Investigating the Intelligence Community

This week in the News: January 3, 2010

The Afghanistan attack happened on the CIA base in Camp Chapman, in head of the CIA's base in Khost Province.For many, the turning of the calendar is a day of looking forward to the new year. Sadly, some Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employees never made it to 2010.

On December 31, a suicide bomber targeted a CIA base in Afghanistan. Seven CIA agents were killed and six others wounded. In a message to CIA employees following the incident, President Barack Obama said, "In recent years, the CIA has been tested as never before. Since our country was attacked on September 11, 2001, you have served on the frontlines in directly confronting the dangers of the 21st century. Because of your service, plots have been disrupted, American lives have been saved, and our Allies and partners have been more secure. Your triumphs and even your names may be unknown to your fellow Americans, but your service is deeply appreciated."

Meanwhile, the President, Congress, and intelligence agencies around the world are investigating how 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab boarded a Trans-Atlantic passenger plane headed for Detroit carrying bomb materials. Luckily, that Christmas Day attack failed, but it revealed some gaps in the global intelligence and security net meant to prevent such incidents. Finding out why and how this happened will help seal those gaps.

While there are numerous agencies that are charged with enforcing laws and security, the CIA's job is specifically to collect and analyze information that is vital to U.S. policy, especially regarding the nation's security. For this week's lesson, you will investigate the CIA to discover what role it plays in the intelligence community, and what role the intelligence community plays in the U.S. government. You will also explore some of the career opportunities within the intelligence community.


Government agents analyze intelligence gatheredBegin with a visit to the CIA Kid's Page for 6-12th Grade. After reading the introduction, find out Who We Are & What We Do and write a brief summary of Our Mission. Also, record the five types of intelligence the CIA provides, and review The Intelligence Cycle. On a legal-sized or larger blank sheet of paper, draw a diagram of the cycle in a circle, starting with Planning & Direction and closing with Dissemination.

Next, investigate Our Organization. Using a separate sheet of paper for each team, write a short summary of what they do. Note their team name on your diagram, wherever each team fits into the Intelligence Cycle. Also, read through the Our People page. On the team summary sheets, add more notes about the people who work on each team. Also, find out about Getting a Job at the CIA. Then, take the CIA Museum Tour to see what some intelligence agents created that contributed to intelligence as a profession and to technologies useful to the general public.

Before leaving the CIA site, check out the History of American Intelligence. For each era, list the equipment and events highlighted. Discuss with one or more classmates the importance of creative thinking in the field of intelligence.

The Intelligence Community

A U.S. intelligence agent searching Iraqi documents for information.The CIA is an interesting and important intelligence agency, however, it is part of a much larger group, referred to as the United States Intelligence Community (IC). Find out who Leads the IC, what this individual does, and how this position was created. Then, discover Who We Are, summarizing the Definition of the IC and its Relationships with Other Government Organizations. Draw a diagram that helps illustrate the key relationships explained in the Leadership and Who We Are sections. Where does the CIA fit in as a Member of the IC?

Now, examine What We Do. Discuss with one or more classmates the importance of intelligence being timely, accurate, objective, and relevant. Continue browsing through this section to learn about The Intelligence Process. Using the Intelligence Cycle diagram you created earlier at the CIA site, summarize any additional notes as you research the cycle here —from Planning and Direction, to Collection, to Processing and Exploitation, to Analysis and Production, and Dissemination.

On another sheet of paper, list and define Threats Facing the United States. Next, read about The Intelligence Community at Work. Discuss with one or more classmates what kinds of professional and personal experiences, at each step in the Intelligence Cycle, can help in collecting, processing and analyzing intelligence. On your diagram, list one or two examples of a skill for each step.

Finish by investigating Is the IC Right for You? Read through the expectations and benefits listed on the page, and then check out the various Intelligence Community Careers. As you explore the career areas listed here—Analysis, Science & Technology, Information Technology, Intelligence Collection, and Language, summarize each on a half sheet of paper. In which career areas do employees on the four different CIA teams fit? Also, for each career area, list five or more skills or fields of academic study that are especially useful to people working in that career sector. Draw a star next to at least one career area you might find interesting. Discuss your choices with classmates.

Newspaper Activities

Choose an international news story from The Sacramento Bee featuring events that have threatened or may in the future threaten the security of the United States. Track related events over one or more weeks as needed to gain an understanding of the situation. Note specific locations, key figures, and other reported details, such as how intelligence was collected, analyzed, or disseminated. You may wish to supplement your reading with other research about the region or relations between people or countries involved. Use the notes and diagrams you summarized during the lesson and choose a career position that you can imagine had a role in the current event news. Using all of your notes, write a first-person narrative describing your active role in the event. Write it as if you were writing a diary entry or as a section in your post-career memoir. Make sure to include details, such as listing any equipment you used, describing relevant duties you performed, explaining why those duties were critical to the Intelligence Cycle, and naming or describing other people in the Intelligence Cycle with whom you communicated and for what purpose. How did you feel about the outcome of your work related to this event?

Weekly News Topics

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