A New Spy Museum That Tackles Torture And Other Tough Questions

The International Spy Museum, in a sparkling new building just off the National Mall, presents both heroic moments in espionage as well as the country's worst intelligence failures.
H. Keith Melton, a longtime collector of spy artifacts, stands next to the axe that was used to kill Soviet exile Leon Trotsky in Mexico in 1940. The axe is part of Melton's huge collection that he's donated to the new International Spy Museum. Source: Greg Myre/NPR

The new International Spy Museum doesn't shy away from controversy. One exhibit room has yellow stencil on a stark, cinderblock wall that reads, "What is torture?"

A video features Jose Rodriquez, an ex-CIA official who was deeply involved in the waterboarding program of terror suspects after the 2001 al-Qaida attacks: "This was a very successful program," Rodriguez says. "It protected the homeland and saved American lives."

Malcolm Nance, who served in Naval intelligence, offers"This is not who we are. We do not torture. We just shouldn't do it," Nance says.

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