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High-Tech Squirrels Trained to Conduct Espionage

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the the-weekly-world-news dept.

Privacy 269

Pcol writes "In the July 20 issue of the Washington Post, columnist Al Kamen reports that the BBC has translated a story headlined 'spying squirrels,' published in the Iranian newspaper Resalat on the use of trained animals to conduct espionage against their country: 'A few weeks ago, 14 squirrels equipped with espionage systems of foreign intelligence services were captured by [Iranian] intelligence forces along the country's borders. These trained squirrels, each of which weighed just over 700 grams, were released on the borders of the country for intelligence and espionage purposes.' According the story the squirrels had 'GPS devices, bugging instruments and advanced cameras' in their bodies. 'Given the fast speed and the special physical features of these animals, they provide special capabilities for spying operations. Once the animals return to their place of origin, the intelligence gathered by them is then offloaded. . . .' Iranian police officials captured the squirrels before they could carry out their assignments."

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269 comments

It's hard to believe (1)

UncleWilly (1128141) | more than 6 years ago | (#19949795)

The squirrels aren't wireless(?).

Re:It's hard to believe (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19949807)

I knew I always killed squirrels for a reason. I suspect there is treachery afoot.

Re:It's hard to believe (1)

ForestGrump (644805) | more than 6 years ago | (#19949835)

No, the squirrels were trained in the sacred art of telepathy and thus the Iranians didn't find any transceivers in the squirrels.

Re:It's hard to believe (5, Funny)

sentientbeing (688713) | more than 6 years ago | (#19950125)

Squirrels are IDEAL for this kind of work.
 
Everybody knows they can keep secrets.

Re:It's hard to believe (0, Redundant)

buswolley (591500) | more than 6 years ago | (#19950147)

I just don't buy this story, or several of the other stories today.Slashdot HAS REALLY SUCKED TODAY

Re:It's hard to believe (2, Funny)

ccarson (562931) | more than 6 years ago | (#19950379)

The only thing that sucks is that they didn't deploy the pterodactyl recovery force. Raise your POW flags gentlemen. Those brave squirrels deserve the support of their nation!

Re:It's hard to believe (4, Funny)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 6 years ago | (#19949885)

I don't know about you, but my wireless router won't even work with my laptop when on different sides of the house. Perhaps a long string of relay squirrels is the answer?

Re:It's hard to believe (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19950573)

I don't know about you, but my wireless router won't even work with my laptop when on different sides of the house. Perhaps a long string of relay squirrels is the answer?
I'd recommend pigeon packet transfer protocol instead. With PPTP there is at least an RFC and one successful implementation.

Re:It's hard to believe (3, Funny)

fyoder (857358) | more than 6 years ago | (#19950355)

The squirrels aren't wireless(?).

Squirrels must maintain radio silence. Otherwise the Iranians could get a lock with their anti-squirrel missiles. It is a major investment of time and money to train a squirrel for espionage, and even if one doesn't care about the lives of these brave little critters, that investment must be protected.

Re:It's hard to believe (2, Funny)

70Bang (805280) | more than 6 years ago | (#19950519)


I knew it!

Veruca Salt has a hand in this!

It's obvious she was thrown into the garbage chute because she was going to interfere with their real work. Cracking open the nuts was just a diversion.

Squirrels? (5, Funny)

LinuxGeek (6139) | more than 6 years ago | (#19949849)

And I thought that Beaver was the best espionage tool... Go figure.

Zak McKraken anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19949871)

Does anyone remember the two-headed squirrel from Zak McKraken and the Alien Mindbenders?

Imagine putting one of those in Iran. When they got caught by the Iranians for "spying" we could use them to prove that they were producing nuclear waste-related mutations, therefore giving the US an excuse to bomb Iran.

Is it April 1 already? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19949877)

This story reads like an April Fools' joke.

Re:Is it April 1 already? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19950437)

Or a really bad piece of propaganda.

It seems incredibly vague so that they could then replace foreign with a specific country as needed. We already know that most people will believe something that is blatantly contradictory if the government says it, we should be going by Orwell's predictions and not Nostradamus'.

Re:Is it April 1 already? (1)

xeoron (639412) | more than 6 years ago | (#19950839)

Though I find this article hard to swallow as fact, since those critters are not very trainable, but I do remember reading about the failed cyber-kitty project that the CIA once had several decades ago. If you do not know the story, during the first test run of controlling the cat in public failed to work, and in fact the kitty appeared to kill itself in the process.

If only they wait... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19949893)

...Until they see the sharks with lasers on their heads...

And wow, this has really gone all lengths through getting reported; As it stands now I am commenting on an article in the Washington Post, which reports that the BBC reported... yet another report by an Irani reporter.... Too much reports for today.

Re:If only they wait... (4, Funny)

Xanius (955737) | more than 6 years ago | (#19950609)

Turns out that the grape vine really messed it up and the original story was about some squirrels that made their residence in an electronics closet at a TV station.

Pistachio nuts (3, Funny)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#19949909)

is Iran's main export product after oil and their government is full of religious nut cases, so this is just far too nutty...

Nothing special, if you ask me. (1)

evildogeye (106313) | more than 6 years ago | (#19949921)

Seems fairly barbaric - one day this will be done by microscopic robots that can fly.

The real question (4, Funny)

networkzombie (921324) | more than 6 years ago | (#19949925)

is why were the Iranian police catching squirrels?

My guess? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19950397)

Food.

(And I wish I were kidding.)

I've discovered how it all went down: (3, Funny)

ChePibe (882378) | more than 6 years ago | (#19950799)

A sunny May afternoon. Aziz, a low-ranking man in the Iranian defense force, has become overtaken by his hobby - filming voyeuristic squirrel porn - and has now taken it up even during his work hours

Aziz [holding a video camera, slobbering all over himself, and muttering audibly]: Ahhh yeaaaah... you go for that nut, sugar... go get it... go get it!

Squirrel [climbs tree, gets nut, eats]

Aziz [now muttering noticeably louder]: Yeah.... eat it... yeah.... that's what I'm talkin' about... ohhhhhhh yeaaaaahhhh...

Squirrel [continues to eat nut]

Captain Abu Rahman [enters stage right wearing a freshly starched Iranian uniform and a violently angry look on his face]: Aziz! [Aziz jumps to his feet, hoping the Captain won't notice his... errrr... excited state] What the HELL are you doing?

Aziz [sweat rolls from his body as the sun glints on his unzipped zipper and into his commanding officer's eye... his mind races at a million miles an hour as it gropes for some excuse - any excuse - for his presence and sick actions... suddenly, it comes to him] Uh... I was filming... spies!

Captain [curiously]: Spies? Looks to me more like squirrels, officer [seeing his unzipped fly and thinking, "ya sicko!"]

Aziz [innerly thinking "he might buy it! He could buy it!]: oh yes, spies! American ones! [sensing the need to ratchet it up a notch] Can you believe it, captain! The Americans have fitted these mere squirrels with secret spy devices! Why, they have been here for days, monitoring our every move, depositing secret messages in nuts, beaming information back to their base in America! I personally know that one observed you for the entire day yesterday! ["that might be laying it in a bit thick," Aziz thinks]

Captain [pondering... "yesterday? What was it following me for yesterday? What did I do yesterday?" - suddenly, a thought races through his mind like a bullet - "oh no! I was, err 'visiting' the major's wife yesterday! Now the Americans will know, and they will destroy my career!"]: Quick, Aziz! [draws his revolver] We must get these squirrels at all costs!

Aziz [the sweat stops, his heart leaps, and although he realize that he must sacrifice his beloveds, he also must save his job and keep his secret safe]: Yes, captain! Let's go get those yankee scum!

Makes sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19949929)

I've always thought intelligence agents were a little squirrelly...

Not in Australia they can't (1)

innovati (1131489) | more than 6 years ago | (#19949951)

haha there aren't squirrels in Australia so these pesky little squirrels wouldn't last long at all without blowing their cover hehe. I think this is a great idea for espionage, why, what will they think of next? using pidgeons or something equally as stupid. Whatever happened to defecting to the enemy or putting a mole behind enemy lines..... wait......mole? what if the next step is using moles in a more literal sense - I mean, they'd have my entire yard mapped out in detail!

Re:Not in Australia they can't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19950729)

If there aren't any squirrels in Australia then I wonder what that squirrel like looking creature I saw running around quite freely at the Perth zoo was on my last visit.

This is asinine. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19949985)

Also in the animal world . . . From the BBC translators, an editorial by Saleh Eskandari headlined "spying squirrels," published July 10 by the Iranian newspaper Resalat.

From a translated Iranian newspaper editorial...uh huh.

I don't know which is more idiotic; the linked story or the fact that Slashdot posted it.

Morons.

The Other Animals Are Agin' Us (5, Funny)

bytor4232 (304582) | more than 6 years ago | (#19950007)

The Other Animals Are Agin' Us
By Tim Bedore 2003
URL: http://www.vaguebuttrue.com/genius.htm [vaguebuttrue.com]

Did you see that in the paper the other day about those carp in the Mississippi River jumping into boats and bonking fisherman in the head? It's true. They're called big head carp, they're from Asia and they're attacking and severely injuring many fisherman.

Biologists claim the roar of boat motors agitates and excites these carp and they jump towards the sound but I think these biologists are naively missing an obvious connection. Fish are attacking fisherman. For the fish it's get them before they get you, kill or be killed. Even if these fisherman are practicing catch and release, that's a very painful, embarrassing experience for any fish and apparently they have had it.

What about the increase in mountain lion attacks? Great White sharks moving closer to shore? Moose have been showing up in towns and stomping on people. A squirrel was in my living room last spring. Am I the only one that sees a pattern here? People, wise up! The other animals are against us. It doesn't take a genius to see there's an inter-species conspiracy to thwart the urban expansion of man.

How do the squirrels fit in? Surveillance. They spy on what we people are doing in the cities and report back to the bigger species out there on the front lines.

And taken together these other species represent walking, we hope not yet talking, scratching, biting weapons of mass destruction. And if these other species can convince the insect world, for example a well known anti-human group like the killer bees, to join up our way of life and our democracy could be history.

The skeptical may ask why would these other species want to hurt us? Obviously, they hate us. They are jealous of our way of life. We swim in chlorinated, safe environment pools, then towel off and have an adult beverage. They are stuck eating sludge in the Mississippi, a river polluted by guess who: their mortal enemy man. And to top it all off we eat them.

This invasion of Asian carp is no accident. This is stage one of their well planned attack. We ignore the obvious at our own peril.

We can no longer sit back and wait for them to attack us. It's time we adopt a new doctrine regarding these other animals. We have to wipe out any and all species who are a lined against us, wherever they are. We can not rest until every big head carp, great white shark, mountain lion, moose and squirrel and any other species that associates with them are defeated.

If the U.N. wants to get involved fine, if not we can do it alone. Of course the British will show up, they always do, but we will fight to protect our way of life. And if you don't agree, you're an unpatriotic idiot who hates America.

Re:The Other Animals Are Agin' Us (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19950277)

you have a point

Seagull becomes crisp shoplifter
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/north_east/690 7994.stm [bbc.co.uk]

A seagull has turned shoplifter by wandering into a shop and helping itself to crisps.
The bird walks into the RS McColl newsagents in Aberdeen when the door is open and makes off with cheese Doritos

The bird first swooped in Aberdeen's Castlegate earlier this month and made off with the 55p crisps, and is now a regular.

Once outside, the crisps are ripped open and the seagull is joined by other birds.
i think we gotta have a look at social economic state of the animals and look at the collapse of moral's within the animal kingdom, spying squirrels, dorito stealing seagulls and man eating badgers in basra what's next hoodie hamsters, graffiti gerbils, please wont someone think of the children.

Re:The Other Animals Are Agin' Us (1)

Hawthorne01 (575586) | more than 6 years ago | (#19950361)

I tell ya, with all this and the man-eating badgers in Iraq [guardian.co.uk] (Dinsdale?), I'm buying me a whole passle of birdshot and headin' fore the hills.

Which are filled with woodland creatures.

Ok, maybe it'll be safer where I am...

Obligatory (2, Informative)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 6 years ago | (#19950015)

Secret Squirrel [wikipedia.org]
And can someone please tell me if this post is a joke or if Iranians really think US is using squirrels, or if Iranians made this up for propoganda? Who's going to believe this...

Re:Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19950391)

Didn't we read about some unclassified documents a while back about the CIA attempting to use cats during the cold war in a similar manner?

Re:Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19950731)

This seems appropriate: http://www.distantocean.com/2007/07/the-deviousnes s.html [distantocean.com] (not me)

And in case you can't be bothered following the link, not a joke. And whether it's made up or not, similar shit has been done before by the CIA, so it can't just be dismissed as implausible. So if it's a smear attempt, it's going to be effective on anyone who knows about that history.

Iranian news mistook satire for truth before (2, Interesting)

smurfsurf (892933) | more than 6 years ago | (#19950749)

Four years ago, spiggl.de, a now defunct satire magazin visually resembling a top german news magazine, published a fake interview with the then chancellor Gerhard Schröder, in which he pronounce Germany's interest in establishing a nuclear strike capacity.

Two years ago, a iranian news agency found this fake interview and thought it was a reliable news source. They broke the story and there was a big bruha in Iran. The german consulate in Tehran even had to issue an official denial :-)

Which border? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19950039)

Iran shares a border with Iraq, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Precising which border would indicate which country sent these squirrels.

Hey Rocky! (5, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 6 years ago | (#19950051)

Bullwinkle: Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat.
Rocky: Again?
Bullwinkle: Presto!
Ahmadinejad: ROAR!!!
Bullwinkle: Oops, wrong hat.

Re: Ayatollah Boris says... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19950663)

Ayatollah Boris says...

"Forget moose. Must get squirrel!"

Wrong Creature. (1)

cpuffer_hammer (31542) | more than 6 years ago | (#19950079)

I thought moles were the most successful spy creatures. In fact I think, if Iranian intelligence was wasting it's time on this, it needs to go find the mole that has been successful in its mission.

Man-eating badgers in Iraq (5, Funny)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 6 years ago | (#19950081)

In related news, British forces have been accused of releasing ferocious man-eating badgers in the Iraqi city of Basra. From the BBC article [bbc.co.uk]:

Word spread among the populace that UK troops had introduced strange man-eating, bear-like beasts into the area to sow panic.

But several of the creatures, caught and killed by local farmers, have been identified by experts as honey badgers.

The rumours spread because the animals had appeared near the British base at Basra airport.

UK military spokesman Major Mike Shearer said: "We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area.

Re:Man-eating badgers in Iraq (1)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 6 years ago | (#19950139)

Yeah, I saw this article and thought of that story too.

Man-eating badgers. How nuts do you have to be to think that a badger could eat a man?

Everybody knows that a small child aged four to five years old, six at the most, is their limit.

Re:Man-eating badgers in Iraq (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 6 years ago | (#19950511)

Actually, these are honey badgers. They kill lions by ripping off their balls and making them bleed to death. They'll eat an entire platoon of heavily armed soldiers just for fun.

Re:Man-eating badgers in Iraq (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19950157)

Now I really can't stop laughing.

Re:Man-eating badgers in Iraq (2, Funny)

MrCopilot (871878) | more than 6 years ago | (#19950207)

UK military spokesman Major Mike Shearer said: "We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area.

Translation: We don't need no stinking Badgers.

Well of course they are denying it. Those Badgers were told if captured we will disavow any knowledge of you or your activities.

The real trick is teaching these Badgers to eat only insurgents.

What? No moose? (1)

jpellino (202698) | more than 6 years ago | (#19950215)

Then they're clearly not part of a crack intelligence team...

Re:What? No moose? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19950273)

Shush! It's illegal to identify a covert agent. You insensitve slob. In Soviet Russia. (Man, imagine a beowulf of those little...

You should have bought a SQUIRREL! (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19950245)

Didn't they know that?
But seriously, the CIA tried something like that with a cat: http://mprofaca.cro.net/spycats.html [cro.net] "They tested him and tested him. They found he would walk off the job when he got hungry, so they put another wire in to override that."
And there have always been rumors about the Navy training dolphins. Given how capable trained dolphins are, that wouldn't be too surprising to me.
But squirrels? Can squirrels be trained? Why mess around with trained squirrels when they can use paid humans?
----------
Mailboxes Etc in Beverly Hills [mailboxesb...s90210.com]

Re:You should have bought a SQUIRREL! (1)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 6 years ago | (#19950717)

well, the US navy has trained dolphins for mine searching/sweeping, as well as providing protection from enemy frogmen.

But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19950305)

Do they run Linux?

This just in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19950307)

Sharks with freakin' laser beams recruited for special-ops.

Sounds like the CIA Spy Cat (1)

MrSteveSD (801820) | more than 6 years ago | (#19950319)

Back in the 70s the CIA Directorate of Science and Technology had plans for an "Acoustic Cat". The plan was to surgically alter it, insert batteries and turn its tail into an aerial. It was apparently run over by a taxi before it could be trained for its mission.

How common are squirrels in Iran? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19950345)

A quick scan of the Wiki page of Iranian fauna doesn't show squirrels. I bet squirrels aren't nearly as common in Iran as they are in America. Anyway the Iranis shouldn't worry about the squirrels spying. They should worry that they will chew the insulation off the cables in their radar stations. Or maybe the squirrels will get into their attics, chew the wires and burn their houses down.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Fauna_of_Ira n [wikipedia.org]

All this isn't to say that the CIA wouldn't try to train squirrels as spies ... it just wouldn't be real clever to try to sneak them into Iran.

Re:How common are squirrels in Iran? (1)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 6 years ago | (#19950429)

This just in: a spy camel loaded with camera gear was just arrested lurking outside the White House, trying to look inconspicuous. Cheney told reporters: "Obviously it was planted by the Iranians. This is cause to go to war!" He then rode off on a wooden horse, blowing a tin bugle and cackling insanely, leaving a trail of oil and carnage behind him. After throwing their notes away, reporters retired for a drink... make that, many drinks.

They shoulda used their noggins (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#19950347)

Instead of keeping the squirrels, they should have replaced the surveillance gear with tiny little bomb vests and let them go.

If necessary, they could also indoctrinate the squirrels with rumors of 72 virgin squirrels awaiting them in the afterlife.

In Islamic Iran... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19950447)

In Islamic Iran, only squirrels conduct espionage.

Only 14 caught... (1)

Tatisimo (1061320) | more than 6 years ago | (#19950479)

When something like this happens, normally hundreds of squirrels are released. I guess the rest are still roaming around gathering data. Better get my tinfoil hat on and have the slingshot handy.

Reminds me of an old Onion headline... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19950533)

"Roadkill squirrel remembered as frantic, indecisive."

squarelia overlordus (1)

scorilo (654174) | more than 6 years ago | (#19950589)

Gentlegeex, We've just witnessed the birth of a new species. All over the world, the evidence keeps hitting us in the eye:

From Modesto Bee [modbee.com] (also covered on BBC):

Lots of exciting visual images to be conjured with this next item. A crazed squirrel unleashed its wrath on the German town of Passau, biting three people in a frenzied attack that ended when the poor little critter got pummeled to death by an old man with a cane, Reuters reported. The rodent first jumped through a living room window and sank its teeth into the hand of a 70-year-old woman. She ran into the street in a panic the animal still hanging by its teeth from her hand and finally managed to shake the animal free. (I am imagining a lot of harried screaming and zigzagging, too, but the stories I found didnt address that). The squirrel then bit a construction worker and ran into a nearby garden, where it massively attacked a 72-year-old man on the arms, hands and thigh. After a lengthy struggle, the man was able to kill the squirrel with his cane. Experts said the attack may have been linked to the mating season or happened because the animal was ill. Hey, speaking of mating season

Secret Squirrel (1)

g0rAngA (1131007) | more than 6 years ago | (#19950615)

Secret squirrel finally becomes a reality. I bet they were all wearing trench coats and big purple hats with eye-holes in them.

What's next? (2, Insightful)

RichPowers (998637) | more than 6 years ago | (#19950637)

Mind controlled giant squids? Trained dolphins with sonar cannons on their backs? Sharks with lasers?

Uhhhhhh.... (1)

paulmer2003 (922657) | more than 6 years ago | (#19950695)

How stupid do they think their population is? With all of this obvious propaganda and lies you hear from them, you would think it'll be only so long before Ahmadinejad and his cronies fall out of favor.

You think this is something wait for 2.0 (1)

grapeape (137008) | more than 6 years ago | (#19950701)

just wait till the new 65nm spy chips come out and they can reduce the spies to chipmunks and sugargliders.

What the article doesn't tell you... (1)

monoqlith (610041) | more than 6 years ago | (#19950735)

The squirrels are given pouches containing cyanide-laced acorns, ready for quick consumption should they have to endure hostile interrogation.
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