Following our groundbreaking revelation that the CIA employs its own hairdressers (see “The Trouble with Disguise…” – February 22), we can now also reveal that the Agency is currently recruiting its own … map makers! CIA cartographers produce maps to aid in intelligence analysis and mission planning. The cartography sections are also responsible for designing these maps so that they are usable on mobile devices and in other media. CIA recruiters are touring university geography departments right now.
This may not be a skill one immediately associates with espionage, but in a way this is a return to the roots of the work. The very first prototypes of the modern intelligence agencies, such as the British Topographical and Statistical Department (established 1855) were little more than gatherers of maps – they even colllected tourist guides. This was because armies going abroad often lacked maps or any other kind of basic information about where they were going. T&SD was the nearest thing the UK had to an intelligence service, at least until the establishment of the Army’s Intelligence Department in 1873.
It is yet another example of the old skills coming back into use.