Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is one of the leading intelligence-gathering organizations in the United States government, its chief international spy agency. The CIA is headquartered in Langley, Virginia, and carries out intelligence gathering and covert operations throughout the world.
The CIA was created in 1947, growing out of the World War II Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Rear Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter was the first director of the CIA, but the first major figure to run the CIA was Allen Dulles, who had been an OSS operative, and was largely responsible for shaping the CIA’s Cold War operations against the Soviet Union. In 1953, the CIA staged a coup in Iran, which installed the Shah. The CIA also unsuccessfully attempted to assassinate Fidel Castro on several occasions, and was responsible for the Bay of Pigs operation.
By the 1970s, the CIA came under increased scrutiny, largely after several former agents were involved in the Watergate break-in. Revelations regarding illegal operations and foreign assassinations led to greater Congressional oversight. In 1994, CIA operative Aldrich Ames was arrested for having spied for the Soviet Union since 1985.
In 2004, the Director of National Intelligence office took over many of the CIA’s functions. With the War on Terror, the CIA has been accused of a policy of extraordinary rendition, in which high-level terrorists have been moved to foreign countries where torture is allowed.