How the CIA Used a Rectal Toolkit and a False Scrotum as Concealment Devices During Cold War

The former Chief of Disguise Jonna Mendez shares the agency’s secrets.

The secret services and intelligence agencies worldwide have crafted many ways to protect their spies and collect valuable information over the years. The show business offers many movies, such as Mission Impossible and James Bond franchise, shedding light on tricks unknown to regular people. Some of those tricks are correct; others are falsely presented. But the truth is: the audience loves to hear about the mysteries and lives of former spies.

Many countries around the world, if not all, have secret intelligence services that work hard to protect their people from terrorist attacks, violence, and other imminent dangers. There is an incredible amount of hard work that goes behind the closed doors of the intelligence agencies. But sometimes, former operatives are keen on sharing their past experiences with the world. Today, we will look into some of those secrets.

Jonna Mendez: the Genius Operative Sharing CIA’s Techniques

Jonna Mendez, the former CIA Chief of Disguise and current Board Member of the CIA Spy Museum, interviewed with WIRED, where she talked about many curious stories from her days at CIA. A whole section of those stories was dedicated to concealment devices, and it was arguably the best part of the interview.

You may read this woman’s fascinating biography on this resource. She served as a CIA intelligence officer for 27 years. After retiring in 1993, naturally, the lady has a lot of secrets to reveal — to “spill the tea,” if you may. The Cold War ended a long time ago, and there is no harm in shedding light on outdated techniques.

Did you know what the CIA used rectal toolkits and false scrotums as concealment devices to hide escape tools? Were you aware of their usage of artificial, creatively produced scrotums, which served as a hiding place? Today, we will look into these two inventive hiding spots the spies used back in the day.

The Cold War Required Serious Measures

The fight for world dominance between the United States and the Soviet Union has been on the map for a long time, and it still is. The Cold War called for certain measures that may seem over the top, but it was quite effective in reality.

In the interview, Jonna Mendez talks about the tricks and tools the CIA operatives used while residing at the American embassy in Moscow, Soviet Union (now: Russia):

“We devised many concealment devices. And some of them were used for escape scenarios,” — Jonna Mendez, in an interview with WIRED.

Russia, or the Soviet Union, showed an endless amount of creativity. According to Buzzfeed, lipstick guns and hallow coins were interesting examples. The rest of the world had to follow, and the United States were supposed to lead the race.

The Intimate Devices Unknown to the Enemy

Many different devices were discussed during the interview. One of them was the false scrotum — a creative way to hide the necessary tools in a life or death situation. Jonna didn’t confirm how often the spies utilized this trick, but she had a very detailed and comprehensive description of this invention:

“The false scrotum is a very interesting story. We were always interested in the possibility of our officers being captured and maybe being held, prisoner. Around the world, our officers needed to be able to hide some tools, so they could make an attempt to escape if that happened to them. And the theory is, that the false scrotum was one such concealment device. The question about the false scrotum is whether it was ever actually used. If you were going to be in a situation where you were going to be strip-searched, you might, in advance, knowing that you were going into a life and death situation, prepare yourself, like Houdini, to have some escape tools,” — Jonna Mendez in an interview with WIRED.

Fascinating, isn’t it? The effectiveness of this concealment device is unclear, but the idea is captivating. As for the rectal toolkit, it is as amazing as the false scrotum:

“A rectal toolkit was a little bit like a suppository. You put it in in case you needed it. It was important that it’d be very well made, that it’d be a very smooth surface, that it didn’t cause any injury coming or going. But inside of it were small tools that would be used in a variety of ways. It was not a bad idea,” — Jonna Mendez in an interview with WIRED.

I bet no spy out there was enjoying the usage of these items in their line of work. But, to be fair, spying is a unique way of making a living — the techniques used on the job are equally striking.

Jonna discussed several other ways the CIA successfully utilized to pass secret messages along, such as using a fake dead rat. Another curious technique of concealing a person was designing a fake dog costume. Those are the examples of tricks the intelligence operatives used many decades ago, so imagine what kind of things they are using right now, in the era of the technology advancement!

It’s always interesting to listen to former operatives and spies’ stories about their jobs and the insane techniques they were using in the 20th century. Such interviews remind you of “Mission Impossible” and other spy movies that Hollywood recently produced.

There are many more videos and information online regarding the successes and failures in the spy world. Don’t miss out on them if this is something you’re interested in.

Written by

Canadian. Mental health activist. Banker and financier who drinks too much coffee. Pursuing happiness and sharing my thoughts with others.

Sign up for Lessons from History

By Lessons from History

Lessons from History is a platform for writers who share ideas and inspirational stories from world history.  Take a look

By signing up, you will create a Medium account if you don’t already have one. Review our Privacy Policy for more information about our privacy practices.

Check your inbox
Medium sent you an email at to complete your subscription.

Get the Medium app