An intelligence agency is a government agency responsible for the collection, analysis, and exploitation of information and intelligence in support of law enforcement, national security, military, and foreign policy objectives.
National security is a concept that a government, along with its parliaments, should protect the state and its citizens against all kind of "national" crises through a variety of power projections, such as political power, diplomacy, economic power, military might, and so on.
A government or state agency, often an appointed commission, is a permanent or semi-permanent organization in the machinery of government that is responsible for the oversight and administration of specific functions, such as an intelligence agency.
Law enforcement is any system by which some members of society act in an organized manner to enforce the law by discovering, deterring, rehabilitating, or punishing people who violate the rules and norms governing that society.
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Means of information gathering are both overt and covert and may include espionage, communication interception, cryptanalysis, cooperation with other institutions, and evaluation of public sources.
Espionage is the obtaining of information considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information.
Cryptanalysis is the study of analyzing information systems in order to study the hidden aspects of the systems.
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The assembly and propagation of this information is known as intelligence analysis or intelligence assessment.
Intelligence assessment is the development of forecasts of behavior or recommended courses of action to the leadership of an organisation, based on a wide range of available information sources both overt and covert.
Intelligence analysis is the application of individual and collective cognitive methods to weigh data and test hypotheses within a secret socio-cultural context.
Intelligence agencies can provide the following services for their national governments.
Provision of analysis in areas relevant to national security;
Give early warning of impending crises;
Serve national and international crisis management by helping to discern the intentions of current or potential opponents;
Crisis management is the process by which an organization deals with a disruptive and unexpected event that threatens to harm the organization, its stakeholders, or the general public.
Inform national defense planning and military operations;
A military operation is the coordinated military actions of a state, or a non-state actor, in response to a developing situation.
Protect sensitive information secrets, both of their own sources and activities, and those of other state agencies;
May act covertly to influence the outcome of events in favor of national interests, or influence international security; and
International security, also called global security, refers to the amalgamation of measures taken by states and international organizations, such as the United Nations, European Union, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and others, to ensure mutual survival and safety.
The national interest, often referred to by the French expression raison d'État, is a country's goals and ambitions whether economic, military, or cultural.
Defense against the efforts of other national intelligence agencies.
There is a distinction between "security intelligence" and "foreign intelligence".
Security intelligence pertains to domestic threats.
Foreign intelligence involves information collection relating to the political, or economic activities of foreign states.
Some agencies have been involved in assassination, arms trafficking, coups d'état, and the placement of misinformation as well as other covert operations, in order to support their own or their governments' interests.
Assassination is the murder of a prominent person, often a political leader or ruler, usually for political reasons or payment.
Arms trafficking, also known as gunrunning, is the trafficking of contraband weapons and ammunition.