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    Unacknowledged Special Access Programs: U.S. deep black programs still in control?    

Author: Joël van der Reijden | Written: September 10, 2005 | Last update: January 9, 2013

Although it took a lot of effort, it has been possible to collect quite a bit of information on organizations as the Pilgrims Society, the 1001 Club, Le Cercle, and other very influential low profile or secret groups. However, as soon as the military enters the picture, things become much more difficult. Security is a lot tighter--outsiders can't get to the story while insiders cannot speak out because of national security laws. In the most sensitive military projects insiders intending to make unauthorized disclosures can get themselves in a lot of trouble, which is much less likely to happen when people speak out about civilian groups.

The majority of members in organizations like Bilderberg and the Trilateral Commission don't seem to have any idea about what is going on in the black programs of the military. In fact, there is some limited evidence that conservative CIA-military intelligence projects have been doing their best to monitor what has been going on in these organizations. [1] So to begin this new effort, let's take a look at the classification system of the United States.

In the U.S. there are only three basic types of classification: Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret. That's it. But this doesn't matter, as the true power of the classification system is the famous "need to know" policy. Just because someone has a Top Secret clearance doesn't mean this person can gain access to all the different Top Secret documents of the intelligence agencies. Examples of all these different agencies would be the FBI, CIA, DIA, NSA, ONI, NRO, INSCOM, and AFOSI.

However, this three-tiered classification system is not enough to protect some of the more sensitive information. Therefore additional levels of compartmentalization have been created. After a very intensive background check, someone with a Top Secret clearance might obtain an additional Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) clearance, under which information is buried that needs to be restricted to even fewer individuals. This TS-SCI clearance had been introduced mainly to stop some higher ranking officers from looking into Top Secret files they don't have any business with.

But even the TS-SCI clearance doesn't provide the secrecy needed for some of the most sensitive projects. This is the reason why Special Access Programs (SAP) have been invented. In these cases only a predetermined group of authorized personnel have access to the project and additional security measures can be taken to keep outsiders away. Different congressional committees are informed about these SAPs, but very little time is reserved for questions.

Most SAPs start out as Unacknowledged Special Access Programs (USAP), better known as black projects. The F-117A Nighthawk and the B-2 Spirit are examples of projects that started out as Unacknowledged SAPs. A DOD manual describes a USAP as follows:

"Unacknowledged SAPs require a significantly greater degree of protection than acknowledged SAPs... A SAP with protective controls that ensures the existence of the Program is not acknowledged, affirmed, or made known to any person not authorized for such information. All aspects (e.g., technical, operational, logistical, etc.) are handled in an unacknowledged manner." [2]

If questioned about a particular USAP, the persons involved are under orders to deny such a program exists. It is not allowed to react with a "no comment", because that would immediately fuel suspicions that something is being hidden and is likely to cause further inquiries. Officers not accessed for a USAP, even superior ones, are to be given the same response. The more sensitive the program, the more protection the commanding officer can demand. He could even subject his personnel to regular lie detector tests to see whether or not a person has compromised the project. According to a 1997 Senate investigation:

"Additional security requirements to protect these special access programs can range from mere upgrades of the collateral system’s requirements (such as rosters specifying who is to have access to the information) to entire facilities being equipped with added physical security measures or elaborate and expensive cover, concealment, deception, and operational security plans." [3]

There are two versions of the Unacknowledged Special Access Programs. The first one is the regular USAP. These regular USAPs are reported in the same manner as their acknowledged versions. In closed sessions, the House National Security Committee, the Senate Armed Services Committee, and the defense subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriations committees can get some basic information about them. The Secretary of Defense, however, can decide to 'waive' particularly sensitive USAPs. These are unofficially referred to as deep black programs. According to Jane's in January 2000:

"Among black programs, further distinction is made for "waived" programs, considered to be so sensitive that they are exempt from standard reporting requirements to the Congress. The chairperson, ranking member, and, on occasion, other members and staff of relevant Congressional committees are notified only orally of the existence of these programs." [4]

This leads to the conclusion that only very few people are aware of these waived Unacknowledged Special Access Programs. Congress certainly doesn't get the information it needs to speak out against newly established waived USAPs and nowhere gets one the impression that their opinion is actually appreciated. You could also ask yourself if Congress is told the truth about many of the most sensitive Special Access Projects or if their successors are informed about previously activated (waived) USAPs. Even with regular SAPs Congress is ignored at times. Jane's again:

"Last summer, the House Defense Appropriations Committee complained that "the air force acquisition community continues to ignore and violate a wide range of appropriations practices and acquisition rules". One of the alleged infractions was the launch of an SAP without Congressional notification." [5]

The Disclosure Project takes it a step further by claiming that some Unacknowledged Special Access Projects are hidden in private corporations behind seemingly legitimate deep black programs. Supposedly it is even harder to get these kind of projects out in the open, because private industry is protected by something called proprietary privilege. Considering the Disclosure Project is one giant top level disinformation show [6], we are not going to spent much time on it. Its purpose has been summarized by astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who later distanced himself from Steven Greer and his Disclosure Project for continually overreaching the available data. I do not necessarily believe it's possible to reverse-engineer anything that has crashed, but Mitchell stated:

"I also think that the prevalence in the modern era of so many events - the sightings, the continual mutilation events, the so-called abduction events - that we are looking at likely reversed engineered technology in the hands of humans that are not under government control or any type of high level control... So if there are back engineered technologies existing, they are probably in the hands of this group of individuals, formerly government, formerly perhaps intelligence, formerly, under private sector control with some sort of oversight by military or by government. But this (oversight) is likely no longer the case as a result of this access denied category that is now operating. I call it a clandestine group. The technology is not in our military arsenals anywhere in the world, but it does exist, and to me that's quite disconcerting." [7]

According to astronaut Edgar Mitchell, some of the black triangles have been developed in Unacknowledged Special Access Projects. Screenshots taken from 'UFOs, The Footage Archives 1947-1997'. Pictures of the Belgian sightings have been included as well as screenshot from two recent movies and a drawing from a witness. Some of these triangles have been reported overflying or seemingly landing at top secret air bases in the US. Personally, I'm not really sure what's going on here, but it is certain that UFOs exist. No point to make a big fuss out of that. Update: finally having time to go over the UFO section, the 1990 Belgium sighting reportedly has been faked by a nerd with styrofoam and lights. That may well be true. What about the others?

What follows is a chart of the secrecy levels described in this article:

Category Secrecy levels
Additional levels of Compartmentalization
A USAP hidden behind another SAP or USAP, combined with the protection the private industry enjoys.

More or less illegal, because all checks and balances are gone. Of course, if the argument is that senior government posts might be infiltrated by the KGB/FSB or other foreign powers, probably anything is allowed.
Waived Unacknowledged Special Access Programs / deep black programs

Existence only orally mentioned to a few key congressional members. Besides "need to know" it appears that it depends on the personal relationship between government officials and business leaders to what extent they are told about these programs - including the president.
Unacknowledged Special Access Programs / black programs

Congressional committees should still be notified on paper, but violations have been reported.
(acknowledged) Special Access Programs
Top Secret Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS-SCI)
Basic secrecy levels Top Secret NATO Cosmic Top Secret
Secret NATO Secret
Confidential NATO Confidential
Public or semi-public For Official Use Only NATO Restricted
Unclassified NATO Unclassified

If any of these deep black projects are going on, it might be important to ask how they are funded. The official black budget of the DOD is possibly the most likely explanation, with the drug trade being a good second - a specialty of the old boy CIA network. But it also seems that it's possible to divert a lot of funds from the regular economy of the United States. At least since the late 1990s, literally trillions of dollars have been unaccounted for (yes, a good portion of the GDP of the United States) - these ended up in places we don't really know. Because this is very hard to believe without reading the full original sources, all the mainstream news reports are cached at the bottom of this article. The following numbers have been extracted from these reports:

Year Missing Sources (all cached at the bottom of this article)
1998 $3.4 trillion Washington Times
1999 $2.3 trillion Congressional meeting
2000 $1.1 trillion Congressional meeting; Insight Magazine
2001 $2.3 trillion CBS quoting Rumsfeld
2002 $1+ trillion San Francisco Chronicle; CBS

USAPs, by the way, don't always have to involve the development of new cutting edge technology. Seymour Hersh has reported on a USAP that was set up to circumvent national and international humanitarian laws:

"Rice and Rumsfeld know what many others involved in the prisoner discussions did not -- that sometime in late 2001 or early 2002, the President had signed a top-secret finding, as required by law, authorizing the Defense Department to set up a specially recruited clandestine team of Special Forces operatives and others who would defy diplomatic niceties and international law and snatch -- or assassinate, if necessary -- identified 'high-value' Al Qaeda operatives anywhere in the world. Equally secret interrogation centers would be set up in allied countries where harsh treatments were meted out, unconstrained by legal limits of public disclosure. The program was hidden inside the Defense Department as an 'unacknowledged' special-access program, or SAP, whose operational details were known only to a few in the Pentagon, the CIA and the White House." [8]

So, are Unacknowledged Special Access Programs out of control? Good question. Probably, for one because the vast majority of people have never even heard of them. That's worrying to say the least. Hints are there that senior members of Congress and the Senate are not always being told when a SAP is being implemented - and its already hard to trust politicians like these. Seeing how some senior members of Congress and the Senate interact with leading members of the liberal and conservative establishments through a variety of private groups, it's more than likely that these representatives of the public are actually working for some of the same people who introduce the most sensitive SAPs.

The bottom line is, we just don't know all the stuff that's "out there" to really reach any kind of definitive conclusions on the subject. So we're not goin to.


Affidavit of Colonel Edward Cutolo, signed March 11, 1980: "17. Mr. Edwin Wilson explained that it was considered that Operation Watch Tower might be compromised and become known if politicians, judicial figures, police and religious entities were approached or received word that U.S. Troops had aided in delivering narcotics from Columbia into Panama. Based on that possibility, intense surveillance was undertaken by my office to ensure if Watch Tower became known of, the U.S. government and the Army would have advance warning and could prepare a defense... 19. The surveillance was unofficially dubbed Operation George Orwell. 20. I instituted surveillance against Ted Kennedy, John Kerry... Surveillance at my orders was instituted at the Governors' residences of Massachusetts, Maine, New York, and New Hampshire. The Catholic cathedrals of New York and Boston were placed under electronic surveillance also. In the area of Ft. Devens, all local police and politicians were under some sort of surveillance at various times... 74. I was notified by Edwin Wilson that the information forwarded to Wash. D.C., was disseminated to private corporations who were developing weapons for the Dept. of Defense. Those private corporations were encouraged to use the sensitive information gathered from surveillance on U.S. Senators and Representatives as leverage to manipulate those Congressmen into approving whatever costs the weapons systems incurred... 77. As of the date of this affidavit, 8,400 police departments, 1,370 churches, and approx. 17,900 citizens have been monitored under Operation Orwell. The major churches targeted have been Catholic and Latter Day Saints. I have stored certain information gathered by Operation Orwell on Ft. Devens, and pursuant to instructions from Edwin Wilson have forwarded additional information gathered to Wash. D.C. 78.... Certain information was collected on suspected members of the Trilateral Commission and the Bilderberg group. Among those that information was collected on were Gerald Ford and President Jimmy Carter. Edwin Wilson indicated that additional surveillance was implemented against former CIA director George Bush, who Wilson named as a member of the Trilateral Commission."
Cutolo was among a small group of special forces officers that questioned the legality of CIA-sanctioned drug trafficking operations from Colombia to Noriega's Panama, from where they were shipped to the US mafia. Cutolo and several of his Delta Force associates were arranging the navigation and security of these operations, overseen by Ed Wilson (probably as part of Task Force 157), his superior Thomas Clines, and Mossad agents David Kimche and Micha Hariri. Clines, in turn, was a deputy to Ted Shackley, head of the Secret Team and a highest level player in the CIA drug trade. Cutolo died in a car crash in England in May 1980. Col. Robert Bayard had been killed in Georgia in 1977 and Cutolo claimed he had been assassinated by the Israelis. Col. A.J. Bo Baker (the best friend of Col. Bo Gritz in Delta Force) died in Germany on March 24, 1980, just after allegedly having received the original copy of Cutolo's affidavit. Col. Nick Rowe was killed in the Philippines in April 1989, just after having planned to go public with the affidavit in the aftermath of Iran Contra. Hugh Pearce, who received a copy of Cutolo's affidavit and was planning to go public, died in a helicopter crash in June 1989. Congressman Larkin Smith, who received a copy of Cutolo's affidavit and had been planning to meet Rowe and Pearce, died in a plane crash in August 1989. Paul Neri, who also had a copy of the affidavit, was killed in April 1990. After Neri's death, one of his anonymous friends send Cutolo's affidavit to persons who made it more widely known. Bo Gritz also exposed the story of these men in his 1991 book 'Called to Serve'. Senior Mossad officers David Kimche and Micha Hariri are blamed for the assassinations. They were deeply involved in the South American drug trade and gave technology to certain dictators the US didn't want to deal with directly. Among them was Noriega who received top secret NSA listening equipment.
Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC), 'National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual Supplement' (part of a (badly) scanned DOD manual) [link]
1997, Senate Document 105-2, 'Report of the Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy' [link]
January 5, 2000, Jane's Defense Weekly, 'In Search of the Pentagon's Billion Dollar Hidden Budgets' [link]
Ibid. [link]
See archives 2006 for an extensive discussion of the Disclosure Project.
October 13, 1997, Las Vegas SUN / Associated Press Phoenix, 'Astronaut Says Aliens Have Landed' (includes a partial speech of Edgar Mitchell that was held at the conference) [link]
2004, Seymour M. Hersh, 'Chain of Command: The Road From 9/11 to Abu Ghraib' (book)

References to the missing annual trillions (no typo) in the DOD and other government agencies

[1] April 1, 1999, Washington Times, '$3,400,000,000,000 Of Taxpayers' Money Is Missing'
[2] November 6, 2000, Insight Magazine, 'Why Is $59 Billion Missing From HUD?'
[3] June 25, 2001, Insight Magazine, 'THE CABINET - Inside HUD's Financial Fiasco'
[4] September 3, 2001, Insight Magazine, 'Rumsfeld Inherits Financial Mess'
[5] September 28, 2001, Insight Magazine, 'Wasted Riches'
[6] January 29, 2002, CBS News, 'The War on Waste - Defense Department Cannot Account For 25% Of Funds — $2.3 Trillion'
[7] April 29, 2002, Insight Magazine, 'Government Fails Fiscal Fitness Test'
[8] May 18, 2003, San Francisco Chronicle, 'Military waste under fire $1 trillion missing -- Bush plan targets Pentagon accounting'
[9] May 19, 2003, CBS, 'Pentagon Fights For (Its) Freedom'
[10] May 22, 2003, The Guardian, 'So much for the peace dividend: Pentagon is winning the battle for a $400bn budget'
[11] June 28, 2003, NPR's Morning Edition, Congressman Dennis Kucinich mentions the missing trillions.
[12] April 6, 2004, USA Today, 'NASA costs can't be verified, GAO report says'
[13] March 2005, Senate Armed Services Committee, FY 2006 Defense Dept. Budget (congresswoman Cynthia McKinney asks some hard questions)
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