The NSA can neither confirm nor deny. The Glomar ResponseSubmitted by jrd3820 on Fri, 02/21/2014 - 11:34
NSA, FOIA, and Freedom and other things also....
How a sunken nuclear submarine, a crazy billionaire, and a mechanical claw gave birth to a phrase that has hounded journalists and lawyers for 40 years and embodies the tension between the public’s desire for transparency and the government’s need to keep secrets.
What Lies Beneath
Thursday, February 13, 2014 - 10:51 AM
By Julia Barton
In “Neither Confirm Nor Deny,” we spend a fair amount of time on the remarkable cover story that disguised a CIA mission to lift the Soviet submarine K-129 from the bottom of the Pacific. That cover story puts the movie-cover-story of “Argo” to shame: from about 1970-74, the CIA managed to convince the world that billionaire Howard Hughes had decided to invest millions of dollars to scoop up “manganese nodules,” balls of heavy metals that lie on the ocean floor. And the agency had to fool not just the world, but a diverse range of special interests: ship-building unions, stockholders, environmental watchdogs, and the media. Via fake press releases, events, technical specs and front companies, the CIA really had us for a while there. The prospect of an ocean mining rush prompted huge consternation among delegates at the ongoing United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea.
In the end, the commercial cover story was only a wobbly success—investigative reporter Seymour Hersh saw through it early on, but was persuaded to keep it under wraps.
But Project Azorian’s real cover might just have been its technical daring. It was just too crazy to be believed. Former Soviet Navy captain and historian Nikolai Cherkashin told me that once Soviet officers saw the gigantic “mining” vessel hovering over the area of the K-129’s demise, they tried to warn higher ups that something suspicious was happening. But Soviet intelligence dismissed the notion that the US would be insane enough to try to lift an object of 2000 tons from three miles below the surface, where water pressures were enormous. It would have been almost easier, given the technology of the time, to bring a Soviet object back from the Moon.
David Sharp, who was director of recovery missions on the Hughes Glomar Explorer, says his crew of CIA engineers simply didn’t know it couldn’t be done. “I think given a better background in marine engineering, we likely would not have tried” what they did, Sharp said. But the CIA also brought in skilled contractors like the deepwater drilling experts Global Marine, whose name in truncated form adorns the Hughes Glomar Explorer (HGE)....continue...