The CIA | Declassified

Hi guys, I’m Robin, and this week we’re gathering intelligence on America’s most formidable government agency This is the CIA, Declassified

The Central Intelligence Agency is America’s international intelligence agency, responsible for collecting and analysing important information that could affect the security of the United States and its citizens Around 21,000 employees work for the CIA, whose headquarters are based in Langley, Virginia But the organisation’s total secrecy regarding its defence budget, and undercover activities, means that American citizens have no clue what the agency is doing with its money Its annual budget is estimated at $147 billion But this is what we do know about the CIA

The CIA is organised into four major departments: There’s the Intelligence Directorate, which analyses intelligence from the media, agents in the field, satellite photography, and also intercepts phone calls and other communication lines Then there’s the Directorate of Operations, which is involved in espionage and special covert operations The Directorate of Science and Technology ensures that the agency is at the forefront of scientific advances And the Directorate of Administration is in charge of finances and personnel matters The current Director of the CIA is John O

Brennan He acts as the chief intelligence advisor to the president But the USA has been coordinating government-wide intelligence jobs since World War II In 1942 the Office of Special Services was created under the presidency of Franklin D Roosevelt

12,000 members of the secret OSS gathered information from Nazi-operated Europe, to help in the war effort In 1947, President Harry Truman saw that the USA needed a postwar intelligence office, and he passed the National Security Act This replaced the OSS with a new institution, called the CIA At the time, America’s new central intelligence agency was seen as a US counterpart to the Soviet spy organisation, the KGB

Declassified documents from the Cold War can tell us a lot about how the agency operates The CIA was vital during escalating tensions between the USA and USSR – it bugged communication lines in East Germany, and developed the most famous spy plane in history, the U-2 Some of the agency’s more successful covert operations include overthrowing the Iranian gvernment in 1959, organising a secret army of tribesmen to spy on the Viet Cong during the Vietnam war, supporting the Chilean military coup of 1973, and overthrowing the Marxist Niacaraguan government Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the CIA has turned its attention to terrorism, and instability in the Middle East In 2011, the CIA commanded the assassination of 9/11 mastermind, Osama bin Laden

But despite the success of these operations, the CIA is also responsible for a number of scandals that are, at best, embarrassing failures, like hundreds of failed attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro At worst, they indicate serious internal corruption that endangers the very people it’s trying to protect In the 1940s, the CIA recruited at least 25 news organisations and hundreds of journalists to subvert the media with anti-communist propaganda In the 1950s, the CIA and other US intelligence services aggressively recruited 1000 Nazis, and up until the 1990s, covered up the fact that many of them still live in the U

S today And in 1953, the CIA launched its most famous programme yet – Operation MK-ULTRA This was an illegal mind-control experiment which went on for 20 years – But it didn’t work, and several of the test subjects committed suicide In the 1980s the CIA sold crack-cocaine to African-American communities in Los Angeles, to fund the CIA’s army in Nicaragua And the atrocities don’t stop there

Since George Bush announced America’s ‘War on Terror’ in 2001, the CIA has been involved in ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’, or torture, at its special detention camps, like Guantanamo Bay It wasn’t until 2009 that President Barack Obama banned the CIA’s detention authority Critics of the CIA believe that a lot of its flaws come from the fact that the agency doesn’t know what its true purpose is Does the CIA want to analyse global information and protect its citizens, or change the world through covert operation, to a pro-American agenda? But as an organisation whose very existence is based on secrecy, we may never know the true answer If you want to learn more about the CIA, then check out…

[endboard here] Thanks for watching!

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