Tom Glenn Classified

My recent blog post on combat led one reader to ask what was classified about my work. The answer: everything, including my connection to locations where I did my spying.

I can now talk about my time in Vietnam because my presence there and the fact that I was monitoring North Vietnamese radio communications has been declassified. What remains secret are the techniques I used and why they worked. My assignments in other parts of the world after the fall of Vietnam in 1975 remain classified, and I can’t speak of them. Suffice it to say that on those missions even my name was classified—at times I operated with a complete false identity.

During my years in Vietnam—1962 to 1975—any connection between me and Vietnam was hidden. The fact that my employer, the National Security Agency (NSA), had any connection with Vietnam was secret. At the time, NSA worked hard to remain invisible. Its success in deriving information from a country’s radio communications depended on the targets’ ignorance that they were being targeted.

So, for most of those years, when I was in the states, any association I had with Vietnam was classified, as was my knowledge of Vietnamese, Chinese, and French, the three languages of Vietnam. No one, including my family, was allowed to know that (a) I worked for NSA, and (b) I had spent any time in Vietnam. They could know one or the other but not both.

More tomorrow.

2 thoughts on “Tom Glenn Classified”

  1. It is the still hard that my children and grands no little or nothing of what we did. Sources and methods, even places often remain classified. From time to time I’ll give them a published article or book, like the one about The Moscow embassy. I’ll say I can’t comment but draw your own conclusions. Also gave the Betsy Harrigans book. My days as Dir DEFSMAC are a bit less sensitive. Take care old friend. Dallas
    PS I have one picture of me actually working in all those years. It’s me with some equipment at a test facility near San Antonio.

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  2. That’s one of the genuine pains, Dallas, of having spent a life in clandestine work. We both know what our labors did to change the world for the better, but our children and grandchildren will never know.

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