If you’re wondering why jokes about the CIA have suddenly taken over social media timelines, you’ll want to sit down for this one — and we promise it’s not an early April Fool’s joke. Yesterday, the Central Intelligence Agency revealed a chic rebrand, apparently meant to attract new recruits, and specifically more “diversity.” In other words, the agency is trying to gain more workers who share identities with people whose heritage and ancestry can be traced back to people and places that the organization has destabilized and harmed.
Most importantly, the relaunched site showcases a new logo, with what can only be considered millennial and Gen Z-friendly fonts, and new stock photos featuring more women, Black people, and people of colour. But many very online people were quick to pick up on the fact that the new logo and website design look eerily like one for a new tech startup, or perhaps a new album cover from The Strokes. And it begs the question: Is the CIA selling us on covert and endless war, or an app that controls a new kind of electric toothbrush?
After the rebrand went live, the internet did what it does best. Twitter users in droves made memes and jokes about the logo and the site. “CIA about to release the most minimal tech dnb EP of 2021,” posted one person. “Here at the CIA diversity means a lot to us and that's why we are pledging to overthrow even more governments of colour in the future,” another person joked in a tweet. Others posted minimalist logo mockups joking that they were the CIA’s rejected rebrand designs.
There may be a technical reason for this redesign, though. An Associated Press report claimed that while the intelligence community has seen an increase in minority representation (from 0.3 percent to 25.5 percent), the numbers are still lower than the federal workforce's numbers or the civilian workforce's numbers. The current director, Gina Haspel, shared a statement with AP on the rebrand on Monday, saying she hoped the update communicates the "dynamic environment" at the CIA.
“We’ve come a long way since I applied by simply mailing a letter marked ‘CIA, Washington, D.C.,’” Haspel, who joined the agency in 1985, says. It’s amazing to live in a world where girl bosses can now lead the free world in killing innocent people.
A declassified report released in 2015 revealed that only 10.8 percent of the CIA’s leaders were non-white. Approximately 26.5% of members of the intelligence agencies in 2019 were racial and ethnic minorities, according to a report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that was obtained by ABC News. “The Agency's workforce is not diverse … The more senior the Agency's workforce is, the less diverse it is,” one report concludes.
The agency has claimed, for example, that women lead all five directorates (major branches) of the CIA. But the agency has emphasized that their overall lack of diversity limits its ability to accurately represent America. Yet despite its pining for more representation, the question must be asked: why would the very people from the racial backgrounds and countries that the agency has violated and targeted want to join?
The truth is that this rebrand is not only about promoting the “dynamic environment” at the agency. By using trendy aesthetics, they can veil what they truly operate and exist to do, which is not simply to be “the Nation’s first line of defense” but to impose violence on both Americans and people in other countries — largely Black people and people of colour. The CIA has proudly interfered in and destabilized governments around the world for decades. It’s also targeted Americans themselves, being implicated in the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. along with the Federal Bureau of Intelligence — and conducting a domestic espionage program to sabotage the Black Panther Party.
And make no mistake: the agency’s efforts to recruit more diverse hires is nowhere close to new. The CIA has put efforts into recruiting and training people from around the globe since 1965, coincidentally the same year that it worked with the Indonesian military to terrorize and massacre communists. But the difference is now they're using cool fonts.