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Jul 19, 2019 CIA Hosts Washington Intern Forum

CIA Museum Director, Rob, discusses the history of CIA from its origins as the OSS.
Last Tuesday, we hosted a group of nearly 200 student interns at our Headquarters in Langley, Virginia for a number of briefings and discussions on Agency history and culture. Occasionally, we invite student groups to learn more about our mission and people. On those visits, most walk through the doors of CIA expecting a gallery of space-age weaponry and cool cars. We hate to disappoint, but want to set the record straight. By inviting student groups, we get the chance to “lift the curtain,” so to speak, and show them what work at Langley actually looks like.

Tuesday’s group came to CIA from a handful of Washington-based entities. Many of these students are considering careers in intelligence or international affairs, and came to the Agency to learn more about our career and internship opportunities. Our goal was to create a program that touched on all of these topics: CIA history, work, mission, and culture.

We kicked off the day with a presentation from the Director of CIA Museum, Rob, who began his presentation with a quick question: “How many agents do you think work here at CIA?” After a brief pause, a few responses rang out from the group. “Four thousand,” said one intern sitting in the front of the auditorium. “Ten thousand!” another shouted from the back. The answer: zero. “CIA employees are called officers,” Rob explained with a laugh.

Rob continued with a brief history of CIA, from the WWII-era Office of Strategic Services, our predecessor, to the modern day CIA and everything in between. He spoke about the need for intelligence and major technical achievements, like the U2 and CORONA satellite programs that dramatically improved our ability to collect information.

Next, we transitioned to a panel discussion with representatives from each of CIA’s five directorates: Analysis, Operations, Support, Science and Technology, and Digital Innovation. The interns asked a range of questions, which spanned from interest in the panelist’s career progression to how the officers manage to balance their personal and work lives, given the classified nature of the work at CIA. When asked about their motivations to work at CIA, the panelists all responded to the same call: mission. “I’m not here because it’s going to make me a lot of money,” one panelist said. “I’m here because I cherish the opportunity to serve and protect the United States.”

Interns rounded out their day with a presentation on creativity from CIA Creative Thinking Facilitator Jacob. His presentation, which he also delivered at the South by Southwest (SXSW) film, media, and music festival earlier this year, highlighted strategies and tools our analysts use to reframe their key intelligence questions and encourage creative and divergent thinking.

CIA is always on the lookout for opportunities to give students a peek into the halls of Langley, and to demystify our mission. Are you interested in learning more about internships with CIA? Check out our student opportunities page!

Jul 12, 2019 Girls Who Code Founder Reshma Saujani Visits CIA, Meets Program Alumna

Girls Who Code Founder Reshma Saujani Visits CIA

As a young girl, Reshma Saujani’s father read her stories about leaders who changed the world: Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr., and others. While she wasn’t sure exactly what she wanted to do, she was sure of one thing – she wanted to make her mark.

Reshma did just that as the Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, a nonprofit that aims to close the gender gap in technology. CIA recently hosted her for a speaking event and to meet with officers. She shared her perspective on how to empower women of all ages to be courageous and to shift from a culture of perfection to one of risk acceptance.

Reflecting on her personal and professional path to Girls Who Code and other successes, Reshma discussed how she overcame obstacles, including law school debt and a ten-year finance career that left her feeling unfulfilled.

She shared the story of how a call from her friend gave her the courage to make a bold move. “Your best friend always seems to call when you’re at your lowest,” Reshma said. She quit her job and turned to politics, where she had little luck in two New York Congressional races taking on incumbents. Though her campaigns were unsuccessful, they gave her the initial idea for Girls Who Code. When she visited local schools, she noticed a stark gender imbalance in computer science classrooms.

 “When we think about the image of a programmer,” Reshma said, “what do we see? A guy in a basement drinking a Red Bull and singularly focused on his screen.” She was concerned that young women were getting the message that they did not belong in the tech world.

Girls Who Code now reaches millions across the globe in schools, community centers, homeless shelters, and churches.

“We raise our boys to be risk-takers, but our women in bubble wrap,” Reshma said, explaining that parents exercise an unconscious bias when raising children, one that is deeply ingrained in our culture. Parents are “hard-wired to toughen-up boys and insulate girls,” she said.

These fundamental differences in how we raise men and women, Reshma explained, can have broader implications as women reach adulthood. By conditioning women to be risk-averse, we’re in effect raising them to be perfect, she continued, calling for a cultural shift she coins a “Bravery Revolution.”

“It starts with the small things,” she said. “When you start finding courage in the everyday, you can prepare for the big events.” For example, she challenged the audience to accept having an occasional typo in an email – to be brave, not perfect.

When asked what men can do to contribute to ongoing issues of gender inequality, Reshma said there have never been stronger male allies, noting that more than 40 percent of Girls Who Code instructors are male. “Our men won’t accept a world where their daughters can’t be anything they want to be,” she said.

Reshma concluded, “Coding is a metaphor for bravery. [These girls] learned to code and can stand up to anything.” After the discussion, several people from the audience stayed behind to meet Reshma, including an employee—and former Girls Who Code participant—who was inspired by that experience to go into a technical field that led her to CIA.

Jul 10, 2019 Ask Molly: July 10, 2019

Dear Molly,

What are your thoughts on cybersecurity? How can I better protect myself and my family in this ever-growing world of hacks and data leaks? #AskMollyHale

~Internaut I Am Not

Dear Internaut I Am Not,

I asked our CIA cybersecurity experts for advice, and they highly recommended a unique resource from our colleagues at the Department of Homeland Security called Stop.Think.Connect.

Stop.Think.Connect - USA

Stop.Think.Connect - Global

The Stop.Think.Connect. campaign is an unprecedented public-private partnership between federal and state governments, law enforcement, industry, and non-profit organizations to increase the understanding of cyber threats and empower Americans and all digital citizens to be safer and more secure online.

Pretty cool, right?

The campaign is led by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (part of the US Department of Homeland Security), the National Cyber Security Alliance (a nonprofit that empowers people to use the Internet safely & securely), and the Anti-Phishing Working Group (the world's largest independent counter eCrime association).

The idea behind Stop.Think.Connect is that Internet safety is a shared responsibility—at home, in the workplace, and in our communities. The Campaign provides access to tons of resources, tips sheets, and research, giving you the tools you need to make more informed decisions when using the Internet.

At the DHS site, there are toolkits loaded with info specifically for groups like students, parents, teachers, older Americans, government organizations (like us!), small businesses, corporations, and law enforcement.

On the Global site, in addition to dozens of tips and resources, there is a blog, research section, sharable memes, and several resources in foreign languages too.

Stop.Think.Connect is a fantastic resource available for free to anyone in the world, and I highly encourage you to explore it.

Stay safe out there, Netizens…

~ Molly

P.S. If you have questions specifically about online dating, check out my column from February: Plenty of Phish.

Jun 17, 2019 CIA's Andrew Hallman Discusses Digital Futures at FedTalks 2019

On Wednesday June 5th, Deputy Director of the CIA for Digital Innovation, Andrew Hallman, joined other public and private sector tech leaders at FedScoop’s ninth annual FedTalks to discuss a number of hot topics in the world of digital futures. In the conversation, Andrew covered the need for agile adaption of intelligence tradecraft to compete more effectively in an increasingly complex threat landscape, intersection of innovation and security, and CIA’s commitment to strengthening its digital acumen.

Andrew also discussed the role of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in enabling higher order human cognition and intelligence tradecraft. He noted the role of these tools as “enabling the human mind” to help officers focus on their highest value activities. From the automation of routine tasks to the rapid exploitation of data, pattern recognition, and predictive analytics, these tools, he noted, are intended “to allow officers to do what they do best in their intelligence tradecraft.”

When asked how CIA manages to promote innovation within the top secret world of national security, Andrew admitted that “historically, the Agency, like most other government organizations, has viewed security as an obstacle to the assimilation of advanced technology.” Andrew highlighted that, in fact, “security and innovation are inextricably linked” and that our counterintelligence and security officers are “indispensable partners to our collective intelligence tradecraft.”

Watch the full video above to learn more about how CIA stays on the cutting edge of technological innovation, and how we adapt to an ever-changing global threat landscape.

Jun 13, 2019 Ask Molly: June 13, 2019

Dear Molly,

I’m taking my family on a road trip to DC this summer. I’m a huge spy buff and would like to visit the Langley campus while we’re there. Do you give tours of the CIA Headquarters? Is the CIA Museum open to the public? #AskMollyHale

~ DCRoadTripper

Dear DCRoadTripper,

We get this question a lot during the summer. Unfortunately, the CIA Museum and our CIA Headquarters compound are not open to the public, so you can’t come here in person. However, our nation’s capital is a great place to visit. It’s filled with historic sights to see, and the Smithsonian museums along the National Mall are some of the best museums in the world. (Bonus: they’re free and open to the public every day!)

For a more intel-related tour, you can also visit two museums that are run by our colleagues at FBI and NSA:

  • If you contact your local congressional representative, you can look at arranging a tour at FBI Headquarters of their exhibit, The FBI Experience, which features interactive multimedia exhibits, content, and artifacts that help illustrate the importance of the FBI’s work to protect the nation.
  • The NSA also has its very own National Cryptologic Museum, which is located across from NSA Headquarters and is open to the public. Their museum houses thousands of artifacts that provide an inside look at some of the most dramatic moments in the history of American cryptology.

As for CIA, although you may not be able to visit our museum in person, we do have the next best thing: We have opened our virtual doors to you!

Our website has an online tour of CIA’s Headquarters. You get to take a sneak peek inside the CIA and see sights such as our Memorial Wall, “the Bubble,” Kryptos, our Presidents and Directors galleries, and much more.

If you want to go more in-depth, we also have three publications available online that you may be interested in:

    The CIA Museum also has a large part of its unclassified collection online, if you’re interested in exploring relics from our past. It’s like Indiana Jones, except without all the snakes.

    And if you’re looking for something to listen to while on your road trip to DC, you can always check out the Washington Post’s Retropod podcast, where our historians shared the stories behind some of our most interesting artifacts over the course of a recent week:

      Hope you and your family have a great visit to DC this summer!

      Safe travels,

      ~ Molly

      Jun 12, 2019 CIA Visits the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program

      Last week, CIA had the distinct pleasure of visiting the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP) in Anchorage, Alaska, for a few days of training simulations on detecting national security threats.

      Founded in 1995, ANSEP’s objective is to inspire, educate, and propel Alaskan Native students of all ages toward success in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). It pursues this objective through a number of academic and professional programs intended to challenge students and accelerate learning to keep pace with the needs of tomorrow. One of these, the Summer Bridge Program, is geared toward graduating high school seniors as they transition into higher education and career planning. Always on the lookout for bright young minds (particularly in science and technology!), CIA jumped at the opportunity to pay these students a visit.

      ANSEP participants were excited to participate in technical simulations provided by the visiting officers. They worked in small teams with limited resources and under demanding time constraints to identify threats in a fictional small town. The students took on the role of Agency officers, using critical thinking, situational awareness, and decision-making skills to address the simulated national threat – no small feat, but one our officers face on a daily basis.

      On the last day, CIA officers even had the opportunity to join our US Fish and Wildlife colleagues, who trained the students on wilderness safety. This summer, many of these students are headed to STEM internships that will take them into the field, making wilderness safety a top priority. And who knows, maybe in the future we’ll see some of them walking the halls of CIA, tackling some of our nation’s toughest science and engineering challenges.

      Learn more about CIA internship opportunities here.

      Jun 04, 2019 Balancing Transparency and Secrecy in a Digital Age

      On Friday, May 31st, CIA’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Officer, Benjamin Huebner, spoke to a packed crowd at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC about the balance of transparency and secrecy in a digital age, especially within the Intelligence Community (IC).

      Moderated by Brookings Institution Federal Executive Fellow (and former CIA Office of Public Affairs spokesperson) Ryan Trapani, the conversation spanned from discussions on the legal context of privacy and transparency to the intersection of public accountability and secrecy. That balance, said Ben, “makes us better” as an intelligence agency.

      Ben relayed a whole-of-Agency commitment to protecting Americans’ privacy and civil liberties. “It is the role of every single officer to think of these issues,” said Ben. “The moment you become a CIA officer is when you go to our memorial wall and you stand up in front of those 133 stars and swear a constitutional oath to protect and defend the constitution.”

      Learn more about CIA’s commitment to transparency here.

      May 02, 2019 Ask Molly: May 2, 2019

      Dear Molly,

      Is there really a Starbucks at CIA Headquarters?

      ~ Frap Fanatic

      Dear Frap Fanatic,

      Yep, there is a Starbucks at CIA Headquarters! It’s actually one of the busiest Starbucks in the country. We need our caffeine jolt just like everyone else.

      The menu is the same as the Starbucks on your local street corner. They even play the same modern music, and we have a comfortable seating area for officers to take a break, hang with a co-worker, or talk shop… as long as the conversations are unclassified of course.

      The only big difference between this Starbucks and your regular Starbucks: Baristas don’t take customers’ names. Our officers order their cup of joe incognito.

      ~ Molly

      Apr 26, 2019 CIA Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Becoming the George Bush Center for Intelligence

      Today we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the naming of our headquarters compound: the George Bush Center for Intelligence.

      The CIA Headquarters compound was renamed for President George Herbert Walker Bush on April 26, 1999, to honor his unique role in Agency history. President Bush is the only former Director of Central Intelligence to become President of the United States.

      Director Haspel, CIA Chief Operating Office Andrew Makridis, and the workforce held a small celebration this morning to mark the anniversary of this historic occasion.

      Former Director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet, who presided over the original naming ceremony, returned to deliver remarks.

      Apr 19, 2019 DCIA Haspel Visits Auburn University

      CIA Director Gina Haspel visited Auburn University in Alabama yesterday, where she delivered remarks and participated in a Q&A moderated by retired Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess, Auburn’s chief operating officer and former DIA director.

      “As I look back on my first year as Director,” said Haspel, “I am more in awe of the men and women at CIA than ever before. And I know that Auburn graduates also know a thing or two about serving our country, having made invaluable contributions over the years by signing up for the tough jobs—as warfighters, astronauts, and, of course, as intelligence officers.”

      Director Haspel told the Auburn students the story of Mike Spann, an Auburn alumnus, CIA officer, and the first American to die in the line of duty in Afghanistan after 9/11. She also talked about her 34-year career at the Agency, some of her leadership team’s accomplishments over this last year, and her priorities for the future.