In the wake of the September 11 attacks, the CIA needed experienced agents more than ever. But in fact at least 91 of its top-level managers and veterans have left the agency in the last ten years, heading straight for private intelligence firms - and hefty pay rises. It marks the end of a long-held gentlemen's agreement whereby agents would avoid joining contractors who did work for the government when they retired. ...
James Pavitt, deputy director, left to work as a principal for the Scowcroft Group.
Jeff Castelli, long-time operations officer, left for PhaseOne Communications
Mary Corrado, chief financial officer, left for consulting firm Deloitte
Robert McCants, director of security, left for SRA, an IT services consulting company
Scott White, assistant deputy director, left for Northrop Grumman
George J. Tenet, former director, left for Allen & Company LLC
John Sano, deputy director, left for Cisco
The CIA had seen its budget slashed in the years leading up to the atrocity, so contractors jumped in to fill the gap. Chief among them was Abraxas, founded by Richard 'Hollis' Helms, former head of the CIA's European division. He set up the firm shortly after September 11, recruiting intelligence professionals to target areas where the agency was weakest.
Today, the newspaper estimates a third of the 854,000 staff with top-secret clearance are contractors. Private firms are usually able to top the salaries offered by the CIA, where the most senior officers earn around $180,000 a year. The starting salary for a staff operations officer is $58,511.
For example James Pavitt, former deputy director, received $158,751 last year as a director of CACI International. He also works as a principal for the Scowcroft Group, and holds positions on two other boards.
The agency has lost a wave of top experts to the private sector, including Henry Crumpton, one of the first officers to go to Afghanistan after 9/11, Cofer Black, director of CIA's counter-terrorism centre on September 11, and Stephen Kappes, once the top CIA officer in Moscow.
In the last decade, it has seen an increased turnover at the higher echelons of its staff, losing three directors, all five of the division chiefs in post on September 11 and four of its deputy directors for operations.
Top-level departures include George J. Tenet, who was CIA director at the time of the 9/11 attacks but left in 2004. He is now the managing director of Allen & Company LLC, a notoriously secretive boutique investment bank.
Robert Grenier, another agency veteran who moved into the banking industry, told the Post: 'Since 9/11, the demographics of the agency have been out of whack. A number of people left the agency earlier than you would think, and you had a large influx of younger people.
The average experience of an officer now is much lower than it has been traditionally, and that has its effects on the agency.'
But CIA spokesman George Little told the newspaper: 'Any suggestion that there isn’t world-class, senior expertise at the CIA is flat wrong. Retirement is a fact of professional life, and the CIA has created strong mechanisms to assist our officers as they explore opportunities after retirement and to retain their knowledge before they go.'