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Geiger’s Counter: Want to get your spook on?

By Walter Geiger At one point in the movie ‘˜Thunderball,’ James Bond shoots a hitman named Vargas with a speargun, pinning him to a tree. Bond turns to a bikini-clad knockout cowering on the beach behind him and says, ‘I think he got the point’. Vargas, meanwhile, stares wide-eyed as the life seeps from him. I was equally thunderstruck upon first hearing the radio advertisements for the Central Intelligence Agency. It would appear the CIA needs spies and has resorted to advertising employment opportunities on the radio. The ad goes something like this: A phone rings twice. A man answers and says only ‘˜Understood’ then hangs up. Queue the percussion and violins. The man continues, ‘My working hours can change instantly. The mission is a constant but every day is different. What I do is important, yet no one will ever know. But an entire nation will be grateful.’ Then a woman’s serious voice cuts in with the sales pitch, ‘Be a part of history in the making. Become a National Clandestine Service officer in a Washington, D.C. area career at the Central Intelligence Agency.’ No doubt, John le Carre is appalled. In my life, I have met two people I am reasonably sure work or worked for the CIA. One was a bonafide 1970s era spook. He owned up to being ‘in the military’ but had long hair, wore jeans and generally looked like a hippie. One day he would be around and, the next thing you knew, he would be gone for two or three months only to pop up again and act as if he never left. I don’t know what happened to him but years later his brother confided to me he worked for the CIA. The second was a brash, mustachioed extrovert one could hardly imagine the CIA hiring for anything secretive. He wore cutoff tiger stripe camouflage shorts, olive drab t-shirts and openly bragged about flying ‘those (expletive deleted) black helicopters’ in Vietnam for the CIA-operated ‘˜Air America’ unit. I don’t know what happened to him either. Perhaps both ended up pinned to a tree by a dart from a speargun or had to swallow cyanide pills as the thugs from SPECTRE closed in. I visited the CIA website as the ad suggested. Turns out they are looking for officers in operations, collections management, staff operations, specialized skills, linguistics and paramilitary operations. The collections management gig baffled me. Can you imagine the CIA sending bills or someone in receipt of such a bill not paying it? In one nod to national security, the web information does forewarn you must be able to pass a polygraph test. None of that sounds Bondesque to me. But, if you want to talk on a shoe phone like Maxwell Smart or otherwise get your spook on, visit They need the help and the cyanide pills are all you can eat. Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette and Pike County Journal Reporter.

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