The Worst Spies Ever! Mack Maloney Interview

Mack Maloney talks about the worst spies in history.. Embassy cats, nuclear atomic weapons secrets, and the fall of good ol’ Russian Spy Rudolf Abel.

Chauncey: Um, okay. So let’s, let’s take a look at a funny one here. Uh, worst spies ever?

CIA Project Acoustic Kitty

Mack: Okay. There are lots of them I know at one point, he CIA actually came up with this idea where they were going to put a radio microphone in a cat, just a stray cat and they were hoping that the cat would then hang around the Russian embassy in Washington and maybe get close enough to hear people sharing secrets such as nuclear atomic weapon secrets and such. Right now this is something that costs, I believe, $20 million. This is a few years ago, they go through all this, you know, with the cat and they let the cat go and the cat gets run over by a taxi.

Americans who have spied for the Russians say it’s just purely for money. There was this one spy who went out and bought two yachts, a Cadillac, and a swimming pool. And that just made the people at the CIA suspicious of him. So, uh, he got caught. But the thing about spies is, we always think that these spies are, you know, they’re always like James Bond. Nothing can go wrong, but a lot of times, things do go wrong.

Chauncey: I’m sure we hear more about the ones that are caught here than the ones that are caught over there cause we don’t want to talk about those ones.

One of them, the one that really interests me is back in the 50s, there was a Russian spy named Rudolf Abel and he was an undercover agent who worked a regular job as a photographer. He ran a little photo shop in Brooklyn, he had a network of 800 Americans helping him steal nuclear atomic weapon secrets. It got to be such a workload that he requested that Moscow sends someone over to help him. And so they did. So they sent this guy over and he was like, probably the, you know, the worst buy ever. He took the $5,000 from the KGB to come over to the United States, get settled and make contact with his Rudolf Abel. Instead, he went to Atlantic City and gambled it all away and was with prostitutes, he also told the prostitutes all sorts of Russian secrets.

Chauncey: Everybody knows, nothing gets a prostitutes’ attention, like Russian secrets.

Mack: Moscow was on to him and they called him back and he knew that he was just going to be executed. So he walked into the embassy in Paris, the US embassy in Paris. And told them everything, and that’s how they caught Rudolph Abel in the United States. He was the spy that was exchanged for U2 Pilot Gary Powell who was shot down.

“ON FEBRUARY 10, 1962, two spies walked past each other on Berlin’s Glienicke Bridge, not meeting one another’s gaze. They were pawns being exchanged on the Cold War chessboard.

Famous U2 pilot Francis Gary Powers, who, on May 1, 1960, had been shot down over the Soviet Union while on a reconnaissance flight from Peshawar, Pakistan to Bodo, Norway. Powers had pled guilty to espionage and been sentenced to ten years in a Soviet prison. But the man walking east remained largely a mystery to American authorities, despite months of investigation and five years in prison. At the time of his arrest, he identified himself as Rudolph Ivanovich Abel, yet he had used documents in the names of Emil R. Goldfus, Martin Collins, and Andrew Kaoytis, while his informants and subordinates referred to him simply as Mark.” Source:

Mack: They never caught the 850 Americans who were working with Rudolph Abel.