The CIA’s Halloween parties were lit

What do you get when you combine Dracula, $1,000 in shredded money, and the U.S. Navy band? The Agency’s annual bash

Written by Vanessa Nason
Edited by JPat Brown

Memos found in the CIA’s CREST database show the planning stages of the Agency’s annual Halloween party in 1980. Turns out, it was a little tough to get an invite to this exclusive event - a memo to the Director advises capping the guest list at 275.

But if you were among the lucky few invited what the invitations call a “Halloween cocktail buffet,” you’d spend the evening in the Naval Observatory.

A piano seems to be ruled out, but the CIA is rife with ideas for entertaining their guests.

In the past, background music has been provided by a trio from the Navy Band, and guests spanned all sides of the political spectrum, including wives - whose names seem to have been forgotten by the planning committee.

This swanky event might have been intended to overshadow a more grim autumn memory at the Agency - 1977’s “Halloween Massacre.” No deaths, but then-director Stansfield Turner (same DCI throwing the bash) abruptly fired about 200 employees.

Apple-bobbing beats a pink slip any day of the week. The full planning memos are embedded below.


Image via National Archives