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In First Ever HBCU Appearance, CIA Director Leon Panetta Says Agency Must Reflect the World's Diversity


(March 15, 2011) -- The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency must reflect the world’s diversity, CIA director Leon Panetta told an audience at Morehouse.

“We’ve got to look like the rest of this nation,” Panetta said to a crowd of students, faculty and staff in the Bank of America Auditorium. “It isn’t just because it is morally right. It also happens to be important to our mission to get good intelligence. We have got to be an intelligence agency that looks like the world that we have got to engage in.”

That’s why Panetta is urging minority students at colleges such as Morehouse to consider careers with the CIA. In his first HBCU appearance, Panetta said his goal is to increase the number of minorities working for the CIA to 30 percent, up from the current 22 percent.

His lecture, part of the College’s Leadership Lecture Series, served as the students’ introduction to the agency’s mission, he said.

“In order to enjoy the freedom and the opportunity this country offer, we’ve got to be able to provide for the security of our people,” Panetta said. “You can’t be free without being secure. I want [students] to know it, understand it and hopefully be a part of it.”

Panetta also answered a variety of questions from a panel of students who asked about foreign affairs, technology and proper preparation
for CIA careers—particularly the importance of foreign language training.

He believes Morehouse’s emphasis on developing future leaders who are well-read, well-traveled, well-spoken, well-dressed and well-balanced provides the perfect foundation for a CIA officer.

“That’s exactly the kind of person I want to work at the Central Intelligence Agency,” he said. “We are one family in this world, and nobody understands this better than the students here at Morehouse.”

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