Crooked Finger (crookedfingers) wrote,
Crooked Finger

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"Having helped to preserve the army's rectitude, I was a logical candidate for an errand of disloyalty. I was summoned one day in February 1955 by the Office of the Chief of Information and asked the strangest combination of questions. Who were my friends in the West Coast press corps, and in particular, did I know Gladwin Hill of The New York Times and Bill Becker of the AP? The first very well, the second causally. And did I have dressy civilian clothes at hand? Yes, sir. Well then if I could get a Q-clearance-the government's highest test of trust to handle military secrets-I was the right person to be sent to break the rules and give some secrets away.

I was ordered to take a civilian flight to Las Vegas, my first plane ride ever, and driven to Camp Desert Rock, an army tent encampment that was only seventy miles away but had the barren look of a campsite on the moon. I was received by the commanding general, who assigned me to the camp's public information office, pending further orders. He said he was training 3,000 men for maneuvers with tactical nuclear weapons, an innovation in modern warfare worth bragging about in releases and recordings sent to the hometown of every GI. Corporal Jones has been entrusted with an important assignment in this year's Exercise Desert Rock VI, which will give the Army firsthand knowledge of the effects of fighting with atomic weapons. Unfortunately, the general explained, that was all the information the army was authorized to reveal. Everything else about the three nuclear devices to be exploded here in the Nevada desert in the next six weeks had been stamped "top secret."

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