Thank you for your time!

There are some folks who attempt Kryptos now and then who have some questions about it and were wondering if we might ask you?

We know your time is valuable and for privacy reasons, you may not want to answer everything but as someone who was involved in the early solutions of the first three parts, you have a unique perspective that, to be honest, we don’t.  Any answers, help or advice you can give us will be gratefully appreciated.  Please feel free to elaborate as much as you wish.

  • 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?
  • Do you think the 4th part has already been solved and what reason could the CIA have for not disclosing that fact?
  • Is Kryptos a stand-alone piece or does it incorporate preexisting elements of the New Headquarters Building or even the old building?
  • 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?
  • Would you say that the resiliency of the 4th part is through poor intelligence gathering or poor cryptology and why?
  • 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?
  • 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 were ever written, how would you contribute to it?
  • 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?
  • 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 homemade 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 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?
  • 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 to avoid 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?
  • Given the potency of the copperplate, do the other elements of Kryptos seem underwhelming or unnecessary?
  • In the 1992 movie Sneakers, which character would you be and why?
  • In light of SALT, START and detente, is Kryptos a Cold War relic or prophetic harbinger of piece?
  • Would you consider Kryptos a cipher lecture, a puzzle game or a message?
  • What can you infer about the creator(s) of Kryptos through it?
  • 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?
  • How do you feel about human intelligence gathering vs. electronic or signals intelligence?
  • In light of the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, what do you see as the way forward for the CIA?
  • Who do you think is most likely to solve K4?
  • Are there any specific points in agency history that we should be considering?
  • Who was your favorite DCI?
  • 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 homemade 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, innuendo, 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 there anyone we should be talking to about Kryptos that we may not be aware of?
  • 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?
  • 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?
  • To quote William K. Harvey, am I asking the wrong questions?

Thank you so much for your time!

Kryptosfan