When conducting CIA practice drills that involve both "explosive training material" and working school buses, it is usually a good idea to remove the material from the school buses when finished. That, however, did not happen last week in Loudoun County, Virginia. According to a report in the Washington Post, the CIA forgot to remove a bit of explosive substance -- described as a "'putty-type' material designed for use on the battlefield" -- from the engine of a school bus that was then used to transport primary and high school students for two days.
The practice exercise was designed to test the abilities of the agency's bomb-sniffing dogs; one canine found some of the material, but more had fallen further down into the engine. It was discovered shortly thereafter during a routine inspection.
Officials from both the CIA and the county sheriff's office confirmed the blunder, though the CIA was quick to assure everyone that the stuff "did not pose a danger to passengers on the bus" and needed a special detonator to work. Yeah, try telling that to a bunch of angry PTA mums and dads and see what happens.
"The CIA really expressed its deep concern and regret today, and it was sincere," Loudoun schools spokesman Wayde Byard told the Post. "Expressed deep concern and regret"? That doesn't sound like the CIA!
But while leaving allegedly-not-dangerous explosives on a school bus isn't great, the CIA has been on the wrong end of many screwups that were far, far worse. Remember the time it maybe produced the Unabomber? Or the time it sold Viagra to warlords in Afghanistan? (OK, that one supposedly "worked", but: for real?) Or the time it held the wrong guy captive in its secret prison? Or the time it possibly helped tip off South African authorities, which led to the arrest of Nelson Mandela? Or the time it lost some plutonium in the Himalayas? Or the fact that it reportedly reads five million tweets a day? (Why would you ever do that to yourselves?) And who could forget the the time former CIA director George Tenet called the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq a "slam dunk"?
Good times, everyone! At that rate, explosives on a school bus sound like a fun day at the amusement park.
Top image via Getty