If there’s anything that the world’s major superpowers have in common, it’s intelligence. At least, to some extent! The CIA, or Central Intelligence Agency, is the USA’s main hub for international and national security. The CIA is in place to help protect US citizens and to ensure that the President receives up to date information on important matters.
As with the KGB, not that much is known publicly about what goes on behind closed doors. Without further ado, let’s dive into a stack of interesting facts about the CIA which will help you get a handle on how everything works.
The CIA’s official role is to gather and process data. Specifically, it reports to the Director of National Intelligence.
However, the CIA is also relied upon to provide essential intelligence to the President of the US. This information can then be used to make important security and planning decisions.
The CIA works closely with the National Security Council to this extent, too.
Hughes Glomar Explorer built to recover the sunken Soviet submarine K-129 in 1974
Some allege that the CIA has been ‘meddling’ in certain affairs for many years – to the point where some leakers have made national news and have been brought to justice.
It’s thought that the CIA once had designs on capturing a Russian submarine. The sunken vessel came under their interest in 1974.
This mission was very costly. It’s thought it cost the US $500 million to try and sneak past Russian forces. This means it cost roughly the same amount as getting astronauts to the moon and back.
There’s some confusion between what the FBI does, and what the CIA does. The FBI focuses on national concerns, while the CIA focuses on international threats.
What’s more, the FBI has the ability to enforce the law, whereas the CIA does not – it focuses on gathering intelligence.
There was a position at the CIA once known as the Director of Central Intelligence, which lasted until 2005.
Tenet briefing Bush
The DCI position was retired at this point. The last Director was George Tenet. Some believe Tenet to have failed to prevent the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
George HW Bush, who was US President following Ronald Reagan and before Bill Clinton, was the DCI from the years 1976 to 1977.
It’s alleged that ‘Operation Artichoke’ was an attempt launched by the CIA in the early 1950s to study hypnosis. Specifically, they employed LSD and morphine through intensive, controversial experiments.
Allegations maintain that Operation Artichoke was launched to try and improve CIA interrogation standards.
There’s an umbrella agency, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), which covers the CIA and the US Air Force. This allows both agencies to work together on spy satellites, it’s assumed.
It’s alleged that the CIA coined the term ‘plausible deniability’ in the 1960s. Some sources allege that officers would use the phrase to cover up illegal activities on the basis of a lack of information being available.
‘Operation Paperclip’ was a program launched which aimed to bring German scientists to the US after World War II. It’s alleged that some of those hired by the US had worked under the Nazis. This scheme was set up to allegedly aid the US during the Cold War.
It’s not clear how many people actually work for the CIA. What’s more, it’s a misnomer that the agency will only ever look to hire Tom-Cruise-in-Mission-Impossible types.
It’s thought that film adaptations of George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm were edited by the CIA. 1984 focuses on a dystopian, oppressive future, while Animal Farm is a satire on the Russian revolution played out by farmyard animals.
The CIA changed the endings to both movies from their original books. It’s stated that the CIA changed Animal Farm’s message to go more against communism. In the case of 1984, the CIA’s intervention saw revolutionaries gunned down at the end.
The CIA had its own passenger flight service, which operated from the 1950s through to the 1970s.
It’s thought that this airline was used to help dispatch US agents to areas of the world where the Geneva Convention had banned military access. It’s alleged that this service was used to help the US gain reconnaissance on China.
The role of the Director of the CIA used to cross over with the Intelligence Community. However, changes in the law now mean that the Director of National Intelligence has oversight.
It’s thought that the CIA expanded hugely following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It was reported that the agency had more funding available than any other agency in 2013.
It’s been suggested that CIA employees regularly undergo polygraph (lie detector) tests. This, according to former CIA man Robert Baer, normally occurs every four years, at longest.
The CIA is alleged to have launched a program referred to as MK-Ultra. This program, some claim, was set up to experiment with mind-altering drugs.
Allegations also suggest that there were some participants in the scheme who were unaware of their drugging.
It’s alleged that the KGB stole software from the CIA which would allow them to siphon natural gas across Siberia. There’s a sting in the tail, however, as allegations also claim that the CIA had sneaked code to allow the KGB’s line to explode.
There are all kinds of conspiracies surrounding the CIA and Area 51. It’s alleged, for example, facilities at Area 51 are actually referred to as Groom Lake and Homey Airport.
Some claim that Homey Airport has played host to UFO sightings over the years. However, it’s thought to be mainly used for weapons experiments.
Believe it or not, there is a Starbucks branch based entirely at Langley Falls, the CIA’s base in Virginia. However, unlike other Starbucks branches, names aren’t allowed to be written on the cups when you order!
Do you have any fun, strange or interesting facts about the CIA that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!