The OSS was comprised of ordinary citizens with extraordinary skills. Traditionally, talented journalists and others were able to play a role in the intelligence work of a nation. Why has that gone away? The security measures required to join the intelligence community (IC) are too stringent and have become metric based. Many are turned away who are otherwise solid candidates. The result is that people on the inside naturally feel more ‘cleared’ therefore, more special. Everyone wants to be unique and validated. But that culture begets an in-group mentality; maybe even one where it’s us versus them, being anyone else. Life is more complicated than that.
We’re willing to work with people abroad who are playing both sides. A relatively ordinary person with a guilty conscious might not walk out of the poly and get a low-level job in the IC. It’s not likely the original members of the OSS and the Intelligence Community would have passed today’s background checks and standards. They did, however, perform and get things done. Maybe things were more holistic then. Today, there’s a massive amount of people cycling through the system. If you go through LinkedIn profiles and search the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, you’ll find a ton of individuals.
Most businesses have taken on the task of becoming more lean and nimble to conduct operations. The Intelligence Community has the world’s premier tools. They’re also said to have the sharpest minds. But it’s a massive entity where good people do not necessarily make it through the onboarding. It’s not because they aren’t good enough either, they just don’t make it. There are so many people coming and going that the system can’t double check every person. They probably have recruiting trends and things they’re looking to fill for HR reasons.
It’s like the Army and Special Forces, at a certain point we needed more people to fill our 4th Battalions. The result is both good and bad. Good people got chances who might not have otherwise. But the wrong people fell through the cracks. You can’t win in this kind of system where we are in a constant need of bodies. But, you can’t uniformly violate the principle of mass producing special operations, to include intelligence officers, and maintain your golden brand indefinitely.