New website to open spy agency to public: CIA

February 8, 2011
The CIA symbol is shown on the floor of its headquarters in Langley, Virginia. The CIA has launched a revamped website with links to YouTube and Flickr to help the public better understand the spy agency's often clandestine work, officials said.

The CIA has launched a revamped website with links to YouTube and Flickr to help the public better understand the spy agency's often clandestine work, officials said.

"The idea behind these improvements is to make more information about the Agency available to more people, more easily," CIA Director Leon Panetta said in a statement on Monday.

"The CIA wants the American people and the world to understand its mission and its vital role in keeping our country safe," he said.

Although the Central Intelligence Agency's mission has always hinged on secrecy, the spy service is conscious of its public image -- partly for recruiting reasons -- and in recent years has added games and links for children on its website.

The CIA's new channel will offer "current and historical videos about the agency" and its Flickr site provides links to "copyright-free pictures from CIA.gov for easy access," the agency said.

The site already has a "kids' page" that includes games in which players can break a secret code. But it tries to play down the role of secret operations: "CIA employees gather intelligence (or information) in a variety of ways, not just by 'spying' like you see in the movies or on TV (though we do some of that, too)."

The CIA's reputation suffered Under former president George W. Bush, with the agency condemned for alleging Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction before the Iraq war and for employing harsh interrogation tactics against terror suspects that rights groups said amounted to torture.

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