Keeping Non-Secret 40-year-old Secrets Secret

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From Congressional Quarterly:

Kent Conrad, D-N.D., at a March 1 hearing of the Senate Budget Committee, was addressing Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz about the defense budget. Perhaps because the Middle East is so important to that budget, Conrad began to recall his high school days in the mid-1960s at Wheelus Air Force Base in Libya. In the course of that recollection, the senator said: "Five blocks away lived a relative of mine who happened to be the CIA station chief, Harden Smith."

It was a throwaway line, but in fact, it was classified because CIA station chiefs are covert operatives. After the hearing, the Budget Committee got a call from the Pentagon requesting that the panel delete the line from its official transcript, which it did. […]

Conrad was not the only one who was asked to delete the information. Congressional Quarterly, which posts transcripts of hearings on CQ.com, likewise was asked to remove this one. The request to CQ, like that to the Budget Committee, came not from the CIA but from the Pentagon's Office of Legislative Affairs. It did not come until a month after the hearing, without explanation of the putative security risk. CQ declined.

Link via The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

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  1. Once again Democratic Senators aid the terrorists…

  2. Let me get this straight…

    …oh hell, why bother?

  3. Dammit, the identity of the Station Chief in Libya during 1960 is exactly the information they need!

    Knock knock.

    Who is it?

    Harden Smith, CIA Station Chief in Libya in 1960.

    Oh, sure, Harden, come on…BLAM!

  4. Images of Homer slapping his head and crying “doh!” come to mind.

  5. I guess it depends on whether that information could be used to determine who the current station chief is, or worse, if Harden Smith is still doing something that requires covert operative status.

    Neither of those seem likely, given the amount of time that has passed… Of course, wouldn’t the CIA be ready to pull someone and replace them if their cover is blown? Or at least send Tom Cruise on an impossible John Woo-style mission to recover the NOC list?

  6. Hmmm, unless I’m mistaken, I don’t think Hizballah needed a Senator to tell them who was the station chief in Beirut back in the ’80s.

    Also, I recall Cofer Black saying al Queda tried to kill him in Sudan, during the 9/11 hearings.

    So much for secrecy, I guess.

  7. The Congressional janitorial staff can be trusted to keep secrets more than members of Congress. The janitors aren’t not ego-whoring for the cameras, and they’re probably more patriotic.

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