Listen up, recruits: CIA officers are officers, not agents. FBI agents are agents, and they’re sissies. Suck it up, take out a bad guy for the team, be an American.
There’s a fair amount of cheerleading in Agent Waters’s account of his time as a member of the CIA’s Clandestine Service Training Program Class 11, “the volunteers who entered the CIA after the September 11 attacks—the largest training class in CIA history.” Waters is rock-solid sure that he and his classmates are nothing less than “the best and the brightest the United States had to offer,” which, if true, would be a welcome change from the past few slam-dunk, intelligence-light administrations of that august agency. Some of Waters’s classmates are already in the CIA, moved to go over to the “Dark Side”—the Directorate of Operations—by the events of 9/11; one lost a spouse in the World Trade Center. Others are accountants, lawyers, former armed-forces personnel. In practice, whether conducting staged exercises or participating in real-world efforts to catch the DC sniper, Waters’s squad looks very much like the cast of a World War II combat film brought up to date, with the wisecracker from Brooklyn, the deep thinker from the Midwest, the West Coast bohemian. And then, of course, there’s the tough-as-nails drill instructor, even if she’s now a she, and the white-coat types, even if they now enlist the Horse Whisperer in their quest to break the enemy’s will. Collectively, they add up to “a new cadre of spy, an officer so versatile he or she defies stereotypes. Our enemies will never see us coming.”
Yet the agency is still the agency, which unaccountably attempted to block publication of this pleasant but, in the end, mild-mannered and rather unrevealing book. For the super-top-secret stuff—well, read Tom Clancy.