The National Security Archive – NSA Retaining “Useless” and Highly Personal Information of Ordinary Internet Users, Spying …

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Snowden did get the FISA data, contrary to Keith Alexander's insistence to the contrary. Photo: EPA

Ordinary internet activity accounts for the overwhelming majority of communications collected and maintained by the National Security Agency (NSA). A recent report by The Washington Post, based on communications leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden, revealed that nine out of 10 communications collected belonged to average American and non-American internet users who were not the targets of investigations. Much of the highly personal communications –including baby pictures and revealing webcam photos– provide little intelligence value and are described as useless, yet are retained under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments. The Post’s findings clearly contradict former NSA head Keith Alexander’s assertions that there was no way Snowden could “touch the FISA data,” and give credence to the argument that “the NSA has been proven incapable of safeguarding” the intelligence it collects, irrespective of its value.

In one 2005 document, intelligence community personnel are instructed how to properly format internal memos to justify FISA surveillance. In the place where the target’s real name would go, the memo offers a fake name as a placeholder: “Mohammed Raghead.”

Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain’s latest Intercept expose reveals that the NSA, along with the FBI, covertly monitors the communications of prominent, upstanding Muslim-Americans under provisions of the FISA intended to target terrorists and foreign spies, ostensibly solely because of their religion. The FISA provision that seemingly codifies the surveillance requires that “the Justice Department must convince a judge with the top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that there is probable cause to believe that American targets are not only agents of an international terrorist organization or other foreign power, but also ‘are or may be’ engaged in or abetting espionage, sabotage, or terrorism.” In practice, however, the agencies monitored the emails of Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the country, Asim Ghafoor, a prominent attorney who has represented clients in terrorism-related cases, and other civically inclined American Muslims.

Why did the CIA take a chance on a BND employee naive enough to volunteer to spy for Russia via email?

White House officials are questioning why President Obama was left in the dark about the CIA’s German intelligence informant and his recent arrest, a somewhat baffling omission in the wake of revelations the NSA monitored the private communications of Chancellor Merkel and the resulting state of US-German relations. “A central question, one American official said, is how high the information about the agent went in the C.I.A.’s command — whether it was bottled up at the level of the station chief in Berlin or transmitted to senior officials, including the director, John O. Brennan, who is responsible for briefing the White House.” Of further interest is why the CIA made use of the German intelligence official in the first place, who not only walked into the agency’s Berlin office in 2012 and offered to spy, but also volunteered his spying services to Russia via email.

The internal affairs division of Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) is being investigated again, this time for mishandling the personal information of the agency’s 60,000 employees. Under investigation are defunct CBP programs that shared employees’ Social Security numbers with the FBI and that “automatically scanned the Social Security numbers of all the agency’s employees in a Treasury Department financial records database.” Both programs were part of the agency’s response to the Obama administration’s Insider Threat initiative.

Cause of Action’s latest “FOIA Follies” provides some insight on what qualifies for a (b)(5) “withhold because you want to” FOIA exemption at the IRS, and reinforces Archive FOIA Coordinator Nate Jones’ arguments of how the FOIA Improvement Act of 2014 would address this overused exemption and help ordinary requesters. Cause of Action submitted a FOIA request to the IRS seeking records related to any requests from the President for individual or business tax returns in 2012, after which the IRS released 790 heavily redacted pages. Cause of Action filed suit in 2013 challenging the IRS’ use of exemption (b)(5) to withhold large portions of the records, prompting the IRS to “reconsider” some of its withholdings. The newly-released portions of documents reveal the agency was using the (b)(5) exemption to withhold mundane information contrary to Attorney General Holder’s 2009 guidance that “an agency should not withhold information simply because it may do so legally.”

"Allegations of Torture in Brazil."

The Brazilian military regime employed a “sophisticated and elaborate psychophysical duress system” to “intimidate and terrify” suspected leftist militants in the early 1970s, according to a State Department report dated in April 1973 and made public last week. Peter Kornbluh, who directs the National Security Archive’s Brazil Documentation Project, called the document “one of the most detailed reports on torture techniques ever declassified by the U.S. government.” This document, and 42 others, were given to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff by Vice President Joe Biden and were made available for use by the Brazilian Truth Commission, which is in the final phase of a two-year investigation of human rights atrocities during the military dictatorship which lasted from 1964 to 1985.

The Pentagon and the Justice Department are going after the money made by former Navy Seal Matt Bissonnette from his book on the raid to capture Osama bin Laden, No Easy Day, for failing to submit the book for pre-publication review to avoid disclosing any top secret information about the raid. It’s worth noting that while the government goes after Bissonnette for releasing his book without pre-publication review, both the CIA and DOD provided unprecedented access to Hollywood filmmakers Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal for their bin Laden raid blockbuster, Zero Dark Thirty, while simultaneously refusing to release the same information to FOIA requesters

A partially redacted 29-page report recently found low morale at the US government’s Office of Cuba Broadcasting, which is responsible for Radio and TV Marti. “Some of the reasons cited for low morale included the lack of transparency in decision-making, the inability to offer suggestions, and the lack of effective communication. Others were concerned about raising any issues to the inspection team because of fear of retaliation by management.”

 

Inside the biological weapons factory at Stepnogorsk, Kazakhstan, where the Soviet Union was prepared to make tons of anthrax if the orders came from Moscow [Photo courtesy Andy Weber]

Finally this week, our #tbt document picks concern Eduard Shevardnadze, the ex-Georgian president and Soviet foreign minster who recently died at the age of 86. The documents themselves comes from a 2010 Archive posting on high-level Soviet officials debates during the final years of the Cold War about covering-up the illicit Soviet biological weapons program in the face of protests from the United States and Great Britain. The documents show that Eduard Shevardnadze, along with defense minister Dmitri Yazov, and the Politburo member overseeing the military-industrial complex, Lev Zaikov, were aware of the concealment and were actively involved in discussing it in the years when Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was advancing his glasnost reforms and attempting to slow the nuclear arms race. Check out the documents here.

Happy FOIA-ing!

Anatoly S. Chernyaev Diary, 1974 – Ideological Superpower with Empty Stores

 

Washington, DC, May 25, 2014 – Today the National Security Archive is publishing — for the first time in English — excerpts from the diary of Anatoly S. Chernyaev covering the year 1974, along with edits and a postscript by the author. This is the ninth set of extracts the Archive has posted covering selected critical years from the 1970s through 1991 (see links at left).

Anatoly Chernyaev, the deputy head of the International Department of the Central Committee (and later the senior foreign policy aide to Mikhail Gorbachev), started keeping a systematic diary in 1972, in which he recorded the highlights (and low points) of his work at the International Department, his attendance at Politburo meetings, participation in speech — and report — writing sessions at state dachas, as well as his philosophical reflections on daily life in the Soviet Union from the point of view of a high-level Soviet apparatchik.

Today, Anatoly Sergeyevich remains a champion of glasnost, sharing his notes, documents and first-hand insights with scholars seeking a view into the inner workings of the Soviet government, the peaceful end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In 2004, he donated the originals of his detailed diaries, covering the years 1972 through 1991, to the National Security Archive in order to ensure permanent public access to this record – beyond the reach of political uncertainties in contemporary Russia.

In his diary for 1974, Chernyaev continues to write about his work in one of the Central Committee’s key departments, documenting and reflecting on the preparations for the European Conference of Communist Parties, relations within the international Communist movement, the revolutions in Chile and Portugal, the crisis in the Middle East and the ongoing Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) negotiations that would lead to the Helsinki Final Act the following year. The year 1974 brings about the resignation of President Richard Nixon, who in the three previous years has been Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev’s respected partner in détente.

On the domestic front, Chernyaev follows the internal dynamics of Brezhnev’s leadership and the concentration of power in the General Secretary’s hands. On several occasions in 1974, Chernyaev provides a fascinating glimpse of the personal struggle that his boss, International Department head Boris Nikolayevich Ponomarev, experiences in connection with Brezhnev’s growing cult of personality; and illustrates Ponomarev’s own smaller personality cult. The little details of everyday Soviet politics — such as worrying about how many times to include the General Secretary’s name in a report — show the progression of the cult and the internal mechanisms of Soviet bureaucracy under a microscope.

The theme of ideology is a leitmotif for Chernyaev in 1974. A deep thinker, Chernyaev constantly analyzes the trends he observes in the leadership, in the apparatus, and in Soviet society. In 1974, the author is attempting to reconcile the bureaucratic reality of the ossifying Soviet apparatus with the fact that ideology is still a major part of the Soviet Union’s identity. The ideology of class struggle is an obstacle to Brezhnev’s détente and the CSCE negotiations, and yet Chernyaev sees that the Soviet Union cannot afford to back down ideologically: “Europe is a case in point. We already have détente and security in Europe. But in response they launched a counterattack. They demand an ideological détente. This is unthinkable for us.”

Chernyaev notes that the Soviet Union is “an ideological superpower” and thus it needs ideology to maintain its following and sustain its domestic and international legitimacy. This role as an ideological hegemon is exemplified in the diary by Chernyaev’s descriptions of financial support the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) provides to other fraternal parties, which come to Moscow as supplicants.

The subject of European Communist parties and the international Communist movement is at the core of Chernyaev’s work in 1974. The USSR’s dominance as an ideological authority is eroding as European Communists and Socialists look to establish independence from Soviet influence. At the same time, Chernyaev realizes that “the real work that Brezhnev does every day will push us to tone down our ideology above all in our international relations. And our connection to the Communist movement will feel more and more like an impediment.” The balance between maintaining authority over the Communist movement and moving forward on the world stage is closely reflected in Chernyaev’s diary during this period.

In 1974, Chernyaev visits for the first time the city that would become his favorite — London. He describes his meetings with Labour Party members and their internal politics. On his trips abroad, he makes comparisons between the standard of living in the West (including some fraternal countries in Eastern Europe) and in the Soviet Union, where shelves are empty and even Party bureaucrats have to stand in lines hunting for decent clothes and shoes. Chernyaev’s personal experiences, astutely recorded in his diary, sharply illustrate the paradoxical dissonance of the ideological superpower with empty store shelves.

Anatoly Chernyaev’s diary for the year 1974 presents a rich portrayal of the last year of Brezhnev’s détente, depicting the political nuances of the Soviet government, the social atmosphere in Moscow’s intellectual and cultural circles, and the author’s insights into the superpower’s uncertain future.

 


THE DOCUMENT

Diary of Anatoly Chernyaev, 1974

The NSA – Snowden Docs Reveal NSA Spied on American Law Firm and Targeted WikiLeaks, DHS Scraps Plan to Build National License Plate Tracking System

Snowden leaks reveal NSA monitored US law firms representing foreign governments and targeted WikiLeaks and its supporters. (Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP/File)

Snowden leaks reveal NSA monitored US law firms representing foreign governments and targeted WikiLeaks and its supporters. (Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP/File)

A Top Secret document leaked by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, Edward Snowden, reveals that the agency spied on an American law firm representing Indonesia in a trade dispute against the US. The document raises both concerns for US lawyers with clients overseas and accusations of economic espionage. While the NSA is prohibited from targeting American organizations, including law firms, attorney-client conversations “do not get special protections under American law from N.S.A. eavesdropping,” and the agency “can intercept the communications of Americans if they are in contact with a foreign intelligence target abroad, such as Indonesian officials.”

Other Top Secret documents provided by Edward Snowden and posted on The Intercept (the new website edited by Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Jeremy Scahill) disclose the agency’s strategic targeting of WikiLeaks, its supporters, and other activist groups –including Pirate Bay and Anonymous. The documents confirm that the NSA’s British counterpart, GCHQ, electronically monitored WikiLeaks website visitors; that the Obama administration urged foreign governments to file criminal charges against WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, over publication of Afghanistan war logs; that the Obama administration discussed labeling WikiLeaks “a malicious foreign actor” to ease extensive electronic surveillance of its activities; and that a 2008 US Army report identified ways to destroy the organization.

DNI Clapper says government should have been more forthcoming about NSA surveillance programs.

DNI Clapper says government should have been more forthcoming about NSA surveillance programs.

In a recent interview with The Daily Beast, Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, said the NSA should have informed Congress and the public about its surveillance programs far sooner. Clapper argued that the shock value of Snowden’s revelations are the main reason the public and privacy advocates are opposed to the programs, and that had the agency been more forthright, the programs would be more widely accepted. Regardless, in light of Snowden’s disclosures and President Obama’s avowed “efforts to overhaul the intelligence community,” outgoing NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander will be sending President Obama proposals for storing the data collected by the bulk phone records collection program outside the NSA sometime this week. In his NSA reform speech, Obama suggested that private phone companies might store the data, though the private companies themselves remain adamantly opposed to such a move.

The British High Court upheld London police’s August 18, 2013, detention of David Miranda, Glenn Greenwald’s partner, at London’s Heathrow Airport. The police detained Miranda for nearly nine hours after invoking terrorism legislation, and seized devices that contained documents leaked by Edward Snowden, including nearly 60,000 “highly classified UK intelligence documents.” Miranda’s lawyers argued “that the government’s use of terrorism legislation to detain the Brazilian citizen was improper, disproportionate, and ran counter to the principle of free expression,” citing further concerns that the detention would intimidate other journalists. However, the Court ruled Miranda’s detention “was a proportionate measure in the circumstances.” The majority of the information Miranda carried was encrypted, and, as of August 30, 2013, Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command, SO15, had only reconstructed 75 of the 60,000 documents.

White House seeking potential new drone bases near Pakistan's NW border. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

White House seeking potential new drone bases near Pakistan’s NW border. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The White House is seeking potential new bases in Central Asia for the CIA’s lethal drone program in Northwest Pakistan in the event US forces are forced to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of this year. However, officials are concerned that their ability to target operatives in Pakistan will be greatly reduced if they are forced to relocate from their Afghan bases, in large part because the amount of human intelligence required to support the strikes necessitates being close to Pakistan’s Northwest border. However, a recent Intercept report examines the NSA’s role in the CIA’s drone program, and argues that the NSA uses “electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence, as the primary method to locate targets,” and the CIA, “[r]ather than confirming a target’s identity with operatives or informants on the ground, the CIA or the U.S. military then orders a strike based on the activity and location of the mobile phone a person is believed to be using.”

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) scrapped its plan to build a national license plate tracking system to catch fugitive illegal immigrants yesterday “after privacy advocates raised concern about the initiative.” Earlier this week, a DHS spokeswoman announced that the database “could only be accessed in conjunction with ongoing criminal investigations or to locate wanted individuals,” and stressed that it “would be run by a commercial enterprise, and the data would be collected and stored by the commercial enterprise, not the government.” However, outcry arose after the Washington Post reported the program could “contain more than 1 billion records and could be shared with other law enforcement agencies, raising concerns that the movements of ordinary citizens who are under no criminal suspicion could be scrutinized.” Even though the national tracking system has been nixed, a 2012 Police Executive Research Forum report found that 71% of all US police departments already use automatic license plate tracking.

Finally this week, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) recently released a report examining FOIA statistics, backlogs, and potential policy options to improve the FOIA. The report cautions against taking all agency reporting at face value, pointing out, “a reduction in backlog does not necessarily mean an agency is more efficiently administering FOIA. For example, an agency could eliminate a backlog by denying complex requests that could otherwise be released in part.” The report also cites the Archive’s latest FOIA audit on outdated agency FOIA regulations, and suggests that Congress “may wish to consider whether it should direct agencies to examine their FOIA regulations, to determine whether they reflect statutory amendments, and to update any regulations that do not reflect FOIA, as amended.” The report further notes that Congress could monitor the expansion of (b)(3) exemptions to “prevent the creation of exemptions written more broadly than intended,” and preventing “certain agencies from operating without the public being able to access data and records.”

Battle Rages Between CIA and Senate Intel Committee over Torture Report, Conflicting Intelligence Analysis of the Ukraine Crisis,

CIA director John Brennan sits between FBI head James Comey, and director of national intelligence, James Clapper. Brennan implied that it was Congressional staff, not the intelligence agency, that acted inappropriately. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

CIA director John Brennan sits between FBI head James Comey, and director of national intelligence, James Clapper. Brennan implied that it was Congressional staff, not the intelligence agency, that acted inappropriately. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The battle between the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee over the Committee’s scathing 6,000-page report on the CIA’s defunct detention and interrogation program escalated this week after complaints that the CIA was “inappropriately monitoring” Committee staff while it completed its report. The complaints from Congress compelled the CIA’s inspector general (IG) to begin an inquiry, and the CIA’s IG has reportedly already referred the matter to the Department of Justice for action. The 6,000-page Committee report has yet to be declassified, despite pressure from the White House that it be disclosed, “in part because of a continuing dispute with the C.I.A. over some of its conclusions.” The report has taken more than four years to complete, and has cost more than $40 million –partially because the CIA insisted that Committee staff only be allowed to review classified materials pertinent to the investigation at the agency’s secure facility in Northern Virginia, “[a]nd only after a group of outside contractors had reviewed the documents first.” According to government officials, CIA officers gained access to the computer networks used by the Committee after the CIA became concerned that the Committee itself had inappropriately gained access to parts of the CIA’s computer network it was not authorized to view.

Lawmakers are seeking explanations for conflicting and erroneous intelligence reports on the Ukraine crisis. AP Photo

Lawmakers are seeking explanations for conflicting and erroneous intelligence reports on the Ukraine crisis. AP Photo

The House Intelligence Committee is seeking explanations for conflicting intelligence reports from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the CIA, and the Office of National Intelligence on the Ukraine crisis. Lawmakers reported that a classified DIA report issued earlier this week concluded that Russia’s troop movements near the Ukrainian border would not lead to military intervention, while a classified CIA report found that while there was a possibility that Russia would intervene in Ukraine, an invasion was unlikely. A closed-door briefing to members of Congress last Thursday by Robert Cardillo, Deputy Director of National Intelligence, further reported that military action in Ukraine was not imminent. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman, Dianne Feinstein, told POLITICO that, “[w]e have to better deploy our resources… because we have large resources and it should not be possible for Russia to walk in and take over the Crimea and it’s a done deal by the time we know about it.”

While intelligence officials said it was possible that Putin’s decision to take military action was a spontaneous one, a former CIA officer speaking on the condition of anonymity argued that “the agency’s focus on counter-terrorism over the last 13 years has undermined its ability to conduct traditional espionage against key adversaries, including Russia.” The former officer further noted that the agency’s office in Kiev could not be larger than two or three agents.

The White House released an overview of Obama’s FY2015 budget request earlier this week, revealing that the administration is asking for $45.6 billion to fund the National Intelligence Budget. Matthew Aid points out that the proposal sets the goal of enhancing transparency and reforming signals intelligence programs, specifically stating that the intelligence community “will use its signals intelligence capabilities in a way that protects national security while supporting foreign policy, respecting privacy and civil liberties, maintaining the public trust, and reducing the risk of unauthorized disclosures.”

According to the agency’s inspector general report, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), which oversees the US’ intelligence satellites, makes frequent mistakes when making classification decisions. The IG report revealed that out of a sample of 134 documents, 114 contained classification mistakes. The report, which was conducted in response to the Reducing Over-Classification Act of 2010 and obtained in response to a FOIA request, found that NRO classification officials “lack sufficient knowledge of classification principles and procedures necessary to perform their duties…One OCA [original classification authority] had almost no knowledge of his responsibilities.” Secrecy News’ Steven Aftergood notes that, like other reports completed for the Reducing Over-Classification Act, “the NRO Inspector General review does not allow for the possibility that an agency could be in full compliance with classification rules and nevertheless be overclassifying information.”

The USS Pueblo docked in Pyongyang in 2010. For good measure, here is the official North Korean news agency report on the status of the spy ship: http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2013/201302/news21/20130221-37ee.html

The USS Pueblo docked in Pyongyang in 2010. For good measure, here is the official North Korean news agency report on the status of the spy ship: http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2013/201302/news21/20130221-37ee.html

The National Security Agency (NSA) recently released its fourth installment of documents on the 1968 capture of the USS Pueblo, a U.S. Navy intelligence collection ship, by North Korean forces. The 61 documents “comprise 236 pages of material, including maps, NSA memoranda, analytic assessments, chronologies, North Korean press releases, and other miscellaneous documents.” A previously declassified 1992 NSA report of the incident claimed that the massive amounts of classified material on board, as well as cipher equipment, were confiscated by the North Koreans and likely passed on to the Soviet Union and China. Despite the compromise of enormous amounts of sensitive information, LBJ conceded that “[p]robably the luckiest thing that happened to us was that we did not send people in there and have another Bay of Pigs.” The USS Pueblo is currently on display at the renovated Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in Pyongyang.

Happy FOIA-ing!

SECRET: 60th – Anniversary of Castle BRAVO Nuclear Test, the Worst Nuclear Test in U.S. History

Sixty years ago, on 1 March 1954 (28 February on this side of the International Dateline), on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, the U.S. government staged the largest nuclear test in American history. The BRAVO shot in the Castle thermonuclear test series had an explosive yield of 15 megatons, 1000 times that of the weapon that destroyed Hiroshima and nearly three times the 6 megatons that its planners expected. To recall this shocking event the National Security Archive posts today a selection of documents about the BRAVO shot and its consequences, mainly from State Department records at the National Archives.

 

Castle BRAVO spewed radioactive fallout around the world and gravely sickened nearby inhabitants of the Marshall Islands, then under a U.S. trusteeship, and 236 were evacuated as well as 28 American military personnel on a nearby island. Twenty-three Japanese fishermen were also contaminated, which made the test known to the world and roiled U.S-Japanese relations. While the U.S. government claimed at the time that a shift in the wind spread the fallout far from the test site, a recent U.S. government report demonstrates that it was the volcanic nature of the explosion that dumped the fallout nearby. The adverse health effects for inhabitants of Rangelop Atoll, 110 miles away from the test site, were severe and some islands remained uninhabitable for years. This radiological calamity had a significant impact on world opinion and helped spark the movement for a nuclear test moratorium which ultimately led to the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty.

Included in this posting is a U.S. Air Force documentary film on the Joint Task Force 7 commander’s report on the Castle Series. It includes footage of the BRAVO shot as well as coverage of the evacuation of U.S. personnel and Marshall Islanders in the wake of the test. The documentary is sanitized at points apparently to protect nuclear weapons design information. A Freedom of Information request by the Archive for a fresh review and a subsequent appeal failed to dislodge more details.

Documents in this posting include:

  • Japanese government accounts of the Fukuryu Maru incident
  • The May 1954 petition by Marshall Islanders for an end to nuclear tests in the area
  • U.S. Embassy Tokyo telegrams on BRAVO’s adverse impact for U.S.-Japanese relations
  • Internal U.S. government consideration of compensation to the Japanese government and the Marshall Islands for losses incurred by nuclear testing
  • Decisions to delay the return of the inhabitants to Rongelap Atoll because of unsafe conditions
  • A comprehensive Defense Threat Reduction Agency report from 2013 on Castle BRAVO exposing “legends and lore” about the test
Source: Document 17: Thomas Kunkle and Bryon Ristvet, Castle Bravo: Fifty Years of Legend and Lore: A Guide to Offsite Radiation Exposure, page 35
Source: Document 17: Thomas Kunkle and Bryon Ristvet, Castle Bravo: Fifty Years of Legend and Lore: A Guide to Offsite Radiation Exposure, page 5.

Why and how exactly U.S. scientists miscalculated the yield remains classified but what made the 15-megaton Bravo shot the worst nuclear test in U.S. history is no secret. The device detonated on an islet in a coral reef, producing massive levels of fallout that quickly reached the stratosphere before falling to earth. It is worth comparing BRAVO to the most powerful nuclear test ever, the Soviet Union’s 50-megaton “Tsar Bomba” of 30 October 1961. That test’s radiological consequences were far less severe because the “Tsar Bomba’s” fireball never touched the earth’s surface producing significantly less fallout than BRAVO. Historian of science Alex Wellerstein has written that Castle BRAVO is a “cautionary tale about hubris and incompetence in the nuclear age — scientists setting off a weapon whose size they did not know, whose effects they did not correctly forecast, whose legacy will not soon be outlived.”[i]

While the “Tsar Bomba” was almost immediately known to the world, the architects of the Castle test series worked in secrecy; the Eisenhower administration wanted to keep words like “hydrogen” and “thermonuclear” out of public discourse and only the fact that tests would be held in the Pacific in 1954 went to the public. After the BRAVO shot occurred, the AEC and the Defense Department sought to control what could be known about the event. But the cat was out of the bag when the Fukuryu Maru crew returned to port which gave Washington a serious damage control problem as information about the 1 March test began to reach the public. At the end of the month AEC chairman Lewis Strauss gave a generally misleading press conference about BRAVO but he managed to alarm the public when he acknowledged that hydrogen bombs could be “made large enough to take out a city … any city.”[ii]

Until recently, an extensive collection of documents on nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands was readily available on a Department of Energy Web site, The Marshall Islands Document Collection. It no longer has an on-line presence. In the fall of 2013, at the time of the U.S. government shut-down, this important collection disappeared from the Web. It is unclear whether the Department intends to restore it as a distinct Web page. Many documents on the Marshall Islands can be found on the Energy Department’s OpenNet but whether they are essentially the same items is also unclear at present. Moreover other documents on nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands that the Energy Department declassified in the 1990s and were once available at the National Archives or on-line were reclassified early in the last decade after the Kyl-Lott amendment went into effect in 1999.[iii]

Unique non-U.S. government documents about the consequences of nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands are also at risk. The case files of the Nuclear Claims Tribunal for the Marshall Islands, which went out of existence in 2010, are an irreplaceable record of the impact of nuclear testing on a vulnerable population. The collection of paper records resides in a building in Majuro, the Marshall Island’s capital city, but no arrangements are in place to assure their long-term preservation.[iv]

 


THE DOCUMENTS

Sources information: Unless otherwise noted, all documents in this collection are from the State Department’s central decimal files, 1950-54, at the National Archives. Documents are from two decimal files, 711.5611 or 211.9441. Other important documents can be found in the U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954,Volume XIV Part 2:Japan (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1985).

 

Document 1: U.S. Air Force Lookout Mountain Laboratory, Joint Task Force 7 Documentary Film, “Operation Castle Commander’s Report,” n.d., Sanitized copy

Source: FOIA request to Department of Energy processed by Sandia National Laboratories Video Services

This film, posted previously on other Web sites, covers the Castle nuclear test series, consisting of six detonations during 1 March-14 May 1954. It represents the report of the commander of Joint Task Force 7, which carried out nuclear tests during the period. Because of security concerns, the Department of Energy excised all coverage of the third shot, Koon, on 6 April 1954 (which was a fizzle). Produced for military planners and senior U.S. government officials, the film depicts the elaborate preparations for the test, including the extensive array of diagnostic equipment used to measure the detonations and gauge their effects. Despite the excisions, the film conveys that U.S. nuclear planners found the test series valuable for understanding fallout effects and for future military planning. Castle further demonstrated that it was possible to field megaton-class nuclear weapons that weighed less than 10,000 pounds. Thus, the narrator found the Castle tests were “vital” for U.S. national security.

Note: Thanks to Howie Southard, George Washington University Academic Technologies, for converting the film into digital format.

 

Document 2: State Department Office of Legal Affairs, Memorandum of Conversation, “Injury to Japanese Fisherman by the Bikini Explosion,” 17 March 1954, Secret

When the Fukuryu Maru returned to port at Yaizu on 14 March, the secret of Castle BRAVO was out. The Japanese government informed Washington about the condition of the crew and State Department and Atomic Energy Commission officials immediately began discussions of liability issues, probable Japanese claims, and ways and means for compensation. After some consideration of using emergency funds available to the State Department and the White House, it became evident that the Bureau of the Budget would play a central role in making recommendations for compensation.

 

Document 3: State Department telegram 2090, 19 March 1954, Unclassified

Despite the claims by Atomic Energy Commission chairman Lewis Strauss, the Fukuryu Maru was operating 14 miles outside the 57,000 square mile “Danger Area” established by the U.S. Navy around the test site. The crew had no warning that a test was imminent and U.S. radar and spotter planes did not detect the ship. The “Danger Area” had nothing to do with health and safety; instead it was a security zone “to deny information to enemy nations.” After the Fukuryu Maru incident became known, the U.S. Commander-in-Chief Pacific created a massive danger zone of 570,000 square miles, which raised serious problems for the Japanese fishing industry.[v]

 

Documents 4A-C: U.S. Embassy Telegrams on the Crisis in U.S.-Japan Relations:

A: U.S. Embassy Tokyo telegram 2261, 21 March 1954, Secret

B: U.S. Embassy Tokyo telegram 2264, 22 March 1954, Secret

C: U.S. Embassy Tokyo telegram 2279, 23 March 1954, Secret

Deep Japanese aversion to nuclear weapons and the Fukuryu Maru crew’s precarious health created serious difficulties for U.S.-Japan relations. Supporting compensation for the damage done to the fisheries and the Maru’s crew, Ambassador John M. Allison recognized that the Japanese government was in a difficult position, facing as it did questions about the United States closing off areas of the Pacific and the impact on the fishing industry. Perhaps not sufficiently appreciating the Japanese Government’s difficulty and the U.S. responsibility for the crisis, the Embassy reports were critical of Tokyo for a perceived lack of cooperation.. Sensitive data on radioactive fallout had reached the Japanese press, the press was “fanning extreme emotionalism,” and Japanese Communists were trying to capitalize on the affair. Besides an “irresponsible” attitude on security, the Embassy also saw bureaucratic rivalries and “resentment” of Japanese scientists toward the United States complicating the problem.

 

Document 5: Letter from Mrs. Tamaki Uemura, President of the Japanese Young Women’s Christian Association, to Mrs. Mamie Eisenhower, 30 April 1954, Unclassified

After Japanese doctors had issued public reports about the deteriorating health of the fishermen and had publicly requested information on treatment to remove radioactive strontium 90 from bone marrow, angry U.S. Embassy officials demanded that the Government correct the statements, which suggested that the U.S. had been less than cooperative. In the wake of this incident, YWCA president Uemura publicly protested to the president’s wife, Mamie Eisenhower, asking why the U.S. government had questioned the doctor’s statements, suggesting a lack of understanding about Japanese thinking about the horrors of radiation sickness. Uemura highlighted the serious damage the tests had inflicted on the fishing industry because fish was a “must item” in the Japanese diet.[vi]

 

Document 6: U.S. Embassy Tokyo Airgram 1481, “Transmittal of Preliminary Report of Dr. Merrill Eisenbud – ‘Contamination of the Fukuryu Maru and Associated Problems in Japan,'” 30 April 1954, Confidential

Merrrill Eisenbud, the AEC’s first health and safety chief, arrived in Tokyo on 22 March to investigate the irradiation of the ship, the cargo, and tuna catches, but also to offer technical support, mainly on radiological issues, to the Japanese scientists and doctors treating the crew. The Atomic Bomb Casualties Commission’s Dr. John Morton had already offered assistance on treatment of the patients. Eisenbud’s report cited the “uncooperative atmosphere” that he encountered, such as Morton’s inability to get access to most of the patients and the general refusal of the Japanese to provide access to all but small portions of the radioactive ash that had been collected. Not mentioned, however, is that, for security reasons, the U.S. specialists would not provide Japanese doctors with information they wanted about the composition of the radioactive ashes.[vii]

Eisenbud’s preliminary report reviewed issues that he believed needed further exploration, including the degree of dangerous beta and gamma radiation that the fisherman had received from the fallout. Noting estimates that exposure had been in the range of 70 Roentgens, Eisenbud believed that the “actual dose could have been 2, 10, or even a 100 times higher.” Later research indicated that the crew had been exposed to 290 roentgens, whereas 3.9 was the maximum allowable exposure for AEC personnel.[viii]

 

Document 7: U.S. Embassy Tokyo Airgram 1482, “Public and Private Official Papers Relating to the Case of the Fukuryu Maru No. 5: Documentation March 17-April 23 1954,” 30 April 1954, Secret, excerpts

This airgram is a compilation, with a detailed summary, of communications between the U.S. and Japanese governments during the first weeks of the crisis. Included is the Maritime Safety Agency’s initial report on the Fukuryu Maru incident as well as more detailed accounts of what happened to the crew on 1 March and during the return voyage to Japan. In light of concern among some U.S. officials that a hidden “Red” hand had played a role in the incident, the compilation includes a list of U.S. Embassy questions to the Japanese about the crew members’ political affiliations, whether they listened to Communist radio stations, or whether any of their relatives had Communist affiliations. The Foreign Ministry’s answers are included; not surprisingly, it discovered no Communist connections to the fishermen

 

Document 8: Admiral Arthur Radford, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Memorandum to Secretary of Defense, “A Proposal for a Moratorium on Future Testing of Nuclear Weapons,” 30 April 1954, Secret

Castle Bravo and its consequences sparked antinuclear protests around the world, with Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru calling for a “standstill agreement” on nuclear tests.[ix] The Joint Chiefs of Staff quickly rejected proposals for a moratorium arguing that with the U.S. already enjoying an “indeterminate advantage” over the Soviet Union in nuclear weapons technology, a moratorium would provide Moscow with the opportunity to “neutralize” the U.S. advantage by abrogating or violating an agreement. While a moratorium might be politically advantageous for Washington, the advantages would be fleeting “whereas the military disadvantages would be far-reaching.”

 

Document 9: U.S. Embassy Tokyo Telegram 2702, 4 May 1954, Secret

The U.S. Embassy reported that the Japanese Foreign Ministry had sent a note trying to explain why the Japanese reaction to the incident had been unfavorable to the United States and why Tokyo had found itself in an “embarrassing” position during the crisis. For example, information on the composition of the fallout had been reported publicly because Japan had no atomic secrecy regulations and U.S. doctors had not received full access to the patients because of the latters’ concern that they would be seen as “experimental material rather than as a therapeutic object.” The Embassy rejected the latter claim but agreed that the Government had cut “a poor figure” during the crisis.

 

Documents 10A-B: The Marshall Islands Petition

A: U.S. Mission to the United Nations Despatch 790, (UN-UND) Petition from the Marshallese People Concerning the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands,” 4 May 1954, Unclassified

B: State Department telegram 543, “Re: Marshallese Petition,” 4 May 1954, Official Use Only

On 20 April, representatives of the Congress of the Marshall Islands filed a petition with the United Nations. Citing the “increasing danger” from U.S. nuclear tests in the area and the suffering of the people of Rongelap and Uterik, the petition declared that land and access to it were the basis of the “very life of the people.” Therefore, the petitioners asked for a halt to nuclear testing in the area, but if that was not possible, for the United States to take “all possible precautionary measures” and to provide safety instruction for the inhabitants and compensation for losses. A response prepared by the AEC and the State Department conceded the suggestions were “eminently reasonable” but also claimed the nuclear tests were in the “interests of general peace and security” and that the Marshall Islanders “had no medical reason to expect any permanent after-effects on the general health of the inhabitants.”

 

Document 11: State Department Instruction A-836, “Estimate of Present Medical Status of the Twenty-Three Crewmen of the FUKURYU MARU,” 8 May 1954, Confidential

The Department sent the Embassy in Tokyo a recent report from the AEC’s Division of Biology and Medicine based on urine samples of some of the crew and blood counts provided by the Japanese. The news was bad: the urine samples showed that radioactive material had been “ingested” and the low white blood cell counts of the “most seriously affected patients” made it “unwise to assume at this point that all will recover.” A draft statement on the possible death of a crew member was being prepared. A copy of the AEC report was being made available to the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy which had been asked to keep the information under wraps because publicity would have “unfavorable repercussions.”

 

Document 12: State Department Memorandum of Conversation, “Radioactive Tuna,” 6 July 1954, Confidential

A Food and Drug Administration official reported to the State Department that a West Coast cannery had discovered three radioactive tuna imported from Japan since 1 March. The tuna had probably eaten contaminated fish because the skull and bones of the fish were radioactive. For the time being, to keep the information under control the Department would not inform the Embassy in Tokyo and presumably Japanese diplomats would not be told either.

 

Document 13: U.S. Embassy Tokyo telegram 207, 26 July 1954, Confidential

Ambassador Allison reported that Prime Minister Yoshida had almost been persuaded to request a $4.2 million compensation claim but that the Foreign Ministry had talked the number down to $1 million. Allison favored a quick settlement to avoid adverse publicity, but it took months to finalize, even after one of the crew members, Aikichi Kuboyama, died in September from liver ailments possibly aggravated by the radioactive exposure. The U.S. government gave his widow a check for 1 million yen ($2,800) and in January 1955 it paid the Japanese government $2 million in compensation for losses caused by BRAVO and other tests.[x]

 

Document 14: Letter, James J. Wadsworth, Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, to David W. Wainhouse, Acting Assistant Secretary of State, 4 August 1954, Official Use Only

Wadsworth recounted a recent memorandum from Mason Sears, the U.S. Representative to the United Nations Trusteeship Council, to Ambassador to the United Nations Henry Cabot Lodge about the diplomatic risks posed by the post-BRAVO situation. Noting that India’s representative to the UN Khrishna Menon had raised questions about the legality of nuclear testing in UN trust territories, Sears argued that Washington would have trouble getting the support of close allies if another BRAVO incident occurred. Moreover, Washington had to move forward on the matter of compensation; the claims of the Bikinians remained unresolved and “just and prompt settlements” for the former residents of Rongelap and Uterik were also necessary.

 

Document 15: U.S. Embassy Tokyo Telegram 849, 8 October 1954, Confidential

Tokyo kept up the pressure on Washington on various fronts. A note from the foreign minister requested the United States to move its nuclear testing grounds as far away as possible but if that could not be done, to reduce the size of the tests. The matter of compensation to the Japanese fishing industry for damage caused by nuclear testing also remained on Tokyo’s agenda.

 

Document 16: Letter, Chairman Atomic Energy Commission Lewis Strauss to Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, 2 December 1954, with Memorandum from Gerard C. Smith attached, 13 December 1954, Confidential

Taking into account Sears’ argument for compensation [see document 14] Lewis Strauss described the state of play in this letter to the secretary of state. A lump sum payment was in the works for the Bikinians who had been displaced in 1946. Strauss misleadingly claimed that people on Rongelap and Uterik had been evacuated “immediately” after the test, but that did not occur until two days later, after huge amounts of radioactive debris had fallen on the atolls. With respect to their claims, the Defense Department would handle them but they had to be filed within a year of incident. The people on Uterik had been returned to their homes, but the Rongelap people would not be returned until May 1955.

Bikini’s former inhabitants received compensation in 1956, but it was not until the mid-1960s that the U.S. government provided any compensation for victims of the BRAVO exposures. It took another 24 years for Washington to establish a trust fund for the Marshall Islands.

 

Documents 17A-B: Postponed Return to Rongelap Atoll

A: Office of Special Assistant to Secretary of State for Atomic Energy Matters, Memorandum of conversation, Return of Inhabitants to Rongelap,” 22 April 1955, Official Use Only

B: Office of Special Assistant to Secretary of State for Atomic Energy Matters, Memorandum of conversation, Return of Inhabitants to Rongelap Atoll in the TTPI,” 18 May 1955, Official Use Only

Strauss’s hope for a return to Rongelap atoll by May 1955 was excessively optimistic. By April and May, discussions between AEC and State Department officials indicated that immediate return was impossible. The first conversation indicated serious problems: people could go back to the atoll as long as they “restrict” themselves to the southern islands and “do not eat too many shellfish.” But in mid-May, Deputy High Commissioner for the Pacific Islands Trust Territory Delmas Henry Nucker decided that it “would still be dangerous to the inhabitants, as would the shell fish in the lagoon.” It would take “another year” before the atoll was “completely safe for the people to return.” In 1957, people returned to Rongelap, but the area remained seriously contaminated. Controversy over the actual impact of the radiation persisted, but growing concern about the degree of hazard led the people on Rongelap to vote with their feet. In 1985 Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior transferred over 300 people from Rongelap to Majetto, an island in the Kwajalein Atoll.[xi]

 

Document 18: Thomas Kunkle and Bryon Ristvet, Castle Bravo: Fifty Years of Legend and Lore: A Guide to Offsite Radiation Exposure (Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Defense Threat Reduction Information Analysis Center, January 2013), DTRIAC SR 12-001

Source: Restricted Data Blog

This comprehensive work on the BRAVO shot was written for a highly specialized audience, although the fine selection of photographs will interest a wider audience. The report’s purpose is to explain exactly how local populations in the Marshall Islands were exposed to dangerous levels of fallout. That the MIKE thermonuclear test in late 1952 had produced relatively small amounts of fallout provided a “misleading lesson” which encouraged the Castle planners to believe the tests could be conducted without advance evacuation of nearby populations. A central element of the BRAVO disaster was that the device exploded on the surface of Bikini atoll with the resulting fireball “suck[ing] up…ten million tons of pulverized coral debris coated [with] radioactive fission products.” Like a volcanic eruption, BRAVO “injected a great mass of debris into the stratosphere” which rapidly fell to the earth. With this the authors laid to rest the “legend” that unanticipated shifts in the wind led to the fallout on Rongelap [See document 10B for an example]. While the report challenges claims that radioactive exposure was responsible for thyroid problems among the Marshallese, it includes this sobering conclusion: “It is clear beyond doubt that the people evacuated from Rongelap, especially the children, have suffered medically from their fallout radiation exposure” [p. 120].

 


NOTES

[i] See Wellerstein’s analysis, “Castle Bravo Revisited” at Restricted Data: The Nuclear Secrecy Blog.

[ii] Lawrence Wittner, The Struggle Against the Bomb, Volume II: Resisting the Bomb: A History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement, 1954-1970 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), 2-3; Barton Hacker , Elements of Controversy: The Atomic Energy Commission and Radiation Safety in Nuclear Weapons Testing, 1947-1974 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 136, 138.

[iii] April L. Brown, “No Promised Land: The Shared Legacy of the Castle Bravo Nuclear Test,” Arms Control Today https://www.armscontrol.org/ac/ March 2014, 43. This article includes a useful map of the Marshall Islands.

[iv] Information from Trudy Huskamp Peterson, e-mailed 20 February 2014.

[v] Martha Smith-Norris, “‘Only as Dust in the Face of the Wind,': An Analysis of the BRAVO Nuclear Incident in the Pacific, 1954,” Journal of American-East Asian Relations 6 (1997): 1-34, (danger zone discussed at 13-14). This is highly useful assessment should be supplemented by Roger Dingman’s account of the Fukuryu Maru incident, “Alliance in Crisis: The Lucky Dragon Incident and Japanese-American Relations,” in Warren I.Cohen and Akira Iriye, The Great Powers in East Asia, 1953-1960 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990): 187-214. For the “Danger Area,” see also document 17 at page 88. Very important on radiological matters is Hacker , Elements of Controversy, 130-158.

[vi] Smith-Norris, “Only As Dust in the Face of the Wind,” 21-22.

[vii] Dingman, “Alliance in Crisis,” 38-39.

[viii] Smith-Norris, “Only As Dust in the Face of the Wind,” 9; Hacker, Elements of Controversy, 85.

[ix] Wittner, The Struggle Against the Bomb, 1-28, 98-99.

[x] Smith-Norris, “Only As Dust in the Face of the Wind,” 21-22

[xi] For a run-down on the history of the claims settlement, see Stephen Schwartz et al., Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Program, 1940-1998 (Washington, D.C. : Brookings Institution, 1998), 415-421.

Top Pentagon Official Ordered Destruction of bin Laden Death Photos, NSA Employee Gave Snowden Password to Classified Info Network, US Falls in Press Freedom Rankings to #46

McRaven's order to destroy the photos was first mentioned in a 2011 draft Pentagon IG report examining whether the Obama administration gave special access to Hollywood executives planning the film “Zero Dark Thirty.”

McRaven’s order to destroy the photos was first mentioned in a 2011 draft Pentagon IG report examining whether the Obama administration gave special access to Hollywood executives planning the film “Zero Dark Thirty.”

A FOIA lawsuit brought against the Department of Defense by Judicial Watch has spurred the declassification of documents revealing U.S. Special Operations Commander, Admiral William McRaven, ordered the immediate destruction of any photos of the death of Osama bin Laden. On May 13, 2011, McRaven told subordinates that any photos should have already been turned over to the CIA –presumably so they could be placed in operational files out of reach of the FOIA– and if anyone still had access to photos, to “destroy them immediately or get them to the [redacted].” McRaven issued the directive only hours after Judicial Watch issued a press release stating they would be filing suit for the records.

The National Security Agency (NSA) currently collects data on less than a third of domestic calls, according to anonymous officials, raising questions about the efficacy of the bulk surveillance tool. Officials reported that the agency collects information from most landlines, but that it is incapable of collecting information from cell phones or internet calls. However, the NSA is in the process of building “the technical capacity over the next few years to collect toll records from every domestic land line and cellphone call, assuming Congress extends authority for Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act after it expires in June 2015.”

A new audit from the Government Accountability Office reports that spy agencies, including the FBI, CIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and components of the Departments of Justice, Energy, Treasury, Homeland Security, and State, “have provided unreliable and incomplete reports to Congress since 2011 on the use of private contractors.” The unclassified report does not disclose the number of core contractors –like Edward Snowden- these agencies employ, or how much money is spent on them.

A document posted to cryptome.org reveals Snowden was given access to NSAnet to scrape 1.7 million classified files he would not otherwise have had access to by a civilian employee  Photo: EPA

A document posted to Cryptome.org reveals Snowden was given access to NSAnet to scrape 1.7 million classified files by a civilian NSA employee. Photo: EPA

A declassified document recently posted on Cryptome.org reveals that a civilian NSA employee gave Snowden their Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) certificate, allowing Snowden access to classified information on NSAnet that would otherwise have been unavailable to the contractor. Then, without the civilian employee’s knowledge, Snowden used a commonly available web crawler to “scrape”  1.7 million files.

The Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday that nearly a year after Edward Snowden accessed the classified files, the agency still does not have the technology fully in place to prevent a similar unauthorized disclosure. Under questioning, Clapper said that Snowden would have been caught had he tried to scrape material from NSA headquarters in Ft. Meade, MD, rather than an agency outpost in Hawaii, further commenting that “[o]ur whole system is based on personal trust.”

February 4 report from Republicans on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee reported that more than 15 federal agencies were hacked last year, and either lost control of their networks or had them stolen as a result. The report further notes the occurrence of 48,000 other cyber ‘incidents’ involving government systems, and that “civilian agencies don’t detect roughly four in 10 intrusions.”

The debate over targeting an American terror suspect in Pakistan in a lethal drone attack continued this week. This is the first time officials have discussed killing an American citizen in such an attack, and comes in the middle of another debate about whether the lethal drone program should be transferred from the CIA to the Pentagon. DNI Clapper publicly acknowledged the existence of the covert CIA drone program for the first time this Tuesday during the aforementioned Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) asked Clapper to confirm if the White House was considering “shifting the use of drones, unmanned aerial vehicle strikes, from the CIA to the DOD,” to which Clapper responded, “Yes, sir, it is. And again, that would also be best left to a closed session.”

Former State Department analyst Stephen Kim pled guilty to leaking a Top Secret intelligence report on North Korea to a Fox News reporter and is expected to serve 13 months in prison. The report led to a June 11, 2009, Fox News story that stated “Pyongyang’s next nuclear detonation is but one of four planned actions the Central Intelligence Agency has learned, through sources inside North Korea…” implying the source inside North Korea was CIA human intelligence that was placed at risk due to the story’s publication.

USA, #46.

USA, #46.

The US fell 13 places to #46 in Reporters Without Borders’ latest ranking of press freedom around the world, and is now sandwiched between Romania and Haiti. The report cites national security measures as the reason for the rankings plummet, including Chelsea Manning’s conviction, the DOJ’s seizure of AP phone records as part of a leak investigation, and the government’s attempts to have Edward Snowden returned for prosecution.

The NSA refuses to acknowledge the existence or non-existence of documents on a Top Secret U.S. intelligence facility in Mexico City, a communications hub that barred Mexican personnel and focused on “high value targeting,”despite previously declassified information describing its role. The NSA issued a “Glomar” denial in response to a FOIA request filed by the National Security Archive last year, even after the Archive published a declassified Pentagon memo confirming the NSA’s involvement in the operations of the “Mexico Fusion Center.”

Finally this week, Polish prosecutors may try to question Guantanamo detainees as part of an investigation into whether or not the CIA maintained a secret “black” prison in the Eastern European nation between 2002 and 2003. The Polish investigation began in 2008 after CIA officials told the AP that a prison in operated in Poland “from December 2002 until the fall of 2003.” Human rights groups believe more than a handful of terror suspects were held there, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Happy FOIA-ing!

The NSA Archive – Declassified Documents Shed Light on 1980 Moscow Olympics Boycott

Declassified Documents Shed Light on 1980 Moscow Olympics Boycott

February 14, 2014

Picture of the opening ceremony in Moscow.

Picture of the opening ceremony in Moscow.

On January 20, 1980, President Carter announced that “[u]nless the Soviets withdraw their troops within a month from Afghanistan,” that the US would boycott the Olympic games that year in Moscow. The media, including the Washington Post’s Robert G. Kaiser, supported the boycott, arguing, “the collapse of this Olympiad would send a genuine shock through Soviet society,” though CIA Director Adm. Stansfield Turner warned that such a stunt would backfire. Declassified documents, including the confidential memo featured in today’s posting, help contextualize the Carter administration’s final decision to boycott the games in the hopes of preventing Soviet expansion into Afghanistan.

The confidential January 30, 1980, memorandum from William E. Simon, Treasurer of the US Olympic Committee (USOC), to Marshall Brement, Honorary President of the USOC, encapsulated the Carter position on boycotting the games. In the memo, which is part of the Digital National Security Archive’sCIA Covert Operations, 1977-2010” collection, Simon wrote that while the majority of the US Olympic Committee felt that “pressure from the President and the Congress forced them to take their position” to boycott the games, he remained confident they would come to embrace the official USOC position “a little more enthusiastically” in the weeks to come. Simon’s belief was no doubt buoyed by the boycott’s popularity with the American public, nearly 55% of whom were alarmed by the Soviet Union’s first attempt at territorial expansion since the end of WWII and supported the protest.

The boycott might have had the support of the President and the majority of American citizens, but it was abhorred by US Olympians. Simon’s memo notes that “[a]thletes remain, quite naturally, the group most hostile to nonparticipation in the Olympics, though they are supporting us. The athletes do not trust the USOC and they deserve special attention.” American member of the International Olympic Committee, Julian Roosevelt, and gold medalist Al Oerter, proved Simon’s point, arguing respectively that “I’m as patriotic as the next guy, but the patriotic thing to do is for us to send a team over there and whip their ass,” and “[t]he only way to compete against Moscow is to stuff it down their throats in their own backyard.”

"Athletes remain, quite naturally, the group most hostile to nonparticipation in the Olympics, though they are supporting us. The athletes do not trust the USOC and they deserve special attention."

“Athletes remain, quite naturally, the group most hostile to nonparticipation in the Olympics, though they are supporting us. The athletes do not trust the USOC and they deserve special attention.”

Muhammad Ali met with Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi to solicit support for the Olympic boycott.  AP Photo

Muhammad Ali met with Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi to solicit support for the Olympic boycott. AP Photo

The Soviets defied Carter’s January 20 Afghanistan ultimatum and the US followed through on its threat, leading 65 countries in a boycott of the 1980 games and sending their athletes to an alternate event instead. Carter initially wanted the alternate games to take place in Africa, hoping to “encourage developing countries that were not aligned to either superpower to join the boycott of the Moscow games and offer Western athletes – who were largely skeptical of a ban – the chance to compete in an alternative event.” The President even sent Muhammad Ali on an African tour to promote the boycott and solicit countries, including Tanzania, Kenya, and the Ivory Coast, to consider hosting the alternate event. Ali’s trip was ultimately unsuccessful, and the “Boycott Games” ended up being held in Philadelphia with mixed results, since many countries officially boycotting the Olympics still allowed their athletes to compete in Moscow under the international flag.

Carter’s insistence on boycotting the games prompted some in the Kremlin to wonder if he was emotionally unstable, and Anatoly Dobrynin, the Soviet Union’s ambassador to Washington, later said of the boycott, “I had never encountered anything like the intensity and scale of this one. What particularly caught my attention was the president’s personal obsession with Afghanistan.” In the end, CIA Director Adm. Stansfield Turner’s prediction that boycotting the 1980 Games would backfire proved correct, and the Soviet Union retaliated by boycotting 1984 games in LA, due to “chauvinistic sentiments and an anti-Soviet hysteria being whipped up in the United States,” and, more importantly, remained in Afghanistan for nearly another decade.

For more declassified documents on the Carter administration, the 1980 Olympic boycott, and US-Soviet relations, visit the Digital National Security Archive.

Revealed – Secret NSA Doc: The Area 51 File: Secret Aircraft and Soviet MiGs

The Area 51 File: Secret Aircraft and Soviet MiGs

Declassified Documents Describe Stealth Facility in Nevada

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 443

The CIA’s history of the U-2 spy plane, declassified this past summer, sparked enormous public attention to the U-2’s secret test site at Area 51 in Nevada, but documents posted today by the National Security Archive (www.nsarchive.org) show that Area 51 played an even more central role in the development of the U.S. Air Force’s top secret stealth programs in the 1970s and 1980s, and hosted secretly obtained Soviet MiG fighters during the Cold War.

Compiled and edited by Archive senior fellow Jeffrey T. Richelson, today’s e-book posting includes more than 60 declassified documents. Some of the documents specifically focus on Area 51 and the concern for maintaining secrecy about activities at the facility. Included is a 1961 memo (Document 1) from the CIA’s inspector general raising the issue of security, and a response (Document 2) reporting the shared concerns of the CIA Deputy Director for Plans, Richard Bissell. Security concerns led to consideration (Document 3) of photographing the area with U.S. reconnaissance assets and a debate (Document 4, Document 5) over the possible release of a photograph of the facility taken by SKYLAB astronauts.


Bird of Prey. Photo credit: National Museum of the United States Air Force.

Other documents focus on the aircraft tested at the facility (and their operational use) — particularly the stealth F-117. Those documents include a variety of histories of the F-117 squadron, with details on participation in operations and exercises. In addition, there are extracts from two reports (Document 15, Document 16) on accidents involving F-117 aircraft, as well as histories and assessments (Document 17, Document 18, Document 23, Document 36) of F-117 deployment in operations DESERT STORM and IRAQI FREEDOM. Also included are fact sheets (Document 58, Document 59, Document 60) concerning three programs, at least two of which were tested at Area 51 — the Bird of Prey and TACIT BLUE.

In addition to documents on F-117 operations, a number of documents focus on the development of stealth capability. One of those (Document 10), is the mathematical analysis by Russian physicist and engineer P. Ya. Ufimtsev that former Lockheed Skunk Works director Ben Rich called “the Rosetta Stone breakthrough for stealth technology.”

Also represented in the posting is another type of activity at Area 51 — the exploitation of covertly acquired Soviet MiGs. Included is a 300-page Defense Intelligence Agency report (Document 50) on the exploitation of the MiG-21, a project titled HAVE DOUGHNUT. Other documents (Document 51, Document 52) concern the exploitation effort concerning two MiG-17s, efforts named HAVE DRILL and HAVE FERRY.

Area 51, Secret Aircraft and Soviet MiGs

Edited by Jeffrey T. Richelson

 


TACIT BLUE. Photo credit: National Museum of the United States Air Force.

Area 51 has the been the focus of enormous interest among a significant segment of the public for decades — an interest that inevitably spawned books, articles, and a variety of documentaries.1 For some enthusiasts Area 51 was a clandestine site for UFOs and extraterrestrials, but it is better understood as a U.S. government facility for the testing of a number of U.S. secret aircraft projects — including the U-2, OXCART, and the F-117. Declassified documents help demonstrate the central role that Area 51 played in the development of programs such as the F-117, and the operational employment of the aircraft. Other declassified documents reveal Area 51’s role in testing foreign radar systems and, during the Cold War, secretly obtained Soviet MiG fighters.

 

Area 51

On April 12, 1955 Richard Bissell and Col. Osmund Ritland flew over Nevada with Kelly Johnson in a small Beechcraft plane. Johnson was the director of the Lockheed Corporation’s Skunk Works, which, as part of a secret CIA-Air Force project, codenamed AQUATONE by the CIA and OILSTONE by the Air Force, was building a revolutionary spy plane, designated the U-2. Bissell, CIA head of the project, Ritland his Air Force deputy, Johnson, and Lockheed’s chief test pilot, were looking for a site where the plane could be tested safely and secretly.2

During the trip they discovered, near the northeast corner of the Atomic Energy Commission’s (AEC) Nevada Proving Ground, what appeared to be an airstrip near a salt flat known as Groom Lake. After examining the location from the ground, the four agreed that it “would make an ideal site for testing the U-2 and training its pilots.” Upon returning to Washington, Bissell discovered that the land was not part of the AEC’s proving ground — leading him to ask the commission’s chairman to make the Groom Lake area an AEC possession, a request which was readily granted. President Eisenhower approved the plan, and the territory, known by its map designation — Area 51 — was added to the Nevada Test Site.3 The site acquired several other designations. Kelly Johnson, in order to make the remote location seem more palatable his workers began referring to it as Paradise Ranch, which was then shortened to the Ranch. An additional unofficial name would be Watertown Strip — a consequence of the need to build a paved runway so that testing could continue when rainwater runoff from nearby mountains made it impossible to land on Groom Lake. By July 1955, the base was ready and personnel from the CIA, Air Force, and Lockheed began to arrive.4

Within a year the U-2 program would transition to an operational program, with flights initially over Eastern Europe and then the Soviet Union. Bissell and other senior officials anticipated that the U-2 would have a limited life before becoming vulnerable to Soviet air defense systems. Before the end of 1958 they had launched Project GUSTO to find a successor to the U-2, which resulted in the selection of another Lockheed-designed plane, the A-12 or OXCART— which was to fly higher than the U-2, far faster (over Mach 3), and be harder for air defense radars to detect.5

In November 1959, a little over two years before the first A-12 arrived at Area 51 in late December 1961, a radar test facility was established there — the result of contractor Edgerton, Germeshausen & Greer (EG&G) agreeing to move its Indian Springs, Nevada test facility to Area 51. Its purpose was to determine the vulnerability of an OXCART mockup to detection. Area 51 would also become the home to testing programs for two OXCART derivatives — the YF-12A KEDLOCK fighter plane and the Air Force’s Project EARNING, which ultimately produced the SR-71 (also designated SENIOR CROWN) reconnaissance aircraft — as well as the D-21 TAGBOARD drone that was expected to be launched from A-12 aircraft.6

In September 1961, a few months before the first OXCART arrived, the site was visited by CIA Inspector General Lyman Kirkpatrick, who conveyed his findings (Document 1) to Richard Bissell — who had become the CIA’s Deputy Director of Plans in the summer of 1958, with continued responsibility for the CIA’s secret aircraft projects through his directorate’s Development Projects Division (DPD). Kirkpatrick wrote that his “visit left reservations in my mind.” One was that the “‘Area’ appears to be extremely vulnerable in its present security provisions against unauthorized observation” — including air observation. In addition, Kirkpatrick suggested that the project had reached a stage “where top management at the ‘Area 51′ needs consolidation with clear and precisely defined authority.” Finally, he questioned “the survivability of the program’s hardware when and if employed in actual operations.”

Bissell’s off-the-cuff reactions were reported in an October 17 memo (Document 2) from Bissell’s assistant to the acting chief of the DPD. The author reported Bissell’s belief that Kirkpatrick’s points about area security were “well taken,” his lack of strong reaction to the comment about site management, and his questioning whether the inspector general’s comment about OXCART vulnerability was “appropriate” for Kirkpatrick “to get himself involved in.” With regard to the issue of security Bissell “was particularly interested in why we have not yet been able to eject the various [deleted] holding property around the Area.”

Concern about maintaining secrecy for activities at the site persisted as illustrated by an April 6, 1962 memo (Document 3) from DPD executive officer John McMahon to the division’s acting chief. He reported that he and another DPD official (John Parangosky) had earlier discussed the idea of employing a U-2 to produce images of the area and asking photographic interpreters to determine what was happening at the site. But given, the upcoming scheduled launches of CORONA reconnaissance satellites, McMahon noted that “it might be advisable” to include a pass crossing the Nevada Test Site, “to see what we ourselves could learn from satellite reconnaissance of the Area.” That and later missions could be used to assess what deductions the Soviets could make “should Sputnik 13 have a reconnaissance capability.”

A dozen years later, it was not Soviet reconnaissance that resulted in interagency discussions and memos concerning exposure of Area 51 activities via overhead imagery. Rather it was the inadvertent imaging of the area by American SKYLAB astronauts. Among the memos was one (Document 4) from Robert Singel, the National Reconnaissance Office’s deputy director, concerning the on-going internal government controversy. Another memo (Document 5) provided Director of Central Intelligence William Colby with the latest information on the internal debate and identified key questions that needed to be answered before a final decision was made.7

During the mid-1970s another issue was whether the CIA should continue Area 51; its major aerial reconnaissance programs, such as the U-2 and OXCART, no longer needed the site, but the Air Force still needed the site for radar testing, development of stealth aircraft, and exploitation of Soviet MiG aircraft that the U.S. had acquired. The National Security Council decided that the Air Force should take over the site. According to a memo (Document 6) from deputy director of central intelligence, E.H. Knoche to the Air Force’s chief of staff, David C. Jones. Knoche, the National Security Council’s Committee on Foreign Intelligence had approved the recommendation “that management of Area 51 be transferred from CIA to Air Force by FY-78.”

Eventually, the transfer would take place, and the Groom Lake facility became Detachment 3 of the Air Force Flight Test Center, whose headquarters were at Edwards Air Force Base, California.8

By the mid-1990s, the existence of Area 51 had become widely known — and the subject of threatened legal action because of environmental concerns. Seeking to prevent that from resulting in revelations about activities conducted at the site President Bill Clinton signed a presidential determination exempting the “Air Force’s operating location near Groom Lake, Nevada from any Federal, State, interstate, or local hazardous or solid waste laws that might require disclosure of classified information concerning that location to unauthorized persons” — a determination he reported to congressional leaders (Document 8) on January 30, 1996. In September 2003 President George W. Bush made a similar determination, in the form of a memorandum (Document 9) to the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

 

Stealth Fundamentals

A key element of the work done at Area 51 was testing the ability of the reconnaissance and other aircraft deployed there to evade radar detection. In some cases the work was based on measures developed after the aircraft was developed — as exemplified by the failed RAINBOW project aimed at reducing the Soviet ability to detect U-2’s during their spy flights.9 In other cases, designers gave the aircraft certain stealth (low-observable) features — in some cases, based on elaborate theoretical work.

During the mid-1970s government and contractor experts studied the problem of reducing the radar cross section of aircraft. Included was a paper (Document 11) by Lockheed’s Kelly Johnson that focused on high altitude aircraft such as the SR-71. In addition, Teledyne Ryan Aeronautical (Document 12) reported on a number of aspects of producing a low-observable vehicle. Another contractor, Boeing reviewed “features of airborne vehicle configurations that have a primary influence on the resulting radar signature.”(Document 13). Based on testing results, the Boeing expert discussed the impact of features — including engine inlets, nose shape, body shape, exhaust nozzles, control surfaces, weapons, wing location, and fuselage shape — on radar cross section.

By June 1991, Air Force work on stealth had resulted in a number of projects that it summarized in a review of the technology that it had just conducted. A briefing book (Document 14) discussed fundamentals about stealth, its value, and the four different Air Force programs — the F-117, B-2, F-22, and Advanced Cruise Missile.

The first of those programs, and the unconventional shape of the aircraft produced, had its origins in a 1962 work (Document 10) by Russian theoretical physicist (and electric engineer) Pytor Ufimtsev — which did not spur the Russian air force to either classify the work or make use of it. The paper, Method of Edge Waves in the Physical Theory of Diffraction, when translated by the Air Force Foreign Technology Division in 1971 would consist of over 200 pages of mathematical analysis. A foreword explained that Ufimtsev studied the scattering characteristics of “reflecting bodies with abrupt surface discontinuities or with sharp edges.” He took into account “the laws of geometric optics …, the additional currents arising in the vicinity of the edges or borders which have the character of edge waves and rapidly attenuate with increasing distance from the edge or border.”

Ben Rich, Kelly Johnson’s successor as head of the Lockheed Skunk Works, would report in his memoirs that one afternoon a “Skunk Works mathematician and radar specialist named Denys Overholser … presented me with the Rosetta Stone breakthrough for stealth technology.” Overholser had found the breakthrough in Ufimtsev’s paper and explained that the Ufimtsev had demonstrated “how to accurately calculate radar cross sections across the surface of the wing and at the edge of the wing and put together these two calculations for an accurate total.”10

 

From HAVE BLUE to the F-117


F-117. Photo credit: National Museum of the United States Air Force.

A first step in trying to convert Ufimtsev’s theoretical results into an operational stealth aircraft was an Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) project, began in the early 1970s. Designated HAVE BLUE, it resulted in two experimental aircraft, with a first flight in April 1977. The Air Force launched a program, designated SENIOR TREND, to build the F-117 in November 1978; it eventually produced 59 aircraft. A first flight, presumably at Area 51, took place in June 1981, and the Air Force declared the F-117 operational in October 1983 with Tonopah Test Range as its new home. Ten years later, in November 1988, the government confirmed the existence of the plane, revealed its designation, and released a picture of the aircraft.11 In the two years before declassification the program experienced two crashes (Document 15, Document 16) that took the lives of the pilots.

Once it was declared operational, the F-117 was available for use in combat operations. The Air Force nearly used it in the 1986 attacks on Libya, ordered by President Reagan in response to Libyan involvement in the La Belle Disco bombing in West Berlin, but ultimately did not because of Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger’s reluctance to reveal the plane’s existence. 12 First combat use would come three years later — in Operation Just Cause (Document 19, Document 22) — the operation to unseat and seize Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega.

But the major use of the F-117 in combat activity took place in operations targeting sites in Iraq, beginning with Operation DESERT STORM. These operations were the subject of an official chronology (Document 17), an Army War College essay (Document 18) and the official history of the 37 th Fighter Wing (Document 19). The General Accounting Office (GAO) conducted a critical examination of the stealth fighter’s effectiveness (Document 23) as part of its evaluation of the air war. The GAO found that the F-117 bomb hit range was “highly effective” — varying between 41 and 60 percent — but it did not reach the 80 percent claimed by the Defense Department.

Other histories of the F-117 wing (which had become the 49th Wing by 1996) included accounts of its participation in a variety of exercises as well as its use for coercive diplomacy. According to one history (Document 26) F-117s were deployed to Southwest Asia twice between July 1 and December 31, 1998 for Operations DESERT THUNDER and DESERT FOX. Both were ordered in response to Iraqi non-compliance with U.N. Security Council resolutions, but did not result in combat operations. In 1999, F-117s did go into combat — in the Balkans — a subject that was discussed in the January – June 1999 history (Document 27) of the 49th Fighter Wing. Much of the treatment is redacted from the released version, although the declassified version reports that after the first round of strikes on March 24, 1999, General William Lake told his commanders “everyone is back safely. So far the score is F-117s 10, Yugoslav’s 0.”13

Deployments to South Korea and Southwest Asia, including use during the Iraq War, as well exercises, are covered in histories (Document 34, Document 37) for 2003 and 2004. The 2003 history (Document 34) and a history — Black Sheep Over Iraq (Document 36) — focus solely on F-117 operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Black Sheep history covers orders to deploy for combat, the attempted decapitation strike intended to kill Saddam Hussein, subsequent combat missions, and an assessment of F-117 performance in the war.

 

The Soviets and Stealth

The Soviet military may not have initially embraced Ufimtsev’s work, but it was inevitable, because of both internal and external influences, that they would eventually explore its use for their own aerial programs and for counteracting U.S. stealth aircraft. During the 1980s, if not before, the Intelligence Community and CIA closely reviewed those issues.

In January 1983 former DPD executive officer John McMahon (Document 3), then the Deputy Director for Central Intelligence, informed the director of the Intelligence Community Staff (Document 38) that he had asked the Deputy Director of Intelligence for an assessment of Soviet stealth technology.

A little over a year later, the Directorate of Intelligence produced a study (Document 40) entitled Soviet Work on Cross Section Reduction Applicable to a Future Stealth Program. The assessment examined Soviet radar cross section technology and a variety of potential applications to submarines, reentry vehicles, aircraft, spacecraft, cruise missiles, and ground vehicles.14 Among its key judgments was that “the Soviets did not have a Stealth program in the 1970s” but that “because of the high US interest in this area, the Soviets probably began intensified research effort in the early 1980s, which may have led to a developmental program now under way.”15

The same month that the CIA produced that assessment the Agency’s continued interest in further work on Soviet stealth efforts was indicated by a memo (Document 42) from Julian C. Nail, the National Intelligence Officer for Science and Technology, to Director of Central Intelligence William J. Casey. Nail observed that the topic was on the agenda for a National Foreign Intelligence Board meeting in early March 1983, memos were being prepared for Casey to send to each principal indicating the importance he attached to the subject, and that the Office of Scientific and Weapons Research was seeking to enhance its analysis of the subject, mainly by getting additional clearances so the CIA analysts could learn about U.S. research and development efforts.

How the Soviets might react to U.S. stealth programs was the subject, in August 1985, of a special national intelligence estimate (Document 43) — Soviet Reactions to Stealth. Two key sections of the estimate focused on the counter-stealth potential of current and near-term Soviet systems (including early warning radar, fighter aircraft, surface-to-air missile, antiaircraft artillery, and command, control, and communications systems) and future Soviet technical responses. Another section examined prospective Soviet stealth developments — including the process of incorporating stealth vehicles in Soviet military planning and the acquisition and use of stealth technology.

One indication that the Air Force may have limited the knowledge and the ability of U.S. intelligence analysts to use classified data on U.S. stealth research and development efforts was a figure labeled “Design Considerations for Stealth Aircraft” (p.8). Despite the figure’s Top Secret classification, it was, as acknowledged in a credit line adjacent to the figure, lifted from an issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology. Moreover, that figure was based on speculation what , at the time, the rumored stealth fighter might look like — speculation that proved to be considerably wide of the mark.

 

CIA Support to US Stealth Programs

In addition to assessing Soviet stealth programs, the CIA and other elements of the Intelligence Community provided U.S. stealth efforts with intelligence on Soviet forces and capabilities that was relevant to developing U.S. stealth vehicles and plans for their use. Thus, in a February 1, 1984 memo (Document 45) the director of the CIA Office of Scientific and Weapons Research (OSRW) reported that intelligence support for the U.S. stealth program included an analysis on “the Soviet threat to an Air Force Tactical Air Command Program in November 1983.”

A month later the OSWR director reported the number of new clearances (25) that were necessary to implement the stealth analytical effort (Document 47) Beyond the total clearances needed, the director indicated the offices involved and the specific topics to be examined. Thus, air defense and aircraft systems specialists at OSWR would work on stealth penetration analysis studies, specialists in the Office of Soviet Analysis would conduct strategic studies related to the implications of stealth capabilities, and other specialists in OSWR would examine Soviet weapons and technology.

 

MiGs at Area 51

Besides secret U.S. aircraft work, Area 51 also hosted the study of secretly acquired Soviet MiG fighters. The first effort involved a MiG-21, designated “Fishbed-E” by NATO. Israel acquired the plane in August 1966 when a captain in the Iraqi air force defected, landing the MiG at an airbase in northern Israel — an action that been arranged in advance by the Mossad, Israel’s secret intelligence service. From January 23, 1968 to April 8, 1968 the plane was loaned to the U.S. Air Force.16

The MiG, in the Air Force’s temporary possession, received a new designation — the YF-110 — and Area 51 became its new home. The exploitation effort, conducted by the specialists from the Air Force Foreign Technology Division (today known as the National Air and Space Intelligence Center) was designated HAVE DOUGHNUT. One report focused on technical characteristics of the plane, while another was a tactical evaluation. The latter (Document 50) had four primary objectives: (1) evaluating of the effectiveness of existing of existing tactical maneuvers by the Air Force and Navy combat aircraft and associated weapons against the MiG-21, (2) exploiting the tactical capabilities and limitations of the MiG-21 in air-to-air combat, (3) optimizing existing tactics and develop new tactics to defeat the MiG-21, and (4) evaluating the design, performance, and characteristics of the MiG-21. The exploitation reports spelled out the findings (including Document 50) with historical retrospectives about the effort prepared later (Document 48, Document 49).

Two other late 1960s exploitation efforts at Area 51 — both focused on evaluating the MiG-17 — were designated HAVE DRILL and HAVE FERRY. The HAVE DRILL MiG-17 began flying at Groom Lake on February 17, 1969 and flew 172 sorties over 55 days. The HAVE FERRY aircraft, which served as backup to the HAVE DRILL aircraft, began flying on April 9, 1969 and flew 52 sorties over 20 days.17 As with the HAVE DOUGHNUT effort it resulted in a technical report and a tactical report (April 1970). The results were also the subject of two more recent briefings by (Document 51 and Document 52) by NASIC representatives.

While the HAVE DOUGHNUT and HAVE DRILL/HAVE FERRY efforts are the ones whose details have been declassified, they were not the last of MiG exploitation efforts at Area 51. Under a program designated CONSTANT PEG, the Air Force tested other MiGs — acquired by a variety of means — to determine their capabilities and vulnerabilities. In the 1970s the effort moved to Tonopah Test Range, about 70 miles northwest of Area 51.18

 

Radar Tests & Other Aircraft

Other aspects of Area 51 activities included tests of covertly acquired Soviet-radar systems. In November 1970, a project designated HAVE GLIB, referred to in a 1976 memo (Document 6), began. According to one account “a complex of actual Soviet systems and replicas” grew around Slater Lake, a mile northwest of the main base. The Air Force gave the systems such names as Mary, Kay, Susan, and Kathy and arranged them to “simulate a Soviet-style air defense complex.”19

Subsequent to the declassification of the F-117 program, the Air Force managed two other aircraft programs at Area 51, but neither led to the production of operational fleet. Both have been partly declassified, with only some photos and fact sheets providing a few details about these secret programs.

One plane, developed by Northrop along with the Air Force and DARPA, was the TACIT BLUE battlefield surveillance plane (Document 56, Document 58) also known as the “Whale.” Work began in 1978 and it first flew at Area 51 in February 1982, with the program concluding in 1985 — by which time it had been flown 135 times. The Air Force fact sheet (Document 58) reports that the objective was to “demonstrate that curved surfaces on an aircraft result in a low radar return signal” and states that TACIT BLUE “demonstrated that such an aircraft could operate close to the battlefield forward line without fear of being discovered by enemy radar.”20

The other, a plane built by the McDonnell-Douglas “Phantom Works” was known as the BIRD OF PREY, after its resemblance to the Klingon spacecraft from Star Trek. The Air Force declassified its existence in 2002, because, according to the fact sheet (Document 59), “its design techniques had become standard practice.” The fact sheet described the plane as a single-seat stealth technology demonstrator used to test stealth techniques and “new methods of aircraft design and construction.” The project, which ran from 1992 to 1999, with the first flight in 1996, included 38 flights altogether.21

Two additional projects that may have been connected to Area 51 were associated with the May 2, 2011 raid that resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden. One was the stealth helicopter that carried the Navy SEALs to the Abbottabad compound. The other was the RQ-170 stealth drone that had been used to monitor developments at the compound.22 A very brief fact sheet (Document 60) describes the RQ-170 as “a low observable unmanned aircraft system” intended to provide “reconnaissance and surveillance in support of the joint forces commander.”

 


THE DOCUMENTS

AREA 51

Document 1: Letter, Lyman Kirpatrick to Richard Bissell, October 13, 1961. Secret.

Source: CIA Records Search Tool (CREST), National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

This letter from the CIA’s Inspector General to the Deputy Director for Plans reports on his visit to the Development Projects Division (responsible for the U-2 and OXCART programs) “Area” — that is, Area 51. The topics covered include security arrangements (which Kirkpatrick considered inadequate), on-site management, and the survivability of the “program’s hardware when and if employed in actual operations.”

 

Document 2: [Deleted], Assistant to the DD/P, Memorandum for: AC/DPD, Subject: Inspector General’s Memorandum on His Trip to the Area, October 17, 1961. Secret.

Source: CREST.

This memo reports on Bissell’s “off-the-cuff” reactions to Kirpatrick’s letter (Document 1). While he embraced Kirpatrick’s comments on security, he had no strong reaction to his comments concerning on-site management, and questioned the proprietary of an inspector general commenting on the issue of OXCART vulnerability.

 

Document 3: John N. McMahon, Executive Officer, DPD, Memorandum for: Acting Chief, DPD, Subject: Aerial Observation of Area 51, April 6, 1962. Secret.

Source: National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) Release.

This memo from the DPD’s executive officer to its acting chief discusses the possibility of having Area 51 photographed by either a U-2 or CORONA spy satellite — as a means of estimating what the Soviet Union might learn from its own overhead images of the facility.

 

Document 4: Robert D. Singel, Memorandum for Chairman, COMIREX, Subject: [Deleted] SKYLAB Photograph, April 11, 1974. Top Secret.

Source: National Reconnaissance Office

This memo from the deputy director of the NRO to the chairman of the Director of Central Intelligence’s Committee on Imagery Requirements and Exploitation is the result of a photograph taken by SKYLAB astronauts of Area 51. It discusses some of the issues to be considered in deciding whether to release the photograph.

 

Document 5: [Deleted], Memorandum for: The Director of Central Intelligence, Subject: SKYLAB Imagery [Deleted], April 19, 1974. Confidential.

Source: CREST.

This memo to DCI William Colby, notes that the SKYLAB photograph of Area 51 was acquired inadvertently and that instructions had been issued not to photograph the facility. It also reports that the photo is the subject of an interagency review and that there was widespread opposition to its release.

 

Document 6: E.H. Knoche, Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, to General David C. Jones, Chief of Staff, United States Air Force, August 26, 1976. Secret.

Source: RG 340 National Archives and Records Administration.

This letter discusses whether the CIA should continue to be responsible for the management of Area 51 or if the Air Force should assume responsibility. It identifies HAVE GLIB — the evaluation of foreign radar and threat systems — as the largest Defense Department project at the site at that time.

 

Document 7: United States Air Force, Det 3 SP, n.d. Unclassified/For Official Use Only.

Source: Editor’s Collection.

This document is widely reported to be a manual for Detachment 3 of the Air Force Security Police, responsible for security at Area 51. It specifies the cover story to be employed by members of the security force to explain their activities.

 

Document 8: William J. Clinton, Letter to Congressional Leaders on Presidential Determination 95-45, January 30, 1996. Unclassified.

Source: http://www.gpo.gov.

This letter from President Clinton, notes that his determination exempted the Air Force’s operating location “near Groom Lake, Nevada from any Federal, State, interstate, or local hazardous or solid waste laws that might require the disclosure of classified information concerning that operating location to unauthorized persons.”

 

Document 9: George W. Bush, Memorandum for the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Presidential Determination No. 2003-39, Subject: Classified Information Concerning the Air Force’s Operating Location Near Groom Lake, Nevada, September 16, 2003. Unclassified.

Source: http://www.whitehouse.gov

This memorandum reaffirms President Clinton’s 1995 presidential determination (Document 8).

 

STEALTH FUNDAMENTALS

Document 10a, 10b, 10c: P. Ya. Ufimtsev, Methods of Edge Waves in the Physical Theory of Diffraction, 1971. Unclassified.

Source: Air Force Freedom of Information Act Release

Ufimtsev’s 1962 work, translated by the Air Force Foreign Technology Division (today, the National Air and Space Intelligence Center), provides the fundamental theoretical/mathematical basis for the F-117.

 

Document 11: Clarence L. “Kelly” Johnson, Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, “Reduction of Radar Cross Section of Large High Altitude Aircraft,” n.d. (but circa 1975). Classification Not Available.

Source: Air Force Freedom of Information Act Release.

Most of this paper, written by the first head of the Lockheed Skunk Works, who supervised development of the U-2 and A-12 (OXCART), consists of figures related to the brief discussion of the relationship between stealth and aircraft shape.

 

Document 12: R. W. Lorber, R. W. Wintersdorff, and G.R. Cota, AFAL-TR-74-320, Teledyne Ryan Aeronautical, Low-RCS Vehicle Study, January 31, 1974. Secret.

Source: Air Force Freedom of Information Act Release.

This report describes the research performed by Teledyne Ryan under an Air Force contract on low-radar cross section aerial vehicles as well as some of the results obtained.

 

Document 13: John D. Kelly, Boeing Aerospace Company, “Configuration Design for Low RCS,” September 1, 1975. Secret.

Source: Air Force Freedom of Information Act Release.

This paper discusses the impact on the radar cross section of aircraft of the design of different regions of the vehicle — including the nose, tail, broadside — as well as the impact of skin material. It also discusses the design a low RCS missile.

 

Document 14: Department of the Air Force, Air Force Stealth Technology Review, 10-14 June 1991, n.d.

Source: http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/Science_and_Technology/Other/263.pdf.

This briefing book consists of five tabs, which concern the value and evolution of stealth, the F-117, the B-2, the F-22, and the advanced cruise missile.

 

F-117 OPERATIONS

Document 15: Major General Peter T. Kemp, Commander, USAF Tactical Fighter Warfare Center, to TFWC/JA, Subject: Aircraft Accident – F-117, 81-0792, July 11, 1986, January 14, 1987. Secret/Special Access Required. Secret w/att: Report of Investigation (Extract).

Source: Air Force Freedom of Information Act Release.

This extract provides a statement of facts concerning the fatal crash of a F-117A aircraft on July 11, 1986. It covers, inter alia, crew qualifications, the history of the flight, the mission, the briefing and preflight, the flight, impact, rescue, and crash response.

 

Document 16: Lt. Col. John T. Manclark, 57 FWW/AT, Nellis AFB, N, AFR 110-14 USAF Aircraft Accident Investigation Board, 14 October 1987 – Tonopah Test Range , December 8, 1987. Secret/Special Access Required.

Source: Air Force Freedom of Information Act Release.

This extract is a summary of facts concerning the October 14, 1987 crash of a F-117A that claimed the life of its pilot. As with the report of the on the July 1986 crash (Document 15), it covers — inter alia — crew qualifications, the history of the flight, the mission, the briefing and preflight, the flight, impact, rescue, and crash response.

 

Document 17: Harold P. Myers, Office of History, 37th Fighter Wing, Twelfth Air Force, Tactical Air Command, Nighthawks over Iraq: A Chronology of the F-117A Stealth Fighter in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, January 9, 1992. Unclassified.

Source: Editor’s Collection.

A two-page introduction is followed by a 32-page chronology of F-117A information related to operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, from August 17, 1990 to February 28, 1991. The information include concerns personnel, deployments, administrative matters, exercises, and operations (pp. 8-36).

 

Document 18: Arthur P. Weyermuller, Stealth Employment in the Tactical Air Force (TAF) – A Primer on Its Doctrine and Operational Use (Carlisle Barracks, Pa.: U.S. Army War College, 1992). Unclassified.

Source: http://www.dtic.mil

This study focuses on the history of stealth development, the roles and missions of the F-117A and its performance during Desert Storm, and an assessment of how stealth technology fits into Air Force aerospace doctrine. It also discusses next generation stealth aircraft, specifically the F-22 fighter and B-2 bomber.

 

Document 19: Vincent C. Breslin, 37th Fighter Wing, History of the 37th Fighter Wing, 5 October 1989 – 31 December 1991, Volume 1 – Narrative, May 22, 1992. Secret.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release.

In addition to a chronology of events, this history includes a discussion of the creation of the 37th Fighter Wing (established to replace the covert group established to oversee development of the F-117A while it was still a classified program), the “quest for normalization,” F-117 operations in Panama (Operation Just Cause) and Iraq (Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm), and events from the end of Desert Storm to the end of 1991.

 

Document 20a, 20b: Vincent C. Breslin, 37th Fighter Wing, History of the 37th Fighter Wing, 1 January – 8 July 1992, Closeout, Volume 1 – Narrative, August 11, 1992. Classification Not Available.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release.

The 37th Fighter Wing (Document 19) at Tonopah Test Range was inactivated on July 8, 1992, with F-117A fighters being transferred to a new unit, based at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. This history contains a discussion of the inactivation, fully redacted sections on mission revision and an operational readiness exercise – as well as treatments of the the employment of the F-117A in airshows, transfer of aircraft to Holloman, and a number of other topics.

 

Document 21a: Office of Public Affairs, Department of the Air Force, Fact Sheet 93-11, F-117A Stealth Fighter, November 1993. Unclassified.

Document 21b: Department of the Air Force, Fact Sheet, F-117 A Nighthawk, October 2005. Unclassified.

Sources: Air Force Office of Public Affairs, http://www.af.mil

These fact sheets, issued twelve years apart, describe the mission, features, background, and general characteristics of the F-117A. The second fact sheet contains details of the plane’s employment in Desert Storm, the Balkans, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

 

Document 22: Ronald H. Cole, Joint History Office, Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Operation Just Cause: The Planning and Execution of Joint Operations in Panama, February 1998 – January 1990, 1995. Unclassified.

Source: http://www.dtic.mil.

The focus of this history is the involvement of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Joint Staff in the planning and direction of combat operations in Panama. Part of the history discusses the decision to use the F-117A as part of the operation — its first operational use — and its employment.

 

Document 23: General Accounting Office, GAO/NSIAD-97-134, Operation Desert Storm: Evaluation of the Air Campaign, June 1997. Unclassified.

Source: General Accounting Office.

This study focuses on the use and performance of aircraft and other munitions in Desert Storm, including the F-117, the validity of Defense Department claims about weapon systems’ performance (particularly systems using advanced technology), the relationship between weapon system cost and performance, and the extent to which Desert Storm air campaign objectives were satisfied. Among its findings was that while F-117 bomb hit range varied between 41 and 60 percent, which the report characterized as “highly effective,” the range was less than the 80-percent rate report after the war by the Defense Department.

 

Document 24: Gregg S. Henneman and David Libby, 49th Fighter Wing, History of the 49th Fighter Wing, 1 July 1996 – 31 December 1997, Narrative, Volume No. 1, May 28, 1998. Secret.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release.

With the inactivation of the 37th Fighter Wing (Document 20) and transfer of the F-117A fleet to Holloman AFB, they were assigned to the 49th Fighter Wing. This history focuses on mission and organization, operations and training (including operations against Iraqi targets, and partcipation in the Red Flag 97-1 exercise), and aircraft upgrades.

 

Document 25: Gregory S. Henneman, 49th Fighter Wing, History of the 49th Fighter Wing, 1 January – 30 June 1998, Narrative, Volume No. 1, October 22, 1998. Secret.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release.

As with the history for the preceding eighteen months (Document 24) the main focus of this history is mission and organization and operations and training. In addition to its discussion of F-117A deployment to Southwest Asia in response to developments in Iraq the history also discusses several exercises — Spirit Hawk ’98 (described as “the Air Force’s first ever low observable combat exercise”), Combat Hammer 98-04 (a weapons system evaluation program exercise) — as well as deployment in support of Fighter Weapons Instructor Course.

 

Document 26: Gregory S. Henneman, 49th Fighter Wing, History of the 49th Fighter Wing, 1 July – 31 December 1998, Narrative, Volume No. 1, May 19, 1999. Secret.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release.

This history discusses deployments to in support of operations in the Balkans and Southwest Asia. The two Southwest Asia deployments — Operation Desert Thunder and Operation Desert Fox — were in response to Iraqi non-compliance with U.N. Security Council resolutions and did not result in combat operations.

 

Document 27: William P. Alexander and Gregory S. Henneman, 49th Fighter Wing, History of the 49th Fighter Wing, 1 January – 30 June 1999, Narrative, Volume 1, n.d. Secret.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release.

This history follows the standard format for 49th Fighter Wing histories — covering mission and organization, operations and training, and maintenance. The chapter on operations includes a discussion of the F-117A deployment to Europe and its use against Serbian targets.

 

Document 28: William P. Alexander and Gregory S. Henneman, 49th Fighter Wing, History of the 49th Fighter Wing, 1 July – 31 December 1999, Narrative, Volume 1, n.d. Secret.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release.

In addition to discussing the role of F-117A aircraft in two exercises — Spirit Hawk 99 at Mountain Home Air Base, Idaho and EFX at Nellis AFB, Nevada — the history also contains a discussion of upgrades to the F-117, including an upgrade to the infrared acquisition designation system that “would allow F-117 pilots to ‘look’ through clouds, greatly increasing the aircraft’s capability.”

 

Document 29: William P. Alexander and Tracey S. Anderson, 49th Fighter Wing, History of the 49th Fighter Wing, 1 January – 30 June 2000, Narrative, Volume 1, n.d. Secret.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release.

The primary deployment discussed in this history was a deployment to Nellis Air Force Base, to take part in a “firepower demonstration” called CAPSTONE. It involved two F-117As dropping GBU-10 bombs on specified targets.

 

Document 30: William P. Alexander, 49th Fighter Wing, History of the 49th Fighter Wing, 1 July – 31 December 2000, Narrative, Volume 1, n.d. Secret.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release.

The history’s discussion of operations and training includes examination of two exercises that involved F-117A participation – RED FLAG 01-01 and CAPSTONE. The first is described as “the first low observable (LO) integrated RED FLAG exercise to be flown of Nellis AFB.” The latter involved, as did the identically named exercise in the first half of the year (Document 29), F-117A’s dropping two GBU-10 bombs on specified targets.

 

Document 31: William P. Alexander, 49th Fighter Wing, History of the 49th Fighter Wing, 1 January – 30 June 2001, Narrative, Volume 1 , January 28, 2003. Secret.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release.

As with earlier 49th Fighter Wing histories, this one discusses mission and organization, operations and training, and miscellaneous activities (including maintenance). While there were no operational deployments, the history reports on the deployment of aircraft, equipment, and personnel to several bases around the United States as well as F-117A involvement in RED FLAG 01-02.

 

Document 32: History of the 49th Fighter Wing, 1 July – 31 December 2001, n.d., Secret.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release.

This history covers mission and organization and deployments of the 49th Fighter Wing.

 

Document 33: William P. Alexander and Terri J. Berling, History of the 49th Fighter Wing, 1 January – 31 December 2002, Narrative, Volume 1, n.d. Unclassified/For Official Use Only.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release.

Despite its classification this history is heavily redacted, but does discuss F-117A participation in a European theater exercise named Operation Coronet Nighthawk.

 

Document 34: William P. Alexander and Terri J. Berling, History of the 49th Fighter Wing, 1 January – 31 December 2003, Narrative, Volume 1, n.d.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release

Among the topics examined in this history are F-117A deployments to the Middle East (and subsequent participation in Operation Iraqi Freedom) and South Korea as well as F-117A participation the Foal Eagle (Korea) and Red Flag (Nellis Air Force Base) exercises.

 

Document 35: Department of the Air Force, Air Force Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures 3 -3.18, Combat Aircraft Fundamentals, F-117, October 19, 2004. Unclassified/For Official Use Only.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release

This manual is intended to provide “aircrew the information need to make the right decisions during any phase of a tactical mission.” Its chapters cover mission preparation, formation, aircraft basics and instruments, air-to-surface elements of a mission, air refueling, low altitude operations, night and adverse weather operations, and night systems.

 

Document 36: Gregg Henneman, Black Sheep Over Iraq: The 8th Fighter Squadron in Operation Iraqi Freedom, November 2004. Secret.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release

This study explores the role of F-117A aircraft in the 2003 conflict with Iraq. In addition to an examination of the F-117A background, it examines the orders to deploy the F-117A for combat, the attempted decapitation strike, subsequent combat missions, maintenance, and assessment of F-117 performance, and redeployment.

 

Document 37: William P. Alexander and Terri J. Berling, History of the 49th Fighter Wing, 1 January – 31 December 2004, Narrative, Volume 1, n.d. Secret.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release

This history contains a chronology of 49th Fighter Wing activities, and chapters on mission and organization, operations — including an extensive discussion of F-117A deployment to South Korea and participation the Eagle Flag 2004/0B exercise — and mission capability for the F-117A and other aircraft.

 

THE SOVIETS AND STEALTH

Document 38: John N. McMahon, Memorandum for: Director, Intelligence Community Staff, Subject: Soviet Stealth Technology, January 10, 1983. Secret.

Source: CREST.

This brief memo from the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence notes that he had asked the Deputy Director for Intelligence (Robert Gates) to produce a paper on Soviet stealth technology.

 

Document 39: Lawrence K. Gershwin, Memorandum for: Director of Central Intelligence, Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, Subject: Briefing on Soviet Stealth Efforts, January 30, 1984. Secret.

Source: CREST.

This memo notes that the Chairman of the National Intelligence Council had asked the National Intelligence Officer for Strategic Programs, Lawrence K. Gershwin, to prepare, in conjunction with the Office of Scientific and Weapons Research (OSWR), a briefing for Senator Sam Nunn on Soviet stealth technology.

 

Document 40: Directorate of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, SW 84-10015, Soviet Work on Radar Cross Section Reduction Applicable to a Future Stealth Program, February 1984. Secret.

Source: CREST.

This the two main sections of this assessment cover Soviet radar cross section technology (including the theoretical base, measurement capability, materials, and transfer of technology) and applications (to submarines, reentry vehicles, aircraft, spacecraft, cruise missiles, and ground vehicles). The key judgments section states that the authors “feel certain that the Soviets did not have a Stealth program in the 1970s” but that “the Soviets probably began an intensified research effort in the early 1980s which may have led to a developmental program now under way.”

 

Document 41: Julian C. Nail, National Intelligence Officer for Science and Technology, Note for the Director, Subject: Soviet Low Observable (Stealth) Technology, February 23, 1984. Secret.

Source: CREST.

This note to the Director of Central Intelligence summarizes efforts under throughout the Intelligence Community to produce assessments and other products concerning Soviet stealth technology.

 

Document 42: Julian C. Nail, Memorandum for: Director of Central Intelligence, Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, Subject: Distribution of SNIE on The Soviet Reactions to Stealth, July 24, 1985. Secret

Source: CREST.

This memo concerns limiting the distribution of the a special national intelligence estimate on Soviet reactions to stealth. The author suggests that rather than distributing 50 copies the estimate should be disseminated to 37 offices/individuals.

 

Document 43: Director of Central Intelligence, SNIE 11-7/9-85/L, Soviet Reactions to Stealth, August 1985, Top Secret .

Source: CIA Electronic Reading Room.

This estimate is described as “an effort to assess at the national level the Soviet capability and intention to respond to the US [stealth] challenge.” Topics covered in the discussion include the concept of stealth, the counter-stealth potential of current and near-term Soviet systems, future Soviet technical responses, ballistic missile defenses, other defense options, prospective Soviet stealth developments, research facilities, aerodynamic systems, ballistic missile systems, and intelligence gaps.

 

Document 44: Directorate of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, US Stealth Programs and Technology: Soviet Exploitation of the Western Press, August 1, 1988. Secret.

Source: CIA Historical Review Program Release.

This paper examines the intersection of Soviet examination of Western press reports on U.S. stealth efforts and indigenous Soviet work in the area.

 

CIA STEALTH EFFORTS

Document 45: [Deleted], Director of Scientific and Weapons Research, Memorandum for: Deputy Director for Intelligence, Subject: CIA’s Stealth Efforts [Deleted], February 1, 1984, w/att: CIA Intelligence Support to US Stealth Programs, Secret/Noforn.

Source: CREST.

The attachment to the February 1, 1984 memo notes that the CIA’s Office of Scientific and Weapons Research had been providing direct support to US stealth efforts since 1980 and provides specific examples. It also describes “several initiatives … to better support policy makers.” The February 1 memo outlines that the author believes “we have done well, what we have not done, and recommendations for future support.”

 

Document 46: William J. Casey, Memorandum for: Deputy Director for Intelligence, Subject: CIA’s Stealth Efforts, February 2, 1984. Secret

Source: CREST.

This memo is DCI Casey’s response to the February 1 and its attachment.

 

Document 47: [Deleted], Director of Scientific and Weapons Research, Memorandum for: Director of Central Intelligence, Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, Subject: Implementation of CIA’s Stealth Analytical Effort, March 1, 1984.

Source: CREST.

This memo reports on the number of clearances necessary for the CIA to carry out the analytical program concerning stealth suggested by the Director of the Office of Scientific and Weapons Research. It indicates the both the national intelligence and CIA entities that would be involved as well as the specific topics to be investigated.

 

EXPLOITATION

Document 48: Thomas R. Woodford, National Air and Space Intelligence Center, HAVE DOUGHNUT Tactical Evaluation, n.d. Unclassified.

Source: http://www.dreamlandresort.com/black_projects, permission of T.D. Barnes

This briefing reports on the 1968 tactical evaluation effort designated HAVE DOUGHNUT – which focused on a MiG-21 aircraft provided to the U.S. by Israel. The purpose of the effort was to evaluate the effectiveness of Air Force and Navy tactical maneuvers against the MiG-21, optimize tactics and develop new ones needed to defeat MiG-21s, and evaluate the design, performance, and operation characteristics of the MiG-21.

 

Document 49: Rob Young, Project HAVE DOUGHNUT – Exploitation of the MIG-21, n.d. Unclassified.

http://www.dreamlandresort.com/black_projects, permission of T.D. Barnes

This briefing covers, inter alia, the background of the HAVE DOUGHNUT effort (Document 48, Document 50); data on sorties flown; lessons learned; the positive features, shortcomings, and unique design features of the MiG; and Air Force and Navy responses to the findings.

 

Document 50: Defense Intelligence Agency, FTD-CR-20-13-69-INT, Volume II, Have Doughnut (U) Tactical, August 1, 1969.

Source: http://www.scribd.com

This 310-page report, produced by the Air Force Foreign Technology Division, on behalf of DIA, presents the detailed results of the tactical evaluation, the MiG-21 obtained from Israel. The report focused on evaluating the effectiveness of existing tactical maneuvers by Air Force and Navy combat aircraft and associated weapons against the MiG-21. It also was intended to exploit tactical capabilities and limitations of the MiG-21 in aerial combat and help optimize existing tactics and develop new tactics to defeat the MiG-21.

 

Document 51: Thomas R. Woodford, HAVE DRILL/HAVE FERRY Tactical Evaluation, n.d., Unclassified.

Source: http://www.dreamlandresort.com/black_projects, permission of T.D. Barnes

This briefing on the 1969 exploitation of a MiG-17 provides weapon system highlights, key statements by Air Force and Navy officials – as well as the evaluation, general conclusions, and recommendations of the Tactical Air Command and Navy.

 

Document 52: Rob Young, National Air and Space Intelligence Center, HAVE DRILL/HAVE FERRY – Exploitation of the Soviet MiG-17F, n.d. Unclassified.

Source: http://www.dreamlandresort.com/black_projects, permission of T.D. Barnes

This briefing describes the specifics of the exploitation efforts, designated HAVE DRILL and HAVE FERRY, of two versions of the Soviet MiG-17F fighter plane. It specifies the versions of the plane in the possession of the Foreign Technology Division (now the National Air and Space Intelligence Center), U.S. test equipment, the testing effort, and lessons learned.

ODDS & ENDS

Document 53: Department of Defense Instruction S-5230.19, Subject: PROJECT HAVE NAME Security Classification Guide, July 2, 1979. Secret.

Source: Department of Defense Freedom of Information Act Release.

This heavily redacted instruction from 1979 may pertain to an aircraft or radar testing program (similar to HAVE GLIB, Document 6) at Groom Lake.

 

Document 54: “Stealth,” August 29, 1980. Top Secret.

Source: Record Group 59, PPS Records of Anthony Lake, 1977-1981, August 1980, National Archives and Records Administration.

This memo, found in the Anthony Lake’s State Department file for the 1977-1981 years, is an attempt at stealth humor.

 

Document 55: Walter D. Clark, Northrop Grumman Corporation, United States Patent, No. 7,108,230 B2, Aircraft with Topside Only Spoilers,

September 19, 2006. Unclassified.

Source: www.spacepatents.com/patented_inventions/pat7108230.pdf.

This patent is for a low-observable aircraft with improved roll control characteristics.

 

Document 56: DARPA Technology Transition (Arlington, Va.: Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, 1997), Unclassified.

Source: http://www.darpa.mil

These pages from this DARPA history cover the stealth fighter, TACIT BLUE (Document 53) and HAVE BLUE/F-117 programs.

 

Document 57: EAFB Instruction 31-17, Security Procedures for Inadvertent Tracking and Sensor Acquisition of Low Observable and Sight Sensitive Programs, November 14, 2005. Unclassified.

Source: Federation of American Scientists (www.fas.org).

This instruction from the commander of Edwards Air Force Base in California assigns agency responsibilities “during inadvertent or unauthorized tracking of sight-sensitive and low observable (LO) tests assets within the R-2508 complex located at Edwards.” It also notes that “it is strictly forbidden to train tracking sensors … on any LO or sight sensitive assets.”

 

Document 58: National Air Force Museum Fact Sheet, Northrop Tacit Blue, n.d. Unclassified.

Source: http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil

This fact sheet provides basic details on the history of the TACIT BLUE surveillance aircraft (Document 51), that flew at Area 51, but was never put into production. It also provides data on the planes specifications and perofmance.

 

Document 59: U.S. Air Force, Fact Sheet, Boeing Bird of Prey, n.d. Unclassified.

Source: http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil

This fact sheet provides a short history of the Bird of Prey aircraft developed by the McDonnell-Douglas Phantom Works (later acquired by Boeing). It provides information on the length of the program, its first flight, the number of flights, and the purpose of the program.

 

Document 60: U.S. Air Force, Fact Sheet, RQ-170 Sentinel, December 10, 2009. Unclassified.

Source: http://www.af.mil.

This very brief fact sheet acknowledged the existence and mission, of the RQ-170 drone – which had been spotted in use over Afghanistan and had been referred to as the “Beast of Kandahar.”

 


Notes

[1] Among the non-fiction books on Area 51, are David Darlington, Area 51 – The Dreamland Chronicles: The Legend of America’s Most Secret Military Base (New York: Henry Holt, 1997); Phil Patton, Dreamland: Travels Inside the Secret World of Roswell and Area 51 (New York: Villard, 1998); Annie Jacobsen, Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base (Boston: Little, Brown, 2011). For a critical review of Jacobsen’s book, see Robert S. Norris and Jeffrey T. Richelson, “Dreamland Fantasies,” Washington Decoded (www.washingtondecoded.com), July 11, 2011. Also, see Peter W. Merlin, “It’s No Secret – Area 51 was Never Classified,” available at www.dreamlandresort.com/pete/no_secret.html.

[2] Gregory Pedlow and Donald E. Welzenbach, The Central Intelligence Agency and Overhead Reconnaissance: The U-2 and OXCART Programs, 1954-1974 (Washington, D.C.: Central Intelligence Agency, 1992), p. 56. The history is available at: www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB434, posted on August 15, 2013.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid., p. 57.

[5] Ibid., p. 274.

[6] Ibid., pp. 274, 284. The OXCART, KEDLOCK, TAGBOARD, and SR-71 Programs will be the subject of a future electronic briefing book.

[7] For the SKYLAB incident see, Dwayne Day, “Astronauts and Area 51: The Skylab Incident,” The Space Review (www.thespacereview.com), January 9, 2006.

[8] Trevor Paglen, Blank Spots: The Dark Geography of the Pentagon’s Secret World (New York: Dutton, 2009), p. 41.

[9] Pedlow and Welzenbach, The Central Intelligence Agency and Overhead Reconnaissance, p. 129-130, 259.

[10] Ben R. Rich and Leo Janos, Skunks Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed (Boston: Little, Brown, 1994), pp. 19-20. Overholser was one of three authors of a patent (5,250, 950) filed on February 13, 1979 (which they assigned to Lockheed) for a low-observable aircraft.

[11] Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Technology Transition (Arlington, Va.: DARPA, n.d., but circa 1998-2000), p. 66.

[12] Rich and Janos, Skunk Works , p. 96.

[13] Use in the Balkans resulted in the loss of one plane, which was turned over to Russia, although the pilot was recovered. See Darrell Whitcomb, “The Night They Saved Vega 31,” Air Force Magazine , December 2006, pp. 70-74.

[14] The United States investigated the employment of stealth characteristics in satellites, ships, and missiles – specifically, the MISTY imagery satellite, the SEA SHADOW surface vessel, and the advance cruise missile. See, Jeffrey T. Richelson, “Satellite in the Shadows,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May/June 2005; “Sea Shadow,” http://www.lockheedmartin.com, accessed October 21, 2013; Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Technology Transition, p. 115.

[15] Directorate of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, Soviet Work on Radar Cross Section Reduction Applicable to a Future Stealth Program , February 1984, p. iii.

[16] Ian Black and Benny Morris, Israel’s Secret Wars: A History of Israel’s Intelligence Services, (New York: Grove, Weindenfeld, 1993), pp. 206-207; John Lowery, “Have Doughnut,” Air Force Magazine , June 2010, pp. 64-67; T.D. Barnes, “Exploitation of Soviet MiGs at Area 51,” http://area51specialprojects.com/migs_area51.html, accessed November 20, 2010.

[17] Barnes, “Exploitation of Soviet MiGs at Area 51.”

[18] “Air Force declassifies elite aggressor program,” November 13, 2006, http://www.af.mil. For histories of the effort see: Gaillard R. Peck, Jr., America’s Secret MiG Squadron: The Red Eagles of CONSTANT PEG (Long Island, N.Y. Osprey, 2012); Steve Davies, Red Eagles:America’s Secret MiGs (Long Islands, N.Y.: Osprey, 2008).

[19] “Slater Lake,” Roadrunners Internationale Monthly House Six News and Gossip , October 1, 2008, p. 8.

[20] For an account of the TACIT BLUE effort, see Peter Grier, “The (Tacit) Blue Whale,” Air Force Magazine , August 1996.

[21] For an account of the BIRD OF PREY program, see Bill Sweetman, “Bird of Prey,” Popular Science , January 2003, pp. 44-49.

[22] Sean D. Naylor, “Mission helo was secret stealth Black Hawk,” http://www.armytimes.com, May 4, 2011.

 

The NSA – Kissinger to Ford: “Smash Rumsfeld”

Kissinger to Ford: “Smash” Rumsfeld

Newly Declassified Telcons Show Conflict during Ford Years over Arms Control, Détente, Leaks, Angola

Kissinger Urged President to Tell Rumsfeld to “Get with It” on SALT, Pondered to Scowcroft Whether “We Should Let Angola Go,” and Disparaged Ford for “Popping Off” Publicly against Nixon

New Telcons are Subset of 800 Telcons Held up by State Department for Seven Years

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 454

 

IN THE NEWS

Kissinger: The gift that keeps on giving
By Al Kamen, The Washington Post, January 24, 2014

A window on talking Kissinger
By Al Kamen, The Washington Post, January 23, 2014

RELATED POSTINGS

“Dr. Kissinger, Mr. President”
December 24, 2008

The Kissinger State Department Telcons
October 1, 2004

The Kissinger Telcons
May 26, 2004

 


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Washington, DC, January 24, 2014 – A recently declassified transcript of a telephone conversation (telcon) between Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and President Gerald Ford in December 1975 indicates tensions between Kissinger and Donald Rumsfeld’s Defense Department over the SALT II arms control agreement. Telling Ford that “we have [a] SALT agreement within our grasp,” Kissinger said “We can smash our opponents” [See document 6]. Describing elements of the agreement concerning air-launched and ship-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs and SLCMs), Kissinger worried that Rumsfeld was “beginning to dig into his people” and asked Ford to tell him that “you want them to get with it.” Kissinger expected that a successful SALT II agreement would lead to a summit with the Soviet leadership putting détente on a firmer footing and embellish Ford’s and Kissinger’s standing.

While Kissinger was confident that a SALT II agreement would clear the way for a U.S-Soviet summit, Ford was not going to “smash” opposition to SALT. With the Cuban role in the Angolan conflict already complicating relations with Moscow and Ford’s presidential campaign for 1976 in progress, he was reluctant to rile the Defense Department over SALT, much less invite criticism from the Republican right. Those concerns stalled any progress on détente; as Ambassador Raymond Garthoff later put it, 1976 was a “turning point in American-Soviet relations” because the Ford White House decided to “shelve” détente until after the elections.

The record of the Ford-Kissinger telephone conversation and other recently declassified telcon transcripts from State Department files show an aggravated Henry Kissinger facing opposition to policies of détente and strategic arms control that were virtually unchallenged during the Nixon years. These telcons show Kissinger losing his authority at the White House, trying to protect U.S.-Soviet détente from conservative attacks while waging Cold War in the Third World, trying to crack down on leaks, and maintaining ties with the disgraced former President Richard Nixon.

A major defeat was over Angola policy. In early January 1976, after the leak of a CIA covert operation which Congress refused to fund, Kissinger became regretful, suggesting to National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft that “maybe we should let Angola go…. Maybe we just should not have started that operation” [See document 9]. Scowcroft declared that it was the “right” thing to do, but he could not argue when Kissinger said “the defeat they are inflicting on us is worse.” Kissinger saw U.S. credibility at risk when Washington was powerless to act against a Soviet ally in Southern Africa supported by Cuban troops.

The released telephone conversations also include the following discussions:

  • Running for election in 1976 Ford wanted the disgraced ex-president Richard Nixon to keep his distance. When it became known that Nixon was planning a visit to China, Ford said in an interview that the trip was “probably harmful” to his campaign. This upset Kissinger and Scowcroft, with Kissinger saying “What possessed the President to pop off again” [See document 12]. “It makes him look weak to say Nixon can hurt him.” Ford was already under attack from the Republican right and Kissinger worried that Ford’s defensiveness would hurt his position: some advisers worried that if Ford “does not get out ahead soon in foreign policy I [Kissinger] will be destroyed.”
  • Having lost his post as national security adviser during the 1975 “Halloween Massacre,” Kissinger did not like reminders, such as a White House statement that he no longer chaired National Security Council committees (as he had since 1969). “It sure isn’t helpful,” Kissinger complained to Scowcroft [See document 10].
  • Reflecting a perpetual annoyance with unauthorized disclosures, Kissinger purged several senior staffers from the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs in December 1975, after U.S. aid to opposition groups in Angola leaked to the press. Kissinger told Scowcroft that “It will be at least a new cast of characters that leaks on Angola” [See document 7].
  • Internal political differences over the meaning of détente surfaced during a Scowcroft-Kissinger discussion, in August 1975, over the draft of a speech for White House aide Robert Hartman. According to the draft “détente is a relationship among mortal enemies.” Kissinger saw the language as an “outrage”; it was “totally stupid” because it “fans the fire of the anti-détentists.” Hartman “has to make up his mind if he is going to be positive or not” [See document 10].

A protracted and wholly unnecessary appeals review process delayed the release of these documents for seven years. In 2007, in response to a FOIA request filed in 2001, the State Department denied over 800 telcons on “executive privilege” and FOIA (b) (5) pre-decisional grounds. The first group of telcons released under appeal, over 100 of them, are of Kissinger’s conversations with government and former officials during the Ford Administration, including President Ford, Scowcroft, Rumsfeld, Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz, Treasury Secretary William Simon, and former President Richard Nixon, among others. They cover a variety of policy issues, including the SALT process, economic relations with the Soviet Union, and Congressional investigations of the CIA.

As interesting as the telcons are, they contain no information that ought to have been withheld. Unquestionably they include candid discussion of issues and personalities and inter-government decision-making generally, but that provides no excuse for agencies to apply the (b) (5) “pre-decisional” FOIA exemption to federal records produced decades ago. And “executive privilege” has its limits and has never before been applied to historical documents such as these. U.S. government officials made a mistake in denying the telcons in 2007; it would be interesting to know exactly why Bush administration officials reached the conclusion that these documents ought to be exempted altogether.

Today the National Security Archive is publishing a sampling of the 100 plus telcons recently released by the State Department. As the State Department makes the remaining withheld telcons available, they will be published on the Digital National Security Archive, which already includes The Kissinger Telephone Conversations and The Kissinger Transcripts.

 

Background

The telcons of Henry A. Kissinger have a long and checkered history.[1] When Kissinger was national security adviser and secretary of state, he had detailed records of his telephone conversations routinely prepared. This practice, known only to a few insiders, began when Kissinger became Richard Nixon’s national security adviser in January 1969. When he left the U.S. government in January 1977, Kissinger kept the telcons under his personal control by depositing them and other papers at the Library of Congress (where they would be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act). In 1981 the U.S. Supreme Court denied a Freedom of Information lawsuit against Kissinger on the grounds that the plaintiffs lacked legal standing to make the request in the first place. Only the federal government was in a legal position to recover the telcons from Kissinger’s papers.

The status of the telcons remained contested but unresolved for years. According to Kissinger’s deed of gift, his papers at the Library of Congress would not be available to researchers until five years after his death. Yet he was alive and well decades after his years in government and historians were keenly interested in the telcons for research on the Nixon and Ford administrations. The National Security Archive began to resolve the problem in February 2001, when at its request lawyers from the Mayer Brown law firm prepared a draft complaint which they circulated to the National Archives and the State Department. The complaint charged that Kissinger had unlawfully removed federal records from U.S. government control and that the two agencies had failed to recover them as required by federal records laws. Concerned about the possibility of protracted litigation that the Bush administration could lose, State Department legal adviser William Howard Taft IV asked Kissinger to return copies of the telcons to the National Archives and the State Department. Unless Kissinger wanted a legal battle with an administration that he supported, he had little choice.

Once the State Department received copies of the telcons covering Kissinger’s Secretary of State years, in August 2001 the National Security Archive filed a FOIA request for them (the telcons from 1969-1974 were processed by the National Archives for release in the Nixon presidential records). Over the next six years the Department of State broke up the thousands of telcon records into 12 separate tranches and coordinated their release with a variety of offices and agencies. Over 4,500 telcons were released in their entirety or in excised form. The excised telcons were appealed and the State Department adjudicated processing of many of them fairly quickly.

The most surprising development was the State Department’s decision, communicated to the Archive in June 2007, to deny over 800 telcons in their entirety because they “consist of pre-decisional deliberative process material and/or privileged presidential communications.” Exempted by this decision were hundreds of conversations between Kissinger and President Gerald Ford and other White House and cabinet officials from that period. This decision was made during the George W. Bush administration, in which Kissinger had some influence; given his long-standing efforts to control the record of his years in government, it is likely that Kissinger preferred that the telcons remain under wraps.

The National Security Archive immediately appealed the decision arguing that the State Department’s use of the executive privilege and the pre-decisional information claims was invalid. The appeal letter cited existing case law, e.g. Nixon v Freeman, which held that after ten years or so, the presidential communications privilege “begins to wear away to the point that the public interest in open access to historical information strongly outweighs any claim of confidentiality.” Therefore, “it follows that there can be no legitimate claim of privilege, much less confidentiality of communications, for the decades-old documents at issue in this appeal.”

In January 2009, just after the inauguration of President Obama, the Archive reminded the State Department about the pending appeal, asking that it take into account the President’s memorandum on the Freedom of Information Act which directs all agencies to “adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure” and to apply this presumption “to all decisions involving FOIA.” According to the president’s memorandum, the government “should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears.” The Archive reasoned that because that guidance “effectively nullifies any concerns about executive privilege or the disclosure of pre-decisional information, the argument for full release of the Kissinger telcons becomes even stronger.”

The State Department did not respond to the Archive’s letter with an affirmative decision and in April 2011, the Archive sent Mr. Blake Roberts at the White House General Counsel’s office a plea to expedite processing of the appeal. Citing Obama’s January 2009 memorandum, the Archive claimed that the “spirit of this order suggests a more objective approach that would reject making any assertions about applying executive privilege to 35-year old State Department records.” The Archive wondered “whether the Office of General Counsel has accepted the poorly-considered decision made during the Bush administration.” If the General Counsel rejected the Bush administration’s logic, “the documents at issue in this appeal could be released.”

Finally, thanks to the recent due diligence of the State Department’s Information Programs Services (IPS) office, the Department has released several batches of hitherto exempted documents. But hundreds more remain under review and it could take years before all of the telcons see the light of day. Admittedly, processing 800 documents is not easy, but it is unfortunate for historians and students of national security policy that the Bush administration’s initial poorly conceived decision took so long to correct.

 


THE DOCUMENTS

Note on the documents: All but 2 of the telcons published today are from a 20 November 2013 release by the State Department of the documents that had been withheld under (b) (5) or executive privilege grounds. Documents 1 and 3 below, however, are from a separate release on 3 July 2013 of telcons that the Department had denied in their entirety in 2005, on either privacy or national security grounds.

Document 1: Robert Bernstein-Kissinger, 28 August 1974

That Henry Kissinger would write his memoirs after eventually leaving government was widely assumed; the question of who would publish them was on the minds of some editors and publishers for years. Even a rumor that Kissinger was talking to a publisher made some executives “nervous” as Random House president Robert Bernstein acknowledged during a late August 1974 conversation. Newsweek magazine had reported talks with publishers but Kissinger declared that it was “an outrageous lie” and he would not “entertain offers” nor allow anyone to negotiate on his behalf while he was in office.

 

Document 2: Scowcroft-Kissinger, 30 January 1975 SD 318

Leaks were a constant concern and a New York Times story on an NSC meeting on the SALT talks and a CBS news story by Bob Schieffer caused anguish to both Kissinger and Scowcroft, who complained about the “total lack of honor and discretion.” Kissinger said that when meeting with Ford “almost every day I am in there crying” about the leaks. Both agreed that the U.S. Intelligence Board needed to do something about the problem.

 

Document 3: Kissinger-Larry Eagleburger, 2 May 1975

When the U.S.-supported Government of South Vietnam collapsed at the end of April 1975, Kissinger asked the Nobel Committee to accept the return of the Peace Prize that he had won, with North Vietnamese negotiator Le Duc Tho, in honor of the January 1973 Vietnam peace settlement. Apparently, the medal was ready for shipment back to Oslo. A day or so later, Kissinger told Lawrence Eagleburger, then Deputy Under Secretary of State for Management, that the Committee would not comply because they believed that it “was worthy of having been given.” Kissinger and Eagleburger agreed that he should go along with that because it would be “unseemly to fight with them to take the damn thing back.” Eagleburger said he would make sure that the medal was not sent back.

 

Document 4: Scowcroft-Kissinger, 25 July 1975

The problem of how best to position President Ford for a major foreign policy achievement surfaced during a discussion with Scowcroft over draft remarks prepared for Ford’s departure for the Helsinki Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. The draft included language about the Baltic States which said that the U.S. “has never recognized [their] incorporation” into the Soviet Union. The language was probably designed as a sop to conservative critics of détente, but such wording, Scowcroft said, was a “disaster.” Kissinger and Scowcroft agreed that it was “stupid” because Ford should leave for the conference on a “positive note.” “It is out of the question. He shouldn’t say what he is not doing.” The statement that Ford actually used for his departure from Andrews Air Force Base avoided the negative spin and took a positive approach to the Helsinki conference.[2]

 

Document 5: Scowcroft-Kissinger, 15 August 1975

Besides commenting on the Cold War language in the draft of Robert Hartman’s speech, Kissinger and Scowcroft discussed other matters including Scowcroft’s vacation housing in Vail, CO. Apparently, Kissinger was not fond of Vail because when Scowcroft said that the house was designed by a major architect there, Kissinger commented that was like saying “it is the best house in Bangladesh.”

 

Document 6: Ford-Kissinger, 10 December 1975

Kissinger was scheduled to go to Moscow in mid-December and was trying to position himself to reach an agreement with the Soviets on SALT II as the basis for a summit meeting in Moscow. Donald Rumsfeld’s Defense Department was raising critical questions about SALT but Kissinger hoped that Ford would work with him to “smash” the opposition and induce the Pentagon “to get with it.” But this was becoming problematic because Democratic and Republican hawks had been attacking the first SALT agreement and Ford was worried about political challenges from the Republican right, especially if the Joint Chiefs criticized a SALT II agreement. Thus, in mid-January 1976, just when Kissinger was in sight of reaching an agreement in Moscow, Defense officials worked behind his back to persuade Ford to abandon the State Department proposals. That outraged Kissinger but a new U.S. SALT position emerged which deferred decisions on controversial issues. The Soviets saw that as a “step back,” which meant that there was no prospect of an arms control agreement before the election. This development had significant consequences; as Ambassador Raymond Garthoff argued, it was a major reason why 1976 was a “turning point in American-Soviet relations,” even though the Soviets had reaffirmed détente, the Ford administration “shelve[d]” it and SALT until after the election.[3]

 

Document 7: Scowcroft-Kissinger, 18 December 1975

Here Kissinger and Scowcroft discuss the purge of the State Department’s Africa Bureau.  At a departmental meeting that day Kissinger said that the leaking of information about Angola policy was a “disgrace” and that he wanted people who had worked on Angola “transferred out within two months.”  Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Nathaniel Davis, whom Kissinger associated with the leaks, had already resigned under protest (Davis was slated to be ambassador to Switzerland).[4]  The reference to the man who is a “hog” is obscure.

 

Document 8: Scowcroft-Kissinger, 22 December 1975

Kissinger did not want to attend a “G-D” meeting on drug policy but Scowcroft explained that James Cannon, President Ford’s domestic policy adviser, “wants you there very badly”–apparently for status reasons, but also because Cannon thought that the top diplomats “don’t pay any attention” to narcotics policy. Jokingly referring to right-wing attacks on the administration, Kissinger said “Of course. We are too busy selling the country out to the Russians.” Apparently Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY) had just come back from Mexico and was “upset that the Mexicans are not doing anything” on narcotics policy, so Kissinger joked again: “Let’s let cut off aid, arms, or something.”

 

Document 9: Scowcroft-Kissinger, 6 January 1976

It was during this conversation that Kissinger said “Maybe we should let Angola go.”

 

Document 10: Scowcroft-Kissinger, 17 January 1976

Speaking with Scowcroft, Kissinger grumbled about this reminder of the White House-orchestrated “Halloween Massacre” in which he lost his post as national security adviser along with his position as chair of NSC committees. Concerned about Ford’s sagging popularity and his prospects for the 1976 elections, his political advisers sought dramatic cabinet changes, including firing Kissinger and the acerbic Secretary of Defense, James Schlesinger. Ford had no problem firing Schlesinger but would agree only to reduce Kissinger’s authority by replacing him with Brent Scowcroft as national security adviser.[5]

 

Document 11: Nixon-Kissinger, 13 February 1976

During this conversation, former President Nixon discussed with Kissinger his forthcoming trip to China, which would cause some heartache for President Ford who preferred that Nixon stay out of the limelight (see the next document). Kissinger seemed to like the idea, especially because he thought Nixon would help “get them off this idea we are soft on the Russians.” The conversation segued into the ongoing presidential campaign where Reagan was attacking Ford, which Nixon believed were abetted by former Secretary of Defense Schlesinger. Kissinger observed that if Schlesinger “keeps going after me I will have to go after him.” Nixon disagreed, arguing that the Secretary of State (and the Secretary of Defense) has “to stay out of political activity,” to which Kissinger assented.

 

Document 12: Scowcroft-Kissinger, 27 February 1976

After discussing scheduling issues, included the visit of Greek Prime Minister Konstantinos Karamanlis, Kissinger and Scowcroft commented critically on President Ford’s interview statements about Nixon’s trip to China. The “Abshire Group” reference is not entirely clear; David Abshire had been a leading Republican foreign policy expert, who served as assistant secretary of state for Congressional affairs during 1970-1973, and went on to high-level positions during the Reagan administration. The references to Chadrin and Vogel are obscure, but Kissinger and Scowcroft continued their critical assessment of President Ford and his political advisers. According to Scowcroft, the political people around President Ford were “just insane.” Bryce Harlow, who had worked as a political adviser for the Eisenhower and the Nixon White Houses, was having trouble arranging a meeting with Ford because “the guys he would criticize would be in there with him.”

 


NOTES

[1] For background on the Kissinger telcons, see “The Kissinger Telcons,” 26 May 2004 http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB123/index.htm, and “The Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts,” 23 December 2008, http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB263/index.htm

[2] Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States Gerald R. Ford Containing the Public Messages, Speeches and Statements of the President 1975, Book II (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1977), 1043-1044.

[3] Raymond L. Garthoff, Détente and Confrontation: American-Soviet Relations from Nixon to Reagan, 2nd Edition (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1994). 594-604. For discussions of SALT options at the 21 January 1976 NSC meeting (held in Kissinger’s absence), Kissinger’s outraged reaction, and Ford’s decision for “deferral,” see U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969-1976, Volume XXXIII (Washington, D.C., Department of State, documents 119, 120 , 130, and 131.

[4] For background on Angola policy, see John Prados, Safe for Democracy; The Secret Wars of the CIA (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2006), 439-455, and Garthoff, Détente and Confrontation, 556-593.

[5] Jussi Hanhimaki, Flawed Architect: Henry Kissinger and American Foreign Policy (Oxford, 2004), 426-427; Walter Isaacson, Kissinger: A Biography (Simon & Shuster, 1992), 669-672.

 

 

The National Security Archive – U.S. Satellite Imagery

The use of overhead platforms to observe events on the earth can be traced to the French Revolution, when France organized a company of aerostiers, or balloonists, in April 1794. The United States employed balloons during the Civil War, although little intelligence of value was obtained. In January 1911, the San Diego waterfront became the first target of cameras carried aboard an airplane. Later that year the U.S. Army Signal Corps put aerial photography into the curriculum at its flight training school. Between 1913 and 1915 visual and photographic reconnaissance missions were flown by the U.S. Army in the Philippines and along the Mexican border.1

During World War II the United States made extensive use of airplane photography using remodeled bombers. After the war, with the emergence of a hostile relationship with the Soviet Union, the United States began conducting photographic missions along the Soviet periphery. The aircraft cameras, however, could only capture images of territory within a few miles of the flight path.

On some missions aircraft actually flew into Soviet airspace, but even those missions did not provide the necessary coverage of the vast Soviet interior. As a result, beginning in the early 1950s the United States began seriously exploring more advanced methods for obtaining images of targets throughout the Soviet Union. The result was the development, production, and employment of a variety of spacecraft and aircraft (particularly the U-2 and A-12/SR-71) that permitted the U.S. intelligence community to closely monitor developments in the Soviet Union and other nations through overhead imagery.

The capabilities of spacecraft and aircraft have evolved from being limited to black-and-white visible-light photography to being able to produce images using different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. As a result, imagery can often be obtained under circumstances (darkness, cloud cover) where standard visible-light photography is not feasible. In addition, employment of different portions of the electromagnetic spectrum, individually or simultaneously, expands the information that can be produced concerning a target.

Photographic equipment can be film-based or electro-optical. A conventional camera captures a scene on film by recording the varying light levels reflected from all of the separate objects in the scene. In contrast, an electro-optical camera converts the varying light levels into electrical signals. A numerical value is assigned to each of the signals, which are called picture elements, or pixels. At a ground receiving station, a picture can then be constructed from the digital signal transmitted from the spacecraft (often via a relay satellite).2

In addition to the visible-light portion of the electro-magnetic spectrum, the near-infrared portion of the spectrum, which is invisible to the human eye, can be employed to produce images. At the same time, near-infrared, like, visible-light imagery, depends on objects reflecting solar radiation rather than on their emission of radiation. As a result, such imagery can only be produced in daylight and in the absence of substantial cloud cover.3

Thermal infrared imagery, obtained from the mid- and far-infrared portions of the electromagnetic spectrum, provides imagery purely by detecting the heat emitted by objects. Thus, a thermal infrared system can detect buried structures, such as missile silos or underground construction, as a result of the heat they generate. Since thermal infrared imagery does not require visible light, it can be obtained under conditions of darkness–if the sky is free of cloud cover.4

Imagery can be obtained during day or night in the presence of cloud cover by employing an imaging radar (an acronym for radio detection and ranging). Radar imagery is produced by bouncing radio waves off an area or an object and using the reflected returns to produce an image of the target. Since radio waves are not attenuated by the water vapor in the atmosphere, they are able to penetrate cloud cover.5

However imagery is obtained, it requires processing and interpretation to convert it into intelligence data. Computers can be employed to improve the quantity and quality of the information extracted. Obviously, digital electro-optical imagery arrives in a form that facilitates such operations. But even analog imagery obtained by a conventional camera can be converted into digital signals. In any case, a computer disassembles a picture into millions of electronic Morse code pulses and then uses mathematical formulas to manipulate the color contrast and intensity of each spot. Each image can be reassembled in various ways to highlight special features and objects that were hidden in the original image.6

Such processing allows:

  • building multicolored single images out of several pictures taken in different bands of the spectrum;
  • making the patterns more obvious;
  • restoring the shapes of objects by adjusting for the angle of view and lens distortion;
  • changing the amount of contrast between objects and backgrounds;
  • sharpening out-of-focus images;
  • restoring ground details largely obscured by clouds;
  • conducting electronic optical subtraction, in which earlier pictures are subtracted from later ones, making unchanged buildings in a scene disappear while new objects, such as missile silos under construction, remain;
  • enhancing shadows; and
  • suppressing glint.7

Such processing plays a crucial role in easing the burden on photogrammetrists and imagery interpreters. Photogrammetrists are responsible for determining the size and dimensions of objects from overhead photographs, using, along with other data, the shadows cast by the objects. Photo interpreters are trained to provide information about the nature of the objects in the photographs–based on information as to what type of crates carry MiG-29s, for instance, or what an IRBM site or fiber optics factory looks like from 150 miles in space.


Click on any of the following images to view a larger version of the photo.

CORONA, ARGON, and LANYARD

In its May 2, 1946 report, Preliminary Design for an Experimental World Circling Spaceship, the Douglas Aircraft Corporation examined the potential value of satellites for scientific and military purposes. Possible military uses included missile guidance, weapons delivery, weather reconnaissance, communications, attack assessment, and “observation.”8

A little less than nine years later, on March 16, 1955, the Air Force issued General Operational Requirement No. 80, officially establishing a high-level requirement for an advanced reconnaissance satellite. The document defined the Air Force objective to be the provision of continuous surveillance of “preselected areas of the earth” in order “to determine the status of a potential enemy’s warmaking capability.”9

Over the next five years the U.S. reconnaissance satellite program evolved in a variety of ways. The success of the Soviet Union’s Sputnik I and II satellites in the fall of 1957 provided a spur to all U.S. space programs – as any success could be used in the propaganda war with the Soviet Union. In the case of U.S. reconnaissance programs, Sputnik provided a second incentive. The clear implications of the Sputnik launches for Soviet ICBM development increased the pressure on discovering the extent of Soviet capabilities – something that the sporadic U-2 flights could only do in a limited fashion.10

The Air Force program was first designated the Advanced Reconnaissance System (ARS), then SENTRY, and finally SAMOS. Management responsibility for SAMOS was transferred from the Air Force to the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), established on February 7, 1958, and then back to the Air Force in late 1959.11

Concern about the the length of time it would take to achieve the primary objective of the SAMOS program – a satellite that could scan its exposed film and return the imagery electronically – led to President Dwight Eisenhower’s approval, also on February 7, 1958, of a CIA program to develop a reconnaissance satellite. The CIA program, designated CORONA, focused on development of a satellite that would physically return its images in a canister – an objective which had been a subsidiary portion of the SAMOS program.12

While all the various versions of the SAMOS program would be canceled in the early 1960s, CORONA would become a mainstay of the U.S. space reconnaissance program for over a decade. It would take over a year, starting in 1959, and 14 launches before an operational CORONA spacecraft was placed in orbit. Nine of the first twelve launches carried a camera that was intended to photograph areas of the Soviet Union and other nations. All the flights ended in failure for one reason or another. The thirteenth mission, a diagnostic flight without camera equipment, was the first success – in that a canister was returned from space and recovered at sea.13

Then on August 18, a CORONA was placed into orbit, orbited  the Earth for a day, and returned its canister to earth, where it was snatched out the air by a specially equipped aircraft on August 19. The camera carried on that flight would be retroactively designated the KH-1 (KH for KEYHOLE) and was cable of producing images with resolution in the area of 25-40 feet – a far cry from what would be standard in only a few years. It did yield, however, more images of the Soviet Union in its single day of operation than did the entire U-2 program.14

The next successful CORONA mission would be conducted on December 7, 1960. This time a more advanced camera system, the KH-2, would be on board. From that time, through the end of the CORONA program in 1972, there would be a succession of new camera systems – the KH-3, KH-4, KH-4A, and KH-4B – which produced higher-resolution images than their predecessors, ultimately resulting in a system that could yield images with approximately 5-6′ resolution. In addition, two smaller programs – ARGON (for mapping) and LANYARD (motivated by a specific target in the Soviet Union) – operated during the years 1962-1964 and 1963 respectively. All together there were 145 missions, which yielded over 800,000 images of the Soviet Union and other areas of the world.15

Those images dramatically improved U.S. knowledge of Soviet and other nations capabilities and activities. Perhaps its major accomplishment occurred within 18 months of the first successful CORONA mission. Accumulated photography allowed the U.S. intelligence community to dispel the fear of missile gap, with earlier estimates of a Soviet ICBM force numbering in the hundreds by mid-1962 becoming, in September 1961, an estimate of between 25 and 50. By June 1964 CORONA satellites had photographed all 25 Soviet ICBM complexes. CORONA imagery also allowed the U.S. to catalog Soviet air defense and anti-ballistic missile sites, nuclear weapons related facilities, submarine bases, IRBM sites, airbases – as well as Chinese, East European, and other nations military facilities. It also allowed assessment of military conflicts – such as the 1967 Six-Day War – and monitoring of Soviet arms control compliance.16

In February 1995, President Clinton signed an executive order that declassified those images. 17


[Source: CIA/National Reconnaissance Office]

A KH-4A image of Dolon airfield, which was a major Soviet  long-range aviation facility located in what is now the  Republic of Kazakhstan. The image shows two regiments of  Tupolev (Tu-16) Bear bombers. The main runway is 13,200 feet  long.

The KH-4A camera system was first introduced in August 1963. Resolution ranged from 9 to 25 feet.

[Source: CIA/National Reconnaissance Office]

A KH-4B image of the Moscow, with an insert of the Kremlin. In the enlargement of the Kremlin, individual vehicles can be identified as trucks or cars, and the line of people waiting to enter Lenin’s Tomb in Red Square can be seen. According to the CIA, the photograph “illustrates some of the best resolution imagery acquired by the KH-4B  camera system.”

The KH-4B was first introduced in September 1967 and generally produced images with 6 foot resolution.

[Source: CIA/National Reconnaissance Office via Federation of American Scientists]

A KH-4B of image, taken on February 11, 1969 of a Taiwanese nuclear facility. The United States intelligence community, relying on CORONA and other forms of intelligence, has closely monitored the nuclear facilities of both adversaries such as the Soviet Union and the PRC and those of friendly nations such as Taiwan and Israel.

The Next Generations

The primary objective of the CORONA program was to provide “area surveillance” coverage of the Soviet Union, China and other parts of the world. Thus, CORONA yielded single photographs which  covered thousands of square miles of territory – allowing analysts to both examine images of known targets and to search for previously undetected installations or activities that would be of interest to the U.S. intelligence community.

The GAMBIT program provided an important complement to CORONA. Initiated in 1960, it yielded the first “close-look” or “spotting” satellite. The emphasis of GAMBIT operations, which commenced in 1963 and continued through part of 1984, was to produce high-resolution imagery on specific targets (rather than general areas). Such resolution would allow the production of more detailed intelligence, particularly technical intelligence on foreign weapons systems. The first GAMBIT camera, the KH-7, could produce photos with about 18 inch resolution, while the second and last model, the KH-8 was capable of producing photographs with under 6 inch resolution.18

While the Air Force concentrated on the high-resolution systems, the CIA (after numerous bureaucratic battles) was assigned responsibility for the next generation area surveillance program. That program, which came to be designated HEXAGON, resulted in satellites carrying the KH-9 camera system – capable of producing images covering even more territory than the CORONA satellites, with a resolution of 1-2 feet. Eighteen HEXAGON satellites would be launched into orbit between 1971 and 1984, when the program terminated.19

In late 1976, a new capability was added when the satellite carrying the KH-11 optical system was placed into orbit. Unlike its predecessors, the KH-11, also known by the program code names KENNAN and CRYSTAL, did not return film canisters to be recovered and interpreted. Rather, the light captured by its optical system was transformed into electronic signals and relayed (through a relay satellite in a higher orbit) back to a ground station, where the signals were recorded on tape and converted into an image. As a result, the U.S. could obtain satellite images of a site or activity virtually simultaneously with a satellite passing overhead.20

The 1980s saw a number of inadvertent or unauthorized disclosures of U.S. satellite imagery. In 1980, as a result of the fiasco at Desert One, where U.S. forces landed in preparation for an attempt to rescue U.S. hostages held in Iran, KH-11 imagery of possible evacuation sites in Tehran was left behind. In 1981, Aviation Week & Space Technology published a leaked (and degraded) KH-11 photo of a Soviet bomber at Ramenskoye Airfield.

In 1984, two images of Soviet aircraft, taken by a KH-8 or KH-9 satellite, were inadvertently published in Congressional hearings. That same year, an employee of the Naval Intelligence Support Center provided Jane’s Defence Weekly with several images taken by a KH-11 satellite of a Soviet naval shipbuilding facility.21


[KH-11 Photograph]

This 1984 computer enhanced KH-11 photo, taken at an  oblique angle was leaked, along with two others, to Jane’s  Defence Weekly by naval intelligence analyst, Samuel Loring  Morison. The image shows the general layout of the Nikolaiev  444 shipyard in the Black Sea. Under construction is a Kiev- class aircraft carrier (shown in the left side of the photo),  then known as the Kharkov, along with an amphibious landing  ship.
Morison was brought to trial, convicted, and sent to prison in a controversial case.

[MiG-29] [SU-27]

These satellite photographs, showing a MiG-29 FULCRUM and SU- 27 FLANKER, were shown to the House Appropriations Committee during 1984 budget hearings. They were then published,  apparently by mistake, in the sanitized version of the  hearings released to the public. During the 1985 trial of  Samuel Loring Morison, government prosecutors would  acknowledge the photographs were satellite images, produced by  a system other than the KH-11.

Current Systems

The United States is presently operating at least two satellite imaging systems. One is an advanced version of the KH-11, three of which have been launched, the first in 1992.

The advanced KH-11 satellites have a higher orbit than that exhibited by their predecessors–operating with perigees of about 150 miles and apogees of about 600 miles. In addition, they also have some additional capabilities. They contain an infrared imagery capability, including a thermal infrared imagery capability, thus permitting imagery during darkness. In addition, the satellites carry the Improved CRYSTAL Metric System (ICMS), which places the necessary markings on returned imagery to permit its full exploitation for mapping purposes. Additionally, the Advanced KH-11 can carry more fuel than the original model, perhaps 10,000 to 15,000 pounds. This permits a longer lifetime for the new model–possibly up to eight years.22

A second component of the U.S. space imaging fleet, are satellites developed and deployed under a program first known as INDIGO, then as LACROSSE, and most recently as VEGA. Rather than employing an electro-optical system they carry an imaging radar.  The satellites closed a major gap in U.S. capabilities by allowing the U.S. intelligence community to obtain imagery even when targets are covered by clouds.23

The first VEGA was launched on December 2, 1988 from the space shuttle orbiter Atlantis (and deorbited in July 1997). A second was orbited in March 1991, from Vandenberg AFB on a Titan IV, and a third in October 1997. The satellites have operated in orbits of approximately 400 miles and at inclinations of 57 and 68 degrees respectively.24

When conceived, the primary purpose envisioned for the satellite was monitoring Soviet and Warsaw Pact armor. Recent VEGA missions included providing imagery for bomb damage assessments of the consequences of Navy Tomahawk missile attacks on Iraqi air defense installations in September 1996, monitoring Iraqi weapons storage sites, and tracking Iraqi troop movements such as the dispersal of the Republican Guard when the Guard was threatened with U.S. attack in early 1998. VEGA has a resolution of 3-5 feet, with its resolution reportedly being sufficient to allow discrimination between tanks and armored personnel carriers and identification of bomb craters of 6-10 feet in diameter.25

The LACROSSE/VEGA satellite that was launched in October 1997 may be the first of a new generation of radar imagery satellites. The new generation will apparently have greater resolution, and constellation size may be increased from 2 to 3.26

[Source: Dept. of Defense]

An advanced KH-11 photograph of the Shifa Pharmaceutical Plant, Sudan. This degraded photo, of approximately 1-meter resolution, was officially released after the U.S. attack on the plant in August 1998 in retaliation for attacks on two U.S. embassies in Africa. The U.S. alleged, at least partially on the basis of soil samples, that the plant was involved in the production of chemical weapons.


[Source: Dept. of Defense]

A degraded advanced KH-11 photograph of the Zhawar Kili Base Camp (West), Afghanistan, which housed training facilities for Osama Bin Laden’s terrorist organization.

The photograph was used by Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen and General Henry H. Shelton, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to brief reporters on the U.S. cruise missile attack on the facility.


[Source: Dept. of Defense]

One of over twenty degraded advanced KH-11 photos,  released by the Department of Defense in December 1998 during Operation Desert Fox. The higher resolution, and classified, version of the image was used by imagery interpreters at the National Imagery and Mapping Agency to assess the damage caused by U.S. airstrikes.


[Source: Dept. of Defense]

A degraded advanced KH-11 photo of Al Sahra Airfield, Iraq, used by Vice Adm. Scott A. Fry, USN, Director, J-3 and Rear Admiral Thomas R. Wilson, USN, Joint Staff intelligence director in a Pentagon press briefing on December 18, 1998.


[Source: Dept. of Defense]

The arrows in this degraded advanced KH-11 image, used in a Pentagon press briefing on December 19, 1998, show two areas where the Secretariat Presidential was damaged due to Operation Desert Fox airstrikes.


[Source: Dept. of Defense]

Pre-strike assessment photograph of the Belgrade Army Garrison and headquarters, Serbia.


[Source: Dept. of Defense]

Post-strike damage assessment photograph of the Belgrade Army Garrison and Headquarters, Serbia, attacked during Operation Allied Force.

Commercial Imagery

The U.S. intelligence community has also used imagery, including multispectral imagery, produced by two commercial systems –LANDSAT and SPOT. The LANDSAT program began in 1969 as an experimental National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) program, the Earth Resources Technology Satellite (ERTS).  Currently there are two operating LANDSAT satellites–LANDSAT 4 and LANDSAT 5–launched in 1982 and 1984.27

LANDSATs 4 and 5 operate in 420 mile sun-synchronous orbits and each carries a Thematic Mapper (TM), an upgraded version of the Multispectral Scanner (MSS) on earlier LANDSATs. A typical LANDSAT images is 111 by 102 miles, providing significant broad area coverage. However, the resolution of the images is approximately 98 feet–making them useful for only the coarsest intelligence tasks.

SPOT, an acronym for Le Systeme Pour l’Observation de la Terre, is operated by the French national space agency. SPOT 1 was launched in 1986, followed by three additional satellites at approximately four year intervals. SPOT satellites operate in about 500-mile orbits, and carry two sensor systems. The satellites can return black and white (panchromatic) images with 33 foot resolution and multispectral images with 67 foot resolution. The images are of higher-resolution than LANDSAT’s but cover less territory– approximately 36 miles by 36 miles.28

U.S. intelligence community use of commercial imagery will expand dramatically in the coming years if the new generation of commercial imaging satellites lives up to expectations–which include images with 1-meter resolution. Such imagery and the reduced cost of attaining it when purchased commercially will permit the U.S. intelligence community to fill part of its needs via such commercial systems.

Among the commercial satellites that are expected to produce high resolution imagery are the Ikonos satellites to be launched by Space Imaging Eosat (which also operates the LANDSAT satellites). The first of the satellites, scheduled to be launched in the summer of 1999 from Vandenberg AFB, is designed to generate 1-meter panchromatic and 4-meter multispectral images. A similar satellite is scheduled for launch in September 1998.29

Also promising to provide 1-meter panchromatic imagery and 4-meter multispectral imagery are the satellites to be developed by EarthWatch and Orbital Sciences. EarthWatch’s 1-meter resolution Quickbird satellite is scheduled for launch in late 1998 or 1999. Orbital Science’s OrbView-3 satellite is to be launched in 1999. It is expected to have a 3-5 year lifetime and produce images covering 5×5 mile segments with 1-meter resolution.30


[Source: Space Imaging]

An overhead photograph of Mountain View, California that that has been digitally scanned to represent the one-meter  imagery that the Ikonos satellites are expected to provide.


Notes

1. William Burrows, Deep Black: Space Espionage and National Security (New York, N.Y.: Random House, 1986), pp. 28, 32.
2. Farouk el-Baz, “EO Imaging Will Replace Film in Reconnaissance,” Defense Systems Review (October 1983): 48-52.
3. Richard D. Hudson Jr. and Jacqueline W. Hudson, “The Military Applications of Remote Sensing by Infrared,” Proceedings of the IEEE 63, 1 (1975): 104-28.
4. Ibid.; Bruce G. Blair and Garry D. Brewer, “Verifying SALT,” in William Potter (ed.), Verification and SALT: The Challenge of Strategic Deception (Boulder, Co.: Westview, 1980), pp. 7-48.
5. Homer Jensen, L.C. Graham, Leonard J. Porcello, and Emmet N. Leith, “Side-looking Airborne Radar,” Scientific American, October 1977, pp. 84-95.
6. Paul Bennett, Strategic Surveillance (Cambridge, Ma.: Union of Concerned Scientists, 1979), p. 5.
7. Richard A. Scribner, Theodore J. Ralston, and William D. Mertz, The Verification Challenge: Problems and Promise of Strategic Nuclear Arms Verification (Boston: Birkhauser, 1985), p. 70; John F. Ebersole and James C. Wyant, “Real-Time Optical Subtraction of Photographic Imagery for Difference Detection,” Applied Optics, 15, 4 (1976): 871-76.
8. Robert L. Perry, Origins of the USAF Space Program, 1945-1956 (Washington, D.C.: Air Force Systems Command, June 1962), p. 30.
9. Ibid., pp. 42-43.
10. On the impact of Sputnik, see Robert A. Divine, The Sputnik Challenge: Eisenhower’s Response to the Soviet Satellite (New York: Oxford, 1993).
11. Jeffrey T. Richelson, America’s Secret Eyes in Space: The U.S. KEYHOLE Spy Satellite Program (New York: Harper & Row, 1990), pp. 26-30.
12. Kenneth E. Greer, “Corona,” Studies in Intelligence, Supplement, 17 (Spring 1973): 1-37, reprinted in Kevin C. Ruffner (ed.), CORONA: America’s First Satellite Program (Washington, D.C.: CIA, 1995).
13. Ibid.
14. Ibid.; Robert A. McDonald, “CORONA: Success for Space Reconnaissance, A Look into the Cold War, and a Revolution in Intelligence,” Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing 61,6
(June 1995): 689-720.
15. McDonald, “CORONA: Success for Space Reconnaissance …”.
16. Robert A. McDonald, “Corona’s Imagery: A Revolution in Intelligence and Buckets of Gold for National Security,” in Robert A. McDonald (ed)., CORONA: Between the Sun and the Earth – The First NRO Reconnaissance Eye in Space (Baltimore: American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, 1997), pp. 211-220; Greer, “CORONA”; Frank J. Madden, The CORONA Camera System, Itek’s Contribution to World Stability (Lexington, Mass.: Itek, May 1997), p. 6.
17. Executive Order 12951, Release of Imagery Acquired by Space-Based National Intelligence Reconnaissance Systems, February 24, 1995.
18. Richelson, America’s Secret Eyes in Space, pp. 77-78, 359-60.
19. Ibid., pp. 105-21, 361-62.
20. Ibid., pp. 123-143, 362.
21. Burrows, Deep Black, photo section.
22. Richelson, America’s Secret Eyes in Space, p. 231; Craig Covault, “Advanced KH-11 Broadens U.S. Recon Capability,” Aviation Week & Space Technology, January 6, 1997, pp. 24-25.
23. Bob Woodward, VEIL: The Secret Wars of the CIA, 1981-1987 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987), p. 221.
24. Jeffrey T. Richelson, The U.S. Intelligence Community 4th ed. (Boulder, Co.: Westview, 1999), p. 155.
25. Ibid.
26. David Fulghum and Craig Covault, “U.S. Set to Launch Upgraded Lacrosse,” Aviation Week & Space Technology September 20, 1996, p.34;
27. Bob Preston, Plowshares and Power: The Military Use of Civil Space (Washington, D.C.: NDU Press, 1994), pp. 55-56; Richelson, The U.S. Intelligence Community, p. 159.
28. Richelson, The U.S. Intelligence Community, p. 159.
29. Joseph C. Anselmo, “Space Imaging Readies 1-Meter Satellite,”
Aviation Week & Space Technology,  May 19, 1997, p. 26; “Ikonos 1 Undergoes Tests as Launch Nears,” Space News, May 11-17, 1998, p. 19; “Commercial Developments,” Aviation Week & Space Technology, June 29, 1998, p. 17.
30. Richelson, The U.S. Intelligence Community, pp. 160-61.