According to an article in the New York Post (Motto: “We Guarantee at Least 2 Pages of Actual News Every Day!”), the CIA was recently in the toy business.
Evidently, around 2005, the agency teamed up with an executive from Hasbro to create an Osama bin Laden action figure. This was obviously stupid, since Zero Dark Thirty wouldn’t be released for years, and everyone knows you don’t put out movie tie-ins that far in advance.
But then, the CIA planned to market this toy as a stand-alone. The idea was to distribute it in Pakistan, where impressionable children would be shocked and awed when Osama’s face morphed into a “red-faced monster,” thus steering the kids and their parents away from al-Qaeda and possibly toward a lifetime of psychoanalysis.
The article tells us that “Hundreds of the dolls, which feature Bin Laden’s signature beard and turban, were sent to Karachi, Pakistan in 2006, said a source with knowledge of the project.“
In typical Post fashion, this sensational news is followed immediately by “A CIA official claimed the agency only commissioned three of the bizarre toys, but nipped the project in the bud before any were distributed.”
Because the CIA and the New York Post are equally trustworthy news sources, I’d guess neither of the above paragraphs is true. But for argument’s sake, let’s split the difference and say there were 147 morphing maniac dolls floating around Pakistan in the mid-00s.
Now, let me be the first to admit that I know nothing about daily life in Pakistan. I imagine people living in constant fear of religious zealots, various exploding devices and really horrible contestants on Pakistan Idol which, incredibly, actually exists.
I also assume that most people are very poor, without the disposable income that would be required in order to purchase terrorist toys, unless the CIA was intending to market the dolls through the popular 99 Rupees or Less chain.
Anyway, here are the two points I want to make about this story:
1. Isn’t it kind of sad that no one in America would doubt for even a second that the CIA would come up with something like this? I mean, there is almost no lame-brained scheme that I could make up that would make you go, “Nah, the CIA wouldn’t do that.” For instance, which of the following do you think the CIA didn’t spend millions of dollars on?
- a) Outfitting stray cats with listening devices and setting them loose near the Russian embassy
- b) Enlisting behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner to train pigeons for use in a missile guidance system.
- c) Using psychics for predicting the future and “remote viewing” of events far away.
2. Here’s what I really want to know: whether there were three of these Osama dolls or hundreds, where are they now, and why aren’t they on eBay? There are Osama bin Laden action figures on eBay. You’ve got the doll from the Most Wanted series, selling with the Saddam Hussein action figure (a sort of Fanatical Ken and Barbie) for $329. There’s even a talking Osama bin Laden selling for $100 (according to the listing, it says things like, “My turban is too tight” and “I am f*cked,” which leads me to believe it was, perhaps, not manufactured by an Arab company.)
But there are no limited edition devil dolls. Can you imagine what one of those would go for? Mint in Box? With a Certificate of Authenticity? (A CoA from the CIA!)
If those things are still kicking around Langley somewhere, the agency should list them on eBay immediately. They might even bring in enough money to fund the CIA’s next project, The Kim Jong-il Lego Movie.
See you soon.