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Former CIA Chief Reveals the Three Disguises that Agents Aren’t Allowed to Use

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CIA agents working in the field have to be masters of disguise, but while they’re expected to fully inhabit whatever fake persona they have to adopt in order to pull off top-secret assignments, there are three disguises that are completely off limits, according to Jonna Mendez — former CIA Chief of Disguise.

There are three covers that are basically off-limits to CIA, and that would be a religious figure, media figure and the Peace Corps,” Mendez told WIRED recently. Not that we don’t like the Peace Corps. We love the Peace Corps, but it has to stay kind of pure. It cannot be suspected of harboring CIA officers.”

Meanwhile, the CIA bans agents from impersonating religious figures and media personnel because legit priests and reporters would have a tough time proving they weren’t agents if they were ever accused of working for the CIA.

Priests are so vulnerable,” Mendez explained. If they’re accused of being a spy, they don’t have any structure to protect them. They’re too vulnerable. We also don’t use the media as a cover for the same reason.”

So that means Tom Cruise would be in big trouble for breaking rule number 1 in this scene from Mission: Impossible 3.’ 

For more on the dos and don’ts of spying, check out the full interview with Mendez. 

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