Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Nerd History: Keep Your Cats Spys (and Neutered)

The internet is for two things - porn and cats. Today, I'm not talking about porn, but one of the more bizarre CIA plots I've heard of in quite some time: Acoustic Kitty.

The CIA was always trying to get a leg up on the spy game during the Cold War, so someone came up with the bright idea of arming cats with recording devices and sending them off to listen to suspected agents and such. One has to wonder if this was cooked up by the folks who got their hands on the MKULTRA acid, but never mind - the cats would have microphones and transmitters surgically implanted, and then trained to be near those they wanted to record. The first attempt? Run over by a taxi mere moments after being released. The CIA didn't go much further with the experiment past this, having ultimately sunk $10 million into the program to try to advance feline espionage. My favorite part of this story, though, is the declassified memo regarding Acoustic Kitty. The memo appears to believe that the cats could, in fact, be trained to do this work. If you're a cat owner, you know full well that your cat is a jerk and is likely to pee on your carpet before going anywhere you want it to. It's unfortunate that the government couldn't come to that same conclusion on its own.

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