Series such as Treadstone has publicized the Central Investigation Agency (CIA) as a unit in the government where it uses humans as bait for national security purposes, which begs the question, is this what the agency entails? True to its mission, the CIA is tasked with evaluating and investigating matters concerning the security of the United States of America. In various series and movies that portray the works of the CIA, some people try to camouflage with the society, mostly criminals and try to do a crackdown by weaving together warning signs of attacks to prevent a national catastrophe. However, through the CIA’s deeds of protecting the nation and fulfilling its mission, the media has been able to portray the CIA as an investigative unit with unnecessary involvement in foreign matters, heavily politicized, and agents going rogue; thus deviating from its sole purpose and causing the CIA effect.
The CIA is organized in various departments to be able to function diligently and provide efficient investigators. Such an agency is tasked with the investigation, analysis, and management of foreign attacks (Hess, 2013). The most common type of CIAs seen in the media such as The Parallax View is the “assets” who are referred to as the Directorate of Operations that collect information and carry out actions against the threats to national security. This department is where the gruesome and martial art gurus originate from in movies. Nonetheless, there is the Directorate of Intelligence department which analyzes events to come up with a conclusive report about the defense strategies and attacks. Thirdly, there is the Directorate of Administration, which ensures there is efficient leadership and allocation of duties. The Directorate of Science and Technology, on the other hand, consists of the people running the CIA operations behind monitors in movies. They ensure safe big data collection and storage. An effective CIA operative is trustworthy, patriotic, and integral. These departments ensure the smooth running of the CIA.
The CIA has gained prominence in the public eye, not only through the prejudiced view in the media but also from past accounts in the agency because of unnecessary involvement in foreign affairs. For instance, in 1990, the CIA was involved in the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, where Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait to gain more oil-producing territories in the Middle East, which fueled unnecessary political unrest and caused the beginning of the Gulf War (Eyth, 2002). The overstretching of a foreign incident and thinking that it would affect the country means taking sides with one country, which causes political unrest across the globe.
Additionally, the CIA has been portrayed as a heavily politicized agency. In most movies, the president and other politicians call the shots on how the CIA is run. In 2021, Mark Warner, a senator, published his statements with the Washington Post during a webinar noting that the CIA has been politicized for the government to benefit such as the Worldwide Threat Assessment where the country was involved in the killing of Qasem Soleimani (Warner, 2021). According to the CIA’s missions and goals, it is fundamental that the agency adheres to the president’s needs. During the Trump administration, Mark Warner notes that the CIA was forced to analyze events in alignment with the president’s beliefs. Yes, the agency was doing its work by following orders from the president. However, there was an enigma with the moral encompass of the organization in discerning what is right and what is wrong without following directives from the president. Nonetheless, there was the fear of “stepping on the president’s toes” which would lead to retrenchment such as the instance where the president fired General Michael Atkinson (). Such a fear of the president leads to the politicization of the CIA, which does not benefit the country.
Nonetheless, the CIA has had a track record of rogue assets that jeopardize national security, which undermines the agency’s role in the country. In1994, Aldrich Ames, a CIA asset was working against the American government and collaborated with the Soviet Union for eight years, a move that was on the verge of bringing the United States of America down (Eyth, 2002). The CIA has had a history of using Americans as baits or human sources for information, which puts their lives at risk. Others choose to go rogue for their interests such as Frank Terpil who helped in supplying arms to other countries (Eyth, 2002).. However, when the assets’ lives are at stake, some of them are forced to reveal some national and important secrets that they may use to levy for their lives.
The media has successfully cast the CIA effect as a villain in most of the television shows such as in Quantico season 2, Three Days of Condor, and Treadstone; which is true. Various shows show unnecessary involvement of the agency in a foreign matter which instigate more fury. Additionally, the CIA has been politicized in various news posts, especially in the Trump administration where the president controlled the agency to his beck and call; and due to its allegiance to the president, the agency has to follow suit. Other than that, television shows often have a character that has gone rogue for their self-interest or saving their lives such as in Nikita. The CIA effect is a legitimate phenomenon seen through rogue assets, unnecessary involvement of the agency in foreign matters, and politicization of the agency.
Eyth, M. (2002). The CIA and Covert Operations: To Disclose or Not to Disclose-That is the Question. BYU J. Pub. L., 17, 45.
Hess Orthmann, C., & MATISON HESS, K. (2013). Criminal investigation.
Warner, M. (2021). “117th Congress: Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.)”. The Washington Post. Web.