World’s Strangest

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The Early History of 5 Spy Agencies

Most intelligence agencies in the U.S. government were formed to solve specific problems, or evolved from preceding organizations. There wasn’t always an FBI, for example. Before its founding, there was the Bureau of Investigation, whose members were drawn from the Secret Service. Most agencies operate in blackout conditions, and it takes a lot of work [...]

9 Intriguing Excerpts From Old FBI Files

Under J. Edgar Hoover, everybody who was anybody had an FBI file. Here are some interesting things we found while poking around their archives. 1. Albert Einstein Our favorite scientist’s file is over 1800 pages long. Einstein’s German roots always made the Bureau nervous. It didn’t help that he was an outspoken pacifist and socialist (not to [...]

11 Things You Didn’t Know About America’s Spymasters

© JASON REED/Reuters/Corbis There’s more to being a spy than drinking martinis, talking into shoe-phones, and discarding messages that self-destruct in five seconds. Here are 11 surprising facts about America’s spymasters. 1. The CIA had a mad scientist on the payroll Dr. Sidney Gottlieb sold Christmas trees at a roadside stand, raised goats and was an accomplished square [...]

The Legend of Undercover Elvis

The Photo: While you probably recognize the iconic photo of Elvis meeting Nixon in 1970, you might not know the exact reason for the visit. Elvis desperately wanted to become an undercover agent. Concerned about increased drug use in America, he petitioned Nixon in a handwritten letter proposing he be named a “Federal Agent at [...]

6 Other Plots to Blackmail Celebrities

David Letterman has been in the news for helping police foil an attempt to blackmail him, but the late-night star is hardly the first celebrity in this position. Here are a few other brazen—and mostly unsuccessful—attempts to blackmail famous people. 1. Bill Cosby Bill Cosby may be one of television’s most famous family men, but a 1997 [...]