Tuesday, June 20, 2006

From one spook to another

A former CIA case officer, Garrett Jones, has some advice for incoming CIA head General Hayden, e.g.,
The RUMINT (rumor intelligence) on you is that you like "corporate speak" and prefer large, impersonal gatherings to one-on-one encounters. You are going to have to work on this. Blunt, plain speech will get you farther than anything else with the Agency workforce. Most of its officers feel that they have worked as hard as they can only to be lied to. If there is something bad, they want to hear the truth; if someone erred, they want to hear that, too. If something is going to happen to them, tell them before they see it in the Washington Post. You are working with a bunch of spies, so you should not be surprised that RUMINT travels quickly and is surprisingly accurate in this culture. Count on it, and do not lie to them. "I do not know" or "I cannot tell you" are statements the workforce understands and they accept they are sometimes necessary; but they will almost always find out if you lie.

Wander around the building and listen to people. The workforce is surprisingly smart and sophisticated; they will usually tell you what is wrong if you give them a chance. Make time to find out where different units are physically located in the building, at least the big ones. It is amazing what you will learn when you go to them instead of them coming to you. Yes, you will be busy, but your first job, before anything else, is to make the workforce motivated and effective.
It's an interesting insider view. One clear implication is that Porter Goss did most of the things he warns against — otherwise, why else would he specify to have no more than two bodyguards. They used bodyguards inside the CIA? Tough crowd, I guess.

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