CIA agent talks secret intel, tech
‘I am paid to tell lies,’ speaker tells audience
Published: Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, April 10, 2012 11:04
Intelligence agent Eric Anderson said he fits into only one of the 2012 Global Agenda lecture series’ three themes while speaking in Mitchell Hall on Wednesday night.
“I am not a spy or a sneaky guy,” Anderson said. “I do tell lies. I am paid to tell lies.”
Anderson, who spoke as part of the Center for Political Communication’s series, discussed his work as a senior intelligence officer for the American government in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. He has published more than 600 articles for the National Intelligence Council, International Security Advisory Board and the Department of Defense, and wrote the 2009 book “Take the Money and Run: Sovereign Wealth Funds and the Demise of American Prosperity.”
Anderson said that he is now one of five career intelligence personnel on the Central Intelligence Agency’s Red Cell. He said Red Cell receives information that determines if the country is under threat or not, and that President Barack Obama reads the group’s warnings of potential attacks to the country in his daily brief.
Anderson said the daily brief is a top-secret document produced each morning for the president that highlights which situations warrant additional intelligence and analyzes sensitive international situations.
According to Anderson, Red Cell has reported to the White House in many critical historical situations.
On December 4, 1941, a report arrived to Washington stating that Hawaii and the Philippines were under threat of attack by Japanese forces. Three days later, the American naval base at Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Imperial Japanese Navy.
Anderson said though communication between intelligence agencies was not always common practice, contemporary agencies share information with each other to work more effectively. He said different agencies are less secretive and the policy went from a “need to know” to a “need to share” basis.
“Long gone are the days where the CIA and the FBI did not talk,” Anderson said.
He said that in addition to contributing to Obama’s daily brief, Red Cell also meets with the president every six months to sort through a list of the group’s priorities.
Anderson said modern technology increases competition between different intelligence agencies, and makes agents of organization have to work harder to stay on top.
“Technology is drowning me,” he said.
However, Anderson also said that technology is not the principal instrument to determine if a threat will result in an attack.
Accounting and Finance major senior Michael O’Donovan said that he always attends the lectures and finds them interesting. He said Anderson’s presentation was not what he expected.
“It was interesting to have an analyst standpoint,” O’Donovan said. “But I was expecting something different.”
Anderson concluded his lecture by assuring the audience that, despite the stress and the challenges, he enjoys his line of work.
“I wouldn’t trade my job for anything,” he said.