Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone - Chapter 15: Coming HomeIn this final chapter of "A World of Conflict," Kevin Sites returns home to the U.S., only to confirm what he suspected -- that in the year that he was gone little had changed.
Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone - Chapter 14: Israel-Hezbollah WarThe war between Israel and Hezbollah shook the landscape in the Middle East.
Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone - Chapter 13: Sri LankaKevin Sites covered Sri Lanka as violence erupted between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels, pushing a nation with so much to lose back to the brink of all-out war. In rebel-held territory Sites interviewed Tiger fighters about their tactics and reported on the many effects of war still seen in the region.
Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone - Chapter 12: Nepal and KashmirKevin Sites covered Nepal during a time of sweeping political change that followed mass nationwide protests, forcing the autocratic King to cede power.
Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone - Chapter 11: Child BrideIn Afghanistan, Kevin Sites met a 12-year-old girl named Gulsoma, whose incredible story of resilience resonated with millions of people worldwide. She was only six years old when she was sold to a neighbor family in Kandahar as a child bride.
Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone - Chapter 10: AfghanistanReporting from Afghanistan in spring 2006, more than four years after the U.S.-led coalition ousted the Taliban, Kevin Sites found that war is not over in the country.
Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone - Chapter Nine: ChechnyaIn Chechnya during the winter of 2005-2006, Kevin Sites reported on a region still reeling from lingering conflict between Russia and Islamic separatists. The conflict engulfed Chechnya in the 1990s, and even now, half of the population is yet to return. Those that have eke out a living amid the rubble.
Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone - Chapter Eight: Iran
Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone - Chapter Seven: IsraelIn Israel, Kevin Sites interviewed Kinneret Boosany, a victim of a suicide bombing at a Tel Aviv cafe in 2002.
Maxwell Smart always "missed it by that much," but some of those dopey spy shows of the '60s were right on the money. "Many of the devices first seen in movies and on TV actually came about," says Robert Wallace, former head of the CIA's covert skunk works, the Office of Technical Services. "Remember the Cone of Silence? We built shielded enclosures that did the same thing. And the pen communicator in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.? That evolved, 10 years later, into short-range agent communication." Wallace, who was basically the agency's real-life Q, reveals these gadgets and more in his new book, Spycraft, the first comprehensive look at the technical achievements of American espionage from the 1940s to the present. "Here's the laboratory," Wallace used to tell new recruits. "The only thing that is going to limit what you can do is your imagination." It seems they took him at his word.
1940s Cigarette gun
Lipping this pistol disguised as a cigarette, an agent could easily release the safety pin. Rotating the filter end counterclockwise armed the gun, and a push of the thumb caused it to fire a single .22-caliber bullet. It really worked.
Illustration: Steve Sanford
An ordinary-looking bound notebook contained pages of Pyrofilm and came packaged with an incendiary pencil. To prevent notes from falling into the wrong hands, an agent could simply pull the eraser out of the pencil, causing the notebook to burst into flames.
During an hour-long procedure, techs embedded a 3/4-inch transmitter in the skull of a live cat. An antenna made of very fine wire was woven into the cat's fur, and a microphone was placed in its ear canal. After setting the kitty free, agents could listen in on nearby conversations undetected. Cats being cats, however, the system proved unreliable.
When it comes to a "dead drop" — a hiding place where spies leave messages — nothing's better (or deader) than a dead rat. Who's going to look inside unless they have to? CIA techs gutted a rat carcass, inserted secret missives wrapped in foil, and then stitched the animal back together. To ward off scavengers, the rodent was often doused in Tabasco.
A working Seiko timepiece concealed the world's smallest point-and-shoot camera. The device held a 15-inch strip of auto-advancing film and could snap about 100 crisp shots. A quick twist of the watch face revealed a 4-millimeter-diameter lens. It was a successful and widely used spy tool in its day.
A remotely piloted aerial vehicle disguised as a dragonfly could carry cameras and audio sensors right into the lion's den. This mobile eavesdropping bug never got off the ground.