IamA former CIA Case Officer who recently revealed my career to my family and now the world. AMA!
I was a Central Intelligence Agency Case Officer who served in the Directorate of Operations (DO) with multiple tours in Afghanistan and throughout the Middle East. I was in Afghanistan throughout President Obama's 2010 Afghan Surge, during which time I worked on eliminating the most deadly improvised explosive device (IED) network in the world; as well as the removal of numerous al-Qaeda and Taliban High Value Targets from the battlefield.
I was in Kandahar, Afghanistan during Operation Neptune Spear which resulted in the death of UBL in Abbottabad, Pakistan. My final assignment was with a top secret task force operating amidst the Syrian Civil War.
I just wrote a book about all these experiences (and much more), it's titled Left of Boom: How a Young CIA Case Officer Penetrated the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
I will answer all of your questions to the best that I can — if I can. If I can’t, I will do my best to explain why.
1750 EST: AND I WILL NOT STOP UNTIL I SURPASS THIS COMPUTER DUDE KEVIN RILEY WHO IS STANDING ON MY HEAD RIGHT NOW. (Here for the long haul guys. Big bag of cat food for the bubbins. Let's do this.)
1839 EST: DUDES, YOU HAVE ALLOWED THE GUY ABOVE ME TO MAKE THE HOME PAGE OF THE INTERNET. HOW. IS. THIS. POSSIBLE. (Bubby is gnawing on my slipper about this to contemplate.)
1923 EST: CAN SOMEONE TEACH ME HOW TO SABOTAGE KEVIN RILEY WITH ANNOYING QUESTIONS AND THEN BLAME HIM FOR NOT ANSWERING THEM FAST ENOUGH SO HE GETS DOWNVOTES?
1931 EST: COULD IT BE I ACTUALLY HAVE 200 FBI AGENTS MONITORING THIS FEED RIGHT NOW UNDER PSEUDONYM? (Bubby is flattered.)
1958 EST: HEADING FOR THE TITO'S. STILL BEING BEAT BY A PROGRAMMER BY A LANDSLIDE. SHIT IS ABOUT TO GET WEIRD.
2030 EST: TAKING A RUN TO STAY SHARP. IN THE MEANTIME, SHOW SOME LOVE TO GET ME AHEAD OF THIS KEVIN RILEY GUY FOR GODSAKES...
0153 EST: OK GUYS BUBBY NEED HIM NAPPY TIME OR I GET YELLED AT. LET ME PUT MY HEAD DOWN UNTIL 0500 AND THEN I AM BACK UP HERE SLUGGIN AWAY WITH COFFEE AND CAT TOYS. BRB.
2107 EST: THIS JUST IN. CURRENTLY SANDWICHED BETWEEN TWO VIDEO GAME DEVELOPERS IN THE IAMA. TALK ABOUT A CIA CONSPIRACY.
2207 EST: MOAR!!!
2314 EST: Keep em coming guys. Thanks for the interest. Very humbling!
2231 EST: Say when.
ZERO DARK 34: Still here guys. I told you I wouldn't give up on you. I am here as long as you need me.
0132 EST: 11 hours in folks. Thinking about a nap on the couch and then right back to it. Let's go ten more mins. If I hit homepage, I wont sleep. If I hover 27 me go night night a bit.
0800 EST: http://imgur.com/ulzYk11 ROUND TWO. DINGGGGGG. DINGGGGGG. (puts in mouth piece)
1011 EST: The time two Agency Case Officers had it out over Reddit. I'm spent guys. That was the curtain call. Thank you. Stay safe.
This is by far the best question asked thus far. Thank you for caring so much about my bubby bubby bubbins. Thankfully though, I got him after I left the Agency so I didnt have to worry about that. Or I would have just resigned on the spot.
Hands down, cutest answer in the thread.
Cat nods in approval.
What is the silliest thing you did at the CIA?
I like this question. Silliest thing I ever did was take a huge dip of Redman chewing tobacco trying to fit in with some of the hard core door kickers we employ. I turned green, puked in the trash can, drank a coke, then took another even bigger dip to prove to the guys I wasnt a pussy. Turns out, I am. Puked again. Went home early. Sleep tight America!
Soildier here. Tried dip to fit in with some other Army buddies, also puked. You are not alone.
I dont know who these animals are???
CIA with a sense of humor, ISIS is fucked.
Haha. Didnt know that was the solution but I will turn it up now.
Has anybody ever come close to figuring out your secret, what was going through your mind? Do you ever regret that your entire life was a fabricated lie, and how did you create your fake identity?
Oh yes. Those closest to me always were suspicious. And those closest to me were always my girlfriends. They always thought I was cheating on them or in the mafia or selling drugs or something illicit. Which they would constantly point out but I just had to suck it up and deal with it. I talk about in my book how my girlfriend once found my Agency badge in my sock drawer (cool secret hiding spot huh?) and how I had to talk my way out of that disaster. Didn't go over so well.
No, I do not regret that my life was a fabricated lie because it was only my job that I was hiding from everyone. Yes, that job bled into my social life quite heavily at times, but I was determined to keep as much normality in my life as possible which came with a lot of pain along the way. Wasn't easy but I am glad I at least always held onto a sliver of it.
How'd you talk your way out of her finding your badge?
Deny everything, make counter accusations.
I swear it was for a Halloween costume.
Haha. That would have been DAMN authentic huh?
How did you come to work for the CIA? Did you apply for the job or were you recruited?
A recruiter came to my campus as Indiana University and gave a speech. Then he encouraged us to all apply on line. Thats what I did and this whole thing took off from there.
what were the qualifications?
The mandatory stuff is all published online which will guide you on whether or not to even waste your time. (If you have recently done drugs, its a big no.) Other than that, they want someone who is well rounded and not so myopic.
How old is too old and how recent is too recent with drugs. Marijuana specifically, I don't do other drugs.
I dont want to give you bad juju so please go to their website and they have officially published the age restrictions and drug restrictions. DONT FORGET: Just because weed is legal in your state where you smoked it, it is not legal according to the federal government with whom you would be trying to work via CIA. So, bottom line, dont smoke pot if you want to work there. Or, like drink a bunch of water before the drug test. I dont know. Up to you.
+1 for IU. There's a prof here named gene coyle who used to be a CIA field officer and teaches a class on intelligence and national security. You ever take his class/do you have any interest in teaching in a similar fashion?
I did not take his class but then again 9/11 happened when I was a freshman at IU so his class would have been much different then compared to what it is now I am sure. I have taught a few classes here in DC and tutor students at Georgetown. I-U
How did you hide that career from your family?
Well, I should probably start by saying that I am a single guy who has never been married and I don't have any kids. But I still kept my career secret from everyone else I knew aside from fellow Agency colleagues. The only person I told for the past ten years was my brother. I just told my mom and dad last week the day before they published the NYT article on me. Figured if it was ever time to do it, it was then.
So for context, since you asked about family - I classify that as solely my mom and dad. And I kept it from them by telling them I was a low level sales guy - which I also told everyone else - and since that's pretty boring, their truthfully weren't a whole lot of other follow up questions. Now, when I deployed to Afghanistan I told them I was moving to Hawaii because they live in the midwest and I knew it was the furthest state away and the chances of them visiting me were slim to none. Turns out, they did want to come and visit a few times and I just had to dodge it and tell them I was busy or couldn't do it during the time frame they proposed.
Let me tell you, they were pretty shocked this time last week. But we are all good now and they really thrilled to see me on TV and hear me on the radio. It's also a gigantic weight off my chest that I have been carrying for the past ten years.
When you say told your brother is that type of reveal expected and accounted for, or were you off the reservation doing even that?
They would like you to tell someone in the event you are killed, you have a point of contact. I dedicated my book to my brother because he has been my only outlet for the past decade. Which is to say I put his ass through a lot as well.
Probably told them he was going to the store for a pack of smokes like my dad did.
Ha. Nice. Actually it was for a tall can of OE but smokes would have worked too.
I didnt say Old Milwaukee. Calm down Derek.
My great uncle was in the CIA after WWII. He was one of the Volksfrei kids that was forced to fight at the end of the war. Him and my grandfather fled the front and went to the nearest americans and turned themselves in.
My Uncle then worked for the CIA to spy I guess on Germans or possible east germans and former Nazi's. He never talked much about it, I don't know what was classified or not but I do remember that he did say he felt bad for spying on fellow Germans. How hard was it to tell your family? how much could you tell them? and would you do it all over again?
also do we do things like Mossad does things? basically killing in other countries or is that just TV stuff?
Krampus1313 you come in swinging. Let me try to answer everything you asked.
Yes, it was very hard to tell my family and as I mentioned, they took it a bit hard, my mom especially, because what do you even say to that? There is no playbook for how to handle your son coming out to you about being a spy. But like I said, they are happy now to see my on TV talking about the whole experience. Would I do it all over again? Yes. It was an awesome career while it lasted.
Mossad gonna be Mossad. I dont know if TV reps them accurately or not but I can say they have a tendency to do whatever the fuck they want so who knows?
Big ups to your grandpa by the way!
Thanks for the answers. Mossad is gonna Mossad is classic, they just DGAF lol
"IDGAF." - Mossad
Just finished your book it was amazing. Are you currently single? Or did you get back with any of the girls you wrote about in the book? Emma was my favorite.
Haha. Ahem. Wellllllll yes I am single. Shall we move this convo to Tinder?
I'd definitely swipe right for YOU!
Oh. Dear. Lord.
half chub ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡◕)
I know right? Good thing I am not in my sweats or mesh yet.
What is your cat's name? Does it lead a double life as well or is it possible you're not yet aware of it?
It's very likely. He is a Russian Blue breed which already means he shouldnt be trusted. I also named him Oleg Penkovsky who was a legendary GRU Colonel who spied for the Americans and prevented the Cuban missile crisis. Codename HERO.
Here I thought you named him Oleg because one leg was different from the other 3 in some way. I'm slightly disappointed.
Sigh. No. It is because he is beautiful and perfect and the greatest cat ever and he is my bubby bubby bubbins.
Was there any assignment in your career that you had that possibly put your life in danger?
Well I was a warzone Case Officer (C/O) so you can imagine that it is already dangerous by proxy of being in a warzone. Then you add in the idea that you are CIA and that puts a tremendous target on your back. Which is why it is so important to maintain sound tradecraft and stay off the radar. Add to that the fact that Afghanistan in and of itself is trying to kill you every chance it gets. Whether that be via the terrain or a virus (which I got and almost killed me) that is not common for a midwest guy like me.
ARe you fluent in other languages? Glad you made it home safe.
Thank you for saying that.
Former civilian Fed here. Something I've wondered ever since it happened to me... and just about everyone else. Were you "outed" by the OPM hack? Do the Chinese (or whoever got that) know who all of our agents are now?
Yes. And I will not hide that from anyone because I think it was fucking disgusting that I got that letter in the mail telling me I was exposed.
Do CIA officers know the unknown names on the Wall of Stars?
Yes, some of them are published in the Book of Honor. Some are not.
i know the answer to this. no they do not know.
I encourage you to read Ted Gupps book Book of Honor about those names we do know.
everyone googles A858DE45F56D9BC9
You look familiar. Are you allowed to say where/when you were in country? Logar province, 2010?
I was in Afghanistan from 2010-2012. Could be we crossed paths brother.
Do you really track your targets, like in the movies? How about avoiding being trailed and losing those trailing you? Do they commonly happen also?
Great question. Let me answer your first question by referring you to Zero Dark Thirty. That is highly authentic movie, and as we learned yesterday via Vice.com, it is because the Agency helped them along the way to ensure its authenticity. As for the second question, I refer you to the Billion Dollar Spy by Bruce Hoffman which lays out the tradecraft involved with surveillance and counter surveillance. I also talk about it in my book regarding that training at the Farm.
Biggest IED you've encountered?
I wasn't in EOD so I didnt have to encounter the IEDs per se in terms of disarming them. My job was to eliminate those responsible for providing the IEDs in the first place. That is also the definition of the title of the book Left of Boom - which is military slang for everything that takes place prior to a bomb detonating.
Cool, thanks for the response
How is the opium trade going in Afghanistan, still strong?
Stronger than ever. It's in season right now which (sadly) was always the most beautiful part of Afghanistan from a helo seeing the pink poppies down below. Tragic what they are capable of once scored.
Thank you for your service. Besides writing, what are you currently doing for work now that you are out of the agency? You mentioned that you were paid on the GS scale, what grade did you start at and end on? If the CIA and the FBI had a professional wrestling style royal rumble, with equal numbers in the ring, which other agency do you see running in mid way through and stone cold stunning everyone? Thank you for any answers you provide.
BEST. QUESTION. SO. FAR.
I am not doing anything in terms of work so far other than feeding my cat and playing Nintendo when he lets me.
I cant say what I started at or what I finished at. Doesnt really matter though cause none of it is that much and it is all public info.
Now, for the main event, I like where your heads at. Brilliant question. And its quite easy to answer. And that is the EEO. Please do yourself a painful favor and look up and see the Stone Cold to my Vince McMahon. In case you are lazy, or dont want to move your cat off your lap like me, I will tell you that is the PC Police. WOOOOOWWOOOOOOOO. They patrol the Federal Government to make sure everyone is polite and sterile and cares about everyone elses feelings and are total robots. So yes, they would run in, stun the field guys, and then put in a professional investigation of the entire audience for being complicit.
Holy fuck. I think you just kicked my hornets nest. I am going to take a walk. Maybe a hot shower.
Ha, nice, and glad to hear you're getting to relax for a bit. I would have imagined EEO wouldn't be too involved with members in the field, crazy to think of being in such conditions and walking on eggshells made of feelings and political correctness. Then again, you've got military operators getting discharged for shoving child rapists. I wish you the best, send my regards to your cat.
He just gave you a nod from the couch. Thats more than I have received this month...
With opium production at an all time high, rising ISIS factions, and continuing insurgencies from 2001 do you think we can win over there? Do you think my comrades' sacrifice over in Afghanistan was worth it now that the surge seems like it accomplished nothing?
Brother, I ask myself the same question every goddamn day. Was any of it worth it? Will the Taliban retake Afghanistan? They very well might. Will ISIS continue to grow? I think they are starting to decline but, will someone else readily take their place depending on the reason detre of the day? Absolutely. What do you think Jeff? Great convo to start.
This is the most interesting AMA I've ever read. Thank you for your service! I have two questions: Is there a part of our culture that could benefit from other cultures you've seen?
Before deciding to leave the CIA and write a book, were there other government carrier opportunities (when you came home) you thought about following?
First off, thanks for saying that. Second, what the fuck is Gareth Emery doing trying to AMA while I am trying to crush Kevin Riley?! wtf man! And I like Gareth Emery's music. Fucking dirtbag. Used to anyhow.
Sorry for the profanity supposedtobeworking1. Hopefully that doesnt change to usedtobeworking1 after you got caught on this website talking with a shifty Agency dude.
Yes, there is a part of culture that could benefit from every culture worldwide and that is this - they are all different so STOP mirror imaging other cultures. They are not America and as much as some of our politicians (you know exactly who) wish they were, they are not. I am thankful for that, and they are too. So we gotta stop viewing everything with the American lens when in their country. That was a big ass wake up call for a small town midwest redneck like me. My thought had always been - "Umm we are America they should be more American." After my life overseas I dont think that anymore.
Dont get it twisted. I will bleed on this fucking flag to keep it red. But I know from experience it would do a lot of folks good in our country to learn a little bit about other countries and cultures before slinging mud. That's all I have to say on that. Sorry. You got my BPM up a wee bit supposedtobeworking1.
No, I would not work for any other government organization other than CIA.
Thanks for getting me heated.
That's actually the most in depth answer I've ever gotten on an AMA. I asked because I buddy of mine from Afghanistan tells me stories about his family in Afghanistan and what the culture was like. I was just curious to see it from a different perspective. The guy is literally the most peaceful person I've ever met.
The Afghans have a saying "He who gets angry first, loses."
What would you say is your most memorable experience in your 10 year career?
Taking down the worlds largest IED network in Afghanistan over a two year period.
Are you also convinced that your cat is a double agent?
His name is Mr. Oleg Penkovsky. So it is absolutely possible.
Do you regret working for the CIA at all? Seems like there are significant sacrifices.
As EOD, I appreciate everything you did in Afghanistan.
I have no regrets. I had a lot of bad shit happen to me and you are correct, there were a lot of sacrifices, but I always learned from them and made it a net positive which has made me stronger in the long run. The key is to not allow your abduration turn into obduration.
And you have all of my thanks for your service. Even if you dont get the book, please pick it up and flip through the picture section in the middle. I give you guys a ton of shout outs visually!!
Aww, is that cat a Russian blue? I have two of the little fur balls :)
Me. You. BEST FRIENDS.
What are some common misconceptions about Intelligence Agencies that you wish more people knew?
Thank you for doing this AMA - its interesting to hear from someone who had to keep their job secret for so long.
Let me see. I'd give you a listicle if I could because my cat loves those but you will have to settle for a standard list instead.
CIA was responsible for 9/11. If you believe this you are dumb.
Calling us CIA Agents. No. Please stop that. CIA officer. FBI Agent.
2.5 I really blame Keanu Reeves for ruining the Agent/Officer thing for us. "I am a F-B-I Agent!" Can't tell you how many times guys have quoted that back to me with C-I-A instead. Fucking Johnny Utah man. Ohio State quarterback.
- We are human. We get colds. We sneeze. We get sick. We get sad. We get emo. We have shitty relationships. We cry. We fuck. We eat. We shit. We make lots of mistakes. We are human, please dont forget that when judging us.
Great question. Why 10ofClubs by the way?
Calling us CIA Agents.
b-b-but your username
Ahem. Now you see...
Dabble in card magic occasionally, so it's good to have a favorite force card. I picked 10of clubs because I read some awful book that used playing cards in place of tarot cards, and 10ofClubs was my "birthday card" so it kind of stuck with me.
Thanks for the answers! I never talk to CIA ~officers~ so its nice to hear the other side of the coin.
I notice you ask about username choices, which is great because I get to hear the explanations. Any reason you ask besides curiosity?
Because I appreciate cleverness.
The Afghans call that "chalak"
Did your time in the Middle East take a greater toll on you mentally or physically? Why?
Mentally. Because I kept it turned up to 11 the entire time I was there. I was generally pretty safe physically during my time there with a few exceptions but nothing that left me debilitated or maimed. That said, I have an entire chapter in my book called The Downward Spiral which talks about my trying to cope with the stress through drugs and alcohol. Not my best stuff but it happened and I thought it was integral to share because lots of guys come back and have a hard time adjusting. Life is tough sometimes, huh?
I imagine this is a little different from soldiers coming home from a deployment, but to a greater extent. How is your healthcare after everything you have done? Have you been pretty well taken care of? And do you miss being over there?
Yes, I do miss it a lot. It is hard to replace that adrenaline and its also hard to deal with petty shit not being so petty back home. But I have come around. All is sound as pound with me man. I hope you are well too.
Did most of your work as a case officer occur behind a desk or TOC of sorts? I always assumed the SOG guys were the actual ones going out on DA raids and the like...
Well put and thank you for signaling to me that you are military up front.
No, I was a field guy. Case officers SHOULD BE out in the field all the time unless they are typing up what they just did. We meet assets and collect intelligence. You cannot do that from behind a desk. You do it in person, this is why its called HUMINT.
Now, I am not going to lie to you and tell you I was on the OBJ with my slick tiger stripes, because that wasnt my job. Mine was much more covert and personal. The intel received allowed for that DA.
Given your intense experience in the CIA, did you find the process of writing a book about it to be cathartic or painful? And were you worried about backlash from anyone (or any group) in particular?
It was at times very much both. All I can say is that I am glad I wrote it when I did - which was three years ago - because if I tried doing it now, I wouldn't because the memories wouldnt be as fresh and I am just too damn tired to go through it all again. The book comes off raw because I was still raw at the time. Now I am just a cat owner with a playstation who likes to drink capri sun.
I'm interested on to what are you playing right now, any inclination to military/shooter stuff or something more akin to fantasy or sci-fi?
I am playing MLB baseball. I suck at the shooter stuff. I used to like this game called Morrowind or some shit in college. And yes, I realize you will probably make fun of me like "Morrowind or some shit"!!! But it was my roomates game and I used to play it all the time under his character when he was at class. I seriously fucked up something with his character once though towards graduation and he flipped out.
How % of your life was like the movie "True Lies"?
I always wished I was a vacuum cleaner salesman and I similarly always wished I could fist punch a dude in the face while driving a Stingray at top speeds. Alas, I wasnt. So I guess like only 99%.
In his book "A Legacy of Ashes", Tim Weiner asserts that the CIA has never effectively fulfilled its objective of providing American leaders with an accurate picture of the intentions, motivations and capabilities of international actors. Instead, it has focused primarily on covert action - most of which has been unsuccessful or counterproductive. His research (and the book) end a few years into the Iraq War.
In your experience, is this still the case? If not, what substantive changes have been made within the organization's structure or in the way that it understands its mission/purpose?
(I was a Marine infantryman in Helmand in 2011. Not trying to put you on the spot, just asking a question.)
I have not read that book but I can speak from personal experience and he didn't interview me. I was your neighbor in Helmand at the exact time you were there and let me tell you brother, CIA was going 17-5-2 as well. Not sure where Mr Weiner drew his facts from, since it would all be Top Secret and not available via any type of FOIA.
You are not putting me on the spot. Thank you very much for your service. That was the deadliest province in all of Afghanistan. I am glad you are safe.
What skills did you have to learn in order to qualify?
As a young child I wanted to be a spy. I didn't quite understand the danger element or the possibility of having to hurt or kill others. I also was under the impression that spying would be a Lemony Snicket type affair and that I could totally bust someone like in a kids' adventure novel if only I had the chance! That being said, even though my life and career aspirations are now far less risky, I would love to go on some kind of course that teaches you similar skills to those you learn in the CIA (or military, etc.) without actually having to join, or at lest know what those skills are so that I can practice them. More to appease my inner five-year-old than anything.
Also, if this hasn't already been answered: What was the most difficult situation you found yourself in?
How, approximately, are the pay and benefits?
If you had not become a CIA Officer what would have been your first career choice?
Who is your favourite fictional CIA-ish character?
Thanks in advance, sorry if it's too many questions.
Let me answer all of your questions with a lot of answers.
There are no skills that you can learn per se prior to joining the Agency that will make you a stronger candidate. Yes, the military would help to a degree but in order to be a case officer, which is what I did, you really cant prepare for it ahead of time. Which is a good thing. That way everyone is starting on a level playing field. Which, for me especially, was a good thing given that I was just an average guy from the Midwest.
As for wanting to be a spy as a child and now wanting to appease that inner five year old. Brother, I wanted to be a spy at 23 when I joined. Are you saying I hadn't grown up yet? Ha. I feel you man, I mentioned earlier that the tradecraft they teach you is by far the sexiest part of the job and its where you draw all the juice. Unfortunately, I dont know of anywhere else (legit) that you could get that training, at least that high quality of training, anywhere else in the world. But a guy earlier mentioned he was going to make a karate sizzle reel for the Agency so maybe he could train you-us?
Most difficult situation was being on a lonnnnnnnnnng flight home from Afghanistan and having to take a pee but not being able to because of a virus I had which prevented me from urinating. I'll let you read in the book why I couldn't because it is a bit too graphic for Reddit. (Has that ever been said before on here?)
The pay is governmental and fairly low. But you shouldnt join if that is your reason for wanting to do it. You will not have an Aston Martin and you will not wear Tom Ford. You will drive a Prius (if you are in management) and wear GAP.
If I had not been in the CIA I was dead set on becoming a Marine.
My favorite fictional CIA character used to be James Bond when he was Golden Eye because I had that video game for N64 and played the shit out of it. Then it became Jason Bourne when Matt Damon picked that character up but it is back to James Bond again because Daniel Craig is a bad ass. Also, its easy for me to get a date to come watch Daniel Craig as Bond because they know there is a high propensity he will take his shirt off.
- Did you work closely with sniper groups?
- What kind of food did you eat while deployed?
- What was the most dangerous situation you found yourself in?
Thank you for the AMA!
No I did not work with sniper groups.
I ate a lot of kabali palaw and eggplant.
Most dangerous was anytime I left the wire because you never know what is going to happen. I am lucky nothing ever did.
Thank you for the question!
So many questions that I don't know where to start. I know a lot of stuff I want to ask would be classified. I know the dynamics of how much the CIA works\collaborates with JSOC has blurred through the years. Do you believe it would be more of a benefit for the CIA to fall under JSOC?
No, I do not. CIA is a civilian organization and that is integral to the intelligence community. Or at least thats what I think. What are your thoughts?
Granted CIA is a civilian organization, but we also know that JSOC lends JSOC entities to the CIA for use. Most recent event I can remember was the death of Osama. My understanding is that this allows a bit more freedom to US Military when on loan by to the CIA...different law set. The Book Dirty Wars spoke to this which raised my initial question so I was curious of what a former CIA officer would think of it.
Also read Mark Mazzetti's The Way of the Knife!
My best friend growing up is now in the FBI. He broke off all contact with pretty much everyone when he started there and moved away. Since then, the only word I've heard out of him has been thru a mutual high school friend who is a naval officer and got in touch with him thru some channel she had access to. He has virtually no web presence at all. I google him once in a while and all I've ever found is his office contact info and one picture where he received a commendation for busting some corrupt local government official. My question is: what's a good way to get in touch with him? I don't think sending a note to his FBI e-mail account would be very smart, and I don't want to end up on some watch list. Or am I just watching too much tv and it's a normal e-mail situation?
Haha. I think it may be just a little bit too much tv. Look, if he has an official email address that is PUBLISHED on the internet then brother, that is public information. I wouldnt send him nudes, but I dont see any harm in reaching out.
How did you get started in such a career? I was under the impression most people are groomed for these positions.
I applied online just like the campus recruiter told me to. Then they contacted me...
What was your degree in if you don't mind my asking?
Political Science, Japanese Language and a minor in Business
What involvement, if any, did you have in Operation Neptune Spear?
Sorry brother, can't field that one other than to say I was in Kandahar at the time.
Were you ever trained with what to do if you were caught overseas? Like how you see in the movies about reacting to torture and things of that nature.
Yikes. Glad it never came to that. Yes, you receive a lot of training. Much of that got redacted in my book but theres still quite a bit in there that you might find useful should you face that situation this evening.
Did you like your job? How was your social life and did your job put tons of stress on you?
I loved every second of it even when I was bitching. It was a tremendous job. My social life was robust but do understand that came with a lot of stress that I brought upon myself. Consider, every new person I met was one more person I had to keep my secret from and weave another lie with. That web got pretty complex after awhile to the point where I no longer wanted to meet new people. Pretty sad huh? Boo hoo for me. Kidding. It came with the job, you have to accept it and deal with it. That's why they pay you the big government bucks to do it!
Aside from the technical qualifications, what kind of person do you think would enjoy this line of work? Who wouldn't? What are the questions they should ask themselves? Thanks!
Can you deal well with ambiguity? If yes, you should apply. If no, then definitely dont! Can you comfortably lie to someone? If yes, then apply. If not, then run away as fast as possible.
Also, dont do drugs.
Hi can I join the CIA?
Yes, yes you can. Please apply online!
Cheers. If it helps i know karate and have watched both seasons of Daredevil on netflix
Dude, put together a sizzle reel and I'll send that shit over!
This is the greatest AMA I've ever read!
What's your favorite breakfast cereal?
Finally! A real goddamn national security question!
I eat Wheaties. I am not joking. If someone would teach me how to attach pics to this I would show you a pic of me and my bubbins with a box on my counter right now.
I grew up in the Jordan era. What can I say? They won. So did Nike.
Have you ever had the opportunity to work with CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Services) ? If so, what is your opinion of them.
Nope. Thanks for asking though.
What place in the middle east did you enjoy most and why? What place did you enjoy least and why? What was your impression of the different middle eastern cultures you encountered and how they are different or similar to stuff in the US?
Unfortunately verdant_phoenix, I cannot say which countries I was in the middle east. Let's just say most of them. Sorry, but I was not allowed to say in my book and I cant say here either but would love to tell you over beers sometime. I mean, if we were friends and all.
Would you rather fight one terrorist-sized duck or a hundred duck-sized terrorists?
Someone already beat you to the punch with that one.
What is your favorite word?
What is your least favorite word?
What turns you on?
What turns you off?
What sound or noise do you love?
What sound or noise do you hate?
What is your favorite curse word?
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
What profession would you not like to do?
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
LOVE YOU 6tacocat9. Please explain your handle when you get a chance.
Cat eating food.
Cat meowing pre-5am.
How much like the movies is it? Anything like the show the Americans?
Nothing like the Americans. That is written FOR the television.
How did you get to where you were? What did you take during your time in college/university? I'd love to do something like you have one day.
I appreciate you saying that. And you should. It's an unbelievable job that cannot be replicated by anything else. I got there by believing in myself. At first I didnt, I said no way in hell they are going to take a redneck from the midwest like me. But you know what, they eventually called me and the ball started moving. And I kept pushing. And then I got to Langley and was like wtf just happened? It's real!
In college I had a degree in Political Science and also in the Japanese language. I had a minor in business. I-U.
How did you interact with people you encountered in the states? The east coast contradance community has a running joke about being full of government employees, because they're filled with aging but fit people who won't say what they do for a living.
What communities did you participate in outside of your work life while in the states, what community events and hobbies did you engage in?
I'm not quite sure what you mean...can you please clarify? I think I understand your question but I want to answer to the best of my ability. Thanks!
What communities did you participate in outside of your work life while in the states, what community events and hobbies did you engage in?
Besides the DC bars? I played softball on a random team because I wasn't allowed to be on a team with any fellow Agency officers for cover concerns. Since leaving the Agency, I have been in Big Bros Big Sis for the past three years. Hanging with my LilB is my main hobby these days. That and watching my cat fail around my apartment all day.
I think so. Cat fails can really break up the monotony of anyone's day.
What is your opinion on MKUltra?
I think it's an old school manual that gets a lot of play still and I am not sure why.
What job did you friends and family think you had?
A dumpy, boring sales guy.
Im a sales guy. Thanks.
Fuck. But hey, I hear you're not dumpy so that's a huge win!
haha no worries
This would not be the first time or last time I put my shoe in my mouth. Send me your mailing address and I will send you a copy of my book. I mean, if you want one.
Ok, the url to the proof is not working, but I'll believe it. By revealing to your family, did you mean your wife and children had no idea what you did for a living? If so, what did you tell them during your career and what happened when you revealed the truth to them?
I mentioned above that I am a single guy so by family I consider that my mom and dad. I just told them last week. They were shocked and for good reason. Just as I am sure many folks on Reddit think right now that I am probably a hoax or a scam...my parents initial thought was the same. Like, this cannot be possibly true. This is only in the movies. Nope. It's your son. Right in front of you. And the NYT is about to back me up tomorrow morning. Soooooooo...questions mom and dad???
I don't know if you can officialy respond to this but does CIA operate in Europe regulary? Does the agency hire non-American citizens?
Sorry, about that but you were right with your preface. I don't have an answer for you. Thanks a lot though! Please send another and I will field it.
How did the agency change over the course of your career?
Hmmmm...I know that I changed a lot but I am honestly not sure exactly how to answer that question. I only served in the warzones and those didnt change a whole lot from 2010-2013 in terms of how I went about doing the work. So I guess to answer your question, it didnt. If you ask someone who was there for 30 years, I am sure they would have a much more fulsome response.
Thanks for the question!
How are you gonna avoid prison for talking about it?
Great question. The book was reviewed by the CIA which is a requirement of all Agency officers - to include the Directors - and was cleared. So, you will see it got redacted quite a bit and I chose to keep the redactions visible in the text of my book to show you exactly what that looks like.
Is the book pretty much one big redaction? Like
My name is Doug Laux and ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ when I was in ▀▀▀▀ ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ with ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ ▀▀ ▀▀▀▀ ▀ ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀. ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ and then ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ he ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ into ▀▀▀▀▀ ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ vehicle. Another ▀▀▀▀▀ ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ and it's ▀▀▀▀▀▀ ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ parents thought I was a traveling salesman. After I ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ I told them I was living in Hawii. One time my girlfriend, ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀, found my badge in my house in ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀. I talked my way of of that one by ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀. ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ ▀▀▀▀▀▀▀▀ ▀▀▀ ▀▀▀▀▀.
Because that would be really boring to read.
Dude!!!! Nice!! I am going to print that and put on my fridge next to the pictures of my cat. Thanks for making that. I take it you are on break right now or are taking a lazy Friday, huh?
What was it like to feel alone in the sense that you couldn't tell your family?
Why couldn't you tell your family?
What was your scariest experience?
Its not a good feeling and it takes a tremendous toll on you. My mom told me she can already tell I am "getting back to Doug being Doug" meaning, who I was before I joined the Agency and became so insulated.
I couldnt tell them to both protect the and not have them worry about me when I would go off comms for so long.
The most scared I have ever been was when I thought I was going to legit die from bleeding out due to a nasty virus I contracted while in Afghanistan. Also the time a Taliban commander and I got in a stare down over money. It's a tie.
...all in the book by the way!
Do you think at some point the government overstepped private boundaries in the name of national security and it's hurting them in the long term as less countries trust them and it's citizens lose confidence in them?
Hmmmm...you know it pains me to say but yeah I think so. I was never part of that portion (or you probably think I am just saying that to placate you) so I dont understand it as much as I wish I did.
Thanks for the question. Thats a good convo. Willing to follow up with you if you want.
Which sides in the Syrian War did we help more? Assad/Hezbollah/Russia OR Al-Nusra/Al-Qaeda and are you going to reveal just how deeply we are involved in the conflict and provide concrete details?
Great question. Let me start by saying I dont think it was ever official policy to help either of the two sides you mentioned. If you are suggesting that what we HAVE done has helped one side by weakening the other, than that's a fair argument.
Did the CIA really invent/distribute crack in order to keep the black man down?
Great question. I defer you to Tweet that to their official Twitter handle and ask them the same question. I'm kinda curious now too...
Did you get laid a lot by telling chicks you were a CIA agent?
I have never told a woman I was a CIA officer nor will I. That is called trading on the seal and its detested amongst officers. If you cant convince someone to like you from your winning personality and rapist wit, then you should just hang up the cleats.
I HAVE however asked women if they wanted to meet my cat which is my version of "Netflix and chill". We both know whats going on here.
I agree for sure haha. I only asked because I knew a girl who said some dude tried to nail her by telling her he was secret service
Did it work?
...pics or it didnt happen.
A certain someone who served once told me that the CIA basically controls the Opium trade in Afghanistan and that they use that money to fund other missions that no one is suppose to know about. Conspiracy or do you believe it to be true?
That is entirely false. Consider, something like that would have ABSOLUTELY been exposed by now. Afghanistan is a leaky, leaky boat.
Were that Afgani peoples good or bad ?
They were excellent. The Taliban? Not so excellent.
Child rape would check that box. And if you are in southern Afghanistan long enough, you will hear about it. Get involved with some of the dregs like I did, and it be brought to your attention quite blatantly. Now, if I had ever seen something like that in person that would have been the end of the assaulter. But I did hear about it frequently and it made my fucking head spin.
Sorry, not trying to bring this down, but you asked. And I wont avoid your questions.
How about a question regarding rainbows next please?
have you ever witnessed a double rainbow?
I feel sorry for those who havent.
How did the conversation with your family go and how did they react? I imagine they would have had lots of questions.
First of all, fucking great handle dude! Love that name. Yeah, as I mentioned it was a lot for them and my mom cried which I knew would happen. How could she not? But my dad was previously military so he was pretty solid about everything. It was really really really really nice to hear them say they were proud of me after all this. I almost cried. ;]
You mentioned several times that you were single, do you plan on settling down and starting a family now?
If you had decided to have kids, would you want them to follow your career path or not so much?
I am still quite certain I am unsure. To be completely honest with you, I grew up in the CIA and my entire dating life as an adult has occurred undercover so I dont know what normal dating is like. Now that I am on the outside, I suppose I will give it a try. If it leads to a family then ok thats cool. Kids? Tough one. Guess it depends how old I am when/if I even get married. Dust might be coming out by then.
Important question: Who took care of the cat while you were away?
View HistoryShare Link