The Central Intelligence Agency, America's watchdog in the shadows, analyses national security information from around the world. You don't need to dig too deep however, to uncover a history as disturbing as it is bizarre. From ridiculous human and animal experiments to assassination attempts straight out of the movies, the CIA has had a hand in it all.
Here are some of the strangest experiments and operations conducted by the CIA.
1. Operation Paperclip
Recruited former Nazi scientists to interrogate and torture people
The Joint Intelligence Objective Agency, along with the CIA and the army launched this operation in 1945. It involved recruiting former Nazi scientists into their research programs, and also to help in interrogating Soviet spies. To avoid any public or presidential interference, the identities and backgrounds of these evil Nazi doctors were wiped clean and they were free to do as they pleased, despite being actual war criminals with horrendous pasts.
2. Project MKUltra
Dosed people with LSD without their knowledge to create a 'truth serum'
One of the most notorious experiments of the CIA, this project was developed in the 1950s to enhance the CIA's interrogation capabilities and was also a futile attempt at mind control. The CIA dosed private citizens with drugs such as LSD, mescaline and amphetamines without their knowledge, hoping it would lead to the founding of a new 'truth serum'. Some subjects were even hit with massive doses of acid for 77 days straight. All it led to was a massive scandal and a congressional review about human rights violations by the CIA.
3. Operation Midnight Climax
Used prostitutes to lure people into rooms and administer them with LSD
This was another hare-brained and drug-addled scheme by the CIA in the 60s. They used prostitutes to lure young people into safehouses, where they were given food and drinks laced with LSD. The rooms had 2-way mirrors so the person's behaviour could be studied. It was a project to test the efficacy of 'sexual blackmail'. Needless to say, it was controversial and totally pointless.
4. Project Acoustic Kitty
Implanted a microphone in a cat to use as a spy in Russia
In the 1960s, the CIA invested around $20 million in a cat to spy on Russia. They surgically implanted a microphone in the cat's ear canal, a small radio transmitter at the base of its skull and a thin wire into its fur so the cat could innocuously record and transmit sound from its surroundings. It was also trained as well as it could be to listen to commands. During the first mission, the cat was released and was hit by taxi, killing it instantly. That was the end of that.
5. Operation Gold
Built a secret tunnel to East Berlin to hack their phone calls
In 1953, the CIA and Mi6 built a giant 450 meter long tunnel to East Berlin in order to hack into the Berlin HQ and record their phone exchanges. The East Germans knew all about it however, and kept feeding the two 'intelligence' forces all kinds of fake information.
6. Operation Northwoods
Tried to bomb, terrorise and start riots in the USA as part of a plan to destroy Cuba
According to declassified reports from the 60s, the CIA was willing to commit atrocities against its own country people in order to sway public opinion and denounce communism. Operation Northwoods planned to start riots, drop bombs and orchestrate acts of terrorism in America, then blame it all on Cuba and subsequently bomb them. The plan was rejected by the president at the end, but it just goes to show that you can never really trust your own country.
7. Operation Stargate
Tried to harness psychic powers to see what was happening around the world
Operation Stargate was a $20 million dollar project that focused on remote viewing, or the act of watching something that happens in a faraway place through psychic power. It might sound ridiculous, and it was, since they had no proof that anyone actually had this ability.
8. Project Pigeon
Trained pigeons to guide missile bombs
During World War II, the organisation that was to become the CIA saw a lot of promise in pigeons. They recruited top behavioral psychologist B.F Skinner to train pigeons, which would then be placed inside missiles with cameras transmitting images from the outside. The birds would be taught to peck at the target on the screen to keep the missile on course. The project was canned in 1944 because it was absurd, plain and simple.
9. Operation Mongoose
Tried to get rid of Castro by using poisoned cigars and various other means
Operation Mongoose, also known as the Cuban Project, was an attempt at removing the communists from power in Cuba. It used extremely sketchy means, including using the help of the mafia, sending out poisonous pens and cigars, planting exploding seashells, infecting Fidel Castro's scuba regulator apparatus and a whole host of other James Bond-esque schemes.
10. Discrediting leaders using fake adult movies
Tried to discredit Indonesian President Sukarno by making a fake porn video of him
This was another one from the Commie-hating 60s. The CIA thought that Indonesian President Sukarno was a Communist sympathiser, and as such he just had to be removed from office. They created an adult movie called 'Happy Days' using a look-alike of Sukarno, which they meant to release in a bid to cause widespread embarrassment, but the plan got cancelled somewhere along the way. I wonder if the video is still floating around somewhere.