CIA Releases Classified Documents From World War I

Wednesday, 20 Apr 2011 04:07 PM

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The CIA has declassified a cache of documents from World War I concerning such national secrets such as recipes for invisible ink and solutions to dissolve seals on letters.

Leon Panetta, CIA, classified documents, World War I
CIA Director Leon Panetta: Responsibility to share with Americans. (Getty Images Photo)
“When historical information is no longer sensitive, we take seriously our responsibility to share it with the American people,” The Washington Post  quoted CIA Director Leon Panetta as saying.

The documents, some written in French, can be viewed in the agency website’s Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room.

The papers indicate the dangers that CIA ops braved in their quest to protect national security. For example, the recipe for the concoction to open letters covertly comes with the warning: “Do not inhale fumes,” the Post reported.

The Office of Naval Intelligence had custody of the documents during World War I before they fell under CIA purview. The agency rejected a Freedom of Information Act request to release them as recently as 1999. The CIA defended the nearly 100 years of classification, noting that the methods involved in sophisticated invisible writing had not changed, the Post reported.

“In recent years, the chemistry of making secret ink and the lighting used to detect it has greatly improved,” a CIA spokesman told the Post.



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