The Courier News from Blytheville, Arkansas on April 19, 1937 · Page 5
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The Courier News from Blytheville, Arkansas · Page 5

Blytheville, Arkansas
Issue Date:
Monday, April 19, 1937
Page 5
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MONDAY, APRIL io, 1037 BLYTIIEV5LL15 (ARK.)! COURIER NEWS Code •' „•_'..' '--l !:• Plioto copyrlfjlu. Milr.rls flnrt . Major Wjlliam . F. .Friedman; who. solved the dictionary code with'bilt seeing tlia dictionary. By Thomas M. Johnson i m URDER in llic courtroom! A brown arm darts lorlh. A flash, a crash! A dark-laced .man lalls Irom llic witness chair, hanii! clutching, ivildly. Blood spatters Ihe steps before the spat ol .justice. Above ihi dying man stands a second,- gripping a '., smoking\pislpl-? His face, ako dark, wears ah expression of triumphant hatred. "T'railoil" he snarls. l5ul in Ibal instant; his leei turns to a hideoui grimace. He spins about, and lalls beside his victim. \ - • llial second report. -Irom the rear ot that tragic courtroom, came Irom the .45 of United Stales Marshal; jamea :B- Hoiohan. later to become .warden',61' San Quentin penitentiary. Calmly, accurately', ;hehad fired over the heads ol the pariic-siricken crowd, to prevent'further killings by a-Hindu-fanatic. '"PHUS ended, in San Francisco, a worid- *• wide drama. unique in the annals ol American justice. Unique, aUb. in the annals ol the Black Art of cryplogiaphy. ol codes and ciphers, ol.secret writing. The lull story can be told Iqi the first time, (rom the day when an American code and ciphci expert scanned a ihccl oi papei on which were typewritten rows and towsol figures: • ' 78-2-45 35-1-17 122-1-52 No gruesome hieioglyph ics. skulls and crosslinncs daggers. just lows and lows ol neatly typed figures all arranged in groups ol three. Yet they had a mean ing. a sinister meaning, thai bid an amazing-story; lor eign spies in America, plot ling invasion ol, India'and icvoll ,61 Its daik men against white .."men . and women. How could: that-:jslory be read in time? ,' : While .the British Intelligence" Service wailed lenscly,':an American cod.T and cipher: _expert scanned the paper;' ... "Dictionary Jcodci" .lie said, tersely. , , ' BvU there, -were,' lhou : lands ol.'dictionaries.; ol .all sorts, in all languages. Ol all ' those dictionaries, which one had the'ploll<rs.used;to conceal (heir messages lo one anolhcr^. Surely, until'on'e knew llial, it would be idle'.to try to. read the mchage, solve, the mystery'ol those long rows of seemingly incomprehensible figures. Yel that American cryptographer solved the mystery; without'knowing which dictionary it was, and without usm either necromancy or magic. So far from being Black Art, the cryptog- raptici will tell you that his work is a lasci- naling science, requiring much exact knowledge and haid svork. 1 oday, seciel writing is used more lhan ever. Hall ihe cablegrams fiom New York are encoded. Criminals use codes and ciphers so much thai a special class ol New York police detectives has been formed to'lncak them. Every message IOT. one ol Alcaliaz prison's desperate prisoners is carelully scrutinized, then changed, and retyped. Murder in a courtroom back in 1918 — and now, for the first time, the full story can be told of how the amazing cleverness of an American deciphering expert thwarted a gigantic spy plot But In that instant his leer turns to a hideous grimace. Ho spins about and falls . besido his viotiin Ram Chandra, shot to death in court by his co-plotter, Ram Singh. particularly interesting and seemingly •^ impossible piece ol deciphering was done in the cipher department of the Rivcrbank Laboratory at Geneva, III. In 1916 and 1917, this remarkable bureau was the only aid the government had in solving the secret messages ot foreign plollcis in this country, ol spies and criminals. Col. George Fabyan patriotically loaned the services ol its staff ol 20. and when hnally. in 1918. ihe government loundcd its own "Black Chambei" in Washington, it was largely on Riveibank dalu and records. Maj. William F. Friedman, Riveibank's head, then joined G. H. Q., A. E. l r . at Chaumont. France. Aftci ihe war he re- lurncd lo head the War Department code and cipher section. He is authoi o! the article on codes and ciphers in {he new Encyclopedia Britanmc.i. and rccogni/cd as one oi the world's leading cryptographers. He slill looks back to the day at Rivcrbank when, wilh ihe United Slates on ihe brink ol war, they brought him a long shed of paper, filled ' with numbers, in groups ol three 'each. "The British have detected this message passing between Hindus in Berlin, and iheir agents now in America, plotting to start a [evolution in inclia wilh German money," it was explained lo him. "They ore violating American neutrality, equipping an expedition here, gathering aims and making bombs lor a shipload ol volunteers to sail from an American Pacific port for India, where already a thousand unilorms have been distributed secretly, "In America, the plot involves Columbia University students, Buddhist piicsts, and white women. The conspiralois are' communi- eating will) one another by codes, ciphers anrl secret ihks.lutmshc'd by the German secret service, hut they "write in English. What can you make ol this?*' : JVJAJOR FRIEDMAN studied ibc groups •*••*• and columns ol numbers. Eagerly he pointed out three consecutive groups llial were typical: M. • 78-2-451 35-1-17; 122-1-52. "LookI" be cried. "Here's a clew!" "In each ol the Ihrec group!, ihe second figure, : the cenlral one, is always cither a one or a two. And, look again—Ihe groups are all composed'ol three numbers each I Both clews point lo (he same thing—a dictionary code. • "For when two men oi more communicate by this .means, they agree thai, fust, ihcy will select one dictionary, and when they wrile tellers, they will use only that one dictionary —meaning, bl course, two copies ol it. " I ben the man who wanls lo write a Icllei looks up, in his copy ol the dictionary, each woid that he wants lo wrile, liul instead ol writing the word, be wnlcs a group ol numbers, conveying that word's exact location. "Solhc lirst number thai appears in the group will be the numhci ol the page in the dictionary; and the last number will |> c ihe location on page, of Ihe word ilscll—I will mean it's the first word. 11 it's ihe eleventh, etc. "II ihcic are ihrec numbers HI each group, thai means llial the page is divider! mlo columns and. the second number will be llic number ol ihe column on ihe page. Now, let's look M these groups the Hindu plotters wiole. "Well, tiere are number groups wliich all have three numbers. So ihey're using a dictionary lhat is divided into columns, and as the second number is always 1 or 2, it's divided into iwo columns. 1 hat narrows il down—hul there are hundreds ol two-column dictionaries. ^Searching loi the one they used would be lite searching lor the celebrated needle in the renowned haystack. "Oh—why bother? Let's just read the message fir-t, and find the book later." Major 1 riedinan's uninitiated hcaicrs gaped wilh amazement. . "Oh, that's no miracle!" said the cryptographer lightly. "We'll just use the principles lhat govern frequency of letters and words. "Why, we can even block off. this or any dictionary,, inlo 26 sections, corresponding to the numbers of words beginning with each difftienl letter ol the alphabet. Andre Langie, the French cryptographer, has discovered !j'jl:_ "Words beginning wilh A form 6.43 per ccnl; "Words beginning with B form 5.35 per cent: "Words beginning with C form 9.82 per cent—and so on. "Perhaps you nsk, 'So whal)'" ihe cryp lographer continued. "Well, il the numbers in this message extend from 1 lo 100, ihcn a number between I and 6 will represent a word beginning with A; a number belwecn 7 and 12 will represent a ward beginning with B—ah, now you see, don't you?" Then began a long, laborious search by Major Friedman and his assistants; nothing spectacular, nothing mystical, jusl hard work. Picking oul the number-groups lhal occuircd moil ircqucnlly, he began a detailed study and search lor the common words, so necessary lhat the plotters must have used them oi'.cncsi; words like THE, OF, AND. STOP, or YOU. Alter hours ol juch painstaking labor, they emerged triumphantly wilh llic first positive clew; the number-group 199-2-14 must mean YOU, and so, in the dictionary Ihe plotters had used, llic word YOU must be on page 199, column 2. Ulli word I "WE'VE cracked the ice!" Major Fried. *' man cried. "Now. whal's ihe ncxl slep? Why, righl here is 199-2-17, and here il occurs again and again. That mujl mean a different word from 199-2-14—but il must be taken Irom Ihe same page and colur.n ol the same dictionary—and probably only a few words beyond YOU. What word could it mean? Why. il we look through a few dictionaries, we'll find such words as YOUNG, YOUR, and YOUTH I And 199-2-17 piobably » YOUTH." Following up ihose two leads, by the same methods. Major Friedman gradually worked oul one word after another. At last he had enough so thai he could tackle a word-group. He found that 78-2-45. 35-1-17, 122-1-52, which once looked so baflling, must mean COME AT ONCE. And gradually, adding hoe a little, there a little, he found a meaning (or each of the. many word-groups in the long message, So the code was broken. But when the plotters went 16 ttial in,San Francisco, in early RaiYi Singh, simiri is court after siurdering a supposed traitor. 1918, Major Friedman knew lii- ca»e would bs iVronger if he could actually show the jury the dictionary thai was used. Then began a weary, patient search. Day niter dny. Major Friedman Irudgcd horn one t«cond-liand bookslbie to another. At last he visited ihe co-operative bobksloie ol llie University of California' at Berkeley. And (here he found a dictionary lhal he had never seen before—a two-columned dictionary. He turned lo page ?8. His eye shiffcd (0 lha second column. Carefully he counted down, 10 words. 20 woidi. ;40; words—45 Mdrdl. What's this? Nol^-ycs it \s-COMEl Now, slcadyl'"Le/i see—here on page 3Fj is llie seventeenth wo'rd—AT. Getting warn*!, And here.'on page 122. Let's count down-— 10. 20. 40. 50-52 w-ords. What U »)> ' ONCE! COMI- : A I 6NCE.1 From all il*' thousands ol diclionariei m the woild .if. "act^found llie very oae.l^al the Hindi niters hid used. Bui he had found il monll- liter be fcad solved their message*. Wh' '0 conspirators, whjlc and dark, came lo trill .Ujor Fiiedniad sho'wed the dictionary in couii He explained the meanings o! lt>e code m< wage;. He had unraveled tht dark itaio WOM-II tiy Oriental guile arid the gifal German ,ccict service, through'painstaking hard work rather lhan through'; miracles..'Bui the result seemed miraculous lo one of iKe plotters, Ram 5| n j,|,—so miraculous, Iliat-he'was wre a confederate dad sold him out. . On thi» Ram Sirigh Wooded,, until, the -.tail ' day of the Irw),• ApiiU.S. 1918. he sh«t R«m Chandra dead, and Marshal Holotan, who ft- csnlly retired as warden qf'San Quenfo prisdn, . sSii .him de-id in.turn.. Hit.Itust to a sictfi code had'COJt hi* his'tifi 1 •1 pi 3 I

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