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When you think of the Central Intelligence Agency or CIA, you probably think of elite special agents like James Bond. While the CIA does make an appearance in many spy thrillers, the real history of this mysterious agency is much more complex and interesting than fiction would lead you to believe. If you've ever tried to read up on the history of the CIA, you've probably found some contradicting information, since much of its work remains secret to this day.

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1. Wartime Intelligence

World War II was a conflict like no other the world had ever seen. In addition to its unprecedented scale, rapid technological advances were entirely changing the way wars were fought. To keep up, the United States created the Office of the Coordinator of Information (COI) in 1941. This agency collected and coordinated all intelligence collected by the military, FBI and State Department, which previously had all been working somewhat independently and sometimes missing important details as a result. The COI largely worked within the U.S. by gathering information and debriefing refugees and defectors who arrived in the country.

Fred Ramage / Stringer / Getty Images

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