Most of you by now have heard about the latest "scandal", the government is monitoring who you call. This comes as no big surprise to me. For you see, the big secret is out now. Our government spies.
Now here is another secret that you may or may not know (depending on how long you have been reading my blog). During my tour of duty in the Army I worked at the National Security Agency at Ft. Meade, Maryland for two and a half years.
|Me in the barracks with my ever present cigarette hanging out of my mouth - 1962|
Back "then", everything was hush-hush. Especially for me being a gay man. If they found out that I was a gay man and thus a "security risk", (a typical Catch-22 situation that the government and armed services are so well at doing), I would have lost my clearance and been kicked out of the Army as an undesirable.
|Me dressed for the weekly Wednesday night dance at the Service Club - 1962|
Thus I had that burden to carry for two and a half years and the other burden was that I could tell no one what I did for a living other than I was "stationed at Ft. Meade, Maryland." When I got out I was debriefed that I was to wipe my memory clean of everything I knew (think "Manchurian Candidate") or else there would be "consequences." Probably "Bradley Manning" consequences now that I see how the government if pillorying him and making him a scapegoat for the failings of our government but I digress.
|Me on the south lawn of the White House 1962 - Ft. Meade if located equal distance between Baltimore and Washington D.C.|
So after I departed service on January 27th, 1963 I breathed a sigh of relief. My time at Ft. Meade was enjoyable and revelatory. I met my first gay friends at Ft. Meade - non-sexual by the way for those of you whose minds drift towards the carnal inclinations every time you hear the word "gay".
|Once a year we had to play soldier and qualify on the firing range. Here I am with my good friend Jim Harris from Binghamton, New York - 1962 (we qualified)|
I arrived at Ft. Meade when I was 18 years old and left when I was 21 years old, perhaps the most formative years of my life. I could not have spent then at a better place on this earth.
The pictures I have included in this post were all taken during my time at Ft. Meade. I think I've posted them all before but not in this "Ft. Meade" context. Of course I could post no pictures of me actually at work (God forbid).
I always wanted a picture of the NSA building where I worked but of course in those days no such photos were available (God forbid). This morning I came across this ariel photo of the National Security Building, the second largest in the world (second to the Pentagon). See that little white canopied portico in the middle bottom portion of the photo? That's where I entered the building everyday, showing my ID photo (attached by a necklace chain around my neck) to the Marine guards. Looks like nothing much has changed. By the way, I didn't have to worry about parking, I walked from my barracks to the NSA building, a ten minute very pleasant walk. Yes, I had it very easy.
I do have some photos of the barracks where I lived but I can't find them now. I'll post them if and when I find them.
So what did I do for my two and half years? Very simple (and boring). I made tape copies of transmissions of intercepted communications from Communist China and Russia and forwarded it to an analysis unit in another part of the NSA building. One side wasn't supposed to know what the other side knew. "Need to know" was the operative word and rule.
I find it ironic that not much as changed since the early Sixties when I worked at the NSA, they're still intercepting communications, only now of American citizens. Well, I guess some things have changed.