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CIA’s New Tech Guru Hails From AOL (But Don’t Hold That Against Her)

• Noah Shachtman via

A former AOL vice president is poised to become one of the Central Intelligence Agency’s top science and technology officers. But before you make those jokes about CD-ROMs and octogenarians on dial-up, keep in mind: she’s also been a NASA Jet Propulsion Lab engineer, a top spy, and a champion of open source software, too.

Dawn Meyerriecks was in charge of AOL’s product technologies group, where in the mid-2000s she oversaw the relaunching of and the company’s iconic Instant Messenger. That makes her the first Internet executive to become one of the CIA’s top techies.

Meyerriecks’ move to become Langley’s Deputy Director for Science and Technology isn’t entirely unexpected, however. Not only has she spent most of her career in the worlds of national security, intelligence, and aerospace — first at JPL, and most recently as Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Acquisitions and Technology. (The AOL job came in between.) But the intelligence community has also become increasingly aggressive in reaching out to Silicon Valley and the broader technology community. This appointment might make those ties even tighter — that is, if beleaguered AOL is still considered a legitimate tech credential.

In a 2011 interview, Meyerriecks claimed that the AOL experience made her a better government tech exec. “One of the lessons I learned from AOL is that you can actually deliver innovation without asking for additional dollars,” she told Geospatial Intelligence Forum.

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