Surveillance and Sideview Mirrors

As a c/o, if you head out on your SDR and detect you have surveillance, you are not likely to make your original meeting, but instead, will change your plans. What you hope you don’t do is let surveillance know that you have detected them, thereby betraying that you are surveillance aware, and thus a likely intelligence officer. You want to lull them into a sense of complacency.

Girlie Bars and Guards

So, after grabbing supplies, some light disguise materials, and a pile of cash, I headed out on an extensive surveillance detection route (SDR). The details are irrelevant, but, with the traffic in that city and tools and training I had, I was 100% certain I was black (surveillance free).

Tertia Optio Part 2

But why limit yourself to just a PMOO position? I can think of a number of other jobs I’d rather have within the Agency, right off the top of my head. The last 16 years haven’t seen PMOOs working too many other places (at least on PM tours) than war zones or conflict zones. I know it happens, but why further restrict an already small target? 

The CIA’s Intelligence Art Collection Part 2

The Operational Collection includes intelligence-themed paintings and sculptures that record the experiences of intelligence officers in both peace and wartime. The Agency uses these artworks to strengthen and communicate its identity and corporate culture, providing a link for incoming officers to connect to the history of the organization.

Tertia Optio Part 1

The first time I ever heard about SAD or PMOO’s was because of the tragic death of SAD PMOO Mike Spann on 25 November 2001. The idea that the Agency had sent officers into Afghanistan before the Department of Defense was a revelation to me personally. I just hadn’t ever thought about it before.

The CIA’s Intelligence Art Collection Part 1

Art at the Agency wasn’t really anything I thought about when I wandered its hallways. For the record, like most Ops Officers, I tried to avoid Headquarters (HQS) as much as possible. But that wasn’t always possible. Additionally, I was 23 years old, and too excited about working for the CIA to pay any attention to art.

First Try! - Directorate of Science and Technology Part 2

The amazing thing about DST is that it’s full of some of the smartest and most creative nerds you could imagine. At the same time, there are officers throughout its history that have touched every major event the Agency has been involved in since its inception.

First Try! - Directorate of Science and Technology Part 1

I didn’t give much thought to positions within the CIA when I applied and went through recruiting. The vast majority of books on the Agency only cover broad history, operations or are memoirs by former Case Officers. That’s a pretty minute picture of a large agency. With the exception of Anthony Mendez’s memoir, “Master of Disguise” and the more recent “Spycraft" by Robert Wallace and H. Keith Melton (I’m leaving out “The Wizards of Langley” because I haven’t read it yet) there are very few works related to the officers I like to think of as the real “James Bond’s”, the Technical Operations Officers of the DST.

Risk Avoidance Is The Name Of The Game

At events like the Manchester attack, we tend to think we are safe. The arena has security, no weapons are allowed, it’s a fun crowd out for a fun evening. Attackers know these thing too and they tend to look for the weak points in security. In this case, the attacker choose a transitional space, a natural funnel between a primary exit from the arena, and the nearest public transport, the Manchester train station. He knew traffic flow from the concert would be heavy and concentrated. He knew the only likely security in the transitional space would be CCTV cameras (great for post mortem, not so hot for prevention). And he knew that by the nature of the transitional space, no one would think twice about someone loitering (waiting on friends? A train?) carrying luggage (it’s a train station entrance after all).

In Honor

"In honor of those members of the Central Intelligence Agency who gave their lives in the service of their country.”


Crossing the Rubicon

One of the questions I am most often is asked about the Agency is, “How’d you get in?” Whether from a reader of espionage novels who assumes a grey beard from some good old boys club tapped me on the shoulder or a college student aspiring to become a “spy”, they all bring their own preconceived notions about the process. And what I have learned is that at least for case officers of my generation, everyone’s “origin story” as a spy is unique.

Doubling Down On Irony

I cringed as I read through Morrell’s opinion piece, wishing he had stayed neutral in his political leanings, as he stated he did during his career. Not because I disagree with a lot of his points...