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Dec 31, 2015 CIA's Top 15 Stories of 2015

Think you know the CIA? Some of these stories might just surprise you...

This year we dove deep into our archives to uncover some of the most unexpected and fascinating aspects of our history. From behind the walls of one of America’s most mysterious sites to a rumored recipe Julia Child cooked up to keep the sharks at bay, this year’s most popular stories on covered a lot of unusual ground. Unsung heroes who lost their lives in service to their country, the true story behind a famous photograph during the Fall of Saigon, dog training tips from one of the best scent-detection programs in the world...we covered it all. So sit back and enjoy the CIA’s 15 most popular stories of 2015. (We can’t wait to show you what we have planned for 2016!)

#15: Top 10 Research Tips for a Great School Year from CIA Librarians

#14: Remembering CIA's Heroes: William F. Buckley

#13: The Enigma of Alan Turing

#12: Cloak and Dagger: The Unexpected Beginnings of CIA

#11: Studies in Intelligence Celebrates 60th Birthday

#10: Julia Child and the OSS Recipe for Shark Repellent

#9: What do James Bond, Downton Abbey, and the CIA have in Common?

#8: Post Office Dedicated To Fallen CIA Operations Officer

#7: Surprise, Kill, Vanish: The Legend of the Jedburghs

#6: Remembering CIA’s Heroes: Jacqueline K. Van Landingham

#5: Area 51, U-2 and the Accidental Test Flight

#4: CIA's Top 10 Dog Training Tips

#3: May Day Over Moscow: The Francis Gary Powers Story

#2: The Last Days in Saigon

#1: OXCART vs Blackbird: Do You Know the Difference?

Dec 22, 2015 If You Want a Friend in Washington...

If you worked at CIA Headquarters during Leon Panetta’s tenure as Director, you almost certainly saw or heard stories about Bravo, Panetta’s loyal Golden Retriever. Bravo came to work with the Director every day and could often be spotted during his walks around the compound. Bravo was such an integral part of Panetta’s life that he was immortalized, along with his owner, in Panetta’s official portrait in the Directors’ Gallery (as well his Secretary of Defense portrait in the Pentagon). Bravo died earlier this month.

As the CIA Director’s dog, Bravo was privy to many secret conversations, including the planning of the 2011 raid on Usama bin Ladin’s compound in Pakistan. 

Staffers described him as a level-headed fixture in the meetings. Bravo was a confidant and loyal companion to the Director, a source of calm amidst the struggles of leadership and a nation at war.

On Panetta’s last day as CIA Director, Bravo reportedly refused to get in the car and had to be cajoled into leaving. His memory will live on in the portrait in CIA Headquarters, and in the officers who had the pleasure of meeting him.

Sep 29, 2015 The OSS Architect Who Designed the UN Logo

Oliver Lincoln Lundquist, a talented architect and industrial designer, worked for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), CIA’s predecessor, during World War II and led the team that designed the official United Nations emblem.

UN prototype emblem
In 1945, the US State Department asked the OSS to help create graphics for the UN Conference on International Organization in San Francisco, where the UN Charter was drafted. Lundquist’s team set out to create a lapel pin for the delegates that could serve as their official form of identification. It was initially designed by another OSS officer, Donal McLaughlin, who worked for Lundquist as the director of graphics for the conference. This became the prototype for the UN logo you see today.

Current UN emblem
The design consisted of a top-down view of the globe, centered on North America and showing all of the continents except Antarctica, with two olive branches on either side to symbolize peace. The design was in shades of blue, a purposeful choice to contrast with red, a color traditionally associated with war.

The final emblem chosen by the UN was a slightly modified version of this design.

After his OSS service, Lundquist joined a private practice as an architect, working on hospitals, schools, private residences, and even the former Kodak Building in Manhattan. In 2008, Lundquist passed away at the age of 92.

The UN logo isn’t the only design of Lundquist’s around today. He also created one of the most recognizable product packages still found on store shelves: the blue-and-white Q-Tip box.

Want to learn more?

A fascinating history of the UN logo was written by former OSS officer Donal McLaughlin, called: "Origin of the Emblem and other Recollections of the 1945 UN Conference." [PDF 5.19 MB].

This file was provided courtesy of the UN Archives and Records Management Section.

Jul 06, 2015 Director Brennan Participates in Mount Vernon 4th of July Naturalization Ceremony

DCIA Brennan delivering keynote at Mount Vernon naturalization ceremony

CIA Director John Brennan was the keynote speaker at Mount Vernon’s special 4th of July Naturalization Ceremony, where 101 new Americans from 45 different countries took the Oath of Allegiance to become American citizens on our country’s 239th Independence Day.

In his speech, Brennan commented on the diverse backgrounds and cultures from which our newest citizens came from. Several even served as members of our armed forces, putting their lives on the line to protect the rights of all Americans before fully enjoying those rights themselves.

“Today,” said Brennan, “in swearing you in as brand-new Americans, we affirm a central tenet of our democracy: that what matters is not where you come from, or

what you look like, or who your parents are. What matters is your commitment to the principles that define us as Americans—the principles of freedom and equality that have guided this Nation since our founding more than two centuries ago. You all entered these beautiful grounds this morning as foreign nationals. You will leave as Americans.”

Here are several photos and a video from the ceremony and the Independence Day festivities, which included daytime fireworks, military reenactments, and a visit from “General George Washington” himself:

DCIA Brennan shaking hands with new citizens at Mount Vernon 4th of July naturalization ceremony

DCIA Brennan delivering keynote at Mount Vernon naturalization ceremony

Reenactors at Mount Vernon during July 4th celebration and naturalization ceremony

See the full video of Director Brennan's speech below:

Jul 02, 2015 Nathan Hale, American Spy... What His Sacrifice Means on Our Independence Day

CIA Director John O. Brennan remembers Nathan Hale and the sacrifices he made in service to freedom and Independence. His statue stands vigilant guard over the Agency and is a continuing reminder to our employees of the duties and sacrifices of an intelligence officer. See the full video and transcript below.


Full Transcript:

"I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." These are said to be the last words of American hero and patriot Nathan Hale, the first American executed for spying for his country.

DCIA on Camera

I’m John Brennan, Director of CIA and statues of Nathan Hale, like this one here at the headquarters of CIA, stand in Connecticut at Yale University . . .

DCIA off Camera

. . . in Washington DC outside the Justice Department, and at Fort Hale. After graduating from Yale in 1773 and teaching school, Hale was commissioned as a captain in the Continental Army. In 1776, during the Battle of Long Island, Hale bravely volunteered to go behind enemy lines and report on British troop movements, and he would be engaging in an act of spying that was immediately punishable by death. It was a risky mission—he had been given virtually no training. Indeed, Nathan Hale was apprehended by the British on the 21st of September and hanged without trial at 11 a.m. the next morning. These images of Nathan Hale capture his spirit the moment before execution– a 21-year-old man prepared to meet his death for honor and country, hands and feet bound, face resolute and his eyes on the horizon. Following Hale’s gallant attempt, our Nation’s fledgling intelligence effort, overseen by George Washington, would grow in sophistication and contribute to America’s victory. Today, Nathan Hale’s statue stands here at CIA as an enduring reminder of the duties and sacrifices inherent to intelligence work.

DCIA on Camera

Hale's bravery has made him an icon of liberty and patriotism. On this 239th anniversary of American independence, we at CIA pay tribute to him and to all the brave Americans who have served our country, defended our freedoms, and protected our way of life.

Apr 15, 2015 Where Spies Go When They Don't Know

The earthy scent of musty books, men and women talking in hushed voices around large oak tables, librarians scurrying from aisle to aisle carrying tomes both old and new… As mysterious as this sounds, it is not the CIA Library of today.

The library at CIA Headquarters is a cutting edge research and information hub. Upon first glance, it looks like many other modern public libraries. Except here, among the periodicals and stacks of books on history, politics, and science, you will find volumes most Americans will never see. That’s because the Agency’s library is also home to the literature of secrets.

Founded in 1947, the CIA Library is a valuable resource to Agency employees. Although most of the books are unclassified and can be found at many community libraries and bookstores, the library includes many materials that are classified. That, and the library’s location at CIA Headquarters, restrict its use to cleared personnel.

The Library provides all-source reference and research services to the Agency by leveraging access to more than 200 domestic and foreign online databases that together include over 90,000 full-text electronic periodicals, dissertations, photographs, biographical resources, and public records.

The Library's print collection includes journals, newspapers, and approximately 100,000 books. Together, these resources cover the fields of international affairs and political science, business and economics, science and technology, and topics of general and scholarly interest. The Library houses special collections on topics such as denial and deception. The Library also participates in interlibrary loans of circulating items with other government and public libraries.

Unique to the CIA Library is the Historical Intelligence Collection (HIC), which is primarily an open-source library dedicated to the collection, retention, and exploitation of material dealing with the intelligence profession. Currently, there are more than 25,000 books and extensive press clippings in the collection.

The oldest item in the HIC is a book on cryptography bound in vellum and published primarily in Latin in 1606. More recently, the Revolutionary War holdings, in particular those on Nathan Hale and Major John André, are extensive and provide a view of basic intelligence operations when good instincts rather than training were the only prerequisites.


To learn more about the CIA Library's HIC, see below:

Mar 13, 2015 Director Brennan Speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations- Watch Full Video

Director John O. Brennan spoke at the Council on Foreign Relations on March 13, 2015 at 1:00 pm EST. See the full video below.