Cybersecurity » A Retro-Spymaster’s Toolkit, From The CIA

A Retro-Spymaster’s Toolkit, From The CIA

March 28, 2016

This short history of “the spymaster’s toolkit” was posted last month on the CIA website in honor of the birthday of George Washington, said to be the first American leader to have mastered the art of intelligence. Washington “utilized agents behind enemy lines, recruited both Tory and Patriot sources, interrogated travelers for intelligence information, and launched scores of agents on both intelligence and counterintelligence missions. He was adept at deception operations and tradecraft and was a skilled propagandist.” This post look in particular at four elements of old fashioned spycraft – secret writing, “concealment devises,” propaganda, and intercepted communications – first as Washington practiced them and then as they were refined and updated up to, but notably stopping just short of, the era of computers. Nothing here about phone hacking or enhanced interrogation, but some fascinating history about things like disappearing ink, hollowed out coins and the “flaps and seals” letter opening kits that were in use as late as the 1960s.

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