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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.

Being Carried -front.jpg
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.

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.

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.

Interested in learning more?

Mar 14, 2018 Happy Pi Day!

CIA’s Birthday (September 18, 1947) appears in Pi.

The sequence, 09181947, starts at the 67,585,570th digit and only appears once in the first 200 million digits of Pi.

Mar 09, 2018 CIA Chief Operating Officer Speaks to Annuitants at CIRA Event

“It gets into your blood, working here at CIA; it’s unlike any other place.”
~ CIA Chief Operating Officer (COO), Brian Bulatao

COO Brian Bulatao
On Wednesday, March 7, CIA Chief Operating Officer (COO) Brian Bulatao addressed a very special audience of former CIA officers. The Central Intelligence Retiree Association (CIRA) hosted its quarterly luncheon, attended by more than 150 Agency retirees who were eager to meet Bulatao, the man who came to CIA with both a military and business background, and a lifelong friendship with CIA Director Mike Pompeo that began at West Point. Mr. Bulatao shared with the group how the two met on their first day on campus and became fast friends, parting ways after graduation only to reconnect at Harvard where Brian was studying to get an MBA and Director Pompeo was in Law School.

Bulatao’s talk focused on his new role at the Agency and the positive changes that have taken place across CIA over the last year. One such change Bulatao discussed was the Director’s focus on pushing decision making down to the lowest level.

“If there is a group of highly skilled officers in a room, does it make sense to have the DCIA or the COO make the final decision?” Bulatao asked the retirees. “No, let the experts working the issue decide.” When a former officer asked about the risks that accompany that type of thinking, Bulatao replied that if the work is great, if the preparation is exquisite, you have to accept some failure if you take more risks.

Bulatao also discussed his top priorities, better known as his “High Five,” which include streamlining the hiring process; taking a systematic look at the alignment of strategy, staffing, funding, and other resources; making CIA’s contracting process more effective and efficient; ensuring that the Agency as a whole is positioned to invest in and lead in cutting-edge technologies; and finding innovative ways to protect CIA officers’ identities and operations in the digital age.

The CIA retirees had some direct questions for Bulatao about the impact of budget cuts at other agencies on CIA’s mission and current efforts to recruit the best and the brightest. Bulatao explained that CIA has very low attrition once people get in the door at CIA, but emphasized the need to focus on getting the right people with the right skills in the right jobs. He said that it’s important for the public to understand that CIA needs people who are top notch in professions that you might not think of or see in the movies: finance experts, engineers, and lawyers, to name a few. What unites CIA’s diverse workforce, he said, is its relentless work toward one great mission: keeping America safe.

Before Bulatao took the stage to speak to the retirees, his son told him that there would be really smart people in the room, so he should keep his talk to five minutes. He didn’t, of course, but he made sure the last words spoken were of appreciation for their support and commitment to CIA.

Feb 13, 2018 Pompeo Testifies on Top Global Threats Facing US

Today, CIA Director Mike Pompeo testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding the US Intelligence Community’s Annual Worldwide Threat Assessment. Director Pompeo, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, and other intelligence leaders outlined the community’s assessment of the threats facing our nation.

Pompeo fielded questions about cyber capabilities, the government’s role in combating the opioid crisis, and wide-ranging threats from adversaries like Russia, China, and North Korea.

When asked about North Korea’s delegation at the Olympics, Pompeo stated, “We should all remember that Kim Yo Jong [Kim Jong Un’s sister] is the head of the propaganda and agitation department. There is no indication that there is any strategic change in the outlook of Kim Jong Un and his desire to retain his nuclear capacity to threaten the United States of America…Our analysts remain concerned that Kim Jong Un is not hearing the full story; that those around him are not providing nuance, are not suggesting to him the tenuous nature of his position both internationally and domestically.”

Watch the full testimony here:

Read DNI Coat’s prepared remarks here:  

Dec 21, 2017 Director Pompeo Presents Toys for Tots to Marines

The 2017 Operation Santa Claus campaign was a great success. The Agency collected 27 boxes of toys that will be gifted to children in need. This year, CIA continued a long tradition of being one of the largest donors to the Toys for Tots Foundation in the Washington area.

On December 7th, Director Pompeo presented the toys to Colonel Francis Piccoli and the Marine Corps Reserve in support of the Marines’ Toys for Tots campaign. Colonel Piccoli then presented the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Commander’s Award to Director Pompeo, who accepted the recognition on behalf of the Agency.

CIA began Operation Santa Claus in 1968 and has formally collaborated with the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation since 2000.

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Col. Piccoli presents Director Pompeo with the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Commander’s Award.
Nov 09, 2017 November 10, 1997: Killer of CIA Officers at HQs Convicted

On November 10, 1997, a jury in Fairfax County, Virginia, found Pakistani national Aimal Kasi guilty on one count of capital murder, one count of first degree murder, and three counts of malicious wounding—charges that stemmed from his shooting rampage at the entrance to CIA Headquarters in 1993. For many CIA officers, however, a more satisfying moment had come several months earlier when DCI George Tenet informed them that Kasi had been apprehended after a four-and-a-half-year manhunt and returned to Virginia to face justice for murdering and maiming their colleagues.

The saga occurred on January 25, 1993 when the gunman opened fire on employees who were waiting to drive onto the Agency’s Langley compound. Two Agency officers died: Lansing Bennett, a medical doctor in the Directorate of Administration (now Directorate of Support), and Frank Darling, a communications engineer, and three were wounded. In the ensuing chaos, the gunman fled the scene, leaving stunned witnesses and conflicting accounts of his appearance. By the time the FBI and Fairfax County Police had identified him, Kasi had flown back to Pakistan and blended into the lawless border area near Afghanistan.

CIA embarked on a dogged, often frustrating, effort to apprehend the man who had killed two of its own. Within hours of the shootings, the Agency established a task force comprising a broad array of specialties and began working with the FBI and the Department of State to track down the gunman. As CIA officers grew more confident about Kasi’s whereabouts, they came up with a variety of plans to lure him out of hiding and explored means and authorities for getting him back to the United States to stand trial. Despite frequent dead ends, the hunt for Kasi was, says one of the leading participants, a relentless effort that took priority over everything else and would never suffer from lack of funding.

The pursuers’ dedication paid off. Kasi was located in Pakistan and arrested by the FBI on June 17, 1997. Two days later, a US military aircraft with Kasi aboard departed Islamabad for Dulles Airport in Virginia, where a delegation of senior CIA officials, including DCI Tenet, was waiting. Kasi was then tried in Fairfax County, Virginia, the scene of his crime. On January 24, 1998, shortly after the jury reached its verdict, he was sentenced to death. On November 14, 2002, he was executed by lethal injection.

On May 24, 2002, Agency officers dedicated the Route 123 Memorial to two fallen colleagues. The Memorial is located on the west side of the Virginia Route 123 entrance (alongside the outbound right lane). It includes a walkway leading to a 9-foot by 3 foot granite wall. Benches dedicated to Lansing Bennett and Frank Darling, who were shot to death on Jan. 25, 1993, on Route 123, face each other in front of the granite wall.
Nov 02, 2017 Pupdate: Training the Handlers

The pups have finished their imprint training and have officially been paired with their human partners!

The CIA handlers in this class are all “retreads” – handlers that have had a previous K9 partner. In fact, the handlers’ current K9 partners are retiring on the same day their new K9 partners graduate! As usual, the handlers and their families are adopting the veteran dogs, who will live out the rest of their lives being pampered and spoiled by their human families.

The first few weeks of lessons for the new K9-handler teams are spent in the classroom. As the pups continue to refine their skills, the handlers take advanced classes on subjects like firearms and explosives, as well as emergency veterinary care for dogs. The classes are taught by experts in their respective fields, and provide hands-on experience for the handlers.

Boston, a senior yellow lab belonging to a guest lecturer, keeps a close eye on the handlers as they practice CPR on K9 mannequins. This is just one of the many things the handlers learn during their emergency K9 crisis care classes.

What’s next for the new K9-handler teams? As the pups continue with their advanced training, they’ll apply everything they’ve learned so far in simulated exercises.

If you miss any of the articles in this series, visit “Follow CIA’s New Puppy Class!” main page, where we are chronicling the puppies’ progresses throughout their training.

Oct 19, 2017 Pupdate: A New Pup Joins the Class!

Yesterday, we announced that Lulu was no longer with the CIA Explosive Detection K9 Training Program. Her handler adopted her, and she’s now living the life of a pet dog, being spoiled by him and his family.

Lulu’s handler, however, still needs a K9 partner for explosive detection work. The puppy class was still in the imprint stage of training when Lulu left the program, so our K9 instructors decided to bring on a new pup and try to catch her or him up to the rest of the class.

We’d like to introduce you to the newest member of CIA’s fall 2017 “puppy class”…

Meet Heron (aka "Harry")!

Harry is a male black lab from Susquehanna Service Dogs. He’s a goofy, high energy fella who loves to jump and play. At just over a year old, he’s the youngest pup in the class, but has an incredible drive to learn and is super smart.

Harry’s got a lot of work to do to catch up to the ladies, but our training staff is ready to put in the extra time and attention it will require.

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Harry during his first lesson as an explosive detection K9.

Harry learns to seek a target odor placed inside of the can.

Harry jumps up to seek a target odor in a small tin held by a trainer.

Harry eagerly waits for a kibble from the trainer after finding a target odor.

Harry enjoys some playtime with a trainer in the booth.

Follow Harry and the rest of the class’s progress, as they finish imprint training and start advanced training with their new handlers.

If you miss any of the articles in this series, visit “Follow CIA’s New Puppy Class!” main page, where we are chronicling the puppies’ progresses throughout their training.

Oct 18, 2017 Pupdate: A Pup Leaves the Class

For our K9 trainers, it’s imperative that the dogs enjoy the job they’re doing. Sometimes, even when a pup tests well and they successfully learn how to detect explosive odors, they make it clear that being an explosive detection K9 is not the life for them. Such is the case for one of the fall 2017 “puppy class” pups.

We are sad to announce that Lulu has been dropped from the program.

A few weeks into training, Lulu began to show signs that she wasn’t interested in detecting explosive odors. All dogs, just like most human students, have good days and bad days when learning something new. The same is true during our puppy classes. A pup might begin acting lazy, guessing where the odors are, or just showing a general disregard for whatever is being taught at the moment. Usually it lasts for a day, maybe two.

There can be a million reasons why a particular dog has a bad day, and the trainers become doggy psychologists trying to figure out what will help the dog come out of its funk. Sometimes the pup is bored and just needs extra playtime or more challenges, sometimes the dog need a little break, and sometimes it’s a minor medical condition like a food allergy requiring switching to a different kibble. After a few days, the trainers work the pup through whatever issue has arisen, and the dog is back eagerly and happily ready to continue training.

Lulu enjoying retirement with her best buddy, Harry.
But for some dogs, like Lulu, it becomes clear that the issue isn’t temporary. Instead, this just isn’t the job they are meant for. Lulu was no longer interested in searching for explosives. Even when they could motivate her with food and play to search, she was clearly not enjoying herself any longer. Our trainers’ top concern is the physical and mental well-being of our dogs, so they made the extremely difficult decision to do what’s best for Lulu and drop her from the program.

When a dog is dropped or retires from our program, the handler or handler’s family is given the chance to adopt them. Most handlers, of course, choose to do so. The dogs are their partners and have become members of their family, even after just a few weeks of training together. Lulu was a adopted by her loving handler, who had the chance to work with her during imprint training. She now enjoys her days playing with his kids, sniffing out rabbits and squirrels in the backyard, and eating meals and snacks out of a dog dish. We’ll miss Lulu, but this was the right decision for her. We wish her all the best in her new life.

Lulu was adopted by her handler, but he still needs an explosive detection K9 partner at work. Check back tomorrow to meet the newest addition to the fall 2017 puppy class.

If you miss any of the articles in this series, visit “Follow CIA’s New Puppy Class!” main page, where we are chronicling the puppies’ progresses throughout their training.

Jul 27, 2017 Top Ten Reasons to Apply to the CIA Scholarship Program

Did you know the CIA has scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students? Did you know you could get paid to go to school? Here are our top 10 reasons to apply to the CIA Scholarship Program:

  1. Contribute to protecting our nation as a part of the prestigious CIA workforce
  2. Tuition assistance - up to $18,000 per calendar year for tuition, mandatory fees and books
  3. Annual salary - even when you’re at school
  4. Food money. Non-local students receive a daily allowance for meals and incidentals during your summer internship
  5. Paid time off, as well as sick and holiday leave
  6. Potential travel opportunities
  7. Exceptional training and work experience
  8. Superior foreign language resources to expand upon your language skills or obtain new ones
  9. Potential for employment at CIA after graduation and successful completion of the CIA Scholarship Program
  10. Additional benefits: health and life insurance, as well as a Federal retirement plan

For more information on the benefits and requirements for the CIA Undergraduate and Graduate Scholarship Program, please click on the following links:

Want to hear more about what it is like to work as a CIA scholarship student? Click here to read about a Day in the Life of a Scholarship Recipient.