[Are scientists ever taught to think of 50 ways someone could
steal ("extract") their ideas, thoughts, experience, and knowledge?
Or are they purposely trained to be naive? Do domestic US scientists
have a further level of naivete to think they are immune from such
attempts, foreign and domestic? Do they know the extent of the
"social engineering" attempts which may be applied, as well as the
advanced technology that currently exists? Once someone steals the
information, if it's valuable, they then don't want it openly
Just Call Him the Spy Who Got Left Out in the Cold
By Steve Altes
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, February 24, 2003; Page C10
In "The Recruit," Colin Farrell plays a top MIT student recruited by
spymaster Al Pacino. I haven't seen it yet, but I plan to. Maybe I'll
discover what I did wrong. You see, I'm "The Reject."
In the mid-'80s, while my liberal MIT classmates were busy attending
pro-Sandinista rallies, I decided to really rebel and apply for a summer
job with the CIA.
Entering the on-campus interview room, I sidestepped protesters holding
"Culpable in Assassinations" signs. This rattled me, but the Agency
recruiter quickly broke the ice with, "Hey, know how you become communist?
Go to Harvard and turn left." He then introduced himself as John
Littlejohn. All I could think of were the evil red lectroids in the movie
"The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension," who
disguised themselves as humans and used questionable cover names like
John Smallberries and John Yaya and John Parrot. Already in spy
mode, I regarded "Mr. Littlejohn" with suspicion. At the end of our
meeting, the lectroid stressed absolute secrecy. No one could know I was
Counterproductively, the Agency would later use plain brown envelopes
to correspond with me, envelopes my roommate promptly tore open,
suspecting I had a secret porn subscription. Presumably this ruse
was more effective in foiling any Soviet spies monitoring my mailbox.
The nine-month application process consisted of multiple interviews,
aptitude tests, psych profiles and medical exams. One CIA shrink had me
describe 50 possible ways to extract secret information from a foreign
scientist. From bugging his briefcase to holding his dog hostage, I let my
imagination run wild. The psychologist nodded approvingly at my ethical
Another test consisted of a single essay question: "Do the ends justify
the means?" Trust me, if you ever want to see that shoe-phone, answer
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