An Exclusive View of the Inside of the FBI Headquarters
Stepping through a giant gold revolving door into the tiny cramped room where I was asked to show I.D. and proof of an invite had never been so exciting. When I met the director of the Headquarters, and the historian he brought with him to talk more about the building, they were very friendly but slightly reserved as well. At first, it took them a very long time to even let me inside the building, and the historian explained that this was because people who didn’t work here weren’t really allowed inside unless they knew an agent here. I was searched down thoroughly, my phone was taken from me, and I was given a badge to wear, which also was used to let me through security measures. The FBI headquarters had giant, human-sized pods that you would step in, the doors opened and closed, wait, and then walk out. It was almost futuristic, and I felt very out of place.
The most astonishing thing about being inside the FBI headquarters, (excluding the fact that most people weren’t allowed a tour of the building at all), was how normal everyone seemed to be acting. The hallways were lit up with a bright, vibrant light that almost hurt my eyes, and forced me to keep my head down. Even though I really wanted to closely observe the people who were walking past, the historian who was leading me around walked fast and furiously talked my ear off about the architecture of the building. The hallways were lit with an intensely white light and they were painted bright colors such as orange and green, which seemed a little strange to me, considering this was supposed to be a high profile building. The inside of the building actually reminded me of hospital corridors, with the fluorescent lighting and the brightly painted walls without much decoration, but the people around me gave me feelings of exclusivity and importance, because they were all dressed up and walking with a purpose. I felt so out of place since I wasn’t wearing dark official-looking clothes and the headpiece that I noticed on almost everyone.
Since the headquarters isn’t open to the public, the tour that I was able to arrange didn’t allow me into the rooms that needed security clearances to access them. The historian told me that those rooms mostly consisted of lockboxes that held secret FBI files. The one room I spent the most amount of time in was the room that held a bunch of artifacts that portrayed the FBI best. They told me that that before 9/11, the headquarters used to be allowed to have tours, so they would use these rooms to show to the public. There was one whole room dedicated to what some of the agents did in their free time, like sky-diving or making dolls, and they had exhibits showcasing pictures and representations of these hobbies. Another room held representations of mannequins holding up guns against a fake broken down door, and wearing gas masks. Since they confiscated my phone at the door, I wasn’t allowed to take pictures, but some of the pictures of those scenes they portrayed haven’t been able to leave my mind because of how graphic they were. The last exhibit of the room was my favorite. It was a deep red wall, with “FBI Top Ten Most Wanted” written across the top. Below that, there were ten papers stapled below, with pictures and descriptions of criminals. Reading the descriptions was so interesting, because a lot of the criminals were actually past agents, who had turned against the U.S. and then escaped. I felt almost fearful, but also thrilled at the same time to be fortunate enough to see these rooms that the rest of the public will probably never be able to see.
Overall, I understand why the headquarters aren’t open to the public, because the work they do in there is extremely secretive, and after 9/11, no one really trusts anyone anymore. After seeing that their own agents turned on their own government, I was shocked, but it made sense as to why government buildings would increase their own security. The only real disappointment of the interior of the building was that it could’ve just been a normal office building, with terribly bright hallways. The FBI that is portrayed in the media, with the crazy investigation labs and technology was really nowhere to be seen, but then again they might have not been allowed to show it to me. Even though this was an exclusive tour that I was only able to arrange through my mother’s government connections, I still felt like I wasn’t seeing the entirety of the Headquarters, and it gave me a curious feeling that left me wanting to know more.
McDermott, Newsnet5.com Colin. “An inside Look at FBI Headquarters in DC Reveals How Agency Is Stronger since 9/11.” Newsnet5. N.p., 23 Nov. 2015. Web. 07 Nov. 2016.