Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Inside the CIA, the “nonofficial cover” program is run by the curiously titled Office of Central Cover, in coordination with the Office of External Development.

CIA recruiters refer candidates to the OED for evaluation as potential deep-cover NOCs. Other NOCs are recruited by blind “Help Wanted” ads placed in newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal by headhunter firms like Stackig, Sanderson & White in McLean, Va.

A typical NOC recruitment ad reads: “Our international client offers professionals challenging opportunities in a number of foreign countries that require no selling from representatives.. . .We are seeking men and women with college degrees and education/work experience in a variety of areas: advanced technologies, investment and international finance, research, marketing and public relations, business administration.. . .Successful applicants will be provided full details of employment.”

The Office of External Development also helps identify and recruit U.S. corporations to participate in the NOC program. Using the type of approach it might use to recruit an overseas agent, the CIA first–without the knowledge of the target firm–prepares a detailed profile of the company and its chief executives. Then the CIA extends quiet feelers to the company’s CEO, to gauge the company’s willingness to lend its overseas offices to a NOC. Finally, when the CIA is satisfied that the company will be receptive, it makes the pitch.

“Above all, they’re looking for some CEO who’s not a liberal, who is not going to holler ‘Help! Police!’ if he is approached by the CIA,” said a former CIA officer.

If the company agrees to participate, only the company’s CEO and perhaps one or two other people will ever be aware of the arrangement. The CIA asks the company to sign a nondisclosure agreement to maintain the secrecy of the program.

Because of this secrecy and the potential for embarrassment, no company is willing to confirm its participation in the CIA’s NOC program. Companies contacted about their reported involvement issued denials or refused comment. A Procter & Gamble spokesman, after checking with senior executives, declared that his company was not involved.

Asked whether Prentice-Hall supports the CIA’s NOC program, a spokesman replied, “If we did and we told you, it wouldn’t be very good cover, would it?”–and then called back to say that all Prentice-Hall employees are employees of the company, not the CIA. Similarly, a Ford Motor Co. spokesman said, “If it were true, do you think we’d tell you?” At Rockwell International, a public affairs representative declined comment, saying “I’m giving you a Rockwell-type answer.”

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up to $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate