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Agency Spotlight—Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

ciaThe Central Intelligence Agency is an independent agency responsible for providing national security intelligence to senior U.S. policymakers. The CIA, a civilian foreign intelligence service, is tasked with gathering, processing, and analyzing national security information from around the world using human intelligence (HUMINT). Mainly focused on overseas intelligence gathering, they have no law enforcement function. They have very limited domestic intelligence collection.

The CIA serves as a national manager for coordination of HUMINT activities across the U.S Intelligence Community. The CIA is the only agency authorized by law to carry out and oversee covert action at the request of the President. When the agency first came into existence, its purpose was to create a clearinghouse for foreign policy intelligence and analysis. Today, their primary purpose is to collect, analyze, evaluate, and disseminate foreign intelligence and perform covert operations. They have five main priorities:

  • Counterterrorism—top priority
  • Nonproliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction
  • Warning/informing American leaders of important overseas events
  • Counterintelligence
  • Cyber-intelligence


CIA’s information, insights, and actions consistently provide a tactical and strategic advantage for the U.S.


Their mission is to further U.S. national security objectives by collecting intelligence that matters, producing objective all-source analysis, conducting effective covert action as directed by the President, and safeguarding the secrets that help keep our nation safe.


CIA officers are guided by professional ethics that is the sum of our abiding principals, core values, and highest aspirations.

  • Service—to put our Nation first, the agency before the unit, and mission before self. They take pride in being diverse, inclusive, agile, responsive, and consequential.
  • Integrity—They uphold the highest standards of lawful conduct, are truthful and forthright, and provide information and analysis without institutional or political bias. They maintain the nation’s trust through accountability and oversight.
  • Excellence—They bring the best of diverse backgrounds and expertise to everything they do. They are self-aware, reflecting on their performance and learning from it, and strive to give all officers the tools, experiences, and leadership they need to excel.
  • Courage—they accomplish difficult high-stakes, dangerous tasks, carefully manage risk but don’t’ shy away from it, value sacrifice and honor the fallen.
  • Teamwork—They stand by and behind one another. Diversity and inclusion are mission imperatives.
  • Stewardship—They preserve their ability to obtain secrets by protecting sources and methods from the moment they enter duty until their last breath.

Next post will look at the history of the CIA.