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Is Wall Street Hurting US Intelligence?

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The revelations of George Tenet were the talk of the Sunday morning political shows this week. Despite Tenet’s defense of his own work and the work of the rest of the Central Intelligence Agency, there is still the widespread impression that our primary intelligence gathering agency is broken. The causes of the CIA’s problems are widely debated—some say it is too centralized, others that it is overstaffed by professional bureaucrats, others that it is still built around a defunct Cold War model, to name a few favorites. But Steve Sailer has recently contributed a new idea: Wall Street broke the CIA.
“CIA agents get paid like normal government bureaucrats, so the Agency gets normal government bureaucrat-quality workers,” Sailer writes. “Meanwhile, the pay at its natural competitors for the best and the brightest, such as Wall Street firms, has rocketed upwards.”
But we’re not sure it’s merely a problem of the CIA being unable to recruit the brightest college graduates. We personally know a couple of graduates from top schools—two of whom had at least a working knowledge of Arabic when they graduated—who never even got a call back interview at the agency. We can’t help but suspect that the agency isn’t even trying to recruit the “best and the brightest” these days.