The Central Intelligence Agency specializes in learning others’ secrets. Speculation about its secretive work fuels spy movies and suspense novels. While much of
The United States allegedly didn’t care for Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz Guzman’s reform efforts. Speculation is that it had something to do with CIA Director Allen Dulles and his brother John Dulles, the secretary of state, having ties to the United Fruit Company that would have suffered under the reforms.
That made Arbenz dangerous to U.S. interests no matter what his talk of reform was. The CIA considered assassination but instead sent 480 CIA-trained mercenaries led by exiled Guatemalan military officer Col. Carlos Castillo Armas to attempt a coup. The military invasion wasn’t exactly top notch, but psychological warfare and concerns about whether the United States would invade led to the military withdrawing support of Arbenz. He resigned on June 27, 1954, as Castillo Armas took power. As far as whether the mission was a success, that would be open to criticism as Castillo Armas ruled as a dictator and imprisoned his opponents.
9. Muammar al-Gaddafi
Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi lost his life after he was ousted during the Libyan Revolution in 2011. At the time, the media reported on the revolution but didn’t mention whether there were any outside foreign interests involved.
The next year armed militants attacked an American diplomatic mission in Benghazi. Half a dozen CIA agents showed up in response, triggering questions about how they got there before reinforcements arrived from Tripoli. The CIA admitted that it had been in Libya since February 2011 – when the Libyan Revolution began.
8. Operation Mockingbird
More than 400 journalists have carried out assignments for the CIA. They’ve gathered intelligence, planted false information, relayed messages, and provided cover for CIA operatives. Pulitzer Price winning reporter Carl Bernstein wrote that about 25 news organizations provided cover for operatives. The agency even trained a few operatives to be journalists and work in the news organizations.
7. Operation Chaos
President Lyndon B. Johnson gave the go-ahead for the CIA to spy on United States citizens as protests raged against American involvement in the Vietnam War. Its hope was to determine if there was any foreign influence like the KGB involved. they did this by infiltrating student organizations like the Black Panthers and Students for a Democratic Society, later expanding it to other groups including women’s rights groups.
6. Searching For Osama Bin-Laden DNA
Finding Osama Bin-Laden required massive amounts of data gathering. But data gathering alone still didn’t help CIA pinpoint Bin-Laden’s exact location. So the CIA brainstormed and came up with an amazing idea. They would spread a rumor that there is a virus around the area they suspected Bin-Laden was hiding and send “doctors” to collect samples of people’s DNA hoping to find Bin-Laden’s relatives which would bring them closer to their target. This operation greatly contributed to CIA success in finding and eliminating Bin-Laden and is considered one of the most shocking CIA secrets.
5. Operation Mongoose
Operation Mongoose targeted Cuba and its Communist leader Fidel Castro following the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. Covert operations considered by the CIA included propaganda, disruption of the economy, destruction of Cuban sugar crops, and real and simulated attacks blamed on the Cuban government. It escalated into planning to take Castro out including spraying a recording studio that he used with hallucinogens and poisoning a box of his cigars. President John F. Kennedy put a halt to the plans during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
4. Blow-up Doll Dummies
The CIA reportedly used store-bought toys that they put clothes on and blew up as agents got out of their cars. This was supposed to be cover for the agents to dupe foreign pursuers, but bursting dolls forced the CIA to find other cover.
3. Phoenix Program
The CIA joined forces with the U.S. special operations forces, Australian operatives and South Vietnam to launch the Phoenix Program during the Vietnam War. The operation targeted people who allegedly had knowledge of the Viet Cong’s plans and infrastructure. It targeted civilians instead of soldiers. Allegedly civilians were even among those killed during the search for the Viet Cong.
2. Project MK-Ultra
The CIA conducted experiments on humans including manipulating their minds with drugs like SD, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, abuse, and torture. These experiments used both U.S. and Canadian citizens as test subjects. It led to conspiracy theories that the CIA had hoped to use mind control. The program was shut down in 1973.
1. Operation Acoustic Kitty
Operation Acoustic Kitty wasn’t one of the CIA’s bloodiest misadventures, but it was one of the oddest. The CIA tried to implant microphones into cats’ ear canals hoping that they could “spy” on the enemy. One account stated the tail was used as a microphone. Supposedly it didn’t get far after the first cat spy failed the test by wandering into the street and getting run over by a taxi. Till today, this remains one of the most shocking CIA secrets. But a question still remains. Are there other CIA animal spies out there?