I share the truth about espionage. After serving in the US Air Force and the Central Intelligence Agency, I have seen the value and impact of well organized, well executed intelligence operations. The same techniques that shape international events can also serve everyday people in their daily lives. I have witnessed the benefits in my own life and the lives of my fellow Agency officers. Now my mission is to share that knowledge with all people. Some will listen, some will not. But the future has always been shaped by those who learn.

This is my second AMA and I am excited to support this community again!

I have been verified privately by the IAMA moderators.

UPDATE: Many thanks to everyone who engaged in this AMA - the questions were great! If you have any more questions for me, head over to r/EverydayEspionage and you'll find me there! Godspeed, #EverydaySpy

Comments: 419 • Responses: 94  • Date: 

nocturnal80139 karma

What is the one spy trick you would teach everyone in this AMA right now that they can use to improve their life instantly?

imAndrewBustamante103 karma

I actually answer that question in my podcast episode 'Perspective vs. Perception'! This is one of my favorite questions.

Learning to look at the world through another person's point of view is the most important and valuable skill a spy learns. It gives them the ability to predict human behavior and build the empathy needed to understand a person's motivations and needs. These are critical elements in recruiting an intelligence source, and they also have tremendous impact on building relationships, negotiating business deals, building a professional network, and even everyday parenting!

imAndrewBustamante11 karma

Thank you sir!

DasMedic2135 karma

Do you consider it important for your average citizen to familiarize themselves with espionage/spy craft technology?

Why or why not?

Bonus: do you feel like your work has been worth it?

imAndrewBustamante47 karma

A resounding YES to both! Plus a moment of genuine appreciation for those still doing the work every day.

The everyday person can learn a lot about protection privacy and maximising information security by studying just a little bit of spy tech. From geo-location to the weaknesses of end-to-end encryption, and even the risks associated with giving bad guys tools like the iPhone to protect their malicious intentions.

I believe right and wrong are not as black-and-white as we are taught to think. Instead there is a spectrum between them and we have to make our own decisions based on the information available to us... Which is really quite a lot.

expresidentmasks25 karma

Why should we trust anything the CIA says, when they have historically lied to us?

imAndrewBustamante26 karma

You don't have to trust the CIA. They will still put their life on the line for you either way.

flipflopyoulost20 karma

I bet you get this a lot. But which movies would you consider, show the closest depiction of what you were actually doing? Or better how close are movies to reality?

Also. Thank you for your time.

imAndrewBustamante47 karma

Movies are pretty far off base for sure. But they have some fairly realistic elements. TV shows actually do a better job. Amazon's Jack Ryan series was pretty true to form for CIA in the first season. The Americans was also good for tradecraft about 1.5 seasons. The Spy on Netflix now also is pretty solid.

The real work of espionage is intentionally boring/mundane so it gets overlooked, and hence stays clandestine. It's hard to stay secret with bombs, bullets and glamour all around you. Too bad for us...

kassiny20 karma

oh Hello!

  1. What's your opinion on Edward Snowden?
  2. What countries are the most "interesting" for CIA?
  3. Do you believe CIA might have their agents in places like North Korea?
  4. Should I use adBlocker?
  5. What if a messenger or a social media/whatever Internet resource refuses to cooperate with CIA for investigating terrorist?
  6. What info from average citizen (not a govt's structures employee) of a rival country CIA might find useful?
  7. What do think of Russia and Russians?

imAndrewBustamante10 karma

Great questions - let me expand on one, if you don't mind!

"What countries are the most "interesting" for CIA?"

CIA follows the direction of American policy makers. They set our operational priorities with their funding and their policies. Where American national interests are threatened by a nation state or non-state actor, you will find dedicated covert CIA officers hard at work to protect us. Sometimes we can predict those threats. Sometimes the threats are known only to those who 'need to know.' But no matter the threat, you can rest assured outstanding talent is working to keep you and your family safe.

arsenaal18 karma

Did you ever have feeling that what you do isn't right thing? Where did you get your motivation for work?

imAndrewBustamante55 karma

Unfortunately, that feeling is common in the intelligence profession...

The good news is: you get desensitized to it over time and your moral compass become more pragmatic.

The bad news is: you get desensitized to it over time and your moral compass become more pragmatic.

One of the reasons I left CIA and started my own business (EverydaySpy.com) was because I wanted to live a life where I maintained my optimism and commitment to building a better future rather than just stopping bad guys from doing bad things.

When you take down one bad guy, there always seems to be another ready to take his place...

mathquark18 karma

Can someone become a CIA officer with a misdemeanor?

imAndrewBustamante49 karma

I would have to defer to the HR department at CIA, but we do much worse than misdemeanors in the field =)

The candidate review process is rigorous, and they look at the whole person more than any one element of their past. American lives deserve the best, which is much more important than one mistake in a person's past.

OkFox212 karma

How do you deal - on a personal, ethical ground - with wrongdoings or “bad” things done by your former agency?

imAndrewBustamante21 karma

Agency officers are compartmentalized not only to protect the information, but also to protect officers from dealing with the personal/ethical impact of operations outside of their control.

I trust that my fellow officers - past and present - were doing what they thought was in the best interest of the American people. Sometimes they made the wrong call. Many more times, they made the right call. But you don't hear about what CIA does right - it either stays secret or isn't seen as interesting by the media.

your_old_pal12 karma

Unclassified documents have shown us that the CIA Phoenix Program in Vietnam utilized the following methods of "interrogation":

"Rape, gang rape, rape using eels, snakes, or hard objects, and rape followed by murder; electric shock ('the Bell Telephone Hour') rendered by attaching wires to the genitals or other sensitive parts of the body, like the tongue; the 'water treatment'; the 'airplane' in which the prisoner's arms were tied behind the back, and the rope looped over a hook on the ceiling, suspending the prisoner in midair, after which he or she was beaten; beatings with rubber hoses and whips; the use of police dogs to maul prisoners."

Do you condone this behavior? Did your superiors?

imAndrewBustamante9 karma

I was not in the CIA during Vietnam. I don't personally condone much of what either side did during that conflict.

Dad - if you are reading - thanks for your service and sacrifice for that country! You and all Vietnam vets...

spaghettilee211211 karma

Why do former CIA officers keep doing these AMA's as if we think you'll actually spill any important beans?

imAndrewBustamante10 karma

It's hard to stop serving the public. If there is anything we can do that brings help or value, we want to do it. Spilling state secrets wouldn't actually help, it would hurt.

If you want to send me a PM with the names of other former CIA officers who did an AMA, I'll reach out and ask them why they did it and send you a combined answer.

only_interpretations10 karma

do you think the very existence of your field of work or it's abuse denounces the failure of nato and the UN in bringing peaceful and honest geopolitics and do you acknowledge a role in nursing the general public's ignorance and apathy regarding specific world events, historic details and key international players, either groups or individuals?

imAndrewBustamante8 karma

Not really. If anything, I appreciate intelligence professionals in all nations for making incredible personal sacrifices to ensure the safety of their people against those who would use deception and ignorance as tools for malice.

TheFlyingMunkey10 karma

Which international (non-US) spy agency did/do you admire the most? The CIA works with many other intelligence agencies around the world on its operations, so I'm wondering which one stood out for you.

imAndrewBustamante28 karma

Mossad, Jordanian GIS, Pakistan ISI - all great services that work with a fraction of CIA's budget and with many of their greatest threats sharing a border!

cueballspeaking10 karma

Is it possible to get a high level clearance and work for the CIA if my wife is from Armenia?

imAndrewBustamante24 karma

Absolutely. CIA filed officers often marry foreign spouses. Its not easy administratively, but foreign spouses become tremendous support both for their CIA spouse and even assisting with special skills like language and area familiarization. And Armenia is a beautiful country!

AmberMolly10 karma

what is the legacy of Mk-Ultra ?

imAndrewBustamante13 karma

If I could talk about it, I would. Sorry.

ASMR_Brainwash9 karma

Hey Andrew. How much of espionage is strength of personality and how much is strength of training/knowledge?

I’ve always thought of spies as requiring not only high intellect but superb charisma and personality control. Ie, ability to read lies, to lie, to manipulate people within a single conversation, to identify personal strengths/weaknesses. To outfox the other guy. Is that accurate?


imAndrewBustamante25 karma

I absolutely believe everything in espionage is trainable - personality just makes certain parts easier to some people.

As an example, a naturally attentive/curious personality is going to pick up on surveillance detection training quickly because they are already interested in their surroundings. That same person may struggle with new languages because of the intense focus needed for long periods of time. Similarly, an introverted detail-oriented type is likely to dominate languages but struggle when they are forced onto a street full of people where they have to decide who is following them and who is not.

Both can be trained to excellence, and operate side-by-side. Personality just helps us predict which skills may be more challenging than others.

Ez_668 karma

How far back do they look for you get the the type of clearance you have?

imAndrewBustamante14 karma

When I left CIA, I had to give up my SCI clearance. Two years later, my full clearance timed out. So technically I have no US clearance. Its funny to think that I currently have security clearances in other countries that are higher than my US clearance!

That said, my TS/SCI went back 15 years, based on my international travel foot print at the time.

WhatSortofPerson8 karma

Do you find it at all odd that so many high profile, powerful men have wives who are Chinese nationals?

Edit: For instance - McConnell, Murdoch, Zuckerberg.

Edit 2: It's not just men marrying women from other countries that seems odd. That just seems perfectly normal to me. It's that I can't think of a set of other men at that level of power whose wives are all from India, Japan, Finland or Paraguay. It's the cluster, along with the reputation of the government that makes it noteworthy.

imAndrewBustamante14 karma

To play devil's advocate, there are a LOT of Chinese people...and many of the one's I've met are genuinely good, kind, funny people.

cottonstokes7 karma

Do you believe it's okay for the country to spy on its citizens? Why or why not?

imAndrewBustamante9 karma

In many countries, citizens actually embrace heavy monitoring and government oversight to keep them safe from threats that try to mask themselves inside civilian society.

While America is not one of those countries, I do want to delineate between American values and legitimate values held in other countries.

Wed231616 karma

What is the surface area of the top of Howie Mandell's left foot, rounded to the nearest whole number?

imAndrewBustamante9 karma

24 square inches - possibly...

Something1606076 karma

How often do go offshore?

imAndrewBustamante17 karma

Nowadays I LIVE offshore! The world is a beautiful place, and people are fascinating anywhere you go. Right now home is in the United Arab Emirates. I am hoping to make more places home as my children continue to grow up - like New Zealand, Georgia, Taiwan, Japan, Costa Rica, Mexico... and the list goes on.

imAndrewBustamante6 karma

The field is like minutes of terror between hours of boredom. The work is a game of mistakes - everyone is well trained and skilled, so the loser is the first one to make an error.

Languages are the most common hobby - you don't need much to practice new vocab with a fellow officer. Plus it's good for long hours alone. You also can't help but look for new places for food and coffee - since you get to know a city pretty well from casing 😂🤣😎

ZeeStarr226 karma

What do you wish you didn’t know?

imAndrewBustamante16 karma

How vulnerable the human eye is.

Jabiene6 karma

Hi! Completely random, but what foreign languages are the most useful to be fluent in as an intelligence officer?

imAndrewBustamante18 karma

Every language is useful! Keep in mind that security priorities shift. Nobody expected Urdu to be important before 2001, then suddenly it was. I recommend people study whatever language interests them, then work toward mastery. The skill isn't really the language itself, but rather the skill of being able to LEARN a new language. That is the skill CIA wants.

Mardigras1055 karma

How would one go about attempting to work for the CIA? I’m currently in high-school and have no idea.

imAndrewBustamante15 karma

There are too many options for me to put into one answer! To start, please finish High School with high marks. If you do that, you'll be able to choose any path you want in life - CIA or otherwise.

x-BrettBrown5 karma

Can you comment on the CIA torture program please?

imAndrewBustamante6 karma

CIA has made its official statements. I was fortunate to have no overlap with enhanced interrogation operations. But I am sad that they happened.

contikipaul5 karma

Edward Lee Howard. Did he die or fake his own death?

imAndrewBustamante13 karma

I have no idea. But if he faked it, I hope he is living somewhere cold and lonely. He let his country down in the worst way....

braintoasters5 karma

Have you read Amaryllis Fox’s CIA memoir? If so, thoughts?

imAndrewBustamante4 karma

Its not a memoir, its a work of fiction. She says it in the disclaimer:

"Names, locations and operational details have been changed to protect intelligence sources and methods. "

When you change facts, that is fiction. Unfortunately, all CIA memoirs are the same...

rcxRbx5 karma

What was the process of obtaining Top secret clearance like ? I'm not American so I wouldn't know.

imAndrewBustamante14 karma

It takes an average of 9-16 months, multiple interviews carried out by trained background investigators, and a detailed questionnaire that gets vetted and researched going back decades. Aside from taking a long time, its not bad.

But getting a full scope polygraph and psych test to qualify you for SCI clearance is not fun at all. Neither is the 2 year retest you have to do for the rest of your career.

justz00t5 karma

Did you have anything to do with UFOs you can talk about or at least comment on if this was a topic ever discussed among colleagues even about personal interest in the topic? Rumors and etc.

imAndrewBustamante25 karma

I was actually a guest expert on Discovery Channels 'CONTACT' show that launched in August 2019.

When I was a commander at Malmstrom AFB in Montana we had an unexplained phenomenon that had elements that pointed at UAP. Nothing smoking gun like little green men, but certainly enough for reports to get written and senior officers to get notified.

In the end the report was taken into the correct channels and left my 'need to know.' We were told it was an experimental drone flight, but I don't know anything more than that. Except that I didn't really believe we would fly one of our own drones over several nuclear missile silos...but that was just my assessment.

koz_and_eefekt5 karma

Any experience working with Douglas Laux? His book “Left of Boom” seemed like a great read. Was wondering how much of it actually checks out. Thanks

imAndrewBustamante2 karma

I have not worked with Douglas, but I'll add his book to my reading list. Thanks!

thotless_rat_bastard4 karma

Hi. Thanks for doing this AMA. Are you familiar with the Disruption program? If so, what is the structure like and what are goals of such a program?

imAndrewBustamante7 karma

I am not familiar with that program. That's not a cop-out either, I actually know nothing about it. Sorry!

AskAboutMyCoffee4 karma


I have a deep suspicion an acquaintance of mine was a spook. He held numerous jobs, however, I have found evidence which he confirmed he was in the Foreign Legion, he helped put away a war criminal in Eastern Europe, and has been in numerous world hot spots at their peak. He died of a "heart attack" during the protests in Hong Kong.

How likely is it he could have been a CIA or other government asset/operator while holding a full time job?

imAndrewBustamante9 karma

If he was intel, the 'full time job' was a cover. Based on the background you listed here, your acquaintance was most definitely brave and heroic. Regardless of his intel status, his legacy stands alone.

Argionelite4 karma

Were there any foreign assets you wanted to be genuine friends with? Are you able to reconnect with them after leaving the agency?

imAndrewBustamante11 karma

Foreign assets are just everyday people, like you and me. They want to do what they believe is right. And they believe working secretly with CIA will help them do that.

In professional intelligence, a source's security is paramount. It is extremely rare that we can reconnect overtly with a current/former asset. In the event they are resettled in the US, we have many more options to meet them again in person and celebrate their work and relocation.

all3f0r14 karma

Hi Andrew, anything to say about aliens?

imAndrewBustamante24 karma

I hope they are friendly.

furry_hamburger_porn4 karma

Who would win in a battle, 100 duck sized CIA analysts or 1 horse sized, against FBI agents of the same yet opposite?

imAndrewBustamante7 karma

Are the ducks armed with laser beams?

IXIFormanIXI4 karma

How is it you are able to do this AMA? Is the CIA really just going to let you talk about all this? Also what was your most memorable mission?

imAndrewBustamante18 karma

I took a lifetime secrecy oath when I joined CIA to forever protect sources and methods and my own detailed operational background. As long as I adhere to that oath, I'm free to talk about pretty much anything else.

Unfortunately, that same oath is what prevents me from telling you about my most memorable mission... sorry!

marsu623 karma

Hi Mr. Bustamante, I was wondering did you ever had a situation in which you had to observe something unfolding but was unable/forbidden to do anything due to state policy or 'no involvement policiy'. How hard was it for you to stay professional and calm down?

Many thanks.

imAndrewBustamante11 karma

Great question! And yes, there are many times where CIA is restricted from getting involved in events as they unfold. We are trained very early on to recognize that our value comes in observing and reporting factual information - not involving ourselves in events at our own discretion. When world events threaten US interests, we have the ability to build an operation with multiple partners across the IC to work towards specific objectives/impact. In those moments, we take action - as an objective, professional team, not as emotional individuals.

Recognizing that there is a process to take measured action is incredibly helpful in keeping us calm and preventing us from impulsive reactions.

brownfolder223 karma

How does the CIA cope with protecting the identities of officers in the field when everyone has a long trail of social media accounts before they even apply to the agency?

imAndrewBustamante8 karma

Not everyone has a long trail of social media accounts. Plenty of people have no social media footprint, and even those that have them can cultivate them to protect their operational identity. CIA can only do so much to protect an officer's cover - the majority of responsibility is on each individual officer to live their cover consistently.

your_old_pal3 karma

What percentage of the global drug trade would you say the CIA still has their hand in? 95? 100?

imAndrewBustamante5 karma

We have an entire Counternarcotics Center! Those professionals are looking to shut down 100% of the global drug trade and I thank them for their talent and hard work!

sinnersbodypaint3 karma

To what extent do you think foreign intelligence services are actively involved in psychological operations in the US? How do you think Russia's internet activity has shaped our national narrative?

Most importantly, how do we inoculate ourselves from disinformation?

imAndrewBustamante6 karma

Foreign intelligence services have been running psyops in the US for a long time. That is what intel services do. Our national narrative wasn't shaped by a foreign power, the foreign power just added fuel to the fire. That is how the most effective covert influence operations work. You can't force an outside narrative, you have to amplify an internal one.

The best way to protect yourself from disinformation is to start taking in information from competing sources. You have to listen to what every says, focus on the areas where they say the same thing (corroboration) and deprioritize the things they say that are not repeated somewhere else. When you do that, you'll find only true information... and you'll see how little genuine information is being circulated...

LitMaster113 karma

Dumb question. How accurate is the show CHUCK?


imAndrewBustamante3 karma

Not a dumb question - I'm sure other people have wondered, too!

I haven't watched the show yet, but I'm adding it to my list now =)

Guestgotapokemon3 karma

Is there a hierarchy within the CIA? Like only certain people know certain things? How high up were you on that hierarchy?

imAndrewBustamante12 karma

Its less of a hierarchy and more of an controlled access thing.

When your skills or talent can contribute to a case or operation, you get 'read in' and gain access. Sometimes that access is extremely sensitive (SCI, Restricted Handling, Privy, etc.). Entry level officers commonly gain this level of access, even while their more senior counterparts do not in order to maintain information controls.

imAndrewBustamante3 karma

Not at all! That would be very alerting. Keep them and use them but control your content. Post where you were, not where you are. Don't post photos that expose your friends and family. Avoid posting about your pattern of life. Small steps that make a difference media account much less useful to an adversary

Subterminal3033 karma

Has the government cracked AES 256? Do large IT companies such as Cisco, Microsoft, etc, partner with the government to hard code backdoors for government access to civilian devices? Are you allowed to truthfully answer these questions per your oath?

imAndrewBustamante6 karma

I do not have any of these answers. Sorry.

Bagellegal2 karma

Are there any cutting edge special spy/espionage tech you guys use?

Bonus question: What are your thoughts on the Jeffery Epstein suicide? Do you think there was anything else to it?

imAndrewBustamante2 karma

All of the tech we use is cutting edge special spy stuff. We don't use off-the-shelf technology without heavily upgrading it first.

And whatever happened to Jeffery Epstein, I hope his victims find a little bit of peace knowing he is not longer a sexual threat to others.

momokar2 karma

What is one thing you wished regular people knew more about that spies do know ?

imAndrewBustamante5 karma

I wish regular people knew more about cognitive bias. The human brain actually works so efficiently that it skips steps in reasoning. We rely on our brains so much, and trust our judgement almost without question. But when spies learn about the flawed nature of our own thinking, it literally changes the way we view our world. We start to question everything - especially our own thinking - and become focused on objective facts. Once that happens, the whole world starts to make sense. And we find ourselves in total control of our environment. I want everyone to know that feeling. Its a big part of why I offer the course OPTHINK on https://everydayspy.com/

madmadG2 karma

How do we know you’re real? And not simply a recruiter for CIA, for example.

imAndrewBustamante2 karma

CIA recruits pretty well on its own, without me. And the moderators here verified my claim. Plus, I feel real - if that counts!

ObdurateSloth2 karma

Aren’t you under obligation not to reveal any sensitive information? Besides that I bet you are under observation and for some reason this doesn’t seem legitimate or genuine.

Edit: pr department of cia

imAndrewBustamante2 karma

I am under obligation and likely observation, but not for what you think.

WhatSortofPerson2 karma

What is it that makes Jeremy Bash (Intelligence analyst on MSNBC) seem like he's a person...dressed up as Jeremy Bash?

What is it that makes him look so scripted or planned?

imAndrewBustamante3 karma

I don't watch Jeremy Bash - but when folks come across as scripted/planned it is generally perceived as not trustworthy or genuine. I'm not sure if that is the case with him, but maybe he should just tell a story about his kids (does he have any?) or admit that sometimes he gets stomach cramps from drinking too much coffee (if he drinks coffee)... Those types of things always make me feel more human and remind me that elite training doesn't mean you are superhuman.

Woah_Mad_Frollick2 karma

Hi! No idea if you can answer this, but were you CTC?

What are your opinions on the idea that the Agency is becoming too much like the OSS, or that the GWOT has atrophied the Intelligence Community's ability to analyze world events?

imAndrewBustamante9 karma

I cannot answer my specific Division/Center inside the National Clandestine Service.

But I will say that I believe the GWOT increased the IC's analytical abilities. If you think about it, we missed 9/11 because we were not focused on GWOT. By funding and expanding our GWOT operations, all other operations benefit secondarily from the tools, talents, and partnerships CIA has built since 2001.

firefly2122 karma

From an emotional perspective, how does it feel knowing that if you do a really, really good job, basically nobody will know you did anything at all? For most other lines of work, the better you do, the more recognition you get... for spying, it seems like if you're exceptionally good at it, nobody will ever know you did anything at all. Does that kind of demotivate over time?

imAndrewBustamante13 karma

What a wonderfully insightful question! And yes, it does get very discouraging over time to see your greatest achievements remain secrets while your moments of error get headline attention. As a new officer, it can feel like a badge of honor - like a worthy sacrifice. But as your career continues, officers can get cynical and even suffer from mental health issues because they do not see/feel the impact of their work.

juststangs12 karma

Woukd you be willing to be a special guest on my podcast? sweatingbulletspodcast

imAndrewBustamante2 karma

I welcome all invitations to share my passion for teaching the value of espionage skills in everyday life! Thanks for thinking of me!

GaboTron782 karma

What made you join the CIA?

imAndrewBustamante6 karma

I am the kind of person who doesn't understand why someone WOULDN'T want to join the CIA... hahahaha. It was in my blood.

Intelligence is still in my blood today... - I train everyday people in espionage on my website (EverydaySpy.com) and my Podcast (The Everyday Espionage Podcast - https://everydayspy.com/podcast/) - I host free immersive spy training simulations like Operation: Real Time. (https://hq.everydayspy.com/ort/) - I work private intelligence contracts all around the world

If you feel the same way, keep in touch. I've got a lot to share and I keep creating more!

Vonterino4711692 karma

What would you suggest for a person that is not from the US but from the EU, who would be very interested in su h profession, but doesn't share America's ideals that much?

imAndrewBustamante5 karma

I would say explore your host-nation intelligence service. The French, Germans, and Italians have excellent intel services! The world needs brave people to serve - don't hold back if you feel the call.

__skiguy__2 karma

What was your cover story to friends or family, or did they know you were working for the CIA?

imAndrewBustamante7 karma

I can't discuss my cover details. But it was sufficiently boring and uninteresting to avoid questions from friends and loved ones. Sorry mom!

SydneyHollow2 karma

Have you ever been removed from an operation because you were “too close” to it? Jack Ryan and other spy media would have us believe this happens on a daily basis.

imAndrewBustamante5 karma

It is extremely rare for a professional intelligence officer to get personally attached to an operation. We are trained against it, plus we know the risks associated. Entertainment needs to keep you interested... real espionage needs to avoid all interest.

pokerguy1192 karma

I am currently a law student, what would you recommend is generally a good way for someone to look to start a career in the CIA?

What steps should I take? What skills do they look for? What departments within the CIA do you find most interesting?

imAndrewBustamante3 karma

The best place to start is with some independent research on the CIA website. CIA also recruits actively from law schools during job fairs. If you can, check out the CIA booth if your law school holds a fair. And of course network heavily with your professors to see if one of them can connect you with a former IC professional who currently teaches - it happens more than you would expect. Good luck!

Sharmaji_ka_lilbhai2 karma

What sort of things you're not allowed to disclose ?

imAndrewBustamante3 karma

Active CIA sources, intel collection methods, current operations and officers, personal operational history... and I should probably hide my insane love of 1950 era musicals...

ToastyMustache2 karma

What degree would you say helps the most if someone were to join an alphabet agency as an all source analyst with some cyber experience?

imAndrewBustamante3 karma

Any degree. Honestly, the subject matter is almost irrelevant. All-source analysts get customized training once they get in. The thing that makes people stand out is that they had the discipline and commitment to finish university and maintain a GPA that speaks to their level of effort. If you can make it through a 4 year degree, you can make it through any 6 month training the USGOV throws at you.

spinarial2 karma

Hello ! Thank you for the opportunity :)

What is the most common mistake agents do on the field ?

imAndrewBustamante4 karma

We lose site of our personal needs - it's a terrible mistake we all make. We get so focused on mission that we let our health deteriorate, we undervalue personal relationships, and we spend too much time away from our kids. I was actually just talking to another former CIA officer about it today. We get so tightly wound around solving the world's problems that we ignore our own problems until they break us down and remind us that we matter, too.

Tobeck2 karma

Is Pete Buttigieg CIA?

imAndrewBustamante6 karma

I didn't see him in the hallways while I was there. But I wish him luck on what will surely be a tough campaign trail!

andbuks2 karma

Where are u from?

imAndrewBustamante3 karma

Ethnically, Native American (Navajo) Born in, Arizona Raised in, Pennsylvania Earth

witzowitz2 karma

What happened to Jeffrey Epstein?

imAndrewBustamante9 karma

He died. Most of the information outside of that is speculation, fear, and anger.

steppenweasel2 karma

How do you turn it off when you're not on assignment?

imAndrewBustamante3 karma

Parts of your training never turn off. But other parts do. Its easiest to go native when I'm at home with my kids. The mindset is still there, but my focus turns to the family and I leave most of the real world at my doorstep. But once I leave the house the training always kicks back on.

JR_JR712 karma

Is there an age limit for someone who is interested in becoming a CIA officer and how do you go about doing it ?

imAndrewBustamante2 karma

I think there is a limit, but I'm not sure if its 35 or 38 these days. Even then, I think that only applies to case officers in the field. There are a lot of roles that have no age limits at all (analysts, support, HR, finance, etc.)

datavinci2 karma

Isn't your life in danger outside US? Being on duty offshore for a long time chances are you have enemies.

imAndrewBustamante3 karma

Danger levels are relative. 500 miles north of here and I'd be imprisoned immediately. 500 miles east and I'd be surveilled. Here I am gloriously grey.

Kebabov-2 karma

How can someone become an asset to the agency? Is there an age limit?

imAndrewBustamante2 karma

Technically an 'asset' is a recruited source providing secret information about a foreign government or non-state actor. I'm not sure that's what you want to do, but there is no age limit!

If you want to be an 'officer' at the agency, you just have to apply =) There are some age restrictions based on the work you want to do, but recruiters can help you more than I can on the details. Good luck!

theamericanidealist2 karma

How much did you have to travel in the CIA, and how did this effect your home/family life? Are most trips a few days long, or are they deployment-like, long term trips?

Edit: Also - why choose to live in UAE? I couldn’t imagine moving from the US, especially after dedicating your career to serving it.

imAndrewBustamante5 karma

Travel is a big part of the job. Sometimes its just a few days, usually its a week or more. Long deployments can actually be a lot of fun if you take the family with you.

The UAE was a very cool opportunity for my entire family. My children get to experience a totally different culture than anything that exists in the west. And thanks to modern technology, I can serve the American people from anywhere in the world!

The US is my heart, the the whole world is my home.

PhoenixAZisHot2 karma

How many languages can you speak?

imAndrewBustamante4 karma

Currently only one. My Chinese and Thai are quite rusty. My Spanish is embarrassing. But I know I can get back to conversational fluency in any of them in less than 6 months, especially if I get immersed in a country where the language is native.

ill_effexor2 karma

Hey I'm a part-time investigative journalist that used to be a full time PI. I was wondering if you had any tips for someone like me.

For instance I'm going down to Mexico in the next few months to do a follow up on the Mormons and the Cartel. This is a whole new level for me as I've stayed strictly state side dealing with local gangs, drugs and missing peoples.

I also have a few PM contacts in the area I'll be staying that have agreed to give me aid and protection for first dibs on any information I gather.

That being said this is my first high danger job and planning everything is fraying my nerves to hell. If you were me how would you plan, what would you bring?

imAndrewBustamante7 karma

This sounds like an exciting assignment! Excellent decision working with local para-military types. I would recommend you keep all your travel details private, including schedule, destination, departure date, and hotel reservations, except for a bare minimum of trusted folks. Always where laced shoes with good rubber soles (fast escape) and carry a standard backpack with two shoulder straps. You are going to mexico to investigate cartel activity - be aware of your surroundings the entire time and always be ready to run. Don't drink alcohol, stay hydrated, carry nutrient dense snacks on your person at all times. Most of your success will come with minimal planning and maximum flexibility. Put your energy into knowing your objectives/goals and remaining as mobile as possible.

And I'm jealous of your adventure...

The_Captain_Jules2 karma

Is there a show, movie, or other bit of media that you think comes close to what it’s actually to be an intelligence officer?

imAndrewBustamante3 karma

I am a fan of Jack Ryan (Amazon), The Americans, and The Spy (Netflix)

Archer is also suprisingly close... but you didn't hear it from me!

alembo2 karma

Do you use tradecraft elements such as (dead-drops and slips) in your home or car to protect valuables or hide tools?

imAndrewBustamante2 karma

I use concealment devices for valuables. My family also employs commo plans for anything from disaster preparedness to theme park visits!

fencingperson2 karma

What’s your other language? If you didn’t grow up with it, how long did it take you to learn, and how did you eliminate your accent if you did? I’m curious to learn how the IC teaches a new language to adults effectively, accent and all

imAndrewBustamante2 karma

The IC actually welcomes foreign language with an American accent. Its a Hollywood myth that CIA teaches us to speak without an accent. Native speakers speak their language with their native accent, but when we learn multiple languages we proudly carry our American accent with it. It is more operationally advantageous be a fluent officer with an American accent than it is to pretend/pose as a native of that country.

CanCueD2 karma

To what extent is personal debt a liability when applying to intelligence agencies? If you’re more vulnerable to bribery, are applicants with higher student loans or medical debt less likely to get interviewed/hired? What about financial dues of close relatives or spouses?

imAndrewBustamante3 karma

Personal debt is not a factor. All intel officers have to do an annual financial disclosure so that there is full transparency into their finances. Debt is something all Americans have in common. It is not a personal flaw. But it is a worthy goal to find a legitimate, responsible way to get debt free as soon as possible. Financial freedom is as real as freedom gets!

buurmanwum2 karma

Do you have some remarkable information you think citizens should know about the ways of American intelligence?

imAndrewBustamante2 karma

I think CIA and American intelligence is pretty remarkable on its own! We have the world's most elite intelligence agency and our country has only been around for 243 years. In comparison, our nearest competitors (China and Russia) are 3000 and 1200 years old respectively. It is raw American determination and ingenuity that got and keep CIA at the top of the chart.

gdpoc2 karma

May I ask how you, personally, feel about 'need to know' as it applies to upper tier politicians and how that has occasionally burned sources? Also, how do you feel having unstable national leadership has affected clandestine activities? (Generally speaking, of course.)

imAndrewBustamante2 karma

'Need to know' is there specifically to protect sources. Like all people, politicians sometimes make mistakes and disclose information they never intended to disclose. That can result in unfortunate fallout, but it continues to underscore the importance of need to know and the importance of having intelligence professionals work closely with senior government leaders.

The men and women doing the work in the field will always do it with skill and precision. Trust them to execute effectively the orders they are given.

potatoboss612 karma

Does the C.I.A actually spy on us through our tech? Phones, amazon alexa etc

imAndrewBustamante3 karma

Business does for sure, and they don't bother hiding it!

nocturnal8011 karma

At this point you've written several articles on www.everydayspy.com

Which articles are you the most proud of, and which ones would you care to revisit one day and give a face lift?

imAndrewBustamante2 karma

Thanks for taking a look at the site! I'm a trained pragmatist and closet perfectionist, so I see face lift potential in all of my articles. I think some of my favorites are actually series - like my SOCIAL MASTERY series, my MENTAL STRENGTH series, and my Elite Self-Discipline series.

I personally have a lot of fun bringing back facts from history, so my articles on Forefather's Never Tell, A Veterans Day Secret, and the Making of a Terrorist are some personal favorites.

PurpleDjango1 karma

Who are you working for?

imAndrewBustamante3 karma

Myself... and I've never been happier! The time off is great, my boss 'gets' me, and I sleep with my only other coworker (and my wife knows it!)

bright_yellow_vest1 karma

Do you glow in the dark?

imAndrewBustamante1 karma

That could be really helpful, but no. I do however, know how to blackout my visible features and blend into low-light.

HandOfApath1 karma

Does your last name mean Busty in Spanish?

imAndrewBustamante15 karma

I actually don't know - I took my wife's name when we got married so that her family name wouldn't pass with her father. He was the last male in his family line with the name Bustamante. Now my son carries the name into another generation!

_Blood_Fart_1 karma

Now my mission is to share that knowledge with all people.

Any Arab translations?

imAndrewBustamante2 karma

I wish! If I could afford to employ linguists, I'd have everything translated into Spanish, French, Arabic and Chinese first.

piggae1 karma

Bingo... the Earth is flat? I’m not joking 🙃

imAndrewBustamante1 karma

I like Bingo... and Earth. Does that count as an answer?

KamenAkuma-1 karma

How many political leaders have you assassinated? I know, i know, its classified but im not asking who or how, but how many.

imAndrewBustamante1 karma

Personally, zero.