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Nov 20, 2019 Ask Molly: November 20, 2019

Dear Molly,

I’ve been closely following the news out in California, and the devastation caused by wildfires that continue to burn. Though we don’t live in the area, it got me wondering if my family is prepared to handle a natural disaster like that. What can I do? #AskMollyHale

~Not Your Average Prepper

Dear Not Your Average Prepper,

Great question! Unfortunately, many people don’t think about these types of things until disaster strikes. It’s great that you’re thinking about emergency preparedness now.

CIA Officer with a Go-Bag
At CIA, we spend a lot of time discussing emergency preparedness and planning with our officers, who often find themselves working in all kinds of remote—and sometimes dangerous—places around the world. Often villages, towns or even cities are ill-equipped to handle major emergencies. What those emergencies might look like (hurricanes, earthquakes, civil unrest, violent uprisings or wildfires, etc.) can be hard to predict, but a well thought-out emergency plan, paired with regular drills and the right equipment, can put you in a better position to weather the storm, whatever form it takes.

I asked our Office of Security for tips on developing an emergency action plan, and they had lots of suggestions. They also recommended that everyone learn how to create a “go-bag.” (A go-bag has important items that you may need during an emergency) Hopefully you’ll find these tips useful for you and your family.

Tips for Developing an Emergency Action Plan

An emergency action plan is, simply put, the plan of action for you and your family if a crisis arises. It’s important to discuss (and write down) your plan so you and your family know exactly what to do during an emergency. Remember: Planning shouldn’t be done in isolation. Every member of your family should be included and actively contribute. Here are a few things you should consider discussing when creating your emergency plan:

  • Be aware: What sort of natural disasters are frequent to your area? How might they affect your access to resources, roads or general infrastructure? Does your area have an emergency alert system? Do you know how you might be able to access it? These types of questions can help you shape your family’s planning meeting.
  • Establish a communication plan: The odds of you and your family being in the same location during an emergency are slim, so planning for communications is critical. Who is the primary point of contact for the family? What about a secondary point of contact, if your primary point of contact can’t be reached? What should you do if you don’t have a cell phone or if it isn’t working? Larger families should establish a ‘phone tree’ system in which each person is responsible for establishing contact with a particular person or set of persons.
  • Identify meeting points (primary/secondary/tertiary): If you and your family aren’t able to make contact with one another it’s important that everyone knows the location of designated meeting points. Meeting points should be familiar places around town where you and your family can plan to meet if an emergency were to occur while you were separated. It is best to pick locations that are familiar to your family, such as your home or that of a relative. Other options can include schools or local civic buildings. Be sure to have a few back-up locations just in case you can’t reach the first one. For instance, if the primary location is home but the roads are blocked, everyone should know to make their way to a secondary location, like a school or a grandparent’s house.
  • Consider the specific needs of your household: You can easily find an off-the-shelf emergency action plan on the Internet, but is it going to address the needs of your family in your specific area? Probably not. An emergency action plan should take into account precautions that are unique to you and your family. Perhaps you have a family member in a wheelchair; if so, your designated meeting points should take handicap accessibility into consideration. Do you have pets? Make sure you have food/water, vaccination records, proof of ownership and even a photo of your pet, in case you get separated. Check out the website for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for more information on how to prepare your pets for an emergency.
  • Plan evacuation routes: An emergency could require that you and your family quickly evacuate the area. If so, you need to be aware of all possible evacuation routes, without relying on GPS. Try to memorize these routes. That way you can evacuate an area safely and quickly—even if some roads are blocked and communication networks aren’t working.
  • Practice, practice, practice: An emergency plan is no good if it sits in the kitchen drawer unread and unused. It is important to commit the plan to memory. Our security officers encourage all of us at CIA to not only plan for emergencies, but also to practice them, both at home and at work. When practicing, throw in some curveballs that require you and your family to fall back on secondary plans or even completely unplanned options.

Building the Perfect Go-Bag

Emergency Kit Go-Bag on CIA Seal
According to FEMA, people should be prepared to take care of themselves and family members for up to 72 hours, or three days, following a disaster. To do this effectively you should collect and consolidate the appropriate materials at a well-known location in your home, work or vehicle ahead of time. We recommend consolidating the items into what we call a “go-bag,” so named because it is a tool that is intended for use in ‘on-the-go’ situations, such as a hasty evacuation.

As some of our officers can attest, multiple go-bags scattered throughout the house, vehicles and your workplace might be the best solution. You never know where you’ll be when disaster strikes and having a go-bag within arm’s reach can mean the difference between life and death.

Contents of your go-bag should (at a minimum) include:

  • 1 gallon of water per day (or purification tablets)
  • Spoil-free food (i.e. protein bars)
  • First aid kit (with any prescription medications needed)
  • Light source (flashlight, glow sticks, etc.)
  • Spare batteries- (replenish them regularly)
  • Disaster plan with contact numbers, map and evacuation routes
  • Copies of passports and other critical documents
  • Warm blanket and several space blankets
  • Change of clothes with sturdy shoes
  • Hygiene supplies
  • Multi-tool (i.e., one that includes tools like a knife, screw driver and tweezers)
  • Cash and traveler’s checks
  • Matches or other fire starter in a waterproof case
  • Waterproof storage
  • Paper and pencil
  • Cell phone with emergency contact numbers and charger
  • Portable power bank for cell phones
  • Emergency repair kit (parachute cord, duct tape, safety pins)

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but should serve as a reference as you build a more personalized list based on your needs and those of your family, as well as the specific threats or challenges you are likely to face in your part of the world. If, for instance, you live along the coastline, you may want to put more time/effort into waterproofing your go bag and its contents. Those living or staying in areas of earthquake activity should consider including temporary shelters and focusing on communications, as cellular towers could be impacted.

Hopefully these tips are helpful!

Stay safe,

~ Molly

Oct 01, 2019 CIA’s Response to 9/11: A Panel Discussion at the 9/11 Museum

Last Thursday, September 26th, we joined forces with the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City to host a panel discussion about the events following September 11th, 2001.

The panel, “Essential Intelligence: The CIA’s Response to 9/11,” was moderated by former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell. The panel featured former Acting Director John McLaughlin and former Senior Paramilitary Officer Phil Reilly, who was a member of the first team to touch down in Afghanistan, 15 days after the attacks.

“Memories of that day are vivid and many,” John began when asked about his recollections from the day. He was in a meeting on the 7th floor of CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, when he found out that America was under attack. “I remember writing on a piece of paper ‘nothing is ever going to be the same.’

Phil was sitting in language training on September 11th, preparing for his next overseas assignment. “My first reaction was shock and anger, and maybe even a little bit of rage,” he said, recalling his emotions from the day.

Mi17 91101.jpg
The Russian-made Mi-17 helicopter was CIA’s workhorse for transporting personnel, equipment, and supplies into, across, and out of Afghanistan. Two days later, the CIA flight mechanic repainted the Mi-17 with a new tail number – 91101.
The three CIA alumni discussed the impact of 9/11 on the world of intelligence, from hardening the elements of homeland security that would prevent another attack, to the creation of elements like CIA’s Red Cell that would enable the intelligence community to think creatively about vulnerabilities and threats.

Phil discussed his experiences as the Deputy Chief of Operation JAWBREAKER, a team of CIA officers that were the first Americans on the ground in Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The three panelists heralded the unprecedented collaboration that came in response to 9/11, both internally between the military and Intelligence Community and externally with international allies.

“Today," John said, "one of the incredible capabilities the US has is the ability to marry up civilian produced intelligence with military powers in a way that I don’t think we could have done pre-9/11.”

You can watch the entire panel discussion here.

Jul 19, 2019 CIA Hosts Washington Intern Forum

CIA Museum Director, Rob, discusses the history of CIA from its origins as the OSS.
Last Tuesday, we hosted a group of nearly 200 student interns at our Headquarters in Langley, Virginia for a number of briefings and discussions on Agency history and culture. Occasionally, we invite student groups to learn more about our mission and people. On those visits, most walk through the doors of CIA expecting a gallery of space-age weaponry and cool cars. We hate to disappoint, but want to set the record straight. By inviting student groups, we get the chance to “lift the curtain,” so to speak, and show them what work at Langley actually looks like.

Tuesday’s group came to CIA from a handful of Washington-based entities. Many of these students are considering careers in intelligence or international affairs, and came to the Agency to learn more about our career and internship opportunities. Our goal was to create a program that touched on all of these topics: CIA history, work, mission, and culture.

We kicked off the day with a presentation from the Director of CIA Museum, Rob, who began his presentation with a quick question: “How many agents do you think work here at CIA?” After a brief pause, a few responses rang out from the group. “Four thousand,” said one intern sitting in the front of the auditorium. “Ten thousand!” another shouted from the back. The answer: zero. “CIA employees are called officers,” Rob explained with a laugh.

Rob continued with a brief history of CIA, from the WWII-era Office of Strategic Services, our predecessor, to the modern day CIA and everything in between. He spoke about the need for intelligence and major technical achievements, like the U2 and CORONA satellite programs that dramatically improved our ability to collect information.

Next, we transitioned to a panel discussion with representatives from each of CIA’s five directorates: Analysis, Operations, Support, Science and Technology, and Digital Innovation. The interns asked a range of questions, which spanned from interest in the panelist’s career progression to how the officers manage to balance their personal and work lives, given the classified nature of the work at CIA. When asked about their motivations to work at CIA, the panelists all responded to the same call: mission. “I’m not here because it’s going to make me a lot of money,” one panelist said. “I’m here because I cherish the opportunity to serve and protect the United States.”

Interns rounded out their day with a presentation on creativity from CIA Creative Thinking Facilitator Jacob. His presentation, which he also delivered at the South by Southwest (SXSW) film, media, and music festival earlier this year, highlighted strategies and tools our analysts use to reframe their key intelligence questions and encourage creative and divergent thinking.

CIA is always on the lookout for opportunities to give students a peek into the halls of Langley, and to demystify our mission. Are you interested in learning more about internships with CIA? Check out our student opportunities page!

Jul 12, 2019 Girls Who Code Founder Reshma Saujani Visits CIA, Meets Program Alumna

Girls Who Code Founder Reshma Saujani Visits CIA

As a young girl, Reshma Saujani’s father read her stories about leaders who changed the world: Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr., and others. While she wasn’t sure exactly what she wanted to do, she was sure of one thing – she wanted to make her mark.

Reshma did just that as the Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, a nonprofit that aims to close the gender gap in technology. CIA recently hosted her for a speaking event and to meet with officers. She shared her perspective on how to empower women of all ages to be courageous and to shift from a culture of perfection to one of risk acceptance.

Reflecting on her personal and professional path to Girls Who Code and other successes, Reshma discussed how she overcame obstacles, including law school debt and a ten-year finance career that left her feeling unfulfilled.

She shared the story of how a call from her friend gave her the courage to make a bold move. “Your best friend always seems to call when you’re at your lowest,” Reshma said. She quit her job and turned to politics, where she had little luck in two New York Congressional races taking on incumbents. Though her campaigns were unsuccessful, they gave her the initial idea for Girls Who Code. When she visited local schools, she noticed a stark gender imbalance in computer science classrooms.

 “When we think about the image of a programmer,” Reshma said, “what do we see? A guy in a basement drinking a Red Bull and singularly focused on his screen.” She was concerned that young women were getting the message that they did not belong in the tech world.

Girls Who Code now reaches millions across the globe in schools, community centers, homeless shelters, and churches.

“We raise our boys to be risk-takers, but our women in bubble wrap,” Reshma said, explaining that parents exercise an unconscious bias when raising children, one that is deeply ingrained in our culture. Parents are “hard-wired to toughen-up boys and insulate girls,” she said.

These fundamental differences in how we raise men and women, Reshma explained, can have broader implications as women reach adulthood. By conditioning women to be risk-averse, we’re in effect raising them to be perfect, she continued, calling for a cultural shift she coins a “Bravery Revolution.”

“It starts with the small things,” she said. “When you start finding courage in the everyday, you can prepare for the big events.” For example, she challenged the audience to accept having an occasional typo in an email – to be brave, not perfect.

When asked what men can do to contribute to ongoing issues of gender inequality, Reshma said there have never been stronger male allies, noting that more than 40 percent of Girls Who Code instructors are male. “Our men won’t accept a world where their daughters can’t be anything they want to be,” she said.

Reshma concluded, “Coding is a metaphor for bravery. [These girls] learned to code and can stand up to anything.” After the discussion, several people from the audience stayed behind to meet Reshma, including an employee—and former Girls Who Code participant—who was inspired by that experience to go into a technical field that led her to CIA.

Jul 10, 2019 Ask Molly: July 10, 2019

Dear Molly,

What are your thoughts on cybersecurity? How can I better protect myself and my family in this ever-growing world of hacks and data leaks? #AskMollyHale

~Internaut I Am Not

Dear Internaut I Am Not,

I asked our CIA cybersecurity experts for advice, and they highly recommended a unique resource from our colleagues at the Department of Homeland Security called Stop.Think.Connect.

Stop.Think.Connect - USA

Stop.Think.Connect - Global

The Stop.Think.Connect. campaign is an unprecedented public-private partnership between federal and state governments, law enforcement, industry, and non-profit organizations to increase the understanding of cyber threats and empower Americans and all digital citizens to be safer and more secure online.

Pretty cool, right?

The campaign is led by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (part of the US Department of Homeland Security), the National Cyber Security Alliance (a nonprofit that empowers people to use the Internet safely & securely), and the Anti-Phishing Working Group (the world's largest independent counter eCrime association).

The idea behind Stop.Think.Connect is that Internet safety is a shared responsibility—at home, in the workplace, and in our communities. The Campaign provides access to tons of resources, tips sheets, and research, giving you the tools you need to make more informed decisions when using the Internet.

At the DHS site, there are toolkits loaded with info specifically for groups like students, parents, teachers, older Americans, government organizations (like us!), small businesses, corporations, and law enforcement.

On the Global site, in addition to dozens of tips and resources, there is a blog, research section, sharable memes, and several resources in foreign languages too.

Stop.Think.Connect is a fantastic resource available for free to anyone in the world, and I highly encourage you to explore it.

Stay safe out there, Netizens…

~ Molly

P.S. If you have questions specifically about online dating, check out my column from February: Plenty of Phish.

Jun 17, 2019 CIA's Andrew Hallman Discusses Digital Futures at FedTalks 2019

On Wednesday June 5th, Deputy Director of the CIA for Digital Innovation, Andrew Hallman, joined other public and private sector tech leaders at FedScoop’s ninth annual FedTalks to discuss a number of hot topics in the world of digital futures. In the conversation, Andrew covered the need for agile adaption of intelligence tradecraft to compete more effectively in an increasingly complex threat landscape, intersection of innovation and security, and CIA’s commitment to strengthening its digital acumen.

Andrew also discussed the role of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in enabling higher order human cognition and intelligence tradecraft. He noted the role of these tools as “enabling the human mind” to help officers focus on their highest value activities. From the automation of routine tasks to the rapid exploitation of data, pattern recognition, and predictive analytics, these tools, he noted, are intended “to allow officers to do what they do best in their intelligence tradecraft.”

When asked how CIA manages to promote innovation within the top secret world of national security, Andrew admitted that “historically, the Agency, like most other government organizations, has viewed security as an obstacle to the assimilation of advanced technology.” Andrew highlighted that, in fact, “security and innovation are inextricably linked” and that our counterintelligence and security officers are “indispensable partners to our collective intelligence tradecraft.”

Watch the full video above to learn more about how CIA stays on the cutting edge of technological innovation, and how we adapt to an ever-changing global threat landscape.

Jun 13, 2019 Ask Molly: June 13, 2019

Dear Molly,

I’m taking my family on a road trip to DC this summer. I’m a huge spy buff and would like to visit the Langley campus while we’re there. Do you give tours of the CIA Headquarters? Is the CIA Museum open to the public? #AskMollyHale

~ DCRoadTripper

Dear DCRoadTripper,

We get this question a lot during the summer. Unfortunately, the CIA Museum and our CIA Headquarters compound are not open to the public, so you can’t come here in person. However, our nation’s capital is a great place to visit. It’s filled with historic sights to see, and the Smithsonian museums along the National Mall are some of the best museums in the world. (Bonus: they’re free and open to the public every day!)

For a more intel-related tour, you can also visit two museums that are run by our colleagues at FBI and NSA:

  • If you contact your local congressional representative, you can look at arranging a tour at FBI Headquarters of their exhibit, The FBI Experience, which features interactive multimedia exhibits, content, and artifacts that help illustrate the importance of the FBI’s work to protect the nation.
  • The NSA also has its very own National Cryptologic Museum, which is located across from NSA Headquarters and is open to the public. Their museum houses thousands of artifacts that provide an inside look at some of the most dramatic moments in the history of American cryptology.

As for CIA, although you may not be able to visit our museum in person, we do have the next best thing: We have opened our virtual doors to you!

Our website has an online tour of CIA’s Headquarters. You get to take a sneak peek inside the CIA and see sights such as our Memorial Wall, “the Bubble,” Kryptos, our Presidents and Directors galleries, and much more.

If you want to go more in-depth, we also have three publications available online that you may be interested in:

    The CIA Museum also has a large part of its unclassified collection online, if you’re interested in exploring relics from our past. It’s like Indiana Jones, except without all the snakes.

    And if you’re looking for something to listen to while on your road trip to DC, you can always check out the Washington Post’s Retropod podcast, where our historians shared the stories behind some of our most interesting artifacts over the course of a recent week:

      Hope you and your family have a great visit to DC this summer!

      Safe travels,

      ~ Molly

      Jun 12, 2019 CIA Visits the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program

      Last week, CIA had the distinct pleasure of visiting the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP) in Anchorage, Alaska, for a few days of training simulations on detecting national security threats.

      Founded in 1995, ANSEP’s objective is to inspire, educate, and propel Alaskan Native students of all ages toward success in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). It pursues this objective through a number of academic and professional programs intended to challenge students and accelerate learning to keep pace with the needs of tomorrow. One of these, the Summer Bridge Program, is geared toward graduating high school seniors as they transition into higher education and career planning. Always on the lookout for bright young minds (particularly in science and technology!), CIA jumped at the opportunity to pay these students a visit.

      ANSEP participants were excited to participate in technical simulations provided by the visiting officers. They worked in small teams with limited resources and under demanding time constraints to identify threats in a fictional small town. The students took on the role of Agency officers, using critical thinking, situational awareness, and decision-making skills to address the simulated national threat – no small feat, but one our officers face on a daily basis.

      On the last day, CIA officers even had the opportunity to join our US Fish and Wildlife colleagues, who trained the students on wilderness safety. This summer, many of these students are headed to STEM internships that will take them into the field, making wilderness safety a top priority. And who knows, maybe in the future we’ll see some of them walking the halls of CIA, tackling some of our nation’s toughest science and engineering challenges.

      Learn more about CIA internship opportunities here.

      Jun 04, 2019 Balancing Transparency and Secrecy in a Digital Age

      On Friday, May 31st, CIA’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Officer, Benjamin Huebner, spoke to a packed crowd at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC about the balance of transparency and secrecy in a digital age, especially within the Intelligence Community (IC).

      Moderated by Brookings Institution Federal Executive Fellow (and former CIA Office of Public Affairs spokesperson) Ryan Trapani, the conversation spanned from discussions on the legal context of privacy and transparency to the intersection of public accountability and secrecy. That balance, said Ben, “makes us better” as an intelligence agency.

      Ben relayed a whole-of-Agency commitment to protecting Americans’ privacy and civil liberties. “It is the role of every single officer to think of these issues,” said Ben. “The moment you become a CIA officer is when you go to our memorial wall and you stand up in front of those 133 stars and swear a constitutional oath to protect and defend the constitution.”

      Learn more about CIA’s commitment to transparency here.

      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 compound: the George Bush Center for Intelligence.

      The CIA Headquarters compound 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.

      Read More

      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.”

      Read More

      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.

      Read More

      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

      Mar 21, 2019 Women in Intel: Virginia Hall

      The Courage and Daring of "The Limping Lady"

      “Miss Hall displayed rare courage, perseverance and ingenuity; her efforts contributed materially to the successful operations of the Resistance Forces in support of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in the liberation of France.”

      ~ President Harry Truman, Citation for Distinguished Service Cross awarded to Virginia Hall, 1945.

      Her life reads like a spy novel. From overcoming the loss of her leg to working clandestinely behind enemy lines for the OSS, she’s a true American hero.

      Who is this brave woman? Some knew her as "Marie Monin," "Germaine," "Diane," "Camille," and even "Nicolas," but we know her as Virginia Hall.

      During WWII, Virginia organized agent networks, assisted escaped prisoners of war, and recruited French men and women to run safe houses—staying one step ahead of the Gestapo, who wanted desperately to apprehend “The Limping Lady.”

      For her courage and ingenuity, she was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross—the only civilian woman to be so honored.

      Virginia then went on to become one of only a handful of senior women in CIA’s clandestine service until her mandatory retirement in 1966 at the age of 60. And she did it all despite having a prosthetic leg, which she named Cuthbert.

      Read More

      Mar 19, 2019 Women in Intel: “Spy Girl” Betty McIntosh

      McIntosh's Morale Operations

      “They taught us how to utilize material tailored for specific targets in the Far East. We had to learn to disseminate the material, a mix of truth and fantasy; we were taught how to get rumors started.”

      ~ Betty McIntosh on her time in OSS’s Morale Operations branch.

      Elizabeth “Betty” McIntosh lived a storied, adventurous life. During WWII, she was one of the few women hired into the OSS Morale Operations (MO) branch, charged with creating rumors that our foreign adversaries would believe. In other words, so-called “black propaganda.”

      Betty helped create false news reports, postcards, documents, and radio messages designed to spread disinformation to undermine Japanese troop morale. In one truly inexplicable incident, she created a script for a popular Chinese fortune teller to read on a radio station secretly run by the Allies that predicted “something awful” was about to happen in Japan. Her team had no inkling something bad was actually going to happen, but later that day, the US dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima.

      When OSS was disbanded, Betty tried on a few different careers but eventually was convinced to return to a life in intelligence at CIA. She worked for the Agency until her retirement in 1973. As the author of several books, including “Sisterhood of Spies,” Betty made sure that the stories of the women of OSS and their daring adventures would never be forgotten.

      Perhaps it’s fitting, then, that Women’s History Month begins each year on March 1st, the birthday of “Spy Girl” Betty McIntosh.

      Read More

      Mar 18, 2019 Ask Molly: March 18, 2019

      Q: Dear Molly,

      What’s the upper age limit for employment at the CIA? Thanks!

      ~ Ageless

      A: Dear Ageless,

      We recently presented at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas and this was the most frequently asked question.

      Some federal agencies do have an upper age limit for employment for certain positions; however, CIA does not. There's no strict age limit for employment; hiring decisions are made based on a review of the whole person.

      You can join the CIA right out of high school, since 18 is the minimum age for employment here, but most of our positions require at least a bachelor’s degree. We have several year-round opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.

      Our primary requirements for employment are that you must be a US citizen and a high school graduate. As stated earlier, most occupations require an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university. Military experience is highly valued, as are advanced degrees, and life experiences are always taken into consideration. Integrity, character, and patriotism are a must. Fluency in a foreign language is a plus.

      Our personnel requirements change from month-to-month as positions are filled and others become available, so if you don’t see the right job for you now, check back again soon.

      Good luck!

      ~ Molly

      Mar 15, 2019 Women in Intel: Marion Frieswyk

      The First Female Intelligence Cartographer

      Marion Frieswyk embodies the diligence, determination, and innovative spirit that we value at CIA. Looking back over her career, Marion was a true pioneer.

      She was the first woman in the Map Division’s Cartography Section, helped to develop a unique system of map production, and produced customized maps and 3D topographic models during WWII.

      After OSS dissolved in 1945, she remained as part of the core group of cartographers who stayed with the unit, working in CIA’s Cartography Division until 1958.

      Marion recognized early on that geography is deeply relevant to intelligence work, enhancing the Agency’s ability to visualize and tell stories that resonate with those we serve.

      Her passion and spirit represent timeless qualities that define the Cartography Center to this day.

      Read More

      Mar 13, 2019 CIA’s Secrets to Creative Problem Solving at the SXSW Conference and Festivals

      What do a wombat, wolf, wood duck, and otter have in common?

      SXSW hero image

      They each represent some of the creativity techniques and tools presented by our creative thinking instructors, Jacob and Nyssa, at South by Southwest (SXSW) on March 8 in Austin, Texas.

      Problem-solving requires two types of thinking?

      Yes! All problem-solving requires two types of thinking: divergent and convergent. Under the constraints of stress, deadlines, or routine thinking, our natural tendency is to rely on the latter and creativity becomes a luxury. Jacob and Nyssa introduced the concept of divergent thinking, and provided real-world examples and exercises that anyone can use to strengthen their own creative problem-solving.

      SXSW stage image

      Hint, think WoMBAT: “What Might Be All The…” and reframe the problem by asking questions that make your brain think of all the possibilities, not just right and wrong answers.

      CIA Creative Thinking InstructorsClick here to listen to a recording of CIA’s live presentation at SXSW or download the full presentation.

      Do you have a story on creative problem-solving that you would like to share with CIA? You can tweet us @CIA using #CIAWombat.

      Mar 12, 2019 Women in Intel: Captain Czech

      The Derring-Do of Stephanie Czech Rader

      “[The OSS] gave me a gun, but I never carried a gun. I thought, ‘What the heck was I gonna do with a dumb gun?'” Stephanie’s most valuable weapon: her wits.

      There are relatively few centenarians buried at Arlington National Cemetery, even fewer who are female, and only a mere fraction of those who served as intelligence officers.

      Captain Czech was a woman ahead of her time.

      Not only did she go to college, but she eventually earned a master’s degree – in chemistry.

      She caught the attention of the OSS, which sent her on an undercover mission to Warsaw at a time when women were restricted from working in a military or intelligence capacity in Poland.

      Stephanie narrowly evaded capture by the Russians and still successfully completed her mission.

      It wasn’t until decades later that the details of her amazing story were declassified.

      Read More

      Mar 07, 2019 Ask Molly: March 7, 2019

      Q: Dear Ms. Hale,

      As a little girl, I dreamed of being in the CIA but never thought it was actually possible. What advice do you have for youth who would like to learn more about serving their country? Thank you!

      ~ Seeking to Serve

      A: Dear Seeking to Serve,

      It always makes me smile when I get letters from young people throughout the United States who have a passion for public service. There are tons of different ways you can serve your country – like the military, community service, law enforcement, paramedics, education, infrastructure, and social services, among others – and of course, coming to work for us!

      I know it sounds generic, but to work at the CIA, there’s no “right” college major, background, or even skillset. We’re a very diverse workplace, both in terms of the types of jobs we staff as well as the people we hire.

      The best advice I can give is to do well in what you’re interested in: whether that be science, computers, history, law, medicine, art, literature, mechanics, or something else, and get good grades in school. Most careers here require at least a college degree.

      Other than that, learn as much as you can about the Agency and the different types of jobs we have. Go to career fairs, talk with Agency recruiters and former officers if you get the opportunity, ask a lot of questions, and do a lot of research.

      A good place to start learning about the Agency is There’s lots of great information hidden in the nooks and crannies of our site. Poke around and see what you can find.

      Of course, the careers section is a must-visit for anyone interested in working here. (We have an entire area dedicated to student opportunities, which has a lot of great information). I’d also recommend checking out our “Day in the Life” series. Agency employees, and even some student interns, share their experiences and usually provide some good advice. Here’s a few to get your started:

      Hopefully that’s helpful! Whatever you decide to do, I think it’s wonderful you want to serve your country. I wish you luck in all your future endeavors.

      ~ Molly

      Feb 28, 2019 Ask Molly: February 28, 2019

      Dear Molly,

      Is Any movie about the CIA in anyway accurate or true? Even a little bit. #AskMollyHale

      ~ Film Buff 007

      Dear Film Buff 007,

      All Hollywood films and television shows, of course, take liberties when they portray the CIA, CIA officers, or intelligence work. I can’t really generalize and say “this film is accurate,” and “that film is total bunk.” They all probably contain some elements of truth and some of fiction.

      Instead, I’d highly encourage you to explore our #ReelvsRealCIA series, which seeks to demystify the CIA’s mission by comparing what’s portrayed in Hollywood to what happens in reality. We’ve reviewed several Hollywood productions, both on our website and on social media. (You may have seen our recent Black Panther tweets during the Oscars or our Argo tweets from a few years ago).

      Here are some links to get you started:

      Lastly, an insider tip: If there’s one Hollywood habit that drives everyone who works for the Agency bonkers, it’s calling us agents. It might seem silly, but in the real-world lexicon of spies there’s a huge difference between the two: Americans who work for the CIA are called “officers,” while foreigners who provide information or intelligence to the CIA (the actual “spies”) are called “agents.”

      Thanks for the great question!

      ~ Molly

      Feb 22, 2019 Ask Molly: February 22, 2019

      @CIA #AskMollyHale What’s your favorite thing about working for the CIA?

      Dear @MaceTheSpaceDog,

      Driving an Aston Martin, of course. Just kidding!

      The best thing about working for the CIA is being part of an important mission bigger than yourself, working alongside dedicated and humble Americans who are passionate about protecting our country. You’re part of a team, a family, even if your role is a less traditional one, like “Molly Hale.”

      The people who work at the Agency come from a range of backgrounds, and we have almost every job imaginable here. In addition to the jobs you may think of when CIA comes to mind, such as analysts and operations officers, we also have accountants, mediators, doctors, photographers, and even hairdressers. (Yes, even hairdressers! We have disguise artists who must create elaborate and believable disguises for our operations officers overseas, so we employ people who are seamstresses, hairdressers, and makeup artists. Pretty cool, huh?)

      That’s one thing about working at CIA that many people don’t realize: Once you become a CIA officer, the opportunities are endless.

      ~ Molly

      Feb 19, 2019 To Catch a Spy: 25th Anniversary of the Aldrich Ames Arrest

      Aldrich Ames was one of the most damaging moles in CIA history. He compromised numerous CIA assets in the Soviet Union, some of whom were executed.

      Twenty-five years ago this week, Ames was arrested because of the work of a small team of CIA officers led by a quiet, unassuming gray-haired woman named Jeanne Vertefeuille.

      The Spy Hunters:

      Jeanne Vertefeuille is a far cry from the spy hunters portrayed in movies, but appearances can be deceiving.

      She started at CIA as a typist in 1954, and as professional opportunities for female officers became more numerous, she got assignments at various posts overseas. She learned Russian and finally found her niche in counterintelligence.

      In the spring of 1985, after an alarming number of Agency assets run against the Soviet Union disappeared in rapid succession, Jeanne was asked to lead a five-person investigative team to figure out what or who was behind the disappearances.

      The task was a long and exhaustive one, complicated by the fact that many in the CIA did not believe there was a traitor in their midst. Among the other explanations floated was the idea that outsiders were intercepting CIA communications.

      An extensive search ultimately yielded the answer: Ames, who was initially working in the Agency’s Soviet counterintelligence division, began spying for the USSR in 1985.

      Ames’ position gave him the perfect cover because he was authorized to meet with Soviet officers for official purposes. It was his extravagant lifestyle, however, that brought him under the task force’s suspicion in November 1989.

      The Breakthrough:

      The big breakthrough came in August 1992, when Jeanne’s colleague, Sandy Grimes, discovered Ames made large bank-account deposits after every meeting with a particular Soviet official.

      The FBI took over the investigation and used surveillance, as well as evidence discovered in Ames’ house and on his home computer, to build the case. He was arrested outside his home on February 21, 1994.

      During his nine years of spying, Ames received payments from the Soviet KGB that totaled $2.5 million. The KGB kept another $2.1 million earmarked for Ames in a Moscow bank. Ames is the highest paid spy in American history.

      On April 28, 1994, Ames plead guilty and is now serving a life sentence without parole in a federal prison.

      Feb 14, 2019 Ask Molly: February 14, 2019

      Dear Molly,

      I met someone on an online dating site who says he’s a CIA officer, but I don’t know if he’s telling me the truth. The more we talked the more things didn’t match up. He said that because he works for the CIA, I had to do a background check or else he couldn’t keep talking to me. How do I know this person is really in the CIA, and if this email is legitimate? Is it safe to submit my personal information?

      ~ Plenty of Phish

      Dear Plenty of Phish (and all you lonely hearts out there),

      It’s almost Valentine’s Day. If you, like many Americans, are looking for love online, be careful. Please DO NOT give your personal information to anyone on a dating site claiming to be a CIA officer. Best case, they have an overblown ego and bad judgment; worst case, it’s a scam designed to steal your financial information. Don’t take the bait. Unfortunately, our security officers have been hearing more frequently about this particular con. It’s a type of “phishing” scam. (For those that don’t know, “phishing” is the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, account numbers, credit card details, and other personally identifying information via electronic communication).

      These con artists go onto dating sites and chat up potential victims, pretending to look for love or a date. He (or she) weaves a sorry tale about being a super-secret CIA officer working on a dangerous mission overseas, and then drops the devastating news: she/he will no longer be able to communicate with you unless you submit to a CIA background investigation. Or he needs to designate you as a beneficiary in case he dies on his super-secret mission. Or some other compelling, but fake, reason why he needs your personal information.

      Don’t fall for it. We may be one of the world’s most secretive and mysterious workplaces, but the CIA will never solicit information from you in this way. If you or anyone you know has been a victim of this scam, or if you come across someone impersonating a CIA officer, please contact your local law enforcement agency or the FBI.

      A word to the wise: If it seems fishy, it’s probably phishing.

      ~ Molly

      Feb 07, 2019 Ask Molly: February 7, 2019

      Dear Molly,

      What are a couple of the biggest differences between the @FBI and the @CIA?

      ~ Who’s Who

      Dear Who’s Who,

      Great question. Lots of people get the CIA and FBI confused.

      The CIA’s mission is to collect foreign intelligence overseas, where as the FBI addresses domestic issues.

      The CIA does not have law enforcement authority and does not collect information concerning the domestic activities of American citizens. (We do, however, have our own federal police force called the Special Protective Services who are responsible for protecting CIA employees and facilities).

      The FBI, on the other hand, is the US government agency that investigates crimes on American soil and against American citizens abroad. The FBI is a law enforcement agency and is responsible for intelligence matters in the United States, especially those directed against US citizens. We do frequently work closely with the FBI, but our roles in keeping America safe are very different.

      Hope that helps clarify things!

      ~ Molly

      Feb 04, 2019 Have a Question About the CIA? Ask Molly!

      Meet Molly Hale. She’s been the CIA’s public voice since 2002, responding to faxes, phone calls, emails, and snail mail sent to the Agency. Now she’s going digital.

      Molly is venturing for the first time into the social media sphere. She’s going to be periodically answering your questions in a new series called: Ask Molly. Check the blog regularly for Q&A columns by Molly, as well as our official social media accounts.

      “Molly Hale,” as you may have guessed, is a pseudonym. Over the years, there have been several different “Mollys,” including a few men! All are real people, who work at the Agency. Some were Molly for only a short time, while others served as Molly for years. It’s a unique role and one that we are excited to introduce to the social media world.

      How to Submit a Question:

      The easiest way to submit a question for Molly is on our official @CIA Twitter and Facebook pages using the hashtag #AskMollyHale.

      You can also send an email to us via our comment form on (upper right hand corner). Just be sure to use our hashtag if you want your question featured.

      A Few Ground Rules:

      As anyone who follows us on Twitter or Facebook knows, we get tons of comments and questions that span the gamut from recruitment to conspiracy theories to history to policy.

      There’s a lot that Molly will be able to answer and she can’t wait to see your questions. Unfortunately, there are also a few things she won’t be able to write about. Here’s what kinds of questions Molly will not respond to:

      • She won’t be answering general recruitment questions (all that information is available on the portal). Nor can she check your application status.
      • She won’t respond to conspiracy theories, trolls, or spam.
      • She cannot comment on FOIA requests. All FOIA inquires will still have to go through the usual FOIA request process, outlined here.
      • This one should be obvious, but… she won’t answer anything classified.

      If we receive several similar questions, we may combine them into a single question for Molly to answer. We may edit and shorten questions for clarity and brevity. We may also pull questions from other sources, such as those asked at recruitment events, during public panel discussions, in the media, and the like.

      Now, to kick off our inaugural Ask Molly column, here’s a quick peek of a common question asked of Molly upon (virtually) meeting her:

      Dear Molly,
      Who are you?
      ~ Pseudōnymos

      Dear Pseudōnymos, Great question. Molly’s not my real name. It’s my persona, and I guess also my informal job title.

      My surname “Hale” is a tribute to Nathan Hale, the first American executed for spying on behalf of our country. You may remember his famous last words, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” We have a life-size statue of him outside our Headquarters building.

      No one remembers exactly why “Molly” was chosen as my first name, other than it’s a common American girl’s name. I wasn’t always “Molly” though. Years before “Molly Hale,” OPA used the name “Grace Sullivan” – inspired by the “GS” level government worker—to respond to public queries.

      Many different “Mollys” have come before me, and I’m honored to be among this long line of distinguished public servants. One thing all of us have in common (besides working for one of the world’s most famous spy agencies, of course!) is our commitment to engaging with you, the American public, and helping you understand your intelligence agency better.

      As for my real name: That’s classified.

      ~ Molly

      Jan 23, 2019 Honoring the Legendary Tony Mendez

      Argo - Rescue of the Canadian Six by Deborah Dismuke
      One of our most legendary Agency officers, Antonio J. “Tony” Mendez, passed away over the weekend after a brave battle with Parkinson’s disease.

      Perhaps best known for masterminding the daring 1980 rescue of six American diplomats from Iran, an operation made famous by the film Argo, Tony will be remembered for his patriotism, ingenuity, and lifelong commitment to our Agency’s mission.

      A native of Eureka, Nevada, Tony started working for the Agency in 1965 and spent 25 years as a document counterfeiter and disguise maker in what was then called the Office of Technical Services.

      During the height of the Cold War, Tony painstakingly devised a number of critical deception operations in places like Southeast Asia and the former Soviet Union.

      In 1979, Tony and other CIA technical specialists created a dummy movie-production company in Hollywood and delivered disguises and documents that made possible the escape of six American diplomats from capture in Iran in 1980. The CIA closely held the story until revealing it to the public for the Agency’s 50th anniversary celebration in 1997. The 2012 award-winning film Argo, produced by and starring Ben Affleck, dramatized this story of deception and intrigue for the world to see.

      Tony was awarded an Intelligence Star for his work on the Argo operation and later received a Trailblazer Award for his profound contributions to CIA’s mission throughout his career. He retired in 1990 as a Senior Intelligence Service officer.

      In 2013, in honor of Tony’s legacy, we unveiled a painting during the Directorate of Science and Technology’s 50th anniversary celebration that depicted Tony and another unnamed officer creating the fake documents for the Argo operation.

      Fittingly, it was painted by a fellow CIA DS&T officer, Deborah Dismuke: An artist representing other artists at work in pursuit of national security. Deborah was both the first female and first Agency officer to have artwork displayed in the CIA Intelligence Art Gallery.

      “The visual concept of the painting came from Tony,” remembers Deborah. “I invited him to come to the Agency so that we could stage the scene. I will truly miss him.”

      Tony Mendez embodied the pioneering spirit, boldness, and derring-do that have defined CIA since our founding. We’re truly grateful for his exemplary service to our country.