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Central Intelligence Agency

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is an independent agency of the U.S. government responsible for amassing and assessing foreign intelligence to aid the president, the National Security Council (NSC), and other officials in making national security decisions. Such information is considered to be the first line of defense against terrorism.

In 1947, as a direct result of the intelligence failure that allowed Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. president Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act, which established the NSC and the CIA. The CIA grew out of the World War II Office of Strategic Services (OSS), run by General William “Wild Bill” Donavan, who recruited from Wall Street and Ivy League schools to form an elite intelligence group based on the East Coast, with an emphasis on covert action abroad. Originally, the CIA operated only outside the United States and ...

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