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Are some secret projects too secret?!!

Are some secret projects too secret?!!

  • Yes

    Votes: 32 72.7%
  • No

    Votes: 12 27.3%

  • Total voters
    44

nitebot

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What made me think about this one was something I heard Nick Cook (the aviation journalist) say about his struggles to find out details about some secret US projects. He felt that the public ought to know more about some classified projects especially when you take into account their vast costs. I agree. This isn't the Cold War any more.

I'm sure every country has a strain on its public services these days and we who work in them have to justify every penny we spend and we don't get enough as it is. Yet it seems that a few politicians and senior military men can set vast budgets on projects for 'national security'. And are the projects even necessary? And who's doing the checking?! You can follow what NASA or the ESA is up to in great detail but who knows what the equivalent military forces are up to! Did the Stealth planes really need to be so secret even though toy versions were in the shops?

Besides the major rival nations all know what everyone else is developing in secret through their spy networks. The only people who don't know anything are the public and the poor countries. Figures! Anyone agree?
 

Stargazer2006

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I agree. With the demise of the Soviet Union, the only non-NATO country that had a chance to rival the US in terms of aerospace technology fell to pieces. All the great engineers of yesteryear have gone. Nations like India or China can rival the US to some extent by developing technology that is inferior in most cases, or equivalent at best, but they have neither the know-how nor the experience to do anything better. Not even to mention North Korea, Pakistan or Iran, which are waaaay behind. All these countries depend upon the "goodwill" of other powers to access these technologies, anyway. Only Russia, Ukraine and Belarus and all the design bureaus from the major aviation companies put together could still represent a potent "rival", but now these countries aren't exactly what you may call good pals anymore... The way these smaller, less sophisticated powers will exert power and challenge the US is in the use of terror through weapons that are biological, chemical, perhaps nuclear (though I doubt the last one because they are still wise enough to foresee the retaliation that would ensue and reduce them to bits)... but not through highly sophisticated aerospace technology.

So, yes, I think that most of the secret aviation projects that ran from the 1950s to now could probably be declassified... but then there's also the argument of the girl across the street: she's only fascinating because you can only guess her silhouette through the curtains at night and your imagination does the rest. If you saw her in broad daylight with her imperfections, she would somehow cease to be so awesome. The same probably applies here. When all the secrets are revealed and you see the enemy for what it is, it ceases somehow to be so frightening, don't you think?
 

Steve Pace

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As an aviation history journalist myself, I feel we need even more secrecy than we already have. For example, the F-22 has been developed in the open since day one and, I feel, the new foreign fighters being built today (witness the T-50) would not exist if not for the openess of the F-22 program. If the F-22 - the baddest ass fighter on the planet, had been developed in secret, it's head start would not be threatened for many years to come. But as it stands now, it will be threatened much sooner than it should have been. - my opinion.
 
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sublight

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The problem with keeping them too secret for too long is this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portage_County_UFO_Chase

I don't think it's "aliens", nor do I think it was Venus. It was probably some balloon based recon platform test, but it perpetuated the "flying saucer" urban legend even more. So much more in fact, that it ended up in a movie....

"fake moon landing" isn't the only myth Uncle Sam needs to bust.....
 

Justo Miranda

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In my opinion, aerospatial industry has turned unpopular after forty years of being under attack by the media....without any answer.
For the first time in its history, the industry has today more enemies inside than outside, whatever the country, and for that reason must keep secrets. I think they may fear journalists more than MiGs.
Who cares about the secret features of the next fighter when the Dutch government has decided to retire its troops from Afghanistan , due to a popular pressure of 75%?
Perhaps the industry should have dedicated some money to cultivate public opinion, with more films like "Top gun", "The Right Stuff "or "The final countdown".
How long has it been since we last had air heroes in movies?
 
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sublight

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Justo Miranda said:
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Perhaps the industry should have dedicated some money to cultivate public opinion, with more films like "Top gun", "The Right Stuff "or "The final countdown".
How long has it been since we last had air heroes in movies?
Agreed. I would love to see an HBO miniseries (since band of brothers was so popular) called "The secret stuff" covering SR71, U2, Submariner adventures, and more as yet unclassified hi-jinks. That would be awesome.
 

nitebot

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XB-70 Guy said:
As an aviation history journalist myself, I feel we need even more secrecy than we already have. For example, the F-22 has been developed in the open since day one and, I feel, the new foreign fighters being built today (witness the T-50) would not exist if not for the openess of the F-22 program. If the F-22 - the baddest ass fighter on the planet, had been developed in secret, it's head start would not be threatened for many years to come. But as it stands now, it will be threatened much sooner than it should have been. - my opinion.
Why was the F-22 not developed in secret? As you say it seems far more important at the moment than the spaceplanes and transatmospheric craft that appear to be in development.
 

nitebot

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Justo Miranda said:
Perhaps the industry should have dedicated some money to cultivate public opinion, with more films like "Top gun", "The Right Stuff "or "The final countdown".
How long has it been since we last had air heroes in movies?
They still try occasionally with big budget fighter pilot movies but the last big one I recall, Stealth, which had some sort of stealthy, ultra high speed fighter craft, one of which didn't require a pilot and what looked like full cooperation from the US Navy. I'm sure Americans who watched it were probably impressed that there might be US aircraft such as the manned ones depicted around the corner. It was a bad movie though and that's probably put the studios off for a few years.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stealth_(film)#Featured_technologies
 
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sublight

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XB-70 Guy said:
As an aviation history journalist myself, I feel we need even more secrecy than we already have. For example, the F-22 has been developed in the open since day one and, I feel, the new foreign fighters being built today (witness the T-50) would not exist if not for the openess of the F-22 program. If the F-22 - the baddest ass fighter on the planet, had been developed in secret, it's head start would not be threatened for many years to come. But as it stands now, it will be threatened much sooner than it should have been. - my opinion.
Well then where are the foreign versions of the U2, SR71, B2, and F117???
 

Triton

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The citizen's right to know in a democratic society for government accountability purposes needs to be tempered with maintaining the security of the nation and the safety of its citizens and supporting the nation's interests.

Those who believe that secrets should be revealed do not know the contents of these secret documents or what harm will occur if these secrets are made public. nitebot presumes that espionage has revealed these secrets to foreign nations both friendly and hostile. I cannot answer in the affirmative or the negative to this supposition. Though it is my hope that my country can maintain its secrets.

Others seem to presume that after a certain period, hostile or rival nations to the United States will gain this engineering or technical expertise on their own. This may also not be the case.

Personally, I don't like the posibility that my security may be compromised if full disclosure were to occur. Certainly these secrets shouldn't be revealed for the sole benefit of historians and aviation and military enthusiasts.
 
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sublight

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Triton said:
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Certainly these secrets shouldn't be revealed for the sole benefit of historians and aviation and military enthusiasts.
You don't think its important to put an end to one of the biggest "myths" of all time?
 

quellish

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nitebot said:
Why was the F-22 not developed in secret? As you say it seems far more important at the moment than the spaceplanes and transatmospheric craft that appear to be in development.
That's easy to answer. It WAS developed in secret.
ATF and ATB were both "gray" programs. Their existence was acknowledged and their sources of funding were not very concealed, but the details of the program and aircraft designs were not public until they had to be (at the start of the flight test program). In the case of the B-2 treaty obligations played a part in keeping the program from being completely black.
 

Triton

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sublight said:
Triton said:
....
Certainly these secrets shouldn't be revealed for the sole benefit of historians and aviation and military enthusiasts.
You don't think its important to put an end to one of the biggest "myths" of all time?
You are taking my sentence out of context. I don't believe it is important to dispel "myths" or correct historical inaccuracies if the security of the nation is harmed or the safety, or potential safety, of the public is put at risk.
 
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sublight

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Triton said:
sublight said:
Triton said:
....
Certainly these secrets shouldn't be revealed for the sole benefit of historians and aviation and military enthusiasts.
You don't think its important to put an end to one of the biggest "myths" of all time?
You are taking my sentence out of context. I don't believe it is important to dispel "myths" or correct historical inaccuracies if the security of the nation is harmed or the safety, or potential safety, of the public is put at risk.
The incident I am referring to was in 1966. I would like to know how keeping anything from 1966 secret today is relevant to national security....
 

CFE

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One aspect often overlooked in the debate over secrecy is deterrence. If a program is so secret that the enemy has no idea of its existence, it has absolutely no deterrent value towards preventing conflict.

There are some examples like the Israeli nuclear weapons program and even the "stealth fighter" of the 1980's that they had deterrent value. Some ambiguity is okay, but complete secrecy can contribute to an adversary's under-estimation of your ability to do them great harm.
 

quellish

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sublight said:
The incident I am referring to was in 1966. I would like to know how keeping anything from 1966 secret today is relevant to national security....
If it reveals sources and methods which are still sensitive, that would be relevant. IVY BELLS is a good example.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Ivy_Bells
IVY BELLS developed a new and secret capability, using very new technology. Many details of those operations are still secret even though that specific set of taps were compromised a long time ago - because it's relevant to operations today.
 

Stargazer2006

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I guess in the 40s or 50s you could get away with telling workers and engineers that they were working for 15 or 20 years on programs that would remain secret and that they would never have to talk about for their entire lives, because they knew it was contributing to their nation's security and that the hardware was built and used...
But for the past few decades, many people devoted practically all of their working career on projects or programs that were eventually axed by politicians or cancelled for lack of funding (the two being of course related). What bigger frustration can there be to devote your whole time and effort on things that will NEVER make it to production, and to NOT be able to ever tell about it on top of that?!
 

Bailey

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serving persons in industry may take a different approach to the discussion raised,
Having worked in the defence industry in the U.K from the mid 1970's until the late 1990's, I can agree that there seems to be a much greater importance given to security. Some of the projects that I was involved with, will still be deemed secret today, and I suspect for some years into the future.

What bigger frustration can there be to devote your whole time and effort on things that will NEVER make it to production, and to NOT be able to ever tell about it on top of that?!
Yes it can be frustrating, but in general it's an accepted part of life when you start working in this area. Some information could be released without harming any public security or ongoing operations. In some cases it is not released to hide both political cock-ups and technical failures, i.e avoiding embarrassment for certain parties.

Like all issues, it all boils down to shades of grey. Some information should be held back because it could compromise an ongoing situation, other details could certainly be made public within a much shorter timescale. Mind you, much of it would not be anywhere near as exciting as people think.

Regards Bailey.
 
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sublight

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quellish said:
sublight said:
The incident I am referring to was in 1966. I would like to know how keeping anything from 1966 secret today is relevant to national security....
If it reveals sources and methods which are still sensitive, that would be relevant. IVY BELLS is a good example.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Ivy_Bells
IVY BELLS developed a new and secret capability, using very new technology. Many details of those operations are still secret even though that specific set of taps were compromised a long time ago - because it's relevant to operations today.
That is a good example, and you got me on that one... :) However, I still believe the balloon/LTA/whatever from 1966 should be declassified. It probably wont be, because it will make project blue book look like a sham.
 
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sublight

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Stargazer2006 said:
But for the past few decades, many people devoted practically all of their working career on projects or programs that were eventually axed by politicians or canceled for lack of funding (the two being of course related). What bigger frustration can there be to devote your whole time and effort on things that will NEVER make it to production, and to NOT be able to ever tell about it on top of that?!
Yes, that is insanely frustrating. I would have a break down if I helped invent the coolest thing ever and it just got "buried". I think a great many of those are kept secret just so people don't have to be accountable for where the money went.
 

nitebot

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sublight said:
Yes, that is insanely frustrating. I would have a break down if I helped invent the coolest thing ever and it just got "buried". I think a great many of those are kept secret just so people don't have to be accountable for where the money went.
Yes I tend to agree. Quellish gave a great example in Ivy Bells (which I didn't know) about why some secrets should probably remain secret for the time being but I'm guessing that's pretty much the exception rather than the rule. Anyone who works with public finances knows how easy it is for people to get carried away and approve things they probably shouldn't. They're doing things almost for their own personal benefit rather than that of the people. But I would say that the days of stating one word on a Congress budget sheet with a huge sum next to it and no further words of explanation ought to be a thing of the past, if they aren't already.

It's been a good discussion though!
 

Stargazer2006

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Perhaps we could start suggesting items that we think maybe ought to be declassified to some level...

Let me start with this one: all the Soviet aircraft evaluated during the 1960s and 1970s under Have Doughnut, Have Drill, Have Privilege and the rest. Surely who cares now that there have been MiGs and Sukhois flying over the US deserts some 30 years ago... And even if some Russian aircraft are still flying today, surely, it's not a handful of 40-year old Foxbats, Floggers and Flashlights that would compromise US national security... Well, at least that's my 2-cent. I'm neither an aviation pro nor a defense pro, nor even an American, so according to some on the forum, I am probably unqualified on those issues and I should just shut up!
 

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Stargazer2006 said:
I'm neither an aviation pro nor a defense pro, nor even an American, so according to some on the forum, I am probably unqualified on those issues and I should just shut up!
What makes you think that aviation or defence pros are better qualified to have an opinion? Sometimes being too close to the subject can blind you to alternative and valid view points. Your 2-cents worth is just as important.

Regards Bailey.
 
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sublight

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This is the most likely reason most things are still classified. It provides a pretty tight security blanket against lawsuits....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Reynolds
 

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sublight said:
This is the most likely reason most things are still classified. It provides a pretty tight security blanket against lawsuits....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Reynolds
Not true. They are classified because:
a. the information is relevant
b. For old programs, it is cheaper to keep classified (just locked away) vs spending time and money to review all the documents and data.
 

SOC

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Some things will remain secret because you can figure out where we went with it. For example, if a classified 1970's demonstrator led to some new classified system, then declassifying the early program would provide insight into the types of developments that might have been made using the results of that program.
 
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sublight

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Byeman said:
Not true. They are classified because:
a. the information is relevant
b. For old programs, it is cheaper to keep classified (just locked away) vs spending time and money to review all the documents and data.

The Air Force played the "classified" card specifically to cover the fact that they had done poor B29 maintenance which directly resulted in those deaths.
 

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sublight said:
The Air Force played the "classified" card specifically to cover the fact that they had done poor B29 maintenance which directly resulted in those deaths.
Where is your proof of that?
 

Byeman

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sublight said:
Triton said:
....
Certainly these secrets shouldn't be revealed for the sole benefit of historians and aviation and military enthusiasts.
You don't think its important to put an end to one of the biggest "myths" of all time?
What myth is that?
 
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sublight

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Byeman said:
sublight said:
Triton said:
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Certainly these secrets shouldn't be revealed for the sole benefit of historians and aviation and military enthusiasts.
You don't think its important to put an end to one of the biggest "myths" of all time?
What myth is that?
The "ufo" myth.
 
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sublight

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overscan said:
sublight is a conspiracy nut. Proof is anathema to his kind... its like holy water and vampires ::)
By all means please correlate my belief that "ufo's" are a myth to my supposed advocacy of any conspiracies whatsoever.
 

quellish

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sublight said:
The "ufo" myth.
That would be trying to prove a negative, which would be pointless.
 
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sublight

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quellish said:
sublight said:
The "ufo" myth.
That would be trying to prove a negative, which would be pointless.
I'm going by Occam's razor here. Its highly unlikely we were visited by beings in "saucers", and more likely there are numerous balloon/LTA/etc projects that are still in the "classified closet". I propose the theory that a great many of the supposed "famous" UFO stories can be put to rest whence some of these programs are declassified.

If you think that makes me "crazy conspiracy brother" because of that, then go right ahead.
 
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sublight

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Byeman said:
sublight said:
The Air Force played the "classified" card specifically to cover the fact that they had done poor B29 maintenance which directly resulted in those deaths.
Where is your proof of that?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B-29_Superfortress#Legal_controversy

"the daughter of one of the engineers who died obtained a copy of the declassified accident report. The document, which appeared to contain no military secrets, indicated that an engine fire resulting from poor maintenance had likely caused the accident, which if true would mean that the refusal to let the original court see the report on grounds of national security was a pretext for covering up the truth."
 

shockonlip

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sublight said:
Byeman said:
sublight said:
Triton said:
....
Certainly these secrets shouldn't be revealed for the sole benefit of historians and aviation and military enthusiasts.
You don't think its important to put an end to one of the biggest "myths" of all time?
What myth is that?
The "ufo" myth.
It's not a myth !
There ARE Unidentified Flying Objects !
Doesn't say they're alien!
Doesn't say they're secret projects!
Doesn't say they're just mistakes in recognition!
They are unidentified.
Done deal dude!
 

Colonial-Marine

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Too secret for the common citizen who can't tell a F-15 apart from a F-22? No. Too secret for me? Yes!
 

quellish

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sublight said:
quellish said:
That would be trying to prove a negative, which would be pointless.
I'm going by Occam's razor here. Its highly unlikely we were visited by beings in "saucers", and more likely there are numerous balloon/LTA/etc projects that are still in the "classified closet". I propose the theory that a great many of the supposed "famous" UFO stories can be put to rest whence some of these programs are declassified.

If you think that makes me "crazy conspiracy brother" because of that, then go right ahead.
Occam's razor is irrelevant. You're trying to prove we are NOT being visited by aliens; that is impossible to prove.

As far as classified lighter than air vehicles, it's unlikely there is much to see there. Assuming you had some reason to have such a thing in the first place (they have limited military utility by their nature), such vehicles have very specific logistic requirements that are easy to track. Helium is a finite resource and comes from only so many places. LTA vehicles require personnel with specific skills, testing facilities with environmental etc. requirements that differ from fixed and rotary wing aircraft, etc. It's all very difficult to hide.
 

Stargazer2006

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Also lighter-than-air vehicles definitely don't change directions all of a sudden and dash away at great speed, like many observers said they did!!!
 

Byeman

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sublight said:
I'm going by Occam's razor here. Its highly unlikely we were visited by beings in "saucers", and more likely there are numerous balloon/LTA/etc projects that are still in the "classified closet". I propose the theory that a great many of the supposed "famous" UFO stories can be put to rest whence some of these programs are declassified.

If you think that makes me "crazy conspiracy brother" because of that, then go right ahead.
Actually, Occam's razor would say we were more likely visited by beings in "saucers", because it would highly unlikely to keep numerous balloon/LTA/etc projects hidden.
 
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