The Espionage
The Espionage
Each Side Engaged in Spying


American Intelligence Activities


Posted February 2024

Espionage is Dangerous Business
One hundred thirty-seven stars are carved into a marble wall at the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Each star honors the life and service of a CIA officer who died while engaged in the field of intelligence in the service of our country.

Underneath the stars is a book.

On the pages of the book are inscribed some of the names of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. To protect intelligence sources and methods, certain names remain classified and are not shown in the book.

New CIA officers take their oath of office on their very first day at the Agency in front of the Memorial Wall. This sobering ceremony reminds the new officers of the risks that accompany a career in intelligence.

Natan Hale Spy
Nathan Hale
Nathan Hale, a soldier in the Continental Army, answered a summons from General George Washington to spy behind British lines in New York during the American Revolution.
  • Captured by the British, Hale was hanged for espionage on September 22, 1776.

His last words have inspired patriots for nearly 250 years:

NATHAN HALE:I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.

Hale was just 21 years old.

Prior to World War II, there was no central organization to coordinate American intelligence activities. After the United States entered the war, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), centralizing intelligence gathering and analysis for the first time in American history.

At the end of the war in 1945, President Truman abolished the OSS along with other agencies created during the war. But the need to bring foreign intelligence operations into one agency was apparent.

In 1947, President Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947, establishing the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA was required to conduct its intelligence gathering efforts outside the United States. It was forbidden from conducting domestic intelligence.

Throughout the Cold War, the CIA played an important role in gathering intelligence from around the world. Its methods were, at times, controversial. But the information it collected in foreign countries helped guide the foreign and military policy of every Cold War-era president.

CIA Memorial Wall
Memorial Wall
The memorial wall inside the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Virginia commemorates CIA agents who gave their lives in the service of the United States.
  • In honor of those members of the Central Intelligence Agency who gave their lives in the service of their country

CIA Memorial Wall
New Star
  • An expert craftsman adds a star to the memorial wall inside the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency.

CIA Table Radio
Table Radio
  • AM/FM rado tuner with a concealed camera hidden behind the speaker, circa 1970.

CIA Minox-C Camera
Minox-C Camera
  • The Minox subminiature camera was once known as the world's most widely used sypy camera.
It could take high quality photographs of documents at close range, making it ideal for secret photography.

CIA Shaving Cream
Shaving Cream
  • A CIA-issued shaving cream can, circa the 1950s - 19070s.
Also known as active concealment, this shaving cream could also be used as a concealment case. The bottom of the can unscrews to reveal a hollow compartment.

CIA Rectal Kit
Rectal Kit
  • This black metal pill is a rectal concealment escape tool kit used in the 1960s. It pulls apart to reveal an assortment of tools.

CIA Dead Drop Spike
Dead Drop Spike
  • The top pulls off to reveal a hidden compartment. Waterproof.
Can be pushed in the ground to be retrieved later. Used to hide money, maps, documents, microfilm, and other items.

CIA Photo Briefcase
Photo Briefcase
  • Tan leather briefcace with hidden Honeywell Pentax camera, mid-late 20th century.