The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is an agency of the United States federal government tasked with collecting and analyzing national security information from around the world through the use of human intelligence. Technically, you could say that the headquarters for the CIA is located in both Langley and McLean, Virginia but “Langley” is actually the name of the neighborhood in McLean in which the CIA resides. Before the town of McLean was founded in 1910, the CIA Headquarters was just known to be located in Langley, and despite the name change in 1910, the name “Langley” is still used to describe the McLean neighborhood where the CIA is located.
The CIA headquarters is located at 1000 Colonial Farm Road in McLean, Virginia and can be reached from George Washington Memorial Parkway. Due to a need for secrecy, however, the complex can only be accessed by those with the appropriate credentials or through appointment, and only authorized vehicles are granted access to the private road that leads to the complex from George Washington Memorial Parkway.
In 1959, the Federal government started the plan for the original Central Intelligence Agency headquarters with President Dwight Eisenhower laying the cornerstone, and in 1961 construction was completed, adding another chapter to McLean’s long and exciting history. The Original Headquarters Building contains 1,400,000 square feet of space and was designed by the New York firm Harrison & Abramovitz. The New Headquarters Building was completed in 1991 and was designed by Smith, Hinchman and Grylls Associated who broke the ground for construction in 1984. The New Headquarters Building complex adjoins two six-story office buildings and connects to the Original Headquarters Building (OHB) via a tunnel.
The CIA headquarters is also formally known as the George Bush Center for Intelligence but wasn’t officially named until April 26, 1999, through the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1999. It was named in honor of George H.W. Bush who served as the Director of Central Intelligence between January 30th, 1976 and January 20th, 1977. George H.W. Bush later served as the 41st President of the United States.
The CIA gives its reports to the Director of National Intelligence and focuses on providing intelligence information to the President and the Cabinet. The CIA has no law enforcement function like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) does, but that is because it is mainly focuses on gathering intelligence from overseas and is limited in collecting intelligence domestically.
The CIA Museum is also located in McLean, Virginia and holds declassified items relating to the CIA, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), and foreign intelligence organizations. It is a national archive for the collection and preservation of these intelligence artifacts and history, and currently, the collection holds about 3,500 items. Some of the declassified items include historical spy gadgets, weapons, and photographs but the because the museum is located within the CIA compound, it is not accessible to the general public. However, the CIA Museum does have public exhibitions in partnership with the Presidential Libraries and other major museums to promote a greater understanding of the craft of intelligence and its role in the American experience.