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What is a 'CIA officer'?

The Life Of A CIA Spy

Lindsay Moran (Former CIA Spy) gives expert video advice on: What is a 'CIA officer'?; What is a 'CIA agent'?; What type of training must a CIA Officer go through? and more...

What is a 'CIA officer'?

A CIA case officer or CIA operations officer is the terminology that the CIA uses to describe what most people think of as a CIA spy. So when you're thinking of a CIA spy, the CIA actually calls this the case officer or operations officer, and those are the people who actually conduct the business of spying.

What is a 'CIA agent'?

A CIA agent, contrary to what most people think, is not an employee of the CIA per se. He or she is a foreigner who the CIA case officer has recruited to provide information, usually in return for money.

What type of training must a CIA Officer go through?

A CIA Officer usually goes through extensive training to include a couple of months of paramilitary training, and then several months of trade craft training; where they learn the nuts and bolts of being a spy and conducting intelligence operations overseas.

Does a CIA officer train a CIA agent?

An officer sometimes does train an agent. For example, I had a situation where a foreign agent that i recruited wasn't really very good at detecting surveillance for himself. So, I would provide him some rudimentary training about how to tell if someone is following him. Also I provided him some training about how to manage their money, and if they suddenly received some money in exchange for giving secrets not to go out and but a fur coat or a new car or anything else that is going to draw attention to themselves. It is basic training into how to conduct their life so that they are not going to appear on the radar screen so their neighbors are certainly say that he is suddenly spending lot of money and yet he is lonely government employee. they could become suspicious about where he is getting this money from. This is an example of the kind of thing that as a CIA officer, I might train my agent to do.

What is the typical day for a CIA officer?

A typical day for a CIA officer sometimes involves doing your cover job, doing a lot of things that have nothing to do with your real job of being a spy but doing things to bolster your cover, such as pretending to be a business person, pretending to be a diplomat, and attending diplomatic functions or trade shows if you are a businessman. Essentially, it involves putting all the things in place to fill your cover out and then usually it's at night that your job as a CIA spy begins, when you go out and socialize and try to meet people either on the cocktail circuit or in bars and restaurants. When you are meeting with your foreign agents, typically you are doing that at night because you want to have at least the cover of darkness so that it's one added layer of protection in not getting caught.

What are the responsibilities of a CIA officer?

The foremost responsibility of an CIA officers is to recruit foreign agents. If you are unable to recruit a foreigner then you wouldn't get anywhere within the CIA. That is to say you would be either fired or relegated to a desk job at the headquarters. The entire career progression depends on the quantity, and to a lesser degree on quality of the number of foreign agents you are able to recruit, and this is your primary responsibility.

What are the responsibilities of a CIA agent?

A foreign agent's primary responsibility is to supply the CIA officer with secret or sensitive information. Typically, there are good agents, mediocre agents, and bad agents. A good agent might be someone who provides you with a wealth of information that's very detailed and accurate. A mediocre agent will probably do just enough that they can sustain the relationship, give you just enough information that you'll remain interested in keeping the relationship with them. A bad agent will either provide you with false information or they might be a double agent, someone who has does not have your best interest at heart, but the best interest of their own country's government. There have certainly been cases in the history of the CIA where we've been had by double agents.

What types of danger may a CIA officer face?

A CIA officer faces everyday danger of having his or her cover blown or getting caught. I think one of the foremost danger that a CIA officer face is the hazards of the road in foreign countries. Almost everywhere you go people drive like maniacs much worse than in the United States. And, they just simply do not have the transportation infrastructure we have here. So you spend a lot of time driving around at night on really bad roads, all the while looking to make sure nobody is following you. And it's always a wonder to me why there are not more accidents involving CIA officers.

What types of danger may a CIA agent face?

An agent faces even graver dangers than the CIA officers himself in that if an agent is caught by his own government undoubtedly, if convicted he or she is probably going to spend his life in jail and in some countries might even be executed, and this is the same thing we do in this country. If we discover an American who has been selling American secrets to the Russians or to anyone else they will probably spend the rest of their lives in jail.

How does a CIA officer recruit an agent?

An officer recruits an agent much the same way a suitor would sort of court someone that he wanted to marry. Basically you develop a relationship with that person. Take them out to dinner, express interest; not only in what they're doing at work but in their personal life, their family life. Really become a friend to that person, all the while keeping in mind that you're not really a friend, you're a CIA officer who ultimately is going to try to develop a formal professional relationship with this person.

Will a CIA officer follow the laws of a foreign country when in that country?

No, a CIA officer's job is expressly to break the laws of a foreign country in that, as a CIA officer, you're trying to steal the secrets of that country. All that said, it's usually in a CIA officer's best interests not to break other laws--not to drive drunk or steal anything - because one of the things that you're trying to do as a CIA officer is to not draw too much attention to yourself, to stay under the radar screen.

What is 'diplomatic cover'?

Diplomatic cover means that you're posing as a diplomat, you're pretending to be a diplomat. The CIA typically uses this cover because it was effective during the cold war when a lot of the people that we wanted to recruit to be foreign spies might have been Eastern European or Russian diplomats.