The CIA and Foreign Policy
By Robert M. Gates
Article Summary and Author Biography
Account of the work of the CIA, discussing in some detail the nature of the relationship between the intelligence-gatherer and the policy-maker. Since the 1970s the CIA has provided intelligence to Congress as well as to the executive, so that it now "finds itself in a remarkable position, involuntarily poised nearly equidistant" between them. It has not however abused this freedom of action, probably unique among world intelligence agencies, so as to 'cook' intelligence. CIA deputy director. Robert M. Gates, a career intelligence officer, is Deputy Director of Central Intelligence. He served on the National Security Council staff from the spring of 1974 until December 1979. Tweet Close Style: MLA APA Chicago More Sharing Services
Over the years, public views of the Central Intelligence Agency and its role in American foreign policy have been shaped primarily by movies, television, novels, newspapers, books by journalists, headlines growing out of congressional inquiries, exposés by former intelligence officers, and essays by "experts" who either have never served in American intelligence, or have served and still not understood its role. The CIA is said to be an "invisible government," yet it is the most visible, most externally scrutinized and most publicized intelligence service in the world. While the CIA sometimes is able to refute publicly allegations and criticism, usually it must remain silent. The result is a contradictory mélange of images of the CIA and very little understanding of its real role in American government.
Because of a general lack of understanding of the CIA’s role, a significant controversy such as the Iran-contra affair periodically brings to the surface broad questions of the proper relationship between the intelligence service and policymakers. It raises questions of whether the CIA slants or "cooks" its intelligence analysis to support covert actions or policy, and of the degree to which policymakers (or their staffs) selectively use—and abuse—intelligence to persuade superiors, Congress or the public. Beyond this, recent developments, such as the massive daily flow of intelligence information to Congress, have complicated the CIA’s relationships with the rest of the executive branch in ways not at all understood by most observers—including those most directly involved. These questions and issues merit scrutiny.
The CIA’s role in the foreign policy process is threefold. First, the CIA is responsible for the collection and analysis of intelligence and its distribution to policymakers—principally to the president, the National Security Council (NSC) and the Departments of State and Defense; although in recent years many other departments and agencies have become major users of intelligence as well. This is a well-known area, and I will address it only summarily... About CIA
The Central Intelligence Agency was created in 1947 with the signing of the National Security Act by President Harry S. Truman. The act also created a Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) to serve as head of the United States intelligence community; act as the principal adviser to the President for intelligence matters related to the national security; and serve as head of the Central Intelligence Agency. The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 amended the National Security Act to provide for a Director of National Intelligence who would assume some of the roles formerly fulfilled by the DCI, with a separate Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency serves as the head of the Central Intelligence Agency and reports to the Director of National Intelligence. The CIA director's responsibilities include:
•Collecting intelligence through human sources and by other appropriate means, except that he shall have no police, subpoena, or...
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