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FBI Director Has High Expectations for New Cyber Security Agents

Federal Bureau of Investigations Director James Comey has high expectations when it comes to recruiting agents for their cybersecurity team.
IMAGE: James Comey at Georgetown University
FBI Director James Comey discusses race and law enforcement Thursday at Georgetown University in Washington.Cliff Owen / AP

Federal Bureau of Investigations Director James Comey has high expectations when it comes to recruiting agents for their cyber security team.

He says the perfect applicant would be intelligent, have integrity and the perfect dose of physicality to work competitively at the FBI. But he knows that finding the trifecta of talent in one person can be rare, especially when strict rules can keep top recruits from applying.

"We may find people of great technical talent who want to smoke weed on the way to the interview," Comey said at the Symantec Government Symposium in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.

Though the joke was welcomed by laughs in the audience, Comey made a point to say that even though a candidate for the job may not be perfect, the FBI is trying to find people they could "grow" and mold in other areas where they lack skills.

FBI Director James Comey attends a new Implicit Bias Training program at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC, June 28, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEBSAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty ImagesSAUL LOEB / AFP - Getty Images

"So we're starting at that, asking ourselves 'are there other ways to find this talent, to equip this talent, to grow this talent?,'" he said.

And for the record, no, smoking pot on the way to an interview with the federal government probably isn't a good idea.

It's not the first time Comey has used the marijuana one-liner.

Related: Want to Work for FBI? Pot Smokers Welcome, Chief Says

The first time he used it was back in 2014, when he was making his case about staffing 2,000 new employees that year to work on cyber crimes. He admitted then at the White Collar Crime Institute that these top computer gurus may like their weed and that it is a reality of today's workforce.

When a conference attendee told Comey that his friend decided not to apply to the FBI because he smoked, the FBI director said, "He should go ahead and apply anyway."

His original comments caused a stir since the FBI does not allow anyone to apply if they have smoked marijuana in the last three years. Workers are also discharged if they are caught using drugs.

Marijuana plants are displayed for sale at Canna Pi medical marijuana dispensary in Seattle, Washington, November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Anthony Bolante

Comey said then that his comments did not mean the FBI would change its protocol and hire pot smokers.

"I am absolutely dead set against using marijuana," Comey said to the Washington Post in 2014. "We have a three-year ban on marijuana. I did not say that I’m going to change that ban. I said I have to grapple with the change in my workforce."

In late July, Comey made the joke again at a Fordham University International Cyber Security Conference for the first time since the 2014 stir. He said that if the FBI is looking for integrity, applicants "can't be smoking weed on the way to the interview."