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Presidents and DoD Hide Behind Secrecy Shield at Area 51

Longtime POGO fans will remember our work on Area 51. The Federation of American Scientists' Steven Aftergood recently detailed a May 2005 emergency manual for the F-117A Stealth Fighter, detailing the aircraft's dimensions, hazards, materials, and "hazardous byproducts of burning wreckage." That information mirrors discovery requests by former Area 51 skilled laborers who developed mysterious illnesses from open air burning at the super secret Air Force facility. The workers' lawsuit to learn about what was burned in the football-sized pits was thrown out of the courts in 1998 and 2003 and rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court (Kasza v. Browner, 525 U.S. 967 (1998)) based on government declarations that everything involving Area 51 was classified.

Since the Courts were duped by the government, Presidents Bush (most recently in 2003 and 2004) and Clinton (1995-1999; for '99, see this pdf) have exempted the facility from releasing any information that may help solve the workers' medical mystery.

Years ago the government claimed that everything involving Area 51 was protected by the State Secrets Privilege. The most recent news shows that the government publicly released a F-117A manual that could have helped dying Cold War heroes find out what was ailing them. This case illustrates another example of the government relying on secrecy to protect itself rather than the lunch pal patriots who worked for it.

By: Scott H. Amey, J.D.
General Counsel, POGO

scott amey Scott Amey is General Counsel for the Project On Government Oversight. Some of Scott's investigations center on contract oversight, human trafficking, the revolving door, and ethics issues.

Related Content: Government Secrecy, Nevada Test Site

Authors: Scott H. Amey, J.D.

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