No Tweets for CIA

Detail, Panel Three of Jenny Holzer's 2006 Tri...

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I have a secret.  I am totally obsessed with spies right now.  I started researching the CIA for an article, and now I am having a proverbial field day, ruminating on codes, pondering treachery and analyzing patterns of security breaches.  My brain is a convoluted mess of Hollywood idealism interspersed with car bombs in Iraq, Egyptian revolt and CIA headlines insinuating data errors.

Sadly, I don’t think I am alone in my fascination with our country’s defense, or lack thereof right now.  The media have pretty much guaranteed every quagmire in the world is played out before our very eyes.  And the effect of this supersaturation is an uprising in my spirit of an inner (dormant) bad-ass that wants to be freed. 

I am shocked at my own intensity because I am a relatively passive gal. I want to rally the troops, hack into satellite imagery of North Africa and go get the bad guys. Call it the “Ironman” syndrome, but deep down I think there is a hero in all of us, just waiting for an opportunity to get our hands dirty and fight for the oppressed.

I feel so helpless watching Cairo crumble. I  walked those streets, now filled with angry protestors, and sailed on the Nile only a few short years ago when my husband and I spent our honeymoon in the Mediterranean.

I have to laugh now at my naivete…because I  expected Cairo to look like the charming scenes of white washed buildings, dates and monkeys from the pre-World War II days depicted in Raiders of the Lost Ark

But reality is a far cry from Hollywood, and while the history and ruins were truly remarkable, the city itself was disturbing.  It was overcrowded, polluted and unsettling as an American.  I remember the guards on every corner with machine guns; the trash piled so high it created mountains, and the rebar stretching out like tentacles on unfinished buildings in a never-ending sea of millions of squatters.

 The whole time we were in Egypt, three very long days to be exact; I struggled to relax or let down my defense.  Just like Jason Bourne, I was acutely aware of my surroundings.  Unlike Jason Bourne, my ninja skills are limited to dangerous words and inciting comments. So, in the back of my mind, I plotted escape routes and assessed each pyramid for dudes with guns and danger.  Of course, just about everyone there has a gun, so it was a rather limiting exercise.

I almost had a heart attack when my husband decided to take a walk along the beach in Alexandria by himself without his shirt on(trust me…the abs were smoking).  I  knew he would be kidnapped and ransomed off as a sex slave. And then I would have to join the CIA and hunt him down myself!

But on a more serious note, when I saw this article on Yahoo news yesterday, Should spies spend more time on Twitter, my interest was piqued. It begs the question whether our Intelligence analysts should have the right to be eavesdropping on evil doers plotting death and destruction.  Hmmm…this is a tough one!  In all honesty, there are some days I only wish big brother would censure  people and their incessant updates. 

I struggle with the argument that free speech is being hindered by Intelligence analysts tracking known terrorists or even suspected terrorists on Twitter and Facebook? It’s not like the CIA is interested in anyone’s 400th picture of their baby with cereal on his face, or even for that matter,  those questionable pics from the office Christmas party that you “accidentally” got tagged in.  They are looking for something a little darker…like Osama Bin Laden and his minions!

But I may be alone in this sentiment, along with House Republicans and even president Obama, because the extension of the Patriot Act was voted down on Tuesday. Come again?

That’s right…voted down. 

I am getting pretty frustrated here.  Because by the time I am in ready to join the CIA, they will have had their hands completely tied by Washington, have almost no power left, and will be run by a bunch of teenagers whom, oh, by the way will be Tweeting all day, but not actually allowed to use Twitter for any real good; as in catching terrorists (see my last article.)

Where is Jack Ryan when we need him?

Wanted: Secret Agents

Seal of the Central Intelligence Agency of the...

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Many words come to mind when I think of the CIA— espionage, clandestine operations, INTELLIGENCE, authority, strategy and adventure.  Strangely enough, “desperate” is not a term I would ever have associated with this government agency. 

But what am I to think when I hear an ad driving home from work the other day on KIIS FM, a local teeny-bopper radio station, advertising for CIA agents?  It sounded like an open call audition that just happened to include a polygraph test and a background check.  

Shut the front door!  Are we, the grand ‘ol USA, really that desperate to find qualified civil servants, that we have to pander to a predominately under-aged audience of Katy Perry and Lady Gaga wanna-be’s?  

Now, I work in marketing, and generally my intended audience is the one I am targeting; so what this ad campaign tells me, is that these “CIA “jobs, once so coveted that major movies and books were penned depicting their glory and honor, are now being mass marketed to teenagers getting their first job at Wal-Mart or McDonald’s.

After reading Leon Panetta’s comments on “said” radio campaign, I am now even more befuddled. The new director of the CIA (former chief of staff for Clinton and an Obama appointee), who is responsible for the ads, states that his goal is to reach out to minorities and people with foreign language skills; he is also trying to recruit more “Muslims, Arabs, African-Americans and Latinos.”

Ok, let me get this straight.  Affirmative action and lagging language skills are behind this? Now, I went to UCLA during the prime years of affirmative action.  My 4.0 GPA guaranteed that I might, (did I say might?) get a seat next to my good friend who was a quarter Indian, with a whopping 3.2 GPA.  Yeah, that was fair.  I busted my butt and he cruised on in. He didn’t grow up disadvantaged or on a reservation.  He lived around the corner from me and his house was bigger than mine.

So, is this the future of the CIA?  We dumb it down so that it’s politically correct and turn it into a late-night joke?  Call me naive, but true equality seems pretty simple, it’s when the best man or woman for the job gets the job, without racial or gender stereotypes. End of story.

 And when it comes to the protection of our country, is this the best we can do? How about stepping up the language training?  Or, possibly investing a few dollars in better recruitment tactics that appeal to minorities? Why don’t we leave those radio ads to ProActive and Geiko?

My confidence in this nation’s defense just fell quite a few notches, not that it was high to begin with.  But hey, at least our new linguistically skilled CIA agents will be able to dance to Chris Brown and Britney Spears.  If there is ever a covert op at a disco in Cairo maybe they can stun them with their killer moves.

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