Building the Bionic Man: A Look at OSI

Spycraft is of course a dangerous profession. Agents of communism and world domination have prowled the globe, and the United States rose to the threat by investing resources into some pretty cutting edge technology to defend her interests. From cellular phones hidden in shoes decades before the first such phones ever hit the commercial market, to cones of silence, to nuclear-powered cyborgs, America’s spies have been equipped with the best the nation has to offer.

The origins of the Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI) are murky, but the organization started sometime prior to 1973 as the Office of Strategic Operations (OSO). Keep in mind that at the time there were three other key spy agencies, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Security Agency (NSA), and CONTROL (the counterspy agency organized in the early 20th Century to counter the international organization of evil, KAOS). While the need for a new spy agency isn’t clear, it seems likely that OSO/OSI’s focus was on advanced technology. The Director in the early 1970s, Oliver Spencer, is believed to have championed the “cyborg” program, securing a veritable blank check for the clandestine development and deployment of a part man, part machine agent. Quite Machiavellian in nature, driven by a realpolitik worldview that divorced morals from military policy, Spencer would eventually be “retired” as the OSO reorganized into the OSI.*

As is often the case with intelligence agencies, the OSO and OSI walked a fine moral line helping defend American interests. For instance, despite having access to highly advanced technology, the OSI still allowed Steve Austin to temporarily sport a swarthy “porn-stache” at one point. Oh, and also Director Spencer set up Austin on a suicide mission just to see if he’d die or not.Clearly, rules were meant for other agencies, and not for this secretive organization.

Once Oliver was “retired,” the OSO evidently reorganized into the OSI and was placed under the leadership of Oscar Goldman. Goldman demonstrated the same kind of “realpolitik” zeal as his predecessor, wielding his “bionic man” as an instrument for national security in the midst of the Cold War, except he did it with far groovier sideburns. Although Goldman would soften in his relationship with his bionic asset, under his leadership the cyborg program grew to include an as yet unknown number of agents (Damper Three is continuing this portion of the investigation).

The organization was full of talent, from the chief science and medical officer, Doctor Rudy Wells (who was able to set aside any moral issues with fusing man to machine in the service of legally questionable espionage), to Peggy Callahan, who helped Oscar Goldman manage the day-to-day operations of the OSI. Together these people worked directly with military assets to preserve national security. But we here at Damper Three ask, “at what cost?”

Did you say “six million dollars?” Seriously? Did you not read the first article? Go back and do that. Apology accepted.

Next week: of death probes and bionic dogs. 

*Following his ouster from government operations, Spencer all but vanished, as D3 was unable to verify his post-intelligence operations life. However, there are outlandish rumors of him working as a reporter investigating the supernatural, as well as an even more unlikely retirement into the suburbs of small town Indiana.



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