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Sep 09, 2018 CIA Unveils Memorial to Agency K9s


Down a winding path just beyond the Agency memorial pond—home to a cadre of colorful, fat, lazy koi—a new memorial dedicated to CIA’s K9 officers humbly sits upon a small hill, surrounded by grass, trees, and stones.

Earlier this year, the Agency unveiled a new stone monument to honor the dogs who have spent their lives in service to their country.

Carved from a roughhewn boulder, the monument features a paw print, the Agency seal, and an imprint of the Security Protective Service badge.

A simple, poignant inscription reads: “Dedicated to the past, present, and future canines of the Central Intelligence Agency. Their loyalty, courage, and sacrifice will never be forgotten.”

To learn more about CIA’s K9 officers, see our 2017 CIA K9 Series, where for 16 weeks we followed the journey of a new “puppy class” as they learned the ins-and-outs of becoming CIA Explosive Detection Dogs.


Aug 20, 2018 CIA Hosts Tony Dungy & James “JB” Brown for CIA Speaker Series


On Thursday, August 16th, CIA’s Office of Public Affairs hosted Tony Dungy, former head coach of the Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and James “JB” Brown, host of CBS Sports’ The NFL Today, for a CIA Speaker Series event at our Headquarters in Langley, VA.

During their visit to the Agency, Coach Dungy and JB met with officers from CIA’s Talent Center to discuss opportunities and challenges related to diversity and inclusion, as well as how to dispel common misperceptions about CIA to potential candidates.

Later that afternoon, JB interviewed Coach Dungy about his philosophy on leadership, teambuilding, dealing with setbacks, and living an “uncommon” life.

As they began the discussion, both JB and Coach Dungy acknowledged the work of the CIA officers and highlighted how much they had learned through their time at CIA.

“My eyes have been opened today,” Coach Dungy said. “Both James and I have a great deal more sensitivity—and frankly—just a sense of gratitude for what you do for our country.”

Coach Dungy discussed the lessons he learned from the most influential people in his life, including his parents, who were educators.

“My father taught me that the most important quality in a leader is humility,” Coach Dungy shared.

Coach Dungy also reflected on his time with Chuck Noll and the Pittsburgh Steelers—where Dungy played for two years and later served as an assistant coach—and the impact Noll made on his life.

When asked what lesson has guided him through his life, Coach Dungy remarked, “If you really want to do something good, do something that helps others. Don’t look for sympathy. Look for what you can do to make the situation better. To be good at what you do, you have to be able to reach everyone.”


The CIA Speaker Series was established in 2014 to provide CIA officers with the opportunity to hear leadership insights from private industry and national security though leaders.

Aug 01, 2018 CIA Hosts Inaugural STEM Camp to Bolster STEM Recruitment

Today, CIA’s Directorate of Digital Innovation kicked off its first annual summer STEM Camp—a two-day series of engagements at CIA Headquarters designed to expose high school students to the ways in which a career in STEM can be leveraged at CIA.

More than 35 high school juniors and seniors from around the country were selected to participate in the inaugural camp—which will include a series of engaging workshops, hands-on STEM challenges, presentations from senior officers from around CIA, mentoring sessions, as well as simulations designed not only to expose them to potential CIA careers, but also to encourage them to continue their STEM-related studies.

This event is a part of CIA’s continued effort to introduce the next generation of mathematicians, computer engineers, scientists, and individuals with foreign language capabilities to career opportunities at CIA.

To learn more about CIA careers, visit the Careers page on Cia.gov.

Jul 26, 2018 That Time CIA Used Tiger Droppings as a Covert Tracking Device


July 29th is Global Tiger Day, an annual day to celebrate the tiger and to raise awareness for the approximately 3,900 wild tigers left in the world today. Found primarily in the rain forests, grasslands, and savannas of Asia, wild tiger populations have dropped 97% over the last hundred years, making tigers an endangered species. During the Vietnam War era, however, the Indochinese tiger population was healthy and thriving, providing the CIA a creative way to covertly track the movement of the Northern Vietnamese and Viet Cong.

Starting in 1955, the Vietnam War was a decades-long conflict between the communist government of North Vietnam and the government of South Vietnam. Considered a proxy of the Cold War, the North Vietnamese army was supported by communist allies like the Soviet Union and China, while the South Vietnamese army was supported by the United States, South Korea, and other anti-communist allies.

During the war, the US needed a way to monitor the opposition’s location and movement, which was instrumental in strategic planning.

That’s where tigers came in.

CIA technologists invented what is known as the seismic intruder detection device. It could be strategically placed to monitor movements up to 300 meters away. However, our scientists had to disguise the technology as an object that would blend into the natural habitat, while at the same time repel interest. Since tigers are native to Vietnam and were found in larger numbers 50 years ago, they provided the ideal cover.

The detection device was designed to look like tiger droppings.

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Seismic intruder detection device. Photo by CIA Museum.
Fueled by tiny power cells and containing a built-in antennae, the device was only 10.3 cm in length and 2 cm in diameter. It tracked movement by detecting and counting vibrations made by passing people, vehicles, and animals. Transmitters would then relay the data from the device via coded impulses. By disguising the device to look like tiger scat, it blended in with the natural landscape and was highly unlikely to draw attention.

Today, we continue to develop creative technical collection systems to further US national security objectives. Whether it’s a reconnaissance satellite circling the earth, invisible ink concealing coded messages, or a seismic intruder detection device hidden inside faux tiger droppings.  Throughout history, CIA has always utilized cutting-edge technology to tackle the nation’s hardest intelligence challenges.

Jul 25, 2018 GRAB: First Signals Intelligence Satellite

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GRAB satellite

In the summer of 1960, the US Navy secretly achieved what was once thought impossible – it successfully launched the first signals intelligence satellite in the world.

GRAB (which stands for Galactic Radiation and Background) was an ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) satellite system, operational from July 1960 until August 1962. It provided invaluable data on Soviet air defense radar, including information indicating the Soviets had the capability to destroy ballistic missiles.

GRAB was created because President Eisenhower in the late 1950s wanted to avoid “another Pearl Harbor” – another devastating surprise that could turn the Cold War hot. In those days, space reconnaissance resided mostly in the realm of science fiction. Courageous and innovative thinkers from intelligence, academia, military, and private industry came together under the mission of pursing a peacetime strategy of national reconnaissance. The office would later be known as the NRO.

Their sense of urgency, excitement, and commitment to the mission was so high that they could hardly wait to get to work each day, but their work was also nerve-wracking, frustrating, and occasionally heartbreaking. Often, what could go wrong, did.

In a memorable speech from former CIA Director George Tenet at the NRO 40th Anniversary Gala on September 27, 2000, he told the story of one of GRAB’s more notorious moments:

One of its more spectacular failures rained debris down on Cuba. Havana charged that a cow was killed in a deliberate US action. The Cubans soon paraded another cow through the streets with a placard reading: "Eisenhower, you murdered one of my sisters." It was the first – and last – time that a satellite has been used in the production of ground beef. The episode has gone down in history as "the herd shot round the world."

Still, the unheralded successes of America’s first satellite reconnaissance system vastly exceeded its momentary failures. GRAB later gave birth to CORONA, which captured more usable photography on its first operational mission than all previous U-2 flights combined.

Today, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, our satellites—starting with that first GRAB system that was once thought an impossible dream—provide America with a commanding information edge over all other nations in the world.


From left to right: the first GRAB launch, the GRAB satellite, the GRAB Cape Team
Jun 26, 2018 Daniel Craig Visits the Agency to Discuss the Reel vs Real of Espionage


Building on the Reel vs. Real theme we introduced last month, CIA’s Office of Public Affairs hosted Daniel Craig, famously known for his portrayal as James Bond, at CIA Headquarters yesterday to discuss what it’s really like to be an Intelligence Officer. 

Why have an international movie star and filmmaker visit the CIA? Because the CIA does not exist in a vacuum. The Agency is held accountable by Congress and scrutinized by the American people. While secrets must be kept and the clandestine nature of the CIA's work held sacred, the CIA works, where appropriate, with the film industry to combat misrepresentations and assist in balanced and accurate portrayals. Visits such as this and the recent Reel vs. Real event at UCLA open the door to engaging with the public to humanize the workforce and demonstrate the many ways CIA's work enhances national security.

Mr. Craig met with our leadership and workforce,who explained that real life espionage is a lot more “cloak” and a lot less “dagger” than presented in the entertainment world of spy vs. spy.  During conversations with CIA subject matter experts, Mr. Craig learned about the many facets of intelligence collection and how our five directorates work together to advance CIA’s mission. Later, during an engagement with the Agency workforce, Mr. Craig remarked about the teamwork that goes into the intelligence cycle and how impressed he was with the commitment and dedication of CIA officers.


For other "Reel vs. Real" stories, visit CIA's Reel vs. Real page.

Jun 11, 2018 Happy Birthday, President Bush!

In honor of President George H. W. Bush’s 94th birthday, we’re releasing two never-before-seen videos highlighting his tenure as Director of Central Intelligence.

Bush’s tenure as DCI marked a turning point for the Agency as he is credited with restoring focus and boosting morale in the institution. He remains one of the most beloved Directors in the Agency’s history.


President George H. W. Bush’s Farewell Visit to CIA

This video and related documents are from President Bush’s last visit to CIA as president. On January 8, 1993, in the final month of his presidency, President Bush paid a farewell visit to CIA Headquarters. After a luncheon in the Executive Dining Room, during which he received briefings on issues, the President made remarks in the main cafeteria to a large group of the Agency workforce.

I Want This Job: George H. W. Bush and the CIA

This video, produced by CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence, is a retrospective on Bush's tenure as DCI. It was shown during a January 29, 2016, visit by President and Mrs. Bush to CIA Headquarters in honor of the 40th anniversary of Bush's swearing in as Director.


To view the documents related to President Bush’s farewell visit to CIA in 1993, visit CIA’s FOIA Electronic Reading Room. The press release on the video and document release can be viewed here.

To learn more about President Bush’s tenure as DCI, see “Bush as Director of Central Intelligence.” You can also read about his 40th anniversary visit to CIA Headquarters here.

Jun 01, 2018 Former CIA Officers Discuss the Reel vs. Real of Espionage with Cast, Creator of The Americans


From tradecraft secrets to wig changes, the Reel vs. Real event at UCLA’s Burkle Center on Wednesday cracked open the CIA vault of personal stories with the help of two former legendary CIA officers and the cast and creator of the award winning FX television series, The Americans.

Former CIA officer and creator of The Americans, Joe Weisberg, moderated a lively, humorous, and sometimes deeply emotional panel discussion between two retired Agency officers – former operations officer Marti Peterson and former chief of CIA’s Counterintelligence Center Mark Kelton – and three of the stars of The Americans: Keri Russell (who plays Elizabeth Jennings), Matthew Rhys (Philip Jennings), and Costa Ronin (Oleg Burov).

Marti and Mark, who both spent a significant portion of their careers overseas, spoke of the importance of tradecraft when conducting operations and the ways the show gets it right and wrong. They also explored the emotional toll the job can take on an officer and his or her family, which is at the heart of The Americans.

One of the key plot lines of the show in the first few seasons was how the Jennings had to keep their own children in the dark about their real professions as spies, and the fallout when their oldest daughter became suspicious and finally confronted her parents.

Marti recounted the time she first told her two teenage children where she worked. They had no idea growing up that Marti was actually an operations officer with CIA. She asked her kids to meet her at a fast food restaurant near CIA Headquarters in McLean, Virginia, and then brought them onto the CIA Headquarters compound. Her kids were stunned. She brought them to the CIA Memorial wall, where her first husband has a star. “We held hands, and cried, but then we had lunch and I bought them both a t-shirt,” Marti recalled.

Mark said his children found out what he did while they were all living overseas. A few minutes after telling them, his youngest son forgot the three-letter acronym of the Agency his father worked: Mark and his wife decided not to remind him.

Asked how they prepared for their roles as spies on the show, the actors discussed the role of disguises. Keri said she didn’t mind all the wigs and that each one brought out a different aspect of her personality, but Matthew said he hated the wigs and how itchy they were, and his description of the difficulty of filming the counter surveillance and dead drop scenes brought laughter from the panel and audience.


The panel laughs with the audience over how much Matthew hated the wigs on The Americans

Costa, who grew up in Russia, said he still had vivid memories of what it was like to live behind the Iron Curtain in the 1980s, which has helped him hone his role in The Americans. “No one can play a Russian, like a Russian,” he said. “It’s in your DNA.” He also shared what it was like to return and film in Moscow, by the Kremlin. “Breathing the air,” he said, “made it all the more real.

For both former Agency officers, the most unrealistic aspect of the show was the violence depicted. The reality of espionage is much different. Marti noted the only time she had a violent encounter was when she was arrested by the KGB in Russia. She fought off the men arresting her, putting one in the hospital. Mark commented that throughout his entire career, he never fired a weapon in the field; although he was shot at while in a war zone.

Joe, who was in a unique position as the only one who has worked both in the world of intelligence and in Hollywood, bridged the gap between reality and film throughout the event, moderating the discussion and asking thought-provoking questions. As the panel wrapped up, Joe avoided giving away any spoilers as he gave a heart-felt thank you to everyone involved. A few hours later, the show he created would air its series finale: The American’s final episode.

To learn more about the event, read participant bios, and to read other "Reel vs. Real" stories, visit CIA's Reel vs. Real page.


* The event was presented by the Central Intelligence Agency, in partnership with the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations.

May 25, 2018 Gina Haspel Sworn in as First Female CIA Director

CIA Director Gina Haspel at swearing in ceremony
CIA Director Gina Haspel at Swearing In Ceremony
On Monday, May 21, Gina Haspel was sworn in as the first woman to serve as CIA Director in our Agency’s 70-year history. President Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary of State and former D/CIA Mike Pompeo, Chief Operating Officer Brian Bulatao, and hundreds of Agency officers attended the ceremony at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

“I am truly honored to have this opportunity to lead the best workforce in government,” Director Haspel said. “It has been nearly 50 years since an operations officer rose up through the ranks to become the Director, and after the experience of the past two months, I think I know why that is,” she joked.

Vice President Pence administered the oath of office. Director Haspel addressed the workforce, emphasizing our global mission, and noting the importance of increasing CIA’s foreign language proficiency, strengthening our partnerships, and deploying more officers to the foreign field. “For me, being Director is about doing right by all of you so that you have the tools and support needed to carry out our sacred mission,” she said.

She also addressed the historic significance of the moment, especially for the women of CIA, past and present. “I would be remiss if I did not also note the tremendous pride I take in being the first woman to serve as Director. I would not be standing before you today if not for the remarkable courage and dedication displayed by generations of OSS and Agency women. In roles both large and small, they challenged stereotypes, broke down barriers, and opened doors for the rest of us. I am deeply indebted to them, and I am extremely proud to follow in their footsteps and to carry on their extraordinary legacy.”

Director Haspel’s complete remarks can be viewed here or by clicking the video below.

Mar 28, 2018 Congressional Gold Medal Awarded to CIA’s Predecessor, OSS


On March 21, 2018, the US Congress bestowed its highest civilian honor upon the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). The men and women who comprised America’s first spy agency were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, in recognition of their superior service and major contributions during World War II. These women and men - who performed some of the bravest acts of the war – had never before been collectively recognized for their heroic and pioneering service.

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Betty McIntosh and fellow OSS officers
At its peak in late 1944, OSS employed almost 13,000 individuals, a third of who were women. Today fewer than 100 members of this great organization are still alive. Twenty of them were able to attend the formal presentation ceremony at the US Capitol’s Emancipation Hall.

"The men and women who served our country in the OSS are among the most deserving of the Congressional Gold Medal,” remarked House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Ranking Member Adam Schiff when the bill was passed by the House of Representatives in November 2016. “The OSS, members of our ‘Greatest Generation,’ helped vanquish some of the most malevolent enemies that our country, and indeed the world, has ever faced. We owe them a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid”

The OSS Congressional Gold Medal Act states that the OSS was America’s first effort to implement a system of strategic intelligence during World War II and provided the basis for the modern-day American intelligence and special operations communities. Its founder, General William “Wild Bill” Donovan is the only person in American history to receive our Nation’s four highest decorations, including the Medal of Honor.

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OSS Jedburghs
The OSS organized, trained, supplied, and fought with resistance organizations throughout Europe and Asia that played an important role in America’s victory during World War II. The OSS invented and employed new technology through its Research and Development Branch, inventing new weapons and revolutionary communications equipment. Its X–2 branch pioneered counterintelligence with the British and established the modern counterintelligence community. The network of contacts built by the OSS with foreign intelligence services led to enduring Cold War alliances. OSS ‘‘Mercy Missions’’ at the end of World War II saved the lives of thousands of Allied prisoners of war.

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Medal presented to OSS
Speaking at the presentation ceremony, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell commented in his remarks that the OSS “grew quite the family tree.” Indeed it did. The present day Special Operations Forces trace their lineage to the OSS. Its Maritime Unit was a precursor to the US Navy SEALs. The OSS Operational Groups and Jedburghs were forerunners to US Army Special Forces. The 801st/492nd Bombardment Group were progenitors to the Air Force Special Operations Command. The Marines who served in the OSS were predecessors to the Marine Special Operations Command. US Coast Guard personnel were recruited for the Maritime Unit and its Operational Simmer Group. Ultimately, the OSS spawned the Central Intelligence Agency.

Speaking to those gathered for the presentation, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi remarked that “a few determined men and women can change the course of history and they did just that.”

The gold medal will be displayed at the Smithsonian Institution.
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