Former CIA officer talks spies, Petraeus at DeSales University

Author: , Reporter,
Published: Nov 15 2012 07:00:00 PM EST   Updated On: Nov 16 2012 06:17:02 AM EST

A man who knows the inner workings of the CIA got a chance to speak with students at DeSales University about the agency Thursday night.

He also weighed in on the Petraeus affair, calling it an unfortunate mistake.

Eugene Poteat said he likes going around the country to speak with students about the role spies played in American history.

He also lets them know if they choose this field their life will always be under scrutiny.

"Intelligence has a role," said Eugene Poteat. "It's a critical role in America's safety and national security.

Poteat knows a thing or two about national security.

He worked as a scientific intelligence officer for the Central Intelligence Agency.

Poteat is now the president of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers.

His goal is to help new recruits.

"Students are the next generation of intelligence officers, so how do you identify with them, how do you help them, how do you mentor them," asked Poteat.

Poteat said the first thing is teach them about history.

During his speech at DeSales University, he told the crowd about spies like Nathan Hale and covert missions in Russia during the Cold Aar.

The most important lesson for each person thinking of joining the CIA: Your life is under a microscope.

"When you go to work in intelligence, you receive a high level top secret security. You have your background checked. You have your lifestyle checked. Your finances are scrutinized and finally you get polygraphed," he said.

When talking about lifestyle, the conversation turned to former CIA Director David Petraeus.

Poteat said even the most highly skilled and trained person is vulnerable.

"We take these high-ranking military men," added Poteat. "We expect them to go fight and die for us and yet they're not perfect. They're humans like you and me, the rest of us. It's sad when something like this happens."

While Poteat calls the Petraeus situation tragic, he says people need to remember the work he has done while protecting the country from terrorists.