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We’re Happily Fired!
The Trend of Senior CIA Officials leaving The Agency is a Security Issue

The CIA proudly defines itself as the “Work of a Nation, the Centre of Intelligence”. But the brain drain within the Intelligence agency is a phenomenon that diminishes the connotation for the same. The trend of officers leaving CIA has gone up, especially after 9/11. According to data compiled by the Washington Post, about 91 upper-level CIA officials have left the agency in order to find a lucrative job in private sector since 9/11.

This evidently is an expensive trend for the US government. The huge money, time and energy invested for decades of experience and training, paid for by US taxpayers, comes to naught when officials leave for private employment. Most of these senior officials have assumed lucrative posts with private intelligence firms and security consultants, often making significantly more than they could ever make working at the CIA. A major migration to the private sector was witnessed during 2002-07, as business with intelligence contractors increased. However, in 2010, attrition rates at CIA were at an all time low, as quoted by an intelligence official in media. Apparently, out of 8,54,000 Americans with top-secret clearances, 2,65,000 are now employees of private contractors.

The reasons are many. Firstly, CIA is flexible allowing its employees leverage to join private firms. Secondly, the private intelligence industry has emerged as an extremely profitable and large industry, especially after the Iraq and Afghan invasion and war on terror. Thirdly, the financial leg-up appears to be significant enough for the ex-CIA personnel to accommodate some compromises on putting the nation first. While the average salary of the top CIA personnel remains around $180,000 annually, private firms are easily able to offer more.

This, not only raises a manpower shortage issue, but also national security issues. So what can the CIA do? The CIA should consider increasing their retirement age from 55-57 to around 65. Also, they should now introduce an employment clause that necessitates a minimum term of service, as in the forces.


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