The Intelligence Community: Smart People Looking at Computers (Part 1)

Welcome to Part 1 of my 6-part series, The Intelligence Community: Smart People Looking at Computers. In this tour of the Intelligence Community (IC), you’ll learn which federal agency everyone laughs at, the difference between a CIA analyst and a CIA case officer, and a few personal anecdotes about my time at the Agency. I’ll be releasing a new section every week. But if you’d like the full essay now, sign up for my mailing list and I’ll send you the whole thing, for free, with a personal thank you note. Your very own thank you note from a former spy! Written in invisible ink! Just kidding. You’ll be able to read it. But sign up! Now! Go!

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The Intelligence Community:

Smart People Looking at Computers

(Part 1)

The front line in any country’s national security arsenal is its intelligence service. Lucky for us, we’ve got sixteen different intelligence agencies and one Big Daddy agency to make sure all the intelligence kids play nicely with each other. If you measure our security by how big our security apparatus is, we are incredibly secure. Effectiveness is secondary, because it is really hard to fit in a metric.

Employees of these agencies play a vital role in our national security, collecting and analyzing information that protects us from any and all enemies who would want to destroy freedom and all we stand for.

Unless the government shuts down, in which case only some of them are vital and the rest can fuck off, we’ll be just fine without you, you useless bastards. Government shutdowns are an amusing way to watch the hierarchy at work. If the government shuts down, only “essential personnel” are allowed to go to work. That’s because it is illegal to make a person work when you can’t pay them (but please don’t tell my intern that), and if the government shuts down, it’s because there’s no more money, likely because Congress was having too much fun masturbating for C-Span to actually pass a budget. I’m sorry, did I say masturbating? I meant debating. Who the fuck am I kidding? I meant masturbating.

However, even Republicans and Libertarians might agree that some government functions are indeed vital and we need to keep doing them, even if there’s no money. How shitty would the government feel if a terrorist nuked us and all our counterterrorism and counter-proliferation guys were home sleeping?

Finding out that you are “essential” or “non-essential” is a journey in self-discovery. If you are deemed “essential,” you feel super important but resent having to go to work while everyone else is home relaxing, knowing they are going to get back pay even though they did no work, and here you are slaving away, protecting the nation from evildoers. And if you are deemed “non-essential,” you start to question that Recognition for Great Contributions to National Security Award you got last week that included a $25 gift card for the Cheesecake Factory.

But in true American fashion, everyone can and does contribute, just by participating at all. So let’s take a tour of our intelligence community, the essential, the non-essential, and the was-once-essential-but-we-seem-to-be-doing-just-fine-without-it-now.

Up next: The Director of National Intelligence

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