Definitions

esodic

CIA cryptonym

CIA cryptonyms are code words seen in declassified documents of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. There has been much speculation as to their meaning.

Format of Cryptonyms

Each CIA cryptonym contains a two character prefix called a digraph, which designates a geographical or functional area. Certain digraphs were changed over time; for example, the digraph for the Soviet Union changed at least twice.

The rest is either an arbitrary dictionary word, or occasionally the digraph and the cryptonym combine to form a dictionary word (e.g. AEROPLANE) or can be read out as a simple phrase (e.g. WIBOTHER, read as "Why bother!"). Cryptonyms are sometimes written with a slash after the digraph, e.g. ZR/RIFLE, and sometimes in one sequence, e.g. ZRRIFLE. The latter format is the more common style in CIA documents.

Some cryptonyms relate to more than one subject, e.g. a group of people. In this case the basic cryptonym, e.g. LICOZY, will designate the whole group, while each group member is designated by a sequence number, e.g. LICOZY/3, which is sometimes written LICOZY-3.

Partial list of digraphs and probable definitions

Years in brackets indicate when the digraph is known to have been in use, but may in many cases have been used long before or after the years shown.

Unidentified digraphs

CA, DT, EC, ER, FJ, HB, HO, HT, JM, JU, KM, LC, QK, SE, SC, WS, ZI

Partial list of CIA cryptonyms and probable definitions

Operations and Projects

Organizations

Persons

Places

Other

  • BGGYPSY: Communist
  • ESCOBILLA: Guatemalan national
  • ESMERALDITE: labor informant affiliated with AFL-sponsored labor movement
  • ESSENCE: Guatemalan anti-Communist leader
  • FJHOPEFUL: military base
  • LCFLUTTER: Polygraph, sometimes supplanted by truth drugs: Sodium Amytal (amobarbital), Sodium Pentothal (thiopental), and Seconal (secobarbital) to induce regression in the subject.
  • LIENVOY: Wiretap or Intercept Program
  • RYBAT: Indicates that the information is very sensitive
  • SLINC: Telegram indicator for PBSUCCESS Headquarters in Florida.

Unidentified codewords

AEBARMAN, AEFOX, AEROPLANE, AVBLIMP, AVBRANDY, AVBUSY, CABOUNCE, CLOWER, ECJOB, ESGAIN, ESODIC, FJDEFLECT, GOLIATH, HBDRILL, HOPEFUL, JUBATE, JUBILIST, KUHOOK, KUJUMP, KUPALM, KURIOT, KUTUBE, LCPANES, LICOZY, LITEMPO, ODIBEX, PBCABOOSE,

Further reading

  • Cullather and PBSUCCESS document collection
  • Leo D. Carl, The International Dictionary of Intelligence, Mavin Books, 1990, p. 107
  • Phillip Agee, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, Stonehill Publishing, 1975, p. 48
  • David Wise, Molehunt, Random House, 1992, p.19
  • John Stockwell, In Search of Enemies, 1978
  • Gregory W. Pedlow and Donald E. Welzenbach, The Central Intelligence Agency and Overhead Reconnaissance: The U-2 and OXCART Programs, 1954 - 1974, CIA History Staff, 1992.
  • Richard M. Bissell, Jr., "[...] Cable Handling Procedures," SAPC-21143, 8 November 1957.
  • DPD Contracting Officer, "Change of Project Funds Obligated under Contract No. SS-100," DPD-2827-59, 30 April 1959.

References

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