Central Intelligence Agency
/ ˈsentrəl ˌɪnˈtelədʒəns ˈeɪdʒənsi /
(CIA) US intelligence organization established 1947. It has actively intervened overseas, generally to undermine left-wing regimes or to protect US financial interests; for example, in the Congo (now Zaire) and Nicaragua. From 1980 all covert activity by the CIA had by law to be reported to Congress, preferably beforehand, and to be authorized by the president. In 1994 the CIA's estimated budget was around $3.1 billion. John M Deutch became CIA director May 1995.
Developed from the wartime Office of Strategic Services and set up by Congress, as part of the National Security Act, on the lines of the British Secret Service, the CIA was intended solely for use overseas in the Cold War. It was involved in, for example, the restoration of the shah of Iran 1953, South Vietnam (during the Vietnam War), Chile (the coup against President Allende), and Cuba (the Bay of Pigs). On the domestic front, it was illegally involved in the Watergate political scandal and in the 1970s lost public confidence when US influence collapsed in Iran, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Yemen, and elsewhere.
CIA headquarters is in Langley, Virginia. Past directors include William Casey, Richard Helms, and George Bush. The CIA director is also coordinator of all the US intelligence organizations; the total budget for the US intelligence agencies for 1994 was estimated at $28 billion. Domestic intelligence functions are performed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The CIA belongs to the executive branch of government and acts on the president's orders. Historically, it runs both covert (secret) and overt (open) operations in the name of national security.
An independent agency of the US government responsible for collecting and coordinating intelligence and counterintelligence activities abroad in the national interest; Also called: CIA.