Recruiting spies for covert operations is becoming increasingly difficult because of social media, a former CIA officer told The US Sun.
Luke Bencie, 49, says he worked as a technical liaison officer at the agency in the 1990s before founding Security Management International, LLC (SMI).
But at CrimeCon 2022 in Las Vegas, he told the Sun that social media is destroying key skills and urged would-be spies to travel more.
He said: “The big difference from my time is social media.
“Your profile is out there
“If you’re a spy and you don’t have a social media profile and people scrutinize you with due diligence, they’re going to say, ‘Wait a minute, this guy doesn’t have Facebook, LinkedIn or anything like that. What about it?’
“Young people are at an age where everyone is doing it, so it’s difficult to balance that.
“If you find yourself in a secret environment all day, where you don’t have your phone and you don’t use social media from 8am to 6pm, that could be a red flag.
“The other difficulty is that young people today always want to be on social media and it actually hurts them because they are giving away their location and a lot of other information.
“So this is a whole new challenge compared to what we had to face.
“You also need to have good social skills, and young people today are so into their social media that they lose that face-to-face contact. That’s a problem.
“You tell them to go and have a chat with someone and they don’t know how to do it, they freeze. Smart 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 celebrities, Jennifer Garner was on the CIA’s website trying to recruit people.
“I just think that you try to move with the times, you have to do that a little bit.
NOT SO MUCH A “SECRET SOCIETY”
“Being a CIA officer isn’t as much of the secret society it used to be, and it’s lost a bit of its mystique.
“Everyone writes books about their experiences or has a show, I’m as much to blame for that as anyone else.”
In his capacity as Managing Director of SMI, he was an advisor to the State Department and the Department of Defense.
He previously served as a US intelligence representative on the State Department’s Foreign Emergency Support Team, where he was responsible for responding to terrorist attacks against US targets abroad.
Bencie is also the author of six books on safety.
ADVICE FOR WANNA-SPOOKS
Asked for his advice for wannabe spooks, he said: “Firstly, you have to travel, that’s the most important thing.
“Secondly, you must read newspapers and not just newspapers of your political affiliation, all newspapers – digest them and then be able to form your own opinion.
“And third, to really have that dining experience, you have to sit down and break bread with people from other cultures.
“Knowing a foreign language is also a big advantage.”
When asked about the challenges facing the CIA, Bencie said: “Russia is back, but I think next will be China.
“Just as a casual observer, they are building and pushing in the South China Sea.
“But Africa too, everyone ignores Africa, but every decision that moves forward in the next 10 to 20 years will in some way or shape touch the African continent because of its resources.
“That’s where the big competition between the US and China will take place, in Africa and in the South China Sea.”
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https://www.the-sun.com/news/5237793/ex-cia-officer-tips-spy-social-media-killing-skills/ I’m a former CIA officer – you need to travel more if you want to be a spy, but social media destroys key skills