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On Jun 2, 2011, at 5:02 PM, Lemke, Lawrence G. (ARC-RD) wrote:

In the previous post, I argued that if Alfred O’Donnell was truthful in saying that the AEC fed him the SMH story then the simplest explanation for that is that it was a cover story.  Why would it be necessary to give Alfred a cover story?  Wasn’t he an AEC insider who could be trusted with the truth?  I can think of two explanations, and don’t have enough information about Alfred to choose between them.  One possibility is that, with only a Q clearance, he would not necessarily have been cleared for sensitive compartmented information, which the true Roswell story would certainly have been.  Many people mistakenly think that possessing a Q clearance places one at the apex of the classified atomic energy community.  Not so.  The Q clearance is actually a “package” consisting of two components.  One component (contributed by the Department of Defense or other Executive Branch authority) is referred to as Top Secret—collateral. That means a “generic” Top Secret clearance without access to codeword protected information.  The other component (contributed by the Atomic Energy Commission or successor organization) can be Secret Restricted Data or Top Secret Restricted Data (SRD or TSRD).  An individual possessing a TS—collateral clearance can be granted an SRD with no further background investigation. Whether he/she can also be granted a TSRD, I don’t know. Together, this package of clearances allows the holder to work on combined DOD-AEC projects that do not involve compartmented information. Higher, more restrictive AEC classifications than Q do exist. Thus, Alfred may not have had access to compartmented information.  I can absolutely aver, from personal experience, that an individual with a clearance no higher than TS/SRD will not have any greater access to sensitive compartmented or special access information than a random man on the street. 

On the other hand, even if he was cleared for access to codeword protected information, he may have been given a cover story, anyway.  This is not uncommon in the compartmented world—not everyone in the compartment gets the same story or the full story.  This practice serves two functions.  One is the usual function of diverting public attention away from the real, and classified story if the cover story is revealed publicly. Arguably, the current public debate following Alfred’s leaking of the story is now performing exactly that function.  To do this, a cover story must provide a false explanation for why someone did what they did but, it can’t actually reveal any classified information. Alfred’s comments to Annie (before the book was published) and to Anthony Braglia (subsequently) depict an individual who took his secrecy oaths seriously in the past and still does in the present.  If the SMH story is a cover story, then his telling it won’t actually be revealing Restricted Data.

Cover stories can have a secondary function of allowing the tracing of a leak to the clandestine intelligence agencies of foreign powers.  Because the counterintelligence office associated with a compartmented program knows who in the compartment was told which version of the story, they can figure out where a leak came from, depending on which version of the story shows up in the possession of a foreign intelligence service.

So far, I haven’t found an internal inconsistency in Alfred’s story that would make it unquestionably false.  By itself, that doesn’t make it unquestionably true, of course.

We could probably make more progress on this if Alfred would consent to some additional dialogue.  Does anyone on this list know if that would be possible and, if so, how to arrange it?


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