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Uncovered: Stern warning for covert CIA agents publicly seeking secret trinkets!

CIA headquarters Lobby

Virtually everywhere President Obama goes outside the White House, a press pool follows, composed of media members taking turns on this usually thankless duty. Their notes are then distributed to many others as community property and provide the media fodder for much subsequent presidential coverage.

Today, Obama went to the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency, which is not so secretly located in Langley, Va. The solemn occasion was a memorial service for the seven CIA officers killed in a Dec. 30 suicide bombing in Afghanistan. We published the president's redacted remarks here earlier this afternoon.

The service was, however, closed like so many of Joe Biden's meetings, meaning no media allowed. So the media pool people were kept in a hallway carefully pre-swept of any secrets.

According to print pool reporter Mike Madden of, after some serious negotiations with CIA police and Secret Service agents, the pool was permitted to move into the nearby CIA gift shop.

Right! A spy agency gift shop. Who knew?

Proceeds from the gift shop go to scholarships for children of CIA employees.

But at the cash register, Madden noticed a printed warning not intended for his non-covert eyes:

"Don't forget! If you are undercover, you cannot charge! It will blow your cover."

Make sure you destroy this item after reading.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Jason Reed / Reuters

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
Republican Politics
Democratic Politics



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