I have read books written by actual CIA Case Officers, Chief Of Station and others. This reading has taught me that there is a bad work environment making many of the CIA workers unhappy in the work place. These books from CIA people made me feel sad for those who work for the CIA. The testy work environment is brought up in all the books that I have read. One can not help but be moved to try to help. “The Case Officer”, “Plausible Denial”, “ CIA inc.” and the article “CIA Harmed By Reorganization” by Fred W. Rustmann (SIS), all made me feel the hurt and pain of CIA people in the field. The same is true when I read “JAWBREAKER” “Human Intelligence, CounterTerrorism, & National Leadership, A Practical Guide” and “The Walk-In” by Gary Berntsen.” These works and other information made me feel sorry for the CIA. I write this article because I hope and cross my fingers that someone will read it and help fix the CIA and make it a better work place environment.
Too long has the CIA been ruthlessly attacked and called monsters, when the only problem in the CIA is the same as any modern work place in America today; and that is, the melt down of good old fashioned common courtesy. Many of my suggestions are common sense advice, horse sense, as you will. My suggestions are based on actual CIA employee complaints. Please do not take my gentle criticism as an insult or my arrogance. I write this because I care for CIA morale, and these simple humble ideas might make life as a CIA person more fulfilling. Please take this as a kindness because I want you (CIA) to rise out of the ashes, like the phoenix with a new life and be like the way you were in the good old days of the CIA and one step better, free from politicians manipulating you. I want some day for the average American to see you (CIA) as I do, as heroes and good people to be trusted and liked.
A happy worker is a loyal worker. A happy worker produces more than an unhappy worker.To introduce my idea, I will play an informal form of role playing game, that I call “ifees” (what if).If I were DCI: Here are things I would do to improve the work environment and worker relations. The first improvement I would do is change the grueling hours CIA personnel must work. I would have three, eight hour shifts instead of the twelve hours the CIA must now do. The salaries would not change so you would still get the same size paycheck you got when working twelve hours. My reasoning here is this. Wide awake functioning workers put out better work than someone who has glazed eyes and has worked too long. This change would be wherever it can be placed, like in HQ Langley. You would still have your lunch hour. There would also be a break halfway between arrival and lunch and another break halfway between lunch and “punch out time” or leaving time. The middle breaks would be for some sort of exercise to move the blood. Now I am sure some of you are laughing. My reasoning is this. When you have to spend hours looking at a computer screen searching for intelligence, over time you get the computer equivalent of “highway hypnosis.” A break is needed in order to wake up the body, in order to function better. I wonder how many important things are missed by computer analysts stuck in front of their computers for almost twelve hours due to this form of “highway hypnosis?” You could even have a gym on Langley property for the workers to use on their halfway breaks. This keeps your workforce healthy and happy. I bet this one small change would upgrade our intelligence gathering capabilities. The field would have to be handled differently. When on assignment, you can not stop in the middle of a Covert Operation and say, “It’s Miller Time”. I did learn from reading the writings of Gary Berntsen, that our Case Officers, Chief Of Station and other ground personnel are over worked. When one assignment is complete, they are immediately given the next assignment without rest or break in between. CIA ground people should get needed rest between missions, and everyone should be allowed time to think and see things in wholes so as not to be tricked into thinking a distraction is the central mission.
The next important thing is that petty authority and lording it over people has to go! No one in the CIA should use their position to intimidate the workers under them. This is an agency that needs to be streamlined more than any other agency due to its very nature. Things change and evolve in the field quickly, and the CIA must be able to change equally fast like water flowing in holes and valleys as need arises. There should be no or little bureaucracy in the CIA! A Case Officer should not have to beg to Eleven people just to make a single move. People should be required to treat fellow CIA employees with respect. Petty competition with in the Agency is poisonous. The last thing the CIA needs is petty pushing each other around in an all ready naturally stressful environment. It is already hard enough in the world of spy vs. spy, mole hunts, terrorism and enemy countries with out adding pettyism.
The Intelligence Community, more than any other job, should be a cooperative environment where team work is encouraged. You Never sell out a fellow CIA person! The work environment should feel like a clan or tribe of the old days where there is a Love and Bond between people. When people care for one another, secrets are kept and leaks are few. This is the secret of how the “Ground Floor” CIA did it. The other 16 Agencies should also work together, since we are supposed to be one country. FBI, NSA, Military Intelligence, CIA, Secret Service and the rest should not be rivals but friendly Agencies with the same goals but with different purposes. The entire Intelligence Community should get along.
The CIA should go back to basics and only hire American born people for work in HQ Langley. Case Officers and Chief Of Station should be American born as well. Agents and Assets should be from the country where the mission is performed. These old fashioned rules were for our protection and meant to minimize penetration of the CIA by “moles”, enemy Agents. We should go back to spying on potential CIA employees for a year. This is to prevent the next Snowden. If the CIA does it’s background checks thoroughly, it would greatly lessen the amount of traitors and people joining with the desire to hurt the CIA and American National Security. The CIA should Never contract out people from a private sector company because private contractors do not do the necessary background checks to ensure that the employee is safe and trust worthy with our nations secrets. There is always the danger of people selling out for money, revenge or other reasons a Handler might get into the CIA. Making it hard for this to happen should be a first priority. Sadly, no protection is perfect.
The CIA needs to be healed from the many assaults it has suffered over the years. The wounds the CIA suffered from the Church/ Pike hearings has to be fixed. The CIA needs to be Freed from it’s political chains. The CIA was not created to make Presidents, State Departments, Congresses or other Administration policy makers look good. The CIA is our nation’s first line of defense. Here “the best defense is a good offense” fits. When we send the CIA to a foreign land, it is to stop something from getting worse. We “nip it in the bud” over there so it does not come over here. The CIA needs much more autonomy of action. The CIA needs the ability to look at a mission and determine if it is one the CIA will do, or is the customer requesting something crazy that should not be undertaken. The CIA should be allowed to bow out of a mission that has been compromised by leaks of any sort even if politicians leak to the press. The CIA should be allowed to with hold information from a President or Congress if the CIA believes that President or Congress has been compromised by an Enemy nation, enemy spies or terrorist entity. The CIA needs to operate in secret with out all the political fanfare. It is in secrecy that the CIA is strongest. There is Far to much Oversight of the CIA. America treats the CIA like a child on a very short leash. This overbearing attitude makes the CIA ineffective. The CIA is an adult Agency and this Presidential/ Congressional umbilical cord must be cut. The CIA should have it’s basic Charter stating it’s purpose and then be let loose to do what the CIA needs to do.
The CIA gathers Intelligence all over the world in order to help America make decisions on what to do and in what country to do it in. Intelligence is also useful in deciding which country would make a better ally. This should be done Objectively. Too many times America chooses the wrong side by letting Prejudice get in the way of logical thinking. We should never refuse a country because our politics are different or our way of exchange or economics is different. Some times two capitalist nations can threaten each other more than a capitalist and a Communist/ Socialist nation can. Here is where good spying is needed. Good Intelligence makes better decisions. Never blindly trust any nation, even if they say things smoothly and are fellow capitalists. Capitalists can rob other capitalists. Businesses, in ruthless competition, have cut the ground from one another’s feet many times. See how the country in question is treating your country. Remember a country is not just it’s bankers, stock holders and capitalists. It is also the Millions of little people struggling to make ends meet. Does dealing with country “X” help your country and it’s citizens, or are only a few crooks up top benefiting?
Covert Operations is another very essential function of the CIA, which means the Clandestine Services have to be brought back up to snuff. We need more Covert Operatives and much more funding for the CIA. We need to hire more field operatives. Everything does not happen on line. There is still life in the real world, and real life on the ground operatives are needed for real events. This is not an insult to computer CIA people because you guys are still needed for what you do. It is just that we have downsized the Clandestine Services field people far too much. No CIA person should be left behind in a foreign land! A cry for help should be quickly responded to by the might of our military, With No Questions Asked!! No Blue Stripe Should Ever Be Ignored! If CIA people are captured, we should use everything at our disposal to get them back. If a captured person has extremely sensitive information, and it gets in the wrong hands, which will cause the deaths of millions of Americans, then WWII tactics should be used. Blow up the entire building where said Officer is held so that not one brick stands on another. This harsh method is for last resort and should only be used to stop the Most Important information from getting out. This method is not to be taken lightly and should NEVER be used for Pride or Political reasons.
Enemies do not just exist over seas. There are enemies at home as well. We need to add to the currently anemic NR and bring back the old protection grid of 1947- 1968 CIA. We need to have many Case Officers and Chief Of Station on the ground here in America. The CIA needs desperately to gather intelligence right here at home!! Now you are asking why? “We only work over seas.” That maybe true today; but from 1947- 1968, the CIA was very active right here at home and Greatly improved our lives!!! The CIA knew the average American. This is very important because how can the CIA effectively protect a people they do not know anything about? The FBI does a good job looking for criminals, but they do not do what the CIA did back then. There is still a gap left in America when the Glue (CIA) was removed from helping right here at home. This very important program must be restored to it’s former glory! Here is where time is running out because there is very few “Ground Floor” CIA still alive to advise today’s CIA how to run this very important domestic CIA program. Ground Floor CIA was OSS first and then made up the beginning CIA.
The CIA needs a PR division to make movies, documentaries and talk to the public so the evil media can not continue to make you (CIA) look like monsters. You (CIA) need to fight back in media wars at least until America wakes up and kicks out the Treasonous media and replaces it with pro-American media. It grieves me deeply to watch TV and see how the CIA is always portrayed as monsters and bad. It makes me cry. I want you (CIA) to fight back for the hearts and minds of the people. I should not be the only person defending you.
Another department you will need is the “Secret back door” department. This department should deal with the relatives of CIA employees. Friendly, sympathetic relatives of the CIA employees should be welcome as part of the CIA “Tribe”. This does not mean they are privy to CIA secrets, but they are part of a Loving community when CIA people are killed, captured or hurt. They are talked to by the CIA and not left out in the cold. More people died for the CIA than the CIA admits. This should be fixed because people have feelings and emotions. Many CIA operatives, Officers and so on have felt hurt or stung by the CIA because the Agency has always forgotten the Human factor. Family members need to be spoken to. I know secrecy is necessary but having this new department would help ease the pain and suffering because family members can be informed, in secrecy, through CIA channels and the public never need to know. This simple reform would protect CIA secrecy Big Time because if the CIA took the initiative and went to the families first, people feel warm and loved by the Agency; and this would mean the families would stop running to the press. This should be done even if the case blew up in some Case Officer’s face because things go wrong in the field, and spying is a dangerous job. Families need comfort which is more important than the pride of some politician who covers up for selfish reasons. Death of Agents and Assets should be dealt with by this department. This department would go and tell the family of Agent or Asset that He/ She died for a good cause. If this department existed, than by now TUVALOR’s* family would have been told that TUVALOR died a hero and did not defect to the VC. TUVALOR died helping the CIA. This is just one example of how the CIA could have it both ways, Secrecy and Comfort to families of the Fallen.
I hope that these ideas could make their way into CIA life because I would like to improve their work place environment. This added department of the relatives of CIA people is to help the human factor. This very important morale boost is overlooked too often and taken far too lightly. You will be surprised how far just a little bit of Love and Kindness will go.
Some things I said could be used for any work environment and could be used even in the private sector. Other things are CIA specific. I wish with all my heart that these ideas would be tried at CIA because I know it would make it a more pleasant place to work. Remember the Enemy is out there, and that is where the tough stuff belongs, in dealing with the enemy. Fellow employees should be treated with respect and courtesy.
* In his book "CIA Inc." Fred Rustmann tells this story of what happened back when he was a CIA case Officer when he was in South Vietnam back in 1966. He recruited this Vietnamese individual to be a CIA agent to attempt to penetrate and get the trust of the North Vietnamese in order to spy on them. He trained him and funded him and sent him into the country. The individual had the code name of TUVALOR, and he had a way to keep in touch secretly while he pretended to defect to the North Vietnamese. The North Vietnamese, however, kept him waiting in limbo forever because they did not trust him. TUVALOR languished in the country and was running out of money. The CIA Headquarters abandoned him over the protestations of Rustmann who felt that it was wrong to just ditch the guy. Rustmann could not persuade them. The man ended up getting killed. To this day, this incident angers Mr. Rustmann, who finally after all these years told the story in his book. He said it was a sad thing. It was twice as sad because the man's family believed TUVALOR to be a traitor/defector to the North Vietnamese (his cover) because they were not told he worked for the CIA. Mr. Rustmann still believes the CIA to be the good guys; but this incident, he feels, shows a bad thing that he would want to see corrected.