The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is very interested in skincare products. It wants to stay up to date on all the latest tips and trends — do you think the spooks have tried those crazy looking sheet masks? — because it knows the secret to ageing well is taking good care of the skin.
Ha ha, just kidding, it wants to use skin cream to collect people's DNA.
A new report from the Intercept details the CIA’s investment in Skincential Sciences, the Oprah magazine-approved cosmetics company behind a non-invasive product that takes off a very thin top layer of skin. Oh, and it also exposes “unique biomarkers that can be used for a variety of diagnostic tests, including DNA collection” in the process.
The CIA is funnelling the company money through In-Q-Tel, its venture capital operation that has also invested in technology and security companies. According to Skincential CEO Russ Lebovitz, the CIA is very interested in the DNA collection capabilities of his company’s products, although he demurred when asked why.
“If there’s something beneath the surface, that’s not part of our relationship and I’m not directly aware,” Lebovitz told the Intercept. “They’re interested here in something that can get easy access to biomarkers... [they’re] specifically interested in the diagnostics, detecting DNA from normal skin.”
Totally harmless! Nothing weird happening there!
In-Q-Tel declined to give an interview, probably because it’s too busy covertly testing people's DNA.
The CIA, of course, is no stranger to weird, vaguely (or wildly) suspicious operations. Just a few weeks ago, it accidentally left explosives on a school bus; more recently, we investigated its efforts to recover rare earth minerals from the bottom of the ocean. Beauty products that collect DNA, while distinctly James Bondian in nature, are par for the course. Or maybe John Brennan just needed a new nightly routine. [The Intercept]