CIA: Learn how to make invisible ink, photos – from 1918

CIA documents invisible, ink photography methods in cryptic notes

cia-learn-how-to-make-invisible-ink-photos-from-1918
Credit: CIA

The CIA unearths some pretty interesting materials and this week it was touting the oldest once-classified documents in is collection.

The mostly cryptic documents, from 1917 and 1918 describe secret writing techniques are believed to be the only remaining classified documents from the World War I era. Any documents describing secret writing fall under the CIA’s purview to declassify, the agency noted.

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 The CIA website noted that one file outlines the chemicals and techniques necessary for developing certain types of secret writing ink and a method for opening sealed letters without detection. Another communication dated June 14, 1918 – written in French – discloses the formula the German’s used to produce invisible ink.

“These documents remained classified for nearly a century until recent advancements in technology made it possible to release them,” former CIA Director Leon Panetta said during the initial release of the documents in 2011.

You can see the docs here:

1. German Secret Ink

2. German ink

3. Chemicals

4. Photography

5. Chemicals

6. Invisible Photos

In 2012 the CIA published a very interesting piece of its history, the once classified "Simple Sabotage Field Manual," which defines how the ordinary person could disrupt an ordinary environment, say an office "in such a way as to involve a minimum danger of injury, detection, and reprisal."

The booklet was at the time of its distribution, aimed at defining ways to "sabotage the US' World War II enemies," the CIA said.  

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"Many of the sabotage instructions guide ordinary citizens, who may not have agreed with their country's wartime policies towards the US, to destabilize their governments by taking disruptive actions.  Some of the instructions seem outdated; others remain surprisingly relevant. Together they are a reminder of how easily productivity and order can be undermined," the CIA states on its web site.

Rather than dated, the "Five particularly timeless tips from the Simple Sabotage Field Manual" seemed like they might be a screenwriters guide to penning a script for The Office TV show.

From the CIA:

1. Managers and Supervisors: To lower morale and production, be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions. Discriminate against efficient workers; complain unjustly about their work.

2. Employees: Work slowly. Think of ways to increase the number of movements needed to do your job: use a light hammer instead of a heavy one; try to make a small wrench do instead of a big one.

3. Organizations and Conferences: When possible, refer all matters to committees, for "further study and consideration." Attempt to make the committees as large and bureaucratic as possible. Hold conferences when there is more critical work to be done.

4. Telephone: At office, hotel and local telephone switchboards, delay putting calls through, give out wrong numbers, cut people off "accidentally," or forget to disconnect them so that the line cannot be used again.

5. Transportation: Make train travel as inconvenient as possible for enemy personnel. Issue two tickets for the same seat on a train in order to set up an "interesting" argument.

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