You become more an intel-crat

Sunday, May 7th, 2023

A CIA case officer explains why he left the job:

And it’s funny because I thought I would do this all my life. But I think what happens very often is just an epiphany comes. It happened to me a few years later. I was back in Washington on a trip, I was talking to the deputy director of intelligence. As I walked out of the office I said, “What the fuck am I doing here?” I went home, I spoke to my wife, and then I called the DDO and I said, “I’m retiring.” I never looked back.

I wasn’t leaving because of the stress of the job — no, no, I loved all of that. I think that I was upset with the bureaucratization of the place, with a lot of changes that had taken place that I just didn’t agree with. You know, after rising to a certain level, you’re not going to do the kinds of things you enjoyed as a NOC. You become more an intel-crat, a senior bureaucrat of intelligence. That’s what you are. I saw the frustration of my younger officers, who were not having the kind of fun I was having when I was a case officer.

I think originally the job, which required a lot of creativity and imagination became much more a job of bureaucracy. Obviously, you need some sort of balance because you can’t have people just going off and doing crazy things, but it came to the point I think where people in Washington, who had never even been in the field, were making so many decisions that in the past had been made in the field. I think we become risk-averse because of that bureaucratization.


  1. DJB says:

    A microcosm of American management in general. The last line says it all.

  2. Jim says:

    Andrea Nolen once observed that the current-year U.S. Intelligence Communitay is run like a bloated third-generation family business: Not only are the founders all dead, but their children are all dead or, like Henry Kissinger, have one foot in the grave. What she neglected to mention outright but presumably implied was the classic cliché, “Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.”

  3. Jim says:

    *fambly business

  4. Wow Just Wow says:

    Sounds just like John Malkovich in Burn After Reading, minus the alcoholism, potentially.

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