61 Items

Report - Intelligence Project

Report: Marking the CIA’s 75th Anniversary: Reflections on the Past, Visions of the Future

Since its creation in 1947, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been at the heart of supporting United States foreign policy and national security decision-making. From the early days of the Cold War to Russia’s war against Ukraine, the CIA has been a critical instrument of foreign intelligence collection, analysis, and operations. However, the CIA is often misunderstood, as its own work and history, particularly its successes, are rarely seen by the public. To help unpack this storied history, and in honor of the agency’s 75th anniversary, on September 16, 2022, former directors, officers, scholars, students, and the public gathered to discuss the past, present, and future of the agency. 

This report is derived from a conference hosted by the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center’s Intelligence Project. “Marking the CIA’s 75th Anniversary: Reflections on the Past, Visions of the Future” explored the agency’s history and inflection points that shaped US policy. Five panels examined successes, failures, popular culture, career trajectories, historical perspectives, and looked ahead to anticipate new requirements over the next 75 years. Participants reflected upon origins and evolution, specifically how the agency adapted to meet new challenges, and whether the organization has remained consistent with the original mission. Participants commented on accurate or misleading depictions in popular culture, agency relevance to US decision-making, how careers evolved alongside security environments, and efforts to strengthen trust between the intelligence community and public through increasingly transparent engagement. In sum, the CIA’s 75th Anniversary Conference at Harvard reflected on the agency’s past while yielding important lessons for the next generation. 

A man looks at a destroyed Russian tank placed as a symbol of war in downtown Kyiv, Ukraine

AP/Natacha Pisarenko, File

Journal Article - Texas National Security Review

What's Old Is New Again: Cold War Lessons for Countering Disinformation

| Fall 2022

Hostile foreign states are using weaponized information to attack the United States. Russia and China are disseminating disinformation about domestic U.S. race relations and COVID-19 to undermine and discredit the U.S. government. These information warfare attacks, which threaten U.S. national security, may seem new, but they are not. Using an applied history methodology and a wealth of previously classified archival records, this article uses two case studies to reveal how and why a hostile foreign state, the Soviet Union, targeted America with similar disinformation in the past

United Nations Secretariat Building, with Members States' flags flying in the foreground

Flickr CC/Rick Bajornas

Analysis & Opinions - The Cipher Brief

Soviet Espionage Under the Cover of Diplomacy

| Mar. 16, 2022

Immediately after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last month, the U.S. government expelled 13 Russian diplomats working at the United Nations (UN). It did so on the grounds they were Russian intelligence officers or operatives working under diplomatic cover. We do not know details about their alleged activities, but we do know something for certain: the Kremlin has a long history of using the UN for espionage.

Photo of a Russian armored personnel carrier burning amid damaged and abandoned light utility vehicles after fighting in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022. The city authorities said that Ukrainian forces engaged in fighting with Russian troops that entered the country's second-largest city on Sunday.

(AP Photo/Marienko Andrew)

News - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Impacts of Russia’s War in Ukraine

Belfer Center experts in security, intelligence, cyber, nuclear, and energy offer analysis and insight into Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

A Russian tank rolls during a military drills at Molkino training ground in the Krasnodar region, Russia, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021.

AP Photo

News - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Russian Troops Near Ukraine’s Border: How Should the West Respond?

With Ukrainian forces on high alert as Russia continues to amass troops on the border, we asked Belfer Center experts to outline America’s national security interests in the region and to identify any steps they believe Western forces should take to thwart Vladimir Putin’s aims.

peace marchers pass shoulder to shoulder in front of the White House

AP File

Journal Article - Journal of Applied History

Spying on Americans: US Intelligence, Race Protests, and Dissident Movements

| 2021

Protests against racism erupt in cities across America. A White House, under siege, believes a vast conspiracy is at work, and, to uncover it, instigates a policy to spy on Americans. This is not the United States in 2020, but half a century earlier. Using a wealth of declassified records, this article explores a domestic intelligence collection program (CHAOS) instigated by two  successive US administrations and conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

tourists ride classic convertible cars on the Malecon beside the United States Embassy in Havana, Cuba.

AP Photo/Desmond Boylan

Report - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Report – Havana Syndrome: American Officials Under Attack

| Nov. 04, 2021

In September 2021, the CIA recalled its Vienna station chief reportedly over his response to a series of “anomalous health incidents” experienced by over two dozen personnel. These incidents mark the latest entry in a series of mysterious afflictions more commonly referred to as “Havana Syndrome.”