Sure, you can see Osama bin Laden’s assault rifle and other fascinating artifacts in the CIA museum … but then they’d have to kill you. Just kidding! Yahoo News’ Olivier Knox got a rare invitation to tour the museum and to have a film crew document his tour, bringing us along with him. He got a close-up look at Osama bin Laden’s assault rifle and, er … a dead rat.
By the way, if you want to pick up something at the gift shop, be sure to bring cash:
Osama bin Laden’s assault rifle. A singed al-Qaeda training manual. A desiccated rat corpse designed to pass secret messages. A letter from an American operative on a sheet of Adolf Hitler’s personal stationery. A painting of the real story behind “Argo.” And a remote-controlled robotic dragonfly that may be the ancestor of today’s drones.
These are some of the things on display at the Central Intelligence Agency’s astonishing private museum in Langley, Va. …
The collection doesn’t aim to provide a complete, warts-and-all recounting of the agency’s history – there’s no “Bay of Pigs” wing, for instance, or in-depth look at the intelligence underpinning the case for the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. The museum focuses chiefly on the CIA’s successes, from its World War II days as the “Office of Strategic Services” to the war on terrorism, with a special focus on the war in Afghanistan. But the more than 100 stars on the CIA’s memorial wall – 31 one of them anonymous — serve as a reminder that sometimes things go tragically wrong.
Unlike its far more famous cousins downtown – like the National Air and Space Museum or the National Archives — the CIA museum itself does not have a gift shop. The Agency, though, does have one, with well-stocked shelves of CIA-themed souvenirs like pens, cigar cutters, mugs, water bottles, and ponchos. The gift shop, too, has its own special rules: A sign next to the register reminds under-cover operatives to use cash only.
Be sure to watch all the way to the end to see what, out of all these artifacts, Olivier asked to hold for himself. And if Olivier suddenly turns up missing, you never saw this.