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The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was established in 1947 as a civilian, nonpartisan and independent foreign intelligence service. Today, in the wake of the failures of 9/11 and the Iraq War, the CIA has sought to reinvent itself and is now at a crossroads.

  • Douglas London, former senior operations officer at the CIA and author of “The Recruiter: Spying and the Lost Art of American Intelligence,” said the CIA needs a cultural shift to refocus its role as a spy service as it turns its attention towards Great Power Competition, looking into major adversaries and threats to the United States.
  • In an effort to remain relevant after 9/11, the agency focused heavily on covert action and combat support for counterterrorism as well as “politically convenient” missions, taking away from its main purpose of foreign intelligence, said London.
  • Efforts to improve collaboration and transparency among multiple agencies after 9/11, including the creation of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in 2004, have largely been successful, London said.
  • Strong leadership from the CIA director and the president is essential to prevent the politicization of the CIA, said London.

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