Drawing mostly upon Annie Jacobsen’s The Pentagon’s Brain, is a summary of some important details in the history of DARPA. The article, by Jake Anderson, purports to be a list of “15 historical facts.” But upon further investigation, some claims do not hold up.

“14. Four nuclear bombs were detonated during the Cuban Missile Crisis” It’s true there were four high-altitude tests during the Cuban Missile Crisis, however it was two from America and two from Russia. In November, after the crisis, the US exploded two more high-altitude bombs, dubbed Kingfish and Tightrope, as part of Operation Fishbowl. Russia was as crazy as America during these years. The summary mentions nothing about the former—a reflection of anti-American bias prevalent in conspiracy circles.

ARPA was not wholly responsible for these atmospheric tests. They did have a stake in it though.

I agree with Robert Schaefer’s statement in his review of Jacobsen’s book:

Perhaps because of the adverse consequences of Operation Argus, there was a treaty to halt to above ground nuclear testing soon after. But not too soon after, for during the Cuban Missile Crisis, there w[e]re four (four!) nuclear detonations in space, two by the U.S. and two by the Soviets. Exploding nuclear weapons in the middle of a nuclear crisis shows how insane the world was in the 1960s. For more information on these tests, do not look to The Pentagon’s Brain, instead Google “Operation Fishbowl,” “Checkmate,” and “Bluegill Triple Prime.”

“12. DARPA scientists drew up plans to nuke the Ho Chi Minh Trail…” The Jasons did, but they were not “at one time a dominant and prolific division within DARPA,” as Anderson contends. They advised ARPA and then DARPA, but were not at any time a “division” of it.

(more…)

More