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Ask Molly: Selfies at CIA

August 17, 2023

A banner stating, "Ask Molly, Your CIA source on the inside, #AskMollyHale," with a graphic of a woman in a grey hat and outfit.

Dear Molly,

I was just wondering if I could get a selfie with my phone outside or inside the CIA, or if that would get me in trouble? Hope to do this whenever I’m visiting D.C. and happen to be in the neighborhood. Just trying my best not to go to jail. What do you think?

~ Spyfluencer

Dear Spyfluencer,

The short answer: No! Taking photographs or videos of any kind (including selfies) is not allowed inside or outside CIA Headquarters. Even CIA officers—including yours truly—are forbidden from snapping photos at CIA.

Photograph of sign at CIA Headquarter warning employees and visitors that photography is forbidden.

Although photography is allowed outside most federal buildings, that’s not true for restricted national security facilities like CIA Headquarters, the Pentagon, and many military bases. It’s too big of a security risk to allow the public or even employees to take unsanctioned photos or videos.

However, if you’ve ever wanted to see what CIA Headquarters looks like, you’re in luck! We have a few specially trained officers whose job literally is to take photos at CIA (yes, one of them took the “no photos” photograph above). Although they usually photograph our senior leaders and internal events, over the years they’ve also taken some really beautiful pictures of our campus.

Here are a few of my personal favorites from across the seasons:

Magnolias at the iconic entrance to CIA’s Original Headquarters Building.

Kryptos and a late autumn snow at CIA Headquarters.

A courtyard in snow at CIA Headquarters.

Statues of Harriet Tubman and Nathan Hale at CIA Headquarters.

CIA’s iconic A-12 OXCART aircraft covered in snow.

Hope you enjoyed these little glimpses of CIA’s campus!
And again, please take my warning seriously. Don’t try to snap a photo outside CIA Headquarters. No selfie is worth a mugshot.

~ Molly


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