The CIA on Monday added four names to the secretive memorial it keeps at its Langley headquarters for spies killed on agency missions. Director John Brennan oversaw a ceremony at the Memorial Wall to add the names of the four men, all of whom died in operations in the 1950s and 1960s.
“For anyone who wants to understand the essence of the CIA, one need look no further than this hallowed wall,” Brennan said, according to a CIA release Tuesday afternoon. “These stars, and the memories they hold, will forever inspire and sustain us as we carry on the work to which those whose stars find lasting peace in this finely chiseled constellation devoted their lives.”
The memorial, a plain wall of white marble at the agency’s entrance, is engraved with black stars honoring each of the 117 people who have died while working for the CIA. Some correspond to names in a book at the base of the wall, such as Johnny Michael Spann, a former Marine officer who became the first American casualty of the war in Afghanistan, or William F. Buckley, who died in captivity in Lebanon in 1985 after enduring more than a year of torture by the militant group Hezbollah. Many are anonymous due to the classified nature of the circumstances of their deaths.
Names are added to the wall because of particularly heroic acts, as a result of terrorism or being targeted because of an affiliation with the CIA, or for being killed while operating in a particularly hazardous environment, according to the CIA. All additions to the wall must be approved by the director.
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