On Thursday, the Washington Post‘s Adam Goldman had the scoop on how, circa 2005, the CIA began secretly developing creepy-looking Osama bin Laden action figures in their war against Al Qaeda. You read that right:
The faces of the figures were painted with a heat-dissolving material, designed to peel off and reveal a red-faced bin Laden who looked like a demon, with piercing green eyes and black facial markings.
The goal of the short-lived project was simple: spook children and their parents, causing them to turn away from the actual bin Laden.
The code-name for the bin Laden figures was “Devil Eyes,” and to create them the CIA turned to one of the best minds in the toy business…The toymaker was Donald Levine, the former Hasbro executive who was instrumental in the creation of the wildly popular G.I. Joe toys that generated more than $5 billion in sales after hitting the shelves in 1964.
It wasn’t long before the CIA abandoned this project (you can check out photos of a demon-doll prototype here).
While we’re on the subject, here’s a quick look at some of the spy agency’s other notably bizarre or goofy pet projects:
The Sukarno Porno Plot:
The operation that inspired the Ben Affleck movie Argo wasn’t even the craziest CIA scheme that involved a fake movie: In the mid-’60s, the CIA was no fan of Sukarno, the first president of Indonesia. The agency began production on a sex tape (titled “Happy Days”) and naughty photos of a Sukarno lookalike gettin’ it on with a Russian lover. The CIA wasn’t able to track down a double who looked enough like a nude Sukarno, so “Happy Days” never got its big premiere date. Regardless, Sukarno was overthrown in 1967 during Indonesia‘s transition to the “New Order,” and replaced by general Suharto, a US-backed, genocidal military dictator who held on to power for more than three decades.
In the ’60s, the CIA tried implanting small microphones into cats, which they would then send to spy on the Soviets. The project was dubbed “Acoustic Kitty.” The first attempt at cat-espionage resulted in the animal getting crushed by a taxi near the Soviet embassy in Washington, just moments after the operation began. All other missions failed, as well, and the initiative was terminated in 1967. Here’s a diagram of the secret project:
The poisonous toothpaste, concocted by a CIA chemist, was meant for the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected prime minister of the Republic of the Congo. The idea was later vetoed, and Lumumba was murdered in a coup after barely three months in office.