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.)







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.

Proof: http://imgur.com/a/PYClO

Comments: 3316 • Responses: 114  • Date: 

andr3dias1099 karma

Important question: Who took care of the cat while you were away?

AgencyAgent1869 karma

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.

rizaroni535 karma

Hands down, cutest answer in the thread.

AgencyAgent753 karma

Cat nods in approval.

spicypepperoni1005 karma

What is the silliest thing you did at the CIA?

AgencyAgent2645 karma

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!

The_me_in_Team1030 karma

Soildier here. Tried dip to fit in with some other Army buddies, also puked. You are not alone.

AgencyAgent960 karma

I dont know who these animals are???

asstasticbum229 karma

CIA with a sense of humor, ISIS is fucked.

AgencyAgent208 karma

Haha. Didnt know that was the solution but I will turn it up now.

maxsw812 karma

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?

AgencyAgent1449 karma

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.

-Tibeardius-657 karma

How'd you talk your way out of her finding your badge?

AgencyAgent2154 karma

Deny everything, make counter accusations.

maxsw478 karma

I swear it was for a Halloween costume.

AgencyAgent705 karma

Haha. That would have been DAMN authentic huh?

Stratocratic739 karma

How did you come to work for the CIA? Did you apply for the job or were you recruited?

AgencyAgent1009 karma

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.

maxsw422 karma

what were the qualifications?

AgencyAgent754 karma

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.

Kevinnnnn351 karma

How old is too old and how recent is too recent with drugs. Marijuana specifically, I don't do other drugs.

AgencyAgent870 karma

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.

ronte94199 karma

+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?

AgencyAgent273 karma

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

tht1guy63657 karma

How did you hide that career from your family?

AgencyAgent1423 karma

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.

Livewire42473 karma

When you say told your brother is that type of reveal expected and accounted for, or were you off the reservation doing even that?

AgencyAgent1198 karma

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.

Dr_Jerkface1323 karma

Probably told them he was going to the store for a pack of smokes like my dad did.

AgencyAgent782 karma

Ha. Nice. Actually it was for a tall can of OE but smokes would have worked too.

DerekSavoc469 karma


AgencyAgent1347 karma

I didnt say Old Milwaukee. Calm down Derek.

Krampus1313553 karma

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?

AgencyAgent767 karma

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?

AgencyAgent386 karma

Big ups to your grandpa by the way!

Krampus1313209 karma

Thanks for the answers. Mossad is gonna Mossad is classic, they just DGAF lol

AgencyAgent651 karma

"IDGAF." - Mossad

APR1080507 karma

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.

AgencyAgent993 karma

Haha. Ahem. Wellllllll yes I am single. Shall we move this convo to Tinder?

APR1080502 karma

I'd definitely swipe right for YOU!

AgencyAgent624 karma

Oh. Dear. Lord.

mojo_juju355 karma

half chub ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡◕)

AgencyAgent441 karma

I know right? Good thing I am not in my sweats or mesh yet.

Rangers2000500 karma

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?

AgencyAgent1069 karma

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.

bald_and_nerdy318 karma

Here I thought you named him Oleg because one leg was different from the other 3 in some way. I'm slightly disappointed.

AgencyAgent912 karma

Sigh. No. It is because he is beautiful and perfect and the greatest cat ever and he is my bubby bubby bubbins.

AmblinFan26453 karma

Was there any assignment in your career that you had that possibly put your life in danger?

AgencyAgent769 karma

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.

PathTo3Commas362 karma

ARe you fluent in other languages? Glad you made it home safe.

AgencyAgent457 karma

Thank you for saying that.

matheweis435 karma

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?

AgencyAgent693 karma

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.

rbevans357 karma

Do CIA officers know the unknown names on the Wall of Stars?

AgencyAgent481 karma

Yes, some of them are published in the Book of Honor. Some are not.

VesperLynde3 karma

i know the answer to this. no they do not know.

AgencyAgent3 karma

I encourage you to read Ted Gupps book Book of Honor about those names we do know.

w728322 karma


AgencyAgent384 karma


IndyAJD186 karma

everyone googles A858DE45F56D9BC9

AgencyAgent324 karma


RobotMaster1293 karma

You look familiar. Are you allowed to say where/when you were in country? Logar province, 2010?

AgencyAgent394 karma

I was in Afghanistan from 2010-2012. Could be we crossed paths brother.

tordj280 karma

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?

AgencyAgent482 karma

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.

X3n0bL4DE266 karma

Biggest IED you've encountered?

maxsw680 karma

your mom

AgencyAgent804 karma

Good point.

AgencyAgent542 karma

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.

X3n0bL4DE116 karma

Cool, thanks for the response

AgencyAgent128 karma

Thank you.

42beers262 karma

How is the opium trade going in Afghanistan, still strong?

AgencyAgent504 karma

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.

dj2short257 karma

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.

AgencyAgent448 karma


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.

dj2short94 karma

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.

AgencyAgent178 karma

He just gave you a nod from the couch. Thats more than I have received this month...

JeffNasty252 karma

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?

AgencyAgent377 karma

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.

supposedtobeworking1240 karma

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?

AgencyAgent479 karma

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.

supposedtobeworking199 karma

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.

AgencyAgent260 karma

The Afghans have a saying "He who gets angry first, loses."

krakensfury232 karma

What would you say is your most memorable experience in your 10 year career?

AgencyAgent496 karma

Taking down the worlds largest IED network in Afghanistan over a two year period.

holycow33211 karma

Are you also convinced that your cat is a double agent?

AgencyAgent447 karma

His name is Mr. Oleg Penkovsky. So it is absolutely possible.

RowingEOD190 karma

Do you regret working for the CIA at all? Seems like there are significant sacrifices.

As EOD, I appreciate everything you did in Afghanistan.

AgencyAgent265 karma

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!!

ThatOneLegion186 karma

Aww, is that cat a Russian blue? I have two of the little fur balls :)

AgencyAgent260 karma


10ofClubs166 karma

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.

AgencyAgent341 karma


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.

  1. CIA was responsible for 9/11. If you believe this you are dumb.

  2. 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.

  1. 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?

PathTo3Commas397 karma

Calling us CIA Agents.

b-b-but your username

AgencyAgent406 karma

Ahem. Now you see...

10ofClubs85 karma

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?

AgencyAgent100 karma

Because I appreciate cleverness.

AgencyAgent106 karma

The Afghans call that "chalak"

LzrdKing70160 karma

Did your time in the Middle East take a greater toll on you mentally or physically? Why?

AgencyAgent327 karma

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?

Coogah3390 karma

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?

AgencyAgent159 karma

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.

FuzzyDonelop151 karma

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...

AgencyAgent246 karma

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.

Steenie212149 karma

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?

AgencyAgent378 karma

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.

robsainz76 karma

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?

AgencyAgent249 karma

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.

MsNewKicks146 karma

How % of your life was like the movie "True Lies"?

AgencyAgent421 karma

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%.

Grunt08124 karma

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.)

AgencyAgent125 karma

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.

Broccoli93122 karma

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.

AgencyAgent281 karma

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.

2_Smokin_Barrels116 karma

  • 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!

Edit: Spelling

AgencyAgent153 karma

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!

rbevans114 karma

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?

AgencyAgent165 karma

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?

rbevans83 karma

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.

AgencyAgent79 karma

Also read Mark Mazzetti's The Way of the Knife!

Aman_Fasil107 karma

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?

AgencyAgent236 karma

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.

AngryBish99 karma

How did you get started in such a career? I was under the impression most people are groomed for these positions.

AgencyAgent148 karma

I applied online just like the campus recruiter told me to. Then they contacted me...

The_Dudes_Rug_72 karma

What was your degree in if you don't mind my asking?

AgencyAgent188 karma

Political Science, Japanese Language and a minor in Business


What involvement, if any, did you have in Operation Neptune Spear?

AgencyAgent247 karma

Sorry brother, can't field that one other than to say I was in Kandahar at the time.

Steals_your_Jokes81 karma

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.

AgencyAgent177 karma

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.

jordan71475 karma

Did you like your job? How was your social life and did your job put tons of stress on you?

AgencyAgent167 karma

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!

The_DrPark56 karma

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!

AgencyAgent156 karma

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.

musclemouse55 karma

Hi can I join the CIA?

AgencyAgent94 karma

Yes, yes you can. Please apply online!

musclemouse178 karma

Cheers. If it helps i know karate and have watched both seasons of Daredevil on netflix

AgencyAgent175 karma

Dude, put together a sizzle reel and I'll send that shit over!

Bendawiz54 karma

This is the greatest AMA I've ever read!

What's your favorite breakfast cereal?

AgencyAgent106 karma

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.

Lean-N-Supreme53 karma

Have you ever had the opportunity to work with CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Services) ? If so, what is your opinion of them.

AgencyAgent64 karma

Nope. Thanks for asking though.

verdant_phoenix47 karma

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?

AgencyAgent119 karma

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.

rustydomino41 karma

Would you rather fight one terrorist-sized duck or a hundred duck-sized terrorists?

AgencyAgent35 karma

Someone already beat you to the punch with that one.

6tacocat940 karma

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?

AgencyAgent112 karma

LOVE YOU 6tacocat9. Please explain your handle when you get a chance.

  1. Fuck.

  2. Fuck.

  3. Women.

  4. Women.

  5. Cat eating food.

  6. Cat meowing pre-5am.

  7. Poop.

  8. DJ

  9. Coroner

  10. You?

blndgirlk30 karma

How much like the movies is it? Anything like the show the Americans?

AgencyAgent46 karma

Nothing like the Americans. That is written FOR the television.

siadmir28 karma

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.

AgencyAgent70 karma

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.

adeadhead18 karma

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?

AgencyAgent16 karma

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!

adeadhead10 karma

What communities did you participate in outside of your work life while in the states, what community events and hobbies did you engage in?

AgencyAgent29 karma

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.

adeadhead5 karma


AgencyAgent17 karma

I think so. Cat fails can really break up the monotony of anyone's day.

random_thud15 karma

What is your opinion on MKUltra?

AgencyAgent26 karma

I think it's an old school manual that gets a lot of play still and I am not sure why.

jaspermuts11 karma

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?

AgencyAgent28 karma

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???

Talk_Data_To_Me11 karma

What job did you friends and family think you had?

AgencyAgent22 karma

A dumpy, boring sales guy.

Talk_Data_To_Me53 karma

Im a sales guy. Thanks.

AgencyAgent39 karma

Fuck. But hey, I hear you're not dumpy so that's a huge win!

Talk_Data_To_Me14 karma

haha no worries

AgencyAgent38 karma

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.

r4id3ncz8 karma

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?

AgencyAgent9 karma

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.

JimMarch7 karma

How are you gonna avoid prison for talking about it?

AgencyAgent23 karma

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.

blackmagemasta44 karma

Is the book pretty much one big redaction? Like

Chapter 1

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.

AgencyAgent30 karma

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?

Magic9to57 karma

How did the agency change over the course of your career?

AgencyAgent13 karma

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!

N64GC6 karma

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?

AgencyAgent17 karma

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.

AgencyAgent18 karma

...all in the book by the way!

jodor1615 karma

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?

AgencyAgent6 karma

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.

FireHole5 karma

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?

AgencyAgent8 karma

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.

Livewire423 karma

Did the CIA really invent/distribute crack in order to keep the black man down?

AgencyAgent8 karma

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...

Squishfish253 karma

Did you get laid a lot by telling chicks you were a CIA agent?

AgencyAgent25 karma

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.

AgencyAgent33 karma

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.

Squishfish253 karma

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

AgencyAgent4 karma

Did it work?

AgencyAgent5 karma

...pics or it didnt happen.

Tim5412 karma

Were that Afgani peoples good or bad ?

AgencyAgent4 karma

They were excellent. The Taliban? Not so excellent.

tzuridis2 karma

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?

AgencyAgent5 karma

That is entirely false. Consider, something like that would have ABSOLUTELY been exposed by now. Afghanistan is a leaky, leaky boat.

TiredMisanthrope1 karma

How did the conversation with your family go and how did they react? I imagine they would have had lots of questions.

AgencyAgent4 karma

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. ;]

stillnotarussian1 karma

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?

AgencyAgent3 karma

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.

[deleted]1 karma


AgencyAgent4 karma

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?

Auldinn2 karma

have you ever witnessed a double rainbow?

AgencyAgent2 karma

I feel sorry for those who havent.