The CIA aren't the only spooks with wacky recruiting stunts. The signals intelligence snoops over at the National Security Agency are trying out tricks of their own, to reel in potential employees. The latest, according to Defense Tech pal Siobhan Gorman: a first-ever series of TV ads, airing on episodes of "Lost" and "CSI."
"It was the demographic we were looking for," said NSA spokesman Donny Weber, who said the commercial was aimed at college students and professionals in the [Baltimore-Washington] region's high-tech corridor...The ad prompted a surge in interest among would-be recruits, with nearly 4,000 visiting the NSA's Web site after seeing the commercial, John Taflan, the agency's director of human resources, said in a written statement...As techno music blares and a radiant blue globe spins in the background, rapid-fire scenes flash on the screen, from a helicopter to a ship to a person with a red-and-white-checked scarf obscuring his face, presumably representing a terrorist..."Our adversaries do their best to keep their plans a secret. At the National Security Agency, we uncover those secrets, and keep our own secrets safe," the narrator says... "That's why NSA employs only the most intelligent people in the country." She asks viewers to "explore career options at NSA" by visiting the NSA's Web site.The commercial was designed to appeal to a highly educated crowd that might not have considered the NSA as a career opportunity before, Weber said. He said he did not have information on how much the ad buy cost or who produced it...The placement of the NSA commercial surprised some intelligence professionals. Describing Lost as a television variation on "Dungeons and Dragons," CIA veteran Ron Marks said its viewers are exactly the ones the NSA should be recruiting."What a wonderful way of reaching an audience that's interested in problem-solving and thinking differently," he said, noting that U.S. intelligence agencies have done little to reach out to the growing number of computer gamers and other teenage technophiles.UPDATE 11:34 AM: While this might be Ft. Meade's first attempt to attract the pubescent D&D set, the Agency has been going after role-players' grammar school siblings for years.