"WHEN I GROW UP, I WANNA SPY ON THE NEIGHBORS!"

bear_cia.jpgImagine a world where Teletubbies pack heat and Spongebob goes undercover. That's apparently what US government web designers had in mind when they followed President Clinton's 1997 order to add child-oriented Web pages to government sites. Today, the results are bizarre - cryptographic coloring books, drug-sniffing dog cartoons, and spy-satellite sing-alongs. Are they giant inside jokes? Coded messages? The remnants of LSD experiments gone awry? Only Dick Cheney may know for sure.Here are two examples. Click on over to my story in this month's Wired magazine for the rest:

NRO Jr.The National Reconnaissance Office used to be so hush-hush that officials wouldn't admit it existed. Now the spy-satellite agency has gone cute. The site has songs ("Whoosh Goes Satellite," to the tune of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"), stories of cats in space, and "simple-to-make, paper-plate satellite puppets."CIA's Homepage for KidsYoungsters can thank CIA "Ace Photo Pigeon" Harry Recon for the exciting overhead views of the agency's Langley, Virginia, headquarters (presumably with some details redacted). Meanwhile, Ginger, a mischievous blue teddy bear, takes a tour of spook HQ - without a security badge. "Lucky the guard knows me!"
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