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U.S. spy speaks publicly in favor of diverse recruitment


A spy who spent three decades undercover made his first public appearance Monday to speak in support of recruiting people from diverse backgrounds for intelligence work.

“In my service, 14 percent of the work force are minority. We are working very hard to turn this around. Simply put, we need people with diverse ethnic backgrounds to support data collection around the world,” said Jose Rodriguez, director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, the El Paso Times reported in its online edition Monday.

Rodriguez said he had his cover lifted about a month ago because of his interest in publicly participating in minority recruitment events, such as the border security conference at the University of Texas-El Paso where he spoke Monday. He’s also retiring later this year.

“By hiring men and women with broad backgrounds, we effectively minimize the likelihood of group think … We equate diversity with diversity of thought,” he said.

A native of Puerto Rico, Rodriguez said his own diverse background was helpful to his career and to the agency. He spent much of his career in Latin America after joining the CIA in 1976.

Rodriguez served as deputy chief of the Counternarcotics Center, director of the Counterterrorism Center and deputy director of operations, according to a short biography in the conference program.

Charles Allen, the Department of Homeland Security’s assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis, said the agency has stepped up efforts to recruit employees from minority universities and diversity conferences. The number of minority applicants for intelligence jobs has more than doubled in the year since the recruiting push began.

Also Monday, officials spoke about new security technologies and securing the border.

Adm. James. G. Stavridis, commander of the U.S. Southern Command, said fighting drug trafficking is linked to securing the United States.

“I am extremely concerned as I look at the impact of drug flow on fragile democracies in Latin America,” he said. “We need to innovate in the way we think … In a word, it’s partnering. Secondly it’s new technologies.”

Jay Cohen, the DHS undersecretary for science and technology, highlighted some new security technologies under development, including a tunnel-detection system and the possibility of introducing an insect to battle the invasive Carrizo Cane in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell were among the speakers scheduled for Tuesday.

Texas-El Paso President Diana Natalicio said border representatives bring a unique perspective to security.

“We think it’s quite important to provide an opportunity for these scholars to provide that point of view, to take responsibility, to conduct research on border issues,” she said.

– Associated Press

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