Lindsay Moran (Former CIA Spy) gives expert video advice on: Do the departments inside the CIA hire certain types of people?; What type of person will the National Clandestine Service hire?; What type of person will the Directorate of Intelligence hire? and more...
Do the departments inside the CIA hire certain types of people?
Every department at the CIA has a kind of culture attached to it. The department that I was in is called the Directorate of Operations, and that basically is comprised of all the spies, the people who actually go out and steal secrets. It's not surprising that the people who are attracted to that particular department, and the people that the CIA hires, tend to be outgoing. They tend to be people who like to take risks, who like to live overseas, people with language capabilities and strong social capabilities, because these are the people who are going to be in the field doing the real business of the CIA, which is meeting, assessing, developing, and ultimately recruiting foreigners to sell us state secrets.
What type of person will the National Clandestine Service hire?
The National Clandestine Service, which is what I was a part of and it's also known as the Directive of Operations, will hire someone who is a real go-getter who likes to take risks, who likes to live overseas, who has a great deal of social skills, because 80 to 90 percent of recruiting foreign spies is making them trust you, making them like you and socializing with them. So it's very important you're a part of the Clandestine Service that you have the ability to walk into a cocktail party, or to go to a trade show and not be shy and be able to walk up to people and introduce yourself sometimes using a cover story. So you're introducing yourself as someone who you're not and be able to kind of play that role. In some ways it's a lot like being an actor or actress and in some ways it's a lot like being a salesperson.
What type of person will the Directorate of Intelligence hire?
The Directorate of Intelligence is the analytical branch of the Central Intelligence Agency. It has a very different culture than the clandestine service, and the analysts who work in the Directorate of Intelligence tend to be different type of people who work in the Directorate of Operations. Usually they're a bit more bookish. They usually have a more substantial knowledge of their area of interest than the CIA peace officers or spies do. And although it is not prescribed, usually they are a little bit less social than the people who are in the Directorate of Operations. They spend a lot of their time analyzing written materials and writing reports, so they spend a lot of time sitting in front of the computer and delving in-depth into information and trying to come up with analytical pieces to write and to present to our policy makers in Washington.
What type of person will the Directorate of Science and Technology hire?
The Directorate of Science and Technology is the branch of the CIA where you might think the 'Q' character from the "James Bond" books and movies would reside. Those are the people who design the little gadgets that a common spy might use overseas. So the Directorate of Science and Technology is really looking for techies, and technologically oriented people. They don't have to have the social skills the spies do. They don't have to have the reading and analytical skills that the CIA analysts do. But they have to know their stuff in terms of technology.
What type of people will the Directorate of Support hire?
The Directorate of Support is comprised of people who provide support to all the other directorates of the CIA. So they are really looking for people who will do administrative tasks that are essential to the overall mission. They wouldn't use the term secretary per se, because everybody at the CIA kind of become their own secretary but they need people to manage the funds, to manage the money, to make sure that when you arrive in a foreign country you have a place to go, you have a place to live, you have a car. So there are all these kinds of logistical aspects of running a spy organisation that require people to work there and provide support to all people overseas.
Do all new hires at the CIA go through the same training?
Not all new hires at the CIA go through the same training. There is training that is very specific to the Directorate of Operations or the spies, just as there is training that is very specific for people who are going to be analysts. Everybody has a different kind of training. When you first join the CIA you are all put together for a general orientation, and that enables you to meet other people in the different directorates. Usually, the people that you become closest to, the people that you work with on a day-to-day basis and associate with, are going to be within your directorate. It will also be the people with whom you have gone through training with, because training in itself is an incredibly bonding experience, particularly for the people who go through the spy training.
What is it like working inside the CIA building?
Sometimes it's a thrill to work inside the CIA. The first time that I ever walked through the doors of the CIA with my badge, I felt this tremendous sense of accomplisment and this real feeling that I belong to a very elite organization. But I think what's surprising to most people is I think the CIA is like any other big corporation. And some days are incredibly dull and mundane, and there's a lot of coffee breaks and people going around or people sending each other instant messages or e-mails and planning for the office Christmas party. I mean a lot of times people will ask me what television show is the CIA most like? And they are thinking Alias and really the show that comes most to mind is The Office for me because it's very much like the day to day operations at the CIA or within headquarters.
What is the camaraderie like between CIA officers?
The camaraderie between CIA officers, particularly CIA spies, really begins to develop when you are in training at the CIA's facility, called "The Farm." You are living with your other spy trainees. So you are spending 24/7 with all of them and with your instructors. Incredible bonds form and friendships. A lot of people end up getting married. There is a lot of inter-agency marriages within the CIA. So the CIA almost becomes like your family and the human resources department will stress that to you when you are joining the CIA. You know, this is your family now. I think one of the reasons they do that is because working at the CIA takes a tremendous toll on your life with your real family, with your biological family, and so it is almost a given that The Agency itself becomes more like your family.
Do people work well together at the CIA?
Lindsay Moran: Some people work well together at the CIA. But as in any big business, there is competition. There are rivalries. There is a lot of politics that go behind your career progression. So people work well together but at the same time, there is, I guess a lot of competition particularly among spies. One of the things that you are taught as you are becoming a CIA case officer or a spy, you are taught really to be very manipulative and to be very duplicitous and this works well as you are recruiting foreigners but it also starts to play into your professional life because when you have a whole organization of people who have been trained to be manipulative and duplicitous it can make for some interesting jockeying for position within the organization itself.
Do CIA officers have affairs with other CIA officers?
Yes, that is quite common at the CIA, sadly. I mean there was a running joke at the agency that, typically a CIA spy might marry someone else within the organization, within the directorate of operations, and then 20 years down the line divorce that person and marry one of the younger ones coming up. There was a whole group called the First Wives Club in the CIA because they had been the first wives. So, like any organization where you work very closely with someone, there are bound to be situations where people cross the line and so there are a lot of affairs within the agency. It tends to be, sadly, a rather incestuous organization.
How does the CIA compare to a regular workplace?
Before I joined the CIA I was a teacher, so that's a very different environment than what the agency is like. And I think that I went to the agency, expecting it to be like a university, where there would be a lot of intellectual curiosity and debate and questioning. And instead what I found and what I think is a more realistic picture of the CIA, is it's like a big cooperation. It's an office, there are office politics, there is a lot of planning and to-do about office parties. I mean, you would think that at the Central Intelligence Agency, one of our most important government entities, that people wouldn't be involved with that, but while I was there, I saw a lot more debate about what we were going to do for the annual Christmas party and which department was going to outdo the other department, much moreso than what we were going to do in finding Osama Bin Laden. So I think this is one of the most surprising things about the agency to a lot of people, that people are not always discussing really important issues, people are not always fighting terrorism. In many ways it is just a big company.
How does the CIA feel about officers dating inside the CIA organization?
The agency doesn't take any stance against officers dating inside the organization. Just as they know at some point officers are going to end up dating foreigners; they know that there are going to be relationships within the organization. CIA officers dating other CIA officers, spies dating spies so to speak. So they don't take any stance against it and it happens all the time. But needless to say, it can often lead to awkward situations because just as in the outside world, the agency has serial daters. And you might have someone who has dated 3 or 4 people in his spy training class and then ends up dating other people when he or she moves overseas.
Does everyone in the CIA go by a number or code name?
No, but we do go by pseudo names within the agency. So for instance, when I would talk to my CIA colleagues, they didn't know me as Lindsay Moran, they knew me as Janice Hadley, which was my name within the agency. This sometimes can lead to confusion too, because most of my colleagues didn't even know my last name, and so they would think of me as Janice Hadley and would call me Hadley, and that was my nick name. It lead to a couple of sticky situations when I would run into colleagues outside the CIA, and they didn't really know how to address me. So that's something that you always sort of have to plan for when you've got two totally different identities, to make sure that when those two lives cross you have some sort of story to explain.