Accidentally Released Pages Reveal a Huge Intelligence-Documents System

Some apparently overlooked pages from US intelligence documents point to a huge, centralized digital documents system that seems to be previously unknown to the public. It contains classified, declassified, and unclassified documents from CIA and ODNI (and perhaps the rest of the intelligence community).

Each page contains the following language:

WARNING: Classified output may follow

WARNING: This output is from a TOP SECRET system, processing data with multiple SCI compartments and handling caveats. Reliable human review of each page for appropriate classification, control, and handling markings is required prior to dissemination from TOP SECRET Agency control.

WARNING: This printer cover sheet is to be treated as classified and properly disposed.

In at least three cases, these cover sheets were not treated as classified and were not properly disposed. They were accidentally sent to FOIA requesters as part of document releases.

I first noticed this while looking at documents about MKULTRA and related behavior-modification programs that The Black Vault recently got released from the CIA (despite the CIA saying for 25+ years that all such documents had been released). It’s a one-page document about Project Artichoke from 1952 [here]. It’s preceded by a mysterious cover sheet from the system from which it was printed:

Like all three of these sheets, at the top in a big stencil font is a unique seven-letter nonsense word, in this case: DYSONCL. Presumably the system randomly assigns a made-up word to each print job. It’s followed by the date and time of the printing, then by the “queue name” and “server name.”

Intrigued, I Googled some of the text on the cover sheet to see if any others are online. Sure enough, there are two more. The earlier example is part of 408 pages that the CIA released to the conservative organization Accuracy in Media in 2013 [here]. Page 19:

The final example is from an unclassified report that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) sent to the Federation of American Scientists in 2018 [here]. Page 7:

We can’t tell much about this system, but one thing is obvious: It contains a vast array of documents. The fact that it’s referred to as a “TOP SECRET system” means that it contains documents at all three levels of classification: Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret. The text on each page says the unnamed system processes “data with multiple SCI [sensitive compartmented information] compartments and handling caveats.” The release to The Black Vault shows that it also contains declassified documents, and the release to the Federation of American Scientists shows that it houses unclassified documents. A one-stop shop.

We’ve already seen that it has documents from the CIA and ODNI. I’m wondering if it also includes documents from other members of the intelligence community. Hopefully we’ll find out in a few years — I’ve filed multiple FOIA requests for more info about this apparently massive documents system whose name we don’t know.

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