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Colorful CIA

Big Brother's major bid for minorities

By Bob Harris

MY BUDDIES MATT and Heidi recently sent along an interesting Help Wanted ad, occupying almost a whole page of the October Ebony magazine.

The ad promises the "ultimate overseas experience . . . for the extraordinary individual" possessing "an adventurous spirit, a forceful personality, and the highest degree of integrity."

It's a want ad from the CIA.

That's right--the Central Intelligence Agency has begun openly recruiting from U.S. minority communities for covert operations in the Third World. Right there in Ebony, the CIA bluntly states: "We are particularly interested in candidates with backgrounds in Central Eurasian, East Asian, and Middle Eastern languages . . . foreign language proficiency, previous residency abroad are pluses."

And they're not recruiting for the semi-respectable part of intelligence--the grunt work of reading foreign newspapers, developing contacts, then assembling and analyzing the data so our leaders can make informed decisions. The Ebony ad is for what the CIA calls "Clandestine Service" --the breaking-laws-and-overthrowing-leaders stuff that can start wars--or as the CIA describes it: "a way of life that will challenge your deepest resources . . . including fast-moving, ambiguous and unstructured situations."

Um, that's one way of putting it, I guess.

Sounds good to you? Great. Sign yourself right up, although you'll first have to pass a psychiatric exam, a polygraph interview, and a thorough background check. So if you don't mind asking the CIA to crack open your head and examine your life with a fine-toothed comb, go for it.

There is one catch: The starting salary is only about $40K. So forget any daydreams about Sean Connery and Jill St. John sipping claret on a yacht off Capri. Picture yourself more like, oh, Tom Arnold driving a Skoda around the potholes of Bratislava. And imagine a minority Tom Arnold, since the CIA already has plenty of white people.

Still interested? Just send the CIA your résumé. And if you forget the return address, don't worry. If they want you, they'll find you.

I OFTEN RESEARCH these little tirades on the Internet.

Unfortunately, some folks think the Net is only gossip and pornography, but that's just what they show on TV--which is itself mostly gossip and pornography. So there you are.

Actually, most every major newspaper is online. So are reference libraries on everything from high-energy physics to Shakespeare. Hey, you want to know who paid for your senator's latest campaign? You can find out online in a matter of minutes.

And the best part is you can use computerized search engines to do most of the work. You type a few words summarizing what you're looking for, and in seconds, bang! you're there.

I've always been a little curious to see what other people are searching for: serious stuff or pictures of Jenny McCarthy fondling a tractor? As of last week, one search engine, Metacrawler, now has an option where you can sit back and watch other people's search requests go by.

I took a peek. It's really cool.

The first search I saw was for "Wallflowers tour dates"--OK, that's the band headed by Bob Dylan's son. Respectable enough. Then came "Volvo 240 plug gap"--some rich guy is tuning up his car. Hey, this feels like an eavesdropping version of Jeopardy! Next was "Tiger Woods and Buddhism"--hmm.

I don't see the connection. Sounds like an Al Gore fundraiser.

Yeah, people do look for naked pictures, maybe one search in 10. Somebody out there the morning I was tuned in had a major thing for "Dawn Wells," Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island. Somebody needs to find something to do.

But the good news is that's precisely what most of the planet seems to be up to--and I do mean the planet. In less than five minutes, I also saw searches for "École ingénieur" (French for "school engineer"); "trabajo y secretaria" (Spanish for "job and secretary"); and "Stahleisenprüfblatt Arbeit," which I think is German for "sheet metalworking job" (or maybe it's some kind of foamy lager; mein Deutsch ist sehr furchtbar).

Granted, this polyglot job quest might indicate the global economy ain't all it's cracked up to be, but that's another story.

The point is, most people do seem to be using the Internet responsibly.

Now if only we could use TV and other media the same way.

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From the Nov. 6-12, 1997 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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