Apparently the Central Intelligence Agency is looking for a new style of agent. According to a National Public Radio report, as “part of the CIA's efforts to diversify its workforce, the spy agency is reaching out to a group that once was unable to get security clearance — lesbians and gay men.”
In late November the CIA partnered with Florida's Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce for an event to network with homosexuals who may be interested in working for the agency. “This is the first time we've done a networking event of this type with any of the gay and lesbian chamber of commerces in the United States,” said Michael Barber, the CIA's LGBT Community Outreach and Liaison program manager. Barber, who made it clear that he is “straight,” emphasized that his agency is not as picky as it once was about the sexual orientation of its recruits, and now welcomes lesbian, gay, bisexual, and even transgender (LGBT) individuals for service in the spy agency.
“For many years, the CIA and other federal agencies routinely denied security clearances to gay men and women,” reported NPR, “until President Clinton signed an executive order ending the practice in 1995. Now, Barber says, the CIA even has a program for gay couples. 'We actually have LGBT employees serving overseas with their partners,' Barber said to the few dozen gathered at the networking event. 'So you can do it.'”
During the 1950s and '60s, hundreds of homosexuals were purged from the CIA ranks — for obvious security reasons. But as long ago as the late 1980s a select few were allowed to stay on, pioneering the way for today's wide-open compromise. Tracey Ballard, a CIA technical intelligence officer who spoke at the Miami-Dade LGBT recruiting event, recalled how she “came out” to her superiors in 1989, “knowing that the admission could cost her security clearance and her job,” reported NPR.
Shockingly, whoever was in charge let Ballard stay, so that today the CIA is rife with LGBT employees, and, as with most other federal agencies, even boasts a homosexual fraternity of some 200 members within its ranks. In addition, notes NPR, the “spy agency is one of the founding partners of Outserve, an organization that represents gay active military personnel, including those with the CIA.”
On its own website the CIA posted a press release boasting of its participation in a professional conference in November that catered to homosexuals interested in math and science careers. “For the first time in its history, the CIA served as a corporate sponsor of the oSTEM — Out in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — recent national conference in Chicago, and led discussions in the Intelligence Careers conference track,” stated the release. “The CIA participated in the event as part of its nationwide outreach to diverse communities with mission critical talent.”
oSTEM is a “national society that promotes leadership opportunities for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and allied (LGBTQA) communities in the STEM fields,” explained the CIA release.
According to the release, Susan Gordon, the CIA's director of support, spoke to the 100 conference attendees, assuring them that “sexual orientation and gender identity have absolutely no relation to one’s ability to do the job. When you blend LGBT and STEM, you get innovation, different perspectives, connections between complex ideas, and applications that drive bottom-line business results.”
While seasoned intelligence experts would argue that such relaxing of standards by the federal intelligence agency represents a security compromise ripe for exploitation by those unfriendly to America, straight arrow CIA recruiter Michael Barber insisted to NPR that being openly homosexual “is no longer an issue for holding security clearance ... we want the best and the brightest regardless of your sexual orientation.”