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fx-discuss: fx-discuss: FC: Cypherpunk breaks CIA's crypto code in 1990 statue (fwd)

fx-discuss: FC: Cypherpunk breaks CIA's crypto code in 1990 statue (fwd)

Corey Lindsly (
Wed, 16 Jun 1999 21:26:46 -0700 (PDT)

hey Jim;

this wouldn't happen to be you, would it?

and if so, how come there was no FX claim made about it first? ;)


>From Wed Jun 16 21:10 PDT 1999
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From: Declan McCullagh <> Subject: FC: Cypherpunk breaks CIA's crypto code in 1990 statue Mime-Version: 1.0
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Date: Wed, 16 Jun 1999 07:49:05 -0400
John Young <>
Subject: Gillogly Cracks CIA Art

So, Jim, what was the message?

June 16, 1999

C.I.A.'s Artistic Enigma Yields All but Final Clue By JOHN MARKOFF

It has stood in a courtyard inside the Central Intelligence Agency for almost a decade, a sculptural mystery inside an enigma.

But last week Jim Gillogly, a Southern California computer scientist, did what has until now been done -- quietly, and incompletely -- only inside the agency's halls.

He succeeded in breaking almost all of a cipher embedded in a sculpture called Kryptos -- the Greek word for "hidden" -- that was dedicated at the C.I.A. in October 1990.


Date: Wed, 16 Jun 1999 07:44:17 -0700
From: Jim Gillogly <>

Organization: Banzai Institute

John Young wrote:
> So, Jim, what was the message?

It's in the sidebar to the article. I must say this was the best experience I've had working with a journalist -- he got everything spot-on. Only the last Q was left off of one of the plaintexts.

I worked from an impressively clean transcription by Doug Gwyn, which you can find at

Here's what I broke (typos are cut into the copper):

  1. Between subtle shading and the absence of light lies the nuance of iqlusion. Keys: KRYPTOS, PALIMPSEST.
  2. It was totally invisible. How's that possible? They used the earth's magnetic field. x The information was gathered and transmitted undergruund to an unknown location. x Does langley know about this? They should: it's buried out there somewhere. x Who knows the exact location? Only WW. This was his last message. x Thirty eight degrees fifty seven minutes six point five seconds north, seventy seven degrees eight minutes forty four seconds west. ID by rows. Keys: KRYPTOS, ABSCISSA
  3. Slowly, desparatly slowly, the remains of passage debris that encumbered the lower part of the doorway was removed. With trembling hands I made a tiny breach in the upper left-hand corner. And then, widening the hole a little, I inserted the candle and peered in. The hot air escaping from the chamber caused the flame to flicker, but presently details of the room within emerged from the mist. x Can you see anything? q Keys: three columnar transpositions.

Here are the last 97 characters, which I haven't broken:


I suspect it's running key, or combined polyalphabetic sub and transposition, or perhaps autokey. The only likely periodicity appears to be at period 25, but that may well just be chance.

The lat-long in the second section are near Langley and McLean, Virginia. Perhaps some cypherpunks with GPS receivers could narrow it down a bit. ABC News thinks it's right at the spot where the sculpture sits, but I'd find that surprising given the text. The third section is adapted from Howard Carter's first-person account of opening Tutankhamun's tomb, and the response to the question was "Yes, wonderful things." Perhaps that's a crib for the last section.

	Jim Gillogly
	26 Forelithe S.R. 1999, 14:29, 5 Imix 9 Zotz, Second Lord of Night

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----- End of forwarded message from Declan McCullagh -----