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Oct 29, 2018 DCIA Haspel Presented with the 2018 William J. Donovan Award

On Saturday 20 October, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) Society presented DCIA Haspel with the William J. Donovan Award in recognition of her service to the United States of America. The purpose of the award is to recognize someone who has exemplified the distinguishing features that characterized General Donovan’s lifetime of public service to the United States as a citizen and soldier. Director Haspel is only the second woman and ninth CIA Director to be bestowed with this honor.

In its introduction of Director Haspel, the OSS Society showed a film that honored the impact and influence of women in the OSS, who paved the way for Director Haspel to lead the CIA. In her acceptance speech, the Director highlighted the achievements of America’s intelligence officers, including US efforts in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and the operation to track down Usama bin Ladin. In accepting the Donovan Award, the Director acknowledged and thanked the men and women of the CIA who came before her and those who serve today.

To learn more about the OSS, click here.

Oct 11, 2018 National Disability Employment Awareness Month at CIA

At Director Gina Haspel’s first public address on 24 September, she highlighted diversity and inclusion as one of her top priorities. In line with that priority, CIA leadership is working to raise awareness of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).

CIA is hosting keynote speakers and holding weekly panels in October, focusing on topics such as blind/low vision, deaf/hard of hearing, physical/mobility challenges, and hidden disabilities. These sessions allow officers to learn about what they can do to make CIA’s culture more inclusive. Each session consists of Agency officers telling their unique stories, sharing their accomplishments, and discussing what they wish everyone knew about their challenges.

While NDEAM may only last for one month, CIA is working hard to increase awareness and making our online tools more accessible. As part of our recruitment efforts, CIA recently created an Ability Talent Broker position and posted new Personal Assistance Services to ensure CIA applicants with disabilities are given reasonable accommodations during their hiring process.

At CIA, National Disability Employment Awareness Month is an opportunity to continue acknowledging and celebrating the vast contributions of CIA officers with disabilities, promoting cultural understanding, and highlighting disability employment issues.

Oct 03, 2018 CIA Director Gina Haspel's Speech at the University of Louisville

On September 24, 2018, CIA Director Gina Haspel returned to her home state of Kentucky to speak at the University of Louisville, as part of the McConnell Center's Distinguished Speaker Series. Director Haspel shared her perspective on leading the Agency and outlined her six strategic priorities.

A transcript of the Director's speech is available here.


Sep 26, 2018 Mi-17 JAWBREAKER Helicopter Arrives at CIA Headquarters

On September 26, 2001, CIA was “first in” taking the fight to al-Qa’ida following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The JAWBREAKER team – led by Gary Schroen — flew this Mi-17 helicopter for the mission.

The Mi-17 helicopter arrived at CIA Headquarters this month to serve as a symbol of the Agency response.





For more information on the JAWBREAKER mission and CIA’s response in the aftermath of 9/11, see:

Sep 25, 2018 Alyse Nelson visited CIA on Friday, September 21


Alyse Nelson, Co-Founder, President and CEO of Vital Voices Global Partnership, visited CIA on Friday, September 21, for a workforce engagement on leadership. Ms. Nelson shared leadership lessons from women she has worked with around the world and discussed the Vital Voices Leadership Model. She emphasized the importance of having a personal mission statement, leading from a place of empathy, connecting across lines that divide, taking risks, and paying it forward. CIA officers lined up after the session to chat with Ms. Nelson one-on-one. Ms. Nelson also met with members of the Director’s leadership team, the implementation lead for the Diversity in Leadership Study, and representatives from the Diversity and Inclusion Office to discuss the subject of women in leadership.

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