The 10 Most Unusual and Weirdest CIA Programs

  1. Operation Gold

Operation gold tunnel

Operation Gold was an elaborate plan to hack phone lines. Not unusual for the CIA. But the way it was done was not typical. A 1953 joint operation between the CIA and Mi6. The two closely cooperative agencies goal was to hack into the Soviet HQ in Berlin, but at this time there was still a large wall dividing the city in two. They did the only sensible thing and built a giant 450 meter long tunnel to East Berlin.
operation gold tunnel

It took 6 months to build it and they used it to record about half a million phone calls. The sting in the tail? The East Germans knew about it all along and were feeding the British and American spies fake information on many of the tapped calls, mixed in with a few nuggets of real information.


  1. Operation Northwoods

northwoods files


Back in the 1960s, the Cold War was at its height. America was experiencing an unprecedented level of paranoia about communism. One of the results was a proposal for what was called Operation Northwoods. The plan would involve US Government committing, a variety of criminal acts in the US against American citizens. The CIA would orchestrate acts of terrorism, bombings, riots and hijackings. The point? To blame it all on Cuba and then bomb the island country with the pretext of the terrorism “false flag” attacks as justification. In the end, the plans were rejected by President J F Kennedy in 1962, so the program was never carried out. The operation is often cited as evidence for governments’ willingness to commit terrorism against their own people to sway public opinion. Other examples include the apartment bombings in Russia in 1999, which are widely believed to have had some degree of official support or direct involvement from the Kremlin as a pretext to attack Chechnya and usher in the strongman rule of Vladmir Putin.