Does interesting work at the CIA

Secret Service

Most people only know secret services from spy films, snooping novels or comic books. In real life, the average consumer rarely comes into knowingly contact with agents and spies. And yet secret services have always played a major role in history; both within Germany and internationally. Although they operate in secret, their successes or scandals occasionally reach the public. So it is worth taking a look at the web to see whether secret services can also cover their tracks online and stay hidden.

In Germany there are three secret services that are officially called intelligence services. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) deals with maintaining internal security by collecting and evaluating relevant information. The BfV mainly receives its findings through publicly accessible media such as newspapers and magazines, but informants or the monitoring of letters and telephone correspondence are often an option to obtain information. How exactly the protection of the constitution obtains information can be found in Section 3 of the Federal Constitutional Protection Act (BVerfSchG). As expected, the fields of work concentrate on dangers lurking on one's own doorstep: right-wing and left-wing extremism, alien extremism and the observation of the Scientology organization are just some of the areas in which the constitution protection is active.

Recognize potential threats

The Federal Intelligence Service (BND), on the other hand, focuses entirely on Germany's foreign and security policy situation. With a focus on international crisis management, conflict containment and resolution, the BND often succeeds in identifying critical developments at an early stage and defusing the potential threats. More detailed information on the tasks of the BND can be found under the menu item “About us”.

The third German intelligence service in the league is the Military Counter-Intelligence Service (MAD). The MAD also collects data that it processes and uses. However, his focus is on the military sector, such as counter-espionage and sabotage. The military counterintelligence service is often involved in Bundeswehr missions abroad. The complete mandate and the tasks of the MAD can be read online.

Anyone who thinks that three intelligence agencies are a lot for one country should take a look across the pond to the USA. There are a total of 16 organizations there that are fully dedicated to news gathering. The best-known US service is probably the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), the civilian secret service of the United States of America that operates exclusively abroad. One of the tasks of the CIA is to publish the World Factbook, a publication that makes non-classified country information publicly available. From the statistics available here, you can find out, for example, that around one percent of all children under the age of five in Germany are underweight or that the number of unemployed adolescents and young adults is over ten percent.

For all those who have always dreamed of working for the CIA, "How to Become a CIA Agent" provides information about the necessary preparatory steps. Probably the biggest hurdle for most Europeans is to obtain US citizenship, because a career in the secret service is unthinkable without an American passport. Fortunately, Wikipedia also addresses this problem and links to a website that explains the citizenship process step by step.

As mentioned, there are many other intelligence agencies in the USA; all with different focuses and areas of responsibility. The informative blog "USA Explained" provides a more detailed overview of all services.

Roots deep in the past

If you look at the history of the international secret services, the hour of birth of the services can be dated towards the end of the sixteenth century. Sir Francis Walsingham, today often referred to as the progenitor of espionage, thwarted attempts by the Catholic Church to murder the reigning monarch at the court of the British Queen Elizabeth. The Church wanted to see Scotland's Mary Queen of Scots enthroned and tried hard to get Elizabeth out of the way. In the course of these actions, Queen Elizabeth commissioned Walsingham to set up a secret service - the first of its kind to operate on a state budget.

Thanks to his extensive network and ingenuity when it came to deciphering intercepted communications, Walsingham remained successful for a long time and ultimately obtained the execution of Maria Stuart. If you want to know more about the exciting story of the first secret agent, you can either read the biography in English or watch the first part of the episode "The World of Secret Services" of the TV series "History" on YouTube.

Nowadays, the British foreign intelligence service SIS (Secret Intelligence Service), better known under the name MI6 (the abbreviation for "Military Intelligence, Section 6"), is familiar to everyone thanks to action hero James Bond. The fictional character Bond, whose role model is presumably the British naval officer and successful spy of the Second World War, Patrick Dalzel-Job, has also met film buffs in the cinema since the early 1960s. So far there have been 22 James Bond films; the latest, entitled “Skyfall”, will hit German cinemas towards the end of this year. Wikipedia provides the most comprehensive information on James Bond in general.

But back to reality: In Germany, the concept of the secret service has come into the field of fire of angry citizens and the media in the course of the investigations into the crimes of the right-wing extremist trio in Thuringia. Both the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and ZEIT dealt with the discussion about the abolition of the secret services in November last year. The political magazine Der Spiegel does not go quite as far with its demands; instead of stopping the protection of the constitution, he calls for a comprehensive restructuring.

If you are still interested in a job in the German secret service, the Galileo report “How do I become an agent?” Provides information on career planning. Reporter Florian Schwarz wanted to know how to get started as a secret agent. He begins his search on a job exchange, but later learns interesting details about his spy career from a former agent. (ka)