The mid sixties was a swinging time for the CIA
. It was near the height of anti-communist frenzy, they had a fairly limitless budget, and close to free reign. During this time, the spook
s were busy coming up with creative ways to guard national security, such as the infamous attempt to kill Fidel Castro
with an exploding cigar
. Recently declassified
documents show they had another fairly bizarre idea as well. They would use ordinary cats
as walking wiretaps
The entire idea would be laughable if it wasn't so macabre. Agents would take a cat, surgically open it, implant a tiny microphone and antennae, and set it loose. The cat would then wander around, and agents hoped the cat would pick up interesting conversations. Obviously, several problems arose.
Probably the most obvious problem is that a cat is an independant-minded animal, and doesn't care about such concepts as national security. Instinctual urges, such as the need to urinate and eat, would cause the cat to walk away from the area to be monitored, causing the conversation to go on privately. This problem was solved by another wire implanted into the poor feline, so the spooks could control the cats instincts as well.
The bizarre experiments continued for five years as agents refined their processes, culminating in a field test of the technology. A trial run was set up in a city park, where the cat was sent out as the spies tried to monitor conversations which were occurring. As the agents went about performing the test, the cat ran onto a nearby street, was hit by a taxi, and died. Thus was the end of Operation Acoustic Kitty.
After the disasterous trial, the project quickly, and quietly, folded. The agents involved in the project were given letters of congratulation for their hard work, and sent to work on other, more orthodox, projects. The details of the $14 million project itself were classified and buried for 34 years. It was obvious, even back then, that people would have a hard time accepting the need for spending such an extravigant amount of money for what is one of the most bizarre experiments ever held inside the walls of the CIA.