The secrets of the OSS Society dinner: Petraeus, off the record, and a new spy museum in the works


CIA Director David Petraeus speaking at the OSS Society dinner Saturday. Shhh! Don’t tell anyone what he said! (Chad Evans Wyatt )

Who in Washington would deliver a speech to 600-plus people declared “off the record”? The director of the C.I.A., that’s who.

And David Petraeus could get away with it, because his super-discreet audience Saturday night at the Mandarin Oriental was the OSS Society — self-described “old spies” (of the CIA’s WWII-era predecessor Office of Strategic Services), and the people who love them.

We’re informed, on double-deep background, that Petraeus did not reveal any state secrets. Neither did the evening’s honoree — Eric T. Olson, the recently retired admiral who oversaw special ops. Olson stuck to dry humor, reading from what he claimed was an old OSS manual on how to sabotage an organization: “When possible, refer all matters to committees for further study. Insist on doing everything through channels. . . Demand written orders.”

The news of the night, reports our colleague Ian Shapira: The OSS Society has lined up an architecture firm and is scouting D.C. locations for a new museum. It would be the first public space devoted to OSS history, said society President Charles Pinck: The CIA has a museum at Langley with OSS exhibits, but it’s very hush-hush, open to employees and their guests only.

Read last year: Ross Perot has a lot to say at OSS Society dinner — but not about politics, 10/4/10

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