Thursday, February 05, 2004
Science, Technology and the CIA: Document 27
Memorandum for: [deleted], Subject: [deleted] Views on Trained Cats [deleted] for [deleted] Use, March 1967, 2 pp.
In a project known as “Acoustic Kitty” the Directorate of Science and Technology sought to train a surgically altered cat, wired with transmitting and control devices, to become a mobile, eavesdropping platform. In its first test, the cat was run over by a taxi. According to Victor Marchetti:
they slit the cat open, put batteries in him, wired him up. The tail was used as an antenna. They made a monstrosity. They tested him and tested him. They found he would walk off the job when he got hungry, so they put another wire in to override that. Finally, they’re ready. They took it out to a park bench and said “Listen to those two guys. Don’t listen to anything else – not the birds, no cat or dog – just those two guys!” ... They 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!3 This heavily redacted memo appears to express the view that cats can be altered and trained to perform certain tasks. At the same time, it notes that “the environment 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.”
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