(Daily Mail Reporter) ~ Last week the US Central Intelligence Agency simultaneously launched a website, along with YouTube and Flickr videos, showing off some of the strange and unusual gadgets they've used to collect information. The agency says the sites allow visitors to "find new ways to connect to a broad array of Agency content".
The YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/ciagov
) a has a range of unintentionally amusing 'tours' and potted histories of the spy agency, but the Flickr stream (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ciagov
) is where you can see unusual and weird gadgets that have been employed since the Second World War. Among these items are the usual spying tools: miniature camera, listening devices, code-breaking machines, all standard fare for the spy on the go.
But then there are also devices that would astound even the most hardened conspiracy theorist. One of the most ingenious is a "letter removal device": an instrument with long, straight pincers which can be inserted inside an envelope flap without opening it. The papers can be wound around the pincers and removed for reading and, after culling information from the documents, they can be re-inserted into the closed envelope and delivered as normal.
Also in the collection are more complicated devices like "Charlie" the robotic catfish and the "insectothopter"; both were developed by the agency's Office of Research and Development in the 1970s, in a bid to "explore the concept of intelligence collection by miniaturized platforms". Charlie, also known as an Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV), looks very much like a real catfish and was designed to study aquatic robotic technology, and contains a pressure hull, ballast system, communications system, and propulsion system in the tail.
The "insectothopter" is a tiny robotic dragonfly that most likely remained in production as a theoretical device, considering the cameras of the time were twice the size and at least three times the weight.
Other items in the collection include the "Belly Buster"; a hand-cranked drill and assorted accessories for drilling holes through masonry, which was used by being held firmly against the stomach and used for placing small microphones. Even simple-yet-effective devices made it into the display; a caltrop, which is a four-spiked device designed to flatten tires, a hollowed silver dollar and a "dead drop" spike which was used for sinking items into the ground at a pre-arranged spot.
Naturally the CIA won't reveal it's greatest secrets- like whether Elvis is still alive of if the Loch Ness Monster is really a dinosaur's ghost- but these new revealings offer a fascinating look into the Agency's history and techniques.