Tuesday, September 15, 2009

CIA Spy Gadgets Revealed: Q Ain't Got Nothin' On Langley

This week is Gizmodo's salute to CIA spy technology. What's the occasion? The May 29th release of Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA's Spytechs from Communism to al-Qaeda, by Robert Wallace and H. Keith Melton (with Henry R. Schlesinger). While we don't typically review books, this one happens to be the best we've ever seen on the subject of old-school spyware, a book the CIA itself held up for many many months before just barely deeming it safe for public consumption, a book that pretty much proves that all the freaky spy gadgetry you've seen in movies—and some that you haven't—is ALL TOTALLY REAL.

No offense to Steve Carell, but I'm not talking about goofy Maxwell Smart crap—I'm talking about serious Bond-grade hardware: Inflatable getaway airplanes, remote-controlled spying insects, cigarettes that fire .22 rounds, hallucinogenic cigars, about 100 other tobacco-related instruments of deception and an ingeniously camouflaged speedboat or two, not to mention digital audio recorders and CCD-based digicams developed decades before their commercial appearance. They've all been built by CIA engineers and used successfully, at least in the test phase.


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