The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is an intelligence agency of the United States government. Its primary function is obtaining and analyzing information about foreign governments, corporations, and persons, and reporting such information to the branches of the government. Its secondary function is propaganda or public relations, overt and covert information dissemination, both true and false, and influencing others to decide in favor of the U.S. government. The third function of the CIA is as the hidden hand of the federal government, by engaging in covert operations. This is done at the direction of the President, and with oversight by Congress. This last function has caused much controversy for the CIA, raising questions about the legality, morality, effectiveness, and intelligence of such operations.
Its headquarters is in the community of Langley in the McLean CDP of Fairfax County, Virginia, a few miles Northwest from downtown Washington, D.C. along the Potomac River. The CIA is part of the U.S. Intelligence Community, led by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). The role and functions of the CIA are roughly equivalent to those of the United Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) and Israel's Mossad.
The CIA is sometimes referred to euphemistically in government and military parlance as Other Government Agencies (or OGA), particularly when its operations in a particular area are an open secret. Other terms include The Company and The Agency.