Monday, May 9, 2011

Project Azorian and the CIA; then and now

The CIA's  Project Azorian has come up for discussion on the never-ending  notebooks thread that continues at the History Channel's UFO board., 

For the uninitiated, the cover story for the Azorian  was that Howard Hughes was developing a deep sea mining vehicle called the Glomar Explorer, to retrieve manganese nodules from the ocean floor.  The project was actually initiated to retrieve a sunken soviet sub carrying nuclear missiles. Those who want to know more about the when's and why's of this project are invited to read the  article, Project Azorian The CIA's Declassified History of the Glomar Explorer first published in1987 in the NSA's inhouse intelligence journal.

The article was declassified by them in 2010, apparently in response to the then-forthcoming book:  Project Azorian: The CIA and the Raising of K-129, which paints the CIA in a favorable light.

Thought I have yet to read the book, I have read the redacted CIA files on the subject and there are many fascinating aspects to the story. One of the most intriguing lies in the connection of Project Azorian to the Sept 11, 1973 overthrow of the Democratically elected Marxist President of Chile, Savadore Allende.  The Explorer and her USN warship escort just happened to be in the Valparaiso harbor on that particular day, passing through on their way up the Pacific coast to the Catalina trials. This  "happenstance" would certainly seem to reinforce the common belief that  what was presented then as a military coup was actually initiated and supported by the CIA.  They were noted for such things in those years.

But most people simply remember the Explorer as the first "commercial" vehicle of her kind. Now, some 23 years after the article, 35 years after the project, the NSA archivist dismisses the  CIA's underwater engineering contributions, giving  credit to the US Navy for much more "cutting edge" deep sea achievements. Actually,  it is an unfortunate reality of engineering that before cutting edge work can be conducted in extreme environments,  a lot of basic component engineering must be done first. It's not glamorous work, but it's necessary.

However, putting that argument aside, if that archivist's comment was not picked up by some congressional underling and presented as an "informed opinion" in the 2011 black budget slicing and dicing battles --which of course might have been the reason the statement was made to begin with-- then some elected offical's assistant was  asleep on the job.

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