from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2011, Issue No. 54
June 9, 2011

Secrecy News Blog:


The National Security Agency announced yesterday that it has declassified a report that is over two hundred years old.

The newly declassified report, entitled "Cryptology: Instruction Book on the Art of Secret Writing," dates from 1809. It is part of a collection of 50,000 pages of historic records that have just been declassified by NSA and transferred to the National Archives.

The NSA said the new release demonstrated its "commitment to meeting the requirements" of President Obama's January 2009 Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government.

The bulk of the newly released documents are from World War II and the early post-War era. (NSA itself was established in 1952.) A list of titles released to the National Archives is here:

Last April, the Central Intelligence Agency declassified several documents on the use of "invisible ink" that dated from the World War I era. But those were not even a century old.

Meanwhile, in more recent developments, the case of former NSA official Thomas A. Drake, who is charged with unlawful retention of classified information, is said to be "changing hour by hour."

On Sunday, the government told the court it had decided to withdraw several of its proposed exhibits rather than declassify them for trial, Politico reported ("Feds pare back NSA leak case to shield technology" by Josh Gerstein, June 6). As a consequence, prosecutors are now seeking a plea bargain, the Washington Post reported, but Drake has twice refused to accept their offer ("Ex-NSA manager has reportedly twice rejected plea bargains in Espionage Act case" by Ellen Nakashima, June 9).

The trial of Thomas Drake is currently still scheduled to begin on Monday, June 13 in Baltimore.


New reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

"Text and Multimedia Messaging: Emerging Issues for Congress," May 18, 2011:

"The Motor Vehicle Supply Chain: Effects of the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami," May 23, 2011:

"Executive Branch Reorganization Initiatives During the 112th Congress: A Brief Overview," May 26, 2011:

"Status of Mexican Trucks in the United States: Frequently Asked Questions," May 16, 2011:

"Promoting Global Internet Freedom: Policy and Technology," May 26, 2011:


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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