Friday, January 1, 2010

In the CIA almost like a branch of the military?


Mark Mazzetti has an important global New York Times article Dec. 31, “C.I.A. takes on bigger and riskier role on front lines,” link here. The recent stealth attack leading to the deaths of seven operatives in a remote area of Afghanistan point out the character of the CIA as a somewhat paramilitary organization. Movies have shown CIA operatives being trained in military-like quarters, but no one knows how real this is. (The recent incident says: "just because someone wears a uniform doesn't mean they can be trusted" [CNN, Anderson Cooper}; they work with private contractors, as in the movie "Avatar", and sometimes in primitive conditions, like the military, showering once a month).

Yet, the agency tends to look for highly educated persons in languages and international affairs as well as security and technology. The military “don’t ask don’t tell” policy is not supposed to apply; in fact, secrecy could be regarded as a reason for denial of clearance. It’s easy to imagine, at least in fiction scenarios for spy novels or movies, how the DADT policy could undermine security (as if there were a relationship between a CIA operative and a person in uniform) when the CIA is involved in a joint operation. Will Hollywood take up this challenge?

If you visit the CIA web page, you get some comical teletype sounds reminiscent of the program “Chuck”, but can navigate to the link with job descriptions. Moat of the positions appear to be analytical rather than "operational" or "combat". All this reminds me of the Army's distinctions between combat, combat support, and combat service support when I was an "analyst" while in the Army in 1968-1970.

What’s interesting is the advice not to disclose to others you have applied. “You cannot control whom they would tell.” That sounds like Dr. Phil’s advice on “private” Myspace and Facebook postings today.
Attribution link for Wikipedia picture of CIA Memorial Wall. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cia-memorial-wall.jpg

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