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  • The CIA- the world's second-most feared intelligence agency, first place naturally goes to the

  • Russian FSB.

  • But what the CIA lacks in technique versus its Russian competition, it more than makes

  • up for in sheer crazy.

  • Get ready to learn about the craziest CIA covert operations.

  • 10.

  • Spying Is For The Birds- Literally It's the height of the Cold War, east versus

  • west, democracy versus stalinism.

  • With nuclear weapons aimed at each other's throats, the US and Soviet Union are in a

  • struggle for the very fate of the world itself.

  • In this high stakes, winner-take-all, zero-sum game, the United States unveils its newest

  • weapon- a pigeon.

  • Well, not just one pigeon, but thousands of them, all released in eastern europe with

  • the hopes they'll drop sensors that will help the US learn where the Soviet Union is conducting

  • chemical weapon tests.

  • Pigeons were even trained to fly cameras over facilities, with surprisingly good quality

  • images being returned.

  • But pigeons are far from the only birds enlisted to defeat the Reds, and ravens too are put

  • to task fighting for freedom and the American way.

  • These specially clever animals are trained to drop off listening devices on window sills

  • that are otherwise inaccessible, and in at least one operation a red laser beam was used

  • to guide a raven to a target, drop off the bug, and then return to its handler with the

  • use of a special lamp.

  • Sadly that particular operation yielded no usable intelligence, as the bug failed to

  • work properly, but the CIA would go on to successfully use birds in many still-classified

  • operations.

  • With the ability to fly loads up to 40 grams, there's little doubt that in today's age of

  • smart, miniaturized electronics, birds are once more on the front lines of the CIA's

  • covert wars.

  • But the CIA's next crazy operation truly takes things out of this world...

  • 9.

  • Flying Saucers From...

  • The Earth?

  • In the 1950s flying saucers were all the rage, and it seemed like everybody was seeing one

  • every other day.

  • With events like Roswell and the real-life flying saucer invasion of Washington though,

  • we can hardly blame boomers for being afraid of aliens from outer space or south of the

  • border.

  • During the height of flying saucer mania, the CIA and the Air Force both got an idea-

  • what if there was something to flying saucers?

  • If alien flying saucers could cross the void of space, surely they would do a pretty good

  • job of flying around the earth, right?

  • With generous funding from the federal government's black budget, the CIA and Air Force began

  • collaborating on a flying saucer shaped vehicle that could fly spy missions deep in the Soviet

  • union and shoot down bombers- after all, what better cover for a secret CIA vehicle than

  • making it look like an alien is piloting it?

  • Turns out there's a reason UFOs are claimed to use all sorts of science fiction technology

  • like magnetic levitation or even ESP- because without it they fly about as well as a drunk

  • frisbee.

  • After an unknown number of years in testing, the flying saucer program was finally canceled

  • in 1961, as the design was deemed completely uncontrollable at high speeds and aerodynamically

  • unstable.

  • The CIA is meant to protect Americans, but the next crazy covert operation made the CIA

  • an enemy of the American people… 8.

  • Operation Blame-The-Cubans It's 1962, and the Soviets have done the unthinkable-

  • cooperate with Cuba to place Soviet military forces literally next-door to America... you

  • know, sort of the way that the US had placed nuclear missiles in Turkey and on the Soviet

  • Union's doorstep.

  • Something had to be done about Cuban/Soviet cooperation before the relationship got too

  • chummy, and that something was an invasion.

  • Only one problem: how to justify an invasion of a tiny country that had absolutely nothing

  • to do with the US?

  • No worries, because the CIA quickly came to the rescue.

  • Proposed to President John F. Kennedy, who immediately rejected the idea and fired more

  • than a few of the CIA's top brass, Operation Northwoods was a convoluted plan to, in essence,

  • carry out terrorist attacks all across the US, and blame them on Cuban operatives.

  • Plans included assassinations, the bombing of a restaurant in Washington D.C., riots,

  • and other acts of terrorism.

  • Basically, the CIA was seeking permission to go all Grand Theft Auto on the US and then

  • blame it on the Cubans.

  • Thankfully Kennedy immediately shot down the proposal, and along with it the careers of

  • several CIA personnel.

  • Who says the CIA doesn't have a heart though?

  • The next CIA operation was all about turning former enemies into close new friends...

  • 7.

  • Operation Paperclip After long years of fighting Nazi Germany,

  • one thing was clear- Nazis were terrible, but they were pretty brilliant about coming

  • up with ways to kill people.

  • With the freeze of the Cold War setting in, the United States desperately needed some

  • of that good old fashioned Nazi murder know-how for itself.

  • Barely one year after the end of hostilities, US President authorized Operation Paperclip,

  • handled by the Office of Strategic Services and predecessor to the CIA.

  • The goal of Paper Clip was simple: lure or threaten former Nazi scientists into making

  • the move to the United States and working for America.

  • With the other option being getting swept up by Soviet KGB agents and forced to make

  • missiles in Siberia, it wasn't exactly a hard sell getting Nazi scientists to make the move

  • out to sunny California.

  • The project remains one of the most controversial aspects of the post-World War II period, as

  • many Nazi scientists who should have rightly been tried as war criminals were instead granted

  • a free pass to live a very comfortable life in the US in exchange for their genius.

  • One man in particular, Wernher von Braun, helped establish the American space program

  • and masterminded the Apollo missions- but received lifelong criticism for his role in

  • developing V2 rockets to be used on civilians in Britain.

  • The next CIA crazy covert operation is one they don't want you learning about, so feel

  • free to shut this video off nowno, really, Uncle Sam would thank you.

  • 6.

  • Let The CIA Do Your Thinking For You The Cold War was a terrifying time for the

  • world, with the US and Soviet Union locked in a bid for global supremacy.

  • There was just one problem: why should an auto plant worker from Detroit, or a farmer

  • from the Russian Urals care?

  • What stake did the average Soviet or American citizen really have in the world's greatest

  • international penis measuring contest to date?

  • Turns out the average joe on either side of the Iron Curtain had little stake in the posturing

  • between east and west, but the CIA and KGB were here to fix that.

  • Operation Mockingbird was a still little understood operation undertaken by the CIA to convince

  • Americans that Russians were bad.

  • While the full extent of the CIA's reach is still not known, a former investigation in

  • the 1970s revealed 50 journalists at the country's most influential newspapers all had secret

  • links to the CIA, and were compensated to run CIA approved articles.

  • The program was eventually shut down for, ironically, mirroring the exact same press

  • manipulation and intimidation tactics that the Soviets used and freedom-loving, apple

  • pie eating Americans were supposed to abhor.

  • Still, rumors persist to this day that the program never really ended, with QAnon believers

  • now claiming that every headline they don't like is part of Operation Mockingbird.

  • Like survival challenges, pooping in the woods, and learning to fight like a guerilla fighter?

  • Well then the Cold War era CIA sure had a job for you

  • 5.

  • The CIA Created The Original Doomsday Preppers During the Cold War nothing kept the CIA awake

  • at night more than the thought of Soviet tanks steamrolling the free countries of Western

  • Europe.

  • The paranoia of a Soviet invasion was so high that the CIA and US military, along with NATO

  • members, cooperated in the creation of a top secret counter-invasion force.

  • Codenamed Operation Gladio, members of NATO set about creating secret armies, personnel

  • from all walks of life who would remain behind in case of Soviet invasion and engage in a

  • guerilla war of resistance.

  • The plan was simple- without using nuclear weapons to stop them, Soviet armies would

  • easily reach all the way to France before the US could transfer the bulk of its forces

  • to Europe.

  • Rather than fight a certain-to-be-lost battle, nations all over the border with the Soviet

  • bloc would fight retreating actions, while leaving behind large amounts of clandestine

  • forces.

  • Once the Soviets swept past them, these secret armies would rise up to wreak havoc on Soviet

  • supply and communication lines, grinding the Soviet advance to a halt.

  • Operation Gladio was so secret that even some of the highest ranking members of government

  • and military in the nations these secret armies were staged in had no idea of their existence.

  • It would only be at the end of the Cold War that the secret of these ghost armies would

  • finally be revealed.

  • Ironically, the world would also learn that despite all the paranoia, the Soviet Union

  • didn't have a single plan to ever preemptively invade Western Europe, and was in fact just

  • as terrified as the West that NATO would invade it first.

  • The next crazy CIA covert operation was definitely the cat's meow

  • 4.

  • Eavesdropping Kitties The internet loves cats, this is fact.

  • Turns out, the CIA also loves cats- or at least used to.

  • Operation Acoustic Kitty may have sounded like a traditional code name meant to throw

  • off anyone who learned its name as to its true nature, but for once, this codename was

  • spot on.

  • Gathering intelligence was of utmost importance during the Cold War, and the best way to do

  • that was to eavesdrop on people.

  • Problem is, trained spies are pretty good at realizing they're being listened to, and

  • technology to help detect bugs and even long-range listening devices was getting better and better

  • every passing year.

  • Enter the humble kitty cat.

  • At some point, a CIA R&D specialist with way too much time on their hands got the brilliant

  • idea of using cats to spy on people.

  • After all, cats are pretty innocuous, and unless you're suffering from crippling mental

  • illness, you're not likely to think your cat is spying on you.

  • To accomplish the task of creating spy kitties, the CIA surgically implanted microphones onto

  • cats, with a wire leading to a transmitter implanted on the cat's tail.

  • Unsurprisingly, the plan met with little success, as training the cats and getting them to do

  • what they were told to do proved entirely too difficult even for a global spy agency

  • like the CIA.

  • Literally any cat owner could've told them that though and saved the US government millions

  • of dollars.

  • Also the first test cat was apparently run over in its first field trial, just seconds

  • after being released- though the CIA continues to deny said kitty was actually killed.

  • Let's face it, when the Cold War started the Soviet Union didn't just have the better

  • spy agency, they had better technology- but the CIA was determined to change that

  • 3.

  • 'Borrowing' A Soviet Satellite In the 1960s it was clear that the Soviets

  • were winning the space race, with America coming in at a distant second.

  • The Soviets didn't just trumpet their accomplishments in space though, they decided to rub it in

  • America's face by putting their Lunik satellite on a world tour.

  • As the first spacecraft to approach the moon and return, it represented the state of the

  • art at the time, and the cutting edge of human exploration.

  • While the Lunik was on tour, the CIA decided it would 'borrow' the spacecraft for a night,

  • and take the entire thing apart bolt by bolt to learn everything it could about Soviet

  • space engineering.

  • The truck carrying the satellite was intercepted and the driver 'encouraged' to take the night

  • off at a local hotel, under CIA guard.

  • Meanwhile, CIA agents and American engineers went to work on the Lunik.

  • Over the course of the night they photographed every square inch of the spacecraft, though

  • sadly, most of the electronics were missing.

  • The next morning the original driver was returned and compensated for his silence.

  • The next crazy CIA covert operation was perhaps, their most infamous- even if it was a complete

  • failure

  • 2.

  • Operation Kill Castro There's perhaps few rivalries in history more

  • famous than that of the CIA and Fidel Castro.

  • For years the CIA did its best to kill him, and yet Castro would go on to die peacefully

  • at a ripe old age, having outlived many of the agents who's job had been to end his life.

  • Known as Operation Mongoose, for almost three years the CIA tried everything in its power

  • to kill Castro, floating such insane ideas as exploding sea shells, diving suits laced

  • with poisonous fungus, and of course, exploding cigars.

  • The intensity of the CIA's attempts to kill Castro actually ended up leading to the creation

  • of his own cigar company, to ensure the safety and security of Castro's beloved cigars.

  • Plot after plot was either attempted or brainstormed and rejected as impractical.

  • One attempt to poison his shoes as he left them out for cleaning by hotel staff was canceled

  • at the last minute because Castro was at the time visiting the UN, and it was believed

  • it would make the US look bad if Castro bit the dust as he was attending a peaceful international

  • assembly.

  • Another plot involved training a former lover to assassinate him in private, and after months

  • of preparation and training by the CIA, the lover was sent back to Cuba and managed to

  • spend the night with him... only to fall back in love with him and admit to the entire plot.

  • The true length and breadth of the insanity that the CIA explored in their attempt to

  • kill Castro may never be known, but the plots that are public knowledge hint at a legacy

  • of incredibly inventive assassination attempts, which all failed or were impractical in hilarious

  • ways.

  • Our number one crazy CIA covert operation is one who's terrible legacy will never,

  • ever truly be known

  • 1.

  • MK-Ultra At last we have it, the single most insane

  • CIA operation ever attempted- that we know of anyways.

  • Known as MK-Ultra, the CIA