From Civil War war plans to the underground railroad. From D-Day to Roswell. From JFK to MLK to RFK. From the hit on Bin Laden to the latest failed hostage rescue in Yemen, secrets have long been a part of American life, politics, and military culture. For the most part, it transpires without our knowledge, intentionally, and we go on with our seemingly pathetic lives not worrying about those very important things. But, on the other hand, large groups of people are opposed to any government secrecy and believe in the full transparency of government actions. To some degree, I think we could all agree with that. For now, I will take the other side of the equation and attempt to justify it briefly.
As news of the Yemen hostage rescue began hitting the airwaves, I was, again, surprised at the detail of the information available on what had to be a highly classified operation that had only transpired a few hours before. Most of us were shocked when full details of the Bin Laden raid were quickly available on Google and CNN but we gently applauded the success of the mission and were thankful that we could know, we assume, the whole story. (Which is highly unlikely but we will roll with it.) It would seem that when President Obama said his would be the most transparent administration in history, he really meant everybody else would be transparent, including our formerly secret missions within the military – the very things that should remain secret.
Within the community of my fellow sky-watchers, self-styled investigators rail against government secrecy with regard to the UFO question. We, the people, have a right to know, they proclaim. And, perhaps they are right. If we are in contact with an alien intelligence, I think most people would want to know about it. When it comes to things flying in the sky overhead, however, transparency is not an option. Many of our allies throughout the world have also called for more openness within the U.S. government with regard to the UFO question and our standard response is, “We do not investigate UFOs.” Mostly, it’s because most of the weird things you see in the sky are OURS. Conversely, our rivals in the world are probably also working on highly classified aircraft that may be performing penetration testing of western air defense systems. That particular UFO you just saw may be Russian, not ours. So, we don’t talk about it. Not to ourselves; not to our allies; and for damn sure not to those pesky Russians.
We can’t trust our own politicians, citizens, or media to keep their mouth shut about anything classified. Why would we trust our allies to do so? We don’t understand how complex their security procedures may be or how effective their own secrecy programs might be so, how can we trust them to keep OUR secrets? I wouldn’t. Neither would you if you understood the inherent incompetence of most government agencies. Go wait in line at the DMV. Go to court for a day. Then wonder why most people aren’t trusted with important information. Sometimes even presidents. Even pilots with TS/SCI clearances who may fly some of the coolest missions available do not know of the covert, black budget programs that are producing highly sophisticated, superbly maneuverable, and virtually invisible aircraft. They don’t need to know anymore than you or I. So they don’t. Just like us.
So, if, say, Denmark sends an official cable to our Department of Defense and asks if those strange triangles flying in the sky belong to us, what would you expect us to say?
“Hell yeah! Aren’t those sweet, bro? That’s our latest thing. Totally hush-hush. We can trust you to keep a secret, right?”
Um, no. Not just no, but, hell no.
“We have no idea what you are talking about and we have no operational craft in your airspace. Good luck catching one. Let us know what you find out. -Sincerely, U.S.A”
It is just how it has to be in order to ensure the protection of our way of life. Some of those secrets may be too much for the average citizen to handle. Most people are clueless when it comes to the very real, and very nasty, work of protecting a nation from all enemies foreign and domestic. They may wish they didn’t know every secret thing that went on if they did know about it. At times, countries and governments have to do very dirty, often shady, and, potentially, occasionally illegal things in order to keep you heading to the shopping mall for Christmas and watching American Idol instead of paying attention. Bad people have to die. Other countries have to be subverted in order to prevent them from emerging on to the world stage with a nuclear missile in their back pocket. Sometimes, rarely, we hope, people wind up in a parked car in a national park with a bullet in the back of their head. The news will say it was suicide and the person was a good man who had fallen on hard times and you will never know he was attempting to sell our nation’s secrets to a terrorist group in order to facilitate an attack on Denver, Colorado.
That’s just the way it is. It is how it has to be. Not all secrets are bad, although some may be. But, who will be the judge of which secrets should, and should not, be kept from us? Us? Not likely. We have very poor judgment. Them? The power brokers and shadowy gremlins who run the machines of geopolitics on our behalf? Would you trust them to tell you the truth anyway? Also not likely. So, for now, we are left with no choice but to hope we have elected good people to represent us and that they will act in our best interests and in the best interests of our nation’s future. Some will not. Some will try and fail.
Some will suddenly commit suicide.
It’s a strange world in which we live and secrets will always be a part of that.