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Lyle Zapato

GPM Update: Crypto Cat

Lyle Zapato | 2006-02-06.5556 LMT | Government Propaganda Mascots

The very first Government Propaganda Mascot reported here was the NSA's Crypto Cat. Well, their site underwent a major revision at some point and Crypto Cat was reassigned... sexually.

Crypto Cat

Once a manly cat sporting regulation NSA trench coat and fedora, Crypto Cat is now a perky female in a tight, midriff-baring sweater. Also, her fur has gone from blue to white -- probably a side-effect of hormone treatments.

When she was a he, Crypto Cat would handle all aspects of NSA operations on his own. Now a she, her only responsibility is code creation, the various remaining intelligence sectors having been delegated to six other characters, collectively known as the CryptoKids:

  • Decipher Dog: cryptanalyst quarterback, with man-bag.
  • Joules: squirrel engineer, with pet chihuahua named Socket.
  • Slate: rabbit mathematician. (Do you see what they did there?)
  • T. Top: totally KEWL computer science turtle, with soul patch.
  • Rosetta "Rosie" Stone: homeschooled language analyst vixen.
  • Y. R. Tap: domestic spying fly, with Congressional approval.

(You can't see the last one on the site, but he can see you.)

There's also a military bald eagle called CSS Sam. Sam's bio is classified, but presumably he's in charge of defending DVDs from terrorists. He also heads up Operation Dit Dah (a Morse code game).

As with the site's pre-op incarnation, Crypto Cat encourages kids to use totally insecure forms of cryptography such as simple substitution and shift ciphers. No free 256-bit public key crypto downloads for CryptoKids. As far as the NSA is concerned, if you want the good stuff you'll have to enlist: "How can I work for NSA?" Don't worry kid, you probably already do.

So, why the sex change? Most likely they just wanted to make their site more appealing to a broad range of kids, which would explain the new cast of characters with their calculatedly balanced sex ratio and excessively detailed cover stories (seriously, do we really need to know that one year Joules won second place in a sand castle building contest? I can see telling us about first place, but second?) Then again, maybe it's a subtle dig at their FBI rivals.

UPDATE: Read the cartoonic adventures of Y. R. Tap...

End of post.