Apr 13, 2010

Former CIA Operations Officer Visits Liberty

by Taylor Overhultz

John Kiriakou witnessed the terrorist’s attacks on 9/11 in New York City and Washington, D.C., unfold on television, just as many Americans were doing the same, but Kiriakou was no average American citizen. Kiriakou was an operations officer for the CIA on the verge of a turning point in American intelligence.

“We have a big job ahead of us,” Kiriakou quotes Cofer Black, director of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center, in Kiriakou’s new book, “The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror.” We are at war now, a different kind of war than we have ever fought before whether the country realizes it or not.”

Kiriakou’s return visit to the Helm’s School of Government was prompted by his newly published memoirs, “The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror.” Liberty’s Strategic Intelligence Society (SIS) hosted the event April 6-7 in the Helm’s School of Government.

“The students and faculty enjoyed his presentation so much last semester that we decided to invite him back,” President of the SIS, Tasha Haug, said.

The SIS trains students to enter the intelligence community with a Christ-centered worldview.

“No matter what their major or field of study, Christians can succeed in the intelligence community without compromising their morals and beliefs,” Haug said.

Kiriakou spoke at the SIS meeting Tuesday night, then signed books and took pictures with students. Kiriakou’s main goal was to present the two central themes of the book.
He emphasized that many CIA agents have other professional options.

“First, the CIA is full of very smart, patriotic people who could go into the private sector and make two to three times more but stay at the agency simply to serve,” Kiriakou said.

Kiriakou wanted to convey that he is just like everyone else.
“I am a totally average, normal person, but like many CIA officers, I found myself in historical situations and that is typical,” Kiriakou said.

Kiriakou provided the students with several morally controversial real life scenarios that CIA operations officers face every day involving lying, cheating and stealing from foreign countries and foreign nationals in order to protect America, according to Haug.

“Many of the examples had no explicit right or wrong answers, which encouraged active discussion among the student audience, creating a beneficial interactive atmosphere which is rare among special speaker presentations on college campuses,” Haug said.

According to the CIA Web site, the CIA receives over 10,000 resumes every month.

“So many people apply,” Kiriakou said. “Everybody is smart and everybody went to a good school. There has to be something that truly sets you apart from the stack of resumes. If you speak a category one language, your application will be seen by human eyes.”

According to Charles Murphy, professor of government at Liberty, Kiriakou left the CIA after 15 years for family considerations and now serves as senior intelligence adviser to John Kerry in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror,” is currently being adapted into a major motion picture by Universal Pictures.

Contact Taylor Overhultz at

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