The United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is well known for its desire to spy on, track, and contact mass surveillance in order to store information on every single human being possible. And now, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, it’s known that they created a robot dragonfly to spy on us.
Newly-released CIA documents show how the espionage agency developed a robot dragonfly spy. The tiny aerial surveillance device – known as the “insectothopter” – was built in the 1970s according to the CIA Museum, where it has been displayed for 16 years. But blueprints for the robotic insect were released this week by the U.S. spy agency to the website The Black Vault. Those blueprints reveal the finely honed microengineering behind the little spy machine.
They show how CIA engineers had built miniature listening devices by 1970, but getting them over obstacles such as an embassy wall remained a major obstacle. Many know that the U.S. government, under the Patriot Act, began to spy relentlessly on our every move and store all of the information that they could on us.
When it was first revealed that the Bush Administration had implemented a secret program of warrantless wiretaps and domestic spying on US citizens, few Americans knew that all of this had happened before. In the early 1970s, it was revealed that US government agencies, including the FBI, CIA, NSA, and IRS, were being used as part of a deliberate plan to infiltrate and disrupt political opponents, and this plan had continued for 20 years under four different Presidents, both Democratic and Republican. This report by the Senate Select Committee (the Church Committee) details the elaborate efforts by the FBI, CIA, and NSA to spy on Americans by tapping their telephones, by intercepting and copying their mail, and even by burglarizing their homes (known as “black bag jobs”). In response to this report, Congress established the FISA courts that Bush bypassed when he directed the NSA to once again spy on Americans without court approval or oversight.
“The ultimate demonstration of controlled powered flight has not yet been achieved,” the CIA chief scientist, who helped develop the robotic dragonfly wrote.
In the end, the robot dragonfly – developed 40 years before unmanned drones – never flew and the spy agency closed the project, but they didn’t stop their quest to find new ways to conduct mass surveillance.