CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY MEDALS
The E-Sylum (1/10/2010)
I happened to hear part of a National Public Radio story this week about the Central Intelligence Agency. Because of the recent bombing of a CIA station, they were discussing the secrecy surrounding the death of an agent. When an operative is killed, the director of the agency signs a letter of condolence to the person's family. They are handed the letter to read, but then they have to give it back and it's placed in the employee's file at headquarters. The agency also gives medals, and if I heard the story right, those get the same treatment: "Here's your medal. Now give it back."
In Wikipedia someone wrote that "CIA medals are often referred to as "jock strap medals" since they are often awarded secretly (due to the classification level of the respective operation) and cannot be displayed, or on occasion, acknowledged publicly."
Curious, I checked the web for information on CIA medals, and found quite a number of different types. There's the Distinguished Intelligence Cross, Distinguished Intelligence Medal, Intelligence Medal of Merit, Career Intelligence Medal and other, in addition to gold, silver and bronze Retirement Medallions. They're not all so super secret. Have these ever been catalogued? Do they pop up on eBay?
For more information, see: CIA Medals (fas.org/irp/cia/product/fact97/medals.htm)