Move over White House. Move over FBI. The Central Intelligence Agency is going after its share of Washington tourists.
The CIA, which until June, 1973, preferred, not very successfully, to mask its location in Langley by marking signs on its access road "Bureau of Public Roads." "Federal Highway Administration" or "Fairbanks Highway Research Station," is going to conduct building tours, beginning next month.
It seemed only appropriate for an agency famous for its control officers that a spokesman stressed the tours would be "controlled."
"We've got some very real problems about people out here who don't want to be photographed, or even seen," the spokesman said.
To lessen the chances of a "deep cover" CIA operative turning a corner in headquarters and confronting 30 instant cameras including one held by his Uncle Bert who'd always been told his nephew was in the import-export business, the CIA tours will only be conducted Saturdays.
CIA officials have visited White House tour directors to learn how that operation functions and to get an idea how many tourists can be handled at a time.
Tickets will probably be issued through congressional offices, but a spokesman said it is not yet decided how many each member will have to give to constituents.
The tickets will be designed to serve as souvenirs for those wanting to keep them and will feature the CIA seal, the spokesman said. There is also likely to be a printed tour program.
No tickets are available yet. "It's still in the drawing-board stage," the spokesman, Herb Hetu said. Meetings were scheduled at CIA headquarters yesterday and today to work on the building tour plans.
Tourists who take the tour won't see exhibits of dart guns or cloaks and daggers. In fact, part of the CIA's problem is to come up with tour exhibits while preserving the secrecy of its intelligence work.
For example, no pictures taken by spy satellites are likely to be shown, because the agency does not formally acknowledge that it has satellites.
Tentative plans call for the tourists to assemble in "the bubble," as the CIA auditorium is called.
They will be given a briefing on the history of intelligence, and probably shown a film. At present, there is thought being given to editing down a CIA training film for the tourists audience.
After the film, the tourists will walk through an underground tunnel to the main building, and emerge on the first floor. The tunnel, the spokesman said, is just a tunnel designed to keep people dry and warm when they head for the auditorium or bus stop.
Exhibits will be arranged around the corridor that faces the building's inner courtyard, a yard crowded with handosme magnolia trees.
The exhibits will include famous photographs like some taken of Soviet missiles in Cuba during the 1962 missile crisis and perhaps the first aerial photo ever taken. It was shot from a ballon.
There will also be explanations of how the agency responds to policy-makers' requests for intelligence and exhibits of its mapmaking capability, the spokesman said.