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The Snub

June 2024
1min read

In the fall of 1966 I was serving as an intelligence analyst in the United States Air Force Security Service and was stationed in Washington, D.C., attending Vietnamese language school with about a hundred of my fellow airmen. The school was operated by an outside contractor and was located on S Street, off Connecticut Avenue. Because of the nature of our training and security background, we went to class in civilian clothes.

Down the block from our school was the headquarters for the National Student Association (NSA). This organization, which we later learned was funded by the CIA, was used by the Johnson administration as a foil for burgeoning student dissent and to project a moderate image overseas.

One day we learned that Vice President Hubert Humphrey was going to visit NSA headquarters. When we went out to lunch, a number of us decided to see if we could get a glimpse of him as he emerged from the building. About thirty of us were congregating across the street when the Vice President came out.

Mr. Humphrey was gregarious; he loved to press the flesh with voters, and a group of conservatively dressed young men must have looked very attractive to him. So it was no surprise that after noticing our group, Mr. Humphrey started across the street to greet us.

As he approached, we all turned around and walked away. What Mr. Humphrey could not have known is that because of our top-secret clearances, we were forbidden to allow ourselves to be photographed. Since the Vice President was accompanied by press photographers who would gladly have taken pictures of him shaking hands with a bunch of clean-cut young men, we had no choice but to run away.

Poor Mr. Humphrey must have thought student disaffection had spread beyond his worst imaginings.

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