Susan Andrew's survey of the good work at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute ["PARI Presents a Look Back in Time," June 9 Xpress] was much appreciated, but it jettisoned an important part of the facility's history into a black hole, so to speak.
She wrote that in 1981, the facility was transferred from NASA "to the Defense Department, which used it to collect satellite data." That was the cover story, but it was a thin one, long ago debunked. In fact, from 1981 to 1995, the facility was run by the National Security Agency, the super-secretive government outfit that does much of our country's international eavesdropping. From its base at what is now PARI, the NSA spied on radio and satellite communications by the Soviet Union and other targets.
The hundreds of locals who worked at the NSA station were sworn to secrecy, but the truth eventually seeped out. An Xpress story I wrote in 2004, "Land of the Sky Spies," helped bring this fascinating institution's history down to earth (see it at www.mountainx.com/news/2004/0609spy.php).
— Jon Elliston