While in D.C. for a recent
defence conference, I couldn’t fight the temptation to visit the International Spy Museum, located right in the center of the city.
My mission was to leave with the museum’s most valuable information saved to my phone’s camera roll.
Just outside the museum I determine that the man in the red jacket is way to ostentatious to be gathering intel on me.
Behind the front desk is a map of every Bond spy villain in history. I wonder if I'll see any real spy stuff.
I give the ladies at the counter money, and they give me a Spy Guide map of the museum, along with a ticket.
The very first exhibit is of a car from the Bond movies. It has a mini gun attached to it. I jot down this sentence in my journal, under the heading 'goals': 'own a car with a minigun attached to it.'
An elevator brings you to the first floor where Museum stewards tell you to pick a 'cover.' They tell me I may be quizzed on this cover later.
In the same room as the covers are all sorts of historical spy memorabilia. Here are the official crests for international spy agencies (yes, most countries have spy agencies).
Here's Antonio Mendez's actual Intelligence Star for Valor for his actions rescuing American diplomats from Iran (popularised by the film 'Argo').
Museum stewards usher me and about 40 field-tripping 8th graders into a small movie room, where we're shown a brief film about espionage and covert intelligence.
Here's a bunch of stuff for spies who parachute in on targets, to include boots that look like regular shoes ...
The 'gas assassination rifle' quietly fires a flechette which just as quietly penetrates the victim.
This dagger looks like a prison shiv. There are several places on the body where it is just long enough to kill.
The actual pistol from Soviet code clerk Igor Gouzenko. He tried to defect to Canada and they initially thought he was just a crackpot.
A glove-gun, a lighter gun, and a flashlight gun. Each carries a single round of ammunition, just enough for a kill close up.
Scholars say espionage falls under the idiom 'second oldest profession' because of references to spies in the Old Testament's Book of Joshua.
The historical room covers use of spies in every major age of humanity, going as far back as 5,000 years ago.
President Lincoln started the secret service to gather intelligence on the country's worst criminals.
One of Russia's greatest spies, Dmitry Bystrolyotov traveled Europe seducing women who had access to diplomatic cables. He later ended up in a Russian Gulag.
Alan Turing is perhaps one of the greatest codebreakers of all time. He solved the Enigma cypher which helped the Allies find German U-Boats.
Turing, considered one of the fathers of modern computing and artificial intelligence, lived and died a lonely man.
Turing helped build device a super-high speed bombe machine, essentially the first 'brute force' hacking computer.
What would a spy museum be without James Bond? Ian Fleming, Bond's creator, worked under the British Director of Naval Intelligence during the second world war.
Prior to writing his first Bond novel, Fleming would assist in founding the OSS, or Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA.
And let's not forget Das Germans. Otto Skorzeny was like a real-life James Bond, except a Nazi. He had a very successful private security/spying enterprise following the war.
The last exhibit is dedicated completely to cyber war and Internet espionage (not nearly as cool as James Bond).
Finally, I put the Apocalypse behind me, pass through the gift shop, and skedaddle out of the museum ... where DC awaits, home to more spies than any city on earth ...
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