Shortly after the attacks of September 11, 2001, U.S. President George W. Bush and several advisors gathered at Camp David to weigh the country’s options. On the table in front of them, as you can see in the photo below, was a map of Afghanistan created by cartographers at the Central Intelligence Agency. It was among the first of what would become thousands of maps the CIA produced after September 11 to track terrorist networks and support U.S. military operations, including the raid to capture Osama bin Laden in 2011. As with much of the CIA Cartography Center’s work, these maps were classified, seen only by people in the intelligence community and at the highest levels of the government. But in honor of the center’s 75th anniversary this year, the agency has released a remarkable collection of declassified maps that illustrate—and perhaps even played a role in—many significant events in U.S. history.
We are the map makers. We are the dreamers of dreams.