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Article  •  29 January 2018


10 Things You Didn’t Know about Life in the CIA

Author Karen Cleveland shares the inside scoop on life inside America’s CIA.

Have you ever wondered what goes on inside the world’s top-secret intelligence agencies? Karen Cleveland uses her experience as both ex-CIA agent and mother to bring espionage and domestic suspense to her thrilling debut Need to Know. Here, she shares 10 things you may not have known about what life is really like within the CIA.


  1. CIA employees like their coffee. A lot! There’s a Dunkin Donuts at Langley, and a Starbucks, too. Rumor has it the Starbucks is one of the busiest in the country. But it’s not your average Starbucks... the baristas don’t ask for anyone’s name.
  2. Not everyone is undercover. There are a lot of ‘overt’ employees who are allowed to tell people where they work – but usually try not to. Makes for some awkward dinner party conversations…
  3. The day starts early at Langley. Many people are at their desks by seven. Perhaps that helps explain the affinity for coffee!
  4. The work setting isn’t always ideal. A lot of people at Langley work in windowless vaults, some of which are underground. Sometimes you need to ascend a few floors and walk down a few hallways just to catch a glimpse of the sun.
  5. If CIA employees write about anything that touches on intelligence, they have to get it vetted by the CIA Publications Review Board. For the rest of their lives.
  6. There’s a museum at Langley, full of fascinating items. Unfortunately, very few people get to see it!
  7. The application process is grueling. It includes thorough background investigations, polygraphs, medical exams, psych exams, etc. It can take a year or more for someone to be fully cleared.
  8. A lot of employees meet their spouses at work. Agency couples are common. And if someone wants to marry a non-Agency employee, they’re required to obtain approval.
  9. It’s a great place to work. The retention rate is high. And life is never dull – there are always opportunities to try new things and learn new skills.
  10. CIA employees take their jobs incredibly seriously. They shoulder a lot of responsibility, and it’s something no one there ever forgets.

Need To Know Karen Cleveland

You know him. You love him. You trust him. Until today . . . For fans of GONE GIRL and THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR, NEED TO KNOW is the most relentless psychological thriller you will read all year.

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