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NSA Declassifies 200-Year-Old Book


A cryptology instruction book… 202 years old. A photograph of the U.S. Army’s cypher bureau… from 1919. A breakdown of Russian electoral districts… circa 1948. Schematics for a magnetic tape memory system… nearly half a century old.

These are just some of the items that, had you seen them, would have irreparably damaged U.S. national security. These are just a few of the documents, mere citizen, that for decades were far too sensitive for your uninitiated eyes.

At least, that’s what the American intelligence community would have you believe. Earlier this week, the National Security Agency announced that it had declassified and released to the National Archives “over 50,000 pages of historic records,” according to an agency statement. The document dump was “the first in a series of releases planned over the next two years” as part of NSA’s “commitment” to comply with President Obama’s January, 2009 memo demanding more transparency from federal agencies. Last month, the CIA released a trove of allegedly-explosive information from World War I, including the 90 year-old German formula for invisible ink.

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