The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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He likes his kitty litter shaken, not stirred

Off the Radar
 He likes his kitty litter shaken, not stirred
He likes his kitty litter shaken, not stirred

He likes his kitty litter shaken, not stirred

Every criminal mastermind knows the old bug under the coffee table trick. The hidden camera in the flower bouquet is so passe. The sunglasses-camera combo? No evil super-spy will fall for that anymore.

By the 1960s, the CIA knew these standard tools of the intelligence trade were no longer well-kept secrets even if James Bond didn’t.

As America’s weaknesses began to show at the cracks in the midst of the Vietnam debacle, the nation yearned for the certainty of the Cold War tactics of the ’50s that made a statement. Images of “brinkmanship” and “containment” floating in their heads, the CIA stumbled across the next phase in Russo-American diplomacy – kitty cats.

In a number of documents recently declassified through the Freedom of Information Act, the CIA included a heavily redacted memo from 1967 which outlined an extensive operation to train household cats to spy on the Russians during the Cold War.

According to the report called “[Deleted] Views on Trained Cats [deleted] for [deleted] Use,” the CIA’s director of Science and Technology spent several years and millions of dollars on Operation Acoustic Kitty, a plan to surgically enhance and train a cat for secret spy operations.

The CIA “slit the cat open, put batteries in him and wired him up,” former CIA officer Victor Marchetti told the London Telegraph.

After the scientists rigged-up robo-kitty, they had to train him in field ops before sending him off to bring down the pinko bastards.

Basic house training was followed by more difficult operations. The cat was trained to take commands and transmit eavesdropped messages back to CIA operatives through his tail, which worked as an antenna.

“They found he would walk off the job when he got hungry, so they put another wire into override that,” Marchetti said.

And you thought the “Manchurian Candidate” was low-maintenance.

After his extensive training camp, the cat was ready for his first mission. His CIA operatives drove him to his drop-off point in an unmarked van. His quivering whiskers belied the fear that he masterfully shielded behind his steely demeanor. The door slid open, it was go time . . .

SPLAT! Immediately after leaping from the van, kitty met an enemy he just wasn’t prepared to handle – a taxi. Apparently, after that failed mission, the CIA felt that in a “real foreign situation” the cat “would not be practical.” The program was cut, disappointing a whole cadre of Russian Blues, Siamese and Havana Browns who harbored high hopes of serving their country as double agents.

So, the CIA has had better ideas. At least Operation Acoustic Kitty wasn’t a total waste.

“We have satisfied ourselves that it is indeed possible [deleted],” the report concludes. “This is in itself a remarkably scientific achievement. Knowing that cats can indeed be trained to move short distances [deleted] we see no reason to believe that a [deleted] cat cannot be similarly trained to approach [deleted] . . . The work done on this problem over the years reflects great credit on the personnel who guided it, particularly [deleted], whose energy and imagination could be models for scientific pioneers.”

Obviously money well spent. Madlibs, anyone?

With the revelation of Operation Acoustic Kitty, the ’60s era CIA may suffer the ultimate embarrassment. The civilian experiments with LSD were the stuff of hippy legend, the agency’s involvement in the assassination of JFK has been fodder for conspiracy theorists since that day in Dealy Plaza, but this?

The only honorable player in the whole mess is the innocent cat. Well, here’s to Fluffball, international super-spy, who gave the first of his nine lives to the service of this great nation. What do you call a spy cat with one down and eight to go? Octopussy.

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