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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