Thursday, April 2, 2009

CIA launches recruitment drive on internet and TV

The CIA is attempting to recruit more spies by advertising on the internet, radio and television, and by holding meetings with American Muslims to make up a severe shortage of Arabic speakers.

In a bid to fulfil a pledge by George W. Bush, the former President, to expand the agency's clandestine arm, advertisements have been placed on websites such as Career Builder, and on the online versions of The Economist and The Washington Post.

Leon Panetta, the new CIA director, will meet Muslim groups in cities such as Detroit to spearhead personally the new drive to recruit Arabic speakers. He recently lamented the fact that only 13 per cent of CIA officers speak a foreign language, and just 22 per cent come from minorities.

"In order to accomplish our vital intelligence mission we want to market our employment opportunities to speakers of Arabic, Russian, Korean, Pashtu and Urdu," George Little, a CIA spokesman, told The Times.

"We want to emphasise to those communities that we welcome first-generation Americans to apply. They bring critical language skills and a knowledge of culture to support our intelligence mission."

A typical recruiting advertisement recently posted on the Chronicle of Higher Education's website is headlined "Central Intelligence Agency, National Clandestine Service Careers, Linguists. You Can Make a World of Difference. Are you up to the challenge of achieving our mission abroad?"

It adds: "This career track offers rewarding, fast-paced, and high-impact challenges." The CIA is also advertising on the social networking site Facebook and YouTube.

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