Working for the US Intelligence services is a thankless job.
Not only is your life on the line for pretty much the entirety of your service, but should you exit, you will not qualify for any of the benefits most other US government agencies in support of the Department of Defense receive through the Veteran’s administration.
Should you die in the line of service.
You’re honored through a cryptic star on a wall should you work for the CIA.
Or should you die while working for the NSA, your name will be used but no one will ever be able to trace that name back to you because the dates are all backdated.
One name, of many that I knew.
A great friend. A former manager.
Words can’t express how much I miss this guy.
I grew up in a household full of secrets.
Between my grandfather, my father, and me, there’s three generations of spies.
Now growing up – none of this was obvious or blatant to me at the time. Truth be told, I didn’t even begin to find out about any of my family’s history until I was about 28, when my grandfather confided to me about his history with the US Navy’s Intelligence.
How’d he come to confide?
Chance and circumstance I suppose you could say.
My father was terrified of two things: Spiders and Heights.
So in 1997, mere days after obtaining my pilot’s license, I invited my family to go for a flight in a Cessna 172 with me.
My father – who I was hoping would overcome his fear and join me – refused.
He’d have nothing to do with it.
However, my grandfather – on hearing this – was elated.
I knew he’d spent time flying in the tail gunner section of a cleared out bomber in World War 2.
But doing what, I sincerely had no clue.
He came out from Redondo Beach, California – to visit me in Arizona where he became my first passenger flying out of Chandler, Arizona in a high wing propeller based plane I was commanding – a Cessna 172 out of Venture Aviation.
I’d actually taken up the hobby of flying to overcome my fear of flying, and in the process found something I loved.
Minutes after taking off, I looked at my grandfather who had a tear in his eye.
I’d never – not once – seen the man emotional in my life.
And from there – he opened up.
My grandfather who was never really much of a talker – when he told me about World War 2 and how he was stationed in the Caribbean working for US Naval Intelligence.
Something he had hoped his son, my father, would follow in his footsteps doing.
He’d always been disappointed my father hadn’t done the same.
That much was palpable in their relationship over the years.
And as my grandfather explained – he was recon – and working as a part of a team for US Naval Intelligence exploring and mapping the Bermuda Triangle which WAS a mystery – as he put it – and was responsible for causing disappearances of many vessels traversing the skies and waters within it.
I’d later learned through quantum physics that it was a hole in the fabric of space and time.
And vessels were literally ‘falling’ into alternate realities through this hole.
He didn’t embellish much, my grandfather, but just enough to get me thinking about my own father….
A couple of years later, I succumbed to pressure from the NSA and took a job as a private contractor with them.
The tactics used to transition into their fold were typical of what you might expect- I received training with the US Military (US Army), and was coached on how to obtain a full honorable discharge prior to the end of service.
In order to sign up for the US Military – I had to absolve myself of my constitutional rights and sign myself up ‘as property’ of the US Government and the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). And when I was to be done with the six to 8 years of service I signed up for, I would take an oath signing me back up to the US Constitution.
But the CIA and NSA both exploit a loophole in this arrangement.
When you receive an ‘early termination’ – there’s a handful of reasons that will get you out of the military fast – the procedures established neglect the requirement to be responsible for abiding by the US Constitution.
The license to kill is real. And this is how it’s obtained.
Now as I transitioned from the US Army to the NSA, this got me thinking about my father.
Buying presents for my father was like trying to pry a tooth from a wild lion with a plastic spoon. Asking him what he wanted would result in ‘Oh I dont know’. No matter what I got him – he was always nonplussed about it.
Did my father only tell his family he’d gotten out of the military like I was being instructed to do?
Like I spent the next 8 years of my life doing?
My father – he was so damn good at keeping secrets. So difficult to read. And he had been pivotal in me obtaining work and a secret clearance at Orbital, where he worked on things with both secret and top secret clearance.
Was there more to this man than I was being made to be aware of?
Dad. If you’re reading this.
I don’t EVER want you to answer these questions.
I know now that secrets exist in society largely not to dismantle or destabilize a society.
But quite the opposite.
They exist to promote the healthy sustainable development of a population.
And (especially important) – that society’s imagination.
Sometimes, sure, those secrets can become so toxic. So volatile. So harmful.
That the society itself becomes threatened.
Why do I keep secrets?
To protect my family and friends.
But even then. That’s not enough.
My secret got my friend, Larry Duke, killed. And for that, I’ve had a difficult time admitting it out loud let alone talking about it publicly for the first time like I am.
There’s things I have done that I’m not proud of and I prefer people not knowing.
And this has been one of them.
My mom asked me the other day “When you left our house, did you leave because you wanted to?”
I was honest with her. “No mom. I was being a burden on you and dad – especially financially, and preferred to live on the street.”
It was a half truth. Mom, I know you don’t read these.
But when the secret service dropped by their house while I was staying there.
I know my government service work wasn’t done just because I had left service.
I suppose this is why I walked away from everything and everyone I knew and chose to be homeless.
There’s things I know that you simply do not need to know. Things you don’t understand about this world that I do. Things that can harm you knowing what I know.
I’ve seen it before.
I’ve lost friends and loved ones.
Sometimes. The secrets you keep.
Need to be there. Need to be preserved.
For you. For me. For us.
And just because you might be able to understand the language I use which might contain the secrets I hold.
Doesn’t mean you’ll understand them without deeming them – or me – crazy.
Here’s an example.
I lied to my second wife about my affairs. And for years, as long as I could mentally and physically take it, I hid those infidelities. Doing so preserved the relationship. Telling her ‘the truth’ destroyed our relationship and marriage.
And as I’ve learned.
Sometimes you just accept the mistakes you’ve made and do everything you can to move forward.
That’s the beauty about what my grandfather discussed with his work in the Navy.
They’d known then that the world was malleable. That holes existed on our own planet so big you could drive a ship through. At the same time, a world away, Einstein was discussing relativity, which created the field of Quantum Physics and expanded theoretical physics exponentially.
I lied to my friends and family about who I was working for from 2003 until 2011.
Doing so preserved this – my nation.
In a literal sense.
And made it possible for me to one day resolve my own missteps and regrets by traveling back in time.
And a hundred other names – some on that list – and some not – that deserve better than what’s come to them.
And I’m the Doctor Who will provide the cure.
Time is my play thing.