The leftward politicization of the Agency was a work in progress, even when I was there during the Reagan era. My career as an analyst at the CIA was not long-term. I resigned after about nine years to be a stay-at-home mother. But I believe being a more “junior” analyst who worked in more than one office allowed me to see more clearly how difficult it was for some—especially more senior analysts—to put politics aside and resist groupthink.
Several of my fellow analysts were what you’d today call “politically correct.” For example, they railed loudly against the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court. They didn’t hide their utter contempt for President Reagan, particularly when it came to his policies on the Soviet Union. And I would often hear them refer to anyone who expressed concern about communism as “a screamer.”
This caused me no small amount of cognitive dissonance: my mission was to preserve freedom and constitutional rule of law. In retrospect, I don’t believe most who expressed such views really believed them, as much as they followed the pressures of groupthink. Young professionals always take their cues from the mentors and chiefs who write up their performance appraisals. We can hope that most career analysts bear up well under such social pressures, but that’s difficult for any human being, even if they manage to avoid it affecting their work. My immunity was due in part to my greater ambition: to eventually become a stay-at-home mother, rather than develop a long career there.