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A close Bond: CIA copied 007 gadgets

NEW documents show that the CIA copied gadgets from James Bond films like Goldfinger, while Bond author Ian Fleming talked up the agency in his books

The University of Warwick has poured over declassified letters and interviews that show a close relationship between Fleming and former CIA director Allen Dulles. Dr Christopher Moran has revealed the love-in between the pair that saw the CIA copy gadgets like the poison-tipped dagger shown in From Russia With Love.

The letters between Dulles and Fleming also show the 007 author agreeing to include some glowing references about the CIA in his books. “For a long time, the James Bond books had a monopoly on the CIA’s public image and the agency used this to its advantage,” Dr Moran said. In a 1964 edition of Life Magazine, Dulles describes his meeting with the “brilliant and witty” Fleming in London in 1959 where the author told him that the CIA was not doing enough in the area of “special devices”.

So in addition to developing the poison-tipped dagger shoe, the CIA developed a homing beacon device used in Goldfinger to track the villain’s car. However it was dropped because the gadget stopped working in crowded cities. Dr Moran says there is evidence in Fleming’s books of a more favourable view of the CIA as he became closer to Dulles.

“The early 007 novels, written in the 1950s, introduce millions of readers to the CIA f or the first time through the character of its agent Felix Leiter,” he said. “Although Fleming’s portrayal of the CIA is largely favourable, readers are left in no doubt that the British intelligence services are the superior outfit.

“In Live and Let Die, for example, Leiter comes across as a bit of a bungler, unable to blend in with the locals and forced to rely on paid informants,” Dr Moran said. “But in the later books, as the friendship between Dulles and Fleming deepens, a far rosier picture of the CIA emerges.

“For example, in Thunderball, Bond’s boss ‘M’ dispenses with his characteristic economy of words to speak enthusiastically about the way the CIA is self lessly putting itself in the service of freedom,” he said. “And Allen Dulles is even the subject of several honourable mentions in the later books. It really does come across as a bit of a mutual appreciation society.”


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