Originally Posted by cherokeesam
However, there *is* a possible continuity error there that needs to be addressed involving Howard Stark. In IM1, Tony Stark has no idea who SHIELD is; and that's a strange thing, considering that his own father founded the damn agency. Howard kept lots of secrets from Tony; but heading up SHIELD for all those years....? That's a pretty big secret to keep buried from your own family.
We know that Howard Stark was quite old (relative to when most people have children) when Tony was born. By that time, it's possible that he had already retired from SHIELD. Also, Howard Stark (like Tony, but to a greater extent) has been portrayed as an individual battling some internal demons. Maybe he isn't exactly proud of something that went down during his SHIELD days, necessitating his retirement, and subsequently needing to keep it secret from Tony.
Also, to address the thread starter's initial post... that was just Coulson being sarcastic. I can just hear
Coulson's internal monologue going, "Can't you tell what that spells, dummy?"