Central Intelligence Agency Directorate of Science & Technology

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The Directorate of Science and Technology is the branch of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) charged with developing and applying technology to advance the United States intelligence gathering.[1]

Seal for Directorate of Science & Technology


CORONA spy satellite


On December 31, 1948, the CIA formed the Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI), by merging the Scientific Branch in the Office of Reports and Estimates with the Nuclear Energy Group of the Office of Special Operations.[2]


In 1962, the CIA formed the Deputy Directorate of Research (DDR), headed by Herbert Scoville. Under it was the newly formed Office of Special Activities, along with the Office of ELINT and the Office of Research and Development, which were quickly integrated into the DDR.[2][3] However, the OSI remained part of the Directorate of Operations.

In 1963, Scoville resigned, frustrated by the unwillingness of other departments to transfer their responsibilities.[4] Director of Central Intelligence John McCone asked Albert Wheelon to replace Scoville in the renamed Deputy Directorate of Science and Technology;[2][5][6] the OSI was transferred to the Deputy Directorate of Science and Technology, along with the Office of Computer Services.[5]

In 1965, the Directorate was renamed again, to the Directorate of Science and Technology (DS&T), and in 1966 Carl Duckett succeeded Wheelon as the Deputy Director for Science and Technology.[2]

Further changes[edit]

In April 1973, DCI James Schlesinger transferred the Technical Services Division of the Operations Directorate to the DS&T, where it would be renamed the Office of Technical Services (OTS),[2] its primary focus was technical support of CIA case officers in the field, including development of exotic weapons and eavesdropping devices and production of forged documents.[7] It developed a poison pen and exploding seashells in an effort to assassinate Fidel Castro.[2]

In September 1995, Ruth David replaced James Hirsch as Deputy Director for Science and Technology, and established three new offices: the Clandestine Information Technology Office, the Office of Advanced Analytical Tools, and the Office of Advanced Projects;[2][8] the Office of Research and Development was simultaneously abolished.[2]

In April 1999, Gary L. Smith became the Deputy Director for Science and Technology, then suddenly resigned, nine months later.[2] DCI George Tenet quickly appointed a new deputy director, Joanne Isham.[2][9]


Following the formation of the ONI[specify], the CIA pursued scientific innovation in several areas, including interrogation, aerial imagery, and electronic intelligence (ELINT).


Among its early interests was the use of drugs, hypnosis, and isolation in interrogation;[2] these experiments were conducted under the program Project BLUEBIRD, later known as ARTICHOKE, and MKULTRA, which led to the suicide of Frank Olson, a US Army scientist who was given a dose of LSD.[2][10]

Aerial reconnaissance[edit]

U-2 with fictitious NASA markings to support CIA cover story for pilot Gary Powers, shot down over Soviet Union.

Another of the ONI's earliest programs, started in the early 1950s, was the development and operation the Lockheed U-2 spy plane under the AQUATONE program;[11][12] this program was transferred to the DDR's Office of Special Activities upon its formation, along with the plans for its successor, known at the time as Project GUSTO, which had begun in 1957 under the direction of Richard Bissell and Edwin Land.[13]

In late 1957, Lockheed's Skunk Works facility under the direction of Clarence Johnson[2][14] began developing stealthy subsonic reconnaissance aircraft, but in the spring of 1958 turned to supersonic designs, known as the Archangel series. Convair's advanced development group under Robert Widmer was invited to compete with Lockheed, and they proposed the FISH parasite aircraft, derived from their Super Hustler concept. In June 1959, the B-58B launch aircraft for FISH was canceled and the Convair KINGFISH design was proposed; the Lockheed A-12[13] was chosen for development, and in the fall of 1959 Project GUSTO was closed and Project OXCART was started.

Spy satellite development[edit]

Also in 1958 was the start of development of the CORONA spy satellite, first successfully launched on August 18, 1960.[15][16][17][18][19] Upon the formation of the DDR, it took over both the CORONA and ARGON satellite programs.[2]

In 1976, the DS&T developed KENNAN program, started in 1972, was launched carrying the KH-11 optical system,[20] its first images were taken of President Jimmy Carter's inauguration.[21][22]


In 1958, the OSI made the first significant attempt to measure the power of a radar for intelligence gathering, known as the Quality ELINT program, it consisted of installing electronic measuring equipment into a C-119 aircraft, and flying missions, disguised as supply-runs, through the air corridors of Germany.[2] This led to the MELODY and PALLADIUM programs, which attempted to gauge the power and sensitivity of Soviet ground-based tracking radars using "ghost aircraft";[23][24] these programs were integrated into the DDR upon its formation, under the Office of ELINT.[2][3]

Other programs[edit]

In 1967, the DS&T's Operation Acoustic Kitty attempted to train a surgically altered cat, wired with transmitting and control devices, to become a mobile, eavesdropping platform.[2][25]

In 1975, the DS&T funded remote viewing experiments at the Stanford Research Institute, where remote viewers were asked to determine details about targets in the USSR, it was not judged to be a success.[26]

In 2001, DS&T developed In-Q-Tel, a nonprofit corporation intended to seek information technology solutions to critical needs faced by CIA as a whole.[27]

Pop culture[edit]

The "Office of Scientific Intelligence", was a secret intelligence branch of the American government featured in the 1970s TV series The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman.


  1. ^ "Who We Are — Central Intelligence Agency". www.cia.gov.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "Science, Technology and the CIA". www.gwu.edu.
  3. ^ a b "Documents" (PDF). www.gwu.edu.
  4. ^ "Documents" (PDF). www.gwu.edu.
  5. ^ a b "Documents" (PDF). www.gwu.edu.
  6. ^ "DCI John McCone Creates the Directorate of Science and Technology". www.cia.gov.
  7. ^ "Documents" (PDF). www.gwu.edu.
  8. ^ "Documents" (PDF). www.gwu.edu.
  9. ^ "Documents" (PDF). www.gwu.edu.
  10. ^ "Documents" (PDF). www.gwu.edu.
  11. ^ "Documents" (PDF). www.gwu.edu.
  12. ^ "Documents" (PDF). www.gwu.edu.
  13. ^ a b "successor to the U-2". www.blackbirds.net.
  14. ^ "Documents" (PDF). www.gwu.edu.
  15. ^ "Documents" (PDF). www.gwu.edu.
  16. ^ "Documents" (PDF). www.gwu.edu.
  17. ^ "Documents" (PDF). www.gwu.edu.
  18. ^ "Documents" (PDF). www.gwu.edu.
  19. ^ "Documents" (PDF). www.gwu.edu.
  20. ^ "Documents" (PDF). www.gwu.edu.
  21. ^ "Science, Technology and the CIA". www.gwu.edu.
  22. ^ "Documents" (PDF). www.gwu.edu.
  23. ^ Jeffrey T. Richelson (2002). The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology. Basic Books. p. 49. ISBN 0-8133-4059-4.
  24. ^ "Documents" (PDF). www.gwu.edu.
  25. ^ "Documents" (PDF). www.gwu.edu.
  26. ^ "Documents" (PDF). www.gwu.edu.
  27. ^ "CIA Directorate of Science and Technology (DS&T) - The 1960s, The 1970s, Early History, DST Today". www.espionageinfo.com.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]