January 15, 2005

Barriers to Entry

Laura Rozen thinks the CIA's recruiting criteria are all messed up:
Hearing a bit about the experience of a few friends with real expertise in particular foreign regions and the accompanying language skills, there really is a pattern of them being stalled at the tail end of the recruiting process for the reason that the US governments' security clearance dimwits felt it would be too hard to clear them because these candidates have had so much international experience and knew too many foreigners. In other words, they are more qualified and infinitely more useful to the US than the straight out of college and grad school mostly white Americans who never traveled much abroad that the CIA has seemingly been more comfortable recruiting.

One friend was asked by the guy running her security clearance process, "What is Latvia?" in response to one of the countries she had reported visiting in the past seven years. It wasn't that he'd misheard. It was that he apparently did not know that Latvia was a place. Another acquaintance, fluent in a useful Asian language, after being recruited by one such agency, was ultimately told it would just be too hard to do a clearance for someone who had studied and worked in said country for a couple years.
And ex-CIA agent Melissa Boyle Mahle asks a good question in her new book, "Why is a male operations officer not censured for having a personal relationship with an agent, and a female operations officer is fired for doing the same?"
-- Brad Plumer 6:14 PM || ||