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They would regularly call with instructions: meet at an unmarked office building in Virginia; write us an essay on your ideas about service and sacrifice.

I was given personality tests, evaluated by a psychiatrist, and put through grueling role-plays. Instead, the informant and I should both get naked and “into position.” A date was too transparent; sex was convincing.

The CIA offered me an escape valve into a world of untrue stories I kept spinning and spinning until the moment came when I could become someone else.

I had to disclose my medical, financial and travel records; the names of essentially everyone who had ever known me; my own closet skeletons, and those of my loved ones.

My recruiters learned about family members with addiction, mental illness and felony convictions. They spoke with my former landlords and heard that I paid rent on time but had a neurotic dog. When I told a recruiter I had tried marijuana, he smiled, shrugged and said, “I know.” Did he know I had tried marijuana, I wondered, or did he know that I had smoked it in a dorm room in Krakow in 1995 with my older boyfriend and some Polish theology students?

Between 20, the Intelligence Community’s Inspector General, the watchdog entity overseeing 16 federal intelligence agencies, investigated dozens of instances of employee misconduct and crimes based on referrals it received from intelligence agencies.

Many of them centered on widespread contracting fraud involving individuals who worked on highly classified intelligence programs for the NSA, the CIA, and the Office of Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) on behalf of well-known contractors such as IBM, Booz Allen Hamilton, Boeing, and General Dynamics.

When the FBI asked my father to verify my childhood address, I told him I was applying to the State Department.

I was visiting my aunt when my phone rang in the middle of the night to schedule my next interview.

More difficult was figuring out how to live honestly.

How to say, “I hate my job, but I don’t have an exit plan.”Six years after my rejection, I’m enjoying the company of my dog, turning off my cellphone when I sleep, and traveling a lot with my own passport.

I sometimes call in sick to work and go visit the pandas at the zoo. Fay assigned me a reading list of CIA memoirs, and promised to be in touch.

I tell people I loved my dog at first sight, but I hated him when he was a puppy. She then called me every few weeks from an unidentified number, asking about the memoirs and assessing my enthusiasm and commitment to the job. Between our conversations, I imagined destroying terrorist cells and exposing coups d’état.

I make real-life plans now, analyze career choices, and live with ordinary secrets. I would probably pass the polygraph test if I took it today.

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