Comments: 444 • Responses: 60  • Date: 

Aristoteleologia328 karma

Did you have (or have you since had) any moral qualms about working for such a notoriously crooked organization as the CIA?

Also, what's your opinion on the many civil casualties resulting from drone strikes--a price worth paying for the lives of terrorists?

tracywalder-2 karma

Of course I will answer. It takes me a little time because I try to be thoughtful.

I am happy to give you my opinion on drone strikes, but I feel that my opinion won't make much of a difference as you seem to already have a strong one which I respect.

I do not find the CIA to be a crooked organization, and deeply respect the folks I worked with. It is hard sometimes to approach it objectively, which I understand as their successes remain classified and we hear so much about their failures. A lot of folks in leadership positions have never actually worked there yet have a great deal of opinions. I can totally understand why you have the opinion that you do, and you are certainly welcome to it.

spaghettilee2112263 karma

Why do you guys keep doing these? We all know you're not going to tell us anything we actually want to know about.

tracywalder-14 karma

What would you like to know about?

helpjackoffhishorse73 karma

Were you approached to join the CIA or actively pursued it yourself?

tracywalder-122 karma

So the CIA really doesn't approach folks like you see in pop culture, though i am sure they may in very small numbers. I and virtually everyone i knew there applied at college career fairs. If you would like to learn more about my recruitment process, definitely check out my book!

Festernd68 karma

Judging by your responses so far, you aren't here to answer question but to shill your book

Why bother responding at all If it's going to be 'Buy my book' ?

tracywalder11 karma

I encourage you to re read all of my responses. I have responded in a good amount of detail and made myself vulnerable with my discussion of PTSD.....

Festernd-5 karma

I sorted by best and gave up after the 10th 'in my book' answer. Apparently there's more substance that's less upvoted. be well!

tracywalder9 karma

I actually only did that three times, went back and counted

FranticAudi51 karma

How will the CIA, FBI, and/or the NSA, recruit people of high moral standards when each organization has done questionable things to say the least? Has it already, or will it become more so, a feedback loop of only questionable people morally, wanting to join?

I want to catch the bad guys, and definitely not hurt innocent people, or engage in questionable conduct. Is this possible or will I at some point regret my decision of joining?

tracywalder31 karma

That is a great question. I can certainly understand that they have done some questionable things and I can see the irony of the situation for sure. I would say that I respect the morals and character of everyone I knew there and I don't regret my decision of joining. The one think I will say is that I have a bit of PTSD and it is very difficult to seek therapy when you are there. I hope that helps!

squawtchick7 karma

Could you elaborate on the seeking therapy part? Were you required to seek departmental therapy or could you seek therapy from outside sources but just be less specific about your particular situations and issues?

tracywalder24 karma

So I didn't seek therapy until after I left. This is one unfortunate thing. Both the CIAn and FBI actual look at seeking therapy as a fault and you have to report it

RavishingRoses39 karma

How did being in the CIA affect your personal life and family relationships?

What did you major in in college?

tracywalder32 karma

Hi! I majored in History in college. It was a super positive experience for me! My family was beyond supportive and I made incredibly deep and meaningful friendships at the CIA that I still have today!

laxeps179 karma

Did you have a cover story when your family and friends asked what your job was or did you straight up say “I’m a CIA Operations Officer”?

tracywalder34 karma

So for me, I was what we called an overt employee (most actually are) so I could tell my friends and family that I worked there. Now, when I traveled overseas, I traveled in alias so at that time, I couldn't tell my friends and family specifically where I was going since technically I was never there

dogef137 karma

Do you ever regret being part of a organization which worked destabilize foreign regions and cause innocent people to die?

tracywalder17 karma

I don't.

felt_cute36 karma

How do you get picked up to work as an undercover agent for CIA? Did they approach you for any specific reason or was it more or less the same job application process for any other job?

tracywalder57 karma

For me, it was at a college career fair. the CIA regularly attends a great deal of career fairs across the US. That is where I gave them my application. Then I was assigned a recruiter who walked me through the process, interview, then trip to VA area for physical, tests, polygraphs, etc then a background investigation. There are all individual steps. hope that helps!

MaBuuSe32 karma

Can you explain what a chemical terror chart is, and how you found out it was altered and how the altered chart was used to take the decision to invade Iraq?

tracywalder-184 karma

Hi! You will have to read my book to get the details of that, I outline it in a great amount of detail!

The altered chart is here, in Powell's speech towards the bottom! https://2001-2009.state.gov/secretary/former/powell/remarks/2003/17300.htm

RamenFish195126 karma

So... are you here to answer questions or are you here to advertise your book?

tracywalder-2 karma

As you can see, I provided the direct link to the actual chart, I do know how that isn't answering the question!

tracywalder8 karma

so the altered chart, per that link, states Zarqawi's iraq terrorist connections. our chart said Zarqawi's AQ poison chart. I truly don't know who altered it. But all we used it for was to keep our specific targets straight from a visual perspective. a member of the administration took it and used it to justify the war in iraq

AndySlamsNerds-15 karma


tracywalder0 karma

Thank you!

AlexB8a32 karma

Whats your personal opinion on whistleblowers like Edward Snowden?

tracywalder-33 karma

So just my opinion is that I don't find them to be heroes. Rather they are putting people's lives at risk

Jindiana2329 karma

What is the most interesting skill you had to learn for the job?

tracywalder49 karma

Wow, that is a GREAT question! I would say situational awareness or " the perception of environmental elements and events with respect to time or space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their future status" They taught us that at the farm in defensive driving, foot surveillance, etc and at the FBI in their fake city, Hogans Alley

DukeofSchoenburg12 karma

Is there more about this in your book?

tracywalder20 karma

I don't think so. I mean there is a chapter on my training at CIA and FBI but nothing on situational awareness specifically. I do talk about "crash and bang" which is learning how to crash cars into things like walls and how to evade auto surveillance!

horsthorsthorst27 karma

At what point you realized you were with the bad and evil guys?

tracywalder5 karma

Thank you so much for your question, however that is not how I view them.

Lmnolmnop25 karma

We're you recruited, or did you apply?

tracywalder-60 karma

So the CIA really doesn't approach folks like you see in pop culture, though i am sure they may in very small numbers. I and virtually everyone i knew there applied at college career fairs. If you would like to learn more about my recruitment process, definitely check out my book!

darkness40124 karma

What was one of your scariest situation in either CIA, FBI or college?

tracywalder56 karma

That's a GREAT question! So, at the CIA it would have definitely been when we were accidentally fired upon by a friendly military who mistook us for unfriendlies. We were all in a bullet proof car, but needless to say a bit jarred!

42111-19 karma

Holy smokes, I hope you got a medal for that!

Edit; I mean this without any shred of sarcasm. I really hope you got some sort of recognition for that.

tracywalder5 karma

oh gosh, thank you

Sparkie8620 karma

How was your chart altered? In what was did that lead to it being used for the invasion of Iraq. Despite being a teenager at the time, I didn't support the Iraqi invasion. I saw it as unnecessary, and I'm still butthurt that no one was criminally tried for deliberately lying to congress.

tracywalder25 karma

So the chart that was used said "Zarqawi's Iraq Terrorist Network" you can see it here if you would like https://2001-2009.state.gov/secretary/former/powell/remarks/2003/17300.htm it's towards the bottom.

The chart we created just said AQ poison network. We had simply made it as way to keep our targets straight from a visual perspective, nothing more than that. until a member of the administration took it......

opportunptr19 karma

Hi; thanks for doing this AMA. Clearly, I’m somewhat of a CIA expert myself given that I’ve seen all the Homeland seasons ;)

I’m looking forward to reading the book but I have one question, also based on Homeland:

Have you ever had to fake a romantic interest and enter a relationship for work?


tracywalder18 karma

That's funny! I have actually never seen homeland! I have never had to do that!

4211119 karma

I saw your interview on r/theteamhouse a few days ago, awesome episode! My question is why would states even want to consider using biological weapons in today’s age? It would only take one or two people from the affected area to spread it to somewhere else and possibly back to the state actors territory/ allies?

Also, other than poison school what was your favorite thing that you learned in the FBI or the CIA?

tracywalder44 karma

I am so glad you enjoyed the episode!

I think states would use them for the same reason that the world is in a state of panic and disbelief right now. Certainly this virus wasn't manufactured, but the psychological impact that it has had on the world is here to stay forever. It is more about that than anything else. Also true it takes only one or two people, but isn't efficient.

421114 karma

As somewhat of a sidebar question I just wanted to ask. What was your favorite meal that you had over seas when you worked with the CIA?

tracywalder13 karma

oh gosh, good question! hands down anything middle eastern as well as the peanut butter and crackers in MREs!

akalliss-3 karma

But do you think that social media had a large part to play in spreading that panic? I feel the response has been heavy handed, particularly when other pandemics have had less rigorous responses. Is this because we are quicker to act in the interest of preservation, or quicker to panic because of information overload?

PS. I fully intend to buy your book, and here's another question but related to that: did Amaryllis Fox's book influence your decision to write your own?

edit: *feels heavy handed comparison to other pandemics

tracywalder7 karma

I actually don't know Amaryllis, which is wierd because she stated she worked in my group. I started writing the book years ago, well before hers came outl.

Con_Aquila17 karma

Why in your opinion does the FBI leadership think it can get away with misleading judges?

Examples: Fiber Matching which led to the wrongful executions of 12 people, FISA warrant applications, illegal direct wire tapping ( Wei Shang Phua), Bundy Ranch, illegal Stingray use.

tracywalder-1 karma

Hi, that is certainly a valid question, but I am not entirely sure what you mean. Would you be willing to clarify a bit so I can better answer?

deliciousmonster16 karma

Assuming you were in the same room as President Bush at some time, how would you characterize his affect in the face of what most people would consider a highly stressful, urgent national crisis?

He gets a bad rap for a lot of the discombobulated things he said, and certainly lying to start a war is a shitty thing to do, but I’m interested to know if there was more going on under the surface than we got to see.

It would be revisionist history to paint him in a purely positive light, obviously... but he can’t have been as bad as Tantrum Mango.

tracywalder53 karma

Bush was actually wonderful. I feel lucky to have worked both under Clinton and Bush and I can say that BOTH were supportive, methodical, empathetic, and a voice of calm and reason. Certainly some may not agree with his politics, but I found him to be a voice of calm

rowman2512 karma

What an amazing life! I’m curious about how you went straight from college to doing such cool stuff? My impression is that a typical career path would require significant time to develop and advance but it sounds like that wasn’t the case?

Can you give a short summary of the process at the beginning?

tracywalder-95 karma

So I detail my recruitment process in my book, definitely check it out!

I think that pop culture has created a bit of a false narrative around the CIA's recruitment process. Certainly the agency has areas that they specifically need to recruit for, but for me it was more about my disposition, scholastic achievement, and ability to think creatively on my feet that helped

another195611 karma

Tracy that’s one hell of a back story! So my big question (1st of 2) how did your assessment get so twisted it led to the Iraq invasion? Secondly can you give a quick synopsis of your most exciting case? We love that shit! Thank you for your patriotism.

tracywalder-19 karma

Thank you!

1) I will never know who changed the chart, hard to say for certain. But I believe that it was twisted to support the invasion. At that time, Americans were obviously very conscious of terrorism. If you change the title of the chart and include terrorism, that is a great way to gain congressional support for the war

2) unfortunately, all I can talk about with my CIA cases are what's in the book. I also detail the case of the Chinese espionage ring with Tai and Chi Mak that I worked at the FBI

Washington_Nationals-13 karma


tracywalder9 karma

Um, the CIA doesn't do that....believe you are thinking of the KGB

LurkinLark8 karma

Why did you leave the CIA for the FBI? Is their often that type of shift within the Alphabet Agencies?

tracywalder11 karma

Great questions! So for me, though i LOVED the CIA, I had become burned out traveling overseas and I thought that I could still work counterterrorism, but remain stateside, so I applied to become an agent at the CIA. I don't think there is a lot of shift, but I can't say for certain

anotheruser307 karma

If sexism is so rampant in this field, how do you explain you getting hired straight out of college?

tracywalder19 karma

Hi! In my book I share that at the CIA, where I was hired from straight out of college, I experienced no sexism or gender discrimination. It was very much a meritocracy. At the FBI, where I worked after my time at the CIA, I experienced a great deal of it.

WatifAlstottwent2UGA11 karma

We all know you're here to sell a book, which is understandable, but could you go into a little more detail about how exactly you got a job with the highest clearance level in the federal government straight out of college? I'm interested in getting a job at the federal level and would really appreciate some suggestions, considering what you did is essentially unheard of. I'm assuming you had at least one very good reference, and I'm assuming it didn't come from your sorority?

tracywalder23 karma

I think getting a job there right out of college is a bit more common than you would think. The vast majority of my friends there came right out of college. I think folks are looking for some kind of specific formula, which the CIA doesn't have (the FBI does have a rather set set of steps). It definitely is not unheard of, in thinking back to my friends we all came right from college......the CIA does not ask for references, at least they didn't when I applied, rather that information is given when they conduct the very very extensive background check. Hope that helps. Also, just to clarify clearance levels, a TS clearance is a clearance held by quite a few people both inside and outside the CIA it is the SCI that is given which provides you access to compartmentalized information. Everyone has different SCIs depending on what they need

TheNASAUnicorn-3 karma

No Question, but thank you for kicking ass for women everywhere and fighting the norm!!

Love, An Oil and Gas Engineer (who used to work on rigs, but has hung her hardhat for an office job).

Keep kickin’ ass!!!!

tracywalder8 karma

Thanks so much!

Positiveone15 karma

How did you get recruited into the CIA?

Did you submit an application like any other job?

tracywalder9 karma

so for me, I submitted my application at a career fair at my college. you can also apply online but I think in person is best!

NotSoGlam2155 karma

How different is working undercover compared to how it’s depicted in movies/tv shows?

tracywalder11 karma

I would say entirely different! Unfortunately, the CIA redacted much of what I wanted to talk about being undercover so I can't discuss it much bUT what I will say is that it requires a lot of acting and being that actual person and thinking ahead as to what kind of sticky situations you may get into such as your luggage being lost while in alias.....

commandrix5 karma

What do you think the most challenging case you worked on was?

tracywalder16 karma

So for me, especially at the CIA it was less about challenging questions and more about about dealing with difficult intelligence services. For example, I had a terrorist transit a country and I asked that country to please follow them and they said that they didn't do surveillance on sundays.

Blizzard22275 karma

Is it true that the CIA looks at a lot of young people's travel history and if they have traveled international a lot in their youth, they are put into further consideration?

tracywalder8 karma

Yes, that is true. I would say it depends on to where and how long. I traveled a lot as in my youth but it was to central america and western europe. i have a former student who made it almost entirely through the recruitment process and was rejected for traveling too much to asia and eastern europe.

BottledH2O5 karma

How do you handle pressure? I have an interview today and I'm nervous.

Also, what kind of donuts did the CIA director bring you?

tracywalder10 karma

oh gosh GOOD LUCK! For me, this sounds corney but exercise helped the most! You will do great! It was usually assorted donuts, but once he found out that I liked apple fritters, he brought some of those.

Hardcore_EHS4 karma

Damn, that's an incredible story. Thanks for the work you've done.

I'm in private security currently. No interest in being a cop, prison guard, etc, but would love to go into some type of investigative role with a state government or the fed. Any tips on making the transition? Skills to acquire, etc?

tracywalder7 karma

Thank you!

Gosh, I definitely want to have a specific answer for you but I think the best thing is to apply for jobs at the state level first, for example your states bureau of investigation. also, there are LOTS of investigative jobs in the secret service, DHS, etc. virtually every federal office has an investigative component. Another thing, depending on what state you are in, perhaps become proficient in whatever foreign language is spoken most (like spanish in boarder states)

xxlillyan3 karma

When you was on your duty, did you have to use illegal ways (against the local law) to get the information you need? Like bribery, theft, or maybe even murder? Did you have to hurt someone who was irrelevant to get the information you need? If you did, how do you feel about conducting these behaviors?

Edit: spelling mistake

tracywalder0 karma

I certainly didn't do anything that was illegal!

LittleBoiFound2 karma

I can’t wait to read your book. Did you find it difficult to adjust back to regular life?

tracywalder24 karma

Thanks so much for the support!

It actually is harder the further out that I am. I took a group of my students to China and for some reason my visa took FOREVER to get and they received theirs right away, I was so worried I was going to be arrested at customs!

Aleyla2 karma

Why did you decide to join the CIA?

tracywalder-11 karma

Good question! I go in to a lot of detail about that in my book!

But a specific tidbit and turning point for me, was Peter Arnett and Peter Bergen's 1997 interview on CNN with Usama Bin Laden

dietolive62 karma

I know it depends on the situation, but what does espionage look like in real life vs. in Hollywood?

tracywalder11 karma

Hi! Oh gosh, it is soooooooooooo not the same! That's why I never watch is and i worry about folks who want to pursue these careers because of what they see in hollywood. it isn't as sexy!

FrancoNore2 karma

What was your college major and what qualifications did you have before joining?

tracywalder7 karma

my major in college was History. Truly the only qualification that the CIA has is a college degree, i think they leave it ambiguous on purpose to get as many different perspectives and majors as possible

golfstud72 karma

What prompted you to join the CIA?

tracywalder9 karma

For me, I really loved international travel do that was one thing. The other was being Jewish, peter bergen's interview with Osama Bin Laden and his fatwa against jews and americans, pushed me to want to learn more about terrorism

ProfessorTank2 karma

How's the response to the book been?

Tracy, sorry it didn't work out for you to get to Baylor this semester. I hope we can figure out a future date. And I loved the book. I encouraged my students to read it in preparation for your visit to campus. KT

tracywalder4 karma

HI! Thank you SOOOO much, I would love to figure out a future date. Book is doing well and I so appreciate your support!

mactac2 karma

What is something that would surprise us or be unexpected about your job?

tracywalder7 karma

That is a great question! I would say the camaraderie at the CIA. They became an extension of my family

jumpsteadeh1 karma


tracywalder6 karma

no idea, but I would think Old Spice right?

Pina-s1 karma

Did you find it more difficult to get to this position as a woman? How did the process to getting to a position like yours look?

tracywalder5 karma

So for me, I didn't find it to be more difficult. But everyone has their own lived experience! I gave my resume to a recruiter at a career fair and then they called me to schedule an interview. once i made it through the interview process i went to further testing.

TheOnlyNonsense1 karma

What was your major in college? And how can one get into this line of work?

tracywalder4 karma

Hi! My major was history, and I simply applied at a college career fair. The CIA does recruit at many college campuses throughtout the us

Jindiana231 karma

How did you get recruited for all this?

tracywalder6 karma

So I submitted my resume to a CIA recruiter at a career fair on my college campus

Sweetpants881 karma

What was your major in college?

tracywalder7 karma

My major was history

religionofpeace786-1 karma

Did you ever experience sexual harassment at CIA/FBI?

tracywalder10 karma

I did not experience any at the CIA, but what I experienced at the FBI was appauling. For example being asked to change a suit I wore to brief officials at the CIA because it made the men at the FBI uncomfortable.

cowboybaked-4 karma

To become a spook did you have to go through weird hazing rituals? And, thank you for serving our country.

tracywalder6 karma

Thank you and no!

realjoeydood-5 karma

Do you have any cool scars? Meaning mental scars, and the stuff you wish you could forget?

tracywalder8 karma

I do, I think I saw a lot for someone in their early 20s but I am not sure I want to forget it because it has helped make me the person that I am

MephistoParagon-6 karma

What part of your sorority experience prepared you to be such a badass?

tracywalder9 karma

So I go into a lot of detail about it here if you are interested https://thesororitylife.com/story/tracy-walder/

but in short, it wasn't necessarily to be a badass but more about leadership, and sometimes having to make difficult decisions.

DonLemonsFarts-14 karma

Were you ever a legitimate field agent?

tracywalder13 karma

I am not sure what you mean. I was a CIA operations office and FBI Special Agent, I would think that is legitimate