RAF C-130 Hercules taxis across desert Helmand Province, Afghanistan

RAF C-130 Hercules taxis across desert Helmand Province, Afghanistan

In an increasingly complicated and dangerous world, the work of U.S. intelligence agencies has never been more vital and more difficult. As it acts on the international scene, the U.S. government obtains information and analysis from myriad sources, including foreign service officers, journalists and other governments. Most of this involves information from public sources. In government-speak, it is unclassified.

There is another major stream of information and analysis, often covering the same subjects, derived from sources that someone or some government wants kept secret. This is where the CIA, the NSA and other components of the “intelligence community” come in. In the lingo of their craft, they often work in or on “denied areas” and their sources and output are classified, i.e., secret.

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