Foreign Ministry Warns of Secret Messages Embedded in Diplomatic Cables



FOGGIEST BOTTOM, WASHDC — Senior advisers to Foreign Minister H. Hamilton Hunter IV also fondly known as FM Hawwy warned internally of embedded messages in diplomatic cables as a potential for end-of-year embarrassment.  A message sent out recently instructs principal and approving officers to closely review any draft cables, memos, and messages for hidden messages, acrostics, or double acrostics.

Officials are reminded afresh that an envoy published a resignation letter in which the word “IMPEACH” was spelled out by the first letters of each paragraph, and that an arts council also released a mass resignation letter where the first letter of each paragraph spelled out “RESIST.” The same message warned of the potential use of the words idiot, incompetent, out of touch, or clown. One post where the chief of mission is often away on vacation was reportedly reminded of his/her accountability for all messages under his/her name even when he/she is horseback riding or going on an official adventure.

 S et among hills in the midst of  five valley S,
 T his peaceful little   market town we inhabi T
 R efuses  (vociferously!) to  be  a  conforme R.
 O nce home  of  the cloth  it gave its name t O,
 U phill and down again its  streets  lead  yo U.
 D espite its faults it leaves  us all  charme D.

Approving officials are warned to be mindful of 1) alphabetical acrostic – a relatively simple acrostic that may merely spell out the letters of the alphabet in order; and 2) acrostic ciphers (or null ciphers) where the first letter of each word is used to form a hidden message in an otherwise innocuous text.

Some examples for consideration were provided as follows (via):

‘It is with mixed feelings that I announce the retirement of Mr Roger Clark at the end of this term. ‘We all now know every really great teacher has to finish one day and Mr Clark will do so at the end of this term.’

Mr. Clark, a teacher of English and French, spotted that the first letter of the first six words of the second sentence spelled out a rather uncomplimentary term. See Headmaster’s hidden insult gives teacher the last laugh.

An example containing null ciphers (via):

News Eight Weather: Tonight increasing snow. Unexpected precipitation smothers eastern towns. Be extremely cautious and use snowtires especially heading east. The [highway is not] knowingly slippery. Highway evacuation is suspected. Police report emergency situations in downtown ending near Tuesday.

Taking the first letter in each word successively yields the real message: “Newt is upset because he thinks he is President.”

It is not clear to this reporter what prompted the warning cable to diplomatic outposts. One source suggests that senior advisers may be concerned that a hidden message will be included in end-of-year reporting cables and happy greetings.