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The Complications of Joining an Office Bowling League at the CIA

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A version of this story originally appeared on Muckrock.com.

In most professions, all it takes to form an after-work bowling league is an overly long email chain and some beer money. As a declassified memo recently unearthed in CREST shows, in the CIA, it’s a lot more complicated.

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To cope with these rather unique challenges, the Agency formed the Employee Activity Association (EAA), which, in exchange for membership dues, would ensure that next weekend’s fishing trip would have a plausible cover story.

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The activities themselves are ranked by tiers of plausible deniability to CIA affiliation, from Glee Club (least suspicious) to Football (most suspicious).

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Note that Men’s Basketball was a tier less suspicious than Women’s Basketball.

Depending on a member’s current assignment and cover concerns, the EAA would evaluate which tiers they could participate in - which might mean that golf game will have to wait until after you’re done overthrowing that democratically-elected government.

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In turn, members were expected to keep the existence or non-existence of the ping-pong team a secret and to attend security briefings.

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Yes, you read that right. CIA agents had to be briefed before bowling.

Also included was the Director’s response to the memo, which was tepid, to put it politely - to him, the whole thing stank of a membership drive for the EAA.

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Regardless, the EAA continued on for decades, eventually getting its own facility and even a store. Which, apparently, was constantly being stolen from, but that’s a story for another day.

Read the full memo here.


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