Painting Commemorating ARGO Operation Joins Intelligence Art Gallery
CIA’s Intelligence Art Gallery recently acquired its newest item – a painting titled “ARGO – The Rescue of the Canadian Six.”
The painting’s unveiling coincided with the 33rd anniversary of the ARGO operation. In this operation, CIA and Canadian officials smuggled six American diplomats out of Iran after the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. The painting depicts two CIA officers preparing alias documents used by the Americans, known as the “Canadian Six,” in their escape from Iran.
The ARGO operation was successful thanks to a strong partnership with the Canadian Government. “ARGO—this operation—is one of our great successes, and its lessons of innovation and partnership will inspire our technical intelligence officers as we forge new pathways into the future,” said Glenn Gaffney, Director for Science and Technology, at the unveiling ceremony.
Gaffney offered special thanks to the Canadian Government for its assistance in the rescue. “At great personal risk to themselves and their families, senior diplomats at the Canadian Embassy in Tehran readily took in the Americans and provided sanctuary for 79 days while the rescue was planned,” he said. “Our Canadian partners enabled the rescue, and without their participation, it is unlikely that we could have brought the Canadian Six home.”
Painting Joins Agency Gallery
The painting joins 16 other intelligence-themed artworks hanging in a prominent hallway at CIA Headquarters. The gallery serves as a source of institutional pride and historic record. Other paintings in the collection depict operations conducted by the CIA’s war-time predecessor, the Office of Strategic Services, groundbreaking Agency technology such as the A-12 OXCART, as well as intelligence-themed paintings and sculpture that record for posterity the experiences of intelligence officers in peace and war.
To learn more about the ARGO operation, read the Studies in Intelligence article, A Classic Case of Deception.