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The Most Interesting Declassified Government Documents

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Utah chapter.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) gives us the right to request that executive branch governmental agencies release previously undisclosed information and files. The intent was to make the government more transparent. The Electronic Freedom of Information Act (E-FOIA) took this even further; now, agencies must provide online reading rooms for citizens to use for reading declassified documents. Obviously, the government has done some interesting secret stuff, so I took the liberty of finding two of the most interesting released documents and summarized them for you.

Galaxy of Stars behind mountains
Photo by Denis Degioanni from Unsplash

Project Stargate

The project has had many different names since the beginning, but several projects under the psychic umbrella have been collectively given the name “Project Stargate.” During the cold war, the US became interested in psychic abilities after hearing differing claims about Soviet research on the topic. The main focus of the file is remote viewing, which is seeing objects with your mind that can’t be seen with your eyes. Some examples include participants being asked to describe a necklace or the surface of Jupiter. In a few cases, participants were creepily accurate; in most cases, participants were completely wrong. The CIA concluded that we all have differing levels of innate remote viewing capabilities.

fluffy cat cooper
Photo by Jonathan Cooper from Unsplash

Acoustic Kitty

The intent of the Acoustic Kitty Project was to create cat spies to help the US efforts to spy on the Soviet Union. Since cats can’t just report back what they heard, the CIA embedded microphones in the ear canal, antenna along the spine, a transmitter in the chest, and batteries in the stomach of a cat. Unfortunately, the cat agents were not very motivated when hungry, so the CIA put a wire in the cat’s brain to keep them focused on spying rather than food. Then, they trained the cat to follow some commands. On an early spy cat mission, it was supposed to go overhear what two men sitting on a bench were saying. The spy cat was not, however, trained to watch for cars, and the cat was hit by a taxi before it reached its targets. RIP spy kitty. The CIA says that the project was abandoned because cats are too hard to train for the highly specific skills they were looking for, but I’m sure that the death of a (reportedly) 20 million dollar cat didn’t help. 


On a more serious note, In our current political climate, it has become increasingly important for citizens to monitor the actions of our government; FOIA is a reminder that we have some rights to the information our government has collected. If you would like to file a FOIA request please use this link to get you started.

Senior at the University of Utah studying Strategic Communication and Design.
Her Campus Utah Chapter Contributor