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Wednesday, September 06, 2006
My summer job ... nearly 20 years ago
So an interesting thing happened today. A Web site has published an article saying that I once worked for the CIA.

CNN received a call from the Web site yesterday informing us that they were going to publish this story. They didn't have all their facts straight, and I've received some questions about it, so I decided to just write this blog post, hoping to get the facts out there.

As a college student, I had a number of summer jobs and internships, including working at the CIA. Keep in mind, we are talking about nearly 20 years ago. The Bangles "Walk Like An Egyptian" was on the radio. I was 19 years old, and like many college students was curious about a variety of careers.

There was a flyer for the CIA in my college career counseling office, and I applied for a summer job. I was a political science major and was interested in serving my country.

For a couple months over the course of two summers, I worked at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. There are reporters who've been in the military, others who've interned on Capitol Hill while they were in college.

I know the CIA may sound more exotic and mysterious, but it was actually pretty bureaucratic and mundane, at least the little bit that I saw of it. By the end of the second summer, I realized it was not a place I wanted to work after college.

I've told all my employers about it over the years, but have chosen not to talk about it publicly. When I began to travel overseas to war zones as a reporter, I realized that some Jihadist might not understand that what people do for summer jobs in college doesn't mean they make a career out of it.

Oh, yeah, in case you're interested, after I graduated college, I briefly worked as a waiter, but I decided not to make a career out of that job either.
Posted By Anderson Cooper: 12:09 PM ET
  58 Comments
Anderson,
You're so funny! You always include us by giving us all the information about a subject that you write about. You make an effort to include us with the info about your life and experiences. May I please also say that when I heard that Warren Jeffs was captured last week; I yelled and clapped.....and I really attributed a big part of his capture to your (again) relentless coverage of the story.
Posted By Anonymous Lisa V, Des Plaines, IL : 12:28 PM ET
While I was in University, I packaged ice cream for 2 summers (not nearly as exotice as it sounds). Somehow working for the CIA just seems to make that experience pale into insignifance!

I really enjoy the show (especially when you are on location) Keep up the good work.
Posted By Anonymous Jacquie, Calgary, Alberta, Canada : 12:30 PM ET
Anderson working for the CIA?!?!?!? Thank goodness that didn't work out. I would have nothing to do at 10:00 but go to bed!
Posted By Anonymous Heather Gregory, Dayton, Ohio : 12:34 PM ET
Hey Anderson,
Are you puzzled as to why the public would be interested in a summer job you had 20 years ago? We all had "odd jobs" in college. I was a cocktail waitress one summer during my college years. Ugh! I surely didn't want a career doing that. I have a friend that worked in D.C. for Rep. Charlie Wilson during her college days. Yeah, it was interesting but she is now a rancher in Texas. Another friend drove Senator Ted Kennedy back in the day. Now he is a real estate tycoon with some great stories!!! Take care and keep doing what you do best. We'll be watching!
Posted By Anonymous Betty Ann Taylor Nacogdoches, Tx : 12:37 PM ET
One of the reasons I love to read this blog is that the news can seem too surreal and those that report it very UNreal themselves. This blog is an interesting outlet where many are just talking about what's going on instead of reporting it in a very boring way and without personality. Anderson, you crack me up.
Posted By Anonymous Sharla Jones, Buckeye, AZ : 12:41 PM ET
A.C.,
I'm missing the point. Why is this a big deal? I think you'll find most people (your fans) won't give it much thought. Thanks for explanation even though it wasn't needed. Keep up the good work.
Posted By Anonymous ginger, colby , kansas : 12:43 PM ET
I interviewed with the CIA twice...once in college for a personnelist job. The second time was during grad school when they had me in their sights for their "fast track program" which as far as I could ascertain was a for the chief administration officer for the CIA station chief but with spy training. After going through several hours of polygraphing and being accused of selling heroin, I woke up and decided there were better ways to serve my country. I certainly understand your experience!!!!
Posted By Anonymous Julie, Reston, Virginia : 12:45 PM ET
Wow, you never cease to amaze me....
Posted By Anonymous Rachel, Albuquerque, NM : 12:52 PM ET
Thanks for clearing it up ahead of time. I think we all would have been a bit gobsmacked had we heard a sensationalized version from another source.
Posted By Anonymous Sabrina, Reno Nevada : 12:59 PM ET
Hey Anderson: I had just finished reading the article that you're refering to when I saw this blog. It infuriates me that some irresponsible web-site would print this information. It must surely get to you after awhile to have your whole life (even from 20 years ago) exploited and written about all the time. From what I've heard you say, you are a very private person and I guess that's part of the problem. Some people aren't happy till they drag every little bit of information they can get about you.
In this case I hope it doesn't cause you any trouble in the future. You are a great journalist and deserve to live your life as you choose. Keep up your excellent work on 360 and stay safe.
Posted By Anonymous Bev. Ontario, Canada : 1:08 PM ET
Funny and yet sad. I guess it means you're a celebrity. Anything that they can get about you is 'news'. People pay more attention to juicy gossips than what's really happening in the world.
Posted By Anonymous Laipeng Foong, Penang, Malaysia : 1:10 PM ET
Funny blog Anderson! At least you have a sense of humour about it all!
Posted By Anonymous Nicki, Calgary, Alberta : 1:15 PM ET
That sounds very interesting. Thank you for sharing.
Posted By Anonymous Missy, Fairfield, CT : 1:16 PM ET
Mr Cooper, If you have to make news about yourself, it's not a journalism, it's for MySpace.
What is on the agenda next? Your date or your dinner menu?
Posted By Anonymous Anna D'well, Helsinki, Finland : 1:17 PM ET
Well, I think I can speak for alot of people when I say I'm glad you didn't make a career as a waiter (not that there is anything wrong with being a waiter) or a career in the CIA.
Posted By Anonymous Rita, Plainview, TX : 1:20 PM ET
Hi Anderson,
Well, I think we'd all be hard pressed to explain away some of our Summer jobs..Granted, there's alot of a swing between the CIA and a waiter but hey, each experience is a learning curve and it makes us better people..Look at the bright side, if you ever join the CIA you can go undercover as a waiter..You've been there and done that..Glad you chose the journalist-writer thing..We viewers need you right where you are..Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton,Calif. : 1:28 PM ET
Anderson: Well, I guess that website is "keeping you honest" now! Not that I think one would have to explain their past but thanks for giving us your side of the story! Who would think that a summer job with the CIA would become so newsworthy...especially when it was 20 years ago. Just makes me appreciate you even more!
Posted By Anonymous Jolene, St. Joseph, MI : 1:29 PM ET
It was a wise decision to keep this part of your life out of the public eye for security precautions. However, sadly, now that it is out in the open, your employers and you will have to employ stringent measures to keep you safe. Remember, terrorists hate us Americans whether we are Govt. officials or not. Glad you chose to become a journalist, but being a waiter paid off. How? Tuesday evening you served up an exotic meal on AC 360 that was enjoyed, as I drank my pina colada.
Posted By Anonymous Liz Walters, Howell,NJ : 1:31 PM ET
As I work on my Mass Media and Communications degree, I feel that this receptionist job isn't quite for me either. Way to go Mr. Cooper
Posted By Anonymous Lauren, Denver Colorado : 1:35 PM ET
Hey AC,
I made microfiche copies for NASA, scooped ice cream for two days (I quit), collated press kits about missionaries, and answered phones for a law firm. You haven't lived until you haul gallon jugs of ammonia-based chemicals and carry large spools of transparencies. Did I mention I'm not very big. Ah the ol' summer job.
Now, back to the news. :)
Thanks,
SH
Posted By Anonymous Stephanie H., Brooklyn NY : 1:41 PM ET
The CIA? Wow, I'm still impressed. So much better than my working at Wal-Mart as I go through Grad School.
Posted By Anonymous Kelly, Cygnet, OH : 1:42 PM ET
I am a new convert to Anderson Cooper 360. I love the show! It's sad that something that you did 20 years ago can be such a big deal today. I don't really see the purpose in it. I guess you are something of a phenomenon. When I Googled your show last week 45 pages of sites came up claiming to know you. That's nuts! Don't we have something better to do?
Posted By Anonymous Janda, Seattle, WA : 1:44 PM ET
I am a little concered now. I first thought this post was funny but now I am wonder if this is going to mess things up for you. Didn't the men that kidnapped Steve Sentanni of Fox news think he had ties to the CIA? Yeah, I know you want to go to the Middle East again soon but I would stay low for awhile now that this came out.
Posted By Anonymous Rachel, Albuquerque, NM : 1:46 PM ET
In response to this comment, "If you have to make news about yourself, it's not a journalism, it's for MySpace. What is on the agenda next? Your date or your dinner menu?"....you aren't getting the point of his blog.

He didn't put out this story, someone else did. And the point that he is making is that it shouldn't be and isn't news.
Posted By Anonymous Heather, Hanford CA : 1:48 PM ET
Thanks for clearing that up for us Anderson...you never know, someone might think you are a spy...(just kidding of course!!!) I am a great fan of yours and can appreciate your privacy issues...but who really cares what your summer jobs were?LOL!! Keep up the good work!
Posted By Anonymous Sherry from Cleveland Ohio : 1:52 PM ET
Or... maybe you were a waiter AND a covert employee of the CIA.(Which leader had soup or foie gras as an appetizer?) Did you get to hear a conspiracy theory or two, while you were there? That was an interesting blog. Thanks for sharing.
Posted By Anonymous Carol B. Frederick, MD : 1:57 PM ET
This is funny....you're just full of surprises huh? Next you'll tell us that you were a club bouncer during college also. Who cares what you did, people need to live in the present not the past.
Posted By Anonymous Willa Johnson, Dandridge TN : 2:03 PM ET
Hey Anderson, as you know, people will make anything out of anything. Once the internet gets involved, the stories get bigger and bigger and ... you get the picture. Or at least you will get the picture by the time three people come forward to swear that they worked covert missions with you!
Posted By Anonymous Jennifer, Phila., PA : 2:03 PM ET
Thanks for the chuckle in the early afternoon. Glad you can laugh and see some humour in it. I cannot imagine why any web site would be that interested in publishing this. It is a good thing you gave up the career as a waiter... keep on keeping them honest.
Posted By Anonymous vicky, ottawa, ON : 2:03 PM ET
Don't they have anything better to write about? Thanks for clearing up the facts ahead of time. I didn't really do odd summer jobs in college, I joined the Army. I remember some of my buddies telling their friends back home they worked for the Dept of Defense. Not a lie, but a stretch of the truth, it was pretty funny.

With all that's going on in the world I still am amused that celebrities and all of their weird antics are what fill the news. Not that you are a celebrity with weird antics, but come on, can't they find something better?
Posted By Anonymous Melina - Mesa, AZ : 2:04 PM ET
The CIA internship is more exciting than my summer job. I cleaned horse stalls at a stable.
Posted By Anonymous Ashley, Dallas, TX : 2:12 PM ET
It would be funny if it weren't so dangerous (CIA connections overseas.)
Anyway, thanks for the truth about What I did On My Summer Vacation Not That it matters Now - and handling it with a sense of humor!
Posted By Anonymous Van NYC, NY : 2:13 PM ET
The CIA? Wow, you're just full of surprises. You're right though, this is a nonstory and for your safety it was good you kept it under wraps. Everybody just wants to know all about Anderson Cooper! It's funny because you're the second person I've heard say the CIA is more boring than one would expect. And here I thought Alias was just like the real thing. Kidding. Now let's hear more about waiting those tables...
Posted By Anonymous Stacy, St. Louis, MO : 2:14 PM ET
What the hey, I was a topless dancer...a far cry from my conservative business career I have now...but it paid the bills! One would think that the folks at the CIA would be more upset about your becoming a reporter than the other way around! Hang in there, Anderson, you're doing a great job.
Posted By Anonymous Katherine Scottsdale, AZ : 2:20 PM ET
Anderson,

What I like about you best is how you are so open and conversationally intimate with your audience, in person and on the blog.

From personal experience, you treat everyone respectfully and give them your full attention, even when asking for something as mundane as an autograph or posing for a photo.

I appreciate your role as a journalist and your down to earth manner, when we all know you don't have to be that, as a public figure.
Posted By Anonymous Sandra Street, Seattle, WA : 2:21 PM ET
I saw the CIA story this morning too and was quite amused that you took the time to write about it. I certainly understand your not wanting the Jihadists to focus in on this information. You're right they wouldn't see anything beyond the letters CIA.
I am more intrigued that you worked as a waiter. Any chance we'll be reading about your spilling soup on someone anytime soon?
Glad you find your true calling!Keep up the good work.
Posted By Anonymous Mary Anne, Parlin, NJ : 2:30 PM ET
Anderson:

Although this article was entertaining, please take it serious enough and be extra careful now when traveling overseas, so that you are not a target for kidnapping. Lord knows there aren't enough plane seats available for all your fans to come and rescue you.
Posted By Anonymous Kim, Bolingbrook, IL : 3:13 PM ET
Hey Anderson,

No offense meant, but I can better imagine you as a waiter rather than a CIA agent. Unless of course you wanted to contend with Mulder.
Luckily you didn't intend for either career, or I wouldn't be responding to your blog. That web site, I guess, is starving for some publicity, so why not make use of a famous public figure, such as you. They must have been pretty good at maintaining their archives dating to 20 years back.
I'm sure by now CNN must have done their homework.
Stay safe Anderson. Thank you for making me aware of internet prowlers, of course if they had to get to me, I'd have to get famous first.
So for now, I think I'm safe.

Take care
Posted By Anonymous Rekha Raman, Fremont, CA : 4:32 PM ET
Anderson,

Sorry this had to happen, but you landed in a job that utilizes all your talents. You are good at what you do and anyone who has tried to compromise your position, whether intenionally or not needs to take a look at their own skills such as they are.

Just remember that we the viewers are behind you 100% and admire yur skills as a reporter.
Posted By Anonymous Grace Detroit MI : 6:11 PM ET
Was "Walk Like An Egyptian" REALLY 20 years ago?
Posted By Anonymous Janine, Nova Scotia, Canada : 6:25 PM ET
I am mildly disenchanted. When I read the caption, I thought you were going to discuss your time as a stripper.

To be serious for a moment though, it must be really strange to know that people actually want to discuss your past occupations. I doubt there is anything you've done in the past that people would actually demean you for. I mean, if you can host a show like The Mole and afterwards still obtain a position at CNN, then you've got nothing to worry about.
Posted By Anonymous Jen. Ontario, Canada : 7:01 PM ET
Even if you were a Chippendale 20 years ago, don't worry Andy, we still like you.
Posted By Anonymous Johanne, Ontario, Canada : 7:12 PM ET
"Bureaucratic and mundane"? Really? You mean too many people working in D.C. have a problem with thinking outside the box in order to anticipate the creativity of real and potential enemies, and stuff like that? Who'd have thunk it?
Posted By Anonymous Karoline, Burbank, CA : 7:28 PM ET
Whew! Two great mysteries solved in one week -- Suri Cruise does exist and What Anderson Cooper did 20 years ago! I can sleep much better tonight! Keep up the great work!
Posted By Anonymous F.D. Kansas City, MO : 7:55 PM ET
Anderson,

I, too, was as summer employee for the CIA about twenty years ago. I was in Rosslyn and also found the work to be rather mundane...lots of filing and shredding. But, like you, most people who found out I had such a job seem to think working for the CIA as a summer employee is fascinating and sexy work...little do they know.
Posted By Anonymous Kevin, Richmond, VA : 9:04 PM ET
The piece is funny. What it represents isn't. How pitiful of a world do we live in where a summer job/internship for the CIA can lead to one's potential demise 19 years later? How even more pitiful of a society is it that requires one to explain an internship all these years after the fact?

Some of us do make careers out of our undergrad summer jobs, though. I was a resident assistant and peer counselor as an undergrad seventeen years ago, and I loved it so much I earned a Ph.D. in Counselor Education just to continue the work on a professional level. It's more fun now than it ever was back then.
Posted By Anonymous TA Cheramie, Berwick, LA : 9:08 PM ET
How ignorant can some people be?! Don't they have a life?! I mean everybody with enough sense would know how Terrorist think about the whole Journalist/CIA/FBI thing and would keep their mouth shut, just for the safety of those brave people who go over there to cover stories!
Don't you just hate that, when you have to 'explain' yourself. Thanks for letting us know, but still I think it's none of 'our' business! Please be safe Anderson!
Posted By Anonymous Janet S. Bentree WV : 10:11 PM ET
I don't understand.

The whole point of you not making this public knowledge was for your own safety. And someone thought it was a good idea to let everyone in on this? If people wants to report on what you had for lunch, or the colour of your new shirt, that's one thing. But for somebody to put this out there, now potentially putting you in danger...that's just stupid.

I'm pissed about this, I can't imagine how you or your family must feel. What I'd like to know is, what the hell were they thinking??
Posted By Anonymous Stacey, Ottawa, Canada : 1:28 AM ET
So you worked at the CIA. So you were a waiter. Big deal! But you were listening to 'Walk Like An Egyptian'? Oh, man...
Posted By Anonymous Anna, San Francisco, CA : 3:59 AM ET
Anderson,

The Bangles"Walk Like An Egyptian" remainds me of old memories... (In fact I'm as old as you.)

By the way,where are you?
Will you spend late summer vacation in Afghanistan????????

Please STAY SAFE.
Posted By Anonymous Yukako,Japan : 6:31 AM ET
Hmmm, quite on the defensive aren't we? Look, you're right, the concept of Internships and summer jobs is very American. So, ok, I shall not believe everything I hear about you being a horrible spy, a weekend torturer, a mole in CNN and I will not stop watching 360 as a moral statement. Nice to have a blog and be able to set things straight huh?
Posted By Anonymous Brigitte M. Montreal Canada : 11:04 AM ET
Anderson,
I love ya and all, but really, who cares? I used to work for a company that manages porn websites, now I'm a teacher. Lets just say I don't use them as a reference!
Posted By Anonymous Todd, Radnor PA : 3:01 PM ET
Those guys at that website are late on the draw. I knew a few weeks ago that Anderson was working for the CIA. Only someone working for the CIA could get a signal to his Blackberry while in a tank crossing the border in to Southern Lebanon. I can't get a signal to my Blackberry at most of the places in Dallas.
Posted By Anonymous Diane, Dallas, TX : 5:09 PM ET
This is just awful. I am so sorry that some website dolt was so persistant that you had to publicly discuss this. Stay safe, newsman!
Posted By Anonymous Claudine, Saint James, NY : 5:10 PM ET
I think you're right, jihadist wouldn't understand your college stint at the CIA. Just make sure you stay away from those types. I, for one, do not want to hear tales of you being captured. Did you read Jill Carrol's story? Bummer.

Thanks for sharing, Stacy
Posted By Anonymous Stacy Tanner, Folsom, CA : 8:14 PM ET
Oh Anderson! Never filling the public in on your private life, shame on you! Just kidding. But really, you should have told everybody you were still in the CIA and Dick Cheney leaked your identity. Well Special Agent Cooper, my summer job has been working at a huge retail store, so I'm off to more soul-numbing work.
Posted By Anonymous Emma Rusell Downingtown, PA : 8:54 PM ET
Ah yes, the CIA. I once knew people there. Of course, I don't know them anymore. Their names have probably changed a couple of times since. It's probably good you had a job there because you know how to keep a low profile now. And way to go with being a waiter, Mr. Vanderbilt.
Posted By Anonymous Aisling, Arlington, Virginia : 9:11 PM ET
Ironic. Reporting like that is why so many of us come to your blog. Sensationalism is not present here. I'm amazed, with so much real news, some uncovered, in the world, that so many people are easily diverted with the insignificant trivia that is pelted out from various media sources.

I cannot imagine a reporter with your passion for pursuit of fact and the energy that reverberates in your stories trapped in a bureaucracy there, or anywhere.
Posted By Anonymous Kelly Reidy, Saratoga Springs, NY : 9:40 PM ET
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