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Utilization of CIA with respect to known Ideological Enemies

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I have been watching this show "Homeland" on Showtime. And it basically chronicles the CIA scheming to place assets (people that they turn to working for them) in high government positions in Iran, etc. It just amazes me that it is considered by Americans that this is what they see as THE way to fight these guys. God forbid we bomb them or commit any overt force against the country. So America is stuck fighting them by creating these elaborate plans to plant people in their government and in the case of season 3, probably to just gain "intel" and nudge Iranian policy towards the U.S.. The real CIA is probably better chronicled in movies like Zero Dark Thirty, where they are basically investigators on an international scene, but the U.S. is known to use the CIA in the way the show depicts in cases like propping up dictators, the Shah in Iran before the revolution, etc. 

 

It seems like as a result of just war theory, the U.S. resorts to pragmatism when actually addressing threats, which translates into short-minded goals like nudging people here, changing out people there, and so forth. It is analogous to how in business, people are taught altruism, but they resort to pragmatic "get things done" as long as you can get away with it. In both arenas there are no principles, everthying is a case by case situation. So that is how we get these convoluted schemes in shows like Homeland.

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The main mission of the CIA is espionage, and it consists mostly of recruiting and managing various kinds of assets embedded in foreign governments and other organizations, both friendly (non-profits, opposition groups) and enemy. It would be pretty difficult to just "investigate" in an enemy country. The only source of information is espionage activities. 

 

One of the CIA's most prestigious and sought after divisions is the NCS (National Clandestine Service). NCS "collectors" ("case officer" would be a more generic term, I think that's Carrie's official title on Homeland) are a specific type of undercover agent: highly educated, with top level clearance, and with an official cover (an official cover means being officially employed by the US government, usually as a diplomat when on foreign soil). Their role is to manage "assets". On Homeland, Carrie has been shown performing this role several times (I remember she traveled to Beirut to connect with one of her assets last season, for instance).

 

Case officers are crucial to the mission of any intelligence apparatus, because they're the ones who manage human intelligence sources. Here's the recruitment page: https://www.cia.gov/careers/opportunities/clandestine/core-collector.html

Minimum requirements include a bachelor's or master's degree and a strong academic record, with a preferred GPA of 3.0 or better, and a strong interest in international affairs. Candidates must possess solid interpersonal and communications skills, including the ability to write clearly and accurately. Foreign travel and area knowledge, prior residency abroad, cross-cultural sensitivity, and foreign language proficiency (particularly in the critical languages of Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Indonesian, Korean, Pashto, Persian, Russian, Somali, Turkish, Kurdish and Urdu) are highly desirable. Degrees of interest include, but are not limited to, international business, finance or international relations, economics, physical science or nuclear, biological or chemical engineering. Competitive candidates will also possess personality traits that will allow them to be successful Core Collectors, including the ability to work both independently and as part of a team, the ability to “think on their feet”, and the ability to deal effectively with individuals at all levels—often in fast-breaking and rapidly changing situations. 

 

That's not an investigative role. It's very much espionage, the turning and handling of assets, there's real danger to it, etc. Obviously, not the kind of outrageous schemes presented on Homeland, but still. 

 

There are other roles in intelligence. For instance, a NOC (short for "non-official cover"), is an agent who is undercover as something other than the representative of his own government (journalist, businessman, traveler, etc.). These are intelligence sources, working under case officers. Then there are special operators (like Peter Quinn on Homeland, https://www.cia.gov/careers/opportunities/clandestine/paramilitary-operations-officer-specialized-skills-officer.html ), linguists and other specialists, and, of course, analysts (https://www.cia.gov/careers/opportunities/analytical). I believe the main character on Zero Dark Thirty was an analyst, so is the Muslim girl on Homeland. 

 

Btw, I like Homeland, it's a fun watch, but for a more realistic look, and for a better drama in general, I recommend the Israeli series it is based on: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1676462/).

Edited by Nicky
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The main mission of the CIA is espionage, and it consists mostly of recruiting and managing various kinds of assets embedded in foreign governments and other organizations, both friendly (non-profits, opposition groups) and enemy. It would be pretty difficult to just "investigate" in an enemy country. The only source of information is espionage activities. 

 

One of the CIA's most prestigious and sought after divisions is the NCS (National Clandestine Service). NCS "collectors" ("case officer" would be a more generic term, I think that's Carrie's official title on Homeland) are a specific type of undercover agent: highly educated, with top level clearance, and with an official cover (an official cover means being officially employed by the US government, usually as a diplomat when on foreign soil). Their role is to manage "assets". On Homeland, Carrie has been shown performing this role several times (I remember she traveled to Beirut to connect with one of her assets last season, for instance).

 

Case officers are crucial to the mission of any intelligence apparatus, because they're the ones who manage human intelligence sources. Here's the recruitment page: https://www.cia.gov/careers/opportunities/clandestine/core-collector.html

 

That's not an investigative role. It's very much espionage, the turning and handling of assets, there's real danger to it, etc. Obviously, not the kind of outrageous schemes presented on Homeland, but still. 

 

There are other roles in intelligence. For instance, a NOC (short for "non-official cover"), is an agent who is undercover as something other than the representative of his own government (journalist, businessman, traveler, etc.). These are intelligence sources, working under case officers. Then there are special operators (like Peter Quinn on Homeland, https://www.cia.gov/careers/opportunities/clandestine/paramilitary-operations-officer-specialized-skills-officer.html ), linguists and other specialists, and, of course, analysts (https://www.cia.gov/careers/opportunities/analytical). I believe the main character on Zero Dark Thirty was an analyst, so is the Muslim girl on Homeland. 

 

Btw, I like Homeland, it's a fun watch, but for a more realistic look, and for a better drama in general, I recommend the Israeli series it is based on: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1676462/).

 

I understand the objective value of espionage to an extent. Once you gain information about a threat, you end militarily, not entering into a labrynth of subterfuge, ex. turning that Iranian intelligence officer in hopes of changing Iranian policy. That is what I find amazing, that people think that is what the CIA is for.

Edited by abott1776
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  • 1 month later...

Those same people think the CIA condoned the level of drug trafficking depicted in "Air America" as well, the "hollywood" dramatic version of reality sells well enough, the gullible will always be there to partake. It is good to understand that any clandestine service has deal "collateral" events, and sometimes they are real and sometimes they were imagined. People react to both kinds...

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