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May 02, 2019 Ask Molly: May 2, 2019

Dear Molly,

Is there really a Starbucks at CIA Headquarters?

~ Frap Fanatic

Dear Frap Fanatic,

Yep, there is a Starbucks at CIA Headquarters! It’s actually one of the busiest Starbucks in the country. We need our caffeine jolt just like everyone else.

The menu is the same as the Starbucks on your local street corner. They even play the same modern music, and we have a comfortable seating area for officers to take a break, hang with a co-worker, or talk shop… as long as the conversations are unclassified of course.

The only big difference between this Starbucks and your regular Starbucks: Baristas don’t take customers’ names. Our officers order their cup of joe incognito.

~ Molly

Apr 26, 2019 CIA Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Becoming the George Bush Center for Intelligence

Today we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the naming of our headquarters: the George Bush Center for Intelligence.

CIA Headquarters was renamed for President George Herbert Walker Bush on April 26, 1999, to honor his unique role in Agency history. President Bush is the only former Director of Central Intelligence to become President of the United States.

Director Haspel, CIA Chief Operating Office Andrew Makridis, and the workforce held a small celebration this morning to mark the anniversary of this historic occasion.

Former Director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet, who presided over the original naming ceremony, returned to deliver remarks.

Apr 19, 2019 DCIA Haspel Visits Auburn University

CIA Director Gina Haspel visited Auburn University in Alabama yesterday, where she delivered remarks and participated in a Q&A moderated by retired Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess, Auburn’s chief operating officer and former DIA director.

“As I look back on my first year as Director,” said Haspel, “I am more in awe of the men and women at CIA than ever before. And I know that Auburn graduates also know a thing or two about serving our country, having made invaluable contributions over the years by signing up for the tough jobs—as warfighters, astronauts, and, of course, as intelligence officers.”

Director Haspel told the Auburn students the story of Mike Spann, an Auburn alumnus, CIA officer, and the first American to die in the line of duty in Afghanistan after 9/11. She also talked about her 34-year career at the Agency, some of her leadership team’s accomplishments over this last year, and her priorities for the future.

Apr 16, 2019 Women in Intel: Maria Gulovich

The Indomitable Woman

“All I knew, I wanted to help those guys in any way I could. I believe in freedom.”

~ Maria Gulovich

Maria, the first woman to be honored with a review of cadets at West Point, receiving the Bronze Star, circa 1946.
Maria Gulovich, a young Slovakian schoolteacher, was only 23-years-old when she began harboring Jews from the Nazis. She joined the underground resistance and began working for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) as a guide and interpreter.

Maria repeatedly risked her life to assist the OSS, including guiding a small group of American and British intelligence officers for nine weeks through the rugged mountains of Slovakia, in a blizzard, while being hunted by Nazis.

Her bravery and her indomitable spirit caught the attention of OSS Director William "Wild Bill" Donovan and future CIA Director Allen Dulles, who helped Maria become a US citizen in 1952. Maria was also the first woman to be honored with a review of cadets at the historic US Military Academy at West Point, where she was awarded the Bronze Star for her heroic service on behalf of the United States.

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Apr 11, 2019 Ask Molly: April 11, 2019

Dear Molly,

Does CIA really have a library? If so, I would like a library card!

~ Bookworm

Dear Bookworm,

We do have a library! But to get a library card, you’ll need a security clearance. That’s because although CIA Library might look like any other modern public library, resting alongside the periodicals and stacks of books on history, international affairs, and science you’ll find volumes most Americans will never see. The literature of secrets.

But our collection is mainly unclassified, and we have approximately 100,000 print materials and access to over 200 online databases that include more than 90,000 full-text electronic periodicals, dissertations, photographs, and public records.

Whew, that’s a lot of information!

We also have materials like maps, language resources, and movies. (Yep, we even have a DVD collection that includes spy movies and documentaries).

We also have a few more “interesting” collections you won’t find at your neighborhood library.

The Whaley Denial and Deception Collection contains materials on magic, lying, and even methods used by catchers and pitchers to communicate during baseball games.

The Historical Intelligence Collection is basically a treasure trove of anything to do with the intelligence profession. We have more than 25,000 books and press clippings in the collection. The oldest item is a book on cryptography bound in vellum and published primarily in Latin in 1606!

With all that information, it should come as no surprise then that we also have full-time librarians who work at CIA. They’re in high demand, and it’s not unusual for them to be recruited by other Agency offices because of their exceptional research abilities and training in information science.

When most people think of CIA and the officers who help keep our country safe, a librarian is probably not what comes to mind. We think some heroes wear cardigans.

~ Molly

Apr 03, 2019 Women in Intel: Elizabeth Sudmeier

From Typist to Ops Officer

“She was a real pistol… The fact that she accomplished so much is incredible given the general antagonism to women functioning as ops officers. This was a general view among male ops officers… Liz certainly paved the way for female ops officers.”

 ~ Friend and colleague of Elizabeth Sudmeier

Elizabeth SudmeierElizabeth Sudmeier was a pioneer in breaking down gender barriers at CIA. As a founding member of the Agency, Elizabeth, like many women at that time, began her career as a typist. Yet, despite the resistance of Agency senior managers and supervisors, Elizabeth did what few women were able to do.

Elizabeth worked as a field operations officer, serving overseas in places like the Middle East and South Asia for almost nine years, and helped usher in a new era of woman’s equality at the Agency.

Because of her historic contributions, Elizabeth was selected as one of the 2013 CIA Trailblazers, those “whose leadership, achievements, and dedication to mission had a significant and lasting impact on the Agency's history.”

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Apr 01, 2019 The Art of Simple Sabotage

The rascally spies of OSS knew a thing or two about mischief making, especially when it came to undermining America’s enemies in World War II. One of their more imaginative ideas was to train everyday citizens in the art of simple sabotage.

Thus, the “Simple Sabotage Field Manual” was born: [PDF 2.5 MB].

This previously classified booklet describes ways to train normal people to be purposely annoying telephone operators, dysfunctional train conductors, befuddling middle managers, blundering factory workers, unruly movie theater patrons, and so on.  

In other words, teaching people to do their jobs badly.

OSS Director William “Wild Bill” Donovan had select parts of the manual declassified and disseminated to citizens of enemy states through pamphlets, targeted radio broadcasts, and in person.

While the guidebook does contain ideas for serious, hardcore sabotage you’d expect during wartime, there are many timeless (and dare we say all-too-familiar) tactics that could drive even the most sane person batty.

Here’s a list of five particularly timeless tips from the “Simple Sabotage Field Manual”:

  1. Telephone: At the office, hotel, or local telephone switchboards, delay putting calls through, give out wrong numbers, cut people off “accidentally,” or forget to disconnect them so that the line cannot be used again.
  2. Movie Theater Patrons: To ruin everyone’s time at the movies (without a cell phone, that is) bring in a paper bag filled with two or three dozen large moths. Open the bag and set it in an empty section of the theater. “The moths will fly out and climb into the projector beam, so that the film will be obscured by fluttering shadows.”
  3. Managers and Supervisors: To lower morale and production,  think of the worst boss you’ve had and act like that. Be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions. Discriminate against efficient workers; complain unjustly about their work. When possible, refer all matters to committees for "further study and consideration." Attempt to make the committees as large and bureaucratic as possible.
  4. Employees: Be forgetful. Clumsy. Work slowly. Think of ways to increase the number of movements needed to do your job: use a light hammer instead of a heavy one; try to make a small wrench do instead of a big one.
  5. Transportation: Make train or air travel as inconvenient as possible. One particularly effective trick: issue two tickets for the same seat on a train in order to set up an “interesting” argument.
Mar 26, 2019 Women in Intel: Betty Ann Lussier

The Intrepid Woman

“After months of interviewing, conniving, scheming, here I was on the threshold of departure for the war. Was I frightened? After my hazardous childhood on the farm, dealing with runaway mule teams, overturned wagons, raging bulls, and machinery that collapsed on top of my body, no, I was not frightened, but yes, I was curious, elated, and open to a new adventure.”

~ Betty Ann Lussier from her autobiography, “Intrepid Woman: Betty Ann Lussier’s Secret War, 1942-1945”

Betty Ann Lussier was a fiercely independent, hard working, adventurous woman with a craving for excitement and a compassion for humanitarian issues. She grew up on a dairy farm and learned to fly a plane at the young age of 16. When she was 20, she boarded a ship to England to fight the Nazis. She became a successful counterintelligence agent with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and married one of the wealthiest men in Spain. She socialized with Ernest Hemingway and Ava Gardner and later worked for the United Nations. She also authored several books.

Betty personified the ideal OSS agent. She was strong-willed, intelligent, self-motivated, brave, dedicated, and driven.

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Mar 25, 2019 Michael Collins at CSIS

CIA Headlines Schieffer Panel on “China’s Rise” at CSIS

On Wednesday, March 20th, Deputy Assistant Director of CIA for the East Asia and Pacific Mission Center, Michael Collins, participated in a panel discussion on the rise of China, moderated by former CBS’ Face the Nation anchor Bob Schieffer at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC.

Collins, and fellow panelists, held a robust conversation on a broad range of issues impacting US-China relations and the international community, including how China’s domestic governance model has changed under President Xi Jinping’s leadership and how China leverages its economic growth and military strength to influence the international order. Collins was very clear about what the challenge is not. “The challenge is not necessarily coming from China’s rise alone, China’s economy alone, our relationship with China, Chinese people, and certainly [not] the Chinese diaspora around the world. To the contrary, those are all very positive forces for moderation, cooperation, and change, “he said.

Collins was joined on stage by Margaret Brennan, Moderator of “Face the Nation” and CBS News senior foreign correspondent; Victor Cha, CSIS Senior Adviser and Korea Chair; and Christopher K. Johnson, CSIS Senior Adviser and Freeman Chair in China Studies.

Mar 22, 2019 Ask Molly: March 22, 2019

Dear Molly,

How many CIA women have died in the line of duty?

~ Fallen Stars

Dear Fallen Stars,

We have an ivory-white marble wall in our lobby at CIA Headquarters that stands as a silent, simple memorial to honor the women and men who have given their lives in service to our country. Currently, there are 129 stars carved into the marble of the CIA Memorial Wall: 91 are unclassified. Of those, 11 represent women.

Officially, the first female CIA officer to die in the line of duty and receive a star on the Memorial Wall was Barbara Robbins. She was killed only two years after joining the Agency – in March 1965 – when terrorists bombed the US Embassy in South Vietnam. She remains the youngest CIA officer to receive a star, at just 21-years old.

However, what many Agency history buffs don’t know is that the first ever CIA officer to die while working for the Agency was also a woman: her name was Jane Wallis Burrell.

At a time when most women in US intelligence worked in clerical roles, Jane was a CIA counterintelligence officer who served in all of CIA’s predecessor agencies: the Office of Strategic Services, the Strategic Services Unit, and the Central Intelligence Group.

On January 6, 1948, an Air France flight from Brussels crashed on its way to Paris, killing all five crew members and 10 of the 11 passengers. Among the dead was a young woman who the press said was either a clerk or a courier. She was neither. Jane was a CIA officer, and her death—only 110 days after CIA was officially established the previous September—makes her the first CIA officer to die while employed by the Agency.

We know don’t know much about Jane’s activity at the time of her death. She was returning from a trip to Brussels, but there are no records to indicate whether or not she was on vacation or an official operation.

Jane was not a candidate for a star on the Memorial Wall because the wall commemorates Agency employees who died in specific circumstances: deaths from accidental crashes of commercial aircraft have generally not qualified. Still, her service with CIA and its predecessor organizations was honorable and she deserves to be remembered.

When any CIA officer (male or female) dies in the line of duty, their names frequently must be kept secret. Sometimes, the first time that families hear that their loved one worked for the Agency is when that officer has died. However, with the passage of time, we’ve been able to unveil many of the fallen, and share their heroic stories with the public. If you’re interested in reading more about the lives of our fallen officers, see our “Feature Story” section on and look for articles from our “Remembering CIA's Heroes” series.

~ Molly