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Originally posted by EsSeeEye
I was in the submarine force, and used my own security clearance as an excuse to lead people into believing the US had underwater bases...
1. Secrecy. Nearly everything of significance undertaken by America's military and intelligence community in the past half-century has occurred in secrecy. The undertaking to build an atomic weapon, better known as the Manhattan Project, remains the great model for all subsequent activities. For four years not a single member of Congress even knew about it, although its final cost exceeded the then-incredible total of $2 billion. During and after the Second World War, other important projects, such as the development of biological weapons, the importation of Nazi scientists, terminal mind control experiments, nationwide interception of mail and cable transmissions of an unwitting populace, infiltration of the media and universities, secret coups, secret wars, and assassinations all took place far removed not only from the American public, but most members of Congress and a few Presidents. Indeed, several of the most powerful intelligence agencies were themselves established in secrecy, unknown by the public or Congress for many years..
3. Independence. In theory, civilian oversight exists over the U.S. national security establishment. The President is the military Commander-in-Chief. Congress has official oversight over the CIA. The FBI must answer to the Justice Department. In practice, little of this fond theory applied during the period under review. One reason has to do with the secrecy: the compartmentalization of information within military and intelligence circles. "Top Secret" clearance does not clear one for all Top Secret information. Sensitive information is available on a need to know basis. Two CIA officers in adjoining rooms at the Langley Headquarters can be involved in completely different top secret activities, each completely ignorant of the other's doings. Such compartmentalization not only increases secrecy, but independence from the wrong (e.g. official) kinds of oversight.