Feynman told in one of his books that he puzzled as kid his neighbours by his way of fixing of radio sets: Because he sent the people away so that he could think, they wondered "the boy fixes radios by thinking!" Something like that seems to have caused this (1,2,3), parodized by this new film (more trailers, thanks to JH). A nice image of what some minds imagine when they want to "think" after having read that word in the dictionary.
Apparently such programs existed. I guess the cause is that much of the really good stuff in american research comes from immigrants, but the military is restricted to americans, who further have to have empty security files. And secrecy then opens then the gates for nonsense. Probably science stays only good because of a tiny minority of really insightfull minds, if they become rare, science degenerates. Secrecy even increases the minimum density of really insightfull people. Martin Gardner described in an essay in his "The Sacred beetle" in the case of science under the Nazis, what happens when that density becomes too low. Of course, even complete crackpot experiments could by chance produce something of interest - but then one needs non-crackpots to identify and analyze that.