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Extreme Secrecy

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posted on Oct, 30 2008 @ 07:17 PM
What's the point of Extreme Secrecy? From what I understand -- per the History Channel documentaries on Area 51 -- the first two (airplane) products of Area 51 failed to remain secret for long enough to have made the secrecy useful. The next project, the SR-71 became outdated as soon as it was perfected. And now? I'd wager you could print out every secret within area51, box it all up and ship it to the doorstep of Bin Laden's cave at minimal loss to "national security". In fact, it would probably be of little use to any government on the planet.

High tech weapons, to make them, and to counter them, require vast intellectual and technical infrastructure. The principles of building a platonium bomb are within the grasp of a bright college sophmore. But to refine the platonium to the correct purity, to engineer and manufacture the shape charges --- it's not easy.

And secrecy comes at a high price. I've seen it mentioned (even by Bob Lazar whose credibility bears little on this point) that the cost of secrecy, not just in terms of financing, but at the opportunity cost of debate, peer review, and the value of ideas being tried through the "market of ideas". Granted, the need for secrecy also exists in the private sector, and there will always be a trade-off, but it is interesting how the private sector does ok, even phenomenally well, without the extreme black budget/overly compartmentalized kind of secrecy.

Some ideas I think are reasonable to explain "extreme secrecy":

- Complex systems tend not to just disappear, especially if they have infinite funding. I could think of some overly complex computer networks I've seen, but they can't just become simplified overnight because of how interdependent the pieces have become with the rest of the business. Likewise, "Area 51" is a piece of a complex economic/government/business system that is part of a greater whole. No matter how ill-conceived in many ways, it is the way it is, and likely won't change.

- Adding to the first point, people in power whose livelihoods and career ambitions are linked tightly to what goes on there with no accountability to anyone have no reason to ever change course.

- The greatest secrets might be wasted money, failed projects, dangerous practices (as per the 90s lawsuit), severely misguided projects, and things of this nature that would require a "lot of explaining".

posted on Oct, 30 2008 @ 07:26 PM
To be able to do whatever they want to do without the whole world rage against them among other things I guess?

I mean, things that can't be done in public can very well be done in places such as Area 51. Like humen experiments and things like that. No one would protest on it, cause no one knows in fact that it's happening for shure. Secrecy has it advantages.

posted on Oct, 30 2008 @ 10:58 PM

Originally posted by sidewinderX
What's the point of Extreme Secrecy? From what I understand -- per the History Channel documentaries on Area 51

Yeah, that's a reliable source.

the first two (airplane) products of Area 51 failed to remain secret for long enough to have made the secrecy useful. The next project, the SR-71 became outdated as soon as it was perfected.

I cannot quote facts and figures, I know there are others here who can, but I am certain you are incorrect on this.

Both the U2 and the SR-71 were both extremely successful and "useful". What about the B-2 and the F-117? Do you consider those not "secrecy useful" as well?

posted on Oct, 30 2008 @ 11:22 PM
"Yeah, that's a reliable source. "

I agree.

"Both the U2 and the SR-71 were both extremely successful and "useful". What about the B-2 and the F-117? Do you consider those not "secrecy useful" as well?"

Hmm. Maybe there is a misunderstanding here. According to Wiki, the U2 got underway as a project in the early 50's. Powers was shot down over Russia in 1960, so it would appear the extreme attempts to keep it a secret failed.

The SR-71 according to Wiki never was really "stealth", and so it too, wasn't a secret for long.

I don't doubt the SR-71, for instance, was a success as an aircraft, but the question is the value added by the extreme secrecy put into building it. Was it a success as a "secret" aircraft given it had at least 4,000 missles shot at it? (according to wiki)

See, if the government sent a letter to every country in the world announcing they were building the SR-71 to spy on their hides, and that it was going to be a lot of fun doing it, and then tested it in the open with pieces of the technology discussed in Popular Mechanics, it would still have travelled at mach 3 and still have outrun every one of those 4,000 missles.

posted on Oct, 31 2008 @ 12:04 AM
Well, I'm pretty shure they knew that it wouldn't stay secret forever - and guess they didn't need for it to do so either, so long as it remained a secret for as long as neciseraly.

If they would have announced they might risk for the enemy got a hold of the plans or anything like that.

posted on Oct, 31 2008 @ 08:49 AM
Everybody read "Lord of the Rings", right? It seems like that kind of crowd.

Last book, the orcs were told to look for "bracelets, necklaces, seals, rings..." and send any such trinket to Mordor.

Sauron kept the secret of the imprortance of the ring by making any body worn trinket important. That is why extreme secrecy is necessary. So you don't attract attention to the one or two vital secrets. So you dont attract attention to the few people who are the keepers of the vital secrets.

You don't want cleared personnell talking about anything, so you make it a felony for them to disclose any knowledge gained on the job. This is the only way secrecy can work.

SR71 and U2s were secret, despite the fact they were shot at. Other side knew they were shooting at something fast and high, but they didn't have any details. verifying the presence of a ghost does not tell you the identity of the ghost.

SR71 was de-classified and its existence announced to the public by LBJ. From Wikipedia:

During the 1964 campaign, Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater continually criticized President Lyndon B. Johnson and his administration for falling behind the Soviet Union in the research and development of new weapons systems. Johnson decided to counter this criticism by releasing information on the hitherto highly classified A-12 program, and later the existence of the reconnaissance version.

posted on Oct, 31 2008 @ 01:00 PM
reply to post by sidewinderX

Just because we see the stealth bombers and fighters doesn't mean we know how the systems work or what the material is made out of. Many of the systems you mention remained secret for over a decade. Secrecy was done during the Cold War to stay ahead of the Soviet Union, and is maintained now to stay ahead of rogue nations and terrorists.
The security lifestyle has been with the military since WWII and is ingrained in the culture. There is very little chance that will change anytime soon.

posted on Oct, 31 2008 @ 06:12 PM
I understand the motivation for extreme secrecy. The problem is, it's all too easy to justify a priori, "Well, whatever aspects of the project the enemy didn't learn, were the ones that could have comprimised national security". Framed this way, it's necessarily irrefutable. There would seem to be a need for some kind of emperical standards to justify the secrecy.

A basic principle of security is, that the cost of the security should not exceed the expected cost of the security breach. And with "extreme security", there is no oversight, no objective way to evalute the needs, no accountability for miscalculation, it's entirely self-serving.

Now, if someone has an argument such as, "all information related to the X project from 19xx to 19yy has now been declassified. The benefits were clearly Z, the costs were P, and history seems to demonstrate that given all this information, the extreme secrecy was justified" I might find that convincing.

posted on Nov, 6 2008 @ 05:24 PM
Hey buddy my ass the U-2 wasn't successful we still use it today without secrecy we might be speaking German,Japanese, or even Russian.

posted on Nov, 7 2008 @ 12:05 AM
Good discussion here, I think both OP and Foster were right in their statements..The B-2 is heavy guarded and kept in climate controlled hangars so that would be case and point about secrecy and the f-117 allbeit a bit older now was and still is highly valueable, I remember one was shot down or malfunctioned over Bosnia and the powers that be were in a huge hurry to get to that wreckage and leave no trace of anything that the enemy could recover. Good thread OP, Makes me wonder what is really there..Maybe Osama is there?..You never know

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