Intelligence Community

Intelligence Community

Office of the Director of National Intelligence/

National Security Agency/   Central Intelligence Agency/

Intelligence Community Members/  Tradecraft

Since the inception of the Central Intelligence Agency in 1947, the organizations and agencies responsible for the collection and dissemination of intelligence on national security threats has expanded to a 17-member community that crosses foreign and domestic lines.  The intelligence blunders that resulted in the 9/11 attacks transformed the compartmentalized, stove-pipe structure of the intelligence system into one focused on information-sharing and streamlining to create actionable intelligence, or information that can immediately be acted on.  This section contains primary and secondary documents on the organizations and operations of the U.S. intelligence community.

Office of the Director of National Intelligence

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) officially began operations in 2005 as part of the sweeping reforms of the intelligence community initiated by the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  Its mission is to set uniform standards and policy for the 16 diverse organizations that comprise the Intelligence Community (IC), streamline the intelligence generated by the IC, and promote information-sharing among partner organization.  The ODNI is at the fore-front of the changing culture of the IC. [Read More…]

National Security Agency

The National Security Agency (NSA) was officially established in 1952 by Executive Order to monitor electronic and communication intelligence on foreign adversaries and provide communications security.  In 1972, the NSA merged with the Central Security Services, the cryptological efforts of the armed forces, to establish a centralized Signals Intelligence (Signit) effort.  NSA surveillance activity has been the subject of numerous scandals due to revelations that American citizens and ally governments have been the target of NSA surveillance. [Read More…]

Central Intelligence Agency

The National Security Act of 1947 established the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to collect and disseminate intelligence on foreign threats.  Until the Bush administration’s intelligence reform bill of 2004, the CIA served as the central figure of the intelligence community and was responsible for the full collection, analysis and dissemination of intelligence.  Since 2004, many of the CIA’s management responsibilities of the intelligence community were transferred to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.  However, the CIA remains the leader in the collection of Human Intelligence (Humint), or intelligence from personal contacts, and remains the only intelligence service with a mandate to conduct covert actions. [Read More…]

 Intelligence Community Members

The Intelligence Community is currently comprised of 16 federal organizations that report to the Director of National Intelligence.  The organizations engaged in intelligence collection on national security threats operate domestically and internationally and are both civilian and military.  The expansion of the intelligence community to incorporate officials from the Department of State to the Coast Guard was done in an effort to streamline diverse information sources and minimize duplicity in federal agencies.  [Read More…]


Tradecraft in the spy world has evolved with technology and expanded intelligence collection from traditional human and signals intelligence to a wide range of data sources, such as satellite imagery and biometerics.  Intelligence analysis has also evolved with the changing nature of national security threats and the shifting focus from strategic intelligence to inform broad national security policy and strategy to the creation of actionable intelligence for immediate security priorities.  [Read More…]