Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Crisis at the Central Intelligence Agency

MuckRock, an "...open news tool powered by state and federal Freedom of Information (FOIA) laws and you..." takes requests based on readers' concerns, questions and passions and seeks to dig into the underbelly of government where all manner of dark secrets hide.  Thus far, on our behalf, MuckRock has submitted 10,471 FOIA requests, had 2,662 requests successfully completed and has had 365,435 pages of government documents released.

One of MuckRock's recent FOIA requests took a look at the goings on at the Central Intelligence Agency, the government agency responsible for national security, the collection of intelligence, conducting effective covert action at the behest of the President and safeguarding the secrets that keep America safe.  All of these motherhood statements are just wonderful but what really happens behind the scenes?  America's covert operators have high stress jobs safeguarding the United States, however, from MuckRock's FOIA request, we find out that there are other pressing matters that CIA employees are deeply concerned about.

Here is a copy of the letter from the Susan Viscuso, Information and Privacy Coordinator at the CIA to Jason Smathers of MuckRock, responding to MuckRock's request for information under the FOIA:

The CIA released eight documents, all of which have exemptions that prevent the CIA from disclosing "...information pertaining to the organization, functions including those related to the protection of intelligence sources and methods, names, official titles, salaries and numbers of personnel employed by the Agency...". 

Now, let's dig into what is going on in the bowels of America's spy central or, more specifically, what is going on/going wrong in the CIA's employee cafeteria, the subject of the FOIA request.  First up we have this, complete with spelling errors:

Subject: HQS Cafe - wrong Pepsi
Feedback: Last week and then again this week, I have talked to numerous cafe employees to inform them that the pepsi coming out of the regular pepsi spout is diet pepsi.  They have the wrong pepsi tank hookled up to the wrong pepsi spout.  Yet no one has fixed this problem.  Why has this problem not been fixed.  Thanks. 

Next up, again with spelling and grammatical errors:

Subject: Breakfast Cereals.
Feedback: As of late there seem to be a shortage of almonds for the breakfast cereals, such as oatmeal, cream of wheat, etc.  I sure I'm speaking for myself as well as others, when I kindly request that whomever is responsible for ordering food supplies note the level of usage and increase the almond purchase/supplies as appropriate.  Thank you.

Next, Burger King, America's fast food darling, takes a hit:

Subject: Burger King
Feedback: Why doesn't the BK facility here offer the "dollar menu" as the outside facilities.  Why can't there be nicer food handlers.  Attitude every day.

Lastly, Subway takes a hit over its bread, once again, complete with spelling, grammatical and punctuation issues:

Subject: Subway and Stale bread
Feedback: Hi.  I was very aggrevated at buying a subway sandwich and going back to my desk to eat...to find the bread sale and "crunchy" hard...I had to eat the inside and throw the bread out...normally I would return it and have them make me another but I was already at NHB...6th floor...and too far and time consuming to return.  PLEASE PLEASE...do not serve us stale bread...I never get stale bread at other subways...so can you lease hold quality control here to subway standards.  Thank you.

You have to hand it to those CIA cafeteria complainers, at least they are polite.  Each criticism is followed with a "thanks" or "thank you".

Not only is it interesting to see how, while the world burns around us and governments rise and fall, CIA employees are giving their very best, concentrating on the task at hand.  No issue is too small, whether it be stale bread or too few almonds for breakfast, to register on the great minds of the CIA.  It's also quite intriguing to note how poorly they fare at both spelling and grammar!

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