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Top 10 Best Intelligence

Agencies in the World


Ministry of State Security (MSS)
Formed in 1983, the Ministry of State Security is the security agency and
intelligence agency of China. It is headquartered in Beijing and has 17 known
bureaus or divisions, including a counterintelligence division and a social
research division.

The MSS plays a central role in censoring the internet in China, cutting off the
population from the outside world and allowing the government to control
what influences the Chinese people. The agency is also responsible for
handling internal dissent and anything that might cause citizens to rebel
against the ruling Communist Party.

The MSS is heavily involved in economic espionage, with Chinese


telecommunications giant Huawei being a prime suspect in helping the agency
gather intelligence from around the world. With over 100,000 intelligence
personnel both inside and outside China, the MSS has been able to play its
part effectively, especially in regard to national security.

Australian Secret Intelligence


Service (ASIS)
Headquartered in Canberra, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service is the
Down Under equivalent of the Central Intelligence Agency. It mainly deals
with international or foreign intelligence and typically coordinates with other
similar agencies around the world.

The ASIS was formed in 1952, though the public remained unaware of its
existence until 1972 when Australian tabloid newspaper The Daily Telegraph
exposed the agency. Because you can always count on tabloids to dish out the
dirt on anything remotely controversial in a country.

Like many other intelligence agencies, the ASIS has been involved in a number
of incidents in the past. One of the most notable was in Papua New Guinea
almost three decades ago. Allegedly, the ASIS has been trying to suppress
independence movements in the country. The agency was also involved in the
September 1973 Chilean coup d’état, despite being ordered to pull out months
earlier.

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Canadian Security Intelligence
Service (CSIS)
Canada is one of the safest countries in the world. Most of the credit for
keeping the country safe goes to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service,
the main intelligence agency in Canada.

The CSIS handles everything related to Canada’s national security. Duties


include collecting intelligence, running covert operations, and advising the
government on potential security threats. The CSIS is also Canada’s
representative in the Five Eyes, an intelligence alliance between the US, the
UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The Five Eyes is considered one of
the most extensive espionage alliances in history, though it has long been
under public scrutiny for its methods.

Based in Ottawa, Ontario, the CSIS collects information from around the
world and weeds out anything that might pose a threat to Canada and its
citizens. However, the agency has a bit of a reputation for being too
aggressive when it comes to running its activities in the name of national
security.

Directorate-General for External


Security (DGSE)
Operating under the French Ministry of Defence, the Directorate-General for
External Security is the French equivalent of the Central Intelligence Agency.
It mainly deals with foreign intelligence and issues, with the Directorate-
General for Internal Security handling domestic affairs.

The DGSE conducts all manners of activities and operations relating to


national security, which include running human intelligence operations and
signals intelligence operations. However, almost all agency operations are kept
under wraps and away from the public eye. Not much is known about the
agency’s past and ongoing operations.

The DGSE played a significant role during the Rwandan Civil War in the
1990s. The agency had the task of spreading false information, which laid the
groundwork for increased French involvement during the late stages of the
war. The DGSE also had a role during the Kosovo War between the Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia and the Kosovo Liberation Army.

Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)


The foreign intelligence agency of India probably has the least conspicuous
name out of all intelligence agencies in the world. Outsiders might even think
it’s just a non-government organization. But don’t be fooled by the agency
name – the Research and Analysis Wing is one of the most capable in the
world.
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Formed in 1968 to specifically deal with foreign intelligence, the RAW plays an
instrumental role in keeping India protected against terrorist attacks and
monitoring developments in other countries which could directly affect India.
However, the RAW is extremely secretive. Not much is known about its
activities and past operations, which is a good thing.

The RAW regularly coordinates with other intelligence agencies and


presumably has intelligence officers stationed all over the world. In particular,
the agency regularly communicates with other well-known agencies such as
the Central Intelligence Agency and Mossad in regard to monitoring
Pakistan’s nuclear program.

Federal Intelligence Service (BND)


The Bundesnachrichtendienst or the Federal Intelligence Service is the foreign
intelligence agency of Germany. It was formed in 1956 and directly reports to
the German Chancellery. Being the only overseas intelligence agency in the
country, it is responsible for gathering both military and civil intelligence.

The BND is tasked with detecting all possible threats to German interests and
national security from overseas. The agency gathers information on terrorism,
nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, organized crime,
drug and illegal human trafficking, and illegal migration.

The BND is known for mainly utilizing wiretapping and electronic espionage
to collect information, a tactic often scrutinized by the public. As with other
intelligence agencies, most of the activities and operations of the BND are
classified. But it’s probably safe to assume that the agency has eyes and ears
on major communication lines, recording conversations with no regard for
privacy.

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)


The Central Intelligence Agency is the foreign intelligence agency of the US. It
collects information from overseas, with minimal information collection
within the country. It is the most popular and easily recognizable intelligence
agency in the world, mainly due to its numerous appearances in Hollywood
movies.

The CIA was formed in 1947, making it one of the oldest intelligence agencies
on this list. The agency is tasked with monitoring overseas developments that
might threaten the US, especially relating to terrorism and nuclear weapons
and other weapons of mass destruction. The agency also handles
counterintelligence and cyber warfare.

Apart from gathering information, the CIA also runs covert paramilitary
operations. The track record of the CIA is a mixed bag, though, based on
publicly known past operations. The agency has been involved in numerous
scandals and controversies over the years, the chief reason why it is only
ranked fourth on our list of the top 10 best intelligence agencies in the world.

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Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR)
The Foreign Intelligence Service is the civilian foreign intelligence agency of
the Russian Federation. It is the successor to the First Chief Directorate of the
KGB and works closely with the Main Intelligence Directorate, the military
foreign intelligence agency of Russia.

Unlike the primary security agency of Russia, the Federal Security Service,
which mainly deals with internal affairs, the SVR is responsible for gathering
intelligence outside the country. The SVR is tasked with running various forms
of espionage, including military and economic espionage, and conducting
electronic surveillance in foreign countries.

Headquartered in the Yasenevo District of Moscow, the SVR has also been
involved in alleged assassinations abroad and internet disinformation. Since
Russia is allied with China, it can be presumed that the SVR regularly
cooperates with Chinese intelligence agencies.

Secret Intelligence Service (SIS)


The Secret Intelligence Service is the foreign intelligence agency of the UK.
Commonly known as MI6, it is the second-most popular agency on this list, a
distinction it owes to the James Bond movies. Like almost all the other
agencies on this list, the MI6 primarily deals with external affairs, leaving
internal affairs to the MI5.

The MI6 gathers and analyzes information from overseas. It focuses on


information related to terrorism, nuclear weapons, drug trafficking, organized
crime, and other activities that could threaten the UK’s interests and national
security. It also coordinates with other foreign intelligence agencies such as
the Central Intelligence Agency.

The MI6 was formed more than 100 years ago, making it one of the oldest
intelligence agencies in the world. Its track record is far from immaculate,
however. In recent years, it has been involved in controversies relating to how
it handles its operations. Most infamously, there have been reports that the
agency employs torture and extraordinary rendition.

Mossad
Mossad is the national intelligence agency of Israel, one of the top 10 countries
with the most powerful nuclear weapons in the world. It is one of the three
branches of the Israeli Intelligence Community – the other two being Shin Bet
and Aman, which handles internal security and military intelligence,
respectively.

Mossad mainly deals with foreign intelligence, collecting information on


overseas developments that might threaten Israeli interests and security. The
agency runs covert operations and has its own counter-terrorist unit, the

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Kidon. Not much is known about the unit other than it is supposedly
composed of elite assassins.

Like other foreign intelligence agencies, Mossad cooperates with other similar
entities from other countries. It has been reported that Mossad cooperates
with Middle Eastern countries, with the common topic being Iran’s nuclear
program. Mossad has also cooperated with the Central Intelligence Agency
and the Research and Analysis Wing in the past.

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National Intelligence
Coordinating Agency

The National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) was created by virtue of


Executive Order (EO) 235 signed by then President Elpidio Quirino on 7 July 1949 in
response to the need for a central entity that would coordinate the intelligence collection
activities of the various government instrumentalities. As such, the NICA was
responsible for coordination all government activities relative to national intelligence
and preparing national intelligence estimates of local and foreign situations for the
formulation of national policies by the President.

In 1958, under the Reorganization Plan 54-A as implemented by EO 291, the NICA was
given the legal and specific powers and functions to carry out more effectively its
mission of providing guidance in decision-making and national policy formulation.

Following the declaration of martial law, the President Ferdinand Marcos signed
Presidential Decree 51 on 16 November 1972, abolishing NICA and creating the National
Intelligence and Security Authority (NISA). The NISA had the same mission as the old
organization but the broader powers. The Director General (DG), NISA had direct
supervision over the National Security Council Secretariat, functional direction and
control over the Civil Intelligence and Security Agency (CISA) as well as the intelligence
functions of the AFP Intelligence Community. The CISA was responsible primarily for
counterintelligence and exercised functional supervision and control over civil security
units of all governmental offices. The DG, NISA was also the Chairman of the National
Intelligence Board, which served as his advisory body on matters pertaining to the
integration and coordination of intelligence activities.

The EDSA people power revolution in February 1986 ushered in changes in the
organization. With the issuance of EO 246 on 24 July 1987, the NISA and CISA were
abolished to pave the way for the creation of the present NICA.

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The Intelligence Cycle is the process of developing raw information into finished
intelligence for policymakers to use in decisionmaking and action. There are five steps
which constitute the Intelligence Cycle.

1. Planning and Direction

This is management of the entire effort, from identifying the need for data to delivering
an intelligence product to a consumer. It is the beginning and the end of the cycle--the
beginning because it involves drawing up specific collection requirements and the end
because finished intelligence, which supports policy decisions, generates new
requirements.

The whole process depends on guidance from public officials. Policymakers--the


President, his aides, the National Security Council, and other major departments and
agencies of government--initiate requests for intelligence.

2. Collection

...is the gathering of the raw information needed to produce finished intelligence. There
are many sources of information including open sources such as foreign broadcasts,
newspapers, periodicals, and books. Open source reporting is integral to CIA's analytical
capabilities. There are also secret sources of information. CIA's operations officers
collect such information from agents abroad and from defectors who provide
information obtainable in no other way.

Finally, technical collection--electronics and satellite photography--plays an


indispensable role in modern intelligence, such as monitoring arms control agreements
and providing direct support to military forces.

3. Processing

...involves converting the vast amount of information collected to a form usable by


analysts through decryption, language translations, and data reduction.

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4. All Source Analysis and Production

...is the conversion of basic information into finished intelligence. It includes


integrating, evaluating, and analyzing all available data--which is often fragmentary and
even contradictory--and preparing intelligence products. Analysts, who are subject-
matter specialists, consider the information's reliability, validity, and relevance. They
integrate data into a coherent whole, put the evaluated information in context, and
produce finished intelligence that includes assessments of events and judgments about
the implications of the information for the United States.

The CIA devotes the bulk of its resources to providing strategic intelligence to
policymakers. It performs this important function by monitoring events, warning
decisionmakers about threats to the United States, and forecasting developments. The
subjects involved may concern different regions, problems, or personalities in various
contexts--political, geographic, economic, military, scientific, or biographic. Current
events, capabilities, and future trends are examined.

The CIA produces numerous written reports, which may be brief--one page or less--or
lengthy studies. They may involve current intelligence, which is of immediate
importance, or long-range assessments. The Agency presents some finished intelligence
in oral briefings. The CIA also participates in the drafting and production of National
Intelligence Estimates, which reflect the collective judgments of the Intelligence
Community.

5. Dissemination

The last step, which logically feeds into the first, is the distribution of the finished
intelligence to the consumers, the same policymakers whose needs initiated the
intelligence requirements. Finished intelligence is hand-carried daily to the President
and key national security advisers. The policymakers, the recipients of finished
intelligence, then make decisions based on the information, and these decisions may
lead to the levying of more requirements, thus triggering the Intelligence Cycle.

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