Is there a Non-central Intelligence Agency?

Is there any particular reason for “Central” in CIA ?

It was intended to be a single, central spy agency, in part because of the lack of such an agency that might have foreseen and warned about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor:

Of course, it hasn’t quite worked out that way:

There are many intelligence agencies. NSA, FBI, DIA, various military intelligence corps, etc. all contribute to the national intelligence community.

Anywho, back in the day the Director of the CIA was the national leader for intelligence issues. The CIA made policies and any other agency that did collection followed the CIA’s standards. In return, all of the other agencies dump their intelligence into the CIA’s coffers, and it was the DCI’s job to put all the clues together and produce the final product (usually a national or strategic level intelligence estimate).

After 9/11 the government realized this wasn’t really working. Organizations were still keeping their information to themselves and didn’t want to share. So they created the Director of National Intelligence. Nowadays the Director of the CIA (D/CIA) is expected to run the CIA, and the DNI basically does the job the DCI used to do (coordinating national intelligence agencies).

By the way, this never actually fixed the problem of people not wanting to share.

Also, the CIA still controls the repositories where information reports get sent… so they are still “Central” in that sense.

I love the outlook of these agencies concerning secrets. If there’s no demonstrated need to share info, it stays in lockdown. Better to keep it locked in a hidden little box than risk a leak while transmitting it to someone else. There is a validity to this mindset in that it is much more secure. But as folks point out, there are unexpected benefits when one is able to share pieces of the big picture with other agencies.

And it works quite well when there’s nothing going on in the world.

Of course, that’s also the time when ignoring the world entirely would work equally well.

Well, this is a nitpick (sorry about that), but the FBI is actually a law enforcement agency that is also a member of the Intelligence Community (IC). The Drug Enforcement Administration is also a law enforcement agency in the IC.

There are 17 member agencies in the IC.

One of the major differences between, say the FBI and the more “traditional” intelligence agencies is that they are charged with law enforcement responsibilities (as is DEA). Every Federal or state law enforcement agencies I’ve ever worked with have intelligence analysts, but they are not necessarily considered members of the IC. Generally speaking, members of the IC serve explicit national security functions (like the DoD components, CIA, NSA, etc); FBI has the widest array of responsibilities in the civilian sector I can think of; DEA joined the IC in 2006 largely as a recognition of close historical partnership with national security efforts.

Again, sorry for a nitpick. State, Justice, Energy, and Homeland all have IC components; looks like DoJ is the only Department-level org that doesn’t enjoy IC membership from the top (there’s that whole “protecting citizens rights” angle, I suppose).

This is true. I’ve seen enough FBI and DEA intelligence analysts downrange and at interagency training that I think of them as contributors to the intelligence community even though their focus is law enforcement.