tagging and tracking, mechanical dragonfly bugs
Allen L. Barker
alb at datafilter.com
Fri Nov 7 13:57:34 EST 2003
[Remember that advanced technologies developed by groups like
the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology can be and have
been used to violate fundamental human rights:
Structured as a history, Richelson's book "The Wizards of
Langley" traces the activities of the DST over nearly four
decades and documents its diverse achievements that range
from the exquisite (the development of overhead reconnaissance)
to the criminal (mind control experiments) to the absurd
Victims of such abuses have very little recourse, assuming they
even figure out what is being done to them in the first place.
They are up against technology which officially "doesn't exist" --
though obviously it does -- and the criminal abuse of the secrecy
and powers of the covert US intelligence community. *Strong*
oversight and constant vigilance are necessary to prevent such
abuses as well as to bring justice in cases where they have
CIA Used Dragonfly, Catfish as Spy Gadget Models
Tue Oct 28,12:35 PM ET
By Tabassum Zakaria
LANGLEY, Va. (Reuters) - The CIA (news - web sites) once built a
mechanical dragonfly to carry a listening device but found small gusts
of wind knocked it off course so it was never used in a spy operation.
The agency also tested a 24-inch-long rubber robot catfish named
"Charlie" capable of swimming inconspicuously among other fish and
whose mission remains secret.
Charlie and the dragonfly were among spy gadgets displayed at CIA
headquarters in an exhibit to mark the 40th anniversary of the
Directorate of Science and Technology. It is not open to the public.
"Charlie's mission is still classified, we can't talk about it," Toni
Hiley, curator of the CIA museum, told Reuters on a tour of the
exhibit. "All we can say is he's our work on aquatic robotic
After seeing the life-like "insectothopter," Hiley jokes that she
cannot look at a dragonfly in the same way anymore.
In the 1970s the CIA had developed a miniature listening device that
needed a delivery system, so the agency's scientists looked at
building a bumblebee to carry it. They found, however, that the
bumblebee was erratic in flight, so the idea was scrapped.
An amateur entymologist on the project then suggested a dragonfly and
a prototype was built that became the first flight of an insect-sized
machine, Hiley said.
A laser beam steered the dragonfly and a watchmaker on the project
crafted a miniature oscillating engine so the wings beat, and the fuel
bladder carried liquid propellant.
Despite such ingenuity, the project team lost control over the
dragonfly in even a gentle wind. "You watch them in nature, they'll
catch a breeze and ride with it. We, of course, needed it to fly to a
target. So they were never deployed operationally, but this is a
one-of-a-kind piece," Hiley said.
Donald Kerr, CIA deputy director for science and technology whose
equivalent in a James Bond movie would be "Q" the master spy
gadgeteer, said the tempo of spy operations has increased since his
directorate was established in August 1963.
"You look at just the number of things we're doing, a week, a year,
it's really quite astounding," Kerr said.
U.S. spy agencies are trying to develop technologies to track
individuals, but the United States has so far failed to find two of
the world's most wanted men -- al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (news -
web sites) and deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein (news - web sites).
"It's not a new problem, it's in fact been a problem for law
enforcement for years. So one of the areas we spend a lot of effort on
is so-called tagging and tracking," Kerr said.
"It's everything from 'can I paint a bullseye on your back and follow
you with a camera?' Or do you leave a trail of candy wrappers that are
unique to you that I can use to find you?" Kerr said. "So you're
dealing with the physical and electronic detritus that people leave
behind as one way of tracking." Facial recognition technology can be
useful but not to search for an individual because the databases are
too big. "If I have a picture of somebody in the New York subway and I
search it against pictures of everybody I think are bad people in the
world, it's an immense problem and the false results are
overwhelming," Kerr said.
The CIA also showed off its miniature technology.
A microdot camera had a tiny lens on top of what looked like a thick
coin, which contained a film that rotated 11 times to produce 11
Another item on display was newly declassified triangle-shaped
directional antenna, weighing four ounces and used on mobile
surveillance operations throughout the 1980s.
Mind Control: TT&P ==> http://www.datafilter.com/mc
Home page: http://www.datafilter.com/alb
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