This is positively not news and it has come to my attention again today after a gap of a couple of years. It is back in the news again.
NOTE: THIS WAS NEWS ABOUT 2 YEARS AGO. I HAVE REPUBLISHED IT BECAUSE MORE INFORMATION HAD BECOME AVAILABLE. HENCE THE DATES OF THE COMMENTS, THE FIRST OF WHICH BY SARAH HARTWELL IS VERY USEFUL.
Wikipedia (the other wiki) explains: “Acoustic Kitty was a CIA project launched by the Central Intelligence Agency Directorate of Science & Technology, which in the 1960s intended to use cats to spy on the Kremlin and Soviet embassies. In an hour-long procedure a veterinary surgeon 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. This would allow the cat to innocuously record and transmit sound from its surroundings. Due to problems with distraction, the cat’s sense of hunger had to be addressed in another operation.
The project was cancelled in 1967. A closing memorandum said that the CIA researchers believed that they could train cats to move short distances, but that “the environmental and security factors in using this technique in a real foreign situation force us to conclude that for our (intelligence) purposes, it would not be practical. The project was disclosed in 2001, when some CIA documents were declassified”
It does not surprise me that a cat was abused and used by the CIA in this way. The CIA implanted a transmitter and a battery inside a domestic cat. The tail contained the antenna. The cat was labelled: Acoustic Kitty.
The objective? To spy on the Russians. The year? 1966. This was during the era of the cold war between America and Russia (1947-1991).
The information about this experiment was declassified in 2001. A man named Victor Marhetti interviewed by The Sunday Telegraph said:
“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.”
He also said:
“They found he would walk off the job when he got hungry, so they put another wire in to override that.”
In other words they reprogrammed the cat to make him act in a certain way.
The CIA had hoped the cat would rest up by park benches etc. and pick up conversations between Russian spies. Come on guys! What chance was there of that being achieved? This was a bad idea, a desperate idea. One problem was that the cats are not ideal candidates for training. We all know that except the CIA in 1966.
Another problem was that the equipment was relatively unsophisticated in those days.
“These bugs picked up everything,” – writes Vince Houghton in his entertaining book Nuking the Moon: And Other Intelligence Schemes and Military Plots Left on the Drawing Board.
On the plus side cats would be ignored. Who’d imagine a transmitter embedded inside a cat?
I don’t have any more on this. I suppose this is enough. Cats have been used in other human endeavours such in wars and bringing drugs into prisons all of which are a gross abuses of an innocent animal.