- ISIL creates all-female brigade to terrorize women into following Sharia law
- ISTOOK: Obama wants to be impeached
- Obama to Latin leaders: Help with border
- Military bans troops from Baptist church event honoring ‘God’s Rescue Squad’
- ‘Pocket drones’: U.S. Army developing tiny surveillance tools for the next big war
- Belgian cafe posts sign: Dogs allowed, but Jews stay out
- Gen. Dempsey: Pentagon studying Russian readiness plans not viewed ‘for 20 years’
- John McCain: Botched, two-hour execution of murderer is ‘torture’
- House GOP ready to move border bill
- Bomb squad called after live WWII artillery washes on Cape Cod beach
Top Hispanic at CIA lifts veil
Question of the Day
EL PASO, Texas — When Jose Rodriguez, a 30-year veteran undercover CIA officer, stepped into the spotlight this week — an experience he found uncomfortable — it was for a purpose: He's the CIA's poster boy in its drive to recruit more minorities.
Mr. Rodriguez runs the National Clandestine Service, which recruits human sources — "spies as they are popularly known — for U.S. intelligence. A Puerto Rican who joined the agency in 1976, he says he is the most senior minority official in U.S. intelligence.
"In the senior ranks," he said. "I'm the only minority within sight."
CIA spokesman George Little said 21 percent of all agency staff and 24 percent of new hires are minorities, but evidence from other officials suggests they tend to be concentrated among the less senior and support staff.
For instance, Mr. Rodriguez said that only 14 percent of the staff in his own elite clandestine service are minorities.
At a reception earlier this year for new CIA recruits, Mr. Rodriguez recounted, "some of them [new minority hires] came to talk to me. ... They were asking almost 'How did you do it?' as if there was some trick I could share with them. In many cases, they don't realize that they can do it on their own."
Mr. Rodriguez said human resources officials at the clandestine service, formerly known as the CIA Directorate of Operations, had been asking him "for a while" to get his undercover status revoked — "rolled back" in CIA parlance.
Now that it has been, he is able to appear in public for the first time. He willingly did that so he could help the agency's drive to recruit more minorities, especially first- and second-generation Americans.
"Diversity is a mission-critical objective," he said.
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Rep. Silvestre Reyes, Texas Democrat, one of the organizers of the border security conference at which Mr. Rodriguez spoke publicly, said that diversity "is one of our natural strengths as a nation."
Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell told those at the conference that "our focus is to get a more diverse culture, particularly first-generation Americans, and particularly from those groups that are currently targeting this country."
The problem, Mr. McConnell explained, is that since the Cold War, U.S. intelligence "not through law or policy, but by habit, has adopted a position of screening out first-generation Americans.
"We're going to change those habits," he said.
But it may not be that simple.
Mr. Rodriguez said security and background investigations into people whose family are from foreign countries can be lengthy.
"That takes time — too long, in some cases," he said, noting that often results in talented recruits growing tired of waiting and abandoning the application process for a more lucrative private-sector post.
President wants everyone but himself to pay more
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- 'Pocket drones': U.S. Army developing tiny spies for the next big war
- Ted Nugent loses second casino gig for 'racist remarks'
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- ISTOOK: Obama wants to be impeached
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Afghan who killed three U.S. Marines in 2012 to serve over 7-year prison sentence
- EDITORIAL: Obama's 'economic patriotism' means higher taxes
- HUSAIN: Fleeing Iraqi Christians find safe haven at the Shrine of Imam Ali
- Brian Kelly, Notre Dame ready for different route to title
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq