The Langley Files: CIA launches podcast to bring intelligence agency ‘out of the shadows’

CIA director says show aims to ‘demistify’ agency’s work at time when ‘trust in institutions is in such short supply’

The logo of the CIA is seen at the CIA headquarters on 21 January 2017 in Langley, Virginia

The CIA has launched its own podcast, in a bid to bring the intelligence agency “out of the shadows.”

The Langley Files launched on Thursday (22 September). A description of the program says it will aim to “educate and connect with the general public, sharing insight into the agency’s core mission, capabilities, and agility as an intelligence leader … and to share some interesting stories along the way!” Langley, Virginia, is where the CIA’s headquarters are located.

The first episode is titled “CIA Director Bill Burns Brings the Agency Out from the Shadows.” More will follow, with each episode lasting between 15 and 30 minutes.

“We do usually operate in the shadows, out of sight and out of mind,” Mr Burns, who has been the CIA’s director since March last year, says in the first episode. “Our successes are often obscured, our failures are often painfully visible, and our sacrifices are often unknown.”

He acknowledges that “a certain amount of discretion certainly comes with the territory,” then adds: “But I’m convinced ... that in our democracy, where trust in institutions is in such short supply, that it’s important to try to explain ourselves as best we can and to demystify a little bit of what we do. So that’s why I’m glad you’re launching this podcast and glad to be with you.”

Asked to dispel some of the biggest misconceptions about the CIA, Mr Burns said that while he loves spy movies, intelligence work is not nearly as exciting as they make it out to be.

“One big misconception that a lot of those really entertaining movies feed is that intelligence in real life is just a glamorous world of solo operators in the world of James Bond and Jason Bourne and Jack Ryan,” Mr Burn says on the show.

“A world of heroic individuals who drive fast cars and defuse bombs and solve world crises all on their own every day. That, I have to tell you, is a constant source of amusement for my wife and daughters. They never cease to remind me that I don’t exactly fit that image –since I’m most comfortable driving our 2013 Subaru Outback at posted speed limits and that, for me at least, the height of technological daring is when I can finally get the Roku remote to work at home.”

The Langley Files can be streamed on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, and on the CIA’s own website, where transcripts are available.

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