Sunday, June 9, 2013

LGBT Pride in DC leads to a virtual tour of the CIA facilities and ops

As an indirect result of ,my visit to the LGBT Pride Festival in Washington DC today, I got a “virtual” tour of the CIA headquarters.  The main facility is out of sight near the George Washington Parkway in northern VA, and a bit off Route 123, on the way to Langley High School (where I have subbed before).  There are numerous other secret locations in the DC area and around the world. 
  
The booth had many glossy handouts, aimed at recruiting the best possible talent for employment. The most illustrative was a booklet whose pages turned only when you pulled on a tab.  That’s a strange way to do bookbinding. All this material would be unclassified and in public domain.  

The CIA says it gets most of its raw data from foreign media (now including websites and social media), aerial surveillance and satellites, and ground operatives.  Data from the NSA (or counterterrorism center) and surveillance  is, of course, controversial.  Most jobs in the agency involve analysis on a computer;  relatively few are para-military like in the movies (although a very small percentage are, and require weapons). 

The agency has a booklet “10 Myths About Working for the Central Intelligence Agency”.  Most of this is common sense.

One question: if the polygraph is legally inadmissible because of reliability issues, why is it used in background investigations for the CIA?  Is the “No Lie MRI” used instead? 
  
The indoor area at the Langley facility certainly looks impressive.  There is a Memorial Wall, a Book of Honor, an Office of Strategic Services (OSS) Memorial, the Donovan Statue, a Museum ("Inform, Instruct, Inspire"). a CIA in Afghanistan Exhibit, a Cold War Gallery, a Director's Galley. and Intelligemce Art Gallery, a Melzac Art Gallery, and a "public" Library.  Yes ("Reid"), it's "free", but not very public.  There is a Nathan Hale Statue and  Berlin Wall Monument (:Tear down this wall!")  

The Berlin Wall had just gone up in 1961 about the time of my own William and Mary "expulsion".  

Families usually know when members are CIA employees, and sometimes travel with them.  Could (as in my own novel manuscript) someone move from uniformed military intelligence to CIA employment.  My novel’s plot was conceived around 2002 and has nothing to do with the Bradley Manning issues, although now that could raise questions, I suppose.  But the CIA employment is itself clandestine because of the unusual subject matter (contact with aliens or “angels”) and in the meatime the lead character works as an AP US History teacher.   Once in a while he travels on leads (about the “aliens”).  He is usually unarmed (none of the action chases as in the movies or the desperate family kidnappings as in the ABC series “Missing”). Once, in Spain, he is mugged, but that is only to pass on more information.  I wonder how real this could be.  At least Piers Morgan would approve. 


The CIA owns a manor house on Route 123, called the Calvert House. 
There are rumors of a training center in the Tidewater Virginia, at Camp Peary near Williamsburg and Ft. Eustis, and an esoteric center south of Charlottesville along US-29 at Faber.  Few civilian employees would need the para-military training.  

In its 9-11 booklet, the CIA uses these spellings: "al-Qa'ida" and "Usama Bin Ladin".  


There is a coordinated post today on my GLBT blog. 

Maybe it's time to visit the Spy Museum again in downtown Washington.   

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