Intelligence Cycle is the process by which information is acquired,
converted into intelligence, and made available to policymakers.
Information is raw data from any source, data
that may be fragmentary, contradictory, unreliable, ambiguous,
deceptive, or wrong. Intelligence
is information that has been collected, integrated, evaluated,
analyzed, and interpreted. Finished intelligence is the
final product of the Intelligence Cycle ready to be delivered
to the policymaker.
The three types of finished intelligence are: basic,
current, and estimative. Basic intelligence provides the fundamental
and factual reference material on a country or issue. Current
intelligence reports on new developments. Estimative intelligence
judges probable outcomes. The three are mutually supportive:
basic intelligence is the foundation on which the other two
are constructed; current intelligence continually updates the inventory of knowledge; and estimative intelligence
revises overall interpretations of country and issue prospects
for guidance of basic and current
intelligence. The World Factbook, The President's
Daily Brief, and the National Intelligence Estimates
are examples of the three types of finished intelligence.
The United States has carried on foreign
intelligence activities since the days of George Washington
but only since World War II have they been coordinated on a
government-wide basis. Three programs have highlighted the development
of coordinated basic intelligence since that time: (1) the
Joint Army Navy Intelligence Studies (JANIS), (2) the
National Intelligence Survey (NIS), and (3) The World
During World War II, intelligence consumers
realized that the production of basic intelligence by different
components of the US Government resulted in a great duplication
of effort and conflicting information. The Japanese attack on
Pearl Harbor in 1941 brought home to leaders in Congress and
the executive branch the need for integrating departmental reports
to national policymakers. Detailed and coordinated information
was needed not only on such major powers as Germany and Japan,
but also on places of little previous interest. In the Pacific
Theater, for example, the Navy and Marines had to launch amphibious
operations against many islands about which information was
unconfirmed or nonexistent. Intelligence authorities resolved
that the United States should never again be caught unprepared.
In 1943, Gen. George B. Strong (G-2),
Adm. H. C. Train (Office of Naval Intelligence - ONI), and Gen.
William J. Donovan (Director of the Office of Strategic Services
- OSS) decided that a joint effort should be initiated. A steering
committee was appointed on 27 April 1943 that recommended the
formation of a Joint Intelligence Study Publishing Board to
assemble, edit, coordinate, and publish the Joint Army Navy
Intelligence Studies (JANIS). JANIS was the first interdepartmental
basic intelligence program to fulfill the needs of the US Government
for an authoritative and coordinated appraisal of strategic
basic intelligence. Between April 1943 and July 1947, the board
published 34 JANIS studies. JANIS performed well in the war
effort, and numerous letters of commendation were received,
including a statement from Adm. Forrest Sherman, Chief of Staff,
Pacific Ocean Areas, which said, "JANIS has become the
indispensable reference work for the shore-based planners."
The need for more comprehensive basic
intelligence in the postwar world was well expressed in 1946
by George S. Pettee, a noted author on national security. He
wrote in The Future of American Secret Intelligence (Infantry
Journal Press, 1946, page 46) that world leadership in peace
requires even more elaborate intelligence than in war. "The
conduct of peace involves all countries, all human activities
- not just the enemy and his war production."
The Central Intelligence Agency was established on 26
July 1947 and officially began operating on 18 September 1947.
Effective 1 October 1947, the Director of Central Intelligence
assumed operational responsibility for JANIS. On 13 January
1948, the National Security Council issued Intelligence Directive
(NSCID) No. 3, which authorized the National Intelligence
Survey (NIS) program as a peacetime replacement for the
wartime JANIS program. Before adequate NIS country sections
could be produced, government agencies had to develop more comprehensive
gazetteers and better maps. The US Board on Geographic Names
(BGN) compiled the names; the Department of the Interior produced
the gazetteers; and CIA produced the maps.
The Hoover Commission's Clark Committee,
set up in 1954 to study the structure and administration of
the CIA, reported to Congress in 1955 that: "The National
Intelligence Survey is an invaluable publication which provides
the essential elements of basic intelligence on all areas of
the world. There will always be a continuing requirement for keeping the
Survey up-to-date." The Factbook was created as
an annual summary and update to the encyclopedic NIS studies.
The first classified Factbook was published in August
1962, and the first unclassified version was published in June
1971. The NIS program was terminated in 1973 except for the
Factbook, map, and gazetteer components. The 1975 Factbook
was the first to be made available to the public with sales
through the US Government Printing Office (GPO).
The year 2002 marks the 55th anniversary of the establishment
of the Central Intelligence Agency and the 59th year of continuous
basic intelligence support to the US Government by The World
Factbook and its two predecessor programs.