Upon completion of my basic training I was off to Fort Devin, Massachusetts to be trained in signals intelligence, which is intelligence information derived from the exploitation of foreign electronic emissions.
Now I was getting into the nuts and bolts of my training. The Army Security Agency is the military branch of the National Security Agency. The ASA can be split into two distinct branches: information assurance codemakers and signals intelligence codebreakers.
Information assurance secured all internal means of communication from fighters on the frontlines to the executive branches of government up to the President. Critical intelligence can be freely discussed without fear of the communication being compromised.
The other side, my side, was the exploitation of foreign adversaries’ communications via signals intelligence. This encompassed the collection, processing, and analyzation of foreign signals.
It became immediately clear that this is how America kept its decisive edge in the world. The poor African countries and the third world nations forever are at a disadvantage because they’ve got outdated, eight-track tape level equipment compared to the technological breakthroughs of America and (at that time) the Soviet Union.
The ASA constantly was developing its own hardware and software to be used on supercomputers more expensive than the debts these little countries owed for the theft of its resources.
Don’t ever believe something has gotten past the NSA or someone cannot be found or something is not known. Everything which can be communicated on a terrestrial link was known forty years ago on the primitive equipment I was trained on which is obviously obsolete today.
Morse Code is the most basic of communications. I began listening to morse code transmissions at a typewriter. Each combination of blips translated into letters I’d key into the typewriter.
This required extreme hand-eye coordination and a laser beam-like focus. The proficient ones would automatically decipher the codes as quickly as they were transmitted.
Teletype was a little more advanced and much less stress on my mind. I’d simply place the transmissions into a computer which read the
decoded information back for me. I hurried up and mastered that one so fast I was placed in an advanced course in signal analysis and wave propagation, which is the science of radio telemetry or the study of how radio frequencies are transmitted and received.
Only a small group was selected for this advanced study which required yet another secret clearance.
After going through all the new paperwork, pictures, fingerprints, eye scans, and whatnot, two hundred of us entered the classroom for induction.
The presiding officer stepped up to the podium, congratulated us and gave us his song and dance culminating in our first assignment, an essay on the topic, “Why I love America.”
I picked up my pen, wrote my name and the subject title. Goosebumps and chills shot up my back, I knew my intuition was kicking in. Then came the thought, why the hell should I love America? I was off! The essay wrote itself.
I ran down my childhood in Illumination, segregation, Jim Crow, hand me down books in inferior schools, pot boilings, lynchings, the Ku Klux Klan riding on us every weekend, 400 years of slavery, criminal injustice systems, I went on and on. The pen didn’t leave the paper until I had exhausted myself and couldn’t write another word.
Immediately I stood and submitted my paper. I was the first one done. As soon as I sat back down I felt ill.
I’d blown it.
I’m just about to indulge all my fantasies, go to Japan, escape America and learn all the secrets of the world. Have I just written my walking papers? If they don’t court martial me I’d probably be sent to some DMZ and never be heard from again.
A week or two later we came back to that same room and the same officer steps to the podium.
“Mr. Roberts, stand up! Let yourself be seen and known.” My heart sank but my body managed to stand.
“Mr. Roberts, I must commend you on your essay. It was excellent. Be
I was shocked. But I told the truth. I could have played the pogo- nigger and buck danced but I told the truth about my experience in America and there was nothing for me to love. Telling the truth meant I could be trusted. I was the only person acknowledged.
There were only two Blacks in the entire class of two hundred, Lamont Freedman and myself.
One day I misstepped while marching and fell down with a pebble lodged in my knee. Lamont visited me at the infirmary. He was another maxi- cat from Los Angeles. Naturally, we hit it off.
“Lou, you get high?” “All the time bo...” I’d never done anything like that in my life. “My cousin in San Diego’s sending me the best shit you’ve ever had in
the mail. We can go half, a dime a piece.” “Just tell me when it comes in Jim.” A couple weeks later I’m shining my shoes and feel a tap on my shoulder. It’s Lamont with the package from his cousin in San Diego. “I already rolled you a hindinberg.” We walked out into this open field camouflaged by trees and lit up.
I took a long drag like Lamont and felt the sharpest pain strike my chest. My throat stopped up; I dropped to my knees in a coughing fit. I thought I was gonna die. Lamont cracks up.
I pulled myself together and took another pull. And another... We walked to the movies. I sat in that theater for two hours and saw my own life on that screen.
Every significant and non-significant event was played out on the silver screen. Those intuitional forces, my angelic guides were taking me on a tour down the timeline of my own consciousness.
The marijuana was a catalyst for my own psychoanalysis.
So I’d get high and walk all over that one-horse and buggy town, in an altered state of consciousness, until I could see clearly down my timeline. I deciphered all the encrypted codes of my psyche, all the potholes, all the perpheration, all the disappointments and dilemmas were resolved. I walked a straight line from my earliest memory til that moment.
Everything I’ve shared thus far played out until I had put it all in its proper place, until I was at peace with it all.
Under the umbrella of pharmaceutical enlightenment I had undergone a psychoanalysis more thorough than any psychologist could have possibly given me.
The boundary between the mundane and the realm of revelation, the mundinus imaginus, can only be penetrated after such self-examination. Only when one is free from oneself can one truly transcend self.
I was not oblivious to the irony of my training in electronic espionage, radio telemetry, and the breaking of encrypted codes. This training loosened the gravity and grip of the mundane on any self imposed doubts or limitations.