What Do CIA Agents Do?
The CIA’s main objective is to gather, analyze, evaluate, and pass on intelligence on foreign countries to U.S. heads of security and the president. That includes information on foreign industries, the political landscape of foreign countries, and terrorist cells. So basically, intelligence will be gathered on any activity occurring in a foreign country that’s a threat to U.S. national security.
Before that can happen, the agency must first identify these threats, like the activities of a terrorist cell or the development of chemical and biological weapons. Only when the threat has been identified will the CIA decide how to collect the information about the threat and then proceed to do so.
Intel And Espionage
How do they go about collecting information, you ask? Well, in a number of ways. CIA agents sift through foreign newspaper and magazine articles and radio and television broadcasts translating what’s being said or written, looking for any information that’s related to the threat. Agents will also sort through the images taken by imagery satellites, searching for any activity that can tell them what’s happening on the ground like the number of airplanes that’s present at a foreign military base. Some agents even decrypt coded messages sent by other countries hoping to collect sensitive information.
And yes, CIA agents do engage in espionage. But not the flashy stuff you see in movies like agents killing enemies with a poison-tipped pen or over the top acrobatics. Those depictions of spies being highly skilled efficient killing machines are far flung from the truth of the life of a spy. Much of what a spy does is actually quite mundane. Spies for the CIA meet with foreign assets and collect the information they have been exposed to. You must realize that convincing someone to commit an act that ultimately amounts to treason is no easy task. Spies, however, are armed with a variety of psychological tricks to do just that.
Want to get your asset to talk? Figure out what motivates him and what his vulnerabilities are. Most times, however, money is given in exchange for the information. Given the nature of the work spies do, it’s essential that they avoid being detected. Failure to so will get the agent thrown out of the country at the very least, and his asset arrested and possibly killed.
So now you’re probably wondering, what’s the pay like? The official CIA website actually answers that question. The starting salary ranges between $54,423 and $82,840 but will undoubtedly increase when an agent receives promotions. So, as you can see, the life of a CIA agent isn’t as glamorous as what’s portrayed on television.