RECRUITING spies for covert ops is getting harder and harder because of social media, a former CIA officer told the US Sun.
Luke Bencie, 49, says he worked at the agency in the 1990s as a technical liaison before forming Security Management International, LLC (SMI).
But talking to CrimeCon 2022 in Las Vegas, he told The Sun that social media kills key skills and called on budding spies to travel more.
He said: “The big difference from when I was involved is social media.
“Your profile is over there,
“If you’re a spy and you don’t have a social media profile and people are doing their due diligence on you, they’ll be like, ‘Wait a minute, this guy doesn’t have Facebook, LinkedIn, anything like that. What’s up with that?
“Young people are at an age where everyone is doing it, so balancing that is difficult.
“If you’re in a classified environment all day where you don’t have your phone and you’re off social media from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., that could be a red flag.
“The other difficulty is that young people today always want to be on social media and it hurts them because they give away their location and a lot of other information.
“So it’s a whole new challenge compared to what we had to face.
“You also have to have good social skills and young people today are so into their social media that they lose that one-on-one contact. That’s a problem.
“You tell them to go talk to someone and they don’t know how to do it, they freeze up. Smart as hell when it comes to booking smart, but they can’t start a conversation.
“Before, it was just ‘Do you want to serve your country – red, white and blue’.
“Now they even bring in celebrities, Jennifer Garner was on the CIA website trying to recruit people.
“I just think it’s trying to keep up, you have to do it a bit.
NOT AS A ‘SECRET SOCIETY’
“Being a CIA officer isn’t as much secret society as it once was and it’s lost some of its mystique.
“Everyone writes books about their experience or has a show, I’m as guilty as anyone of that.”
As CEO of SMI, he has served as a consultant to the Department of State and the Department of Defense.
He previously served as the U.S. Intelligence Community Representative to the State Department’s Overseas Emergency Support Team, where he was responsible for responding to terrorist attacks against U.S. targets overseas.
Bencie is also the author of six books on security.
TIPS FOR WANNABE SPOOKS
Asked about his advice for budding ghosts, he replied, “First you have to travel, that’s the most important thing.
“Number two, you have to read the newspapers and not just the newspapers of your political affiliation, all the newspapers – digest them and then be able to form your own opinion.
“And number three, you have to sit down and break bread with people from other cultures to really have that dinner experience.
“Speaking a foreign language is also a big advantage.”
Asked about the challenges facing the CIA, Bencie said: “Russia is back but I think the next step will be China.
“Just as a casual observer, they build in the South China Sea and they push it.
“But Africa too, everyone ignores Africa, but every decision to be made in the next 10 to 20 years affects the African continent in one way or another because of its resources.
“That’s where the great competition between the United States and China will be, in Africa and the South China Sea.”
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