The people and principles behind @CIA

For over 60 years the Central Intelligence Agency has cultivated a hardened image, quietly ruling the shadowy world of intelligence.

But in June the CIA joined a very different world, blazing in with 61 characters:

Within minutes it was the tweet heard round the world, reports CBS News correspondent Julianna Goldman.

"We had 1,000 new followers joining us a minute around the world, and we were just watching this on the computers, just stunned," said CIA director of public affairs Dean Boyd.

CIA opens Twitter account

He said the agency took to Twitter to control their message.

"There's a serious appetite for information about our agency out there and I think some of the things we've put out there about our history -- there's some incredible stories here that have been declassified," Boyd said.

The posts from the @CIA account include mentions of anniversaries of CIA missions and facts from the "CIA World Fact Book."

They also highlight real-life James Bond-esque tools of the spy trade.

An aerial extraction method called the skyhook featured in Sean Connery's "Thunderball," was created by the CIA in the 1950s, but even 60 years later wowed audiences in the Batman thriller, "The Dark Knight."

As for the force behind the CIA's Twitter handle; it's a young married woman. The rest, of course, remains classified.

"She is very dynamic, witty, smart, entertaining," Boyd said.

And it shines through with a snarky humor.

On their one month "twitterversary" @CIA tweeted:

With another tweet, they hit the headlines:


Despite critical attacks on the agency, its former director Michael Hayden said an attempt at humor of any sort can humanizes the CIA.

"I actually like that the agency can make jokes about itself," Hayden said. "Now whether the jokes are good or bad, that's a separate matter, but at least they are turning some things back on themselves."

Experts say there is a fine line between engagement and actively trying to win hearts and minds.

"The CIA cannot engage in propaganda," CBS News homeland security analyst Juan Zarate cautioned.

He said the spy agency will need to find a balance.

"Though we are moving into the 21st century in a much more open environment, the CIA has to contend with the fact that it has to remain a secret agency and has to maintain it's capabilities, even though there is a demand for more transparency and accountability," Zarate said.