SEVERE CLEAR:  Existence or Nonexistence,  2014

On Memorial Day weekend, the words "EXISTENCE OR NONEXISTENCE" appeared briefly above the New York City skyline in synchronised bursts of white smoke.

The phrase was extracted from a letter sent by the CIA to the American Civil Liberties Union rejecting their Freedom of Information Act request for records relating to the government’s classified drone program. The full reply reads, "...the CIA can neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence of records responsive to your request."

Within minutes of the performance, images were posted to social media sites from people across the city, and the varied and often fantastical interpretations underscored the nebulous nature of the government’s reply. A little over a week later, the CIA officially joined Twitter with its maiden message: "We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet."

"Severe clear" is an aviation term to denote ideal flying (and bombing) conditions.

  Skywriting over New York City, Memorial Day weekend, 2014


Skywriting over New York City, Memorial Day weekend, 2014


Letter from the CIA to the ACLU, 9 March 2010

ACLU and CIA tweets, 2014

Thanks to a/political for their support: