In a direct challenge to the U.S. government, military analyst Bill Arkin has published 3,000 U.S. code names — many of them "Top Secret" — along with brief descriptions of the Pentagon or CIA programs they represent.
They are code names like, "Telephone Booth," "Distant Phoenix" and "Blue Zephyr."
The former Army intelligence analyst and former senior Greenpeace researcher argues too much national-security information is hidden from the public and classified for political reasons rather than to guard vital secrets.
"It's trivial secrecy. It's bureaucratic secrecy," says Arkin, who also works as a military analyst for NBC News. "These are bureaucrats trying to protect their turf. This is not national security. This is government gone wild."
Among the code names Arkin reveals:
- West Wing: Two remote air bases in Jordan used for invading Iraq and now for clandestine military counter-terror operations in the Middle East.
- Oplan 4305: Contingency plan for the defense of Israel. Arkin also says the U.S. has quietly pre-positioned munitions and equipment on Israeli soil.
- Conplan 8022: Top-secret pre-emptive plans to take out nuclear facilities and other threats in Iran, Syria and North Korea.
"The American public needs to understand that when the President of the United States speaks about Iran, it's not just rhetoric," says Arkin.
The Pentagon's reaction so far has been muted. It has launched a routine leak investigation to see if sensitive programs were compromised.
"Mr. Arkin has gone a long way toward endangering national security," argues retired CIA officer Bill McNair, who until recently helped decide which documents should be kept secret.
"We risk a real danger if everybody in the world feels they have the right to begin releasing this bit of classified information," says McNair.
But Arkin says he deliberately did not reveal any intelligence sources or methods, technical weapons data or detailed war plans.
"I don't have one bit of concern that our enemies are going to gain from the publication of this book," he says.
In fact, Arkin says he found most of the code names in budget documents, obscure military journals and other materials already available to the public — which means the government isn't doing a very good job of keeping its own secrets.