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Spies Cafe

Washington, DC. Apr. 23rd, 2005 ---- Few outside of Washington have heard about Spies Cafe, or even attended an open event. It is a great venue to meet intelligence buffs, journalists and people who were there when historical events took place. A unique learning experience.

The idea was born in the mid 1990's as part of a Spies Museum attraction floated for Orlando, Florida. In 1998 Spies Cafe was announced, originally as a themed dining experience. In 2000 it was created in Washington, DC as a get together of journalists, politicians, staffers and retired intelligence officers. Many were held at the National Press Club on quiet Saturday mornings.

What is unique about these Spies Cafe meetings is that a well know journalist, author or intelligence expert briefs the audience, takes questions and discusses the subject "off the record". Unlike formal seminars and workshops the atmosphere is informal, cafe-like, and in the National Press Club has a full menu and bar to loosen the tongue.

Not that the exchanges are not often spirited as the gap between the views of many can be described as bigger than the Grand Canyon. This has led to many new facts coming out regarding the actual events, especially when reporters and Bureau Chiefs who were there, add their background knowledge never reported, or suppressed by the censors.

There are very few opportunities to sit down and discuss world events, and draw on such an informed pool of knowledge as we have available. As many intelligence officers feel like speaking about the spin given by politicians, many long gone, the demand for new Spies Cafe sessions is growing.

Amongst the many subjects covered have been Checkpoint Charlie and life in Berlin during the occupation, the Soviet Space Race, the U2 Incident, Bay of Pigs Fiasco, Camp X, Zimmermann Telegram, Enigma, Kennedy Administration, Gulf of Tonkin and President Johnson, Bin Laden, and much on the Bush legacy of lies.

The Saturday morning sessions at the Press Club in Washington, DC are by invitation only, and are free to meet the requirements of our Club rules. There have been Spies Cafe trial runs in London, and New York and these too have been by invitation. In 2005 we are looking at extending this program and on a commercial basis having them in multiple locations.

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