Intelligence, said Susan M. Gordon, “is about finding the truth and seeing beyond the horizon.”
In an exclusive appearance February 10 for Schar School faculty and students, Gordon, the former Deputy Director of National Intelligence, discussed her career for some 80 audience members in an hour-long conversation at George Mason University’s Arlington Campus moderated by Distinguished Visiting Professor Michael Morell, former deputy director and acting director of the CIA.
“There is a purity in intelligence,” Gordon said at one point, adding, “all you have to do is pursue the truth as hard as you can.”
In short, she said, “Seek the truth and speak the truth.”
Gordon’s career began as an intelligence analyst to eventually serving under Donald Trump in 2017 as the Deputy Director of National Intelligence, a Cabinet-level position created to serve as the head of the 17 members of the U.S. Intelligence Community—including the CIA, FBI, Treasury, and other agencies vital to the security of the nation.
Gordon’s 2019 resignation made headlines.
“I resigned because the most important thing to me was that I not become another rub between the president and the intelligence community,” she said. “I became used as a symbol for whatever side of the argument you wanted to be on. It was strange to see the intelligence community in the spotlight.”
Along with her resignation, Gordon delivered a handwritten note to the White House. In it, she explained that she was not resigning in protest, but she wanted to do what was best for the United States and give Trump political options. Not surprisingly, the White House tweeted the letter.
“Issues within the intelligence community are spilling over into the public,” she explained. “We are facing political pressure, and intelligence officers need to learn how to behave as part of a policy and political community.”
To students interested in joining the intelligence community, Gordon said, emphatically, “Do it.”
“You’re the people who are going to find our way forward,” she said, emphasizing the need for technologist and digital natives. “This is a technical world, and this digital environment must be a part of economics, government, and politics.”
For those interested in careers in national security, Gordon offered the preferred qualifications.
“The top three qualities recruiters in the intelligence community are looking for is an insatiable curiosity, having a specific craft, and knowing when to make decisions,” said Gordon. “We live in a changed world with different forces, but we have seen change before and solved it over and over again.”
The Schar School’s Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security hosted the event, with the center’s namesake in the audience.
The Schar School of Policy and Government’s Master’s in International Security program is ranked No. 2 in the nation, and offers a concentration in intelligence. Graduate certificate programs in homeland security and national security are also offered, helping to prepare students for the next challenge to face America. The program offers a concentration in intelligence to prepare students for the next challenges to face America.