October 20, 2014

CIA Declassifies Oldest Documents in U.S. Government Collection (1917 + 1918), View Them Online

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From the CIA FOIA Web Site (Links to Documents at the Bottom of this Post):

The Central Intelligence Agency today declassified the United States Government’s six oldest classified documents, dating from 1917 and 1918. These documents, which describe secret writing techniques and are housed at the National Archives, are believed to be the only remaining classified documents from the World War I era. Documents describing secret writing fall under the CIA’s purview to declassify.

“These documents remained classified for nearly a century until recent advancements in technology made it possible to release them,” CIA Director Leon E. Panetta said. “When historical information is no longer sensitive, we take seriously our responsibility to share it with the American people.”

One document outlines the chemicals and techniques necessary for developing certain types of secret writing ink and a method for opening sealed letters without detection. Another memorandum dated June 14, 1918 – written in French – reveals the formula used for German secret ink.

“The CIA recognizes the importance of opening these historical documents to the public,” said Joseph Lambert, the Agency’s Director of Information Management Services. “In fiscal year 2010 alone, the Agency declassified and released over 1.1 million pages of documents.”

The documents will be available on CIA.gov and in the CIA Records Search Tool (CREST) at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland. CREST currently houses over 10 million pages of declassified Agency documents. Since 1995, the Agency has released over 30 million pages as a result of Executive Orders, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Privacy Act, and mandatory declassification reviews.

Declassified Documents

Secret writing document one
Secret writing document two
Secret writing document three
Secret writing document four
Secret writing document five
Secret writing document six

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Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.