Chloe O'Brian. Frame capture from the Season 7 trailer of "24."
Copyright © 2008 by Ralph Couey
Written content only
Working in the Intelligence profession is a challenge. We joined this happy community out of some well-placed motivations, such as patriotism, being an unknown soldier in a largely invisible war, or just having a Jack Ryan fixation. Or just enjoying the high pay and good benefits.
An Intelligence Analyst, in most cases, works in an office, although we almost never call it that. In an attempt to sound cool and hip, we refer to it as “the shop.” “Yeah, I work the Intel Shop.” It sounds cool because it implies that (1) we have explainable skills, and (2) we can actually fix things. It makes us sound tool savvy as well, although I don’t ever remember asking any of my colleagues for a 3/8-inch hydraulic regression analyzer.
It is one of those rare jobs that you can’t brag about. Part of this has to do with constantly working with classified information, and the natural reticence resulting from being at war with an enemy that has a demonstrated predilection for sawing people’s heads off. The other reason has to do with practicality. For some reason, the public thinks that if we work intel, and have a high clearance, then we must be wired in to all the mysterious stuff that they’re convinced the government is hiding. In my earlier days, I actually got a kick out of telling people that I was an Intelligence Analyst. Then, I wised up. I wish I could tell you how many times I was asked about who killed Kennedy, or what was really going on up at Groom Lake. Now, older and wiser, when people ask me what I do, I simply say, “I work for the government.” For most, that’s total snooze material and the inquiries stop there. For the persistent ones, I explain, “I read reports, then write a report about the reports I read. Then, I pass my report to someone else, who writes a report about my report.” That works. By the time I get through the first sentence, they’re off looking for the Jell-O shots.