Thursday, February 2, 2012


A friend of mine knew I write about the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC), so he told me about his son. He said, "My computer-whiz son attends a small college in Ohio and wants to work with the IC, particularly the CIA. How do you know so much about the IC and what will it be like for him to join?"

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I told him that I'm a member of the Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and am privy to their seminars and get-togethers in the Washington, D.C. area. Through the AFIO, I have met many patriotic men and women who served their country well, including CIA case officers like Valerie Plame and Antonio Mendez. Mendez (left photo) risked his life to smuggle six US diplomats out of Iran during the President Carter years. As a career intelligence officer in the murky field of espionage, Antonio moved the CIA's most sensitive agents clandestinely through international borders in daring top secret exfiltration operations utilizing his skills in the art of deception and illusion, and creative use of disguise.

I learned from Mendez, at one small-group AFIO gathering in Cleveland, how CIA operatives use hi-tech devices and elaborate strategies to cross borders and infiltrate countries to extract and rescue agents, US citizens, or diplomats undected.

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Likewise, Valerie Plame (Wilson) testified under oath to congress that she was, indeed, a covert CIA case officer, served overseas within the last 5 years, worked undercover and oversaw WMD issues in Iraq. She also testified under oath that she had nothing to do with sending her husband (Wilson) to Niger. It is well-documented in the movie "Fair Game".

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I further advised my friend that his son will need a college degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. I recommended that he pursue his computer technology interest in college, for behavioral, physical or computer science grads are in high demand by the Intelligence Community (IC). Unlike Hollywood's "Spy Movie" portrayal, few CIA employees are like James Bond (Britain's MI-6) or Plame and Mendez, who both worked in the CIA's Clandestine Services branch. Most CIA careers are a bit more mundane than seen on TV and in the cinemas. A career in the Clandestine Service branch can offer experiences as exciting as some of Jennifer Garner's action scenes (photo left) in the "Alias" TV series. By the way, in Alias, she was recruited on campus during her senior year. The CIA is visiting college campuses, so I told the father to have his son go for an interview.
Yes, most CIA careers are not as exciting as many think, but all are critical in protecting America from harm! For example, if an NRO spy satellite (photo lower right) picks up a conversation from a terrorist training camp that's spoken in the Dari Pashtu language, the CIA can press a computer key and locate fluent Pashtu speakers on their payroll to immediately decipher it.

America will be at war with global terrorism for quite some time, according to the experts. This new war will be comparable to the long-lasting Cold War era. The CIA and the other 16 agencies comprising the IC want technology-savvy young people who grew up with the Web. All analytic and tech jobs in the IC will be critical in protecting America from harm. Hiring data remains classified, but many of the CIA's young recruits forfeited lucrative private sector jobs to work for the CIA at a lower salary. That's patriotism!

Further reading:
Become an expert on the CIA
Huge 42-aisle CIA Library
CIA's new recruits impressive!

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. is a member of the Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and writes about the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC). A portion of this site's ad revenues is donated to the AFIO. The views expressed on this site do not represent those of any organization he is a member of. We're always looking for different perspectives regarding the Intelligence Community- got a thought, article or comment you'd like to submit? Contact us on the Secure Contact Form

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