CIA: World of Secrets.

Essay by courlove7 October 2003

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In light of the recent negative press surrounding the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during the war in Iraq, conspiracy theories about the agency abound. To paraphrase Al Pacino's character in The Recruit, failures always make the front page while the successes are never known. Still, the CIA has been on the front lines of American foreign policy for more than 50 years. They are the secret movers and shakers behind the closed doors of government. Although we would love to believe that they are James Bond types who use high-tech gear to thwart evil masterminds, the truth is, we don't really know much about them. Read on and discover the exact nature of the world's most enigmatic government organization.

Just like most countries, the United States has been involved with espionage from the earliest stages of its foundation, the revolutionary war having been a haven for spies. However, a central organization was never really a priority, as the Armed Services always had departments dealing in intelligence for military purposes.

But when Pearl Harbor was attacked in December 1941, and the country entered World War II, government officials realized that wars were won by those with the best information. New York attorney William J. Donovan was put in charge of creating an intelligence service that closely followed the British model. The resulting department was the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), which trained special commandos for sabotage and subversion missions, and spied on Axis nations. The end of the war established the United States as a world power with a presence all over the globe. The Soviet Union emerged as its rival and the Cold War got underway. The need for foreign intelligence was greater than ever. Communism was a very real threat and the US became the leader of the...