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Center for the Study of Intelligence

CSI Timeline
"The Center for the Study of Intelligence seeks to promote study, debate, and understanding of the role of intelligence in American society."
View CSI Timeline Key | View CSI Publications.

Founded in 1974, the Center for the Study of Intelligence (CSI) was formed as a result of DCI James Schlesinger's desire to create within CIA an organization that could "think through the functions of intelligence and bring the best intellects available to bear on intelligence problems." Since then, CSI has attempted to document lessons learned from past operations and analysis, to develop innovative solutions to today's intelligence challenges, and to explore the needs and expectations of intelligence customers.

Today, CSI has three core missions: to inform the decisions of key Agency leaders, to write the authoritative history of the CIA, and to enhance the public's understanding of the role of intelligence in national security. To support these activities, CSI publishes books and monographs as well as a quarterly journal, Studies in Intelligence, which since 1955 has covered historical, operational, doctrinal, and theoretical aspects of the practice of intelligence. CSI also regularly organizes classified and unclassified conferences and symposia that contribute to these three core missions. CSI contains the CIA History Staff and the CIA Museum; it also maintains the Historical Intelligence Collection in the CIA Library.

CIA History Staff

The CIA History Staff, founded in 1951, comprises professionally trained historians with internationally recognized expertise in the history of CIA and American intelligence. Staff historians write classified and unclassified histories, edit collections of declassified documents for public symposia, lecture in Agency training courses and classes at American universities, and serve CIA and the Intelligence Community as a reference service.

Staff historians work closely with their colleagues in the federal government and academia, as well as with archivists and records managers both in CIA and other federal agencies. Outside CIA, the Department of State is the most important beneficiary of the Staff's knowledge of CIA history. Staff historians assist State historians in identifying and locating Agency records for inclusion in the State Department's Foreign Relations of the United States series, the official documentary record of American diplomatic history.

Outreach Programs

Several of CSI's programs serve to increase the public's understanding of the role of intelligence in the national security process. Foremost among these is the Officer-in-Residence Program, which CSI manages on behalf of the Agency. This program allows CIA officers to teach intelligence-related courses at universities during two-year tours as visiting professors.

CSI regularly sponsors conferences and symposia in cooperation with public universities such as Princeton, Georgetown, and Texas A&M. Such events provide a forum for practitioners and scholars to exchange views, discuss newly-released information, review the history of intelligence, or formulate recommendations for dealing with issues of current concern to the Community.

Finally, the CIA History Staff identifies historically important Agency documents and collections for declassification review and release to the American people. Agency historians consult with and assist reviewers to ensure that, when possible, CIA makes its history a matter of public record.