I just deleted a spam email with tin-foil-hat ranting about things “so super-secret that even the President doesn’t know about them”.(UFO’s at Roswell)
So then I started wondering:
What real stuff might exist, but is so top secret that even the President doesn’t know about?
And,maybe, only a few dozen people in the world are allowed to know?
The only idea that I could come up with was Cryptography.
Suppose the CIA or NSA has found a way to break the secret codes considered “unbreakable”.
If a mathematician could solve the complex formulas used for encryption,it would be a top-secret breakthrough. It would be a great intellectual discovery in mathematics, but would be so top-secret that nobody could openly admit to having discovered it.
And possibly only a few dozen people would know the details. Those few might enable hundreds of other CIA employees to use the secret ( say, by operating computers which run the formulas to intercept coded messages). But the actual formulas would be so top-secret that even the President would not be told that they exist. He(she?) would just know that the CIA is successfully reading enemy secrets, but not be told how.
This would be a “super-secret” that could realistically happen. (so it’s more fun to speculate about than alien autopsies at Roswell. )
I’m sure the president knows very few of the things classified as secret. Why would he? I had a secret clearance in the US Army because the technology in the seeker head of the stinger missile was classified as secret. I’m sure there are only a few engineers who know how they work. Your average stinger gunner doesn’t know, even with the clearance and the weapons training.
Hell, I just earned my ‘Top Secret’ clearance a few weeks back. This is right up my alley.
I would venture to say that if there were some new energy source (like anti-gravity), some stealth weapon, or even some anti-ballistic missile weapon that would threaten to destabilize what even-handed deterrence we have, they’d keep that a secret to prevent preemptive strikes. I’d think we’d only use that technology only when absolute survival is at stake (think, ‘extinction of the human race’ level survival)
Like you want someone flaunting, “Hey, yeah, we’ve got this new tool that renders you completely open and impotent. Feh!” Next thing you know, they’re attacking us economically, and the Soviets are stopping shipments of oil to the US to try to choke us into submission.
Or something. . .
I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I just play one on TV.
Classified information is shared only on a need-to-know basis, even among people who have the appropriate clearances to be allowed to see it. You have to have a job-related reason to want to know some piece of classified information- curiosity doesn’t qualify as a need to know. Presumably this would apply to the President as well.
Fewer and fewer of government employees are appointed by the president. This leave a vast amount of government workers who work under many presidents and who, if they choose, may not even tell everything to their bosses who were appointed by the president. Although I suspect the secrets are more of funding than national importance.
Let’s say your a colonel working in the basement and you’re in charge of a few cordoned off acres in the southwest. Your paycheck is army but your budget is through the CIA. You only have to report to your superior in the CIA who lists your job as 1945-1950 Air Force to CIA Liaison for UFO Special Logistics, 1950-1980 CIA Special Liaison for Air Force UFO Records Logistics, 1980-2000 CIA Records and Logistics Liaison to Air and Special Forces, 2001 Flying Aliens, etc.
I always figured that if they ever figured out how to transfer personalities into new bodies, that only very few people would be deemed significant enough to know. Probably not the President, for reasons I won’t go into since this isn’t the Pit.
By the way, chappachula, I love your username. Any connection to Wild Tchapatoulas?
The location of the warehouse where the Ark of the Covenent is stored along with all the other goodies stashed away in there. The president needs plausible deniability so he doesn’tt need to know that we have the scrolls from the Library of Alexandria or a gallon of water from Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth. There is no need for him to know that we have a T-Rex femur with a .50 caliber bullet lodged in it or that we have a boulder with a sword sticking out of it.
Seriously, the activities of “wet” squads would be kept away from the President. If a team of soldiers is sent to Venezuela to take out Chavez, the military and intelligence people would not tell the President where or when it was going to happen. Have to keep him shielded like Ollie North tried to do.
Besides, there are a lot of mundane things that the President doesn’t know. Like how to tie his shoes, how to zip his fly, how to find an exit strategy…
Not only that - chances are he wouldn’t want to know the grunt-level details. I deal with the grunt-level details as part of my job, but when I create the final product based upon my analysis, there’s no need to include every piece of minutia. I don’t have to tell the reader that this data came from a secretly recorded conversation and this information came from a recovered shoe-phone and the final details came from a defector - and those are the things that are usually most highly classified. The person who asks for me to provide analysis on a certain topic expects me to beat the bushes, separate the proverbial wheat and chaff, and distill the information to its essence. So even people with the highest clearances don’t know everything and don’t want to know everything.
Now you’ve got me wondering: If you were President of the United States and then asked KFC for their recipe, would they have to give it to you? I mean, they could say no, but then again, to deny the President himself takes some dedicated huevos.
And on that note, why hasn’t a President tried to use their power to get that recipe? And what about what’s in the secret sauce?
Some of the most fun ways to use that power…
Probably mentioned in other threads of this nature, but “Top Secret” is not even close to being the highest clearance. Once you go beyond TS, the clearances become compartmentalized and are strictly “need to know”.