Going Where the Secrets Take Them
spies spend all their time in Washington and New York City? Nope, these
days they’ll go wherever the secrets lead them. Take Oklahoma
City. It has three Air Force bases, an Army base, and the biggest munitions
supply plant in the nation. It’s also home to several universities
with research facilities and a legion of science and technology companies
and firms. We spoke with Special Agent Karen Cid—who runs a Counterintelligence
Squad—about life as a spy catcher in Oklahoma City.
your background…and why the interest in counterintelligence?
Karen: Actually, I was a history teacher
before joining the Bureau. One day, as I took a
sanity break while chaperoning a high school dance,
I saw a newspaper ad saying the FBI was hiring women.
I became an FBI Agent in 1981 and have moved around
a bit, but it’s foreign counterintelligence
that I’ve worked the longest and have enjoyed
the most. It’s really my cup of tea; my calling
if you will. I find it fascinating, challenging,
and immensely rewarding.
Q. How do
you know what to look for in Oklahoma City?
Karen: We have the national
strategy which outlines key threats. Our approach then becomes more unique
to what’s happening in our area. Our counterintelligence agents may focus
on one or two core areas—to strengthen a particular expertise, for example.
This might involve issues with defense contractors, technologies, or key assets
of interest to foreign countries. We also work closely with our Field
Intelligence Group, which has an agent and analyst dedicated to supporting
our counterintelligence program. This generates a lot of useful intelligence.
And we work hand-in-hand with other investigative squads—counterterrorism,
cyber, and white collar—which helps us better understand the threats
Q: How do
you work to stop spies?
Karen: Largely through our investigations. We’ve got our own
local cases, unique to our situation here, and we support many other FBI offices,
covering leads, providing investigative results, and sharing intelligence.
We also do a lot of listening and partnering—both inside and outside
the Bureau. For example, we help corporate managers assess their company vulnerabilities—from
foreign threats or insider sources, both common to economic espionage. We value
relationships with intelligence, military, and other agencies and with neighboring
counterintelligence squads, like Houston and Dallas. When threats overlap,
it’s great to be able to share strategies and work together.
Q: Any successes
Karen: Plenty, but none that I can discuss here. But I can tell you
that we’re working hard to make acquisition of our technology, military
information, research products, and business ideas so inconvenient for spies
and intelligence services that it ruins their day. That’s what makes
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