NOTES - The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception - H. Keith Melton, Robert Wallace

The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception - H. Keith Melton, Robert Wallace (2009)


1. John Marks, The Search for the Manchurian Candidate (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1979), p. 204.

2. The headquarters compound for the Central Intelligence Agency, the George Bush Center for Intelligence, is located in Langley, VA. See

3. Special Study Group, J. H. Doolittle, Chairman, Report on the Covert Activities of the Central Intelligence Agency (declassified), September 30, 1954, pp. 6-7.

4. Henry Kissinger, Georgetown University Speech, May 2008.

5. For an explanation of secret inks, see Robert Wallace and H. Keith Melton, Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA’s Spytechs from Communism to Al-Qaeda (New York: Dutton Books, 2008), pp. 427-437.

6. Arthur C. Clarke, Profiles of the Future (New York: Harper & Row, 1962).

7. Public awareness of the dangers of “mind warfare” arose after Richard Condon’s 1959 novel, The Manchurian Candidate (New York: McGraw-Hill), became a hit movie in 1962. The plot involved a brainwashed Korean War POW who returns and is remotely controlled as a Communist assassin in a plot to overthrow the U.S. government.

8. Allen Dulles, “Brain Warfare,” Speech to the National Alumni Conference of the Graduate Council of Princeton University, Hot Springs, VA, April 10, 1953.

9. Some of MKULTRA’s concepts had been partially researched by the Office of Strategic Services in World War II and later in authorized CIA programs such as “Project Bluebird” (1950) and “Project Artichoke” (1951), which studied mind control, interrogation, and behavior modification. See John Waller, “The Myth of the Rogue Elephant Interred,” Studies in Intelligence 22:3 (Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 1978), p. 6.

10. Prepared Statement of Admiral Stansfield Turner in the Joint Hearing Before the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research of the Committee on Human Resources, United States Senate, 95th Congress, 1st Session, August 3, 1977. The DCI grouped MKULTRA’s 149 subprojects into fifteen categories. Among these were (1) research into behavior modification, drug acquisition and testing, and clandestine administration of drugs, (2) financial and cover mechanisms for each of the subprojects, (3) subprojects, of which there were 33, funded under the MKULTRA umbrella but unrelated to behavioral modification, drugs, or toxins. Polygraph research and control of animal activity were examples offered. The process to phase out all of the MKULTA projects required several years.

11. See Project MKULTRA, the CIA’s Program of Research in Behavioral Modification: Joint Hearing Before the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research of the Committee on Human Resources, United States Senate, 95th Congress, 1st Session, August 3, 1977. Published by U.S. Government Printing Office, 1977, p. 69. See also H. Keith Melton, CIA Special Weapons and Equipment: Spy Devices of the Cold War (New York: Sterling Publishing, 1993), p. 115.

12. On the Frank Olson Project Web site ( are images of two documents purportedly found in a desk drawer of the family home that appear to be the original CIA invitation to the Deep Creek rendezvous in 1953.

13. Associated Press, “Family in LSD Case Gets Ford Apology,” New York Times Magazine, July 22, 1975. These actions did not permanently close the case and the New York City district attorney reopened the investigation in 1998. See Letter from New York Assistant District Attorney Stephen E. Saracco to the Office of the General Counsel, CIA, May 1, 1998.

14. Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB (New York: Basic Books, 1999), pp. 358-359.

15. Ibid.

16. Ibid., pp. 359, 361. The device had been produced at the intelligence service’s secret arms laboratory at Khozyaistvo Zheleznovo. Khokhlov would himself become the target of a KGB attempt in 1957 to poison him using radioactive thallium—selected in the belief that it would degrade and leave no trace of the cause of his death.

17. Ibid., p. 361. For photos of KGB assassination weapons, see H. Keith Melton, The Ultimate Spy Book (New York: DK Publishing, 2002), pp.182-187. Soviet assassination operations continued during the Cold War, and in 1978 the KGB supplied the infamous ricin-pellet-firing umbrella weapon to the Bulgarian intelligence service (DS) for the London operation that killed dissident Georgi Markov.

18. “Colby revealed that the agency in 1952 began a super-secret research program, code-named MKNAOMI, partly to find countermeasures to chemical and biological weapons that might be used by the Russian KGB. Former CIA Director Richard Helms reported that a KGB agent used poison darts and poison spray to assassinate two Ukrainian liberation leaders in West Germany. The CIA also wanted to find a substitute for the cyanide L-pill, the suicide capsule used in World War II. Cyanide takes up to 15 minutes to work and causes an agonizingly painful death by asphyxiation.” “Of Dart Guns and Poisons,” Time, September 29, 1975.

19. Ibid.

20. Ibid. The article quotes Charles Sweeny, who is identified as a former Defense Department engineer and testified to his participation in joint tests between the CIA and Defense Department in the 1960s.

21. MKULTRA Briefing Book, Central Intelligence Agency, January 1976; released 1999.

22. For a listing of the substances, see “The Exotic Arsenal,” Time, September 29, 1975.

23. Larry Devlin, Chief of Station, Congo (Public Affairs, New York City, 2007), pp. 94-95. Lumumba was later executed by Katangan authorities, see “Correspondent: Who Killed Lumumba-Transcript,” BBC, 00.36.57.

24. Roger Morris, “Remember: Saddam Was Our Man. A Tyrant 40 Years in the Making,” New York Times, March 14, 2003.

25. MKULTRA Briefing Book, Central Intelligence Agency, January 1976.

26. “Minutes of the Meeting of the Special Group (Augmented) on Operation Mongoose on October 4, 1962.” U.S. attorney general Robert Kennedy and CIA director John McCone were in attendance. Original document in the Gerald R. Ford Library.

27. U.S. Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders: An Interim Report, 94th Congress, 1st Session (Senate Report Number 94-465), November 20, 1975, p. 71.

28. Ibid., p. 72.

29. Ibid.

30. David Atlee Phillips, The Night Watch (New York: Atheneum, 1977), p. 91.

31. Warren Hinkle and William Turner, The Fish Is Red: The Story of the Secret War Against Castro (New York: Harper & Row, 1981), pp. 30-31, and U.S. Senate, Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders, p. 73.

32. David Wise and Thomas B. Ross, The Espionage Establishment (New York: Random House, 1970), p. 130.

33. U.S. Senate, Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders, p. 85.

34. Ibid., pp. 85-86.

35. Ibid.

36. Ibid., pp. 88-89. Blackleaf-40 is a commercially available concentrate of nicotine sulfate used for horticulture and containing 40 percent of alkaloidal nicotine as a parasiticide. (See Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary, 3rd edition.) The plan was for Cubela (code name AMLASH), a physician, to prepare the pen with poison after returning to Cuba. Instead of continuing with the plan at a time when Castro’s personal security would be on edge following the assassination of President Kennedy, Cubela disposed of the pen in Paris.

37. Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, vol. 12 (February 23, 1976), p. 15.

38. Ben Robinson, MagiCIAn: John Mulholland’s Secret Life (, 2008), p. 84, states that Mulholland came to the attention of the CIA “because of the agency’s face-to-face meeting with a supposed psychic” and that he could aid the CIA as their best consulting critic in their search for the “unlimited powers of the mind.” The February 26, 1970, New York Times obituary for John Mulholland references his books on magic, performances in more than forty countries and charity shows for Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt.

39. Mulholland’s obituary in the New York Times cites that his first book, Beware of Familiar Spirits, an exposé of fraudulent mediums and fortune-tellers, was published in 1938. His later books included Quicker Than the Eye, Story of Magic, The Art of Illusion, and in 1967, The Magical Mind. See “John Mulholland, Magician and Author, 71, Dies,” New York Times, February 26, 1970.

40. MKULTRA Document 4-29. Letter to Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, April 10, 1973.

41. MKULTRA Briefing Book, p. 13.

42. Robinson, MagiCIAn, p. 88. Robinson reprints a letter on Chemrophyl stationery from Grifford (Gottlieb) to Mulholland dated May 3, 1953. A confirmation of Dr. Gottlieb’s cover name is found on a receipt in the author’s papers from the TSS Budget office in July of 1953 for a payment of three hundred dollars to Mulholland as part of Subproject 4 and contains the typed name Sherman C. Grifford. The initials SG were the same for Sidney Gottlieb as well as Sherman Grifford.

43. Robinson, MagiCIAn, p. 169. The common initials of SG for Sherman Granger/Sidney Gottlieb remained consistent.

44. Ibid., pp. 98-99.

45. Memorandum for the Record, Project MKULTRA, Subproject 34, Central Intelligence Agency, MKULTRA Document 34-46, October 1, 1954.

46. Memorandum for the Record, “Definition of a Task Under MKULTRA Subproject 34,” Central Intelligence Agency, MKULTRA Document 34-39, August 25, 1955.

47. Memorandum for the Record, “MKULTRA, Subproject 34-39,” June 20, 1956.

48. Michael Edwards, “The Sphinx and the Spy: The Clandestine World of John Mulholland,” Genii: The Conjurors’ Magazine, April 2001.

49. Marks, The Search for the Manchurian Candidate, p. 204.

50. Unclassified CIA memo dated January 23, 1977, in the author’s files.

51. Marks, The Search for the Manchurian Candidate, p. 219.

52. Evan Thomas, The Very Best Men: Four Who Dared: The Early Years of the CIA (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996), p. 212.

53. “John Mulholland, Magician and Author, 71, Dies.”

54. Joseph Treaser, “C.I.A. Hired Magician in Behavior Project,” New York Times, August 3, 1977.

55. Edwards, “The Sphinx & the Spy: The Clandestine World of John Mulholland.”

56. Ibid.

57. Robinson, MagiCIAn, p. 136. Robinson commented that though only 46 percent of the original manual was made public, his possession of Mulholland’s original handwritten notes and rough draft of the manual from the Milbourne Christopher Collection allowed him to “piece together what information the government has withheld from public inspection.”

58. John Mulholland, “Some Operational Applications of the Art of Deception,” 1953.

59. Jim Steinmeyer, Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear (New York: Carroll & Graf, 2003), p. 80.

60. Dariel Fitzkee, Magic by Misdirection (Pomeroy, OH: Lee Jacobs Publication, 1975), p. 69.

61. A “dead drop” is a secure form of impersonal communication that allows the agent and handler to exchange materials (money, documents, film, etc.) without a direct encounter. Dead drops were “timed operations” in which the dropped package remained in a location for only a short time until retrieved by the agent or the handler.

62. Henrietta Goodden, Camouflage and Art: Design and Deception in World War 2 (London: Unicorn Press, 2007), p. 34.

63. Boyer Bell and Barton Whaley, Cheating and Deception (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1991), pp. 78-80.

64. New Grey Marine 671 diesel engines increased the speed of the boats from three to fifteen knots for infiltration operations. See Wallace and Melton, Spycraft, p. 281. Photographs of the modified junks are shown in Spycraft’s second photo supplement following p. 358.

65. In a 1998 interview, Tony Mendez commented that the KGB surveillance teams, faced with the choice between “believing their eyes”—and thus admitting that they had lost sight of their CIA surveillance target—or rationalizing the lapse in surveillance as being inconsequential, invariably chose the latter.

66. Tony and Jonna Mendez presentation at the International Spy Museum, Washington, DC, October 27, 2008.

67. Benjamin Weiser, A Secret Life: The Polish Officer, His Covert Mission, and the Price He Paid to Save His Country (New York: Public Affairs, 2000), pp. 74-75.

68. Ibid., p. 77.

69. Ibid.

70. The authors retraced each of Hanssen’s identified dead drop sites and noted their similarities. Most sites appeared to provide quick access from a nearby parking location, good “cover” from foliage, and, after reaching the sites, excellent visibility of the footpaths leading to them.

71. Hanssen’s eventual arrest on February 21, 2001, was not a result of bad stage management or sloppy tradecraft, though he was certainly guilty of the latter. In an interview with Melton in December of 2007, retired CIA officer Brian Kelley recounted that Hanssen became complacent. He was observed when servicing his dead drops by two ladies from his neighborhood who were walking through the park in the early morning hours and saw him lying on his stomach on a footbridge in the park near their home in Vienna, Virginia. The incident was not reported before his arrest, and at the time the women thought Hanssen was involved in a drug transaction. Retired intelligence officer Victor Cherkashin, the first KGB handler for both Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames, alleges that information about the spy was first provided by a retired senior SVR officer, cryptonym AVENGER. According to Cherkashin, this information led the CIA to Ames, and then to another retired top-level KGB officer, who gave them the KGB/SVR files on Hanssen in November of 2000. See Cherkashin, Spy Handler: Memoir of a KGB Officer: The True Story of the Man Who Recruited Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames (New York: Basic Books, 2005), p. 251.

72. Antonio J. Mendez, The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA (New York: Morrow, 1999), pp. 140-141.

73. Keith Melton interview in Moscow with Yuri Kobaladze, July 1995. Kobaladze was a former KGB intelligence officer in the London rezidentura and worked for Gordievsky. Kobaladze rose to become the first press officer for the SVR following the collapse of the Soviet Union and was promoted to the rank of general.

74. Keith Melton interview with Oleg Gordievsky on July 4, 1995, at his residence outside London, England.

75. For an illustrated explanation of “the impassable corks” trick, see:

76. Tony Mendez, “A Classic Case of Deception,” Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, cations/csi-studies/studies/winter99-00/art1.html.

77. Harry Kellar was the leading stage magician in the early 1900s. Quoted from Jim Steinmeyer’s review of The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA by Antonio Mendez. Studies in Intelligence, kent-csi/docs/v46ila09p.htm.

78. Weiser, A Secret Life, p. 66.

79. See photo, Melton, The Ultimate Spy Book, p. 79.

80. Melton interview in May 2008 with former undercover officer discussing examples learned in the UK from operations infiltrating suspicious members of the IRA.

81. Mendez recounted advice given to him early in his CIA career as quoted in Jim Steinmeyer’s review of The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA by Antonio Mendez. Studies in Intelligence,

82. The term walk-in is used by intelligence professionals to refer to a broad range of volunteers such as walk-ups, write-ins, or call-ins.

83. In 1968, no category of the Academy Awards existed to recognize “makeup effects.” John Chambers received an honorary award for his makeup work in the 1968 film Planet of the Apes. See Variety Film Database, One of the masks Chambers created for Planet of the Apes was loaned by Tony Mendez to the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC, where it is on display in the disguise section of “Spy School.”

84. How the FBI identifies a traitor is usually not explained, but most often the tips come either from defectors or from counterespionage operations to penetrate opposing intelligence services. FBI special agent Earl Edwin Pitts, former NSA employee Robert Lipka, and retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel George Trofimoff were all victims of such “tips” and their own greed.

85. Dong-Phuong Nguem, “Trofimoff, 75, Sentenced to Life in Prison for Spying,” St. Petersburg Times, September 28, 2001.

86. Other theories exist to explain Houdini’s passage through the wall. Walter Gibson and Morris Young provide a description and illustration (Houdini on Magic [New York: Dover, 1953], p. 221) showing the brick wall resting on top of a carpet. Houdini is depicted squeezing beneath the wall in the slack space created when an underlying trapdoor is opened to cause the carpet to sag. For Adams’s explanation of the trick using a different technique, see exposing-houdinis-tricks-of-magic/? Qwd=./ModernMechanix/11-1929/houdinis_tricks&Qif=houdinis_tricks_0.jpg&Qiv=thumbs&Qis=XL#qdig.

87. Ibid.

88. In the 2006 movie The Prestige, the magician appears to achieve the impossible, that of human transportation across the stage. Only in the closing scenes is it explained that using an unseen identical twin brother created the illusion.

89. Antonio and Jonna Mendez, Spy Dust: Two Masters of Disguise Reveal the Tools and Operations that Helped Win the Cold War (New York: Atria Books, 2002), pp. 254-273. These retired CIA technical officers and former chiefs of disguise recount a detailed identity transfer and exfiltration of a couple (code name ORB and his wife) from Moscow. Their account of the escape is likely sanitized to safeguard the identity of the individuals involved.

90. For a description of the development of the JIB, see Wallace and Melton, Spycraft, pp. 130-131. Former intelligence officer Edward Lee Howard, who had completed clandestine training for a posting to Moscow, was fired by the CIA in 1983 and later betrayed secrets to the KGB. In 1985, while living in New Mexico, Howard employed a homemade JIB to escape FBI surveillance and fled to Moscow. See Spycraft, pp. 154-155.

91. Unpublished Keith Melton lecture, “The Evolution of Tradecraft,” first presented in 2001.

92. Keith Melton’s archive has World War II photographs from the British Inter-Services Research Bureau with the rubber-cow camouflage opened to show the two-man team, as well as closed.

93. Kenneth Silverman, Houdini!: The Career of Ehrich Weiss (New York: HarperCollins, 1996), pp. 99-100.

94. Ibid.

95. William Kalush and Larry Sloman, The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero (New York: Atria Books, 2006), pp. 132-133.

96. Ibid., p. 133.

97. An additional hollow finger was used as a concealment in the palm.

98. Kalush and Sloman, The Secret Life of Houdini, p. 133.

99. Ibid., pp. 97-99.

100. Ibid., p. 100.

101. Ibid., p. 233.

102. Clayton Hutton, Official Secret (London: Max Parish, 1960), pp. 2-3.

103. Ibid., p. 5.

104. Ibid., p. 7.

105. Ibid., p. 287.

106. M.R.D. Foot and James Langley, MI9: Escape and Evasion (London: Bodley Head, 1979), pp. 34-35.

107. Eventually German security learned of the right-hand threads and MI9 switched to a pressure fit. The war ended before German guards became aware of the final evolution of the design. See H. Keith Melton, OSS Special Weapons and Equipment: Spy Devices of World War II (New York: Sterling Publishing, 1991), p. 113.

108. Foot and Langley, MI9: Escape and Evasion, p. 109.

109. The Mokana shoe used a hollow heel as a concealment for escape tools. See: Will Goldston, Tricks and Illusions for Amateur and Professional Conjurers (London: George Routledge & Sons), 1920, pp. 138, 140. Also see Kalush and Sloman, The Secret Life of Houdini, p. 179.

110. Kalush and Sloman, The Secret Life of Houdini, p. 179.

111. Charles Fraser-Smith, The Secret War of Charles Fraser-Smith (London: Michael Joseph, 1981), cover.

112. Hutton, Official Secret, photo supplement following p. 48.

113. Charles Connell, The Hidden Catch (London: Elek Books, 1955), photograph preceding p. 65.

114. See article by Steranko, Genii: The Conjurors’ Magazine, October 1964.

115. Kalush and Sloman, The Secret Life of Houdini, p. 179.

116. H. Keith Melton, CIA Special Weapons and Equipment: Spy Devices of the Cold War (New York: Sterling Publications, 1993), p. 106. Leatherman is a commercially available multitool. See: http://

117. Kalush and Sloman, The Secret Life of Houdini, pp. 178, 181.

118. Melton, CIA Special Weapons, p. 75.

119. Ibid., p. 72.

120. Eddie Sachs, Sleight of Hand: A Practical Manual of Legerdemain (London, L.U. Gill 1885), p. 2, “Formerly conjurers appeared clothed in long robes and tall, pointed hats, both covered with mystic signs and symbols. Robert Houdini, whom we may consider the father of modern conjuring, being the first to perform in the now conventional evening dress. This innovation had the effect of increasing the genuineness of the performance, as it was an easy matter to conceal large articles beneath a flowing robe, such as had been previously worn; but the close-fitting dress suit affords no means of concealment—to the minds of the audience, at any rate.”

121. Wallace and Melton, Spycraft, pp. 228-229, describes a topcoat tailored to hide an eavesdropping device that a CIA officer carried for weeks until he had the opportunity to install the bug.

122. Fitzkee, Magic by Misdirection, p. 87.

123. British Special Operations, Executive (SOE) crafted waistcoats and various styles of money belts in World War II to conceal stacks of currency or small equipment. The special clothing camouflaged the “load” in pockets designed to fit in the small of the user’s back in the upper chest to avoid detection. For photographs see: Mark Seaman, Secret Agent’s Handbook: The WWII Spy Manual of Devices, Disguises, Gadgets, and Concealed Weapons (Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press, 2001), pp. 138-139, 143.

124. By dropping the matchbox through his coat to the floor, Jacob could deny that he had retrieved it from the drop site. However, the distinction was of little consequence since, unbeknownst to him, the KGB had secretly photographed all of his actions at the drop site. Jacob was detained and declared persona non grata (PNG’d) from Russia. For a KGB surveillance photo of Jacob about to clear the drop see Wallace and Melton, Spycraft,photo section following p. 166, and pp. 28-30.

125. Goldston, Tricks and Illusions, pp. 138, 140; Kalush and Sloman, The Secret Life of Houdini, p. 179.

126. See Melton, Ultimate Spy, pp. 107, 159, for photos. In a March 2009 interview, retired RCMP Security Service counterintelligence officer Dan Mulvenna related an incident according to which the Canadians in the early 1970s secretly placed a transmitter in the heel of an StB officer’s street shoe while he was on the tennis court. Technicians, J-Operations or J-OPS, replaced the heel of his shoe, which he believed was securely stowed in his club locker.

127. Bugging is a term in common use that refers to the various forms of clandestine electronic audio surveillance, or eavesdropping. See Melton, Ultimate Spy, pp. 102-111, for photos, and Wallace and Melton, Spycraft, pp. 405-416, for details.

128. Athan G. Theoharis with Richard H. Immerman, The Central Intelligence Agency: Security Under Scrutiny (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2006), p. 313.

129. The Trial of the U2: Exclusive Authorized Account of the Court Proceedings of the Case of Francis Gary Powers, heard before the Military Division of the Supreme Court of the USSR, Moscow, August 17, 18, 19, 1960, (Chicago: Translation World Publishers, 1960). Also see Gary Powers and Curt Gentry, Operation Overflight (New York: Brassey’s, 2003), pp. 50-51.

130. The device was not an offensive weapon, but a means to provide a fast means of suicide. Previous research in World War II had produced a lethal pill (L-pill) using cyanide, which took fifteen minutes to work and caused death painfully by asphyxiation. The poison on the needle carried by Powers was shellfish toxin and would have resulted in paralysis and death within ten seconds. See “Of Dart Guns and Poisons,” Time, September 29, 1975.

131. The Trial of the U2, p. 38.

132. Powers pled guilty to espionage at his trial in August of 1960 and received a ten-year sentence. He was released in 1962 as part of a spy swap involving KGB spy Rudolf Abel. See Norman Polmar and Thomas B. Allen, Spy Book: The Encyclopedia of Espionage (New York: Random House, 1998), pp. 448-449.

133. Voice codes convey meaning clandestinely by altering the inflection, sequence, or selection of words used between the performer and his confederate.

134. The exploitation of a believing audience with a hidden earpiece receiver by a televangelist/performer/faith healer was depicted in the 1992 movie Leap of Faith, starring Steve Martin.

135. An earlier solution by the CIA was to hide the receiver inside the bowl of a smoking pipe and use bone conductivity to allow him to “hear” when he bit down on the pipe stem. See Wallace and Melton, Spycraft, p. 418.

136. See a photo of the Phonak and ear camouflage in the second photo supplement of Wallace and Melton, Spycraft, following p. 358.

137. Communicating secrets in high-threat postings, such as Moscow, was a constant concern for CIA officers who suspected audio eavesdropping from within even their own embassy. One temporary, but effective, solution was the “Magic Slate.” Instead of talking, messages would be written on a slate and handed to another officer, who read it and then lifted the transparency to erase the words. The slates were never left where an adversary could have access. Their tools, ordinary children’s toys, were identical in function and derived from the “slates” used by spiritualists and performers, including Houdini, to summon messages from communicative spirits almost a century earlier.

138. A prototype of the false scrotum is in Keith Melton’s Florida museum and descriptions of its development and use are included in museum tours and Melton’s “The Evolution of Tradecraft” lecture. The wearer donned the concealment by inserting one testicle at a time into the false scrotum. Once loaded, it was held in place until access was required to the radio. The concealment was built and successfully tested, but it was never employed operationally.

139. An example of this exfiltration technique is on display in Moscow at the Border Guard Museum and credited to a smuggling ring in 1905. Following the dissolution of the KGB at the end of the Cold War, the Border Guards are now part of FSB, the Federal Counterintelligence Service of the Russian Federation.

140. Keith Melton interview with Tony Mendez, July 1998.

141. For a detailed description of dead drops and concealments, see Wallace and Melton, Spycraft, pp. 388-400.

142. See Melton, Ultimate Spy, pp. 154-163, for photos of concealments and dead drops.

143. For a photo of the dead rat concealment, see Wallace and Melton, Spycraft, photo section following p. 358. If necessary, the rats’ fur could be dyed using commercially available hair-coloring products so as to match the fur of indigenous rats observed in the operational area.

144. CIA agent Aleksandr Ogorodnik committed suicide following his arrest after biting into a CIA-supplied fountain pen (working) that contained an L-pill (suicide) in the cap. See Wallace and Melton, Spycraft, pp. 101-102.

145 Quoted from Jim Steinmeyer’s review of The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA by Antonio Mendez. Studies in Intelligence,

146. Steinmeyer, Hiding the Elephant, p. 80, describes sight lines as “the imaginary lines of vision, the boundaries of what an audience will see or what they will be prevented from seeing.”

147. Henry Hay, The Amateur Magician’s Handbook (Edison, NJ: Castle Books, 1982), p. 129.

148. Fitzkee, Magic by Misdirection, p. 104.

149. Professional coin manipulators employ a variety of coins for deceptions; half dollars or silver dollars are more visible to audiences and easier to handle, while the smaller, thinner, and lighter dimes and pennies are better for palming (concealing in the hand) and more likely to be sharply milled. See Hay, The Amateur Magician’s Handbook, p. 129.

150. The Soviet intelligence service (NKVD) began concealing soft film in hollow coins as early as 1933-1934 to facilitate their covert communication with agents. The NKVD conducted sophisticated intelligence operations globally between the world wars at a time in which U.S. intelligence capabilities had been almost eliminated. (Keith Melton interviewed the retired former chief of clandestine photography for the KGB’s First Directorate in Moscow during 1994.) Separating the film’s emulsion layer from its transparent base produces soft film. The thin emulsion is fragile, but easier to conceal. Microdots are optical reductions of a photographic negative to a size that is illegible without magnification, usually one millimeter or smaller in area. One-time-pads are groups of random numbers or letters arranged in columns, used for encoding and decoding messages. Since the codes are used only once, a properly employed OTP is theoretically unbreakable. Secure-data storage cards are forms of nonvolatile digital memory, which can be as small as 32 mm by 24 mm by 2.1 mm and can store gigabytes of data. See Wallace and Melton, Spycraft, pp. 429-435.

151. See photographs of the nickel and the complete story on the official FBI Web site:

152. The term used for Soviet and Russian intelligence officers operating abroad without benefits of “diplomatic cover.” Illegals pose as legitimate residents of the target country and are protected only by a strong cover.

153. Robert J. Lamphere, The FBI-KGB War, A Special Agent’s Story (New York: Random House, 1986), pp. 270-271. An examination of the ciphered message by FBI experts concluded that it was prepared using a Cyrillic typewriter. A conversation with “two men from the RCMP” confirmed the importance of the “nickel and cipher” to Lamphere and convinced him it was created using a one-time-pad (called a gama) and intended for use by a Soviet illegal officer operating in the United States.

154. Polmar and Allen, Spybook, p. 530.

155. Andrew and Mitrokhin, The Sword and the Shield, pp. 159-160.

156. To compensate for the missing weight of the milled-out inner core, it would be possible to add an inner ring of denser metal within the cavity to restore the coin to its original weight.

157. When the coin is fitted into the machined ring and struck against a hard surface, inertia separates the two sides of the coin and reveals the secret cavity.

158. Tom Mangold, Cold Warrior: James Jesus Angleton: The CIA’s Master Spy Hunter (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991), p. 215. In a positive transparency, the background is clear and only the text of the message appears in black. To aid in concealment, the KGB developed techniques to strip the emulsion of film away from its backing and bleach it in diluted iodine to make it clear. The thin emulsion would appear clear, but could be redeveloped and fixed using ordinary film processing chemicals for viewing. See Wallace and Melton, Spycraft, pp. 429-431.

159. Mangold, p. 215.

160. Melton, “The Evolution of Tradecraft.”

161. The internal CIA Museum is considered the “most secret museum in the world” and the “best museum that you’ll never get to see.” Some of its unclassified holdings are displayed in two museums inside the CIA headquarters buildings in Langley, Virginia.


163. Donated artifacts sometimes arrive at the CIA Museum curator’s office without any history and have been known to even appear anonymously on the curator’s desk during a lunch hour. The necessary compartmentation of clandestine operations may result in the operational history of an artifact being lost.

164. A concealment device, or CD, includes a hidden compartment to which access is obtained for locks, hinges, and latches. The mechanical actions necessary to open a professional CD are normally a sequence of unnatural twists, turns, and pulls. See Wallace and Melton, Spycraft, p. 390.

165. Robinson, MagiCIAn, p. 163. Mulholland’s “dope” coin is cited as being in the Robinson collection.

166. Robert Lee Holtz, “Behold the Appearance of the Invisibility Cloak,” Wall Street Journal, March 13, 2009.

167. In the story, the scientist, Griffin, makes himself invisible by altering his body’s refractive index to that of air so that he becomes invisible. Unfortunately for the character, the alteration is not reversible and is accompanied by mental instability. In 1933 Universal Pictures made it into a movie of the same name. Wells’s novel can be downloaded from

168. Jim Steinmeyer, Hiding the Elephant.

169. In a similar manner, the “best” espionage tradecraft, including clandestine techniques and devices, will always employ the “best” available technology. The objectives of espionage do not change, but the tools employed by the spy are constantly changing and becoming more capable.