Opinion: Two Truths about CIA HR Policies

Here’s the deal: A good, ethical, principled undercover agent does one thing: Identify the bad guy by separating himself from his cover and concealing himself in plain sight. For years this was done by…

Opinion: Two Truths about CIA HR Policies

Here’s the deal: A good, ethical, principled undercover agent does one thing: Identify the bad guy by separating himself from his cover and concealing himself in plain sight. For years this was done by wearing a foppish wig, talking like a Jewish merchant, smoking cigars and drinking French champagne. But in the post-9/11 world, this is no longer enough to protect a spy. Law-enforcement officials now use x-ray technology to peer beneath the material of a top-secret agent’s mantle. If a cover is taken off, especially a counterfeit one, the real bad guy will be able to see the agent and his mission clearly. They may even spot agents who need to hide inside the garage and can’t get away.

So how do agents disguise themselves? The best ways are to “commercially accoutrement” a suit and tie with a camouflage, patterned jacket; or to pick a business suit that could possibly pass the FBI’s vague vetting test, without being obvious to law enforcement. More than one foreign national has acquired commercial-equipment-design-as-a-service companies to double- and triple-team their suits and ties. This has become a lucrative line of business for people who are greedy for what espionage officers look like and brag to the worldwide community. The idea is to give a disheveled, bedraggled and harried look to a person who has other, more promising things to do.

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