a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Top Secret History Stunning Secrets Revealed

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Top Secret History Stunning Secrets Revealed

SUMMARY: USA vs USSR spying, and there I was...

Just a passing discussion about a piece of my -- and our -- history for you-all:

For my first REAL job, I had to apply for a government Secret Clearance. Why?? asked someone. What were you doing that required a Secret Clearance?

This stuff.
(Image from Wikimedia Commons)
I, er, fed programs punched in paper tape through an antique computer tape reader and changed reels on magnetic tape drives.

And also carried 40-lb boxes of green and white fan-fold sprocket-fed continuous-feed computer paper to each printer several times a shift. (The shop worked 24/7/365.)

Translation: Computer operator in a military satellite tracking station, Secret because NO ONE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD KNEW THAT WE WERE SPYING ON THE USSR WITH SATELLITES. 
Except, well, pretty much everyone.

Among the many many difficult questions to answer on the application was: Have you ever been out of the country? If so, where? Well, yes, I lived in New York state and you could, at that time, just drive or stroll casually between the U.S. and Canada. THEN the application wanted to know THE EXACT DATES I had done that.

"Probably several times between 19xx and 19xx." They weren't keen on that answer and I had to spend time with a supervisor coming up with credible answers.

We worked at what everyone knew as The Blue Cube, aka the Air Force Satellite Control Facility (SCF) or the Satellite Tracking Station (STC), later renamed (long after my time there) Onizuka Air Force Station. A yuuuuge structure that sat right alongside a freeway, in plain unobstructed sight, surrounded by six squillion satellite dishes.

Very secret.

Piece of history: One day they called in all the contractors and military people from all three shifts into a top-secret conference room in the building for an announcement from the President.  Pres. Carter announced that we had --ahem-- secretly been spying on the USSR with satellites.  We tried to look surprised but... um... [blink blink]...

Read about that stunning announcement here! https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB231/index.htm