of Strategic Services|
|Headquarters||George Bush Center for Intelligence
Langley, Fairfax County, Virginia, U.S.
|Motto||"The Work of a Nation. The Center of Intelligence."
Unofficial motto: "And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32)
|Annual budget||Classified ($15 billion, as of 2013[update])|
|Agency executives||John O. Brennan, Director
Avril Haines, Deputy Director
|Parent agency||None (independent)|
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is an external intelligence service of the U.S. Government, tasked with gathering, processing and analyzing national security information from around the world, primarily through the use of human intelligence (HUMINT). A component of the 17-member U.S. Intelligence Community (IC), CIA reports to the Director of National Intelligence.
Unlike the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which is an internal intelligence and security service, CIA has no domestic law enforcement function and is focused on overseas intelligence collection. As one of several IC members specializing in HUMINT operations, CIA serves as the national manager for coordination and deconfliction for HUMINT activities. Moreover, it is the only agency authorized to carry out and oversee covert action, unless the President finds that another agency is better suited for such operations. It can, for example, exert foreign political influence through its tactical divisions, such as the Special Activities Division.
In 2013, The Washington Post reported that CIA had the largest budget in the Intelligence Community, exceeding previous estimates. The CIA has increasingly taken on offensive roles, including covert paramilitary operations. One of its largest divisions, the Information Operations Center (IOC), has shifted focus from counter-terrorism to offensive cyber-operations.
Several CIA activities have attracted criticism. They include nonconsensual human experiments, extraordinary rendition, enhanced interrogation techniques (torture), targeted killings, assassinations and the funding and training of militants who would go on to kill civilians and non-combatants.
- 1 Purpose
- 2 Organizational structure
- 3 Training
- 4 Budget
- 5 Employees
- 6 Relationship with other intelligence agencies
- 7 History
- 7.1 Immediate predecessors, 1946–47
- 7.2 Legislative Foundation
- 7.3 New Director
- 7.4 Intelligence vs. Action
- 7.5 Early successes and failures
- 7.6 Korean War
- 7.7 Iran
- 7.8 Guatemala
- 7.9 Syria
- 7.10 Indonesia
- 7.11 Congo
- 7.12 Gary Powers U-2 Shootdown
- 7.13 Dominican Republic
- 7.14 Cuba
- 7.15 Early Cold War, 1953–1966
- 7.16 Indochina, Tibet and the Vietnam War (1954–1975)
- 7.17 Nixon
- 7.18 Congressional Investigations
- 7.19 Counter-Espionage Against the USSR
- 7.20 Chad
- 7.21 Afghanistan
- 7.22 Iran Contra
- 7.23 Operation Desert Storm
- 7.24 Fall of the USSR
- 7.25 President Clinton
- 7.26 Osama Bin Laden
- 7.27 Failures in intelligence analysis
- 7.28 Abuses of CIA authority, 1970s–1990s
- 7.29 Iraq War
- 7.30 2004, DNI takes over CIA top-level functions
- 7.31 Operation Neptune Spear
- 7.32 Reorganization
- 8 Open Source Intelligence
- 9 Outsourcing and privatization
- 10 Controversies
- 10.1 Extraordinary rendition
- 10.2 Security failures
- 10.3 Counterintelligence failures
- 10.4 Human rights concerns
- 10.5 External investigations and document releases
- 10.6 Influencing public opinion and law enforcement
- 10.7 Drug trafficking
- 10.8 Alleged lying to Congress
- 10.9 Improper search of computers used by Senate investigators
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 Further reading
- 14 External links
When the CIA was created, its purpose was to create a clearinghouse for foreign policy intelligence and analysis. Today its primary purpose is to collect, analyze, evaluate, and disseminate foreign intelligence, and to perform covert actions.
According to its fiscal 2013 budget, the CIA has five priorities:
- Counterterrorism, the top priority, given the ongoing Global War on Terror.
- Nonproliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, with North Korea described as perhaps the most difficult target.
- Warning American leaders of important overseas events, with Pakistan described as an "intractable target".
- Counterintelligence, with China, Russia, Iran, Cuba, and Israel described as "priority" targets.
- Cyber intelligence.
The CIA has an executive office and five major directorates:
- The Directorate of Digital Innovation
- The Directorate of Analysis
- The Directorate of Operations
- The Directorate of Support
- The Directorate of Science and Technology
The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (D/CIA) reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI); in practice, the director deals with the DNI, Congress, and the White House, while the Deputy Director is the internal executive.
The Executive Office also support the U.S. military by providing it with information it gathers, receiving information from military intelligence organizations, and cooperating on field activities. The Executive Director is in charge of the day to day operation of the CIA, and each branch of the service has its own Director. The Associate Director of military affairs, a senior military officer, manages the relationship between the CIA and the Unified Combatant Commands, who produce regional/operational intelligence and consume national intelligence.
Directorate of Intelligence
The Directorate of Intelligence produces all-source intelligence investigation on key foreign and intercontinental issues relating to powerful and sometimes anti-government sensitive topics. It has four regional analytic groups, six groups for transnational issues, and three focus on policy, collection, and staff support. There is an office dedicated to Iraq, and regional analytical Offices covering the Near Eastern and South Asian Analysis, the Office of Russian and European Analysis, and the Office of Asian Pacific, Asian Pacific, Latin American, and African Analysis and African Analysis.
Directorate of Operations
The Directorate of Operations is responsible for collecting foreign intelligence, mainly from clandestine HUMINT sources, and covert action. The name reflects its role as the coordinator of human intelligence activities among other elements of the wider U.S. intelligence community with their own HUMINT operations. This Directorate was created in an attempt to end years of rivalry over influence, philosophy and budget between the United States Department of Defense (DOD) and the CIA. In spite of this, the Department of Defense recently organized its own global clandestine intelligence service, the Defense Clandestine Service (DCS), under the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).
The Service is organized by geographic regions and issues, but the precise present organization of this Directorate is classified.
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. 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).
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 CIA established its first training facility, the Office of Training and Education, in 1950. Following the end of the Cold War, the CIA's training budget was slashed, which had a negative effect on employee retention. In response, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet established CIA University in 2002. CIA University holds between 200 and 300 courses each year, training both new hires and experienced intelligence officers, as well as CIA support staff. The facility works in partnership with the National Intelligence University, and includes the Sherman Kent School for Intelligence Analysis, the Directorate of Analysis' component of the university.
For later stage 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. Additional mission training is conducted at Harvey Point, North Carolina.
The primary training facility for the Office of Communications is Warrenton Training Center, located near Warrenton, Virginia. The facility was established in 1951 and has been used by the CIA since at least 1955.
Details of the overall United States intelligence budget are classified. Under the Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949, the Director of Central Intelligence is the only federal government employee who can spend "un-vouchered" government money. The government has disclosed a total figure for all non-military intelligence spending since 2007; the fiscal 2013 figure is $52.6 billion. According to the 2013 mass surveillance disclosures, the CIA's fiscal 2013 budget is $14.7 billion, 28% of the total and almost 50% more than the budget of the National Security Agency. CIA's HUMINT budget is $2.3 billion, the SIGINT budget is $1.7 billion, and spending for security and logistics of CIA missions is $2.5 billion. "Covert action programs", including a variety of activities such as the CIA's drone fleet and anti-Iranian nuclear program activities, accounts for $2.6 billion.
There were numerous previous attempts to obtain general information about the budget. As a result, it was revealed that CIA's annual budget in Fiscal Year 1963 was US $550 million (inflation-adjusted US$ 4.2 billion in 2015), and the overall intelligence budget in FY 1997 was US $26.6 billion (inflation-adjusted US$ 39.1 billion in 2015). There have been accidental disclosures; for instance, Mary Margaret Graham, a former CIA official and deputy director of national intelligence for collection in 2005, said that the annual intelligence budget was $44 billion, and in 1994 Congress accidentally published a budget of $43.4 billion (in 2012 dollars) in 1994 for the non-military National Intelligence Program, including $4.8 billion for the CIA. 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.
Relationship with other intelligence agencies
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The CIA acts as the primary US HUMINT 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 U.S. government intelligence agencies, commercial information sources, and foreign intelligence services.
Foreign intelligence services
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 Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), the Egyptian General Intelligence Service, 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 U.S. State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research are purely analytical agencies.
The closest links of the U.S. 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. An indication of the United States' close operational cooperation is the creation of a new message distribution label within the main U.S. military communications network. Previously, the marking of NOFORN (i.e., No Foreign Nationals) required the originator to specify which, if any, non-U.S. countries could receive the information. A new handling caveat, USA/AUS/CAN/GBR/NZL Five Eyes, 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.
The task of the division called "Verbindungsstelle 61" of the German Bundesnachrichtendienst is keeping contact to the CIA office in Wiesbaden. Ireland's military Directorate of Intelligence (G2) liaises with the CIA, although it is not a member of the Five Eyes.
The Central Intelligence Agency was created on July 26, when Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947 into law. A major impetus that would be cited over the years for the creation of the CIA was the unforeseen attack on Pearl Harbor, but whatever Pearl Harbor's role, in the twilight of World War II it was clear in government circles that there was a need for a group to coordinate government intelligence efforts, and the FBI, the State Department, and the War Department, and even the Post Office were all jockeying for that new power.
General William "Wild Bill" Donovan, head of the OSS, wrote to President Roosevelt on November 18, 1944, stating the need for a peacetime "Central Intelligence Service" "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.", and have authority to conduct "subversive operations abroad", but "no police or law enforcement functions, either at home or abroad". The letter was prompted by a query from General Eisenhower's Chief of Staff about the nature of the role of the OSS in the military establishment. Following this, Roosevelt ordered his chief military aide to conduct a secret investigation of the OSS's WW2 operations. Around this time, stories about the OSS began circulating in major papers including references to this OSS follow-on being an "American Gestapo".:5 The report, heavily influenced by an FBI that saw itself as the future of American foreign intelligence, was starkly, and vividly negative, only praising a few rescues of downed airmen, sabotage operations, and its deskbound research and analysis staff; the pronouncement of the report was that any "use [of the OSS] as a secret intelligence agency in the postwar world [would be] inconceivable", but even before the report was finished the Joint Chiefs had been ordered, presumably under pressure from the press articles, by the president to shelve their plans for a Central Intelligence Service even before the April release of the report.
On September 20, 1945, as part of Truman's dismantling of the WW2 war machine, the OSS, at one time numbering almost 13,000, was eliminated over the span of ten days. A reprieve, though, would be granted six days later by the Assistant Secretary of War, reducing it to a skeleton crew of roughly 15% of its peak force level, forcing it to close many of its foreign offices; at the same time the name of the service was changed from the OSS to the Strategic Services Unit.
Immediate predecessors, 1946–47
During WW2, President Roosevelt was concerned about American covert intelligence capabilities, particularly in the light of the success of Churchill's Commandos. On the suggestion of a senior British intelligence officer, he asked Colonel William "Wild Bill" Donovan to devise a combined intelligence service modeled on the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), and Special Operations Executive, centralizing, for instance, the separate cryptanalysis programs of the Army, and Navy. This resulted in the creation of the Office of Strategic Services. On September 20, 1945, shortly after the end of World War 2, President Harry S. Truman signed an executive order, to dissolve the OSS by October 1, 1945. The rapid reorganizations that followed reflected not only routine bureaucratic competition for resources but also exploration of the proper relationships between clandestine intelligence collection and covert action (i.e., paramilitary and psychological operations). 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)|
The three-way division lasted only a few months. The first public mention of the "Central Intelligence Agency" concept and term appeared on a U.S. 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. Despite opposition from the military establishment, the United States Department of State and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), President Truman established the National Intelligence Authority in January 1946; it was the direct predecessor to the CIA. The National Intelligence Authority and its operational extension, the Central Intelligence Group, (CIG) was an interim authority established under Presidential authority which was disestablished after twenty months. The assets of the SSU, which now constituted a streamlined "nucleus" of clandestine intelligence, were transferred to the CIG in mid-1946 and reconstituted as the Office of Special Operations (OSO).
Lawrence Houston, the first General Counsel of the CIG, and, later, the CIA, had many concerns about the lack of a congressional mandate. With the support of Director Vandenberg he became a principle draftsman of the National Security Act of 1947 which, on September 18, established both the National Security Council and the Central Intelligence Agency. In 1949, Lawrence Houston, along with his two assistant general counsels, would help draft the Central Intelligence Agency Act, (Public law 81-110) which authorized the agency to use confidential fiscal and administrative procedures, and exempted 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.
In July '46 Vandenberg reorganized the Central Reports staff into the larger Office of Reports and Estimates. The ORE drew its reports from a daily take of State Department telegrams, military dispatches, and internal CIG reports that went to specialized analysts. The ORE's main products quickly became popular, they were the "Daily Summary", and the "Weekly Summary". The ORE also produced "Intelligence Highlights" for internal consumption, and "Intelligence Memorandums" for the DCI, who could distribute them at his discretion. These reports would dominate the work of the ORE at the expense of its work on Estimates.
Vandenberg would quickly move to the position as Commander of the newly formed Air Force that he had been waiting for. He would be replaced by Roscoe Hillenkoetter. Under Hillenkoetter the ORE split into Global Survey, Current Intelligence, and Estimates. The sharp focus on the grind of Current Intelligence, with its popular, widely distributed products would continue to dominate the ORE leaving little room for the other sections to grow, but it did lead to slow improvements, and the ORE would increase the number of products it offered, adding "Situation Reports" that would be used as handbooks for individual countries, and the monthly "Review of the World Situation". Like other organs of the CIA, the ORE would receive a regular stream of requests from the rest of the Government, including the NSC, JCS, Department of State, and branches of the military. Problems with the early ORE recognized within the CIA itself were that, of its eleven regular publications, only one of them addressed strategic, or national intelligence questions, and that most of the sources of information relied on to produce ORE products were "open source", the CIA itself had little capability to produce intelligence on which to base its own reports and estimates. "The CIA had only a few officers in Korea before the June 1950 invasion, and none reported to Agency analytical branches." Shortly after the invasion of South Korea Truman would, on 21 August 1950, announce Walter Bedell Smith as the new Director of the CIA to correct what was seen as a grave failure of Intelligence.
Intelligence vs. Action
In the beginning, Central Intelligence was the beast of three masters: Truman, who, from his position under a mountain of state, DOD, and FBI reports (The FBI having jurisdiction in Latin America) quickly saw the need for a centralized outlet to organize the information that would reach his desk; Defense, who wanted CI to both know everything about military adversaries, perform military sabotage, and foment partisans that would fight with the US if war came; and the State department, that wanted CI to bring global political change positive to the ends of the US. Organizationally, this gave CI two areas of responsibility; Covert Action, and Covert Intelligence.
Office of Special Operations(Covert Intelligence)
Sidney Souers (Formerly Deputy Chief of Naval Intelligence), after a little more than a hundred days in his position as the first Director of the Central Intelligence Group during which "The Pentagon and the State Department refused to talk to [the CIG]", and "the FBI treated [the CIG] with the deepest disdain", left a top secret note simply stating "There is an urgent need to develop the highest possible quality of information on the USSR in the shortest possible time" before he completed the goal he set out in his first days of office... "[going] home".
General Hoyt Vandenberg, Eisenhower's commander of air operations in Europe, and, later, his Intelligence Chief would become the CIG's second director while waiting to be appointed the first Commander of the United States Air Force. One of his first actions was creating the Office of Special Operations, as well as the Office of Reports and Estimates. In the beginning the OSO was tasked with spying and subversion overseas with a budget of $15 million, the largess of a small number of patrons in congress. Vandenberg's goals were much like the ones set out by his predecessor in the note he left leaving office, finding out "everything about the Soviet forces in Eastern and Central Europe - their movements, their capabilities, and their intentions" in the shortest possible time. This task fell to the 228 overseas personnel covering Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary. These men would be plagued by a problem that would always plague the CIA, distinguishing the accurate from the inaccurate. Richard Helms, the man in charge, would later find that at least half of the information that made it into CIA files was inaccurate. In its early years, the CIA would be caught flatfooted by several world events critical to the Nation, blinded by, among other things, its inability to separate truth from fiction.
Office of Policy Coordination (Covert Action)
The history of CI covert action had an ignominious start when, before the creation of the Office of Policy Coordination, The New York Times reported on CI's first covert action, noting the arrest of a CI agent in connection with his meeting with the Romanian National Peasants' Party, along with the arrest of the party's leaders on the charge of treason.
On June 18, 1948, the National Security Council issued Directive 10/2 "[calling] for covert operations to attack the soviets around the world," and giving 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 U.S. government responsibility for them is not evident to unauthorized persons and that if uncovered the US Government can plausibly disclaim any responsibility for them." To this end, the Office of Policy Coordination was created inside the new CIA. It's important to note, though, that the OPC was quite unique. Frank Wisner, the head of the OPC answered not to the DI, but to the secretaries of defense, state, and the NSC, and the OPC's actions were a secret even from the head of the CIA. Most CIA stations had two station chiefs, one working for the OSO, and one working for the OPC. Their relationship was competitive, even poaching each other's agents, a lopsided competition, the better funded OPC often claiming victory.
Early successes and failures
In the early days of the cold war, successes for the CIA were few and far between. The gradual Soviet takeover of Romania, the Soviet takeover of Czechoslovakia, the soviet blockade of Berlin, CIA assessments of the Soviet atomic bomb project, the Korean War, and then, when the 300,000 Chinese troops waiting at the Korean border entered the war, all, arguably, failures of Central intelligence of the highest profile imaginable. The famous double agent Kim Philby was the British liaison to American Central Intelligence. Through him the CIA coordinated hundreds of airdrop operations inside the iron curtain, all compromised by Philby. American intelligence suffered from almost countless compromises of the networks it tried to set up. There were spies in the Manhattan project, and even Arlington Hall, the nerve center of CIA cryptanalysis was compromised by William Weisband, a Russian translator and Soviet spy. The CIA would reuse the tactic of dropping plant agents behind enemy lines by parachute again on China, and North Korea. This too would be fruitless.
Cryptanalysis was not the CIA's sole success story. In the 1948 Italian election the CIA quietly backed the Christian Democrats. James Forrestal and Allen Dulles passed a hat around Wall Street and Washington, then Forrestal went to the Secretary of the Treasury, John W. Snyder, a Truman stalwart. He allowed them to tap the $200 million Exchange Stabilization Fund which had been designed during the Depression to shore up the value of the dollar overseas, but was used during World War II as a depository for captured Axis Loot, and was, at that time, earmarked for the reconstruction of Europe. Funds would move from the fund into the bank accounts of wealthy Americans, many of whom had Italian heritage. Hard cash would then be distributed to Catholic Action, the Vatican's political arm, and directly to Italian politicians. "A long romance between the party and the agency began. The CIA's practice of purchasing elections and politicians with bags of cash was repeated in Italy - and in many other nations - for the next twenty-five years."
On Yong-Do island in Busan, Hans Tofte had turned over a thousand North Korean expatriates into what the National Security Council hoped would become a fifth column. They were divided into three tasking groups. Intelligence gathering through infiltration, guerrilla warfare, and pilot rescue. Tofte would be filing reports indicating success in operations long after any hope for the infiltration teams was cold in the ground.
In '52, CIA covert action would send 1,500 more expatriate agents north. Seoul station chief, and Army Colonel Albert Haney would openly celebrate the capabilities of those agents, and the information they sent. Some Soeul State Department intelligence officers were skeptical, but the party lasted until Haney was replaced, in September '52, by John Limond Hart, a Europe veteran with a vivid memory for bitter experiences of misinformation. Hart was immediately suspicious of the parade of successes reported by Tofte and Haney.
After a three month investigation, Hart determined that the entirety of the station's product from Korean sources was either an opportunist's lie, or the misinformation from the enemy, including reports hailed, by American military commanders, as "one of the outstanding intelligence reports of the war." Another part of the problem was the isolation of the Hermit Kingdom, and its relative lack of importance compared to China, and Japan, which led to a deficiency in Korean language skills. After the war, internal reviews by the CIA would corroborate Hart's findings. The CIA's Soeul station had 200 officers, but not a single speaker of Korean. The NSC's $152 million a year covert war was one part meat grinder, and one part delivery system for enemy misinformation.
Hart reported to Washington that Seoul station was hopeless, and could not be salvaged. Loftus Becker, Deputy Director of Intelligence, was sent personally to tell Hart that the CIA, to save face, had to keep the station open. Becker returned to Washington, pronounced the situation to be "hopeless", and that, after touring the CIA's Far East operations, the CIA's ability to gather intelligence in the far east was "almost negligible". He then resigned. While Allen Dulles was extolling the success of the CIA's guerrillas in Korea, AF Colonel James Kellis says Dulles had been informed that those guerrillas were under the control of the enemy. Frank Wisner put the Korean failures down to a need "to develop the quantity and kind of people we must have if we are to successfully carry out the heavy burdens which have been placed on us." A compounding factor was that, even at the height of the Korean war, the CIA would keep its primary focus on Europe, and the Soviet Union, through the entire war, the Korean War would always be seen as a diversion from Europe.
With the Chinese push, the eyes of the NSC turned north. With no end to the avalanche of money, the CIA explored every option in China. From Chiang Kai-shek's promise of a million Kuomingtang, to the western Chinese Muslim Horsemen of the Hui clans who had ties to Chinese Nationalists. The CIA ran operations from White Dog island with the nationalists for months until it was discovered that the nationalist commander's Chief of Staff was a spy for Mao. $50 million went to Okinawa based Chinese refugees who wove tales of sizable support on the mainland. In July '52, the CIA would send a team of expatriates in. Four months later they would radio for help. It was an ambush. Two CIA officers, Jack Downey, and Dick Fecteau. Fresh out out of Ivy League colleges they would both spend 19+ years in captivity.
Finally the CIA would turn to nationalist General Li Mi in Burma. When Li Mi's troops crossed the border into China an ambush awaited them too. The CIA would later discover that Li Mi's Bangkok radioman worked for Mao. CIA supplies still flowed, but Li Mi's men retreated to Burma, and set up a global heroin empire in Burma's Golden Triangle.
In 1951, Mosaddeq, a member of the National Front rose to power campaigning for khal'-e yad(Law of repossession, ie oil nationalization). This was against the Gass-Golsha`iyan (supplemental oil agreement), which Prime Minister Razmara supported. The supplemental oil agreement with Anglo-Iranian Oil Company got several concessions from the AIOC, including a 50/50 profit split, as well as other concessions for better Iranian representation within the company. Razmara is assassinated in March '51. Khalil Tahmassebi, a member of a terrorist group that follows the teachings of Ayatollah Khomeini is arrested, the next day over 8,000 members of the National Front, and the marxist Tudeh party protest his arrest. The protesters threaten to kill the Shah, any Iranian legislator that opposes oil nationalization, and anyone responsible for the imprisonment of Tahmassebi. Mosaddeq is elected to replace the slain PM, but conditions his acceptance on the nationalization of oil, which went through unanimously.
Nationalization of the British funded Iranian oil industry, including the largest oil refinery in the world, is disastrous. A British naval embargo successfully shutters the British oil facilities. Iran has no skilled workers to operate the British facilities, and no way of exporting the product anyway. In '52 Mosaddeq bucked against royal refusal to approve his Minister of War, aiming to take control of the military from the Shah. Mosaddeq resigned in protest, and the Shah installed Ahmad Qavam as PM. Again the National Front, and Tudeh took to the streets, again threatening assassinations (4 Iran Prime Ministers had been assassinated in the last few years). Five days later the military feared losing control and pulled their troops back and the Shah gave in to Mosaddeq's demands. Mosaddeq quickly replaced military leaders loyal to the Shah with those loyal to him, giving him personal control over the military. Mosaddeq would take 6 months of emergency powers, giving him the power to unilaterally pass legislation. When that expired, his powers were extended for another year.
A bitter irony was that Ayatollah Kashani, who once decried the unforgivable abuses of the British, and Mozzafar Baghai, Mosaddeq's closest political ally, and a man who personally took part in the physical takeover of the largest oil refinery in the world, now found that which they once saw in Mosaddeq in the British. Mosaddeq began manipulating the Iranian Parliament, but his supporters would quickly leave. To prevent the loss of his control of parliament, Mosaddeq dismissed parliament, and, at the same time, took dictatorial powers. This power grab triggered the Shah to exercise his constitutional right to dismiss Mosaddeq. Mosaddeq then started a military coup as the Shah fled the country. As was typical of CIA operations, CIA interventions were preceded by radio announcements on July 7, 1953 made by the CIA's intended victim by way of operational leaks. On August 19 a CIA paid mob led by Ayatollahs Khomeini, and Kashani would spark what the deputy chief of mission of the US Tehran Embassy called "an almost spontaneous revolution."... But Mosaddeq was protected by his new inner military circle, and the CIA had been unable to get any sway within the Iranian military. Their chosen man, former general Zahedi had no troops to call on. General McClure, commander of the American military assistance advisory group would get his second star buying the loyalty of the Iranian officers he was training. An attack on Mosaddeq's house would force him to flee. He would surrender the next day, and his military coup would come to an end. The end result would be a 60/40 oil profit split in favor of Iran (possibly similar to agreements with saudi arabia and venezuela).
The return of the Shah to power, and the impression, cultivated by Allen Dulles that an effective CIA had been able to guide the a nation to friendly and stable relations with the west triggered planning for Operation Success, a plan to replace Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz with Carlos Armas.  As was typical of CIA operations, the plan would be exposed in major newspapers even before they started planning it in detail when the CIA agent liaison to Armas left plans for the coup in his Guatemala City hotel room. Operation Success would be buoyed by two great strokes of luck. When Guatemalan state radio went down for scheduled antenna replacement, the CIA's "Voice of Liberation" radio broadcast would move to replace it. Speaker of the House John McCormack called a Czech shipment of weapons bypassing the US arms embargo on Guatemala an "atomic bomb planted in America's backyard." Contrary to contemporary claims of the CIA, the shipment would reach Guatemala undetected, but the second stroke of luck would be that the shipment was mostly rusted junk from World War 2.
With a list of 58 targets to kill Armas would strike, on June 18th. While Armas' offensive was ineffectual, Arbenz was apprehensive about the possibility of future successful attacks, and about being betrayed by his military. On June 22 Allen Dulles walked into the Oval Office certain that only drastic measures could unseat Arbenz and salvage the situation. In the meeting they said that a filibuster by the chairman of Democrats for Eisenhower, one of Ike's richest, and most generous contributors was their last ditch hope, with a 20% chance of success. A withdrawal of $150,000 from Riggs Bank would purchase three fully armed P-47 Thunderbolts. On June 27, after days of the miniature bombing campaign, Arbenz, thinking his forces outmatched, and thinking that his grasp on the military was failing ceded power to Colonel Carlos Diaz. The CIA orchestrated several transfers of power, ending when the CIA finally placed Castillo Armas in the office of President.
In 1949 Colonel Adib Shishakli rose to power in Syria in a CIA backed coup. Four years later he would be overthrown by the military, Ba'athists, and communists. The CIA and MI6 started funding right wing members of the military, but suffered a large setback in the aftermath of the Suez Crisis. CIA Agent Rocky Stone who had played a minor role in the Iranian revolution was working at the Damascus embassy as a diplomat, but was actually the station chief. Syrian officers on the CIA dole quickly appeared on television stating that they had received money from the "corrupt and sinister Americans" "in an attempt to overthrow the legitimate government of Syria" Syrian forces surrounded the embassy and rousted Agent Stone, who confessed and subsequently made history as the first American diplomat expelled from an Arab nation. This strengthened ties between Syria and Egypt, helping establish the United Arab Republic, and poisoning the well for the US for the foreseeable future. The inability to deny the complicity of the US government put this operation outside the charter of the CIA.
The charismatic leader of Indonesia was President Sukarno. His declaration of neutrality in the cold war put the suspicions of the CIA on him. After Sukarno hosted Bandung Conference, promoting the Non-Aligned Movement. The Eisenhower White House responded with NSC 5518 authorizing "all feasible covert means" to move Indonesia into the Western sphere. The CIA started funding the Masyumi Party. Sukano confounded the CIA's Jakarta station, which had few speakers of native languages, and Al Ulmer, the new head of the CIA's Far East division, knew little about the country. Spooked by the communist PKI party moving into the third spot, the CIA's alarmed response was in contrast to that of the Ambassador, who maintained that Sukarno maintained an open door to the West.
The US had no clear policy on Indonesia. Ike sent his spicial assistant for security operations F. M. Dearborn Jr. to Jakarta. His report that there was great instability, and that the US lacked strong, stable allies, reinforced the domino theory. Indonesia suffered from what he described as "subversion by democracy". The CIA decided to attempt another military coup in Indonesia, where the Indonesian military was trained by the US, had a strong professional relationship with the US Military, had a pro-American officer corps, which had strong support for the government, and a strong belief in civilian control of the military, instilled partly by its close association with the US Military. Demonstrating an intolerance for dissent, the CIA instigated the transfer of the well respected Ambassador Allison, who had a strong background in Asia, to Czechoslovakia.
On September 25, 1957, Ike ordered the CIA to start a revolution in Indonesia with the goal of regime change. Three days later, Blitz, a Soviet controlled weekly in India reported that the US was plotting to overthrow Sukarno. The story was picked up by the media in Indonesia. One of the first parts of the operation was an 11,500 ton US navy ship landing at Sumatra, delivering weapons for as many as 8,000 potential revolutionaries. The delivery drew a crowd of spectators, and, again, little thought was given to plausible dependability. Counter to CIA predictions, the Indonesian military, with some planning assistance from their colleagues in the US Military, the only people the CIA had successfully kept their involvement a secret from, reacted swiftly and effectively.
CIA Agent Al Pope's bombing and strafing Indonesia in a CIA B-26 was described by the CIA to the President as attacks by "dissident planes". Al Pope's B-26 was shot down over Indonesia on May 18, and he bailed out. When he was captured, the Indonesian military found his personnel records, after action reports, and his membership card for the officer's club at Clark Field. On March 9, Foster Dulles, the secretary of state, and the brother of DI Allen Dulles, made a public statement calling for a revolt against communist despotism under Sukarno. Three days later the CIA reported to the White House that the Indonesian Army's actions against CIA instigated revolution was suppressing communism.
After Indonesia, Ike displayed mistrust of both the CIA, and its Director, Allen Dulles. Allen Dulles too displayed mistrust of the CIA itself. Abbot Smith, a CIA analyst who would rise to the position of chief of the Office of National Estimates said "We had constructed for ourselves a picture of the USSR, and whatever happened had to be made to fit into this picture. Intelligence estimators can hardly commit a more abominable sin." Something reflected in the intelligence failure in Indonesia. On December 16, Ike received a report from his intelligence board of consultants that said that the agency was "incapable of making objective appraisals of its own intelligence information as well as its own operations."
In the election of Patrice Lumumba, and his acceptance of Soviet support the CIA saw another possible Cuba. This view swayed the White House. Ike ordered that Lumumba be "eliminated". The CIA delivered a quarter of a million dollars to Joseph Mobutu, their favorite horse in the race. Mobutu delivered Lumumba to the Belgians, the former colonial masters of Congo, who executed him in short order.
Gary Powers U-2 Shootdown
After the Bomber gap came the Missile Gap. Eisenhower wanted to use the U-2 to disprove the missile gap, but he had banned U-2 overflights of the USSR after the successful meeting at Camp David with Khrushchev. Another reason Ike objected to the use of the U-2 was that, in the nuclear age, the intelligence he needed most was on their intentions, without which, the US would face a paralysis of intelligence. Ike was particularly worried that U-2 flights could be seen as the preparation for first strike attacks as he had high hopes for an upcoming meeting with Khrushchev in Paris. Conflicted, Ike finally gave into CIA pressure to authorize a 16 day window for flights, which, because of poor weather, was later extended for another 6 days. On May 1, 1960 the USSR shot down a U-2 flying over the USSR. To Ike, the ensuing coverup destroyed one of his biggest assets, his perceived honesty, and the biggest hope he had, leaving a legacy of thawing relations with Khrushchev. It would also mark the beginning of a long downward slide in the credibility of the Office of the President of the United State. Ike later said that the U-2 coverup was the greatest regret of his Presidency.:160
The human rights abuses of Generalissimo Rafael Trujillo had a history of more than 3 decades, but in August 1960 the United States severed diplomatic relations. The CIA's Special group had decided to arm Dominicans in hopes of an assassination. The CIA had dispersed three rifles, and three .38 revolvers, but things paused as Kennedy assumed office. An order approved by Kennedy resulted in the dispersal of four machine guns. Trujillo died from gunshot wounds two weeks later. In the aftermath Robert Kennedy wrote that the CIA had succeeded where it had failed many times in the past, but in the face of that success, it was caught flatfooted, having failed to plan what to do next.
The CIA welcomed Fidel Castro on his visit to DC, and gave him a face to face briefing. The CIA hoped that Castro would bring about a friendly democratic government, and planned to curry his favor with money and guns. On December 11, 1959, a memo reached the DI's desk recommending Castro's "elimination". Dulles replaced the word "elimination" with "removal", and set the wheels in motion. By mid August 1960, Dick Bissell would seek, with the blessing of the CIA, to hire the Mafia to assassinate Castro. At the same time, his men were working on a parallel plan, recruiting a Cuban exile to assassinate him. A little while later, the FBI advised the CIA that it would be impossible to overthrow Castro with these chatty Cuban exiles. In the days before the Bay of Pigs, and during the invasion Richard M. Bissell, Jr. lied to everyone. He lied to Adlai Stevenson, he lied to the people commanding the mission, guaranteeing them air support while he lied to the President, promising success, and minimal air support.
The Taylor Board was commissioned to determine what went wrong in Cuba. The Board came to the same conclusion that the Jan '61 President's Board of Consultants on Foreign Intelligence Activities had concluded, and many other reviews prior, and to come, that Covert Action had to be completely isolated from intelligence and analysis. The Inspector General of the CIA investigated the Bay of Pigs. His conclusion was that there was a need to drastically improve the organization and management of the CIA. The Special Group (Later renamed the 303 committee) was convened in an oversight role.
Cuban Missile Crisis
Subsequent to the shoot-downs of the may day U-2 reconnaissance plane, and a later shoot down in China, JFK ordered a 45 day cessation of U-2 flights, including flights over Cuba that had recently discovered the first Soviet high altitude Surface to Air Missile launcher site. There were fears of antagonism, and an election was around the corner. During this "photo gap" the CIA received a report from a source from Operation Mongoose, a road watcher describing covered tractor trailers moving that were shaped like large telephone poles. Control of U-2 flights was moved to the Air Force, and October 14 U-2 flights resumed. The Cuban Missile Crisis formally started the next day when American photo analysts identified R-12 1 Megaton MRBMs which could target parts of the east coast with its 2,000 km range. R-14s which could target most of the continental US, as well as 9M21 tactical nukes had also been deployed.
Early Cold War, 1953–1966
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 successes was the Lockheed U-2 aircraft, which could take pictures and collect electronic signals from an altitude thought to be above Soviet air defenses' reach. 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.
The CIA was credited with assisting in anti-Communist efforts in Burma, Guatemala, and Laos. 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 U.S.-UK defector in place, Oleg Penkovsky. One of the biggest operations ever undertaken by the CIA was directed at Zaïre in support of Mobutu Sese Seko.
Indochina, Tibet and the Vietnam War (1954–1975)
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. 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.
The first CIA mission to Indochina, under the code name Saigon Military Mission arrived in 1954, under Edward Lansdale. U.S.-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 U.S. client, stayed independent. Initially, the US focus in Southeast Asia was on Laos, not Vietnam.
The CIA Tibetan program consists of political plots, propaganda distribution, as well as paramilitary and intelligence gathering based on U.S. commitments made to the Dalai Lama in 1951 and 1956.
During the period of U.S. 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. 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. Adams afterward wrote the book War of Numbers.
Sometime between 1959 and 1961 the CIA started Project Tiger, a program of dropping South Vietnamese agents into North Vietnam to gather intelligence. These were a tragic failure; the Deputy Chief for Project Tiger, Captain Do Van Tien, admitted that he was an agent for Hanoi. President Diem's brutal government violently repressed the Buddhist majority. On August 23, 1963, fter being approached by a South Vietnamese General, Kennedy ordered the newly appointed South Vietnamese Ambassador to make detailed plans for Diem's replacement. DI McCone compared Diem to a bad pitcher, McCone. Kennedy's Cabinet dubious about the coup, and JFK would come to regret it. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, a longtime political opponent of JFK was jealous that the CIA station had more money, power, and people than his staff. Lodge revealed the name of John Richardson, the CIA station chief, to a reporter, branding him an agent of the CIA, he later moved into Richardson's Saigon house, which was larger than the one Lodge had been in. The coup occurred on 1 November.
The assassination of Diem sparked a cascade of coups in Saigon, and at the same time the city was wracked with assassinations. Johnson, the new President wanted to refocus the CIA on intelligence, rather than covert action, while the Kennedy's were seen as relentless in their hounding of the CIA to produce results, Johnson would soon give them only the most minimal attention.
In the face of the failure of Project Tiger, the Pentagon wanted CIA paramilitary forces to participate in their Op Plan 64A, this resulted in the CIA's foreign paramilitaries being put under the command of the DOD, a move seen as a slippery slope inside the CIA, a slide from covert action towards militarization. After touring vietnam in '64, DI McCone and sec def McNamara had different views of the US position. McCone believed that as long as the ho chi minh trail was active the US would struggle.
DI McCone had statutory control over all intelligence committees, but in reality, but the military had near total control of the DIA, the NRO, the NSA, and many other aspects. Importantly, President Johnson almost completely ignored the CIA. In effect, the military controlled the 2/3rds of the CIA budget laid out for covert action. McCone, the unspoken hero of the cuban missile crisis, submitted his resignation in the summer, but Johnson would not accept it until after the election.
On August 4, SecDef McNamara gave President Johnson the raw translation of intercepted korean transmissions directly from the NSA which, ostensibly, reported to DI McCone, rather than to McNamara. It would later be determined that the transmission took place before the weapon discharges that night which leads to the conclusion that the transmission refers to the events of the attack the day before, and that, although Destroyers Maddox, and Turner Joy fired hundreds of shells at intermittent radar contacts, they were firing at false returns.
A CIA analyst's assessment of Vietnam was that the US was "becoming progressively divorced from reality... [and] proceeding with far more courage than wisdom". The CIA had created an exhaustive report, "The Vietnamese Communist's Will to Persist". This created a key flashpoint in the US government, PAVN troop levels,. Was it 500k or more as the CIA believed, or 300k or less as the commanders of US forces in Vietnam believed. The argument went on for months, but Helms finally OK'd a report saying that PAVN troop levels were 299,000 or less. The DOD argument was that whatever the facts on the ground, to publicly admit any higher number could be the last nail in the coffin of the war for vietnam in the press.
In '71 the NSA and CIA were engaged in domestic spying. The DOD was eavesdropping on Kissenger. The White House, and Camp David were wired for sound. Nixon and Kissenger were eavesdropping on their aides, as well as reporters. Famously, Nixon's Plumbers had in their number many former CIA agents, including Howard Hunt, Jim McCord, and Eugenio Martinez. On July 7, 1971, John Ehrlichman, Nixon's domestic policy chief, told DCI Cushman, Nixon's hatchet-man in the CIA, to let Cushman "know that [Hunt] was in fact doing some things for the President... you should consider he has pretty much carte blanche" Importantly, this included a camera, disguises, a voice altering device, and ID papers furnished by the CIA, as well as the CIA's participation developing film from the burglary Hunt staged on the office of Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg's psychologist.
On June 17, Nixon's Plumbers were caught burglarizing the DNC offices in the Watergate. On June 23, DI Helms was ordered by the White House to wave the FBI off using national security as a pretext. The new DCI, Walters, another Nixon hack, told the acting director of the FBI and told him to drop the investigation as ordered. On June 26, Nixon's counsel John Dean ordered DCI Walters to pay the plumbers untraceable hush money. The CIA was the only part of the government that had the power to make off the book payments, but it could only be done on the orders of the CI, or, if he was out of the country, the DCI. The Acting Director of the FBI started breaking ranks. He demanded the CIA produce a signed document attesting to the national security threat of the investigation. Jim McCord's lawyer contacted the CIA informing them that McCord had been offered a Presidential pardon if he fingered the CIA, testifying that the break-in had been an operation of the CIA. Nixon had long been frustrated by what he saw as a liberal infection inside the CIA, and had been trying for years to tear the CIA out by its roots. McCord wrote "If [DI] Helms goes (takes the fall) and the Watergate operation is laid at the CIA's feet, where it does not belong, every tree in the forest will fall. It will be a scorched desert."
On November 13, after Nixon's landslide re-election, Nixon told Kissinger "[I intend] to ruin the Foreign Service. I mean ruin it - the old Foreign Service - and to build a new one." He had similar designs for the CIA, and intended to replace Helms with James Schlesinger. Nixon had told Helms that he was on the way out, and promised that Helms could stay on until his 60th birthday, the mandatory retirement age. On February 2, Nixon broke that promise, carrying through with his intention to "remove the deadwood" from the CIA. "Get rid of the clowns" was his order to the incoming CI. Kissinger had been running the CIA since the beginning of Nixon's presidency, but Nixon impressed on Schlesinger that he must appear to congress to be in charge, averting their suspicion of Kissinger's involvement. Nixon also hoped that Schlesinger could push through broader changes in the intelligence community that he had been working towards for years, the creation of a Director of National Intelligence, and spinning off the covert action part of the CIA into a separate organ. Before Helms would leave office, he would destroy every tape he had secretly made of meetings in his office, and many of the papers on Project MKUltra. In Schlesinger's 17 week tenure, he would fire more than 1,500 employees. As Watergate threw the spotlight on the CIA, Schlesinger, who had been kept in the dark about the CIA's involvement, decided he needed to know what skeletons were in the closet. He issued a memo to every CIA employee directing them to disclose to him any CIA activity they knew of past or present that could fall outside the scope of the CIA's charter.
This became the Family Jewels. It included information linking the CIA to the assassination of foreign leaders, the illegal surveillance of some 7,000 U.S. citizens involved in the antiwar movement (Operation CHAOS), the CIA had also experimented on U.S. and Canadian citizens without their knowledge, secretly giving them LSD (among other things) and observing the results. This prompted Congress to create the Church Committee in the Senate, and the Pike Committee in the House. President Gerald Ford created the Rockefeller Commission, and issued an executive order prohibiting the assassination of foreign leaders. DCI Colby leaked the papers to the press, later he stated that he believed that providing Congress with this information was the correct thing to do, and ultimately in the CIA's own interests.
Acting Attorney General Laurence Silberman learned of the existence of the family jewels, he issued a subpoena for them, prompting eight congressional investigations on the domestic spying activities of the CIA. Bill Colby's short tenure as DCI would end with the Halloween Massacre. His replacement was George H.W. Bush. At the time, the DOD had control of 80% of the intelligence budget. With Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense communication and coordination between the CIA and the DOD would suffer greatly. The CIA's budget for hiring clandestine officers had been squeezed out by the paramilitary operations in south-east Asia, and hiring was further strained by the government's poor popularity. This left the Agency bloated with middle management, and anemic in younger officers. Yet again, with employee training taking five years, the Agency's only hope would be on the trickle of new officers coming to fruition years in the future. The CIA would see another setback as communists would take Angola. William J. Casey, a member of Ford's Intelligence Advisory Board, would press Bush to allow a team from outside the CIA to produce Soviet military estimates as a "Team B". Bush gave the OK. The "B" team was composed of hawks. Their estimates were the highest that could be at all justified, and they painted a picture of a growing Soviet military when the reality was that the Soviet military was shrinking. Many of their reports found their way to the Press. As a result of the investigations Congressional oversight of the CIA eventually evolved into a select intelligence committee in the House, and Senate supervising covert actions authorized by the President.
Counter-Espionage Against the USSR
In 1981, French President Mitterrand told Reagan to look at the product from Vladimir Vetrov, the Farewell Dossier. This detailed information from Line X of the KGB's Science and Technology Directorate. This detailed the Russian's technological espionage efforts, including the agents involved. The CIA started feeding the KGB flawed designs for chips, Space Shuttles, and software. One of the highest profile successes was the explosion of the Siberian oil pipeline.
Chad's neighbor Libya was a major source of weaponry to communist rebel forces. The CIA seized the opportunity to arm and finance Chad's Prime Minister, Hissène Habré after he created a breakaway government in Western Sudan, even giving him Stinger missiles.
In Afghanistan, the CIA funneled a billion dollars worth of weapons to Pakistani Intelligence, which funneled them through Pakistani tribes, which funneled them to Afghan resistance groups, notably the Mujahideen. At each step, some of the weapons were held back.
Under President Carter, the CIA was conducting covertly funding pro-American opposition against the Sandinista. In March, 1981, Reagan told Congress that the CIA would protect El Salvador by preventing the shipment of Nicaraguan arms into the country to arm Communist rebels. This was a ruse. The CIA was actually arming and training Nicaraguans Contras in Honduras in hopes that they could depose the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Through William J. Casey's tenure as DI little of what he said in the National Security Planning Group, or to President Reagan was supported by the intelligence branch of the CIA, so Casey formed the Central American Task Force, staffed with yes men from Covert Action. On December 21, 1982, Congress passed a law restricting the CIA to its stated mission, restricting the flow of arms from Nicaragua to El Salvador, prohibiting the use of funds to oust the Sandinistas. Reagan testified before Congress, assuring them that the CIA was not trying to topple the Nicaraguan government.
During this time, with funding increases, the CIA would hire 2,000 new employees, but these new recruits lacked the experience of the WW2 vets they replaced, living in the theaters where the war was fought, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. During Casey's tenure, CIA management would become experts at lying to, and deceiving Congress, and even to one another.
For more than a decade, hostage taking had plagued the middle east. The CIA's best source of information there was Hassan Salameh The PLO's Chief of Intelligence, until Israel assassinated him. Through Salameh, the CIA gained a foothold in the world of Muslim extremism, and had entered a bargain where Americans would be safe, and the PLO and CIA would share information on mutual enemies.
The CIA's prime source in Lebanon was Bashir Gemayel, a member of the Christian Maronite sect. The CIA was blinded by the uprising against the Maronite minority. Israel invaded Lebanon, and, along with the CIA, propped up Gemayel, this got Gemayel's assurance that Americans would be protected in Lebanon. 13 days later he was assassinated. Imad Mughniyah, a Hezbollah assassin would target Americans in retaliation for the Israeli invasion, the Sabra and Shatila massacre, and the US Marines of the Multi-National Force for their role in opposing the PLO in Lebanon. On April 18, 1983 a 2,000 lb car bomb exploded in the lobby of the American embassy in Beirut, killing 63 people including 17 Americans, and 7 CIA officers, including Bob Ames, one of the CIA's best Middle East experts. America's fortunes in Lebanon would only suffer more as America's poorly directed retaliation for the bombing was interpreted by many as support for the Christian Maronite minority. On October 23, 1983, two bombs were Beirut in Beirut, including a 10 ton bomb at a US military barracks that killed 242 people. Both attacks are believed to have been planned by Iran by way of Mughniyah.
The Embassy bombing had taken the life of the CIA's Beirut Station Chief, Ken Haas. Bill Buckley was sent in to replace him. Eighteen days after the US Marines left Lebanon Bill Buckley was kidnapped. On March 7, 1984, Jeremy Levin, CNN Bureau Chief in Beirut. 12 more Americans would be kidnapped in Beirut during the Reagan Administration. Manucher Ghorbanifar, a former Savak agent. He was an information seller, and the subject of a rare CIA burn notice for his track record of misinformation. He reached out to the Agency offering a back channel to Iran, suggesting a trade of Missiles that would be lucrative to the intermediaries.
With the CIA's paramilitary forces overextended in Central America, they turned to former Special Forces soldiers, one of whom had an old comic book that had, in Vietnam, been used to teach natives how to take control of a village by assassinating the Mayor, Chief of Police, and Militia. The CIA translated this into Spanish, and distributed it to the Contras. This shortly became public. The CIA also mined the port of Corinto, an act of war that resulted in a public trial in the International Court of Justice. These two public incidents triggered Congress to clamp down on CIA funding even more, banning them from soliciting funds from third parties to fund the Contras.
At Reagan's second inaugural, the two most pressing issues for the CIA were the Contras and the hostages. On June 14, 1985 Hezbollah took TWA Flight 847, and executed an American Navy diver on the tarmac of Beirut airport. Reagan negotiated a trade of prisoners for hostages. This paved the way for a trade of 504 TOW Missiles to Iran for $10,000 each, and the release of Benjamin Weir, a captive of Islamic Jihad, the group that claimed responsibility for the Beirut bombings which would later become Hezbollah. This broke two of the public pillars of Reagan's foreign policy, no deals with terrorists, and no arms to Iran.
Ghorbanifar sent word that the 6 remaining hostages in exchange for thousands of Hawk missiles. A Boeing 707 with 18 Hawk missiles landed at Tehran from Tel Aviv with Hebrew markings on the crates. The CIA realized on that day, October 25 that they needed a signed presidential order to authorize the shipment. A month later Reagan would sign an order retroactively authorizing it. $850,000 of the transaction went to Contras. In July 1986, Hezbollah was holding 4 American hostages, trading them for arms. Six months later, they had 12 American hostages. On October 5, 1986, an American C-123 full of weapons was shot down by a Nicaraguan soldier. The sole survivor was an American cargo handler who said that he was working for the CIA. On November 3, anonymous leaflets were scattered in Tehran revealing the Iran connection. The Iran Contra Affair broke. Oliver North and John Poindexter had been shredding documents for weeks, but a memo about suspicions that Secord was taking more than his agreed cut surfaced. DI Bill Casey had a seizure and was hospitalized, to be replaced by Judge Webster, clearly brought in to clean house.
Operation Desert Storm
During the Iran-Iraq war, the CIA had backed both sides. The CIA had maintained a network of spies in Iran, but in 1989 a CIA mistake compromised every agent they had in there, and the CIA had no agents in Iraq. In the weeks before the Invasion of Kuwait the CIA downplayed the military buildup. During the war CIA estimates of Iraqi abilities and intentions flip-flopped and were rarely accurate. In one particular case, the DOD had asked the CIA to identify military targets to bomb. One target the CIA identified was an underground shelter. The CIA didn't know that it was a civilian bomb shelter. In a rare instance the CIA correctly determined that the coalition forces efforts were coming up short in their efforts to destroy SCUD missiles. Congress took away the CIA's role in interpreting spy-satellite photos, putting the CIA's satellite intelligence operations under the auspices of the military. The CIA created its office of military affairs, which operated as "second-echelon support for the pentagon... answering... questions from military men [like] 'how wide is this road?'" At the end of the war, the CIA reported that there could be an uprising against Saddam, based on intelligence gained from exiles. Former DI, and current President Bush called on the Shiites and Kurds to rise up against Saddam, while, at the same time, withdrawing any support against Saddam. Saddam crushed the uprisings brutally. After the war, Saddam's nuclear program was discovered. The CIA had had no information about it.
Fall of the USSR
Gorbachev's announcement of the unilateral reduction of 500,000 Soviet troops took the CIA by surprise. What's more, Doug MacEachin, the CIA's Chief of Soviet analysis said that even if the CIA had told the President, the NSC, and Congress about the cuts beforehand, it would have been ignored. "We never would have been able to publish it." All the CIA numbers on the USSR's economy were wrong. Too often the CIA relied on people inexperienced with that which they were supposed to be the expert. Bob Gates had preceeded Doug MacEachin as Chief of Soviet analysis, and he had never visited Russia. Few officers, even those stationed in country spoke the language of the people they were spying on. And the CIA had no capacity to send agents to respond to developing situations. The CIA analysis of Russia during the entire cold war was either driven by ideology, or by politics. William J Crowe, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff noted that the CIA "talked about the Soviet Union as if they weren't reading the newspapers, much less developed clandestine intelligence." The CIA was even caught unprepared when the Berlin Wall fell. Once again, CNN had scooped the CIA. In the History of the Cold War, the CIA had only had 3 notable soviet spies, they had handed themselves to the CIA. Each one had been caught and executed.
One of the first acts of Bob Gates, the new DI, was National Security Review 29, a memo to each member of the Cabinet asking them what they wanted from the CIA. Starting in 1991 the CIA would see 6 years of budget cuts. Perhaps blind to the past, the CIA would close 20 stations, and cut its staff in some major capitals by 60%. The CIA could still not shake the perennial analysis, that it was 5 years away from being able to perform its basic duties satisfactorily.
On January 25, 1993, there was a shooting at the headquarters of the CIA in Langley Virginia. Mir Qazi killed two agents and wounded three others. On February 26, Omar Abdel Rahman bombed the parking garage of the World Trade center, killing 6 people, and wounding a thousand. Of Rahman, the "Blind Sheik"'s seven applications to enter the United States, the CIA had given the OK six times.
In Bosnia the CIA ignored signs within and without of the Srebrenica massacre. Two weeks after news reports of the slaughter, the CIA sent a U-2 to photograph it, a week later the CIA completed its report on the matter. During Operation Allied Force, the CIA had incorrectly provided the coordinates of the Chinese Embassy as a military target resulting in its bombing.
In France, the CIA had orders for economic intelligence, a female CIA agent revealed her connections to the CIA to the French. Dick Holm, Paris Station Chief, was expelled. In Guatemala, the CIA produced the Murphy Memo, based on audio recordings made by bugs planted in the bedroom of Ambassador Marilyn McAfee placed by Guatemalan intelligence. In the recording, Ambassador McAfee verbally entreated "Murphy". The CIA circulated a memo in the highest Washington circles accusing Ambassador McAfee of having an extramarital lesbian affair with her secretary, Carol Murphy. There was no affair. Ambassador McAfee was calling to Murphy, her poodle. The CIA was still bucking the reigns of Congress, Presidents, and DCIs that had ordered that ties of the CIA to harsh regimes that had stood for decades be broken. In Iraq, under Clinton's orders, the CIA was trying to form a coup. The plot was compromised, Saddam arrested over 200 of his own officers, executing over 80. Again this would be a case where the NSC wanted CI to give them answers they didn't have, and to make decisions for the NSC that neither the NSC, nor CI could make. Clinton wanted a coup in Iraq, and wanted him to be replaced by someone aligned with the US, but if that US friendly officer existed, neither the CIA nor NSC knew him.
Harold James Nicholson would burn several serving officers and 3 years of trainees before he was caught spying for Russia. In 1997 the House would pen another report, which said that CIA officers know little about the language or politics of the people they spy on, the conclusion was that the CIA lacked the "depth, breadth, and expertise to monitor political, military, and economic developments worldwide." There was a new voice in the CIA to counterpoint the endless chant that the CIA was 5 years away from success. Russ Travers said in the CIA in-house journal that in 5 years "intelligence failure is inevitable". In 1997 the CIA's new director George Tenet would promise a new working agency by 2002. The CIA's surprise at India's detonation of an atom bomb was a failure at almost every level. After the 1998 embassy bombings by Al Qaeda, the CIA offered two targets to be hit in retaliation. One of them was a chemical plant where traces of chemical weapon precursors had been detected. In the aftermath it was concluded that "the decision to target al Shifa continues a tradition of operating on inadequate intelligence about Sudan." It triggered the CIA to make "substantial and sweeping changes" to prevent "a catasrophic systemic intelligence failure." Between 1991 and 1998 the CIA had lost 3,000 employees.
Half a million people had starved in Somalia when President Bush ordered US troops to enter the country on a humanitarian mission. As clans started fighting over the aid, the humanitarian mission quickly became a struggle against Mohamed Farah Aideed. The CIA station in Somalia had been shuttered for two years. The CIA was given an impossible mission in Somalia, as was the Military. Casualties came quickly and were high in the 8 man team the CIA sent. A post mortem carried out by now FISA member Admiral Crowe stated that the National Security Council had expected the CIA to both make decisions, and give them the intelligence to base those decisions on. The NSC couldn't understand why intelligence didn't advise them correctly on what to do. Clinton would enter the ranks of Presidents unhappy with the results of the CIA, Clinton's inattention to the CIA did not help the matter.
Between 1985 and 1986 the CIA lost every spy it had in Eastern Europe. The details of the investigation into the cause was obscured from the new Director, and the investigation had little success, and has been widely criticized. In June 1987, Major Florentino Aspillaga Lombard, the chief of Cuban Intelligence in Czechoslovakia drove into Vienna, and walked into the American Embassy to defect. He revealed that every single Cuban spy on the CIA payroll was a double agent, pretending to work for the CIA, but secretly still being loyal to Castro. On February 21, 1994, FBI agents pulled Aldrich Ames out of his Jaguar. If there was a posterboy for failing upwards inside the CIA, he was it. In the investigation that ensued, the CIA discovered that many of the sources for its most important analyses of the USSR were based on soviet disinformation fed to the CIA by controlled agents. On top of that, it was discovered that, in some cases, the CIA suspected at the time that the sources were compromised, but the information was sent up the chain as genuine. This prompted a congressional committee in 1994 to address what was widely seen as a fundamentally broken institution. The committee quickly became a quagmire. When the committee submitted its toothless report, the CIA had 25 recruits entering its 2 year training program. The smallest class of recruits ever. The CIA was dying a slow death on life support. As it had for most of its existence, the CIA suffered from poor management, poor morale, and a lack of employees familiar with the people they were spying on.
Osama Bin Laden
Agency files show that it's believed Osama Bin Laden was funding the Afghan rebels against the USSR in the '80s. In 1991, Bin Laden returned to his native Saudi Arabia protesting the presence of troops, and Operation Desert Storm. He was expelled from the country. In 1996 the CIA created a team to hunt Bin Laden. They were trading information with the Sudanese until, on the word of a source that would later be found to be a fabricator, the CIA closed its Sudan station later that year. In 1998 Bin Laden would declare war on America, and, on August 7, strike in Tanzania and Nairobi. On October 12, 2000, Al Qaeda bombed the USS Cole. In 1947 when the CIA was founded, there were 200 agents in the Clandestine Service. In 2001, of the 17,000 employees in the CIA, there were 1,000 in the Clandestine Service. Of that 1,000 few would accept hardship postings. In the first days of George W. Bush' Presidency, Al Qaeda threats were ubiquitous in daily Presidential CIA briefings, but it may have become a case of the boy who cries wolf. The Agency's predictions were dire, but carried little weight, and the attentions of the President, and his defense staff were elsewhere. The CIA arranged the arrests of suspected Al Qaeda members through cooperation with foreign agencies, but the CIA could not definitively say what effect these arrests had hat, and it could not gain hard intelligence from those captured. The President had asked the CIA if Al Qaeda could plan attacks in the US. On August 6, Bush received a daily briefing with the headline, not based on current, solid intelligence, "Al Qaeda determined to strike inside the US." The US had been hunting Bin Laden since '96 and had had several opportunities, but neither Clinton, nor Bush had wanted to risk their skin taking an active role in a murky assassination plot, and the perfect opportunity had never materialized for a trigger shy DI that would have given him the reassurances he needed to take the plunge. That day, Richard A. Clarke sent National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice warning of the risks, and decrying the inaction of the CIA. On September 11, 2001, Al Qaeda hijacked 4 passenger jets, flying them into both of New York City's Twin Towers, as well as The Pentagon killing 2,996 people.
Al-Qaeda and the "Global War on Terrorism"
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.
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 Al 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".
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. 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.
Soon after 9/11, the New York Times released a story stating that the CIA's New York field office was destroyed in the wake of the attacks. According to unnamed CIA sources, while first responders were conducting rescue efforts, a special CIA team was searching the rubble for both digital and paper copies of classified documents. This was done according to well-rehearsed document recovery procedures put in place after the Iranian takeover of the United States Embassy in Tehran in 1979. While it was not confirmed whether the agency was able to retrieve the classified information, it is known that all agents present that day fled the building safely.
While the CIA insists that those who conducted the attacks on 9/11 were not aware that the agency was operating at 7 World Trade Center under the guise of another (unidentified) federal agency, this center was the headquarters for many notable criminal terrorism investigations. Though the New York field offices' main responsibilities were to monitor and recruit foreign officials stationed at the United Nations, the field office also handled the investigations of the August 1998 bombings of United States Embassies in East Africa and the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole. Despite the fact that the CIA's New York branch may have been damaged by the 9/11 attacks and they had to loan office space from the US Mission to the United Nations and other federal agencies, there was an upside for the CIA. In the months immediately following 9/11, there was a huge increase in the amount of applications for CIA positions. According to CIA representatives that spoke with the New York Times, pre-9/11 the agency received approximately 500 to 600 applications a week, in the months following 9/11 the agency received that number daily.
The intelligence community as a whole, and especially the CIA, were involved in presidential planning immediately after the 9/11 attacks. In his address to the nation at 8:30pm on September 11, 2001 George W. Bush mentioned the intelligence community: "The search is underway for those who are behind these evil acts, I've directed the full resource of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and bring them to justice."
The involvement of the CIA in the newly coined "War on Terror" was further increased on September 15, 2001. During a meeting at Camp David George W. Bush agreed to adopt a plan proposed by CIA director George Tenet. This plan consisted of conducting a covert war in which CIA paramilitary officers would cooperate with anti-Taliban guerillas inside Afghanistan. They would later be joined by small special operations forces teams which would call in precision airstrikes on Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters. This plan was codified on September 16, 2001 with Bush's signature of an official Memorandum of Notification that allowed the plan to proceed.
On November 25–27, 2001 Taliban prisoners revolt at the Qala Jangi prison west of Mazar-e-Sharif. Though several days of struggle occurred between the Taliban prisoners and the Northern Alliance members present, the prisoners did gain the upperhand and obtain North Alliance weapons. At some point during this period Johnny "Mike" Spann, a CIA officer sent to question the prisoners, was beaten to death. He became the first American to die in combat in the war in Afghanistan.
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". The new strategy was called the "Worldwide Attack Matrix".
Anwar al-Awlaki, 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 Awlaki by the Central Intelligence Agency, armed drones took off from a new, secret American base in the Arabian Peninsula, crossed into northern Yemen, and fired a number of Hellfire missiles at al-Awlaki'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.
Use of vaccination programs
The agency attracted widespread criticism after it used a doctor in Pakistan to set up a vaccination program in Abbottabad in 2011 to obtain DNA samples from the occupants of a compound where it was suspected bin Laden was living. Subsequently in May 2014 a counterterrorism advisor to President Obama wrote to deans of 13 prominent public health schools giving an undertaking the CIA would not engage in vaccination programs or engage U.S. or non-U.S. health workers in immunization arrangements for espionage purposes.
Failures in intelligence analysis
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 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 was finished 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." Tenet disagreed with the report's conclusions, citing his planning efforts vis-à-vis al-Qaeda, particularly from 1999.
Conditions worsened in the mid-1970s, around the time of Watergate. A dominant feature of political life during that period were the attempts of Congress to assert oversight of the U.S. Presidency and the executive branch of the U.S. government. Revelations about past CIA activities, such as assassinations and attempted assassinations of foreign leaders (most notably Fidel Castro and Rafael Trujillo) and illegal domestic spying on U.S. citizens, provided the opportunities to increase Congressional oversight of U.S. intelligence operations.
Hastening the CIA's fall from grace were the burglary of the Watergate headquarters of the Democratic Party by former CIA officers, and President Richard Nixon's subsequent attempt to use the CIA to impede the FBI's investigation of the burglary. 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. In this way Nixon and Haldemann ensured that the CIA's No. 1 and No. 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. 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.
Repercussions from the Iran-Contra affair arms smuggling scandal included the creation of the Intelligence Authorization Act in 1991. It defined covert operations as secret missions in geopolitical areas where the U.S. 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."
72 days after the 9/11 attacks President Bush told his Secretary of Defense to update the US plan for an invasion of Iraq, but not to tell anyone. SecDef Rumsfeld asked Bush if he could bring DCI Tenet into the loop, to which Bush agreed.
Feelers the CIA had put out to Iraq in the form of 8 of their best officers in Kurdish territory in Northern Iraq hit a goldmine, unprecedented in the famously closed, almost fascist Hussein government. By December 2002 the CIA had close to a dozen good networks in Iraq:242 and would advance so far that they would penetrate Iraq's SSO, and even tap the encrypted communications of the Deputy Prime Minister, even the bodyguard of Hussein's son became an agent. As time passed, the CIA would become more and more frantic about the possibility of their networks being compromised, "rolled up". To the CIA, the Invasion had to occur before the end of February 2003 if their sources inside Hussein's government were to survive. The rollup would happen as predicted, 37 CIA sources recognized by their Thuraya satellite telephones provided for them by the CIA.:337
The case Colin Powell presented before the United Nations (purportedly proving an Iraqi WMD program) was wishful thinking. DDCI John E. McLaughlin was part of a long discussion in the CIA about equivocation. McLaughlin, who would make, among others, the "slam dunk" presentation to the President, "felt that they had to dare to be wrong to be clearer in their judgements".:197 The Al Qaeda connection, for instance, was from a single source, extracted through torture, and was later denied. Curveball was a known liar, and the sole source for the mobile chemical weapons factories. A postmortem of the intelligence failures in the lead up to Iraq led by former DDCI Richard Kerr would conclude that the CIA had been a casualty of the cold war, wiped out in a way "analogous to the effect of the meteor strikes on the dinosaurs."
The opening days of the Invasion of Iraq would see successes and defeats for the CIA. With its Iraq networks compromised, and its strategic, and tactical information shallow, and often wrong, the intelligence side of the invasion itself would be a black eye for the Agency. The CIA would see some success with its "Scorpion" paramilitary teams composed of CIA Special Activities Division agents, along with friendly Iraqi partisans. CIA SAD officers would also help the US 10th Special Forces. The occupation of Iraq would be a low point in the history of the CIA. At the largest CIA station in the world agents would rotate through 1-3 month tours. In Iraq almost 500 transient agents would be trapped inside the Green Zone while Iraq Station Chiefs would rotate with only a little less frequency.
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 amending Executive Order 12333 to strengthen the role of the DNI.
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" (D/CIA), 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 U.S. 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.
Operation Neptune Spear
On May 1, 2011, President Barack Obama announced that Osama bin Laden was killed earlier that day by "a small team of Americans" operating in Abbottabad, Pakistan, during a CIA operation. 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.
The operation was a result of years of intelligence work that included the CIA's capture and interrogation of Khalid Sheik Mohammad (KSM), which led to the identity of a courier of Bin Laden's, 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.
On 6 March 2015, the office of the D/CIA issued an unclassified edition a statement by the Director, titled 'Our Agency's Blueprint for the Future', as a press release for public consumption. The press release announced sweeping plans for the reorganization and reform of the CIA, which the Director believes will bring the CIA more in line with the Agency doctrine called the 'Strategic Direction'. Among the principal changes disclosed include the establishment of a new directorate, the Directorate of Digital Innovation, which is responsible for designing and crafting the digital technology to be used by the Agency, to keep the CIA always ahead of its enemies. The Directorate of Digital Innovation will also train CIA staff in the use of this technology, to prepare the CIA for the future, and it will also use the technological revolution to deal with cyber-terrorism and other perceived threats. The new directorate will be the chief cyber-espionage arm of the Agency going forward.
Other changes which were announced include the formation of a Talent Development Center of Excellence, the enhancement and expansion of the CIA University and the creation of the office of the Chancellor to head the CIA University in order to consolidate and unify recruitment and training efforts. The office of the Executive Director will be empowered and expanded and the secretarial offices serving the Executive Director will be streamlined. The restructuring of the entire Agency is to be revamped according to a new model whereby governance is modelled after the structure and hierarchy of corporations, said to increase the efficiency of workflow and to greatly enable the Executive Director to manage day-to-day activity. As well, another stated intention was to establish 'Mission Centers', each one to deal with a specific geographic region of the world, which will bring the full collaboration and joint efforts of the five Directorates together under one roof. While the Directorate heads will still retain ultimate authority over their respective Directorate, the Missions Centers will be led by an Assistant Director who will work with the capabilities and talents of all five Directorates on mission specific goals for the parts of the world which they are given responsibility for.
The unclassified version of the document ends with the announcement that the National Clandestine Service (NCS) will be reverting to its original Directorate name, the Directorate of Operations. The Directorate of Intelligence is also being renamed, it will now be the Directorate of Analysis. 
Open Source Intelligence
Until the 2004 reorganization of the intelligence community, one of the "services of common concern" that the CIA provided was Open Source Intelligence from the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS). FBIS, which had absorbed the Joint Publication Research Service, a military organization that translated documents, moved into the National Open Source Enterprise under the Director of National Intelligence.
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.
As part of its mandate to gather intelligence, the 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." CIA launched a Twitter account in June 2014.
Outsourcing and privatization
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 U.S. intelligence agencies, as required by Congress. However, this report was then classified. Hillhouse speculates that this report includes requirements for the CIA to report:
- 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.
Congress has required an outsourcing report by March 30, 2008.
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."
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."
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.
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.
The CIA: A Forgotten History, by William Blum and Legacy of Ashes by Tim Weiner. have accused the CIA of various covert actions, and human rights abuses. The CIA has responded to the claims made in Weiner's book, and that Jeffrey Richelson of the National Security Archive has also been critical of it.
The term "torture by proxy" is used by some critics to describe situations in which the CIA and other US agencies have transferred suspected terrorists to countries known to employ torture, whether they meant to enable torture or not. It has been claimed, though, that torture has been employed with the knowledge or acquiescence of US agencies (a transfer of anyone to anywhere for the purpose of torture is a violation of US law), although Condoleezza Rice (then the United States Secretary of State) stated that:
the United States has not transported anyone, and will not transport anyone, to a country when we believe he will be tortured. Where appropriate, the United States seeks assurances that transferred persons will not be tortured.
Whilst the Obama administration has tried to distance itself from some of the harshest counterterrorism techniques, it has also said that at least some forms of renditions will continue. Currently the administration continues to allow rendition only "to a country with jurisdiction over that individual (for prosecution of that individual)" when there is a diplomatic assurance "that they will not be treated inhumanely."
The US programme has also prompted several official investigations in Europe into alleged secret detentions and unlawful inter-state transfers involving Council of Europe member states. A June 2006 report from the Council of Europe estimated 100 people had been kidnapped by the CIA on EU territory (with the cooperation of Council of Europe members), and rendered to other countries, often after having transited through secret detention centres ("black sites") used by the CIA, some located in Europe. According to the separate European Parliament report of February 2007, the CIA has conducted 1,245 flights, many of them to destinations where suspects could face torture, in violation of article 3 of the United Nations Convention Against Torture.
Following the 11 September 2001 attacks the United States, in particular the CIA, has been accused of rendering hundreds of people suspected by the government of being terrorists—or of aiding and abetting terrorist organisations—to third-party states such as Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Uzbekistan. Such "ghost detainees" are kept outside judicial oversight, often without ever entering US territory, and may or may not ultimately be devolved to the custody of the United States.
On October 4, 2001, a secret arrangement is made in Brussels, by all members of NATO. Lord George Robertson, British defence secretary and later NATO's secretary-general, will later explain NATO members agree to provide "blanket overflight clearances for the United States and other allies' aircraft for military flights related to operations against terrorism."
On December 30, 2009, a suicide attack occurred in the Forward Operating Base Chapman attack 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.
Perhaps the most disruptive period involving counterintelligence was James Jesus Angleton's search for a mole, 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. 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.
Edward Lee Howard, David Henry Barnett, both field operations officers sold secrets to Russia, 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.
Human rights concerns
The CIA has been called into question for, at times, using 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. The CIA has also been accused of a lack of financial and whistleblower controls which has led to waste and fraud.
The Institute on Medicine as a Profession and the non-profit organization Open Society Foundations reviewed public records into the medical professions alleging complicity in the abuse of prisoners suspected of terrorism who were held in U.S. custody during the years after 9/11." The reports found that health professionals "Aided cruel and degrading interrogations; Helped devise and implement practices designed to maximize disorientation and anxiety so as to make detainees more malleable for interrogation; and Participated in the application of excruciatingly painful methods of force-feeding of mentally competent detainees carrying out hunger strikes" are not all that surprising. Medical professionals were sometimes used at black sites to monitor detainee health. Whether or not the physicians were compelled is an open question.
External investigations and document releases
Several investigations (e.g., the Church Committee, Rockefeller Commission, Pike Committee, etc.) have been conducted about the CIA, and many documents have been declassified.
Influencing public opinion and law enforcement
The CIA sometimes finds itself in conflict with other parts of the government when there is disagreement over the legality of specific covert programs. There is always the risk that one part of the government may make the covert operations of another part of the government public.
Two offices of CIA Directorate of Analysis have analytical responsibilities in this area. The Office of Transnational Issues applies unique functional expertise to assess existing and emerging threats to U.S. national security and provides the most senior U.S. policymakers, military planners, and law enforcement with analysis, warning, and crisis support.
CIA Crime and Narcotics Center 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 Directorate of Operations, 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. During the Cold War, when numerous soldiers participated in transport of Southeast Asian heroin to the United States by the airline Air America, the CIA's role in such traffic was reportedly rationalized as "recapture" of related profits to prevent possible enemy control of such assets.
Alleged 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. Six members of Congress have claimed that Director of the 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.
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.
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.
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 U.S., 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). 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. 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.
The program was rumored vis-à-vis leaks made by anonymous government officials on July 23, to be an assassinations program, 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 U.S. 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. "The agency hasn't discussed publicly the nature of the effort, which remains classified," said agency spokesman Paul Gimigliano.
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.
Intelligence Committee investigation
On July 17, 2009, the House Intelligence Committee said it was launching a formal investigation into the secret program. Representative Silvestre Reyes announced the probe will look into "whether there was any past decision or direction to withhold information from the committee".
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. 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. 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."
Improper search of computers used by Senate investigators
In July 2014 CIA Director John O. Brennan had to apologize to lawmakers because five CIA employees (two lawyers and three computer specialists) had surreptitiously searched Senate Intelligence Committee files and reviewed some committee staff members' e-mail on computers that were supposed to be exclusively for congressional investigators. Brennan ordered the creation of an internal personnel board, led by former senator Evan Bayh, to review the agency employees' conduct and determine "potential disciplinary measures." However, according to some reports, Brennan didn't apologize for spying or doing anything wrong at all, even though his agency had been improperly accessing computers of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee (SSCI) and then, in the words of investigative reporter Dan Froomkin, "speaking a lie". This accusation was based on the CIA Director's earlier denials of Senator Dianne Feinstein's claims that the surreptitious CIA search of the SSCI computers occurred, was inappropriate, or "violated the separation of powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution, including the Speech and Debate clause" or other laws.
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- Johnson, Loch K. (1991). America's Secret Power: The CIA in a Democratic Society. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-505490-3.
- Jones, Ishmael (2010). The Human Factor: Inside the CIA's Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture. Encounter Books. ISBN 978-1-59403-223-3.
- Jones, Milo; Silberzahn, Philippe (2013). Constructing Cassandra, Reframing Intelligence Failure at the CIA, 1947-2001. Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0804793360.
- Marchetti, Victor; John D. Marks (1974). The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence. Knopf. ISBN 0-394-48239-5.
- McCoy, Alfred W. (1972). The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia. Harper Colophon. ISBN 978-0-06-090328-2.
- McCoy, Alfred W. (2006). A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror. New York: Owl Books (Henry Holt & Co.). ISBN 0-8050-8248-4. OCLC 78821099.
- Kessler, Ronald (2003). The CIA at War: Inside the Secret Campaign Against Terror. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-31932-0.
- Mahle, Melissa Boyle (2004). Denial and Deception: An Insider's View of the CIA from Iran-Contra to 9/11. Nation Books. ISBN 1-56025-649-4.
- Prouty, L. Fletcher (Col. USAF, (Ret.)) (1973). The Secret Team: The CIA and Its Allies In Control of the World. Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-23776-5.
- Ruth, Steven (2011). My Twenty Years as a CIA Officer: It's All About The Mission. Charleston, SC: CreateSpace. ISBN 978-1-4565-7170-2.
- Sheymov, Victor (1993). Tower of Secrets. U.S. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-55750-764-8.
- Smith, W. Thomas, Jr. (2003). Encyclopedia of the Central Intelligence Agency. Facts on File. ISBN 0-8160-4667-0.
- Turner, Stansfield (2006). Burn Before Reading: Presidents, CIA Directors, and Secret Intelligence. Hyperion. ISBN 0-7868-8666-8.
- Wallace, Robert; Melton, H. Keith; Schlesinger, Henry R. (2008). Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA's Spytechs, from Communism to al-Qaeda. New York: Dutton. ISBN 0-525-94980-1. OCLC 182552888.
- Weiner, Tim (2007). Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-51445-X. OCLC 82367780.
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- Landscapes of Secrecy: The CIA in History, Fiction and Memory (2011)
- Review of "Legacy of Ashes: The History of CIA", CIA (June 26, 2008)