Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) was an open source intelligence component of the Central Intelligence Agency's Directorate of Science and Technology. It monitored, translated, and disseminated within the U.S. government openly available news and information from media sources outside the United States. Its headquarters was in Reston, Virginia Template:Coord, and it maintained 19 overseas monitoring stations worldwide. In November 2005, it was announced that FBIS would become the newly-formed Open Source Center, tasked with the collection and analysis of freely-available intelligence.Template:Ref


In February 1941, President Roosevelt directed that $150,000 be allocated for creation of the Foreign Broadcast Monitoring Service (FBMS) under the authority of the Federal Communications Commission. The mandate of the FBMS was to record, translate, transcribe and analyze shortwave propaganda radio programs that were being beamed at the United States by the Axis powers. Its first monitoring station was established October 1941 in Portland, Oregon.

With the end of World War II, the FBMS was transferred to the Department of the Army. Like many other wartime organizations, the FBMS was threatened with disbandment. The possibility of its disbandment was roundly criticized in many different quarters, which helped ensure its survival.

In the 1947 the National Security Act of 1947, was created and the FBMS was renamed the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) as a part of the CIA. Its original mission was centered on radio and press agency monitoring. But with the Cold War, FBIS' mission was expanded in 1967 to include foreign mass media whether it was transmitted by radio or TV, and print.


FBIS had 19 stations that were located around the world. These stations operated as an adjacent of a U.S. embassy/consulate or military command. These stations were not covert and operated with the consent of the host government. The personnel in these stations were both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals who were responsible for the collection, translation, and dissemination of foreign open source material. Depending on location, and the availability of print media, these personnel may have been responsible for translation of more than one language. It should also be noted that because of the large number print/radio/TV/satellite sources worldwide FBIS did not collect all open source material, but only those sources that met the requirements of the Intelligence Community.

Besides the translations done overseas a large volume of less-time sensitive material was sent to FBIS headquarters in Reston where a more detailed translation can take place.

Not only were translations provided by in-house FBIS personnel, but approximately 700 independent contractors were also employed.


Material provided by FBIS was disseminated to over 700 recipients in not only in the U.S. Intelligence Community, but also a large number of government, diplomatic and military organizations.

In the newsEdit

Saving FBIS from budget cutsEdit

The Federation of American Scientists launched a successful campaign in 1997 to save FBIS from planned budget cuts.

The Larry Chin spy incidentEdit

Larry Wu-Tai Chin worked for FBIS from 1952 to 1981 and sold classified documents to China.

Similar outfits around the worldEdit

Australia: Office of National AssessmentsEdit

Office of National Assessments.

Open Source Unit, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Britain: BBC MonitoringEdit

China: Xinhua News AgencyEdit

Xinhua News Agency collects published information in other countries and circulates, for mid- and high-level internal consumption, publications such as Reference Information (Cankao Ziliao), Internal Reference (Neibu Cankao), and "Redhead" Reference (Hongtou Cankao).

Further readingEdit


Specified referencesEdit

  1. Template:Note Template:Cite news

External linksEdit

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