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The wit, wisdom, and pitch-black cynicism of the National War College

In 1988, then-Deputy Director of the CIA Robert Gates gave a talk at the National War College that left enough of an impression that a line or two ended up in the college’s end of the year “Book of Proverbs, Jokes, and Other Comments.” The Agency, never one to let a mention go unarchived, then preserved said book for posterity in CREST. Let’s just say there’s more than a few folks who’d probably prefer that didn’t happen.

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Soviet scientists joked that somebody had made a “political decision” to end UFO sightings in the USSR

Mostly redacted CIA records capture a rare Cold War commiseration between American and Soviet meteorologists over weather balloons being mistaken for aliens.

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Ronald Reagan’s Irish spy joke

When Ronald Reagan signed the controversial Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 into law, he did so with panache, holding the ceremony at CIA HQ. Before an assembled crowd of friendly members of the Intelligence Community, Reagan felt comfortable enough to start with what he called “an ethnic joke:” the one about Murphy the spy.

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Was the CIA behind Ronald Reagan’s Russia routine?

One of the gems uncovered so far amid the 13 million pages of declassified CIA records released this week is a list of Soviet jokes prepared for the Agency’s Deputy Director. One joke in particular, poking fun at Ronald Reagan, stands out - and apparently, Reagan agreed, working it into his “stories from Russia” routine.

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