Memos show CIA employees were frustrated with inconsistent policies regarding “alien marriage”

Agency women who married non-Americans were let go at a much higher percentage than their male counterparts

Written by Cynthia Fernandez
Edited by JPat Brown

As early as 1962, there were issues with Agency employees marrying “aliens.” There was a set procedure for those looking to wed someone who was not born in the states, and as always, romance and government paperwork did not mix well.

Many were not pleased with the amount of work required to marry an alien.

There was apparently a decentralized way of determining who was needed enough that their alien marriage could be overlooked. A January 1976, this memo was written by someone in the agency who was concerned over “similar, if not identical cases” having varying outcomes, with concerns about the lack of standards when it came to approving someone’s marriage to an alien.

The frustration with the lack of a protocol was still evident a year after the previous memo was written. In March 1977, Deputy Director for Administration, John F. Blake, had had it with the bureau’s bureaucracy getting in the way of marriages between Americans and foreign-born persons.

And rightfully so. In order to stay employed after marrying an alien, you had to petition the the Deputy Director to remain employed.

Underlying the racist undertones that were rampant in the CIA, from their lack of minority employees to their policies concerning alien marriages, was obvious sexism.

Although this document does not state to whom or from whom it was from, it provides insight into the lack of clear protocol when it came to approving alien marriages. It is not clear if women who wanted marry foreigners were let go from the CIA because they were not allowed in “quality” positions that outweighed potential security risks, but regardless, women were let go at much higher percentages than men.

Unfortunately, perceptions towards alien marriages at the agency did not improve over time, for women or men. In 1982, the Executive Director wrote to the Deputy Director that any employee considering marriage to an alien had to turn in a letter of resignation. Their resignation would only be dismissed if they were of exceptional value to the agency.

Even if your marriage was approved by the agency, there could still be trouble in paradise. After the third year of marriage, CIA employees and their foreign spouses were subjected to extra security reviews.

The CIA’s policy memo is embedded below:


Image via Wikimedia Commons