CIA Declassifies Documents Created Almost a Century Ago

In a bid to show its transparency bona fides, the CIA has released six previously secret documents from World War I, thirty years before the Agency was created. They concern invisible ink. Which, until today, was a national secret.

The documents date to 1916 and 1917. In a statement accompanying their release, CIA Director Leon Panetta explained that they "remained classified for nearly a century until recent advancements in technology made it possible to release them." Those "advancements" probably include COMPUTERS TELEPHONES WIRELESS COMMUNICATION and thousands of other things that have rendered invisible ink obsolete for decades. Also the internet, which will teach you everything you need to know about how to make and use invisible ink.

But could you imagine what would have happened if Al Qaida had gotten its hands on the Kaiser's recipe for invisible ink ("compressed Pyramiden or compressed or powdered Asperine") before the CIA was absolutely, 100% ready for it? And you thought Wikileaks was bad.

UPDATE: Because he is a dick, Panetta tried to pass off the release of these utterly innocuous prehistoric documents as some sort of spontaneous act of goodwill. But as Jeff Stein reports, they were in fact pried out of his hands:

"I'm very pleased to see that the CIA has finally seen fit to declassify these records after many years of fighting tooth and nail to keep them classified," said Kel McClanahan, executive director of National Security Counselors, an Arlington, Va.-based, public-interest law firm that specializes in Freedom of Information Act suits to obtain national security-related government records.

Mark Zaid, a Washington, D.C. lawyer who heads the James Madison Project, a similar organization, "tried in vain to get them declassified in the 1990s, even filing a FOIA lawsuit in 1998 on the matter," McClanahan added.