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Great Escapes or How Spies, Hostages, and Assets Survive and Get Out Alive

Spy Seminar Series

Rendezvous Info

Tickets: $130 Members of the Inner Circle: $80 Join Today


Escape rooms are popular, but what if your life depended on the result? This series shares tales and tactics of escapes, rescues, and evasions from the 1970s until today. Explore ingenuous rescue and escape plans with people who developed them and used them as well as experts familiar with these life or death operations. You’ll discover how intelligence services bring back assets from abroad in a hot or Cold War and learn about the 21st century approach to training people in self escape and how to survive a rescue.

Leave No Person Behind
September 27

On March 23, 2003, Private First Class Jessica Dawn Lynch was serving as a unit supply specialist with the 507th Maintenance Company when her convoy was ambushed by Iraqi forces during the Battle of Nasiriyah. Lynch was seriously injured. Her subsequent recovery by US Special Operations Forces on April 1, 2003 was the first successful rescue of an American prisoner of war since Vietnam and the first ever of a woman. Greg Elder, Chief Historian of the Defense Intelligence Agency, will discuss the operation and the innovative ways that the DIA supported Lynch’s successful exfiltration. An artifact used in the DIA mission will be on special display during the program.

RAPTOR takes flight
October 4

Tony Mendez is famous for the rescue of six stranded American diplomats depicted in ARGO, but that was not his only delicate operation in Iran in 1979. Jonna and Tony Mendez will share the extraordinary exfiltration story of the CIA’s top source in Iran. RAPTOR had served in the Shah’s armed services and his close connection to the Shah had provided the CIA with fantastic intelligence. When Khomeini took over, RAPTOR had to go into hiding and was in grave danger. Hear how Mendez travelled to Iran in the tumultuous spring of 1979 and how he got RAPTOR out before the Revolutionary Guard could find him. 

NEXT STOP EXECUTION: An Escape from the clutches of the KGB in Moscow
October 11

When KGB officer Oleg Gordievsky grew disillusioned with the USSR in the early 1970s, he became a prized source for Britain’s MI6. Over the years, he alerted Western Intelligence Services to many KGB operations and intelligence assets and provided a timely warning about the Soviet leadership’s over-reaction to the 1983 NATO “Able Archer” nuclear war game. In 1985, Gordievsky, then acting KGB Chief of Station in London, came under suspicion and was recalled to Moscow. Placed under intense investigation, Gordievsky flew his distress signal and MI6 initiated an emergency exfiltration plan. Join Daniel J. Mulvenna, a retired RCMP counter-espionage specialist and long-time friend of Gordievsky, for an in-depth exploration of his remarkable espionage career and daring escape from certain death.

How Not to Die
October 18

What’s the best way to guarantee your survival in a high risk situation? Hope that you had training with Malcolm W. Nance. A career counter-terrorism and intelligence officer for the U.S. government's Special Operations, Homeland Security, and Intelligence agencies, he is a Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape specialist and founder of the Advanced Terrorism, Abduction and Hostage Survival School. Nance will discuss his own close calls as well as the latest approaches to armed recovery and hostage rescue.

Tickets must be purchased through the Smithsonian*

To register: (via phone) 202.633.3030;
Internet Quick Tix code for the program: 1M2-921
Inner Circle Members should identify themselves and give the
PROMO code: 232121

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