CIA Tech Office Celebrates 60th Birthday

CIA Director David Petraeus

The Central Intelligence Agency’s Directorate of Science and Technology celebrated its 60th Anniversary last week through its Office of Technical Services (OTS).

Founded as the Technical Services Staff in 1951, the office’s track record of developing cutting-edge technologies is a prime example of CIA’s longstanding commitment to mission, according to the agency.


“For sixty years, OTS and its forerunners have given the CIA a critical advantage over our adversaries. They’ve done a phenomenal job of applying technical know-how to the needs of Agency officers in the field,” said CIA Director David Petraeus during an anniversary reception held at Agency Headquarters.

Notable innovations from the DS&T, most of whose work is classified:

  • Played a central role in the development of the U-2 spy plane, including contributions to help pilots endure long-range, high-altitude flights.
  • In 1980, an OTS officer participated in the rescue of six American diplomats who had sought refuge in the Canadian Embassy in Tehran following the storming of the US Embassy.  The OTS officer—an expert in disguises—developed a plan using the guise of a fictional Canadian film production company to smuggle the Americans out of Iran.
  • A decade later, an OTS electronics expert provided critical testimony in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial, having matched a circuit board fragment that survived the explosion with a timing device from a Libyan terrorist attack the CIA had thwarted years earlier.
  • In 1997, OTS specialists were involved in preparing and placing equipment that helped locate Mir Aimal Kansi—who had killed and wounded several CIA employees outside the Agency’s Headquarters in 1993.
  • 2009, an OTS officer in the field analyzed insurgent electronic devices, revealing critical information about an imminent attack planned against a US military convoy.

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