Television and movie depictions of CIA agents typically show them as black-clad, stern faced, and secretive. While that is certainly the case some of the time, the CIA is capable of a bit more levity than TV tends to show. The CIA official twitter account is a fantastic example of the agency’s ability to have fun and show off some of its secrets. Here are five times the CIA tweeted something incredible.
- The Photo of William E. Colby, leader of Operation RYPE
The tweet contained a photo of Colby, smiling for the camera in his skis. But he wasn’t on vacation, Colby was leader of “the first and only combined ski-parachute operation ever mounted by the United States Army.” Colby, who served as the CIA’s tenth director, led a team of 24 OS and OSS officers as they jumped from a plane into German held territory, skied for miles across rough terrain and blew up a bridge that would prevent 150,000 Germans from joining the final battle of World War II.
- The Woodsmen’s Pal, the anti-katana
The CIA tweeted a picture of a strange looking knife that appeared to be a cross between a pirate’s cutlass and a bowie knife. As odd as the knife might look, it was designed for two incredible purposes. First, the knife was designed to cut easily through the tropical brush of the Philippines, China, and Burma, and was a standard part of survival kits given to American soldiers in those areas. Not only that, but the knife also came with an instruction manual that explained how to use the Woodsmen’s Pal to defeat a Japanese soldier wielding a samurai sword.
- One of the earliest mentions of the CIA in pop culture was the first 007 novel
Before Daniel Craig, Sean Connery, and all the other Bonds first ordered a martini on the big screen, Ian Fleming penned the first 007 novel. Casino Royale, which would eventually turn into a movie by the same name, was one of the earliest pieces of pop culture to mention the CIA. The novel was published a mere six years after the CIA was first founded in 1947.
- The CIA put a radio receiver in a tobacco pipe
On television, the CIA is often shown wielding strange futuristic gadgets hidden in everyday objects, and that is somewhat true. The CIA tweeted a picture of a special kind of radio receiver that was built into a small working tobacco pipe.
The pipe would transmit messages and commands to the agent by conducting sound through the bones in their face to the ear canal. Anyone nearby would see the agent smoking and go about their business, but the agent would hear tactical information as if someone were speaking to them. Move over James Bond.
- Virginia Hall, the one-legged woman who hiked into Spain to escape the Gestapo
In World War II, Virginia Hall drove an ambulance in Paris until she joined the British Special Operations Executive, A British equivalent to the CIA. The CIA wrote about Hall’s exploits in a series of tweets. According to the twitter feed, she lost her left leg in a hunting accident, but continued to organize agent operations in Paris and help POWs escape from Nazi encampments until the Gestapo cracked down on the operation.
Known as “the Limping Lady,” to Germany, she fled into the Pyrenees when they attempted to capture her. She hiked the mountains alone, escaped to Spain, and eventually returned to France as an OSS operative to sabotage German forces.
For more content like this, follow the CIA’s official twitter account at @CIA.