Most of us don’t know much about what the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) actually does. Without some degree of mystery, after all, it can’t carry out its purpose to covertly collect information about foreign governments, corporations, and individuals for American policymakers. So when we do learn anything about a specific CIA program, it’s usually after the fact, and usually because it was a big enough failure to garner media attention. With the understanding that all details about the agency’s dealings are sketchy, unconfirmed, and, well, secret, here are four of the twentieth century’s biggest CIA flops.
1. Operation Acoustic Kitty: The Cold War era of the 1960s was the CIA’s heyday. Americans were so worried about what the Communists were doing and whether they had nuclear weapons that we would have done just about anything to find out.
And the secret agents, glorified in spy novels and movies, who did get the dirt on the Reds were our heroes. The CIA’s carte blanche in chasing Communists led to rumors of some pretty bizarre ideas, like Operation Acoustic Kitty, which supposedly ran from 1961 to 1967, and involved the CIA’s surgically implanting cats with audio equipment to use them as bugging devices.
From The Independent: Forget poison-tipped umbrellas and exploding cigars. At the height of the Cold War, the CIA issued its top spooks with a more prosaic piece of equipment: a beginner’s guide…
With the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall today, I found this story from the BBC in 2004 kinda funny. This headline also seemed to inspire the title of a book from a great publisher in the UK, Icon Books. If you don’t take Icon’s or the BBC’s word for it, watch the Hoff in action at the wall below (or better yet, the music video for “Looking for Freedom”):
Barely a month after the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, the city that had been divided by politics for more than 40 years was united in song. And leading the chorus of several hundred thousand voices was a man hitherto known to the rest of the world for driving a talking car.
David Hasselhoff, star of the hit 80s TV series Knight Rider, is renowned in celebrity-obsessed circles for being Big In Germany; not only as an actor, but as a purveyor of soft rock anthems. For that seminal concert, on New Year’s Eve 1989, Hasselhoff stood atop of the partly-demolished wall and belted out a tune called “Looking for Freedom.” (Continued on BBC News)