Friday, April 22, 2011

Top secret messages written on the toenails

Six of the oldest files held by the CIA were declassified recently. The documents predate the organisation by several decades. Prior to the establishment of the CIA in 1947, the organisation was known as the Office of Strategic Services and before that the Office of Naval Intelligence. One paper from 1918, lists the chemicals and techniques used to create "secret writing". Another from 1914 and written in French gives the formula the Germans were believed to have used for their invisible ink. These formulae for invisible ink were used by spies during the First World War (1914-18) and espionage techniques included placing writings under postage stamps, wrapping messages in medicine capsules and engraving messages on toenails. There were warnings to agents that the ink might be toxic enough to corrode a steel pen and all were advised to avoid inhalation and use a quill instead. Invisible ink was rendered obsolete by the introduction of digital encryption.

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