Ya Baby


   Ever see True Lies?  It’s an action-comedy flic in which, early on, main protagonist spy Arnold Schwartzenegger returns home after a few days of violence and intrigue in Switzerland.  Unknowing wife, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, asks “How’d it go at the trade show, you make all the other salesmen jealous?”

  That bit came to mind recently after perusal of both the digital and paper versions of the Economist.  First, in the “Executive Focus” section of the magazine, a posting asks: “Where else could you deliver intelligence to Whitehall, protect your country, and pretend you had a boring day at the office?”

  Then, online same day, an imperative popup: “Make a world of difference – Clandestine Service – The Ultimate International Career”.  The first (as I hope you guessed) was an advert for the British Intelligence service MI6/SIS.  The second was for our own CIA.  I had to check it out.  

  …”There are some fundamental qualities common to most successful officers, including a strong record of academic and professional achievement, good writing skills, problem-solving abilities and highly developed interpersonal skills.  Overseas experience and languages are important factors as well.  Officers must be perennial students…”

  Check.  So far so good.  “The CIA offers exciting career opportunities and a dynamic environment.  We’re on the forefront of world-altering events – as they happen.  So working here isn’t just a job, it’s a mindset and a lifestyle.”  Copy that.

  Ok, let’s try the personality quiz.  First question: “Which activity would you like your mission to include: a. Rock Climbing, b. Dining on haute cuisine, c. Surfing the waves, d. Shopping on Rodeo Drive, or e. Reading a best selling novel.  OMG!  I’m in!

  Uh, oh.  Maximum age is thirty-five without special dispensation.  Hmm.  How about if I tell them that I agree with John Le Carre in that “A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world”?  And that I’m an oenophile like famed expert Frank Schoonmaker who was in the CIA’s predecessor, the OSS.  Or that I’m interested in art like Brit Poussin expert and spy Anthony Blunt?*

  Uhm, the application begins with this admonition:  “Friends, family, individuals, or organizations may be interested to learn that you are an applicant for the CIA, but widespread public knowledge of your Agency affiliation could limit your opportunities.  We therefore ask you to exercise discretion and good judgment in disclosing your interest in a position with the Agency.” 

  Guess I better just push delete, get my passport, pack my tuxedo, grab my rope, and go. Ya Baby!

*Well, Blunt was probably a poor choice here especially since there are other nonfictional examples of connoisseur spies.  He turned and provided information to the USSR.   But then again, late in his life he expressed regret and claimed to have been blinded by a personal crusade against fascism.

** Here’s the link if you’re a US citizen: https://www.cia.gov/careers/index.html and here if you’re British: http://www.mi6officers.co.uk/

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