Opinion | Why Does the C.I.A. Need Puppets?

Produced by ‘Sway’

The Central Intelligence Agency poaches puppeteers from Hollywood and partners with big tech firms from Silicon Valley. It has to, says the agency’s top technologist, Dawn Meyerriecks, if it wants cutting-edge drones, hidden cameras, and deep cover that can bypass biometric scans.

Meyerriecks oversees spy gear as the head of the C.I.A.’s Directorate of Science and Technology. (Think “Q Branch” from the James Bond films.) But the nimble, discreet monitoring advanced by the intelligence community also raises big questions for the privacy and data security of American citizens. (Now, think about what Edward Snowden revealed about the N.S.A.).

In this conversation, Kara Swisher presses Meyerriecks on the cozy relationship between the private sector and the agency, the threats the United States faces from China, and why Facebook makes the C.I.A.’s top technologist “uncomfortable.”

Thoughts? Email us at [email protected] Transcripts of each episode are available midday.

Special thanks to Shannon Busta and Liriel Higa.

“Sway” is produced by Nayeema Raza, Blakeney Schick, Heba Elorbany, Matt Kwong and Daphne Chen, and edited by Nayeema Raza and Paula Szuchman; fact-checking by Kate Sinclair; music and sound design by Isaac Jones; mixing by Erick Gomez.

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