One of the toughest trials the CIA agents faced during the Cold War was their lack of access to the Soviet Union’s compound in Washington D.C. Even though the government spent untold millions of taxpayer dollars experimenting with spy planes and hypnosis, they couldn’t quite figure out a way to infiltrate the USSR’s communication techniques in the nation’s capital.
The Soviets knew they were being tapped. Phones and offices were unsafe places to discuss national security, so the Americans eventually figured out the Russians were simply stepping outside and talking about international espionage during their smoke breaks. That’s where operation Acoustic Kitty came in.
The Office of Special Activities worked for years to covertly develop a way to use domesticated cats to their advantage. Why would a Russian 007 suspect that a stray feline walking by was compromising his secrecy?
So CIA scientists sewed a microphone under one cat’s skin and figured out how to use its tail as an antenna. Victor Marchetti, a former CIA officer, told The Telegraph what happened next.
“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,” Marchetti said. “They found he would walk off the job when he got hungry, so they put another wire in to override that.”
The plan, put to action in 1966, was in preparation for five years and thought to have cost over $10 million.
“They took it out to a park and 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.”
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