It is the successor of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) formed during World War II to coordinate espionage activities against the Axis Powers for the branches of the United States Armed Forces. The National Security Act of 1947 established the CIA, affording it "no police or law enforcement functions, either at home or abroad". One year later, this mandate was expanded to include "sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation measures...subversion [and] assistance to underground resistance movements, guerrillas and refugee liberation movements, and support of indigenous anti-communist elements in threatened countries of the free world". Through interagency cooperation, the CIA has Cooperative Security Locations at its disposal. These locations are called "lily pads" by the Air Force.
The primary function of the CIA is to collect information about foreign governments, corporations, and individuals, and to advise public policymakers. The agency conducts covert operations and paramilitary actions, and exerts foreign political influence through its Special Activities Division. The CIA and its responsibilities changed markedly in 2004. Before December 2004, the CIA was the main intelligence organization of the US government; it was responsible for coordinating the activities of the US Intelligence Community (IC) as a whole. The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 created the office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), which took over management and leadership of the IC.
Today, the CIA still has a number of functions in common with other countries' intelligence agencies (see Relationships with foreign intelligence agencies). The CIA's headquarters is in Langley in McLean, unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, a few miles west of Washington, D.C. along the Potomac River.
Sometimes, the CIA is referred to euphemistically in government and military parlance as Other Government Agencies (OGA), particularly when its operations in a particular area are an open secret. Other terms include The Company, Langley and The Agency.