Can you keep a secret?

Posted on June 25, 1999

Can you keep a secret?

Last week, I met with a special agent from the Department of Defense. I had my shrubbery costume ready (luckily, there were no dogs around), but it wasn't necessary. The agent led me into a room in the Crawfordsville Armory, looked both ways and closed the door. The questioning was ready to begin.

The agent, who will be referred to as Mr. T, was a middle-aged man, kind of skinny, dressed as a businessman with the tendencies of a child psychologist. His mission — to learn what I knew about a college friend, whom I've known for five years. We will call him Mr. Z. By the way, I'm Mr. L.

Mr. T asked me a thousand questions about Mr. Z's work ethic, honesty, decision-making and loyalty to the country. That almost prompted me to sing the national anthem, but I withheld. Luckily, the college buddy is a good guy. He got a job in the Wright Patterson Air Force Base at Dayton, Ohio, and needs a security clearance. He's working at the National Air Intelligence Center. I honestly can't think of too many people whom I would recommend before him.

Unfortunately, I really can't write long now. An undercover agent who patrols Crawfordsville has probably tipped the government to this column. Little do they know I conducted a 30-minute interview with the aforementioned Mr. T. The man was fascinating, and you'll just have to believe me. Upon returning home, the phone was ringing. It was Mr. T. He said the interview would have to be scratched from the record. He supposedly talked to his superiors, who said the interview was inappropriate.

But Mr. T encouraged me to write a column, explaining other facets of the day. He also gave me a Web address for the Department of Defense, I perused it and found nothing pertaining to martians or secret J.F.K. files. But there were plenty of hyperlinks to job possibilities within the government.

Being a special agent didn't seem to be a bad gig. Before interviewing Mr. T, I figured he put together all the interviews for a certain person and evaluated them. It's safe to say (I hope) that I was correct. From there, an agent determines if a person is trustworthy enough to work for the government.

Mr. T knows I could use the information he gave me. It was clear I was performing an interview that would be used for public use. But I'm not here to get him in trouble, because that could potentially cost my friend his job.

Then again, there's always the possibility I could leak the extra information somehow. By accident, maybe in a future column, maybe by using letters from old newspapers to write ransom notes. I have four pages in which Mr. T talked about his life, work and many other things. Should everyone be subjected to such classified information? Well, it's up to you, the reader. Let me know.

Until then, I'm going to grab my shrubbery costume from the cleaners. If government officials read this, I might be in the costume for awhile. Please, keep your dogs on leashes.