Spy cameras aren’t just the stuff of James Bond movies it seems, as agents have used a whole range of cleverly disguised models down the ages, according to the former Chief of Disguise at the US Central Intelligence Agency. In an interview with Wired Jonna Mendez talks us through some of her favourites from her time at the agency and throughout its history.
Examples she shows include a pre-drone pigeon camera used for aerial surveillance, the classic fountain pen camera, cameras hidden in matchboxes and of course the old favourite – a Minox. Mendez explains that photography was a crucial tool in the USA’s battle with its enemies and that it not only helped the government know what they were up to and also helped advance US science and progress through photographs of other country’s technology.
Mendez says her personal favourite was the Tropel Pen Camera that used an amazing lens made from eight elements concealed where the ink reservoir would normally be. Agents would have to be trained to hold the pen at exactly the right distance from the subject. She says photography was very important during the Cold War as pictures could provide evidence and disprove rumours, and she says that to the Agency photography is the ‘indisputable truth’.
Mendez was interviewed as she has just launched a book called The Moscow Rules about her time combating the KGB in the Office of Technical Services during the Cold War. For more information see her The Master Of Disguise website.