In 1974, the Hughes Glomar Explorer, ostensibly an advanced deep-sea mining vessel owned by reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes, lowered a claw-like contraption to the floor of the Pacific Ocean. This high-tech venture was only a cover story for an even more improbable scheme: a CIA mission to retrieve a sunken Soviet submarine. Like a Jules Verne novel with an Ian Fleming twist, the saga of the Glomar Explorer features underwater espionage, impossible gadgetry, and high-stakes international drama. It also marks a key moment in the history of transparency-and not just for what became known as the Glomar response: "We can neither confirm nor deny. . . . "
M. Todd Bennett plumbs the depths of government secrecy in this new account of the Glomar mission and its consequences. Trawling through recently declassified documents, he explores the logistics, media fallout, and geopolitical significance of one of the most ambitious operations in intelligence history. Glomar, Bennett argues, played a pivotal but underappreciated role in helping the CIA ward off oversight amid a push for transparency and accountability. He reframes the operation's history to offer an alternative perspective on the 1970s, a decade known for expansive openness, as well as the persistent tension between the demands of democracy and the need for secrecy in foreign policy. Combining keen historical analysis and gripping storytelling, Neither Confirm nor Deny brings to the surface fresh insights into the history of the security state, the politics of intelligence, and the CIA's relationship with the media and the public.