In 2014, FBI Director James Comey half-jokingly remarked that the FBI was having trouble recruiting tech talent for its cyber crime division because the best of the best smoke weed. Three years and numerous hacking scandals later, he’s actually floating some ideas on how to fix that problem.
After he said that his attempts to staff a great workforce that could compete with the best cyber criminals has been complicated because “some of those kids want to smoke weed on the way to the interview”, Comey had to clarify that he has no intentions of changing FBI policy on cannabis use. (The FBI won’t accept anyone who has smoked weed in the last three years.) That seems to still be the case, but he does have some other possible solutions.
The Associated Press reports that Comey is considering loosening certain training requirements on marksmanship or physical fitness. He has previously lamented that the FBI “will find people of integrity who are really smart, who know cyber – and can’t do a pushup”.
One solution he’s throwing around is creating a special university for training cyber security agents who wouldn’t necessarily need to carry a gun. The cyber university could be a workaround to the current FBI requirements and serve as a training ground for the technical skills that would be needed on the job. “Our minds are open to all of these things because we are seeking a talent – talent in a pool that is increasingly small,” the director said.
Another option that he mentioned is losing the requirement that agents who have left the service for more than two years have to re-enrol in the notoriously difficult training academy in Quantico, Virginia. “Our people leave, go to the private sector, discover it’s a soulless, empty way to live – and then they realise, ‘My life is empty, I need moral content in my work,'” he reportedly said at a speech in Austin, Texas. This received a laugh from the audience, which is kind of weird. Were they laughing at the idea that FBI work could be rewarding?
So, it’s been three years since Comey publicly complained about how hard it is to recruit the agents that are extraordinarily necessary as the US falls behind the world in cyber security abilities, and those appear to be the best ideas he’s come up with. Considering the fact that Comey has continued to complain about encryption and doesn’t seem to understand why it’s useless if there’s a backdoor, it’s totally believable that he doesn’t have the best people advising him. Here are some suggestions: Let the recruits smoke weed and pay them more than Google would.