Who know why whoever chose what word thirty-plus years ago? What I do know is senior officials at that level, at least in the USAF/DoD, choose their words very carefully. They attend an extensive senior leader level course euphemistically referred to as "charm school" where they are taught, among other things, the importance of how you say something is as important as what you say. (And no, I didn't take that course, but did take concentrated instruction covering specifically that topic when I became a program manager and was requested to be interviewed by various aerospace and defense industry publications.)it's a stretch ....but could the hearsay of the american guy be referring more to "its proof of a spoof" since the alleged harriers escaped detection?
Officials at that level also usually have a Public Affairs Officer on their staff, or at least on call, to review and comment on statements/documents meant for public consumption. With the advent of FOIA, we were taught to assume every document we wrote or commented on would be made public.