Have you ever been mistaken as a CIA agent?:

I was, twice. Once in the late '60s I attended a pary in Washington, DC, and said it was not important what I did (actually I didn’t know!).
After an hour, a couple people told me that they figured out I was working for the CIA. I denied it to no effect.

Before the Iraq was, I was in Cyprus, a place crawing with spies at the time. I participated in a meeting about Cypriot politics. Afterwards, two or three of what I thought were “friends” were avoiding me. I ask the woman from whom I was subletting a place why they were avoiding me.
She said, “They think you are from the CIA!”
Needless to say, my denials didn’t help at all.

I wonder if this kind of thing has happened only to me or if others have had this.

In the late '60s, I was once mistaken for an FBI agent on campus - at the same time my wife was a real radical!

Actually I was once. I had recently returned from overseas after serving with the Peace Corps for three years and was hitch-hiking across country to get back to my home (New York to Colorado).

I was just outside Cincinnati and was picked up by a policeman who rather biligerantly asked me for identification. I had no drivers license since I had been on a small island for better than two years, so I showed him my passport issued me by the Peace Corps. He took a look at it and his whole attitude changed. He politely said, “Agency?”

At that time, the Peace Corps was a member of the Action Agency so I said, “Yes” thinking he meant that agency although I had never heard it referred to that way, but I had been out of the country for some time, so I didn’t know.

He then asked, “What’s up?” and I think I said nothing much or something similar and he said something to the effect that he realized that I probably couldn’t talk about it. As I remember I may have said something to the effect of, “really?”

He then asked if he could take me anywhere to help out. I told him that the freeway interchange on the other side of town would be nice and he asked if that would be near a certain cafe and I didn’t know so I said, “yes.” He nodded knowingly.

He drove me there, most of the time with lights flashing (which scared the heck out of me) and mentioned that after he got out of the Marine Corps he considered the “Agency” but decided against it. I said I enjoyed it a great deal but it was pretty challenging at times. He said he would bet it would be. When we got to the interchange near the freeway, he dropped me off and pointed out where the cafe in question was. He then said, “Semper Fi” and saluted me.

I was so confused that when I stopped and stayed with some friends about two days later and told my story, they explained that the “Agency” was shorthand for the CIA. They looked at my passport and called in a neighbor who apparently had been in military intelligence during the war in Viet Nam. He also looked at my passport and he said my passport seemed very similar to the ones the CIA used to issue.

So somebody thought that a hippy long-haired looking guy looked like a member of the CIA, I guess.

I was work for the US Census in Florida, just north of Orlando.

One of the families living in the neighborhood of a small airport thought I was CIA because I was asking questions. :eek:





Recruit effort no joy. Req auth to exec gen order 17.


All the time, usually by Russians, because nobody can believe that an American was crazy enough to learn Russian. It was great fun later on when I neded a Justice Department security clearance, because after all the Soviets assuming I was CIA, now the Americans were apparently assuming I was a Soviet mole, because why else would I want to study in Russia if I wasn’t a Communist? (Apparently just a historical, academic, linguistic, and sociological interest in the place wasn’t a good enough reason.)

The funniest was after I got my clearance and was working the front desk at the Office of the Immigration Judge. This wacky guy in deportation proceedings came to the window with questions (he carried a Romanian passport and spoke about 5 languages, all of them badly, so we were never entirely sure what his deal was). His asylum case had been denied at hearing, and he wanted to know what the appeal procedure was. I tried English first: no dice. Then I tried Spanish and Russian. (Also OK enough to communicate on a basic level, but not enough to explain the appeal procedure and be sure that he understood it.) He then decided alternately that I was a Soviet agent and an agent of Fidel Castro; he couldn’t make up his mind which. Nothing I said could convince him otherwise.

I worked with a man who was sure I was an agent for NIS - the Naval Investigative Service. We were tool designers, and apparently when he overheard me telling someone I used to be in the Navy, he decided I was an NIS Agent.

I know a couple if Intel Analysts who work/worked at CIA - they’re weird folks…

I have two friends who actually were spy masters in Viet Nam. Damn, now they’ll have to kill me.

It was a mistake.

I don’t work for the CIA, and never have.

That is not a radio, it’s a calculator.

No, it isn’t ringing.


Actually, one of the funniest things in my life was being mistaken for CIA. I was a missionary for the LDS church in Chile. At the time I was in a tiny farming community outside of Santiago, called Lampa–actually it was more like four or five really small communities loosely held together by dirt roads.

One time we were talking to a young man (around 21-22 yrs. old) and he said we were in the CIA. We tried to be polite in denying it, but he kept at it. I finally broke down and asked him why he thought that. His answer?

The white shirts and ties, short hair, etc.

I suggested that if I were with the CIA, I probably wouldn’t be walking around looking like an obvious American, with my name on a tag on my shirt. I’d probably be wearing shoes that didn’t have holes in them as well. Finally I asked, “who is there to spy on in Lampa? The cows?”

I still don’t think he believed me. Sigh.

Yes. By a neighbour.

I’m sorry, you’re not authorized to know that.

When I was in the Peace Corps it happened a lot. Some people seem to think the idea of a bunch of American going overseas just to try to be helpful is really just a cover for overt CIA operations. This is actually very dangerous because some Peace Corps volunteers have been killed because of this mistaken belief.

I’ve never been mistaken as a CIA agent, nor for one, for that matter. I think I have been mistaken for a sumo wrestler, though. And I’m not even Japanese. :smiley: