Long the focus of popular interest, as witnessed by the plethora of spy-thriller movies and books, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is an enigma to most people. With its primary focus the gathering of international intelligence information and the safeguarding of U.S. national security, the CIA has taken on considerable importance in recent months. The agency has had to face down numerous questions in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks, such as whether any clues of the crimes were missed and if regulations hindered cooperation with other national agencies like the FBI. Congress and the White House have been considering ways to change and streamline the CIA’s operations amidst a series of hearings and debates. Along with the issue of 9/11, the CIA faces periodic criticism for its ambiguous covert actions in foreign incidents. Despite these issues, the CIA remains an important tool in America’s security apparatus, indispensable to the intelligence infrastructure.
Although secrecy is a necessity for an organization predicated on covert operations and national security, it remains important for the public to have some understanding of the organization’s history, mission, and practices. In order to shed some light on the CIA, this book provides a thorough and well-prepared overview of America’s premier spy agency. Topics addressed include CIA history, organization, practices, and specific operations. Following this analysis is a carefully selected bibliography of current literature dedicated to the study of the CIA. Further access is finally provided with author, title, and subject indexes. Given the public fascination with the CIA, and especially the recent events and international climate, understanding intelligence operations has never been more important and the resource of this book never more needed.