Need for diversity in spies: the CIA is too white

It looks like a trailer for a spy movie. Everything is there: the intrigue at the headquarters of the CIA, the suspense, the clandestine mission and of course a slew of pretty spies who manage to obtain a USB key from a foreign minister … Without forgetting the patriotism of rigor. “Most people will never see your job,” says an agency instructor to a class of new hires. “Your greatest reward is knowing that your efforts will help keep all Americans safe … The nation is counting on you to find out the truth. “

It is in fact a recruitment ad launched by the very discreet CIA and which is intended to be broadcast on the Internet. A great first. The film, very licked, is entitled: Discover the CIA: your country counts on you.

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The agency never had any trouble recruiting new spies. It receives a multitude of applications each year. But she faces several types of problem. First, as enemies increasingly focus on cyber attacks, she finds herself hunting on the same land as the high-tech sector to hire engineers and computer security specialists.

Then, the CIA, which traditionally recruits in prestigious universities like Yale, suffers from a lack of diversity among its employees. According to a report in 2015, “the senior management of the Agency had become less diverse over the past twenty years”. Clearly: too white. This is probably why the TV spot features all kinds of actors from minorities, Asians, Indians, Blacks, including one who surprisingly resembles President Obama, including the voice, which doesn’t is probably not a coincidence.

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The constant use of social networks by the younger generations also complicates recruitment. How to protect the cover of a spy who has shared intimate details on Facebook since kindergarten? How to smuggle him to another country when he posted pictures of him from every angle on his Instagram account? “From the point of view of an agent trying to create and keep their cover – perhaps the most basic element of spying – it can be a real challenge,” said David Cohen a few years ago. , deputy director of the agency. The latter had to reject several candidates for the promising CV because they had boasted on social networks of having been recruited as spies!

A reputation to restore

And then the agency’s reputation has taken a few hits recently. Donald Trump continues to attack intelligence services. When he came to power, he accused the FBI of having illegally tapped him during the campaign. On several occasions, it has ignored the recommendations of its own services. Last year, during a congressional hearing, Gina Haspel, the patron of the CIA in particular, gave a vision of the situation in Iran and North Korea in contrast to that of Donald Trump. Furious, he said the intelligence analysts were “naïve” and perhaps should “go back to school”.

Above all, the CIA was shaken by a resounding scandal. In 2017, WikiLeaks published dozens of secret documents detailing its techniques and all of its hacking arsenal, including its malware, how to hack cell phones, transform television sets into microphones … According to an internal report which has just ‘To be revealed is the biggest leak in the agency’s history and it has caused’ catastrophic ‘damage. The most amazing thing is that the CIA hadn’t noticed anything even though the documents had been stolen a year earlier!

The report blames the culture of the hacking service which “has made it a priority to design cyber weapons at the expense of the security of their own systems”. The security procedures were “terribly lax”.

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All this does not prevent the agency from promoting itself. She has already launched recruitment ads on the radio and on her YouTube channel. In one, she uses Jennifer Garner, who played a CIA agent in the series A.k.a, to extol its merits.

The CIA also created a Twitter account which started with a humorous message: “We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet. In the spring of 2019, she opened an Instagram account, in order to attract a young generation of agents. She hopes to reach a wider audience.

“We are meeting Americans where they are, on streaming platforms, to give them a glimpse of the exciting careers of the CIA,” said Sheronda Dorsey, one of the officials. On its site, one can read: “There are practically every job imaginable at the CIA, plus a few that go beyond your imagination. “

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