Here is a list of questions about Kryptos I would love the chance to ask and have answered.

I’m making no pretenses of being a journalist and I keep getting dogged by the feeling that I’m not quite asking the right questions.  Here they are in no particular order and not assigned to a specific person yet.  I’m including some of mine and some of other folks.  I would definitely invite anyone to suggest more questions and I’ll add them.  UPDATE:  If you want your name or nom de plume added let me know.

What music were you and your assistants listening to as you worked?

What were you thinking about on the trip to the Southwest to pick up the petrified log: last minute changes, different ideas, imagining how it would be received, worried it would be cracked too soon, worried it would stand unsolved too long?

In retrospect, what would you have done differently?

What had you wanted to do but couldn’t due to resources and restrictions?

Has anyone who has contacted you come close on even part of a solution?

What is the significance of the Morse code?

The CIA’s online description of the project mentions “at the entrance to the New Headquarters building, the sculpture begins with two red granite and copperplate constructions which flank the walkway from the parking deck. These stones appear as pages jutting from the earth with copperplate ‘between the pages’ on which there are International Morse code and ancient ciphers.”  What are the ancient ciphers?

Especially since it required so much work to carve the letters, the message must have been of enough importance to be worth the effort.  Could you explain the intent/message you were trying to convey in the 1st three sections?

Did you solve Kryptos by hand or with an NSA computer?

Do you think the 4th part has already been solved and what reason could the CIA have for not disclosing that fact?

Mr. Scheidt, on reading about a description of the agency analyst’s deciphering of parts 1-3, you replied, “That’s not how I meant for you to solve it.”  Could you elaborate?

Mr Sanborn, to our knowledge, the Kryptos piece as a whole is: the Morse code sheets, the sundial, the pyramidal rock, the reflecting pools, the grass, the granite slabs in the courtyard and then of course the tree-sheet-pool centerpiece.  What, if anything, else was also part of the piece?

Is Kryptos a stand-alone piece or does it incorporate preexisting elements of the New Headquarters Building or even the old building?

Who were your assistants during your work on Kryptos?  Have they moved on with their own artwork and how was it influenced by Kryptos?

How did Agency history impact the message and presentation of Kryptos?

How would you then and now characterize your stance on the CIA (+/-)?

There are rumors of an as yet uncovered portion of Kryptos, would say that is more less likely than an openly hidden message?

What do you consider the most likely encryption method used for K4?

Why do you think K4 remains officially unsolved?

Sanborn references “changes” he made after his meetings with Scheidt, what do you think those changes were?

Given the notoriety of other agency figures, how do you feel about your fame attached more to the sculpture and less to your public service?

What was it like being in a relationship with your girlfriend with this secret K4 message?  What was her response prior to and after you divulged?

Would you consider selling the answer and if so what would be enough to convince you to give it up?

In light of Chaocipher revelations, will the answer to the 4th part be immediately revealed upon your death or simply available for confirmation upon a successful decryption?

Do we really need the KryptosClue site or confirmation to know when we have the decrypted text?

Did you learn much history during the planning stages or was it confined to cryptology/intelligence gathering?

Would you say that the resiliency of the 4th part is through poor intelligence gathering or poor cryptology and why?

Do you wish they’d let you install a light-source?

Do you feel the copperplate would have been better suited for the NSA?

Did you develop Kryptos based on factual explanations of the CIA’s history/actions or more on public perceptions?

What are your political and/or economic leanings?

Did you ever intend or anticipate public interest in Kryptos or was it meant solely for the CIA?  Why?

Would you encourage or discourage amateur attempts on K4?  Why?

Would you rather the CIA or a regular person solve K4 and why?

How do you feel about media portrayals of the CIA?

Did you receive any praise or perk or benefit related to your solution of the 1st three parts?

If a book about Kryptos was ever written, how would you contribute to it?

What inspired you to use a large metal screen with letters punched through?

How did you differentiate between the separately encoded sections?

How did your parents’ careers affect your work?

Are you a fan of history/history buff?  If so, what is your area or period of interest?

What languages are you fluent in?

After the Church and Pike committees, Watergate, Iran-Contras, etc. what effect did that have on the genesis of Kryptos?

Did you have to sign security waivers before beginning to work on Kryptos?  Did you have to get vetted?

Why do you think all of the hobbyists have failed to solve K4?

Did you go to Vietnam?  If so, how did that color your views on the CIA?

Who are your role models and why?

Do you still try to solve K4 or have you given up?

Do you feel that the NYPVTT=BERLIN break is sufficient to solve K4?

Do you think K4 is a home-made cipher system or a combination of traditional methods?

Would it be better if K4 remained unsolved to continue interesting people in cryptology and puzzle games?

Do you do the cryptoquotes in the newspaper?

Have any foreign cryptanalysts attempted K4 and with what results?

In your opinion, which cipher systems can be ruled out for K4?

After 20 years, how does the agency view Kryptos?  Interesting landmark, eyesore, embarrassment, neutrally, etc…

What advice would you give someone to file a fruitful FOIA?

What questions would you ask James Sanborn?

What questions would you ask Ed Scheidt?

What questions would you ask the hobbyists?

How do you interpret the 1st 3 sections in relation to the CIA?

What clues or tips have you found in Kryptos that are meant to help solve the 4th part?

How many ciphering techniques or “layers” do you think were used in K4?

How do you feel doing public installations for government buildings has molded the direction your art has gone in?

What are your hobbies?

What other famous ciphers have you tried to solve?

What questions would a journalist ask about Kryptos?

Will you be disappointed when the 4th part is solved?

What kind of sculpture would you make for the NSA?

Would you have enjoyed working for the CIA?

If not art, what would you have ended up doing for a living?

Did you ever visit Berlin?  Before or after the wall came down?

What countries have you been to?

What are you currently working on?

How did you first hear of Kryptos?

When did you become interested in codes and ciphers?

Given the agency’s history of neglecting analysis in favor of consensus, supporting DoD agendas or providing support for Executive policy; is it possible that the 4th part won’t be solved simply because management is in the habit of ignoring the analysts?

Palimpsest and abscissa carry connotations of teaching/classrooms, is there any credence to this association and what other context could they have?

Were you trying to teach a lesson in cryptology, intelligence gathering or send a message?

Should CIA personnel be able to solve Kryptos with pencil and paper?

In hindsight, were there explicit clues that, if understood properly at the time, would have greatly facilitated a solution?

Does it remind you of the Berlin wall?

Were you surprised that Sanborn used Vigenere on the 2 of the sections of copperplate?

Is there an algorithm that can tease apart transposition ciphers that avoids the pitfalls of straight anagramming?

Did the CIA ever approach you for direct help?

Considering its pervasive influence, could you describe any tendency towards gnosticism in the intelligence community?

How do you feel Kryptos relates to historical cryptology esp. WWII era work with traffic analysis, large amounts of intercepts, breaks and repetitive patterns?

Is the 4th part of Kryptos enciphered by a cipher machine?

Given the potency of the copperplate, do the other elements of Kryptos seem underwhelming or unnecessary?

With a lot of interest being solution-focused, do we lose sight of the artistry of the Kryptos elements?  Are they significant to the solution?

What reference materials would you recommend for amateur cryptologists, especially in reference to Kryptos?

What is it about Egypt that captured your attention and imagination?

If hieroglyphics are more visual code than language or cipher, how did that influence Kryptos?

Is it digetal interpretatu (commonly accepted) or digetal interpretatit (less commonly accepted)?

Without giving too much away, are the E’s in the Morse code aesthetic placeholders or part of the message?

As an auditory code, what was the rationale behind using Morse code as a visual code?

Is Kryptos more of a political or a social piece and why?

In the 1992 movie Sneakers, which character would you be and why?

In a post-apocalyptic, zero-sum world where the CIA buildings and grounds are reduced to charred rubble and only the copperplate screen of Kryptos remains, could the survivors decipher it and follow the directions to learn the full message?  Would it remain relevant then?

As we progressed from analog to machine ciphers and now to digetal, do you think Kryptos may actually become progressively harder to solve as cryptologists become less acquainted with the cipher systems in use except as historical precedents?

If the cryptologist guessed at the 2 systems used in K4, would it then become vulnerable to a brute force attack?

In light of SALT, START and detente, is Kryptos a Cold War relic or prophetic harbinger of piece?

Is your Kryptos narrative more Ian Fleming or JJ Abrams?

Would you consider Kryptos a cipher lecture, a puzzle game or a message?

How often are you approached about Kryptos?

Do you think Kryptos is influenced more by your personal history or the history of the CIA?

Did you know much about the history of the CIA before Kryptos?  Did you learn much before or after?

Was Kryptos originally meant to be a cylinder similar to a Jefferson wheel but was then unrolled as a symbolic wall?

Can Kryptos be seen as a symbolic metaphor of how 2 people or nations can see each other through a wall of code?

What did you know or learn about Sanborn through working on Kryptos with him?

What did you know or learn about Scheidt through working on Kryptos with him?

What can you infer about the creator(s) of Kryptos through it?

Did you ever have a baffled/projection night light as a kid?

Was Kryptos inspired by shadows cast by public lighting in DC at night?

Was Kryptos inspired by the shielded hurricane lamps found in older spy or adventure novels?

Did you ever protest the war?

Did you ever live on a commune?

Were you active in the Civil Rights efforts?

Why wear a beard?

Day vs. night, seen vs. unseen, do you see Kryptos as a progenitor of your large format projection work?  What is the appeal to you of art that is different or visible/unseen at different times and seasons?

Who was the fiction author who was supposed to help?

Was the story influenced more by the CIA, Sanborn’s background or yours?

Why did you promise Jim to keep secret on the 4th part?  Was the rest fair game?

You and Kim in the 2005 WIRED interview talk about a solution to the text once it’s decoded.  Out of K1-3 there doesn’t seem to be a mysterious message or puzzle.  Are we missing something or does that become clear with the K4 text?

Do you think the intended audience would understand the secret message in the already deciphered sections?  Have they indicated this?  Can folks outside the CIA learn enough to figure out the allusions i.e. what meeting for cake means?

Is the 4th part 97 or 98 letters?

Can the 4th part be solved by hand?

There are repeated references to the analyst studying it at lunch, is that a significant reference?

Were there supposed to be hints?

Did you change it to make it harder as a challenge and less as a lesson?

Is it weird working on Department of Defense contracts after everything you’ve done career-wise or is it a little like coming home?

Would the Directorate of Operations folks be able to get it or is it an analysis inside joke?

Is there a SigInt aspect to Kryptos?

Do you consider Kryptos to be the copperplate sheet or the Morse Code and reflection pools as well?

What can you tell us about the Morse code?

The CIA website mention of the ancient ciphers is not mentioned anywhere else and there is no online evidence for them, is that an agency error or are those outside of Langley unaware of some portions of Kryptos?

What do you think of the new Bond movie?

Can we see with our eyes all of Kryptos or should we borrow some equipment if we ever visit the CIA?

How does Kryptos symbolize or embody intelligence gathering?

Why is the 4th part so secretive and significant in comparison to the rest?

How do you feel about human intelligence gathering vs. electronic or signals intelligence?

Coming from the pre-1975 days, was there any message being sent by focusing Kryptos on intelligence gathering rather than covert action?

Why did William Webster call you “The Deep Throat of Codes”?

How do you feel your overseas duty colored your work on Kryptos?

Can you describe your non-classified work for the CIA?

In light of the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, what do you see as the way forward for the CIA?

What were your impressions of WW?

There’s some confusion generated by the 2005 WIRED interview.  Usually the keywords are changed and maybe the order of cryptographic systems but it sounds like you changed the actual systems and invented a few.  Is this the case?

Do you ever check in on us?

Who do you think is most likely to solve K4?

Was it an issue in your relationship if he told you the answer?

Do your friends/strangers ask you about it?

How do you feel the message in K4 and Kryptos altogether  will resonate in light of current events?

Have you been approached with any offers of money or otherwise to reveal the answer?

Did you know if his plan was to bury or hide anything on agency grounds?

Are the latitude and longitude a location or do they simply help fix one’s perspective?

To quote William K. Harvey, am I asking the wrong questions?

How important to you was it to use those specific materials?

Are there any specific points in agency history that we should be considering?

Who was your favorite DCI?

Science fiction or fantasy?

Favorite movie(s)?

Any books you’d recommend?

Any movies you’d recommend?

Would you say Kryptos is a Cold War piece or a post-Cold War piece?

Should we worry that a neophyte cryptologist customized and/or changed the original cipher systems?  Could this be a case of an amateur doing a home-made cipher on a very small text and then sitting back as no one can solve it?

Scheidt makes reference to the plaintext having more meaning, i.e. cake = meet @ 1pm on Friday, is there anything in the deciphered sections or Morse code that might constitute a hidden message in plain sight, innuendon, hint, etc.?

Is the actual code/cipher breaking secondary to the actual process of understanding what Kryptos really means?

Why make the 1st three parts so “easy” if the last part was going to be so “hard”?

Any advice for people who “get so close” after a complicated multi-step decryption effort who are convinced that they just need more steps or help to solve it?

Any words of wisdom for folks who find arbitrary, small bits of apparent plain-text as a byproduct of their decryption efforts?  Should they consider these breaks or coincidence?

Should we use the scientific method for decryption or is there a better way?

Should we give up on traditional or historical cryptosystems and look more for the artistic/intuitive ones that might be present?

Is K4 enciphered via software?

How do you feel about declassification and the FOIA?

Is there anyone we should be talking to about Kryptos that we may not be aware of?

Would it be worthwhile to recreate Kryptos outside of the CIA?

How do you respond to the questions some have of whether intelligence has made a substantial contribution over the past 66 years?  What is the worth in knowing a secret?

Do you believe that state to state interactions are still the most potent relationships or have things changed into economy to economy interactions or otherwise?

With military intelligence, overt and recognized paramilitary capabilities of state armed forces do plus the other intelligence agencies like the NSA, do we need the CIA still?

Was communism more of a personal threat to the affluential elitism of Ivy Leaguers during the Cold War than the general populace?

Did you pursue Krypto-style artwork and governmental influence artwork as unfinished concepts or because despite the commission you didn’t actually profit from Kryptos and subconsciously wanted something more to actually come from your efforts?

Do intelligence workers suffer more or less from Baader-Meinhof phenomenons?

How did your SigInt work affect your music tastes?

Could you describe your SigInt work?

What type of SigInt did you specialize in?

How would you define intelligence?

What are your impressions of the contributions to intelligence of rendition and torture?

What are your opinions on the visualization aid of “the intelligence cycle”?

How do you feel about social sciences theoretical frameworks being applied to intelligence studies?

With the subject matter, context, and unfortunately avid fans; how has your life changed?  Do you feel a certain amount of insecurity and paranoia?

Do you have a hard time trusting others?

Since intelligence is so often fragmentary, is Kryptos the same or is it given as a whole piece in parts?

With the trend of moving away from covert operations and human intelligence towards computer science and algorithmic work, is the attempt to develop Intelligence Studies as a respected line of study an attempt to re-instil the liberal arts influences back into intelligence work?

So those are the questions I’ve got so far, I’ll probably just update my list here as I think of new ones.  Feel free to make any suggestions in the comments section.

Kryptosfan

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