Not all spies are humans
The ultimate, undetectable spy! A rustle of oily black feathers settled on the window ledge of a once-grand apartment building in some Eastern European capital. The raven paced across the ledge a few times but quickly departed. Inside the apartment on the other side of the window, no one shifted his/her attention from the briefing papers, or the chilled vodka set out on a table. A jagged piece of gray slate lay resting on the ledge, seemingly jetsam from the roof of an old and unloved building. Those in the apartment might be dismayed to learn, however, that the slate had come not from the roof but from a technical laboratory at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. In a small cavity at the slate’s center was an electronic transmitter powerful enough to pick up their conversation. The raven that transported it to the ledge was no random city bird, but a U.S.-trained intelligence asset.
The CIA also taught cats how to be spies. In the 1960s, the CIA spent $15 million on a project called Acoustic Kitty, where agents tried to train a cat to be a spook. The Agency’s Directorate of Science & Technology intended to use cats to spy on the Kremlin and Soviet embassies. Victor Marchetti, a former CIA officer, said Project Acoustic Kitty cost about $20 million.
Pigeons were also employed to safeguard America’s national security. The CIA trained pigeons to be spies in a 1970s’ operation was codenamed Tacana. They explored the use of pigeons with tiny cameras to automatically take photos, newly declassified CIA files show. Why not? The use of pigeons for communications dates back thousands of years but it was in World War One that they began to be used for intelligence gathering.
Other countries have used animals for intelligence and military purposes. Norwegian researchers believe a beluga whale they captured was a Russian spy. In fact, Russia admitted to using beluga whales for combat operations, and the US Navy has been open about training animals like dolphins and sea lions.
DARPA, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects, has studied using insects, yes… Bugged Bugs, to spy on our adversaries. This video shows, in some detail, how rats, dolphins, monkeys, and other critters were trained to become spooks. Enjoy the video: Craziest Times Animals Were Used as Spies.
Robert Morton is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO), enjoys writing about the U.S. Intelligence Community, and relishes traveling to the Florida Keys and Key West, the Bahamas and Caribbean. He combines both passions in his Corey Pearson- CIA Spymaster series. Check out his latest spy thriller: MISSION OF VENGEANCE.