Weird History
526 voters

The Best CIA Nicknames

1.4k votes 526 voters 25.0k views21 items

CIA code names for operations, people, and facilities range from informal nicknames to a complex series of cryptonyms. Many of their major headquarters, training areas, intelligence gathering facilities, and other buildings have no official names, but have nicknames that stuck over time. They often give their operations creative and colorful designations that mean nothing to anyone but insiders - and those are just the ones that aren't classified.

Intelligence jargon is designed to be easily understood by those who need to understand it, and nearly incomprehensible to outsiders or snoops listening in. Hence the series of two-letter codes used to identify countries, or the innocuous all-caps names given to new NSA surveillance initiatives. If you know what they are, then you know what they are. And if not, then you're not supposed to.

Here are some of the best, most creative, and all around weirdest nicknames given by the CIA, NSA, and other intelligence agencies in the US to all manner of buildings, people, and even missions. Vote up the craziest CIA nicknames below!
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    The Company

    Internal nickname for the CIA.
  • 2
    95
    37

    The Farm

    Code for the CIA training base at Camp Peary in Williamsburg, VA. Also called "Camp Swampy."
  • 3
    68
    30

    Puzzle Palace

    Nickname of the National Security Agency's headquarters at Fort Meade. Also called "The Fort."
  • 4
    40
    13

    Blue Goose

    CIA training facility in Virginia that taught black ops techniques until it was torn down in 2015.
  • 5
    39
    16

    Liberty Crossing

    Twin headquarters of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Counterterrorism Center, in McLean, VA.
  • 6
    32
    10

    L-Pill

    Cyanide capsule carried by agents to commit suicide rather than be captured.
  • 7
    29
    8

    Ivy Bells

    Joint CIA, Navy, and NSA plan to tap Soviet undersea communication cables.
  • 8
    70
    54

    Stargate

    Remote viewing operation masterminded by the CIA.
  • 9
    24
    12

    AMTHUG

    CIA code name for Fidel Castro ("AM" being the code for Cuba).
  • 10
    17
    6

    Lace

    Post-Berlin Wall operation to find a CIA mole, based on information found during storming of Stasi headquarters.
  • 11
    31
    24

    Sheep Dip

    Dropping someone from the CIA payroll to do their job through a civilian company.
  • 12
    22
    14

    BLARNEY

    NSA telecommunications intelligence gathering program.
  • 13
    19
    12

    Great White Case Officer

    Informal nickname for 1950s CIA chief Allen Dulles.
  • 14
    24
    19

    DBROCKSTARS

    CIA program to recruit Iraqi spies before the 2003 invasion.
  • 15
    20
    14

    Acid Gambit

    CIA plan to rescue an agent taken prisoner while setting up anti-Noriega radio station in Panama.
  • 16
    21
    16

    QKFLOWAGE

    Code name for the now-defunct United States Information Agency.
  • 17
    24
    23

    Dagger Complex

    NSA intelligence processing center located in Germany.
  • 18
    20
    20

    JIB

    Stands for "jack-in-the-box" - an inflatable dummy used to evade Soviet surveillance.
  • 19
    19
    19

    Blue Birds

    Blue-painted Blue Bird buses that transport CIA employees around the Washington, D.C. area.
  • 20
    31
    38

    Moby Dick

    CIA program to launch photographic balloons over the Soviet Union from West Germany.
  • 21
    52
    70

    Nosey Smurf

    NSA hack that can turn on an iPhone's microphone. Revealed by Edward Snowden.