Julie Cart: Unraveling Her Father's Cold War Secrets

Roundup: Talking About History

Julie Cart writes for the Los Angeles Times.

...Growing up, we never knew exactly what my father did when he left for work. All we knew was that he worked long hours and was sometimes gone for days, leaving my mother with the cryptic salutation: I can't tell you where I'm going, what I will be doing, who I'll be with or when I'll be back. Love you.

A half-century later, a phone call flung open a door to the past. Here at last was a way to find answers to years of questions that a curious little girl had thrown at her father — and kept wondering about to this day.

I started researching Corona. It turned out that quite a bit of information was available. My father and men like him had a hand in creating the world's first photo reconnaissance satellite during the Cold War and, without the use of sophisticated computers, ginned up a remarkable orbiting tool to gather intelligence on Communist countries, especially China and the Soviet Union.

Although details of Corona were declassified in 1995, the men who worked on it and two subsequent programs — Gambit and Hexagon — were still bound by their 50-year pledge of secrecy until the U.S. government freed them to talk several months ago....

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