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10 Secret Lessons From The CIA Manual Of Trickery And Deception

Published On 11/03/2014 Published On 11/03/2014

The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception has been available to the general public since 2010, and it should be in your pocket right now.

This declassified, Cold War-era training manual for CIA field agents offers step-by-step instructions on how to be Jason Bourne through the use of hidden weapons, slight-of-hand tricks, and the power of deception. Of course, this thing is laced with anti-Communist propaganda and a chapter titled "Surreptitious Removal of Objects by Women." It's a bizarre testament to the paranoia felt during the McCarthy era—but also a pretty badass guide to being a spy. These are the 10 best lessons (coupled with 1950s-era illustrations) from the manual.

Use them well and stay out of the DANGER ZONE. 

All Other Photos: The Official CIA Manual

1. Take out the guard dogs.

"Hush puppy" pills were a humane way to incapacitate guard dogs by using a powerful tranquilizer mixed into ground beef. Of course, a miniature syringe was included to wake the little Commie pups back up and leave them unscathed. 

2. Remember that style = safety.

"The size of the button, its color, and its design all can be used for eye-catching purposes for the one looking." The signal could be acknowledged through a simple touch of the button—as well as an adjustment of a tie clip, shoelace, or other suit accessory. 

3. Stash the goods in your pants. 

An extra hidden pocket was sewn into the inside of the pants to provide a covert hiding spot for anything from microfilm to the scrawled phone number of a foxy Russian spy who you definitely shouldn't be pursuing.

4. Remember that smoking kills...immediately. 

Naturally, a lot of this book contains specific instructions and plans on how to take out the nation's greatest threat at the time—Fidel Castro. One chemist proposed sneaking LSD inside one of Castro's prized cigars; keep in mind, the CIA didn't know too much about LSD at the time and probably would've sent the Communist leader on a dope heady trip around the universe. 

5. Try to give good hand jobs. 

As a spy, the greatest accessory to your success was your ability to practice slight-of-hand in a surreptitious manner. When handed an important document, one could be trained to fold it up small enough to hide in your palm. 

6. Practice your oral DIE-giene 

This is a toothpaste tube with a .22 caliber bullet on the inside. Pro-tip: this tube of toothpaste wasn't meant for your teeth—but, rather the squishy parts of your enemy's brain. 

7. Every detail counts. 

When handing off a package to another contact, the color of the ribbon, way the knot is tied, and direction of the rubber band could all be used as signals. The wrapping paper, thus, couldn't be complicated or dark so as to draw attention to the ribbon or rubber band. 

8. The pen is mightier (and deadlier) than the sword.

Another method to assassinate Castro was by sticking him with this Paper Mate pen. Within the pen was a hypodermic syringe full of Blackeaf-40 poison. Even the slightest prick of the pen would result in certain death. 

9. Use women for trickery, love. 

To use a handkerchief as a mask for a liquid container required two things: 1) a woman with a handkerchief and 2) a reason to go near said woman with a handkerchief. As the handbook states: "This may be done by handing a menu to the subject of the trick or passing the sugar bowl, bread plate, etc. Both hands should be used in the operation of passing but the hand with the handkerchief releases the passed object before the other hand is removed."

10. Use everyday objects for deception. 

One of the most important and recurring lessons is the implementation of everyday objects for trickery. A harmless matchbook could be used to conceal a toxic pill which could be nonchalantly dropped into a target's drink whilst simply lighting a cigarette. Devious? Yes. Though, even the CIA didn't know how dangerous smoking was back in the 1950s. So everyone kind of loses in this scenario.


Jeremy Glass is the Vice editor for Supercompressor and legitimately saw a spy pen in the latest issue of Sky Mall

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