A Dictionary of American History

Author: Thomas L. Purvis  | Date: 1995

Central Intelligence Agency

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) On 13 June 1942, Executive Order 13 established the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), under the joint chiefs of staff, to collect and analyze intelligence under the direction of Major General William J. Donovan. In 1945 the OSS was reorganized as the Central Intelligence Group, which formed the nucleus of the CIA when the National Security Act established it to modernize and coordinate intelligence and espionage operations.

The CIA attracted criticism for poor intelligence during the Bay of Pigs invasion, for plotting to assassinate Fidel Castro, for involvement in the domestic political affairs of Chile and other nations, and unwittingly supplying equipment used in the Watergate scandal. In 1974 amendments to the Foreign Assistance Act restricted the CIA’s freedom of action. In response to the Nelson Rockefeller Commission report, both houses of Congress formed permanent oversight committees for monitoring CIA operations, and director William Colby was replaced by George Bush.

CIA operatives stirred controversy in April 1984 upon being exposed for sowing harbors in Nicaragua with mines that had damaged a Soviet tanker and seven other ships from six nations. In October 1984, Congress discovered that the CIA had provided guidance on assassinating government officials in a manual for Nicaraguan anti-Communist guerrillas. Evidence from the Iran-Contra scandal later revealed that the CIA had cooperated in violations by the National Security Council of the Boland amendments.


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Chicago: Thomas L. Purvis, "Central Intelligence Agency," A Dictionary of American History in A Dictionary of American History (Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell Reference, 1995), Original Sources, accessed May 26, 2020, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=G78C65VVZT4RWTN.

MLA: Purvis, Thomas L. "Central Intelligence Agency." A Dictionary of American History, in A Dictionary of American History, Cambridge, Mass., Blackwell Reference, 1995, Original Sources. 26 May. 2020. originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=G78C65VVZT4RWTN.

Harvard: Purvis, TL, 'Central Intelligence Agency' in A Dictionary of American History. cited in 1995, A Dictionary of American History, Blackwell Reference, Cambridge, Mass.. Original Sources, retrieved 26 May 2020, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=G78C65VVZT4RWTN.