About CIA



9/11 Commendation Bar

This service pin was awarded to the Agency’s Security Protective Service (SPS) officers who served during the period of heightened alert between September 11, 2001 and March 24, 2002 in recognition of their extraordinary level of commitment and meritorious service.

3.5 cm x .8 cm x 1.6 cm
(L x W x H)


Caltrop (Tire Spike)

The caltrop was "the simplest weapon we ever made" according to Dr. Stanley Lovell, author of Of Spies and Stratagems. No matter how the caltrop is tossed, it will land with one of its four prongs up. Whatever rolls over it will be punctured or injured. It is effective when many are scattered onto enemy roadways or airport runways.

Historically, caltrops have been found in Babylonian tombs, were used against medieval knights on horseback, and were found in archaeological digs at Jamestown.

8.6 cm x 8.6 cm x 8.6 cm
(L x W x H)


CIA Semi-Submersible

CIA designed and manufactured this two-man semi-submersible in the 1950s. It carried no weapons, was cramped, had limited endurance, and required a "mother ship" for transport and recovery. However, the vessel could approach areas ships could not.

The semi-submersible was small and quiet. The craft was made of wood and aluminum, with plywood sheathing on the bottom, sides, and deck. This construction made sonar or radar detection unlikely. The semi-submersible could be sunk—without personnel—in depths of up to 30 feet. After sinking, it could be left underwater for periods of up to three to four weeks. When running in the "deck awash" position, it was almost impossible to see.

Its speed semi-submerged was up to 4.7 knots; its cruising speed was 4.1 knots, and its slow speed was 2.5 knots. With a range of about 110 miles, it could carry two men and 120 pounds of their equipment.

overall length:  19 ft
beam:  5 ft, 3 in
height:  6 ft, 9 in
weight:  3,650 lbs.


Concealed Compass

American servicemen going into harm’s way had a variety of ingenious places to hide small, even miniature, compasses for escape and evasion—in combs or razors, uniform buttons or, as seen here, in cufflinks.


DCI Allen W. Dulles’s Stamps

Former OSS officer Allen W. Dulles was the longest serving DCI from 1953 to 1961. To many, this period was the “Golden Age” of the CIA, for it was under Dulles that the Agency matured and developed its characteristic style. These two well-worn stamps were his—one when he was partner in a prestigious New York law firm and the other simply his name.

8 cm x 6 cm x 2.5 cm (large)
8 cm x 3.5 cm x 2.5 cm (small)
(L x W x H)

E Street Complex Sign with CIA Seal

Eloise Page ID

Eloise Page began her intelligence career in 1942 as a secretary to OSS chief William Donovan. A Virginia native, she transferred to the newly formed CIA in 1947 and rose steadily through its ranks—while never giving up her Southern drawl or ladylike white gloves. Page became the CIA’s first female chief of a flagship station and, as a senior executive, the first female head of a major component of the Intelligence Community.


George Kisevalter Cufflinks

CIA had two sets of cufflinks made for operations officer George Kisevalter to use as a recognition signal with CIA asset Maj. Petr Semenovich Popov, the Agency’s first major postwar Soviet source of positive intelligence information. One set was kept at CIA Headquarters; the other sent to Popov. Upon Kisevalter’s retirement, DCI Helms presented the Headquarters set (shown here) to Popov’s case officer, George Kisevalter.

1.9 cm x 1.5 x 1.5 cm
(L x W x H)


Identification Card of Allen W. Dulles

Allen W. Dulles started his career in the US Diplomatic Service in 1916. He joined the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during WWII. As a member of the OSS, he directed intelligence operations from Switzerland. Through a series of personal contacts and difficult negotiations, he helped bring an early end to the Allied forces’ Italian campaign in 1945. Through his work, he helped save hundreds, if not thousands, of lives.

In 1951, Dulles joined the newly created Central Intelligence Agency. President Eisenhower appointed him CIA Director in 1953. During his tenure, Dulles approved the development of the U-2 spy plane. He also conceived the CIA’s Original Headquarters Building located at Langley, Virginia, and oversaw its construction. Dulles never occupied the building, however, because he retired in 1961—just days before construction was completed. He is the longest serving director in CIA’s history.

15.8 cm x 12.8 cm
(L x W)


Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1999

Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1999 specifies that CIA Headquarters compound is to be named after former Director of Central Intelligence and President George H. W. Bush. This is the legislation and the pen President William Clinton used to sign it.


Letter from President Kennedy

President Kennedy wrote this letter to CIA Director John McCone commending the Agency for its role in the peaceful resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis.


Memorial Wall Star Carving Tools

Shown here are tools used by Tim Johnston to create the stars found on the CIA Memorial Wall. First, the star is traced on the wall using a template. The hammer and chisels are then used to carve the marble out into the star shape. These tools were used from 1992 to 2003.

21 cm x 7 cm x 3 cm (hammer)
23.4 cm x 2 cm x 1.4 cm (chisel)
22.8 cm x 1.4 cm x 1.5 cm (chisel)
23.3 cm x 1.6 cm x 1.3 cm (chisel)
11 cm x 8.5 cm x .1 cm (stencil)
(L x W x H)


Miniature Volume of Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago

Copy of the original Russian-language edition of Doctor Zhivago, covertly published by the CIA.  The front cover and the binding identify the book in Russian; the back of the book states that it was printed in France.

Renowned Russian author Boris Pasternak won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958 for his “lyrical poetry and…epic” writing, particularly his masterpiece Doctor Zhivago, a love story set against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution.

In 2008, a broadcaster and literary historian named Ivan Tolstoy, himself the scion of a famous Russian literary family, published a book alleging that the CIA had secretly arranged for the publication of a limited-run, Russian-language edition of Doctor Zhivago. The problem that the CIA allegedly solved was that the Nobel Prize committee needed to read the text as it was originally written, which Soviet authorities would not publish because they considered it to be “a malicious libel of the USSR.”

Tolstoy spent 10 to 20 years researching the story. According to The Washington Post, Tolstoy concluded that "Pasternak's novel became a tool that was used by the United States to teach the Soviet Union a lesson." His argument is that it was part of an ongoing US campaign to promote authors who told the truth about the harsh realities of life in the Soviet Union. The CIA officially declined to comment on Tolstoy’s conclusions.

Pasternak knew nothing of the CIA's role, according to Tolstoy and the writer's family.  In the end, the results were mixed. A delighted Pasternak initially accepted the prize, but the Soviet government soon forced him to decline the honor.

14 cm x 9 cm x 2 cm



NHB Groundbreaking Shovel

This shovel was used by then-President Reagan at the New Headquarters Building groundbreaking ceremony on 24 May 1984.

98 cm x 22 cm x 14 cm
(L x W x H)


One of the Last Flags to Fly Over Checkpoint Charlie

The most famous crossing point between East and West during the Cold War, the iconic outpost in Berlin known as “Checkpoint Charlie” was a symbol of the post-World War II conflict between the Free World and the Soviet Bloc. It played a role in intelligence operations as well as spy movies and books.

The checkpoint was built into the Berlin Wall, which was put up by East Germany in 1961 to keep its citizens from escaping to the West. The layout was curiously asymmetrical. During its 28-year life, the infrastructure on the eastern side expanded to include not only the wall but also watchtowers, various sheds, and zig-zag barriers. The Allies never erected any permanent buildings, making do with the small wooden guardhouse and the “You Are Leaving the American Sector” sign that are burned into the memory of many Cold War veterans.

Occupied by all four of the Allied victors at the end of World War II but soon divided into East and West, Berlin was one of the spy capitals of the Cold War. Each side used it as a starting point to run spies into the other’s sphere of influence, to exchange captured spies, and to intercept the other’s communications. The Americans and British even constructed a famous tunnel under the border between East and West Berlin to tap Soviet phone lines.

The course of the former wall and border is now marked with a line of cobblestones, the spy operations quietly memorialized in museums and history books.


Persian Gulf War Leaflets

These CIA-produced leaflets were used during the Persian Gulf War (1990 – 1991). Copies of the leaflets were air-dropped over a selected area before an Allied bombing run. The leaflets gave the civilian people time to evacuate and encouraged the military units to surrender.


Pneumatic Tube Carrier

Lamson Corporation, Syracuse, NY, installed a pneumatic-tube mail-delivery system in the Original Headquarters Building (OHB) during its construction. The system had more than 30 miles of 4‑inch-diameter steel tubing. At that time, this system was one of the world’s largest.

The original system had about 150 receiving/dispatching stations throughout OHB. Shown here is one of the many vacuum-driven carriers that sped along the system, moving mail from one station to another. The system operated from 1962 until 1989.

36.5 cm x 9.0 cm
(L x Diameter)


President Eisenhower Trowel

The CIA celebrated the construction of its new Headquarters building at Langley, Virginia, with a cornerstone-laying ceremony on November 3, 1959. President Dwight D. Eisenhower used this trowel to lay the cornerstone. Construction of the 1.3-million-square-foot facility was completed in late 1961.

Select documents and other materials of historic interest are sealed within the cornerstone.  Items include:

  • A 1944 memorandum from William J. Donovan to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The memo discussed the need to establish a permanent centralized intelligence service.
  • President Harry S. Truman's 1946 Executive Letter that established the National Intelligence Authority and the Central Intelligence Group.
  • An aerial photograph of the CIA building site.

27.8 cm x 7.2 cm x 5.5 cm
(L x W x H)


Studies in Intelligence, Volume 1, Number 1

Sherman Kent created the publication Studies in Intelligence in 1955. Kent – the most renowned analyst in American intelligence history – served as a CIA officer from 1950 to 1967.

Kent envisioned a journal devoted to intelligence theory, doctrine, and techniques. Studies in Intelligence was born from this vision. To help guide this new journal, Kent followed these principles:

  • Intellectual rigor
  • A conscious effort to avoid unconscious bias
  • A willingness to hear other opinions
  • The use of outside experts as checks against in-house prejudges
  • A candid admission of shortcomings.

The quarterly journal is still published today; unclassified issues are published on the CIA’s website.

22.8 cm x 15.7cm
(L x W)


Truman Seal

On February 17, 1950, President Harry S. Truman signed an Executive Order authorizing this as the official seal of the Central Intelligence Agency. He autographed and presented this rendition to then Director Roscoe Hillenkoetter.

The eagle represents vigilance, a symbol of our nation. The defense shield in the middle signifies Intelligence as being our nation’s first line of defense. The 16-point compass rose symbolizes information coming in from all points of the globe and being brought together at one central place.

45 cm x 42.5 cm
(L x W)

Posted: Jul 23, 2012 09:04 AM
Last Updated: Nov 21, 2012 08:30 AM