The CIA Declassifies Top Secret Documents, Including a Mean Shrimp Salad Recipe


A classified Christmas message. A rant against vague corporate speak. A recipe for shrimp salad.

Newly declassified documents show that the CIA is just like your office — if your office was part of one of the most secretive intelligence agencies in the world.

The articles, which date from the 1970s through the early 2000s, come from CIA journal Studies in Intelligence. While it's supposed to be pretty academic, the Intercept explains, the result often ends up coming off more like a combination office newsletter or email chain.

The highlights: Let's start with what one document calls "one of the CIA's best-kept secrets." It's not juicy international gossip, though — it's a juicy Bolivian beef tongue (and Swedish herring, and Spanish paella, and Portuguese pudding). The document actually describes the agency's annual invite-only International Luncheon.

Don't have the security clearance? Don't worry, you can enjoy a bit at home with the included recipe for Nicaraguan shrimp salad:

Other fun reads include interviews with current and former CIA officials. One 2000 article, spotlighted by the Intercept, interviews then-NSA director Michael Hayden. "Everything's secret," he says. "I mean, I got an email saying, 'Merry Christmas.' It carried a Top Secret NSA classification marking."

Then there's the screed Gawker found making fun of CIA employee evaluations:

Then there's the transcript of an interrogation of an agent by an artificial intelligence program called ANALIZA. Start your sci-fi novella now:

How it happened: As fun (and enlightening) as many of the documents are, one man paid a pretty steep price to see them come to light.

CIA information technology specialist Joe Scudder came across the Studies in Intelligence archives back in 2007. They were classified, Mother Jones explains, so he filed a Freedom of Information Act request to take a look at them.

Sudder told the Washington Post that the FOIA request "basically destroyed my entire career." He claims he was stripped of his job and security clearance, had his house raided and was eventually forced to retire rather than lose part of his pension.

Scudder responded with a lawsuit, which brought about the mass declassification. He lost his job, but revealed a treasure trove of interviews, secret documents and shrimp salad recipes to the world.

h/t The Intercept