Declassified World War I Security Documents

The CIA has just declassified six (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6) documents about World War I security techniques. (The media is reporting they're CIA documents, but the CIA didn't exist before 1947.) Lots of stuff about secret writing and pre-computer tradecraft.

Posted on April 21, 2011 at 6:38 AM • 34 Comments

Comments

Arif YILDIRIMApril 21, 2011 8:33 PM

I don't understand why these documents are at CIA and they released under the Freedom of Information Act even if CIA didn't exist at WWI. The documents are in English and French so the European languages, maybe they passed to CIA by English or French governments, mostly English, I guess. Because of the historical reasons I think. In addition, I really admire Germany's technology and ideas about the security while in WWI and WWII; they were really contributor to Cryptography/Stenography. Secret ink and Enigma. These were really good efforts.

DavidApril 21, 2011 10:32 PM

It's probably best that the authorities release this information before WikiLeaks does!

Mike WonhamApril 22, 2011 1:27 AM

The first one is a recipe for a tart tatin cupcake. Always go down with a bang at parties.

calimelo civcivApril 22, 2011 3:32 AM

declassification of files by a non-existing organization. CIA must have been a legacy of some other organization which makes me think it all the way goes to Christopher Columbus. The first inteliligence officer of USA.

jotweApril 22, 2011 3:43 AM

> Columbus. The first inteliligence officer of USA.


That would explain why he believed that he was in India :D

BF SkinnerApril 22, 2011 6:34 AM

" media is reporting they're CIA documents, but the CIA didn't exist before 1947"

Reading media stories about my area of work leads me to belive the problem is less about any sort of 'bias' but lazy or unskilled reporting.

Does anyone know who writes well about our world?

BF SkinnerApril 22, 2011 6:35 AM

@jotwe "he believed that he was in India "

No. No. He connected the dots. Just either cherry picked or left a bunch out.

wiredogApril 22, 2011 7:10 AM

Well, the first one is marked "Received Jul 12 1918" by "Director O.N.I." which would be Office of Naval Intelligence. But it's also marked "EXEMPT from automatic declassification" by someone named Turner (Stansfield perhaps?) on 28 Jan 1978.

kingsnakeApril 22, 2011 7:46 AM

Hopefully my grandkids (some yet unborn) will still be alive when they get around to fully declassifying the Spanish-American War ...

AxelApril 22, 2011 9:57 AM

Document 6, item 30:
"For developing, heat paper slightly and powder with finely powdered dragons blood."

HistorianApril 22, 2011 10:05 AM

@Arif, @Calimelo, @BF Skinner

No, the CIA did not exist before 1947, but they owned the documents because of the direct progression from WW1, when the various military branches ran disjointed intelligence operations, then the OSS was formed during WWII to consolidate the intelligence efforts, and finally, post-WWII, the CIA was formed (and the OSS disbanded) to organize intelligence operations under civilian control.

The CIA may not have created the documents in question, but they certainly were under their control, and the documents could be called "CIA documents".

Dirk PraetApril 22, 2011 11:15 AM

@ Historian

"when the various military branches ran disjointed intelligence operations"

Well, it's reassuring that we've come a long way since those dark days. It is a well-established fact that nowadays all TLA's, military and civilian alike, work closely together to protect us from hordes of blood-thirsty muslim terrorists and sneaky Chinamen who are after our secrets and hell-bent on crippling our critical infrastructures. And all of that while making optimum use of the taxpayer's dollars, baring in mind nothing else but efficiency and the savegarding of our freedoms.

Rob SmeetsApril 22, 2011 3:16 PM

@Dirk Praet,

People from Betelgeuze 5 do not understand that type of talk.

Nick PApril 22, 2011 8:01 PM

@ Ned

You might be right lol. I was going to comment that it was missing the tip, but then I noticed a worn out part that looked like that. Who draws dicks on Top Secret documents? The guys working on that "honorable" discharge, perhaps?

(Note: I think I'd do it just to piss some people off. Ya know how those War College types hate reading anything vulgar... ;)

spokeApril 22, 2011 10:22 PM

I'd be far more interested in hearing about chip implants and remotely controlled EEG related studies.

"DARPA budgeted $4 million in 2009 to investigate technology to enable soldiers on the battlefield to communicate via computer-mediated telepathy. The aim is to analyse neural signals that exist in the brain before words are spoken."

* secure > wikimedia.org > wikipedia/en/wiki/Eeg#EEG_and_Telepathy

Nick PApril 23, 2011 1:17 AM

@ spoke

I thought I heard that SRI developed that capability a long time ago and correlated certain neural patterns with words? Personally, though, I thought J.F. Shapitz's DOD-sponsored work on radio-induced hypnotic suggestion was the most interesting because it was one of the only experiments from the MKULTRA days whose results didn't leak from classified files or informants. I've always wondered what they found.

Clive RobinsonApril 23, 2011 8:37 AM

@ Spoke, Nick P,

It might not be "brainwave analysis" but...

Engineers in National Instruments Waterloo labs have come up with some hardware and software to read the electrical impulses from around the eye to control game play etc. The technology has been made open source and you can either google "eye Mario" or have a look at,

http://www.waterloolabs.com

So maybe with a little further work you to could build your own Electro Encephalo Graph/gram (EEG) interface and have your own brain controled wheel chair etc (as described in the Book about a Russian MiG fighter which in the film had Clint Eastwood as the disaffected US pilot sent in to steal it).

Various University labs around the world including several in the UK are working on "concious thought control" by reading brain waves but it is extremely difficult because the human mind does many many things simultaneously with the bigest chunk going to sensory input (vision, hearing etc).

It apears the current leaders on the wheel chair side are Toyota...

MikeAApril 23, 2011 10:08 AM

@Axel
Dragon's blood is/was the common name for a resinous substance used as a "resist" in printing.
The Muggle printers next door to me used it well into the 1970s.

asdApril 23, 2011 6:03 PM

@Clive Robinson, reprogramming might be easier, say or hear the words I want to go forward, and then give a electrical pulse to a part of the arm.
Like in martial arts 5000 rep should store it in long term memory. Then when they think to go forward there arm should tinkle.
Compressing the words to sound below 15khz should speed up the learning time involved

tommyApril 24, 2011 9:18 PM

@ Ned, Nick P:

Assuming that you are correct, then what would that sort-of triangle-shaped thing on the left side of the page be?

(Nick, being caught at that might lead to a "premature discharge" -- despite, of course, one's long honorable record as an able-bodied semen.)

tommyApril 25, 2011 4:52 PM

@ Nick P and Ian:

I'm disappointed. I thought that the two were the basic design for some type of penetration-testing equipment.

Or the logo for it. ;)

AC2April 26, 2011 1:28 AM

@Clive

Well, Clint Eastwood did all this a long time back in Firefox...

"You MUST think in RUSSIAN!"

Tom DibbleApril 27, 2011 10:23 PM

Triangle thing looks kind of like a golf insignia to me. Not sure why. I really like the "O N I" doodle... reminds me of a Metallica logo drawn on some high schooler's trapper-keeper.

I can deal with the phallic doodling. But, why the need to practice one's signature 7 or so times? And just who is "F Martineli"?

Tom DibbleApril 27, 2011 10:29 PM

I'd also note on the first/second document the asymmetry of the process: encrypted (written) using fairly ordinary / simple processes (two ingredients, not particularly exactly measured out, but kept in rough proportion, in a solution of water). Decrypted using two baths of different complex mixtures and a relatively significant time investment. Quite modern in design.

cowtipperApril 28, 2011 6:03 PM

remote controlled faked insects for the win!

how about a nice robotic earwig which plants a bug inside the ear canal while the subject is asleep?

imagine the possibilities!

Leave a comment

Allowed HTML: <a href="URL"> • <em> <cite> <i> • <strong> <b> • <sub> <sup> • <ul> <ol> <li> • <blockquote> <pre>

Photo of Bruce Schneier by Per Ervland.

Schneier on Security is a personal website. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Co3 Systems, Inc..