Civilian intelligence agencies are difficult to classify by definition. Their responsibilities and powers of legal enforcement vary widely by country and agency. As a general rule, they work outside the guidelines laid out for police and military agencies. They frequently have no ability to enforce the law, either at home or abroad. As one might imagine, this often forces agents to resort to unsanctioned tactics.

Most civilian organizations have a primary stated function to collect information about foreign governments, corporations, and individuals, and to advise public policymakers. Organizations are also known to conduct covert operations and paramilitary actions, and exert foreign political influence.

Last but not least, we have "civilian" groups. I put quotes around that because these so-called civilian groups can sometimes be the most dangerous of all. These are your CIAs. Your ASIS branches. They usually operate under a questionably defined charter. Sometimes in locations that are very difficult to police. Or their operations are off the books altogether. It's a rare CIA op that doesn't have at least one black bag component.

There are more legit groups, I'm sure. Ones that truly are run and staffed by civilians with civilian goals. I just don't know of any.

—I, Spy