Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

  1. independent government agency in the executive branch charged with carrying out intelligence and counterintelligence operations in support of national security. The CIA reports to the director of national intelligence on intelligence and counterintelligence needs; collects, evaluates, and disseminates intelligence and foreign counterintelligence data; conducts counterintelligence operations outside the United States; and conducts special activities approved by the president. Clandestine activities are carried on under various guises—including the diplomatic cover used by virtually every intelligence service, as well as such fronts as corporations that the CIA creates or acquires.