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Re: CIA Clandestine Operations director

We discussed the advertisement in The Economist about the job of director of clandestine operations of the CIA. Justin Carreno explains:

"The ad refers to the Directorate of Operations (DO), Clandestine Service, which is composed of operations officers (OO), collection management officers (CMO), and staff operation officers (SOO) all of whom must be 35 years of age or younger to apply. The Agency is increasing its recruitment significantly post 9/11. There are no hard credentials that are needed to serve as an officer (spy). Rather, the skills and characteristics that make up a spy are those that are naturally acquired through one's life.

It just so happens that the traits happen to be that the individual have a strong academic and professional record, advanced communication skills, and be highly interpersonal meaning he/she can make friends easily. It also doesn't hurt if the individual can look like other ethnicities and speak another language as well. Basically, the job is to (falsely) make friends with a foreign national that can provide strategic foreign intelligence that you can report back to the US.

Although hiring is increasing, still a very small percentage actually pass the long, grueling, interview/hiring process. Ten percent of all applicants in a region will be called for personal interview. Of those 10%, less than 1% will actually become officers. However, the Agency's budget right now is capable of hiring 100% of all applicants. It is, I believe, the only government organization that has an indefinite budget for officers.

It is to one's benefit to apply in the Intermountain West because it is where the fewest people apply and where competition is least. You are only competing against those in the region where you applied, most likely not those that graduated from Yale or employees of LLNL. However, the Agency does not seek out the Ivy Leaguers it once did. Today, the homogeneity and quality of education allows them to seek candidates nation-wide from Alaska to Florida, and its not uncommon for them to turn down Harvard Law graduates.

The Agency has more recently developed a Clandestine Professional Trainee (PT) Program for recent graduates without work experience. It takes about a year longer of operational training, but the incentive is that for every foreign language a new hire knows there is an extra $25,000 bonus tacked on to the $30,000 base salary -- it costs them much more to teach the trainee a language".

Foreign language study has slumped in the US. The aim of this study in the old days was to understand a different culture. Now the motivation is to be able to feign friendship and get a substantial bonus for each foreign language spoken. Language department graduates have new job possibilities, as have some hyphenated Americans. This is the cutting edge of progress.

Ronald Hilton - 11.04.03