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CIA Reveals Its James Bond-Worthy Spy Gadgets

Enigma Machine 2

 (CIA)

In a world where Russian femme fatales become international brands and that iconic martini-sipping spy has made a resurgent reboot -- thank you, Daniel Craig -- it seems only fitting that the notoriously secretive Central Intelligence Agency is giving the world an insider’s look at some of its wackier exploits.

Last week, the U.S. spy organization launched a complete overhaul to its cia.gov website, including new pages on YouTube and Flickr containing historical Agency videos and picture galleries.

“The idea behind these improvements is to make more information about the agency available to more people, more easily,” director Leon Panetta said in a statement. “The CIA wants the American people and the world to understand its mission and its vital role in keeping our country safe.”

In terms of pure coolness, however, the new Flickr pictures take the cake -- including a never-before-seen gallery of special-agent supergadgets.

Some of the items featured are your run-of-the-mill spy gear -- hidden cameras, devices to secretly extract letters from envelopes, and codebreaking machines -- while others range from the bizarre to the spectacular.

The agency has also revealed a penchant for robotics.

There's “Charlie,” for example, an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) shaped like a fish that the agency used to study aquatic robot technology. Controlled via radio, it contained built-in ballast and propulsion systems allowing it to covertly travel underwater.

Another is the dragonfly "Insectothopter,"one of the first micro spy drones of its times. Both gadgets were developed by the CIA’s Office of Research and Development in the 1970s. “It was an initiative to explore the concept of intelligence collection by miniaturized platforms,” according to the site.

Whether or not these devices were used in actual missions is unknown, but with the technological gains we’ve made in the past few decades, you can only wonder the kind of super toys the agency now have at its disposal.

James Bond would be duly impressed.