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Central intelligence agency

The meaning of «central intelligence agency»

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA; /siaɪˈeɪ/), known informally as "The Agency" and "The Company",[6][7] is a civilian foreign intelligence service of the federal government of the United States, officially tasked with gathering, processing, and analyzing national security information from around the world, primarily through the use of human intelligence (HUMINT). As a principal member of the United States Intelligence Community (IC), the CIA reports to the Director of National Intelligence and is primarily focused on providing intelligence for the President and Cabinet of the United States.

Unlike the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which is a domestic security service, the CIA has no law enforcement function and is officially mainly focused on overseas intelligence gathering, with only limited domestic intelligence collection.[8] The CIA serves as the national manager for coordination of HUMINT activities across the U.S. intelligence community. It is the only agency authorized by law to carry out and oversee covert action at the behest of the President.[8][9][10][11] It exerts foreign political influence through its tactical divisions, such as the Special Activities Center.[12] The CIA was also instrumental in establishing intelligence services in several U.S. allied countries, such as Germany's BND. It has also provided support to many foreign political groups and governments, including planning, coordinating, training on torture, technical support, and was involved in several regime changes, terrorist attacks and planned assassinations of foreign leaders.[13][3]

Since 2004 the CIA is organized under the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). Despite transferring some of its powers to the DNI, the CIA has grown in size as a response to the September 11 attacks. In 2013, The Washington Post reported that in the fiscal year 2010, the CIA had the largest budget of all IC agencies, exceeding previous estimates.[3][14]

The CIA has increasingly expanded its role, including covert paramilitary operations.[3] One of its largest divisions, the Information Operations Center (IOC), has officially shifted focus from counter-terrorism to offensive cyber-operations.[15]

The agency has been the subject of many controversies, including human rights violations, domestic wiretapping and propaganda, and allegations of drug trafficking. It has also appeared in works of fiction, including books, films and video games.

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 carry out covert operations.

According to its fiscal 2013 budget, the CIA has five priorities:[3]

The CIA has an executive office and five major directorates:

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