December 12, 2019

Life as an Intelligence Officer: from Flip Phone to the Age of Twitter

Marc Polymeropoulos, Former Head of Clandestine Operations in Europe & Eurasia, CIA

Marc Polymeropoulous shares his insights and reflections on his extensive experience with the CIA, particularly in counterterrorism, and his role as an operations officer. Delving into the intricacies of recruiting and handling foreign agents, he outlines the motivations driving individuals to engage in such dangerous tasks, citing financial support, ego, and various motives. Polymeropoulous emphasizes the irreplaceable role of the CIA in foreign relations and urges us to distance its morals and mission from the U.S. government. He advises against judging an administration’s intelligence interests solely based on the president’s personal style. Throughout his talk, he presents the profound commitment required for a CIA career, acknowledging the sacrifices and rewards that come with it. Reflecting on the agency’s history and decisions, he concludes by characterizing the CIA as an imperfect institution that learns from its mistakes yet remains indispensable in its contributions to the United States.

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