Alien Toxins

Area 51's sci-fi folklore masks a truly spooks reality

While this doesn't do a lot to help the workers who were exposed to toxic waste, it's a landmark in using the law to pierce the veil of government secrecy. Last year, President Bill Clinton issued his first annual directive exempting Area 51 from environmental disclosure; two months ago, he renewed it. Even though Turley is not privy to the EPA's reports, his clients say that since the EPA has been allowed in, the methods by which Area 51 gets rid of hazardous waste have "dramatically changed." The problem, says Turley, is the military's other secret bases. "Area 51 was the crown jewel of black facilities—the military has fought hard to protect it as kind of an enclave of secrecy," he says. "But there are other black facilities, and I'm not convinced the military has learned its lesson. The officers who committed these crimes have not been punished. And the president of the United States has intervened to protect them from [prosecution for] these criminal acts. That sends a message, and not the right one."

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