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If only we could go back to the pre-political-correctness era of a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that would think outside the box and develop all sorts of whacky gadgets, programs (like mind control), and weapons like the CIA heart attack gun.
A big problem we face in the modern-CIA era is that the agency is way more restricted than our adversaries’ (like Russia) intelligence apparatuses in what it can and can’t do. This is the main reason a guy like Putin can just poison people he doesn’t like and Saudi Arabia can just kill and chop up journalists and get away with it.
There’s not a chance that the CIA would or could act like this today. This is why, nowadays, most of the wet work is done in the shadows by Black Special Ops programs overseas working within the military intelligence machine and not the CIA.
And the agency is not happy about this.
Imagine the headlines. “CIA poisons North Korean dictator’s bubble gum!” You wish, CIA!
A Battle of Agencies
Let’s hop into the time-travel machine and twist the date knob back to the great 1950s. When it was considered healthy to smoke Camels, In the Still of the Night was a hit song and America was at the height of her power.
The United States was then unafraid to push the boundaries of just about anything, including creative ways to kill people that needed to be removed discreetly, like our pal, Fidel Castro, in Cuba.
Enter, the CIA heart-attack-gun program.
The CIA was in a death race with the KGB. The Soviet agency was rumored to already have a version of its own heart-attack-inducing weapon that used cyanide gas. KGB agent Bogdan Stashinsky was rumored to have used the gun to kill Ukrainian leaders Lev Rebet and Stepan Bandera in the late 1950s.
So the CIA invested millions into making its own such gun. In 1952 it cooperated with the now-defunct U.S. Army Biological Warfare Laboratories and stockpiled substances that could cause tuberculosis, anthrax, encephalitis (sleeping sickness), valley fever, food poisoning, and smallpox. The agency also developed small poisonous, heart-attack-inducing darts that would be hard to detect on an autopsy.
And you still think China “accidentally” created COVID?!
The Purpose of the CIA Heart Attack Gun
The heart attack gun was designed to kill America’s enemies discreetly without making headline news. The CIA’s technical team ended up developing a gun that would shoot a poison dart (Indiana Jones style) that would dissolve inside a person and induce a heart attack. The poison would be undetectable when an autopsy was conducted.
Just another heart attack here, nothing to look at.
The gun was apparently tested on animals and prisoners. The gun was rumored to have a maximum effective range of 100 meters and be very quiet. A scope was also attached to the gun.
(Personally, I would have developed a heart attack sniper rifle, which you could break down and fit in a small backpack, with a range of 500 meters that would get the job done in most urban and semi-urban environments.)
Read Next: Watch: Former CIA employee, on the 'Heart Attack Gun'
The Gun’s Public Appearance
Following the Nixon presidency, mounting pressure to investigate the CIA for unscrupulous activity was building. So, in 1975 the agency’s director, William Colby, was brought before Congress to testify.
Below you can watch a good clip of the testimony featuring the modified 1911 (thank you, Colt!) that was rumored to fire the poisonous dart.
Watch the smiling faces in the audience and take note of the poor weapons etiquette. “Don’t point it at me!” was yelled out.
If you could have unlimited budget back in the 1950s, what would you develop? Let us know in the comments below.
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