I’m an ex-CIA officer – you need to travel more if you want to become a spy, but social media is killing key skills

RECRUITING spies for covert operations is becoming harder because of social media, a former CIA officer has told The US Sun.

Luke Bencie, 49, says he worked at the agency in the 1990s as a technical liaison officer before going on to set up Security Management International, LLC (SMI).

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Luke Bencie says he worked for the CIA as a technical liaison officer in the 1990sCredit: Luke Bencie
Bencie said social media was killing off essential skills needed by wannabe spies

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Bencie said social media was killing off essential skills needed by wannabe spiesCredit: Getty

But speaking at CrimeCon 2022 in Las Vegas he told the Sun that social media is killing key skills and called on wannabe spies to travel more.

He said: “The big difference compared to when I was involved is social media.

“Your profile is out there,

“If you’re a spy and you don’t have a social media profile and people do due diligence on you, they’ll be like ‘Wait a minute, this guy has no Facebook, LinkedIn, anything like that. What’s up with that?’

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“Young people are at an age where everybody does it, so balancing that is difficult.

“If you’re in a classified setting all day where you don’t have your phone and you’re off social media from 8am to 6pm that could be a red flag.

“The other difficulty is that young people today always want be on social media and it actually hurts them because they’re giving away their location and a lot of other information.

“So, it’s a brand-new challenge compared to what we had to deal with.

“You also need to have good social skills and young people today are so into their social media that they lose that one-on-one contact. That’s a problem.

“You tell them to go and have a conversation with someone and they don’t know how to do that, they freeze up. Smart as hell when it comes to book smart but they can’t start a conversation.

“Before it was just ‘Do you want to serve your country – red, white and blue’.

“Now they even bring in celebrities, Jennifer Garner was on the website for CIA trying to recruit people.

“I just think that’s trying to keep up with the times, you have to do that a little bit.

NOT AS MUCH OF A ‘SECRET SOCIETY’

“Being a CIA officer is not as much of the secret society that it once was and it has lost a bit of its mystique.

“Everyone writes books about their experience or has a show, I’m as guilty as anyone of that.”

In his capacity as managing director of SMI he has been a consultant to the Department of State and the Department of Defense.

He previously served as a representative from the US Intelligence Community to the Department of State’s Foreign Emergency Support Team, where he was responsible for responding to terrorist attacks carried out against US targets overseas.

Bencie is also the author of six books on security.

ADVICE FOR WANNABE SPOOKS

Asked about his advice for wannabe spooks, he said: “Number one you need to travel, that’s the most important thing.

“Number two, you need to read newspapers and not just newspapers of your political affiliation, all newspapers – digest it and then be able to draw your own opinion.

“And number three, you have to sit down and break bread with people from other cultures to really have that dinner experience.

“Speaking a foreign language is also a big advantage.”
Asked about the challenges facing the CIA, Bencie said: “Russia is back but I think the next thing will be China.

“Just as a casual observer, they’re building up in the South China Sea and they’re pushing it.

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“But Africa too, everybody ignores Africa but every decision moving forward in the next 10 to 20 years is in some way or form touch the African continent because of its resources.

“That’s where the big competition between the USA and China will be, in Africa and the South China Sea.”

A nuclear-powered Type 094A Jin-class ballistic missile submarine of the Chinese People's Liberation Army - Bencie warned China posed a coming threat to the US

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A nuclear-powered Type 094A Jin-class ballistic missile submarine of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army – Bencie warned China posed a coming threat to the USCredit: Reuters
Bencie has written six books on the subject of security

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Bencie has written six books on the subject of securityCredit: The Mega Agency

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