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Is the Foggy Bottom Metro Stop a CIA Recruiting Station?

Charles S. Clark/GovExec

Washington Metro riders, who presumably include ambitious young career seekers who speak foreign languages, this month began encountering an unusual display at the Foggy Bottom metro station.

Bedecking the upper platform of the metro stop just blocks from the State Department is an array of recruiting posters from the normally secretive CIA.

“There’s a whole world of opportunities to use your foreign language skills at the CIA,” proclaims the blue banners outfitted with the CIA’s official seal and website address (www.cia.gov/careers.). Perhaps as an initial screening, mysterious headlines appear in Arabic, Russian and other languages.

“As an intelligence service, languages are critical to CIA’s work, and Director [Gina] Haspel has made foreign language excellence a priority,” CIA media spokesperson Nicole de Haay told Government Executive. “CIA’s workforce collectively speaks about 80 languages, and we’re actively seeking individuals with foreign language skills to help us meet national security challenges. Advertising for foreign language positions is just one of many ways we’re connecting talented people with an array of career opportunities at the agency.”

The agency has also taken the message to Twitter:

Top needs are Arabic, Chinese, Mandarin, Dari/Pashto, Korean, Persian/Farsi and Russian, according to the CIA website. “Our language experts use their ability to speak, read and translate foreign languages—as well as their understanding of cultural differences—to handle both current national security requirements and potentially new missions,” it says. Qualified hires are eligible for monetary incentives if they can perform in any of the full list of needed languages. “In our rapidly changing world, intelligence priorities can shift as countries and languages increase in importance,” the website says.

Director Haspel spoke of the need last September during an address at her alma mater, the University of Louisville. “We’re strengthening our language training to ensure that our people are more capable and better attuned to the cultures in which they operate,” she said.

Though the agency declined to provide details on whether interest in working at the agency is up or down, CIA’s recruitment efforts have been increasingly public in recent years. In March 2018, the agency invited reporters from NPR to CIA’s Langley, Va., headquarters for a full presentation on its efforts, which include staff appearances at job fairs, university campuses and on social media.

Charles S. Clark joined Government Executive in the fall of 2009. He has been on staff at The Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly, National Journal, Time-Life Books, Tax Analysts, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and the National Center on Education and the Economy. He has written or edited online news, daily news stories, long features, wire copy, magazines, books, and organizational media strategies.

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