Basically any time anyone tells you anything in a press release, you need to be suspicious. For the most part, their motives aren’t anything more insidious than ‘I am trying to sell you something’. Any time they come from a government department, though, you need to start questioning why they want people to know this thing – what their angle is.

Sometimes it’s just because it will make them look good. Sometimes it’s to get ahead of bad news they know will be leaked, so they want to try and shape the narrative. Sometimes it’s because they’re trying to send a message that horse-based crime is not OK. A smarter person than me could maybe tell you why the United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations was so proud to announce that they finally caught Captain William Howard Hughes Jr. 35 years after he changed his name and fucked off.

Is the message that they will always get deserters? Because to me it reads like all you have to do to skip out on the Air Force is change your name and you will be completely untroubled for almost four decades.

According to the OSI, Hughes says that he became “depressed about being in the Air Force” in 1983 and decided to up and leave.

Prior to his rediscovery by the Air Force, Hughes was last seen in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at which time he withdrew a total of $USD28,500 from a bank account across 19 different bank branches, which is not at all suspicious.

In the press release, they state that Hughes had top secret clearance, but only for certain things:

At the time of his disappearance Capt. Hughes had a Top Secret/Single Scope Background Investigation clearance, but only had access to U.S. Secret and North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secret information.

The Air Force says that no interviews with friends, family, or coworkers unearthed anything they could use to find him in the adjoining 35 years, and that he only popped up thanks to a passport fraud investigation, during which he admitted that Barry O’Beirne, who he was pretending to be, was not real.

Hughes was arrested at his home in California last week.

Image: USAF OSI