An unprecedented hiring boom, Hayden said, has meant nearly half of the CIA workforce is new since 9/11. That has produced a spy agency with "more language skills and cultural diversity" and a need to "get rolled out quickly."
New operatives, Hayden said, are being asked to take more risks. The agency's new mission — targeting transnational terrorist groups as well as rival states — is causing CIA to stretch to produce "non-traditional" cover identities for undercover officers. "Human intelligence (performed by CIA) is much better than anyone ever said," Hayden said. "And not nearly as good as we need it to become."
The number of CIA employees is classified as a security measure, Hayden said.
Hayden credited improved internal communication and officer morale for an absence of unflattering leaks during his first year on the job. Hayden said he attempts to inform employees quickly of the agency's successes and to pass along compliments from foreign intelligence partners.
He did so this month, Hayden said, when "we killed a guy we were really mad at" — Mullah Dadullah, a top Taliban leader — in fighting in Afghanistan.
Former CIA deputy director for operations Robert Richer says his agency colleagues have noted "a major improvement in morale" in the past year. Richer, head of Total Intelligence Solutions, a consulting firm in Virginia, credits Hayden.