High-tech companies, state-of-the-art medical facilities, superior academic institutions, and cutting-edge scientific laboratories are largely responsible for driving California’s state economy. This has made the state a potential target for industrial espionage, spying, and terrorist activity.
In January 2010, Google (its headquarters are in Mountain View, California) announced that a highly sophisticated, targeted attack on its corporate infrastructure took place. It was later revealed that the attack, which originated from China, included the theft of intellectual property from Google. CIA and its partner organizations found that the cyber-attack was directed at the G-mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.
Over the years, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has uncovered a number of foreign spies found to be operating out of California:
- Wen Ho Lee: Wen Ho Lee was a scientist who was employed by the University of California’s Los Alamos National Laboratory. A federal grand jury found him guilty of stealing secrets regarding the United States’ nuclear arsenal for China in December 1999. His sentence was later reduced to just one his original 59 indictment counts.
- Peter Lee: Peter Lee was a Chinese physicist who worked at the Los Alamos nuclear weapons laboratory and TRW, a major defense contractor in California. It was discovered that Lee passed classified national defense information to Chinese scientists.
- Chi Mak: Chi Mak was a Chinese engineer who was employed by L-3 Communications, a California defense contractor. According to documents, Chi was asked to gather information on a number of technologies, including electromagnetic gun and artillery systems, magnetic levitation platforms, and space-based intercept systems, among others. He was sentenced in 2008 to more than 24 years for espionage.
How to Become a CIA Core Collector in California
A Core Collector in the CIA is responsible for gathering important intelligence from sources of interest and providing it to the government for national security purposes. A highly sensitive position in the National Clandestine Services, candidates for the Core Collector position follow one of two entry-level programs based on individual qualifications.
- Professional Trainee Program (PT): For applicants in the 21-25 age group with a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree, and no prior work experience.
- Clandestine Serve Program (PST): For applicants in the 26-35 age group with a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree and prior military or work experience.
Core Collectors in California should be able to work independently or as part of a team with little to no supervision. Applicants should be able to work under pressure in a rapidly changing environment, as well as possess excellent written and verbal skills.
Previous residency in a foreign county and/or extensive knowledge on foreign countries is required of all applicants. Core Collectors are typically required to spend around 40 to 50% of their careers overseas. Fluency in a second language is also required.
Applicants must hold a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree, preferably in international affairs, or other pertinent subjects like biological engineering, chemical engineering, economics, finance, global business, nuclear science, and physical sciences are strongly preferred.
Throughout the employment process, applicants will go through many interviews, in addition to a polygraph test to validate all information. This process can take several months depending on how long the background checks take.
Becoming a CIA Agent in California: Requirements and Training
Becoming a CIA agent in California means meeting the agency’s minimum requirements for employment and successfully completing all stages of the pre-employment process:
Minimum Requirements – In order to land a CIA special agent job in California, individuals must be United States, they must be residing in the United States, and they must possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with a minimum GPA of 3.0.
The CIA accepts undergraduate degrees in any field, although many applicants for special agent jobs possess degree related to the field of criminal justice. The CIA also seeks candidates who possess degrees in the natural sciences, engineering, computer science, or political science.
Pre-Employment Screening – All applicants for CIA agent jobs in California must not have used illegal drugs within the past 12 months and may not disclose their interest in the CIA to family or friends. Further, meeting the minimum requirements for CIA jobs in California includes being able to pass a top-secret security clearance, a background investigation, a polygraph examination, a medical examination, and several panel interviews.
Individuals can expect the clearance and background investigation to undercover any and all issues related to:
- Military discharges and disciplinary proceedings
- Employment issues
- Drug activity and use
- Violations of the law
- Criminal convictions
- Delinquent federal debt
Training Requirements – The first training requirement for candidates is the Criminal Investigator Training Program, which is held at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. This 56-day program must be completed as a condition of employment.
The Significance of the CIA in California
Although the operations of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) are covert and generally undisclosed, what is known is that the special agents of the CIA work to investigate and analyze intelligence involving foreign threats, including international terrorism.
According to the California’s Governor’s Office, the state is susceptible to the threat of international attacks due to: its large population; its massive, industrial infrastructure; its international reputation; its massive media industry; and its national, economic importance.
California also shares a wide land border with Mexico and supplies 43 percent of the country’s good through its ports. It is home to a number of major, U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Fresno, and Sacramento.
The Governor stated that international threats to this state may come in the form of biological attacks or attacks on the state’s critical infrastructure, including cyber-attacks.