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Posts Tagged ‘Spy

“Knowledge of means without knowledge of ends is animal training”*…

Spy vs.Spy

According to a March 1967 report entitled “Views on Trained Cats [Redacted] for [Redacted] Use,” the CIA stuffed a real, live cat with electronic spying equipment and attempted to train it to spy on America’s Cold War rivals.  The report states that Acoustic Kitty (as the project is commonly known) was a “remarkable scientific achievement.” Unfortunately, the report also states that the continued use of live cats as eavesdropping devices “would not be practical.”

According to Victor Marchetti [an ex-Deputy Director of the CIA]: “A lot of money was spent. They slit the cat open, put batteries in him, wired him up. The tail was used as an antenna. They made a monstrosity. They tested him and tested him. They found he would walk off the job when he got hungry, so they put another wire in to override that. Finally they’re ready. They took it out to a park and pointed it at a park bench and said, ‘Listen to those two guys…’ They put him out of the van, and a taxi comes and runs him over. There they were, sitting in the van with all those dials, and the cat was dead!”…

Acoustic Kitty

For more on animal training adventures in the security services, see “The CIA’s Most Highly-Trained Spies Weren’t Even Human.”

Steve Martin


As we study subterfuge, we might recall that it was on this date in 1974 that transcripts of the audiotaped White House conversations between President Richard Nixon and Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman were released to the public. Considered at the time a “smoking gun,” the transcripts confirmed Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate cover-up– and precipitated Nixon’s resignation three days later.

Transcripts of the Watergate tapes arriving on Capitol Hill to be turned over to the House Judiciary Committee.


“A murderer is less loathsome to us than a spy”*…


If You See Something, Say Something

Here are a few suggestions of what Americans can report to the FBI:

1. Any information about espionage, sabotage, and subversive activities. The FBI is as close to every person as the nearest telephone. See the front of any telephone book for the FBI’s number.

2. Don’t worry if the information seems incomplete or trivial. Many times a small bit of information might furnish the data we are seeking.

3. Stick to the facts. The FBI is not interested in rumor or idle gossip. Talebearing should always be avoided. The FBI is not interested in what a person thinks but what he does to undermine our national security.

4. Don’t try to do any investigating yourself. Security investigations require great care and effort. The innocent must be protected as well as the guilty identified. That is the job for the professional investigator. Hysteria, witch-hunts, and vigilantes weaken our internal security.

5. Be alert. America’s best defense lies in the alertness of its patriotic citizens.

The atmosphere of aggressive concern– if not paranoia– over “foreign” threats that’s so pervasive today is, in fact, nothing new.  The passage above is an excerpt from J. Edgar Hoover’s 1958 opus Masters of Deceit, which combined a flaming warning of the Communist threat with a painfully-specific how-to manual for combating it.

MoD was required reading for countless junior high school students across the U.S.– inclusding your correspondent, for whom it was the text in a six-week “special unit” on Communism, mandated by the Florida State Department of Education.

[via Lapham’s Quarterly]

* Honoré de Balzac


As we watch both our borders and our backs, we might recall that it was on this date in 1950 that a US Navy Privateer with 10 people on board flew from Wiesbaden, West Germany, to spy over the Soviet Union. Soviet reconnaissance spotted the plane over Latvia. and Soviet La-11 fighters shot down it down just off the coast, over the Baltic Sea.

A U.S. Navy Privateer in flight



Written by (Roughly) Daily

April 8, 2017 at 1:01 am

Ground Control to Major John…


Centuries before Neil Armstrong and crew made it– and indeed several years before a falling apple set Isaac Newton to the description of gravity– John Wilkins, a founder of The Royal Society (and a brother-in-law of Oliver Cromwell) drafted plans for an expedition to the moon.

Wilkins believed that we are held on Earth by a form of magnetism. His observations of clouds suggested to him that if man could reach an altitude of just 20 miles, he could be free of this force and be able to fly through space.  So he drafted plans for a real “spaceship,” a flying machine designed like a ship but with a powerful spring, clockwork gears, and a set of wings (covered with feathers from high-flying birds such as swans or geese). He planned to use gunpowder as a primitive form of internal combustion engine.

His plan was materially less costly than NASA’s.  He reckoned that ten or 20 men could club together, spending 20 guineas each, to employ a good blacksmith to assemble such a flying machine from his plans.  Another area of economy was food:  Wilkins was convinced by suggestions that people could go long periods without eating, and imagined that in space, free of Earth’s “magnetism”, there would be no pull on travellers’ digestive organs to make them hungry.

Similarly, breathing presented no problem. It was known that mountaineers suffered breathlessness at high altitude. Wilkins said this was because their lungs were not used to breathing the pure air breathed by angels. In time his astronauts would get used to it and so be able to breathe on their voyage to the Moon.

Records show that Wilkins did in fact experiment in building flying machines with another leading scientist of the age, Robert Hooke, in the gardens of Wadham College, Oxford, around 1654. But by the 1660s, he began to realize that space travel was not as straightforward as he had imagined.

Readers can find the whole story at SkyMania.com

As we raise our sights, we might we might smile to recall that this is the birthday (1844) of another notable Oxonian, William Archibald Spooner, an Anglican clergyman who became Warden of New College, Oxford…  Spooner, the personification of the addled, absent-minded professor, gave us the concept of “Spoonerisms”– the reversal of the opening sounds of words on a phrase– as he  (allegedly) uttered such immortals as:

(In a sermon)  “The Lord is a shoving leopard”

(To a callow student) “You have hissed all my mystery lectures, and were caught fighting a liar in the quad. Having tasted two worms, you will leave by the next town drain”

(At a high table dinner) “Let us raise our glasses to the queer old Dean”

(On preparations for a patriotic occasion) “We’ll have the hags flung out”

Spooner (again, supposedly) once invited a faculty member to tea “to welcome our new archaeology Fellow.”  “But, sir,” the man replied, “I am our new archaeology Fellow.”  “Never mind,” Spooner said, “Come all the same.”

Spooner (by Leslie Hart, for Spy); source: Art.com

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