The fun actually started the night before Foreign Service orientation, March 11th at a Sunday happy hour in Arlington, VA. It was packed with all the new Foreign Service Specialists mingling and mixing over cocktails and beer. I heard stories of sex scandals, conspiracies, and other tales of those who had been overseas with the government. Welcome to the Foreign Service, I love it! The security engineers all happened to find each other and flock together quietly in a corner, just as introverted engineers do. I found the group later in the evening and joined. They seemed like a cool bunch. I met a few others as well before I left.
Monday March 12th was the big day, Foreign Service Orientation! It was a crazy and busy day. I woke up at 4:30am to have breakfast and catch the 6:00 am shuttle from my complex to the Metro, and arrived at the Truman building by like 7:00 am. Better to be an hour early than rushing late. By 7:00 am, I was far from the first one there. There was already a line of newbies in our best professional attire. Anyway, I met several others at orientation, including a former CIA officer who was here for DS Special Agent training for the second time, and a guy who got kicked out of the FBI Academy for unsatisfactory performance with firearms (meaning he can’t shoot). That guy was given a support position in the FBI, then resigned a year later to join the Foreign Service. He also processed out of the Tampa, FL office like I did, around the same time, so we shared a few stories and names of folks. One guy, a DS Special Agent, shows up late and wonders in and everyone stares at him for being “that guy” who is late on the first day. The day was filled with briefings, badging (they misspelled my name several times and had an incorrect birthdate), and paperwork. The registrar had all of my paperwork in order so I was good to go on that, due to my meticulous and organized nature when it comes to paper work. I now have my State Department badge indicating my top secret clearance (take that CIA, FBI, and DOD!), and I’m an official government employee! Tomorrow is the big day at the Foreign Service Institute where the real orientation begins. I may take the Metro as well instead of trying to find limited parking. I’ll start driving for SEO training.
Friday March 23rd includes an all day visit to CIA Headquarters for all of us new Foreign Service Specialists. After going through loads of security checks, we are in! I got to see the big CIA logo seal on the floor of the main lobby, the Memorial Wall with the stars and some names of officers killed on duty, a tour of the museum, a view of the Kryptos puzzle exhibit, lunch in the cafeteria, and briefings about how DOS works with CIA overseas. The CIA officer who hosted the event, who stands damn near 7 feet tall and is skinny as hell, is the same guy I saw as I entered Dulles Discovery back in 2010 for my initial interview. I remember entering the building and some tall guys says to me “Are you here for processing? Good luck.” It was the same guy, I swear it was!
Tuesday March 27th is Flag Day and all of us SEOs are handed VA flags. Most of us SEOs are going to be in Rosslyn VA, as I am, and only one of us will be in Dunn Loring, VA. Earlier in the day we had security briefings that dealt with bugs (spying devices) in Embassies and around DC that bad guys use to get intelligence on the U.S. We were shown some pretty cool spy devices from the past and told stories of spies who were caught spying against the U.S., some were foreign intelligence services, and some were government employees, including DOS employees!
I get home today to find another letter in my mailbox from the DOD folks regarding my clearances. It basically gives me a two-page print out, one is a page in my JPAS file that I’ve already seen saying OGA (other government agency, a.k.a. CIA) denied me SCI in January 2011 based on Personal Conduct. The other page is telling the investigator to do a subject interview on me regarding my SCI denial due to Personal Conduct and to get a sworn signed statement from me. Well, this explains my third interview for my DOD clearance that I never got last year. Just more crap all due to the CIA polygraph. Stupid CIA. I don’t even care anymore. I am excited about my new job and love it so far.
My SEO training starts on April 2nd. We have more paperwork, a review of the weeks to come, and even a tour of the building that I’ll be working at in Rosslyn, VA which apparently is like the SEO headquarters. The day ends with a networking reception with finger food and beer (alcohol and the foreign service go hand-in-hand). All of the current and new SEOs and managers seem like great people. The work sounds exciting and for once in my life I’m excited about going to work every day! In a couple of weeks I’ll be getting my SCI access. The major part of SEO training, the technical surveillance countermeasures (TSCM) training, will not take place until next year.