Thursday, February 21, 2008

Colorado: Students at CSU get taste of CIA business

Also see: "An America that Values Stupidity"


Anyone with hopes of being the real Ethan Hunt was probably disappointed Wednesday when CIA recruiter David Burris came to Colorado State University to discuss career opportunities with the CIA.

Those looking for engineering and data analysis jobs were not.

The wide range of available careers attracted a crowd of about 100 students, including engineers, criminal justice and liberal arts majors.

Interest is typically high for his recruiting visits, Burris said. The CIA receives 140,000 resumés a year.

The current negative media over potential CIA abuses did not scare students away from considering careers.

"They have probably done bad things in the past," said Nick Penton "It's probably just something they had to do, and it might have been blown out of proportion."

Penton, 35, is working toward a second degree in electrical engineering.

The CIA's reputation probably stems from very few instances of abuse, he said.

The agency's honesty over the situation has actually helped recruiting, Burris said.

"I think the agency has become a lot more transparent in what they do and what kind of people they're looking for.

"Because of that, when you have something negative that comes out in the news, you see that we're open to discuss what the opportunities are and have people make their own judgments."

The agency's rules require reporting anything illegal, Burris said. The willingness to review its own policies helped ease some minds about the abuses.

"I like the fact that you can say no, that you don't have to compromise your own integrity," said Kristin Wilmann a 22-year-old political science and economics student.

Others were less reassured by the CIA's recent open nature.

The chance to serve the United States was also on the minds of students at the event.

"I really want to consider this working for the United States," said May Parker.

The actions of individuals in the organization may have been wrong, but the CIA has good goals, the international studies sophomore said.

The questionable methods the CIA uses are contradictory to its goals, said Cheryl Distaso coordinator of the Center for Justice, Peace and Environment.

"You no longer have a Constitution to defend when you have been shredding it," she said.

The questionable behavior of the agency is part of the ambiguous ethical nature of spying, Burris said.

"In the end, more people see (the CIA) as a positive force," he said.

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