What it takes to work at the CIA: “Intelligence Matters”

This week on “Intelligence Matters,” host Michael Morell, in partnership with the Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security, sits down with CIA operations director Dave Marlowe, and CIA evaluation director Linda Weissgold about their careers at CIA and international hotspots. Marlowe and Weissgold speak about the abilities and attributes CIA appears to be like for when hiring officers, in addition to their very own career trajectories at the CIA. They additionally weigh in on present hotspots for the company, together with Ukraine, Iran and China. 


  • CIA is not what it appears to be like like in films:  Marlowe says, “There’s fewer cocktails and tuxedos for sure. I can’t think of a spy movie I’ve seen that I thought was an honest depiction. We’re methodical, meticulous. We take our responsibility seriously. We’re deliberate and disciplined. There’s no flash. Very rarely flash anyway. And we’re playing a long, careful game. We’re not running something that can be accomplished in 90 minutes of a movie. We’re doing things that are over the long term. And if we’re leaving a splash, we’ve made a series of mistakes.”
  • CIA does not assess that Iran is making nuclear weapons: Weissgold says, “We do not assess right now that Iran is in the process of making a nuclear weapon. But what we do assess is that Iran is doing more and more to be ready to make a nuclear weapon.”
  • Success as CIA analyst: Weissgold says, “I think what makes successful analysis, we rely on three privileged accesses. The first is access to the time, the thinking and the goals of our country’s leaders. That is what allows us to understand what they need and when they need it. The second is access to a vast range of information. We are all source analysts, so that includes unclassified and classified information. And that information really gives us this huge sandbox to develop insights, hopefully unique insights. And then it’s the access to CIA’s reputation. CIA’s reputation gets us a seat at the table.”

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MICHAEL MORELL: It’s actually particular to be on stage with you guys. We have been colleagues for thus lengthy. It’s not fairly often {that a} serving deputy director for evaluation and a serving deputy director for operations communicate publicly. And I do not suppose they’ve ever Been collectively on a stage earlier than. So that is actually cool.

LINDA WEISSGOLD: Not that we are able to speak about.

MICHAEL MORELL: Not which you can speak about.

DAVE MARLOWE:  We will see how it goes, it perhaps the final time.

MICHAEL MORELL: So I would like to break the dialog into three chunks. One, I would like to speak about your careers. I feel college students will need to hear about that. I would like to discuss a bit bit about a few of the scorching spots in the world as we speak. And then I would like to speak about the CIA going ahead. But earlier than we get into all that, let me ask every of you, Linda, what’s the elementary duty of an analyst at CIA? And, Dave, what’s the elementary duty of an operations officer?

LINDA WEISSGOLD: First of all, thanks all for coming and for letting us have this chance. When I take into consideration what’s at the coronary heart of CIA’s analytic mission, it actually is about delivering goal evaluation about the world to a few of the most vital folks in it. So we’re trying abroad. We’re following people and teams and tendencies past our borders that have an effect on our nationwide safety. And I feel it’s actually vital to spotlight, as an analyst at CIA, you inform, you don’t make coverage. So that was a part of why President Truman arrange the CIA in 1947. We attempt to transcend what’s occurring to study why it’s occurring after which to speak about the implications of that. We attempt to give our leaders a choice benefit by declaring leverage that they might have. And when it’s carried out proper, I suppose what I’d say is we give these we serve, beginning with the president, new methods to take into consideration risks and alternatives round the world. Whether that subject is a permanent one, an rising one or one which’s approach over the horizon.

DAVE MARLOWE: Thanks additionally for the alternative to be right here. Thanks, Michael, for internet hosting us. The elementary job of an operations officer, as I see it, is that we go abroad in any person else’s nation and we perceive them of their circumstances and of their world as they see themselves. And we’re an apolitical group. I like to say that the distinction between coverage and intelligence is that coverage is about the way you need the world to be. Intelligence is about how it is. And our job is to go to different folks’s international locations, see them of their atmosphere, see how they perceive their issues, see how they see us, and perceive what it is that is of their minds and produce some piece of that again that is helpful for Linda’s people to digest.

MICHAEL MORELL: One extra question earlier than we get to the career dialogue. Movies, TV, collection, paint CIA in sure methods what’s it actually like on a day to day foundation to work at CIA? Dave, need to go first on this one?

DAVE MARLOWE: There’s fewer cocktails and tuxedos for positive. I am unable to consider a spy film I’ve seen that I assumed was an trustworthy depiction. We’re methodical, meticulous. We take our duty significantly. We’re deliberate and disciplined. There’s no flash. Very not often flash anyway. And we’re taking part in a protracted, cautious sport. We’re not working one thing that may be achieved in 90 minutes of a film. We’re doing issues which can be over the long run. And if we’re leaving a splash, we have made a collection of errors. Our job is to do what we’re doing in the director of operations and never depart a hint that we have been there.

LINDA WEISSGOLD: I’m not an enormous fan of spy films as a result of I discover them actually irritating. Like Dave, I feel I discover that they are very distorted. I as soon as, after I was a briefer, after I’d been briefed, I as soon as was abroad and a liaison accomplice of ours very significantly requested me if my job as the president’s briefer had been like- there was a collection that had been carried out referred to as The Briefer with Katherine Heigl, wherein she would transient the president in the morning, soar on a aircraft, soar out of the aircraft, go kill somebody. And he was asking me, was your job actually like that? And I instructed him, completely. 

But whenever you actually do ask, what’s our job like? For me working at CIA, it is a type of public service. And I feel that is a very vital factor for folks to keep in mind. The place is crammed with a few of the most clever, most fascinating, most decided folks you might be ever going to meet. And not as soon as in my career. And as was talked about, it’s been a protracted one. Not as soon as has anybody ever requested me what my politics are. And I do not ask different folks as a result of that is not what we’re there for. We are all there united, I feel, in a single mission, which is the safety of the United States. And that makes it actually particular. 

People cry once they depart the CIA. And so I feel that is one thing actually vital to take into consideration. But should you get again to the films, sometime I nonetheless do desire a computer the place I can manipulate it in the air. And I discover that nobody ever has to fill out like a journey voucher. There is a bureaucratic aspect to it. We are a authorities company. I do suppose there’s a bit little bit of that. it’s a particular place, however it’s one which takes you wanting to be there and everybody else round you needs to be there as properly.

MICHAEL MORELL: So your careers. How did you every discover your approach to CIA? Linda needs to go first.

LINDA WEISSGOLD: I all the time knew I needed to do one thing worldwide. I graduated from Georgetown School Foreign Service. I had lived abroad, however the CIA wasn’t truly on my radar. So I usually joke that my coming to CIA was actually about serendipity and a scarcity of a social life as a result of I had a roommate at the time who labored for a congresswoman on the Hill, and this was the mid-eighties. And my roommate was very a lot into ladies in management. She labored for Congresswoman Pat Schroeder, and she or he had purchased tickets to a seminar that was happening about ladies in management. And one thing got here up and she or he could not make it. And so she requested me, did I would like to go, and I used to be free. I did not have a lot of a social life. So I mentioned, positive. So I am going to this session and it was a two day session. And over the evening there was a hijacking in Athens. And every kind of individuals have been speaking about giving up their tickets. They have been on the information. They have been speaking about giving up their tickets to go to Athens. And I keep in mind I got here in and I mentioned, are you kidding me? And she mentioned, actually? And I mentioned, It’s not going to occur in the identical place twice, proper? Sure I’d  get on the subsequent aircraft.

This was the mid eighties, she was already educating ladies in management programs for the company. And she mentioned, I’ve some folks you need to discuss to. And she directed me there. The second a part of the story goes. So I referred to as considering that I used to be going to be having an informational interview extra with the concept that again then we did not have the luxurious of the web site, which we’re going to point out a number of instances tonight, as you recognize, So I assumed I used to be calling up to get an informational interview and the man mentioned, Oh, Jinx mentioned you need to name. He mentioned, We’re having a check subsequent weekend. I, once more, wasn’t busy, so I confirmed up for the check and hadn’t crammed out any paperwork. This would by no means occur as we speak and apparently did very well on the check as a result of they then began calling me, asking me to please fill out the paperwork. And right here we have now job presents for you. So it was complete serendipity. 

I’ll simply add after I inform the story in our group, considered one of the issues I say is that be open to alternatives once they come. If you find yourself at CIA or no matter your careers is perhaps, there’s going to be quite a lot of instances when somebody’s going to come to you and say, hey, would you do that? And it could not have been. For these of you who’re planners, it could not have been in your 5 year plan. It could not have been what you have been considering. And what I say is that you’re going to be taught the most from these jobs that you just in all probability weren’t eager about. And you’re going to get every kind of experiences and it could set you on a completely totally different path. So be open to alternatives once they come.

DAVE MARLOWE: So I graduated from William and Mary in 1984, and my goal in faculty had been mainly to get out alive. And so the summer season after I graduated, I began eager about what I needed to do with my life. I talked to the mother and father of some mates who labored in numerous nationwide safety roles. I traveled via Europe and I got here again with sort of a job description of what I needed to do. I needed to be doing one thing, working abroad out of the embassy, perhaps one thing in nationwide safety, one thing that was outcomes oriented and one thing that wasn’t in the highlight, which sort of introduced me into the director of operations. So I talked to some adults that I revered and laid out a path for myself, which was to go into the military, to go to the army. And I selected the military and acquired some sort of background expertise that may make me extra marketable than the place I used to be at the time. So I enlisted in order that I might choose my specific path. They taught me Arabic for a couple of year and a half in California. And then I went to faculty and I spent the subsequent couple of years in the Army and ended up coming right here in 1991, proper after the Gulf War.

MICHAEL MORELL: So exterior your present jobs, what’s the finest task you ever had at CIA, Dave?

DAVE MARLOWE: I’m not going to say the place, however I had various assignments in the Middle East and in a few of these locations, no person spoke English at all. And should you can go stay in a rustic that’s type of unadulterated by the Western expertise, it’s one thing completely totally different from going to Europe, which is like America, however they do not communicate English. And it was simply implausible. I lived on native meals. I lived in Arabic daily. I knew the names of all the totally different sorts of fish in the fish market and the fruit and veggies and all that sort of stuff. I used to be half spy, half diplomat, half adventurer, half anthropologist, half sociologist. And simply having an absolute blast.

LINDA WEISSGOLD: I mentioned, I’ve had a ton of wonderful alternatives. I’ve truly adopted you in a number of jobs. First I would like to say why I’ve been at CIA so lengthy, as a result of it does get to what my favourite job has been.  The CIA is about your functionality, not your rank. And so considered one of my very first jobs was my account in the Middle East. I used to be engaged on Lebanon, and I had solely been on the account for a really quick time frame, a few months when the Sunni prime minister was assassinated. And my a part of the account was I used to be following, amongst different issues, the Sunnis who have been thought-about the much less vital account. What amazed me at the time was that I used to be not requested to hand over my analysis to a extra senior officer. It was me. I used to be entrance and heart and I used to be hooked. I used to be hooked from the very starting that it was about your functionality. So I suppose I’d say you possibly can’t be extra entrance and heart at CIA than being the president’s briefer. And I’d say that was in all probability my favourite job, as a result of it actually was an incredible honor to be the one to go in each morning to characterize the work of the company, whether or not that be the analytic work, the operational work, to be the one to sort of see historical past occurring, how intelligence was actually getting used daily, how vital it was and the way related it was to make the timing window proper. All of these sorts of issues. It made me a greater analyst. And so I suppose what I actually noticed was how intelligence informs coverage debate, and that may in all probability be my favourite job.

MICHAEL MORELL: Probably the two most vital career associated questions that we’re going to speak about tonight. Number one, what recommendation would you give to any scholar right here who is perhaps curious about a career as an analyst or an operations officer?

LINDA WEISSGOLD: This is the place you’re going to see the distinction, considered one of the variations between the DO and the DA. I introduced notes as a result of I needed to make it possible for I gave you guys actually good recommendation and did not neglect something. So first off-

DAVE MARLOWE: I’m simply going to copy hers.

LINDA WEISSGOLD: So he stole the data and gave it to me. It was positive. So I’m actually thrilled you are asking a couple of career as an analyst, however I actually could be remiss if I did not speak about the different directorates as properly. And to actually spotlight the concept that at CIA, we’re in search of individuals who do every kind of issues. We hire for nearly each possible talent, graphic artists, accountants, engineers, logisticians, information scientists. So it’s about extra than simply our directorates. And once more, should you do not hear one thing from us, go to the web site as a result of there’s every kind of alternatives. So first, should you’re presently a scholar and you’ve got time earlier than you graduate, I extremely encourage you to take part in our scholar packages. It is the good alternative for you to get an opportunity to look at us and for us to get an opportunity to look at you. Like I mentioned, it was a black field after I joined. It was sort of a leap of religion. But that is one thing that offers you that chance to actually perceive what it could be like. 

In the director of research, in case you are a scholar intern or a graduate grad fellow, you might be doing the actual work of an analyst. You’re writing for the president. You’re simply getting extra assist in doing it. So we’re not going to ask you to make espresso or go make copies or something like that. You are an analyst, so if you’d like to do this, you need to attempt to get your resumes in by the finish of this year for subsequent summer season. It does take a while. I additionally need to level out that we’re in the means of hopefully rolling out quickly a little bit of a change in the way you apply. And so reasonably than being an application, it will likely be a resume primarily based system. So I would like to let you know it’s okay to have a beefy resume. Like two pages are good. And I do know that could be counterintuitive for some jobs, however it actually is a approach for us to get to know you a bit bit extra. And notably as a scholar, when you might not have as many job experiences. We’re going to be trying at a few of the traits that you’ve. So it’ll assist us perceive the depth and the breadth and your abilities. Just a pair extra issues. Don’t be afraid to present ardour and enthusiasm for this alternative. 

The individuals who will likely be interviewing you at CIA, they don’t seem to be skilled recruiters. They are officers. And so for us, they’re analysts who’re on rotation making an attempt to make it possible for we’re bringing in for the subsequent technology the finest and the brightest. So should you discuss to them about patriotism and about actually why you need to come, it’s not going to sound corny to them. It’s the identical causes that they got here. So like I mentioned, do not be afraid to present that zeal and enthusiasm. And then last item I’ll simply say is cease doing marijuana at least 90 days earlier than you come. We do nonetheless observe the federal legislation tips. So whereas it could also be authorized in Maryland and different locations, we observe federal legislation. 

DAVE MARLOWE: The one piece of recommendation I provide you with by coming to the director of operations, and I’m positive that is true for for all the administrators is that if coming to the CIA is your plan B or your type of fallback factor that you are going to do if one thing else does not work out, that’s the unsuitable method. For each 100 candidates that we obtain, it’s a really small share that truly make it via to be employed, in all probability lower than 5%. And the individuals who get via get via as a result of they’re decided. And so should you apply now or this summer season and you do not get via the course of, you are despatched a really good no thanks letter. That does not imply you need to give up it. What it means is you need to take into consideration, is that this what I actually need to do? And if it is what you actually need to do, then exit and build your resume and add some life expertise. 

So what life expertise do you place in your resume? Well, I’ll let you know, we hire every kind of individuals and the varieties of individuals that you’d predict any person who’s had army expertise or business expertise, or we might hire people who find themselves out of legislation faculty. All these issues are true. But we have additionally had I’m undecided if he is nonetheless with us, a world well-known rock and roll guitarist, skilled athletes, ballet dancers, faculty professors, those that you wouldn’t think about would find yourself working in the Directorate of Operations. And what they’ve all introduced shouldn’t be essentially the issues which can be on their resume, however a willpower, a willpower to win and resilience. And that is what we’re in search of in the director of operations. If you are an officer, you might have to be comfy whenever you’ve sort of fallen again to Plan G since you’re already forming the parts of Plan L and Plan M since you’re going to have to adapt. And so actually that is the most vital factor for us is willpower and resilience. And then, in fact, Linda will in all probability let you know as properly, integrity. We’re entrusted with an excessive amount of duty that is distinctive to us. And whether or not it’s me having tens of hundreds of {dollars} in money to hand to any person in an alley for a really type of minimal receipt or Linda sitting in entrance of the president and saying, that is the factor I do know and this can be a factor I do not know. Integrity is totally paramount.

MICHAEL MORELL: So I’ll communicate from expertise. It’s nice to have a kind of former skilled athletes in your intramural basketball group. Very, very useful to profitable. Dave, you answered the second question already, which is what do you search for when it comes to a talent set? What about an analyst? What do you search for?

LINDA WEISSGOLD: A whole lot of them are stuff you’d count on: robust writing, robust briefing, mental curiosity, thoughtfulness and undoubtedly integrity. What we do is excessive stakes, as Dave mentioned, and it includes actually delicate data and telling policymakers issues that they do not need to hear. But that takes some braveness. That integrity, it’s one thing we won’t educate. And so it’s one thing you want to present us whenever you earlier than you get employed. Expertise is totally vital. It’s the coin of the realm for the director of research. 

Either present that you’ve some in a self-discipline, such as you’re a kick ass economist or you’re a army analyst or that you’ve some substantive experience. Whether you’re a quantum physicist or you might have experience in Latin America. Again, we’re in search of one thing that you should utilize to develop the perception that we offer. Language abilities, in fact, are a plus for the total company, as are abroad experiences. I’d say variety of thought is actually vital, variety as a complete. We cannot afford to have groupthink. So I search for individuals who truly could have some exterior of the field considering or come from left area concepts. And then the final one, I’ll simply say is humility. It’s actually vital. What we do is difficult. We aren’t going to get it proper all the time. We have to admit after we’re unsuitable, we have now to take into consideration when it’s time to truly reevaluate and regulate our evaluation. And you are not all the time the smartest particular person in the room, proper? So you might have to be open to the concepts. What we do is quite a lot of teamwork. So I usually like to say that considering could also be a solitary talent, however evaluation shouldn’t be. We want people who find themselves group gamers and have the humility to be open to concepts from others.

DAVE MARLOWE: Great. Can I simply observe up and choose up on one thing that Linda mentioned. I keep in mind very properly being in my late teenagers and early twenties and making an attempt to work out who I used to be. And I feel it’s vital that whenever you’re trying at a possible career at CIA, you recognize what motivates you and you are not going to receives a commission in addition to you possibly can should you go into the non-public sector. And they are going to be calls for positioned on you that ordinary folks haven’t got to take care of. Some of it has to do together with your freedom of motion. You have to inform folks whenever you’re going locations, you possibly can’t carry your telephone into the office. There’s rather a lot that you just give up, together with the potential for a fats paycheck whenever you come to work for CIA. And the people who do it and do it properly are genuinely motivated by patriotism and never the sort of patriotism that exhibits up on the 4th of July, the patriotism that drives you when issues are troublesome or mundane or scary or professionally difficult. And if that is what drives you, then you definitely in all probability have a spot right here. If you are considering, properly, I can do that for a bit bit after which make some money. This shouldn’t be the place.

MICHAEL MORELL: Let’s flip to international hotspots in the world as we speak, which we might speak about for hours. I would like to do that a bit bit otherwise than I’d usually do that. What I’d like to do is simply throw out a problem and simply get every of you to reply pretty rapidly, pretty briefly, on what you suppose is the most vital factor that each one of us ought to bear in mind with regard to that problem. Dave, I’m going to go to the operator. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

DAVE MARLOWE:  I’ll let you know what this appears to be like like to the Directorate of Operations. I’m not an analyst, so I can assess that problem at will. Putin was at his finest second the day earlier than he invaded as a result of he had all the course of energy that he is ever going to have. And his targets have been to squeeze issues out of Ukraine, to threaten NATO and have an effect on NATO unification and to exhibit to the world that Russia is highly effective militarily, economically, diplomatically. He squandered each single little bit of that. And so for the director of operations, we’re trying round the world for Russians who have been are disgusted with that as we’re as a result of we’re open for business.

LINDA WEISSGOLD: I’d say that it’s vital to word Putin has not given up on the expansive objectives that he had for Ukraine. And truly, let me backup and simply say I completely perceive why you made the hyperlink, as a result of truly every part we’re going to speak about, I feel on scorching spots, it’s all interconnected as a result of the world is definitely watching what we’re doing and the way we’re reacting in Ukraine. China is watching that. And so I completely perceive the place you are coming from. 

Putin hasn’t given up. This is not going to finish anytime quickly. I feel this might actually drag on. It’s vital. I feel a lesson all of us want to take. It’s actually vital to know what you are combating for. The Ukrainian troopers know that, the Russian troopers not a lot. That interconnectedness, permitting a rustic to take territory simply because they’ll, is probably going to embolden others to do the identical at a very excessive human price.

MICHAEL MORELL: Now, China-Taiwan.

LINDA WEISSGOLD: I used to be saying earlier than about China-Taiwan, I suppose the issues to take into consideration, as I used to be saying, Xi is actually watching what is going on on. And he has not been shy about the concept that he needs to have management of Taiwan, even when that requires army actions to achieve this. I feel considered one of the issues it’s actually vital for us to take into consideration, as China has graduated, if you’ll, from being a rising energy to actually being the largest, most vital geopolitical problem for us. And it’s as a result of I feel actually what we’re seeing is China in so many domains, greater than the Cold War and Russia, is now a competitor. So whether or not we’re speaking about militarily, economically, via technology, space, in nearly each area you possibly can consider, China is a competitor with us now. And I feel that that’s one thing for us to take into consideration after we take into consideration China.

DAVE MARLOWE: I’d simply add that 5, ten years in the past all people was being well mannered about the competitors with China, and now it’s plain and it’s in the open. It’s the problem of the subsequent technology of intelligence officers.

LINDA WEISSGOLD: Can I simply add one different factor, which is that we talked about languages. It positive would not harm if you’d like to go be taught Mandarin. The company, and we’re not alone on this in the authorities, we’re placing much more resources to engaged on China. And so we have created a brand new China mission heart. We’re trying at China. China is now making an attempt to be a worldwide energy. And so we’re trying at China and Africa, China and Latin America. Regardless of perhaps your space of experience, should you’re considering regionally, if it is Latin America or Africa, it does not harm for you to additionally find out about China, as a result of that is one thing for us that we’re all eager about them globally.

MICHAEL MORELL: Iran’s conduct, whether or not it’s towards its personal folks, whether or not it’s towards its regional neighbors, whether or not it’s about nuclear weapons. 

LINDA WEISSGOLD: I feel the factor I’d say about Iran at this level, a few issues. One, we don’t consider we don’t assess proper now that Iran is in the course of of constructing a nuclear weapon. But what we do assess is that Iran is doing an increasing number of to be prepared to make a nuclear weapon. So whether or not it be bettering their enrichment capabilities, you recognize, they’re exceeding all of the limits that have been a part of the JCPOA. And so I feel that that is an vital factor for us to take into consideration with Iran. 

I feel it’s vital after we speak about Iran, to do not forget that Iran is a menace not simply to U.S. pursuits, however to the curiosity of our allies in the area. And that can also be one thing that we care about. We do not simply speak about U.S. nationwide safety pursuits. We speak about the pursuits of our allies as properly. And then in the context of the present protests which can be ongoing, I feel it’s actually vital when you concentrate on Iran to suppose via the proven fact that we speak about moderates and reformers and conservatives, however it’s all in the context of a conservative theocracy. So whenever you speak about a average in Iran, it’s not essentially somebody who’s trying to have a democratic freedom of speech, all of these sorts of issues. I keep in mind President Bush used to ask me and after we would speak about Iran, he would say, it’s not a free and truthful election. Can they rise up in the center of a city sq. and say no matter they need to say as a part of that? And he mentioned, till they’ll do this, it’s not a free and truthful election. And it nonetheless is not as we speak.

MICHAEL MORELL: Dave, you had quite a lot of time in the Middle East. Your ideas on this?

DAVE MARLOWE: Iran is fascinating. Back to what I mentioned earlier about going to different folks’s international locations and understanding them as they perceive themselves. You’ve acquired a theocracy with an apocalyptic imaginative and prescient. Is there a contemporary authorities. You’ve acquired echoes of their Persian previous and then you definitely’ve acquired the battle between Shia and Sunni that type of defines their relationship with their neighbors, whether or not their Sunni neighbors or blended neighbors like they’re in Iraq. It’s completely an interesting human intelligence problem to perceive what’s occurring there. And the place are the levers and the place are the alternatives for the US authorities?

MICHAEL MORELL: North Korea in its flurry of missile assessments, Dave.

DAVE MARLOWE:  I simply suppose their petulant little one having a tantrum. I’m sorry. ‘Look at me. We’re nonetheless right here.’ t’s the most closed society on the planet. And much more so with the COVID lockdown, the picture of the Russian diplomats working their approach out on that quaint practice railcar. It’s a particularly exhausting intelligence downside, not insurmountable.

LINDA WEISSGOLD: I’d simply add, I completely agree. North Korea does not like to be ignored and they’re going to discover methods to make it possible for we’re paying consideration. But again to that sort of interconnectedness, I feel it’s actually vital to take into consideration the concept that for North Korea, what China thinks and does is definitely extra vital than what we do in some methods. They are very dependent upon China for lots. And so typically whenever you work on a problem, it’s not nearly understanding that problem. You want to know what is going on on in the area. You want to know what others and the way others take into consideration a rustic like North Korea.

MICHAEL MORELL: International terrorism in the aftermath of Afghanistan.

LINDA WEISSGOLD: So I’ll hold it quick on that and simply say the menace shouldn’t be gone. And we have now made large strides in diminishing that menace. But it’s not over. And we won’t afford to take our eye off the ball, and we’re not going to. 

DAVE MARLOWE: And as Zawahiri would let you know, you possibly can’t conceal.


LINDA WEISSGOLD: We can discover you.

MICHAEL MORELL: Let’s swap gears once more and speak about the way forward for the group. And it struck me when earlier on the first question I requested you, what’s the job of an analyst? What’s the job of an operations officer? Your answer was true 75 years in the past. And it’s true as we speak. So I would like to begin by truly asking you, what are the keys to profitable evaluation? What are the keys to profitable operations? And how do you ensure in the future that these components stay in place? 

LINDA WEISSGOLD: How we do our jobs as CIA analysts I feel is what units us aside from whether or not it be the media or suppose tanks. They’re vital. I do not see them as rivals. It’s simply we do our jobs very otherwise. And I feel what makes profitable evaluation, we depend on three privileged accesses. The first is entry to the time, the considering and the objectives of our nation’s leaders. That is what permits us to perceive what they want and once they want it. The second is entry to an enormous vary of data. We are all supply analysts, so that features unclassified and categorized data. And that data actually offers us this large sandbox to develop insights, hopefully distinctive insights. And then it’s the entry to CIA’s status. CIA’s status will get us a seat at the desk. It will get us an opportunity to be heard. But all of these are grants of belief. They aren’t grants of energy. They are issues that we have now to be, I feel, cognizant of all the time. And we have now to be dwelling up to that.

MICHAEL MORELL: What’s the status you are speaking about?

LINDA WEISSGOLD: So the status I’m speaking about actually comes from, I feel, our tradecraft. And that is that after we are going to, as I mentioned earlier, we’re going to name it like we see it. We’re going to be goal. We’re going to be trustworthy about telling folks what we all know, what we do not know. But usually after I speak about tradecraft, I boil it down to the concept, it’s about having the ability to inform our prospects why we expect what we expect. And that is actually exhausting. If you guys attempt to unpack that as college students and also you’re eager about this from a paper you are writing, to truly return in and give you the option to clarify to a professor why you suppose that. And then I’ll add an additional twist to this. Several years later, whenever you’re sitting in entrance of Congress and also you’re being grilled on why you thought what you thought for some inevitable investigation. To give you the option to do this, too. And that is the sort of status I’m speaking about. I feel, you recognize, we have now to give you the option to do this.

DAVE MARLOWE: I feel for operations officers, it’s the identical sorts of traits. But in a distinct state of affairs. We really want to be humble and be dispassionate and goal. And if you concentrate on what we do, so we are saying that we spy. But what we actually do is we have now relationships with individuals who spy, and we give them some sort of compensation in change for that. And so if we’re going to invite any person right into a relationship the place they’re risking jail or dying, once they’re betraying their tribe or their establishment or their nation as a result of they consider in what they’re doing with us, we have now to be very considered about that. And we have now to know what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. 

We have to make certain that we must be doing it in the first place, that we’re after one thing that may solely be obtained via our distinctive perform. So finally, it comes down to being trustworthy with your self and being trustworthy about the scenario you are in. Am I doing this the proper approach? Should I be doing this? What a part of this relationship is about me and what a part of it is about the agent? It actually requires a chilly blooded, dispassionate objectivity. And it’s actually not any totally different than when Linda’s people are determining, what am I saying right here to the president?

MICHAEL MORELL: When we go right into a relationship with a kind of people, their safety is paramount.

DAVE MARLOWE: It’s our high precedence. Absolutely. And if we fail on that, we’re failing basically. 

MICHAEL MORELL:  Last question. The problem goes ahead. For every of your professions, every of your directorates, how do you concentrate on what the massive challenges are that you’ve to take care of efficiently to ensure that the company to proceed to achieve success?

DAVE MARLOWE: I’d say two issues. The first is that the world is a way more intrusive space. It used to be after I was a younger officer, I might fly to a rustic, take a practice throughout the border to one other nation, examine into some hostel, scribble my identify on the register or pay in money, meet my man and depart. And I used to be by no means there. And now, should you journey anywhere, you do not have a reservation. You’re not utilizing a bank card, you do not have your smartphone with you. You have not been scanned in each possible approach alongside your journey. That’s anomalous. So we have now to truly increase our prioritization. So that we’re actually increasing that threat on issues that actually, actually matter. The different factor that I’m involved about and that we speak about commonly is all the relationships that we have constructed up over the previous 20 years that allowed us to be efficient in the counterterrorism effort. We completely want these if we’re to work in a unified approach towards our principal adversary now. And that is China.

LINDA WEISSGOLD: I’d say we’re swimming in information and data and technology is a superb factor. It ought to assist us. It additionally goes to enhance the problem of us determining misinformation. And so a part of our job is actually going to be this concept of leveraging technology to our benefit and at the identical time ensuring that we’re sort of sorting via what ought to we be believing and what should not we as we work via issues.

MICHAEL MORELL: So the adjustments the director made, I do not know, 18 months in the past now, the media targeted on the creation of the China Mission Center. But it sort of missed the creation of a chief technology officer, the creation of a brand new directorate targeted on technology. So large, large emphasis appears to be on technology at the company to allow you to do your job, to shield you and doing all of your job proper. Could you simply speak about that for 30 seconds every?

LINDA WEISSGOLD: Absolutely. Dave and I truly spent a while collectively in a meeting as we speak on this very subject. And the concept being trying at issues on, as you mentioned, how can we- after I take into consideration technology from the analyst’s standpoint it is a subject that we examine, proper? So we’re trying at rising technology, new weapons techniques, all of these sorts of issues. So set that apart. We’ve all the time been doing that. But trying at technology on how we are able to leverage and benefit from what’s occurring in open supply. But at the identical time, as I mentioned earlier, this concept that we have now to give you the option to clarify to folks why we expect what we expect, and if we do not perceive the algorithm that’s being utilized by AI. I do not suppose the president’s going to be very accepting if I have been to go in and say, the black field simply instructed me so. And I do not know why it mentioned that. So having the ability to actually perceive, once more, making use of our tradecraft on this courageous new world of technology is, I feel, one thing that is actually vital for us to work at. 

DAVE MARLOWE: I’d say we’re customers of technology on offense. We’re involved about technology on protection, and we acquire on technological points. And then we have now been, CIA has historically been a driver of revolutionary applied sciences. And we had a former director who was an Air Force common earlier than he confirmed up. And we wish to park a aircraft exterior, which is the predecessor to the S.R. 71, as a visual demonstration of that truth.

LINDA WEISSGOLD: Can I plug the web site once more yet another time? Because there’s an amazing, there’s quite a lot of actually cool data on there for our seventy fifth anniversary. And considered one of them is an inventory of technology that in all probability would not exist if CIA hadn’t invented it. So you possibly can thank us for the battery in your cellphone, that sort of small lithium battery. That was us. And there’s a complete lengthy checklist of the other forms of innovations that got here out of CIA. 

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