Hollywood tells us that espionage is a dangerous game, played only by the cunning and fearsome, frequently resulting in car chases and the seduction of exotic women. But few spies live up to the lofty expectations of James Bond. All too often, they are subject to the same human failings as the rest of us, except in their case, the blunders result in international incidents more embarrassing than your high school yearbook.
5 CIA Spies Cannot Think Up a Good Code Word
The Lebanese political party/wannabe terrorist group Hezbollah knew that spies working for the CIA were all over Lebanon, but they didn't know their identities. Poor Hezbollah had nobody they could trust -- ain't it sad what the world's come to?
Millions into secret handshake research, down the drain.
Finally, in 2011, Hezbollah caught a break. Through a few informants, Hezbollah found that the group of spies they were looking for met with their CIA contacts at a place referred to by a single code word. That word was "pizza."
Well, that's helpful.
"We have our new intelligence supercomputer, 'Wikipedia,' working around the clock."
A code word, by its very nature, could mean anything to anyone unfamiliar with the code (that's what "code" means, after all). Pretty much the only thing they could do was hope that the code word itself had something to do with the spies' meeting place, but that was a long shot. That's like hoping the computer you're hacking is using the word "password" as an actual password. Still, if they were going to find the rats, it was up to Hezbollah to investigate every single pizza place in the country. All of them.
Yes, the code word for the meeting place was "pizza" and the meeting place was ... a Pizza Hut in Lebanon. The logic is sound: Who could possibly suspect that the word "pizza" referred to a pizza place?
"Hmm ... pizza ... Pizza Hut ... hut ... Jabba the Hutt ... they're on Tatooine!"
We had a tighter security protocol for our grade school tree house. At least you had to climb a friggin' tree to find it.
Sure enough, when staking out the Pizza Hut, Hezbollah quickly busted a meeting of double agents squealing to members of the CIA. The bust reportedly led to the capture of dozens of U.S. spies in Lebanon and the loss of its entire espionage foothold in the country. In his own words, one intelligence official admitted that they had to "fly blind" for several months on Hezbollah's activities due to either the CIA's laziness or their unflagging, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle levels of enthusiasm for pizza.
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Not to mention having to completely scrap "Operation Starbucks on Fifth and Cherry, Across from the McDonald's."