CIA Agents Really Do Sleep Around
1:30 pm, February 25th | by Meredith Lepore
James Bond may really exist and, more importantly, so may Carrie Mathison. According to former CIA operations officer Reuel Marc Gerecht in a piece for The New Republic, “prudes have rarely done well in the institution.” This is a little disturbing but makes the movies seem a little less, well, fictional.
“When I was in the agency, my colleagues were amused, occasionally disappointed, but never shocked when married officers were discovered cavorting with their secretaries or other co-workers at the office, in parking lots, hotels, and safe-houses—which, of course, are not supposed to be used for trysts. Case officers could get into trouble if their passions led them to keep foreign mistresses no one knew about. The agency maintained an important rule requiring employees to report continuing, meaningful romantic contact. But there was a fair amount of flexibility built in—since operatives, not a sentimental lot, could keep a bed partner for some time and truthfully say that their lovers really didn’t mean all that much to them.”
However, he pointed out that case officers were prohibited from sleeping with foreign agents, as this was a much greater risk for female officers since most foreign officials were (and are) overwhelmingly male.
But this practice could soon be ending thanks to Petraeus scandal. He also writes:
“Unless Congress and the White House make a serious effort to prevent an overreaction to the Petraeus affair, it’s entirely possible that questions about infidelity will start cropping up in background checks. The pool of people who are interested in careers in government service and senior appointments in the executive branch will shrink further. And the service can ill-afford to lose creative personnel with a high tolerance for risk.”
There are now more women in the CIA, which raises the potential of more office romances, but Gerecht worries that the increase in regulation could hurt the performance of CIA agents. “The worst danger, in my view, is that these shifts will lead officials to equate fidelity to a spouse with fidelity to a nation. There is no correlation between serially cheating in a marriage and compromising loyalty to country. Patriotism is a very different kind of love,” he writes. Do you agree?