An Overview of the Intelligence Community


The U.S. Intelligence Community is a large, complex structure, organized and operated pursuant to a multitude of laws, executive orders, policies, and directives. Aspects of its organization and operation are discussed in detail within the body of this report. The purpose of the following discussion is to provide an overall, admittedly simplistic, picture of the Community and how it functions, and to serve as a primer for those unfamiliar with the subject.

The essential role of intelligence is not difficult to understand. It is to provide timely, relevant information to U.S. policymakers, decisionmakers, and warfighters. Accomplishing this mission involves tasking, collecting, processing, analyzing, and disseminating intelligence, commonly referred to as the "intelligence cycle."

Part One: The Intelligence Cycle

The intelligence cycle drives the day-to-day activities of the Intelligence Community. In the cycle, the consumer of intelligence sets forth a need for information that is relayed to the requirements prioritization committees of the Intelligence Community who then lay the validated requirement on the respective intelligence collection agencies. The collected intelligence information is processed, analyzed, and reported simultaneously to the customer and to the Community's all-source analyst who combine it with other intelligence and open-source information to produce a finished intelligence report or assessment of the data. The customer has the option of providing feedback on the degree to which his need has been met and asking for further analysis or additional collection, if required.

Figure A-1 The Intelligence Cycle (87k)

Collection and Analysis

I. What are Consumer Needs?

The consumer requests information from intelligence agencies that is not otherwise available and that bears on decisions that he or she expects to confront in the course of their duties. In some cases, the request is simple and is made to satisfy an immediate requirement: "tell me about a foreign leader or a foreign airfield". In other cases, consumer needs are stated in documents that provide overall guidance to the Intelligence Community. For example, on March 5, 1995, President Clinton issued a Presidential Decision Directive (PDD) which established priorities for intelligence collection and analysis of specific issues. Previous administrations have issued similar documents, which, together with the specific requirements levied by users within the departments and agencies of the Executive branch, serve as guidance for the Director of Central Intelligence and the members of the Intelligence Community. These requirements can be adjusted on an as needed basis to cope with unexpected developments.

II. Collection and the Collectors

Upon receiving tasking from consumers, the Intelligence Community seeks to fulfill the requirements. There are four primary collection "disciplines" that the Intelligence Community utilizes.

Department of Defense Collectors:

National Security Agency (NSA): NSA has responsibility for the establishment and operation of a unified organization for the conduct of signals intelligence activities, and for carrying-out collection, processing, analysis, and reporting of signals intelligence activities for national foreign intelligence purposes in accordance with guidance from the Director of Central Intelligence. Its Director reports to the Secretary of Defense.

Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA): DIA's principal mission is not collection, but the provision of substantive intelligence support to the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the commanders of the unified commands, and some non-DoD agencies. DIA also coordinates and undertakes MASINT collection, as well as administers the Defense HUMINT Service and the Defense Attache System.

The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO): The NRO is responsible for research and development, acquisition, and operation of space borne collection systems which are used by the intelligence collection agencies for signals intelligence, imagery, and other collection. The NRO is an organization of the Department of Defense, whose Director is also Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space. The Secretary of Defense exercises ultimate responsibility for management and operation of the NRO in concert with the Director of Central Intelligence who establishes collection priorities and requirements.

The Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Office (DARO): An element within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the DARO is responsible for research, development and acquisition of defense airborne reconnaissance capabilities, including manned and unmanned aerial vehicles. In contrast to the NRO, DARO is not responsible for the operation of airborne reconnaissance capabilities, which are the province of the military departments or unified commands.

Central Imagery Office (CIO): The CIO coordinates imagery collection across the Intelligence Community and promulgates uniform standards and policy to govern imagery exploitation and dissemination. [Note: A new organization, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, has been proposed to consolidate most imagery and mapping organizations, including the CIO, by October 1, 1996.]

The Military Services: Each military service undertakes collection, analysis, and reporting activities in each of the four collection disciplines in response to national, departmental, theater and tactical requirements. Some collection activities are undertaken at the departmental level; others, by elements assigned to service or joint commands.

Army Intelligence is headed by the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence who has overall responsibility for the management of collection by Army organizations. This responsibility is exercised through the US Army Intelligence and Security Command.

Navy Intelligence is headed by the Director of Naval Intelligence, who commands the Office of Naval Intelligence, the principal operating arm. The Naval Security Group collects signals intelligence for the fleet and for national consumers as part of the national signals intelligence system.

Air Force Intelligence is headed by the Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence. The chief operating element is the Air Intelligence Agency.

Marine Corps Intelligence is headed by the Director of Intelligence who is the Commandant's principal staff officer and functional manager for intelligence matters.

III. Analysis and the Analysts

Once intelligence has been collected, it is typically processed, analyzed, and reported by analysts at the collecting agency who determine its relevance to existing validated requirements. This "raw" or "current" intelligence is then reported electronically or in printed form to the customers and to the all-source analytic organizations in the Intelligence Community. The all-source intelligence organizations, principally CIA and DIA, meld these reports with other information available from other intelligence and open sources and provide analytic statements, assessments, and reports on the significance of the information. Such all-source analyses may be performed on topics of long term interest and broad scope, which are called "estimates,"or they may pertain to ongoing or transient events of immediate interest to policymakers.

The National Intelligence Council (NIC): The NIC is an analytical organization under the Director of Central Intelligence which has responsibility for producing longterm estimative intelligence. The NIC presently comprises twelve National Intelligence Officers, who are senior analysts assigned specific issues or regions to cover, and are responsible for the coordination and preparation of estimates within their respective areas. All estimates prepared by the NIC are sent to the National Foreign Intelligence Board (composed of representatives of the Intelligence Community agencies) for approval prior to being issued.

The Central Intelligence Agency's Directorate of Intelligence (DI): The DI is the all-source analytical arm of the CIA, producing current intelligence and longer studies, including national estimates tasked by the National Intelligence Council, for U.S. policymakers and decisionmakers. Organized into functional and geographic offices, the DI reports on political, military and economic developments.

The Department of State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR): INR provides intelligence support to the Secretary of State and other Department of State officials. The head of INR is an Assistant Secretary of State who serves as the Secretary's principal adviser on intelligence issues. INR is organized into offices covering regional geographic areas and specific issues. Its principal publication is the daily "Secretary's Morning Summary" which is provided to the Secretary wherever he may be on the globe.

Department of Defense Analytical Organizations:

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA): Intelligence analysis is the principal responsibility of the DIA which is charged with providing intelligence support to the Secretary of Defense and his staff, the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the unified commands, and the military departments on general military topics. Analytical support is coordinated and performed principally by the National Military Intelligence Production Center. DIA also has responsibility for ensuring that the intelligence analysis performed by other elements of the Department of Defense does not duplicate what is being performed by other elements of DoD or by the CIA.

The Military Services: The four military services have specific analytical organizations which produce intelligence for their respective services, the unified commands and DIA.

Army: The Army's analytical arm is the National Ground Intelligence Center which produces all-source analysis on the capabilities, vulnerabilities, and threats posed by or projected for, foreign ground and security forces.

Navy: The Navy's analytical arm is the National Maritime Intelligence Center of the Office of Naval Intelligence. Its responsibilities include analysis of the design and construction of foreign surface ships, collection and analysis of acoustic information on foreign sensor systems, ocean surveillance systems, submarine platforms, and undersea weapons systems.

Air Force: The Air Force's analytical organization is the National Air Intelligence Center which produces finished intelligence assessments of aerospace related issues.

Marine Corps: The Marine Corps' analytical organization is the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity which provides threat assessments and estimates used for acquisition decisions and for planning military operations.

The Nine Unified Commands: Each of the nine unified commands- United States Atlantic Command (ACOM), United States Central Command (CENTCOM), United States European Command (EUCOM), United States Pacific Command (PACOM), United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), United States Space Command (SPACECOM), United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM), United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) and United States Transportation Command (TRANSCOM)-has a Joint Intelligence Center which, among other things, produces finished intelligence analysis for its Commander-in-Chief (CINC) and the forces subordinate to the CINC.

The Department of Energy: DOE's Office of Intelligence overtly collects information and produces classified and unclassified analyses of foreign energy and technology developments, particularly those concerning nuclear proliferation and weapons of mass destruction. The Office works for the Secretary of Energy as well as for the Government as a whole. DOE also participates in the production of national estimates in its area of expertise.

The Department of Treasury: Treasury's Office of Intelligence Support provides specialized analyses to the Secretary and his or her staff on international economic, financial and security affairs, and participates in national estimates on these topics.

IV. Intelligence Products and Dissemination

Intelligence products are conveyed in many forms: raw message traffic, daily electronic and printed publications, video conferences, briefings, longterm studies, secure telephone calls, and personal meetings with individual analysts. Increasingly, intelligence products are being stored in computer data banks that allow consumers to retrieve ("pull") them electronically as needed. The Intelligence Community constantly strives to disseminate its products in a manner and in a form that best suits its consumers. Where necessary, it will tailor support to meet the needs of individual users.

V. Counterintelligence

Federal Bureau of Investigation: The FBI's National Security Division is the Government's primary counterintelligence organization. It provides support to the Intelligence Community through investigations, monitoring, and analyses of foreign counterintelligence threats, and by conducting operations against hostile intelligence services operating within the United States. The FBI also has principal responsibility for investigating terrorist activities within the United States.

Other Departments and Agencies: A number of other departments and agencies maintain counterintelligence elements to protect their own operations and activities, to include the CIA, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and the Department of Energy.

VI. Covert Action

Covert action is an activity of the U.S. Government designed to influence governments, events, organizations, or persons in support of U.S. foreign policy in a manner that is not attributable to the United States. Covert actions may involve political, economic, propaganda, or paramilitary activities. U.S. law requires that all covert actions be approved by the President in a written "finding" and that notification be given to the two intelligence committees of the Congress. Once approved, covert actions are typically carried out by the CIA's Directorate of Operations with such assistance as may be necessary from the Department of Defense or other members of the Intelligence Community as may be directed by the President.

Part Two: Managing the Community

Figure A-2 An Adminstrative View of the Intelligence Community (148k)

I. The Director of Central Intelligence

Under the National Security Act of 1947, the DCI serves three principal functions. He is the principal intelligence adviser to the President, the head of the Intelligence Community, and the head of the CIA. As head of the Intelligence Community, the DCI is charged with directing and coordinating the national foreign intelligence activities of the U.S. Government, but exercises direct line authority over only the CIA and the staff organizations which support him in his non-CIA functions: the National Intelligence Council, which prepares national estimates; and the Community Management Staff, which assists the DCI in his Community functions. These latter functions include the preparation of the annual budget for the National Foreign Intelligence Program, evaluation of the Community's performance, the development of longterm plans, and the coordination of Community-wide programs.

In addition, the DCI chairs two advisory boards, composed of representatives of Intelligence Community agencies:

The National Foreign Intelligence Board (NFIB): The NFIB is responsible for approving all National Intelligence Estimates, for coordinating interagency intelligence exchanges and the numerous bilateral relationships with foreign nations that share intelligence with the United States, and for developing policy for the protection of intelligence sources and methods.

The Intelligence Community Executive Committee (IC/EXCOM): The IC/EXCOM serves as the DCI's principal senior advisory group on national intelligence policy and resource issues. It advises the DCI on issues pertaining to the budget, setting requirements and priorities, evaluation, and intelligence policy formulation and implementation. The IC/EXCOM is chaired by the DCI, and includes the Deputy DCI, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, the Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Directors of NSA, NRO, and CIO, and DIA, the Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research, the Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, the Executive Directors for Intelligence Community Affairs and for the CIA, as well as others with key responsibilities in the intelligence area, including the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence, and the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisitions and Technology.

II. Managing Collection

As a general proposition, requirements validation and prioritization are managed according to collection discipline (e.g. SIGINT, HUMINT, IMINT, etc.) with each discipline having its own structure for translating the validated requirements into collection activities in its area. Mechanisms also exist to ensure that information about possible targets for collection is shared across disciplines.


The SIGINT activities conducted by NSA, CIA, the military services and other elements of the Government are collectively known as the United States SIGINT System. The Director of NSA, as designated manager for all national signals intelligence activities, is responsible to the DCI for receiving and meeting national SIGINT requirements and for submitting budgetary requirements for the SIGINT system.


The DCI provides overall direction for the collection of human source intelligence by elements of the Intelligence Community to ensure that the risks to the United States and those involved in such collection are minimized. In 1992, the National HUMINT Requirements Tasking Center was created to coordinate both overt and clandestine HUMINT collection across the Intelligence Community. The Deputy Director of Operations at the CIA is the manager for HUMINT.


The Central Imagery Office (CIO) is charged with ensuring responsive imagery support (IMINT) to the Intelligence Community, the Department of Defense, the National Security Council, and other departments and agencies. CIO has created the United States Imagery System (USIS), modeled after the SIGINT system, to encourage a cooperative effort among the collectors, producers and users of imagery. CIO also administers a special committee that meets daily to determine the tasking for national imagery collection systems. It, too, has the ability to make adjustments to cover unexpected developments.


The Defense Intelligence Agency's Central Measurements and Signature Intelligence Office (CMO) is the designated collection manager of MASINT. The CMO tasks the elements of the Government that collect MASINT to fulfill national and tactical intelligence requirements.

III. Managing Intelligence Analysis

Contrasted with collection, a minimal effort is made to centrally manage intelligence analysis. While the DCI maintains an interagency committee that monitors production in the Intelligence Community, departments and agencies who maintain analytical capabilities are generally left to manage their own. For the most part, the analysis performed by one agency is shared with the others and an awareness of what is being produced is maintained on an informal basis between analysts.

Within DoD, where separate analytical capabilities are maintained within DIA, the military departments, and the unified commands, DIA does coordinate intelligence production among DoD components, attempting to prevent duplication and overlap in the analysis being produced.

Part Three: the Intelligence Budget

U.S. expenditures for intelligence are allocated among three distinct programs or aggregations: the National Foreign Intelligence Program (NFIP), the Joint Military Intelligence Program (JMIP) and the Tactical Intelligence and Related Activities aggregation (TIARA). The NFIP is controlled by the Director of Central Intelligence. JMIP and TIARA are controlled by the Secretary of Defense.

National Foreign Intelligence Program: The NFIP consists of the budgets for the elements of the Intelligence Community that are responsible for collecting and analyzing intelligence to primarily fulfill national-level requirements. The agencies within the Intelligence Community that are part of the NFIP are: the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, the Central Imagery Office, and the intelligence elements of the military services, the Departments of State, Justice, Energy and Treasury. Also funded by the NFIP are the National Intelligence Council, the Community Management Staff, and several DCI centers. The Director of Central Intelligence provides guidance for the development of the component parts of the program, reviews and approves budget submissions by these component parts, and ultimately approves the NFIP budget and presents it to the President and the Congress.

Joint Military Intelligence Program: Under the authority of the Secretary of Defense, the JMIP encompasses military intelligence activities that support Defense-wide objectives as opposed to the requirements of a single military service. Intelligence produced by these activities may also support national requirements. Although intelligence assets funded in the JMIP may belong to a particular service, they are used to support joint service operations in each theater. The JMIP consists of four Defense programs-a signals intelligence program, an imagery program, a mapping, charting, and geodesy program, and the Defense General Intelligence and Applications program. The Deputy Secretary of Defense serves as program manager for the JMIP, assisted by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence.

Tactical Intelligence And Related Activities: Also under the authority of the Secretary of Defense, TIARA is an aggregation of intelligence activities funded by each of the military services to satisfy their specific tactical requirements. Since TIARA assets serve the individual services, there is no single program manager. The services annually submit a list of the activities they intend to fund within this aggregation to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence who attempts to ensure their consistency with intelligence programs being funded in JMIP and NFIP.

I. The Intelligence Budget -A Frame of Reference

Each year, the President-in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget-determines the overall budget request for the Department of Defense based on national security needs and projected levels of inflation.

Within the level established for Defense, most of the funding for NFIP, and all of the funding for JMIP and TIARA, are included. (A small percentage of the NFIP which funds intelligence for non-Defense agencies is not included in the Defense budget.) The amount to be allocated to NFIP activities is decided by of the Secretary of Defense and the DCI. The amount to be allocated to JMIP is determined by the Secretary of Defense, and the amounts to be allocated to TIARA are determined by each of the military departments separately, subject to the overall authority of the Secretary of Defense.

Each of these amounts is classified and, thus, cannot be found in clearly identifiable line items in the DoD budget. Rather, they are scattered among various line items not identified to the intelligence function per se.

II. The Budget Formulation Process

Once the top line spending level for the NFIP has been determined, the DCI issues guidance to the NFIP program managers to formulate budgets for their intelligence programs that will fulfill the national intelligence needs of the Government. The proposals are then developed and forwarded to the DCI's Community Management Staff (CMS) and the Office of Management and Budget. The CMS assures that the budgets reflect the DCI's priorities and those of intelligence customers. OMB determines if the total funding is in line with the President's priorities, and if individual programs within the NFIP are being funded at appropriate levels.

Although the DCI is responsible for formulating the NFIP budget, it is in fact a cooperative effort with the Secretary of Defense. Since most of the NFIP program managers head agencies within the Department of Defense, their budgets will also reflect Defense requirements and priorities. The DCI's Community Management Staff also must assess what Defense intends to fund through JMIP and TIARA in order to arrive at the national program. In recent years, this coordination between national and defense programs has been particularly strong. Once the budget for the NFIP has been approved by the DCI, it is sent to the President and the Congress.

Where JMIP and TIARA are concerned, the budget formulation process occurs within the Department of Defense. The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence plays the principal support role in packaging JMIP programs, whereas the military services build the TIARA program submissions. These two aggregations along with the Defense portion of the NFIP are reviewed by the Expanded Defense Resources Board, co-chaired by the Deputy Secretary of Defense and by the DCI, with senior representatives of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other senior producers and consumers of intelligence as members. Upon completion of the review, the JMIP and TIARA budget submissions are sent to the Secretary of Defense for final approval and forwarding to the President.

III. Congressional Authorization and Appropriations Process

Upon completion, the three intelligence budgets are included in the President's budget which is normally submitted to Congress in February each year for authorization and appropriations. The Senate and House intelligence committees authorize appropriations for the NFIP budget. The House intelligence committee also has jurisdiction over JMIP and TIARA, whereas in the Senate authorization rests with the Armed Services Committee. The Senate intelligence committee does, however, make formal recommendations to the Armed Services Committee with respect to both programs.

Appropriations for most of the NFIP and all of the JMIP and TIARA are contained in the annual Defense appropriation bill. The appropriations for non-Defense intelligence elements are contained in the appropriation bill pertaining to their respective department or agency.

After hearings in the spring, authorization and appropriation bills normally reach the floor of each House of Congress in the summer, and reach the President in the fall.

Part Four: Oversight and Accountability

Like other government agencies, agencies within the Intelligence Community are subject to the laws of the United States (including the treaty obligations of the United States), the policies of the President, and their own internal directives. To ensure compliance with these laws and policies, intelligence agencies are subjected to oversight by elements within their own organizations as well as by external elements. The external elements include oversight mechanisms both in the Congress and in the Executive branch.

Figure A-3 Intelligence Community Oversight (87k)

I. Internal Mechanisms

Each element of the Intelligence Community is subject to the jurisdiction of an Inspector General, either within their own organization or within their parent organization.

The CIA's Inspector General is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate and is responsible for investigating any alleged improprieties or program mismanagement within the CIA. The CIA Inspector General submits semiannual reports of his activities to the two congressional intelligence committees and must report directly to these committees under certain circumstances.

The Department of Defense also has an Inspector General created by statute who reports to the Secretary of Defense and whose jurisdiction extends to all of the intelligence elements of the Department of Defense. In addition, each such element (e.g. NSA, CIO, DIA, NRO) has its own non-statutory Inspector General, appointed by the head of the Agency, who performs oversight.

Non-Defense intelligence elements similarly are subject to oversight by independent Inspectors General. For example, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the Department of State is subject to oversight by the State Department Inspector General, and the FBI's National Security Division, by the FBI Inspector General.

The General Counsels of intelligence agencies also perform an oversight function, reviewing proposed and ongoing activities to ensure their compliance with law and policy.

II. External Mechanisms

The Intelligence Community is also subject to external oversight from the Executive and Legislative branches. Within the Executive, the Intelligence Oversight Board, a standing committee of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, exercises overall oversight of the Community's activities, including the responsibility to oversee the functioning of the agencies' internal oversight mechanisms. In addition, the Office of Management and Budget plays a role in ensuring consistency with the President's program. Within the Congress, principal oversight responsibility rests with the two intelligence committees, but other committees occasionally become involved in an oversight role.

President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) : The PFIAB is an entity within the Executive Office of the President formed "to assess the quality, quantity, and adequacy" of intelligence collection, analysis, counterintelligence, and other activities of the Intelligence Community. The PFIAB reports directly to the President, and provides recommendations for actions to improve and enhance the performance of intelligence efforts. It also examines issues raised by the President or the Director of Central Intelligence and can make recommendations directly to the DCI. Membership of the PFIAB consists of not more that 16 persons appointed by the President.

President's Intelligence Oversight Board (IOB):Once a separate organization under the President, the IOB was made a standing committee of the PFIAB in 1993. The IOB is composed of four members of the PFIAB appointed by the Chairman of the PFIAB. The IOB conducts independent oversight investigations as required and reviews the oversight practices and procedures of the inspectors general and general counsels of intelligence agencies.

Office of Management and Budget (OMB): OMB is part of the Executive Office of the President. It reviews intelligence budgets in light of presidential policies and priorities, clears proposed testimony, and approves draft intelligence legislation for submission to Congress.

The Congress

Principal oversight responsibility rests with the two intelligence committees. By law, the President must ensure that these two committees are kept "fully and currently" informed of the activities of the Intelligence Community, including any "significant anticipated intelligence activities." Notice is also required to be provided to both committees of all covert action programs approved by the President as well as all "significant intelligence failures."

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI):The membership of the SSCI has ranged from 13 to 17, with the majority party in Congress having one more member than the minority. Members of the SSCI serve 8-year terms. In addition to its role in annually authorizing appropriations for intelligence activities, the SSCI carries out oversight investigations and inquiries as required. It also handles presidential nominations referred to the Senate for the positions of DCI, Deputy DCI, and Inspector General of CIA, and reviews treaties referred to the Senate for ratification as necessary to determine the ability of the Intelligence Community to verify the provisions of the treaty under consideration.

House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) : The membership of the HPSCI is currently set at 19 members and is proportional to the partisan makeup of the entire House of Representatives. Members may be appointed for terms up to eight years. Like its Senate counterpart, the HPSCI conducts oversight investigations and inquiries in addition to processing the annual authorization of appropriations for intelligence.

Other Committees: In addition to the intelligence committees, other congressional committees occasionally become involved in oversight matters by virtue of their overlapping jurisdictions and responsibilities. The armed services committees of each House, for example, exercise concurrent jurisdiction over DoD intelligence activities; and the judiciary committees in each House exercise concurrent jurisdiction over FBI intelligence activities.



Page INT023 February 23, 1996