WASHINGTON – The CIA, looking to double its ranks of clandestine operatives, recently graduated the largest class of new officers in the agency’s history, officials said. They are, on average, 29 years old. One-third are women. About 12 percent are ethnic minorities. Three-quarters speak a foreign language with considerable fluency and 70 percent had never worked for the government or military, according to agency recruiting officials.
These rookie spies number in the scores, but the CIA says providing a more specific total would give other countries and groups too much information.
Some recruits gave up more lucrative jobs in the private sector, and one took a pay cut of close to $100,000, agency officials said. Their starting salaries are between $45,000 and $60,000 a year.
They are members of the first class enrolled after the Sept. 11 attacks. These men and women have completed background checks and training at the “Farm” — the officially unacknowledged site outside Williamsburg, Va., where recruits are taught the craft of intelligence work.
They graduated in June; many are assuming fake identities and heading overseas. Their job will be to steal secrets.