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The Fall of the Berlin Wall, 25th Anniversary
November 9, 2014
The Thatcher-Gorbachev Conversations
April 12, 2013
The End of the USSR, 20 Years Later
November 22, 2011
The Washington/Camp David Summit 1990
June 13, 2010
Bush and Gorbachev and Malta
December 3, 2009
Reagan, Gorbachev and Bush at Governor’s Island
December 8, 2008
The Reykjavik File
October 13, 2006
The Diary of Anatoly Chernyaev
May 25, 2006
Alexander Yakovlev and the Roots of the Soviet Reforms
October 26, 2005
Secretary of State James Baker, National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, Raisa Gorbacheva, Adviser Anatoly Chernyaev, President Mikhail Gorbachev at Camp David, June 1990 (from A.S. Chernyaev’s personal archive)
Washington, D.C., March 2, 2016 – Marking the 85th birthday of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, the National Security Archive at George Washington University (www.nsarchive.org) today posted a series of previously classified British and American documents containing Western assessments of Gorbachev starting before he took office in March 1985, and continuing through the end of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The documents show that conservative British politicians were ahead of the curve predicting great things for rising Soviet star Gorbachev in 1984 and 1985, but the CIA soon caught on, describing the new Soviet leader only three months into his tenure as “the new broom,” while Ronald Reagan greeted Gorbachev’s ascension with an immediate invitation for a summit. The documents posted today include positive early assessments by Margaret Thatcher and MP John Browne, CIA intelligence reports that bookend Gorbachev’s tenure from 1985 to 1991, the first letters exchanged by Reagan and Gorbachev, the American versions of key conversations with Gorbachev at the Geneva, Reykjavik and Malta summits, German chancellor Helmut Kohl’s credit to Gorbachev in 1989 for the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, and the U.S. transcript of the G-7 summit in 1990 that turned down Gorbachev’s request for financial aid.
The Archive gathered the Gorbachev documentation for two books, the Link-Kuehl-Award-winning “Masterpieces of History”: The Peaceful End of the Cold War in Europe 1989 (Central European University Press, 2010), and the forthcoming Last Superpower Summits: Gorbachev, Reagan and Bush (CEU Press, 2016). The sources include the Margaret Thatcher Foundation, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library, and Freedom of Information and Mandatory Declassification Review requests to the CIA and the State Department.
Leading today’s Gorbachev briefing book is British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s “discovery” of Gorbachev in December 1984 during his trip to Britain as head of a Soviet parliamentary delegation. In contrast to his elderly and infirm predecessors who slowly read dry notes prepared for them, Gorbachev launched into animated free discussion and left an indelible impression on Lady Thatcher. The Prime Minister, charmed by the Soviet leader, quickly shared her impressions with her closest ally and friend, Ronald Reagan. She commented famously, “I like Mr. Gorbachev. We can do business together.”
Soon after Gorbachev became the Soviet General Secretary, a Conservative member of the British parliament, John Browne, who observed Gorbachev during his visit to Britain and then followed information on Gorbachev’s every early step, compared him to “Kennedy in the Kremlin” in terms of his charisma. By June 1985, the CIA told senior U.S. officials in a classified assessment that Gorbachev was “the new broom” that was attempting to clean up the years of debris that accumulated in the Soviet Union during the era of stagnation.
But Reagan had to see for himself. For four years before Gorbachev, as the American president complained in his diary, he had been trying to meet with a Soviet leader face to face, but “they keep dying on me.” In his first letter to Gorbachev, which Vice President George H.W. Bush carried to Moscow for the funeral of Gorbachev’s predecessor, Reagan invited Gorbachev to meet. Gorbachev and Reagan became pen-pals who wrote long letters – sometimes personally dictated, even handwritten – explaining their positions on arms control, strategic defenses, and the need for nuclear abolition.
Their first meeting took place in Geneva in November 1985, where in an informal atmosphere of “fireside chats” they began realizing that the other was not a warmonger but a human being with a very similar dream—to rid the world of nuclear weapons. That dream came very close to a breakthrough during Gorbachev and Reagan’s summit in Reykjavik; but Reagan’s stubborn insistence on SDI and Gorbachev’s stubborn unwillingness to take Reagan at his word on technology sharing prevented them from reaching their common goal.
Through a series of unprecedented superpower summits, Gorbachev made Reagan and Bush understand that the Soviet leader was serious about transforming his country not to threaten others, but to help its own citizens live fuller and happier lives, and to be fully integrated into the “family of nations.” Gorbachev also learned from his foreign counterparts, establishing a kind of peer group with France’s Mitterrand, Germany’s Kohl, Britain’s Thatcher, and Spain’s Gonzalez, which developed his reformist positions further and further. By the time George H.W. Bush as president finally met Gorbachev in Malta, the Soviet Union was having free elections, freedom of speech was blossoming, velvet revolutions had brought reformers to power in Eastern Europe, and the Berlin Wall had fallen to cheers of citizens but severe anxieties in other world capitals.
German Chancellor Helmut Kohl wrote in his letter to Bush at the end of November 1989: “Regarding the reform process in Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, the CSSR [Czechoslovakia], and not least the GDR [East Germany], we have General Secretary Gorbachev’s policies to thank. His perestroika has let loose, made easier, or accelerated these reforms. He pushed governments unwilling to make reforms toward openness and toward acceptance of the people’s wishes; and he accepted developments that in some instances far surpassed the Soviet Union’s own standards.”
In 1989, the dream of what Gorbachev called “the common European home” was in the air and Gorbachev was the most popular politician in the world. When he was faced with discontent and opposition in his country, he refused to use force, like his Chinese neighbors did at Tiananmen Square. And yet, the West consistently applied harsher standards to Gorbachev’s Soviet Union than to China, resulting in feet dragging on financial aid, credits, and trade. As Francois Mitterrand pointed out during the G-7 summit in Houston in 1990: “the argument put forth for helping China is just the reverse when we are dealing with the USSR. We are too timid […] regarding aid to the USSR. […].”
What Gorbachev started in March 1985 made his country and the world better. In cooperation with Reagan and Bush, he ended the Cold War, pulled Soviet troops out of Afghanistan, helped resolve local conflicts around the globe, and gave Russia the hope and the opportunity to develop as a normal democratic country. As with many great reformers, he did not achieve everything he was striving for – he certainly never intended for the Soviet Union to collapse – but his glasnost, his non-violence, and his “new thinking” for an interdependent world created a legacy that few statesmen or women can match. Happy birthday, Mikhail Sergeyevich!
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John F. Kennedy was a member of Congress when he first met Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion in 1951. In this photograph taken at Ben-Gurion’s home, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., then a member of Congress from New York, sat between them. (Image from Geopolitiek in Perspectief)
Washington, D.C., April 21, 2016 – President John F. Kennedy worried that Israel’s nuclear program was a potentially serious proliferation risk and insisted that Israel permit periodic inspections to mitigate the danger, according to declassified documents published today by the National Security Archive, Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, and the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. Kennedy pressured the government of Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion to prevent a military nuclear program, particularly after stage-managed tours of the Dimona facility for U.S. government scientists in 1961 and 1962 raised suspicions within U.S. intelligence that Israel might be concealing its underlying nuclear aims. Kennedy’s long-run objective, documents show, was to broaden and institutionalize inspections of Dimona by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
On 30 May 1961, Kennedy met Ben-Gurion in Manhattan to discuss the bilateral relationship and Middle East issues. However, a central (and indeed the first) issue in their meeting was the Israeli nuclear program, about which President Kennedy was most concerned. According to a draft record of their discussion, which has never been cited, and is published here for the first time, Ben-Gurion spoke “rapidly and in a low voice” and “some words were missed.” He emphasized the peaceful, economic development-oriented nature of the Israeli nuclear project. Nevertheless the note taker, Assistant Secretary of State Philips Talbot, believed that he heard Ben-Gurion mention a “pilot” plant to process plutonium for “atomic power” and also say that “there is no intention to develop weapons capacity now.” Ben-Gurion tacitly acknowledged that the Dimona reactor had a military potential, or so Talbot believed he had heard. The final U.S. version of the memcon retained the sentence about plutonium but did not include the language about a “pilot” plant and “weapons capacity.”
The differences between the two versions suggest the difficulty of preparing accurate records of meetings. But whatever Ben-Gurion actually said, President Kennedy was never wholly satisfied with the insistence that Dimona was strictly a peaceful project. Neither were U.S. intelligence professionals. A recently declassified National Intelligence Estimate on Israel prepared several months after the meeting, and published here for the first time, concluded that “Israel may have decided to undertake a nuclear weapons program. At a minimum, we believe it has decided to develop its nuclear facilities in such a way as to put it into a position to develop nuclear weapons promptly should it decide to do so.” This is the only NIE where the discussion of Dimona has been declassified in its entirety.
Declassified documents reveal that more than any other American president, John F. Kennedy was personally engaged with the problem of Israel’s nuclear program; he may also have been more concerned about it than any of his successors. Of all U.S. leaders in the nuclear age, Kennedy was the nonproliferation president. Nuclear proliferation was his “private nightmare,” as Glenn Seaborg, his Atomic Energy Commission chairman, once noted. Kennedy came to office with the conviction that the spread of nuclear weapons would make the world a much more dangerous place; he saw proliferation as the path to a global nuclear war. This concern shaped his outlook on the Cold War even before the 1960 presidential campaign – by then he had already opposed the resumption of nuclear testing largely due to proliferation concerns – and his experience in office, especially the Cuban Missile Crisis, solidified it further.
This Electronic Briefing Book (EBB) is the first of two publications which address the subject of JFK, his administration, and the Israeli nuclear program. It includes about thirty documents produced by the State Department, the Atomic Energy Commission, and intelligence agencies, some of which highlight the president’s strong personal interest and direct role in moving nonproliferation policy forward during the administration’s first two years. Some of the documents have been only recently declassified, while others were located in archival collections; most are published here for the first time. The compilation begins with President Kennedy’s meeting with departing ambassador to Israel Odgen Reid on January 31, 1961, days after Kennedy took office, and concludes with the State Department’s internal review in late 1962 of the of the second U.S. visit in Dimona.
The documents published today also include:
President-elect John F. Kennedy and Secretary of State-designate Dean Rusk Meet with President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Secretary of State Christian Herter, 19 January 1961. At this meeting Herter warned Kennedy about the Israeli nuclear problem (Photograph AR6279-D, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library)
More than any other country, it was Israel which most impressed upon President Kennedy the complexity of nuclear proliferation. Israel was the first case with which he had to struggle as president. Only weeks before his inauguration, the outgoing Eisenhower administration quietly discovered and confirmed the secret reactor at Dimona. In mid-December the news leaked out while the Eisenhower administration was pondering a Special National Intelligence Estimate, which asserted that, on the basis of the available evidence “plutonium production for weapons is at least one major purpose of this effort.” According to the estimate, if it was widely believed that Israel was acquiring a nuclear weapons capability it would cause “consternation” in the Arab world, with blame going to the U.S. and France for facilitating the project. The United Arab Republic (Egypt/Syria) would “feel the most threatened,” might approach the Soviets for more “countervailing military aid and political backing,” and the Arab world in general might be prompted to take “concrete actions” against Western interests in the region. Moreover, Israel’s “initiative might remove some of the inhibitions to development of nuclear weapons in other Free World countries.”
On January 19, 1961, on the eve of his inauguration, President-elect Kennedy visited the White House – for the last time as a guest – along with his senior team. After 45 minutes of one-on-one conversation with President Eisenhower, the two men walked to the Cabinet Room to join their departing and incoming secretaries of state, defense and treasury to discuss the transition. One of Kennedy’s first questions was about the countries which were most determined to seek the bomb. “Israel and India,” Secretary of State Christian Herter fired back, and added that the newly discovered Dimona reactor, being constructed with aid from France, could be capable of generating 90 kilogram of weapons-grade plutonium by 1963. Herter urged the new president to press hard on inspection in the case of Israel before it introduced nuclear weapons into the Middle East.
With his concern about stability in the Middle East and the broader nuclear proliferation threat, Kennedy took Herter’s advice seriously. Within days he met with departing Ambassador Reid for discussions of Dimona and other regional matters. To help him prepare for the meeting, new Secretary of State Dean Rusk provided an updated report about Israel’s nuclear activities and a detailed chronology of the discovery of Dimona. For the rest of Kennedy’s time in office, Dimona would remain an issue of special and personal concern to him and to his close advisers.
The most important event covered in this collection was the “nuclear summit” held at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City on May 30, 1961, between Kennedy and Ben-Gurion. We refer to it as a nuclear summit because Dimona was at the heart of that meeting. The encounter was made possible thanks to a reassuring report about the first American visit to Dimona, which had taken place ten days earlier.
Kennedy had tirelessly pressured Ben-Gurion to allow the visit since taking office, insisting that meeting the request – made initially by the Eisenhower administration after the discovery of Dimona – was a condition for normalizing U.S.-Israeli relations. In a sense, Kennedy turned the question into a de facto ultimatum to Israel. For weeks Ben-Gurion dragged his feet, possibly even manufacturing or at least magnifying a domestic political dispute (what was known in Israel as the Lavon Affair) into a government resignation, primarily as a ploy to stall or delay that Dimona visit.
By April 1961, after a new government had been organized, Israeli Ambassador Avram Harman finally told the administration that Israel had agreed to an American tour of Dimona. On May 20, two AEC scientists, U. M. Staebler and J. W. Croach Jr., visited the nuclear facility on a carefully crafted tour. The visit began with a briefing by a Dimona senior management team, headed by Director-General Manes Pratt, who presented a technological rationale for, and historical narrative of, the project: the Dimona nuclear research center, the Americans were told, was “conceived as a means for gaining experience in construction of a nuclear facility which would prepare them [Israel] for nuclear power in the long run.” In essence, according to Pratt, this was a peaceful project. As the American team’s summary report, which was highlighted in a memorandum to National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy, made very clear, the AEC team believed that the Israelis had told them the truth: the scientists were “satisfied that nothing was concealed from them and that the reactor is of the scope and peaceful character previously described to the United States by representatives of the Government of Israel.”
The AEC’s team’s official report (document 8A) is now available for the first time. Previously only draft notes written by the team’s leader had been accessible to researchers. The differences between the two versions are minor except for a noteworthy paragraph in the final report, under the headline “General comment.” That paragraph is important because it reveals that the Israeli hosts told the AEC team that the reactor’s power was likely to double in the future. “It is quite possible that after operating experience has been obtained the power level of the reactor can be increased by a factor of the order of two by certain modifications in design and relaxation of some operating conditions.” The AEC team could have seen that acknowledgement as a red flag, a worrisome indication that the reactor was capable of producing much more plutonium than was then acknowledged. But the team’s one-sentence response was benign: “Design conservatism of this order is understandable for a project of this type,” On the basis of such a positive report, the Waldorf Astoria meeting was able to go ahead.
The Kennedy-Ben-Gurion Meeting
Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs G. Lewis Jones, an Eisenhower administration hold-over, was on the receiving end of President Kennedy’s telephone calls asking for updates on the requests for a visit by U.S. scientists to Israel’s Dimona complex. (National Archives, Still Pictures Branch, 59-S0, box 20)
This collection includes both American and Israeli transcripts of the Waldorf Astoria meeting. One of the transcripts is a previously unknown draft of the Kennedy-Ben-Gurion memcon, which has interesting differences with the final version. The U.S. official memorandum of conversation, declassified and published in the 1990s, was prepared by Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs Phillips Talbot (and approved – possibly corrected – by White House Deputy Special Counsel Myer “Mike” Feldman). The Israeli minutes, prepared by Ambassador Avraham Harman, were also declassified in the 1990s and historians have made extensive use of them.
Ben-Gurion provided Kennedy with a rationale and narrative of the Dimona project that was very similar to what the Israeli hosts provided to the AEC team visiting Dimona (albeit in non-technical and more political terms): the Dimona project was peaceful in nature; it was about energy and development. However, unlike during the Dimona visit, Ben-Gurion’s narrative and rationale left a little wiggle room for a future reversal. The prime minister did that by qualifying his peaceful pledge and leaving room for a future change of heart. The Israeli transcript makes Ben-Gurion’s caveat pronounced: “for the time being, the only purposes are for peace. … But we will see what will happen in the Middle East. It does not depend on us” (italics added). The American transcript, by way of rephrasing Ben-Gurion, reveals a similar caveat as well: “Our main – and for the time being – only purpose is this [cheap energy, etc.],” the Prime Minister said, adding that “we do not know what will happen in the future” … Furthermore, commenting on the political and strategic implications of atomic power and weaponry, the Prime Minister said he does believe that “in ten or fifteen years the Egyptian presumably could achieve it themselves” (italics added).
In his draft minutes, Assistant Secretary Talbot notes (in parentheses) that during that part of the conversation, Ben-Gurion spoke “rapidly and in a low voice” so that “some words were missed.” Nevertheless, Talbot thought that he had heard Ben-Gurion making reference to a “pilot plant for plutonium separation which is needed for atomic power,” but that might happen “three or four years later” and that “there is no intention to develop weapons capacity now.” Talbot’s draft was declassified long ago but has been buried in obscurity; it needs to be taken into account by scholars. Notably, the Israeli transcript is even more straightforward in citing Ben-Gurion on the pilot plant issue: “after three or four years we shall have a pilot plant for separation which is needed anyway for a power reactor.”
Days after the meeting, Talbot sat with Feldman at the White House to “check fine points” about “side lines of interest.” There was the key issue of plutonium, about which Ben-Gurion mumbled quickly in a low voice. Ben-Gurion was understood to say something to the effect that the issue of plutonium would not arise until the installation was complete in 1964 or so, and only then could Israel decide what to do about processing it. But this appeared to be incompatible with what the prime minister had said to Ambassador Reid in Tel Aviv in January 1961, namely that the spent fuel would return to the country which provided the uranium in the first place (France). But Israeli affairs desk officer, William R. Crawford, who looked further into the record, suggested that what Ben-Gurion had said was more equivocal and evasive. Upon close examination, Ben-Gurion might have meant to hint in passing that Israel was preserving its freedom of action to produce plutonium for its own purposes. Kennedy may not have picked up on this point, but he, like Talbot, may not have been sure exactly what Ben-Gurion had said.
The most intriguing – and novel – document in this collection is National Intelligence Estimate 35-61 (document #11a), under the headline “Outlook on Israel,” which was declassified only in February 2015. This NIE left no doubt that the AEC scientists’ impressions from their visit to Dimona had no impact on the way which the intelligence community made its own determination on Dimona’s overall purpose. While the visit clearly helped to ease the political and diplomatic tensions between the United States and Israel over Dimona, and removed, at least temporarily, the nuclear issue as a problem from the bilateral agenda, it did not change the opinion of U.S. intelligence professionals. In their view, while acknowledging the Israeli official narrative of Dimona as peaceful, it was truly about weapons capability. The Dimona complex provided Israel with the experience and resources “to develop a plutonium production capability.” NIE 35-61 reminded its readers that France had supplied “plans, material, equipment and technical assistance to the Israelis.”
Significantly, the intelligence community estimated in 1961 that Israel would be in a position to “produce sufficient weapons grade plutonium for one or two crude weapons a year by 1965-66, provided separation facilities with a capacity larger than that of the pilot plant now under construction are available.” In retrospect, in all these respects, NIE 35-61 was accurate in its assessments and predictions, although no one on the U.S. side knew for sure when Israel would possess the requisite reprocessing facilities. The language about “separation facilities” raises important questions. If Israel was to produce nuclear weapons it would require technology to reprocess spent fuel into plutonium. Whether and when U.S. intelligence knew that Israel had begun work on a secret, dedicated separation plant – larger than a pilot plant – at the Dimona complex has yet to be disclosed. But if the CIA knew about such plans, it may have meant that key information was concealed from AEC scientists who visited Dimona (or perhaps they were instructed to locate such facilities).
Probably lacking secret knowledge of internal Israeli government thinking, the authors of NIE 35-61 may not have fully understood the depth of Israel’s nuclear resolve, or at least, the modus operandi by which Israel proceeded with its nuclear project. They could not be fully clear – both conceptually and factually – on the nature of the Israeli nuclear commitment, i.e., whether Dimona was a dedicated weapons program from the very start, or, alternatively, whether it was set up as infrastructure leading to a weapons capability upon a later decision. At a minimum, however, the authors of NIE 35-61 believed “that the Israelis intend at least to put themselves in the position of being able to produce nuclear weapons fairly soon after a decision to do so.”
Notwithstanding the lack of clarity, the NIE’s findings were incompatible with what Ben-Gurion told Kennedy about the overall purpose of the Dimona project as well as with what he said about Dimona’s plutonium production capacity. Similarly, the NIE was inconsistent with the AEC report whose writers accepted the Israeli narrative and rationale. The bottom line was that as early as 1961 the CIA already knew – or at least suspected – that the Israeli official account of the Dimona project – either by the prime minister or by Israeli scientists – was a cover story and deceptive by nature.
The Second Visit
The AEC visit and the Ben-Gurion Kennedy meeting helped clear the air a bit, but the wary view embodied in the NIE shaped U.S. perceptions of the Dimona project. The Kennedy administration held to its conviction that it was necessary to monitor Dimona, not only to resolve American concerns about nuclear proliferation but also to calm regional anxieties about an Israeli nuclear threat. In this context, the United States did not want to continue to be the only country that guaranteed the peaceful nature of Dimona to the Arab countries. Hence, during the months after the meetings, State Department officials tried to follow up President Kennedy’s interest in having scientists from “neutral” nations, such as Sweden, visit the Dimona plant. The British also favored such ideas but they sought U.S. pressure to induce the Israelis to accept inspection visits by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The Kennedy administration believed that IAEA inspections of Dimona were a valid long-term goal but recognized that a second visit by U.S. scientists was necessary if a visit by neutrals could not be arranged.
The talks with the Swedes did not pan out; by June 1962, the Kennedy administration decided to “undertake the responsibility once more.” On 26 September 1962, after “repeated requests over several months,” a second American visit to Dimona finally took place. Until recently little was known about that visit except that Ambassador Walworth Barbour referred to it as “unduly restricted to no more than forty five minutes.” Also, the late professor Yuval Ne’eman, at the time serving as the scientific director of the Soreq nuclear research center and the official host of the American AEC visitors, was cited in Israel and the Bomb to the effect that the visit was a deliberate “trick” (the word “trick” was used but was not cited in the book) he devised and executed to ease American pressure for a second formal visit in Dimona.
Phillips Talbot, who succeeded Jones as Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, and as a note-taker at the Kennedy/Ben-Gurion meeting had to make sense of the Prime Minister’s rapid and “low” voice. (National Archives, Still Picture Branch, 59-SO, box 41)
This collection includes archival material that sheds light on the second visit. The key document is a memo, written on 27 December 1962, by deputy director of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs Rodger Davies to Assistant Secretary Talbot on the September visit. It was hiding in plain sight in a microfilm supplement to the State Department historical series, Foreign Relations of the United States. The memo narrated the improvised circumstances of the visit which fit well with the way Ne’eman told the story in the late 1990s. As the two AEC scientists who had arrived to inspect the small reactor at Soreq – Thomas Haycock and Ulysses Staebler – were being driven back from their Dead Sea tour, Ne’eman noted that they were passing by the Dimona reactor and that he could spontaneously “arrange a call with the director.” Notably, Staebler was among the two AEC scientists who had visited Dimona in May 1961, so he must have met director Pratt. It turned out that the director was not there, but the chief engineers gave them a 40-minute tour of the reactor.
The 27 December document reveals that the circumstances of that tour made the AEC visitors feel a little awkward, “not certain whether they were guests of their scientist-host or on an inspection.” They did not see the complete installation, nor did they enter all the buildings they saw, but they believed that what they saw confirmed that Dimona was a research reactor, not a production reactor; and that, from their point of view, made the visit worthwhile and “satisfactory.” The memo also notes that the AEC scientists were presented with the option to come back to the site to complete the visit the next morning, but because that would have forced a four-day layover they declined the offer.
According to Rodger Davies, the highly unconventional nature of the visit stirred suspicion within the relevant intelligence offices in Washington. During one interagency meeting to discuss the visit’s intelligence value, the CIA’s “Director of Intelligence,” probably a reference to Deputy Director of Intelligence Ray Cline, was quoted as saying that “the immediate objectives of the visit may have been satisfied, [but] certain basic intelligence requirements were not.” It was also observed that “there were certain inconsistencies between the first and second inspection reports insofar as the usages attributed to some equipment were concerned.” The fact that the inspectors were invited to visit again the next day seemed to indicate that “there was no deliberate ’hanky-panky’ involved on the part of the [ Israelis,” but the fact that such a return visit would have caused a major delay in the team’s departure flight made the Israeli offer impractical and perhaps disingenuous.
Whatever the doubts about the intelligence value, the State Department deployed the visits’ conclusions to assure interested countries that Dimona was peaceful. A few weeks afterwards, just as the Cuban Missile Crisis was unfolding, the State Department began to quietly inform selected governments about its positive results. U.S. diplomats told Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, during a briefing on the Cuban situation, that the recent visit confirmed Israeli statements about the reactor. The British and Canadians were also told similar things about the “recent brief visit” to Dimona, without explaining what had made it so short. By the end of October, the Department had sent a fuller statement to various embassies.
Davies’ memorandum cites a formal report, dated October 12, 1962, prepared by the AEC team about their visit. But the report was not attached to the memorandum found in State Department files. Unfortunately, except for the 1961 visit report, the Department of Energy has been unable to locate the 1962 report or other such reports from the following years.
Documents 1A-B: Briefing President Kennedy
Document 1A: Secretary of State Rusk to President Kennedy, “Your Appointment with Ogden R. Reid, Recently Ambassador to Israel,” 30 January 1961, with memorandum and chronology attached, Secret, Excised copy
Document 1B: Memorandum of Conversation, “Ambassador Reid’s Review of His Conversation with President Kennedy,” 31 January 1961, Secret
Source: National Archives College Park, Record Group 59, records of the Department of State (hereinafter RG 59), Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, Office of Near Eastern Affairs (NESA/NEA). Records of the Director, 1960-1963, box 5, Tel Aviv – 1961
On 31 January 1961, only days after his inauguration, President Kennedy met with Ogden Reid, who had just resigned as U.S. ambassador to Israel, for a comprehensive briefing on U.S.-Israel relations, including the problem of the Dimona nuclear reactor (an issue in which the new president had a “special interest”). To help prepare the president for the meeting, Secretary of State Dean Rusk signed off on a briefing paper, which contained also a detailed chronology of the discovery of the Dimona reactor, and which reviewed the problems raised by the secret atomic project as well as U.S. interest in sending scientists there to determine whether there was a proliferation risk.
In their 45-minute meeting, Ambassador Reid told President Kennedy that he believed the U.S “can accept at face value Ben-Gurion’s assurance that the reactor is to be devoted to peaceful purposes” and that a visit to Dimona by a qualified American scientist could be arranged, “if it is done on a secret basis.”
Document 2A-E: Pressing for a Visit
Document 2A: Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs to Secretary of State, “President’s Suggestion re Israeli Reactor,” 2 February 1961, Secret
Document 2B: Memorandum of Conversation, “Israeli Reactor,” 3 February 1961, Confidential
Document 2C: Memorandum, Secretary of State Rusk for the President, “Israeli Reactor,” 8 February 1961, Secret
Document 2D: Memorandum of Conversation, “Inspection of Israel’s New Atomic Reactor,” 13 February 1961, Secret
Document 2E: Memorandum of Conversation, “Israel’s Security and Other Problems,” 16 February 1961, Secret
Sources: A: RG 59, Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs. Office of the Country Director for Israel and Arab-Israeli Affairs, Records Relating to Israel, 1964-1966 (hereinafter, Israel 1964-1966), box 8, Israel Atomic Energy Program 1961; B: RG 59, Central Decimal Files, 1960-1963 (hereinafter DF), 884A.1901/2-361; C: John F. Kennedy Library, Papers of John F. Kennedy. President’s Office Files, box 119, Israel Security, 1961-1963; D: RG 59, DF, 884A.1901/3-1361; D: RG 59, DF, 884A.1901/2-1361; E: RG 59, DF, 784A.5612/2-1661 (also available in Foreign Relations of the United States)
Concerned about a recent visit to Cairo by Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Semenov and the possibility that the Soviets might exploit Egyptian concerns over Dimona, President Kennedy pressed State to arrange an inspection visit at Dimona by a U.S. scientist. Assistant Secretary of State G. Lewis Jones soon met with Israeli Ambassador Harman, who explained that the Israeli government was preoccupied with an ongoing domestic political crisis. Prime Minister Ben-Gurion announced his resignation and his intention to take a four-week vacation while still being head of a “caretaker government.” Moreover, Ambassador Harman could not understand why Washington had not simply accepted Ben-Gurion’s assurances about Dimona. Jones responded that suspicions remained and that as a “close friend,” Israel needed to help allay them.
After informing Kennedy about the Harman-Jones conversation, Secretary of State Rusk had his own meeting with Harman, where he also raised the desirability of a visit, noting that Israeli “candor” was important to the state of the U.S.-Israeli relationship. During that conversation as well as another with national security adviser McGeorge Bundy, Harman disparaged Dimona’s importance, arguing that its existence had leaked out “unnecessarily.” But Bundy emphasized “legitimate” Arab concern about the Israeli nuclear project. It is interesting to note that in internal American documents the reference is always to an “inspection,” but when the issue was discussed with Israeli diplomats, U.S. officials avoided raising their hackles by always referring to a “visit.”
Documents 3A-F: Raising Pressure for an Invitation
Document 3A: U.S. Mission to the United Nations (New York) telegram number 2242 to Department of State, “Eyes Only” from Reid to Secretary, 20 February 1961, Secret
Document 3B: Memorandum of Conversation, “U.S.-Israeli Relations – The Dimona Reactor,” 26 February 1961, Confidential
Document 3C: Memorandum by Secretary Rusk to President Kennedy, “Israeli Reactor,” 3 March 1961, with memo from Jones to Rusk attached, Confidential
Document 3D: Memorandum of Conversation, “Dimona Reactor,”13 March 1961, Secret
Document 3E: Memorandum of Conversation, “Dimona Reactor,” 28 March 1961, Secret
Document 3F: Memorandum from Secretary Rusk to President Kennedy, “Dimona Reactor in Israel,” 30 March 1961, with “History of United States Interest in Israel’s Atomic Energy Activities,” attached, Secret
Sources: A: RG 59, DF, 784A.5611/2-2061. B: RG 59, NESA/NEA, Records of the Director, 1960-1963, box 5, Tel Aviv – 1961; C: John F. Kennedy Library, Papers of John F. Kennedy. President’s Office Files, box 119, Israel Security, 1961-1963; D: RG 59, DF, 884A.1901/3-1361; E and F: RG 59, DF, 611.84A45/3-3061.
It took many more weeks of back-and-forth American-Israeli exchanges after departing Ambassador Reid told President Kennedy that an American inspection could be arranged. While visiting the United States for fund raising purposes, Ben-Gurion’s chief of staff (and future mayor of Jerusalem) Theodore “Teddy” Kollek met with Ogden Reid in New York and with Assistant Secretary Jones in Washington. He told Reid that Ben-Gurion would accept a visit to Dimona once a new government had been formed in six to eight weeks. Kollek told Jones that a visit “during March” was possible and personally agreed that it would allay suspicions if Dimona was under the control of the Weizmann Institute instead of the Defense Ministry.
The news about a possible March visit went to President Kennedy, but on 13 March Ambassador Harman had nothing to report, claiming that the Israeli government was still preoccupied with domestic politics. At month’s end, Kennedy intervened, apparently calling Jones directly for information about the status of the U.S. request. Following up, Jones called in Ambassador Harman for an update, noting Kennedy’s keen interest in the matter and the importance of Israel removing any “shadow of doubt” about the purpose of Dimona. Harman had no news but believed that nothing would be resolved until Passover ended on 10 April. A chronology that Rusk attached to his memo to Kennedy indicated that the State Department had been asking about the visit at “approximately weekly intervals.”
Documents 4A-B: The Invitation
Document 4A: Memorandum of Conversation, “U.S. Visit to Dimona Reactor Site,” 10 April 1961, Secret
Document 4B: Memorandum by Assistant Secretary Jones to Secretary of State Rusk, “Your Appointment with Israeli Ambassador Harman,” 11 April 1961, Secret
Source: A: RG 59, DF, 884A.1901/4-1061 (also published in Foreign Relations of the United States); B: DF, 033.84A11/4-1161
By early April, Ben-Gurion realized he no longer could postpone the American visit to Dimona. His diary revealed that he was persuaded by White House special counsel Myer “Mike” Feldman, and Kennedy political ally Abraham Feinberg, who was involved in fund raising for Dimona, that a meeting between him and Kennedy, in return for an American visit at Dimona, could save the nuclear project. On 10 April, Ambassador Harman finally told Jones and Philip Farley, the special assistant to the secretary of state for atomic energy and outer space matters, that Israel was formally inviting a U.S. scientist to visit the Dimona complex during the week of 15 May, but that the visit should be secret. Jones and Farley agreed that the visit should not be publicized but worried that secrecy could be “counter-productive.” As Jones explained to Rusk the next day, “It seems to us to defeat the objective of establishing that the reactor is a normal civilian atomic project if extreme measures of secrecy are taken in connection with the visit.” Jones also informed Rusk that the Atomic Energy Commission had selected two of its scientists to make the visit: Ulysses Staebler, assistant director of reactor development and chief of the Civilian Power Reactors Branch, and Jesse Croach Jr., a heavy water reactor expert with Dupont, the AEC’s principal contractor for heavy water reactor work.
Jones wrote a briefing paper to help Rusk prepare to speak with Harman about the Dimona invitation, but the only record of their meeting that has surfaced publicly is the part of the conversation concerning Ben-Gurion’s request for a meeting with President Kennedy, possibly as early as the week of April 23. Rusk responded that he would pass on the request to the president but expressed his doubts as the president’s schedule was already full until the first week of June.
Documents 5A-F: Arrangements for the Visit
Document 5A: Memorandum of Conversation, “U.S. Visit to Dimona,” 17 April 1961, Secret
Document 5B: State Department Telegram 798 to U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv, 28 April 1961, Secret
Document 5C: Memorandum of Conversation, “Visit to Israeli Reactor,” 1 May 1961, Secret
Document 5D: Memorandum by Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Philips Talbot to Secretary of State, “Ben–Gurion Visit and Israel’s Reactor,” 1 May 1961, Secret
Document 5E: Memorandum by Secretary of State Rusk to President Kennedy, “Visit to Israeli Reactor,” 5 May 1961, Secret
Document 5F: Robert C. Strong to Armin H. Meyer, “Suggested Points to be Made to U.S. Scientists, Dr. Staebler and Dr. Croach, at the Meeting at 2:30 p.m., May 15,” 15 May 1961 Secret
Sources: A: Source: RG 59, Records of the Special Assistant to the Secretary of State for Atomic Energy and Outer Space, Records Relating to Atomic Energy Matters, 1948-1962 (hereinafter SAE), box 501, Z1.50 Country File Israel f. Reactor 1961, Part 2 of 2; B: RG 59, DF, 884A.1901/4-2861; C: RG 59, SAE, box 501, Z1.50 Country File Israel f. Reactor 1961, Part 2 of 2; D: RG 59, DF, 884A.1901/5-161; E: RG 59, DF, 884A.1901/5-561; F: RG 59, Israel 1964-1966, box 8, Israel Atomic Energy Program 1961
Israel kept pushing the necessity for secrecy, but Washington insisted that a “quiet visit” was enough to keep Croach and Staebler out of the spotlight. Moreover, the Kennedy administration wanted to be able to inform allies, such as the British, about the visit’s findings. While the Israelis wanted Washington to agree to push the visit back until after the Ben-Gurion-Kennedy meeting, the State Department, under instructions from the White House, refused to change the schedule: the administration wanted the visit to occur before Kennedy met with Ben-Gurion, so that the findings could be fully assessed. The State Department was determined to meet that goal, as was evident from the preparations for a meeting with the inspectors.
Document 6: A Private Debate
Memorandum of Conversation, “Israeli Atomic Energy Program,” 16 May 1961, Secret
Source: RG 59, SAE, box 501, Z1.50 Country File Israel f. Reactor 1961, Part 2 of 2
The second-ranking diplomat at the Israeli Embassy, Mordechai Gazit, raised questions to Phillip Farley about the real purposes of the U.S. visit to Dimona. Justifying the secrecy as protection for suppliers against the Arab boycott of Israel, Gazit argued that it would be years before the reactor could have any military potential and, in any event, Israel needed whatever “means it could find” to defend itself. Taking in Gazit’s implicit admission, Farley noted that Washington was concerned about the impact that an Israeli nuclear project aimed at weapons could have on the region and that an Israeli nuclear weapons program would be disastrous for world stability. “I could not see how Israel could long expect to have nuclear weapons without its enemies also getting them in some way. Once there, were nuclear weapons on both sides, I thought Israel would be in a desperate state.” Its territory was simply too small for it to survive even a small exchange.” Farley’s argument reflects the fundamental Israeli nuclear dilemma to this day.
Document 7: President Kennedy’s Concerns
Memorandum, by L.D. Battle, Executive Secretary, to McGeorge Bundy, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, “American Scientists’ Visit to Israel’s Dimona Reactor,” 18 May 1961, Secret
Source: RG 59, DF, 884A.1901/5-1861
President Kennedy told the new U.S. ambassador to Israel, Walworth Barbour, that he was concerned about Israel’s insistence on a secret visit as well as the “absence of a ‘neutral’ scientist” in the visit to Dimona. Addressing Kennedy’s concerns, the State Department took the position that it was better to put up with Ben-Gurion’s “sensitivities” about secrecy than “have no visit” at all. Nevertheless, the Department advised the White House that “complete and continued secrecy as to the results of the visit would [not] be possible.” The results of the visit would be conveyed to appropriate U.S. agencies “in due course” and would be shared perhaps with some “friendly” governments. Moreover, the U.S. believed that once the Israelis became used to visits to Dimona it might be possible to persuade them to accept visits by scientists from other countries or a publicized inspection by the IAEA.
Documents 8A-B: The Visit to Dimona
Document 8A: Memorandum from Executive Secretary L. D. Battle to McGeorge Bundy, “U.S. Scientists Visit to Israel’s Nuclear Reactor,” 26 May 1961, Secret
Document 8B: Atomic Energy Commission AEC 928/1, “Visit to Israel by U.M. Staebler and J.W. Croach, Jr.,” 7 June 1961, Confidential
Sources: A: RG 59, SAE, box 501, Z1.50 Country File Israel f. Reactor 1961, Part 2 of 2; B: declassification release by DOE
During their visit to Israel (May 17-May 22), AEC scientists Croach and Staebler visited the Weizman Institute, the Technion, the USAEC-funded swimming pool experimental reactor at Soreq, and finally the Dimona complex then under construction. It was in that first visit that Israel provided its “cover” story for the Dimona project, a narrative of “plausible deniability” that would be observed during all future visits. When Croach and Staebler met with State Department officials on their return, they said that they were “satisfied” that the reactor was “of the scope and peaceful character” claimed by Israeli officials. That could only be a tentative judgment because Dimona was still an unfinished project. Although Croach and Staebler found no evidence that the Israelis had nuclear weapons production in mind, they acknowledged that “the reactor eventually will produce small quantities of plutonium suitable for weapons.” Their official report to the AEC was far more circumspect, not mentioning the weapons potential or a capability to produce plutonium. Nevertheless, as noted earlier, they mentioned the Israeli statement about the possibility that the reactor’s power could be doubled in the future, which would increase the potential to produce plutonium.
Documents 9A-D: Kennedy’s Meeting with Ben–Gurion
Document 9A: Briefing Book, “Israel Prime Minister Ben-Gurion’s Visit to the United States,” n.d. [circa May 29, 1961], Secret, excerpts
Document 9B: Memorandum of Conversation, “President Kennedy, Prime Minister Ben-Gurion, Ambassador Avraham Harman of Israel, Myer Feldman of the White House Staff, and Philips Talbot, Assistant Secretary, Near East and South Asian Affairs, at the Waldorf Astoria, New York, 4:45 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.,” 30 May 1961, Secret, Draft
Document 9C: Ambassador Harman’s Record of the Meeting, with attachment on the “Atomic Reactor” (and transcript), sent with cover letter by Mordechai Gazit to Israeli Foreign Ministry, 7 June 1961
Document 9D: Memorandum by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East and South Asian Affairs Armin H. Meyer of White House discussion on Ben-Gurion/Kennedy Meeting, n.d. [circa 9 June 1961], Secret
Sources: A: RG 59, SAE, box 501, Z1.50 Country File Israel f. Reactor 1961, Part 2 of 2; B: RG 59, Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, Office of Near Eastern Affairs, Records of the Director, 1960-1963, box 5, Tel Aviv – 1961; C: Israeli State Archives, file 130.02/3294/7; D: RG 59, Israel 1964-1966, box 8, Israel Atomic Energy Program 1961
On his way to the Vienna summit with Nikita Khrushchev, Kennedy stopped in Manhattan to meet with Ben-Gurion. For both leaders, the Dimona question was a top priority; just as Kennedy wanted Israel to “remove any doubts” that other countries had about its purposes, so Ben-Gurion wanted to resolve this outstanding problem and to let the project be finished quietly. Ben-Gurion stood by his earlier statements that the “main” purpose of the reactor was peaceful – namely, internal economic development. Given Kennedy’s interest in regional stability and aversion to nuclear proliferation, he wanted to be able to let Israel’s Arab neighbors know about the positive results of the recent Dimona visit by American scientists.
The official U.S. memorandum of conversation is published in the State Department’s Foreign Relations of the United States (the file copy at the National Archives is classified even though the FRUS volume has been published), and an Israeli English-language version is also available. As noted earlier, a draft of the official memcon has surfaced which has some interesting differences with the final versions: for example, Ben-Gurion’s tacit acknowledgement of a nuclear weapons potential and a statement suggesting freedom of action about eventual reprocessing. The Israeli minutes of the conversation manifest Ben-Gurion’s ambiguities and evasiveness even more strongly, for example, his assertion that “for the time being, the only purposes of [the Dimona reactor] are for peace.” Moreover, he said, “we will see what happens in the Middle East.”
Documents 10A-C: Sharing the Findings
Document 10A: State Department telegram 5701 to U.S. Embassy United Kingdom, 31 May 1961, Secret
Document 10B: Memorandum of Conversation, “The Dimona Reactor,” 16 June 1961, Secret
Document 10C: State Department Circular Telegram 2047 to U.S. Embassy Jordan [et al.], 17 June 1961, Confidential
Sources: A: RG 59, DF, 033.84A41/5-3061, B: RG 59, DF, 884A.1901/6-1661; C: Record Group 84, Records of Foreign Service Posts, U.S. Embassy Vienna, U.S. Mission to International Organizations in Vienna, International Atomic Energy Agency, Classified Records, 1955-1963, box 1, Atomic Energy Developments- Israel, 1959-1961
When Kennedy said that he would like to share the findings of the Dimona visit with other governments, Ben-Gurion did not object to that or the possibility of visits by “neutral” scientists. The British had already asked for information on the Kennedy-Ben-Gurion meeting and one day later, their embassy was given the gist of the Dimona visit report as well as a brief description of the meeting. The State Department made plans to brief Arab governments, but Deputy Assistant Secretary Armin Meyer asked Ambassador Harman if his government would be willing to work with U.S. representatives at the IAEA Board of Governors meeting to make an announcement of the visit to Dimona and also to undertake quiet discussions at the meeting about a possible neutral visit to Dimona. Harman, however, objected to an IAEA role in the Dimona matter until the rest of the world had accepted the idea of inspections and he wanted Washington to coordinate any visit by neutral scientists.
The State Department had already sent a message to Egyptian Foreign Minister Fawzi about the visit and soon sent a circular telegram to embassies in the region, but also to Oslo (Norway was interested because of its heavy water sales to Israel). Through those messages the “highest levels” of those governments were to be informed that the U.S. scientists had “found no evidence” of Israeli preparations for producing nuclear weapons.
Documents 11A-B: Lingering Suspicions
Document 11A: National Intelligence Estimate No. 35-61, “The Outlook for Israel,” 5 October 1961, Secret
Document 11B: Letter, Howard Furnas, Office of Special Assistant to Secretary of State for Atomic Energy and Outer Space, to Dwight Ink, Atomic Energy Commission, 15 November 1961, Secret
Source: A: CIA declassification release; B: RG 59, SAE, box 501, Z1.50 Country File Israel f. Reactor 1961, Part 2 of 2
The State Department’s assurances notwithstanding, within U.S. intelligence circles doubts lingered. In a National Intelligence Estimate on Israel, declassified in 2015 at the request of the National Security Archive, the U.S. intelligence community concluded that:
Israel may have decided to undertake a nuclear weapons program. At a minimum, we believe it has decided to develop its nuclear facilities in such a way as to put it into a position to develop nuclear weapons promptly should it decide to do.
Moreover, if the Israeli had made such a decision, by 1965-1966, the Dimona reactor would produce enough plutonium to build one or two nuclear weapons a year, although to do that they would need larger processing capabilities than the pilot plant then in the works. Other obstacles were the lack of testing facilities and the problem that a test would use up scarce fissile material supplies. Another obstacle, cited by State Department atomic energy adviser Philip Farley in a letter to an AEC official, was a lack of weapons design information. In light of that concern, Farley advised the AEC to be “alert” to the possibility that Israeli scientists might try to acquire nuclear weapons design information “through clandestine means in the United States.” Thus, “discreet surveillance” was necessary of Dr. Israel Dostrovsky, an eminent Israeli chemist, who had recently been given a teaching fellowship at Brookhaven National Laboratory. An expert on isotopes and isotope separation, Dostrovsky was a key figure in Israel’s nuclear-scientific establishment, later becoming the director general of the Atomic Energy Commission (1966-1970). That Dotrovsky had close ties to the Israeli defense establishment may have influenced the notion that he should be a target for surveillance.
Documents 12A-B: Exploring Visits by a “Neutral” Scientist
Document 12A: Robert C. Strong to Phillips Talbot, “Your Appointment with Israel Ambassador Harman, 4:45 p.m., Tuesday, November 14,” 14 November 1961, Confidential
Document 12B: Memorandum of Conversation, “Broadened Access to Israel’s Nuclear Reactor,” 14 November 1961, Secret
Sources: A: RG 59, SAE, box 501, Z1.50 Country File Israel f. Reactor 1961, Part 2 of 2; B: RG 59, DF, 884A.1901/11-1461
The Kennedy administration had to balance its apprehensions over Dimona with other concerns, such as the broader implications of the status of Palestinian refugees. With respect to Dimona, the State Department kept in mind President Kennedy’s interest in visits by neutral scientists and Ben-Gurion’s approval of such. Moreover, State Department officials believed that a neutral visit could “obviate any overtones of inspections, which is [sic] unacceptable to Israel,” and also make it possible for Washington to avoid being the sole “guarantor of Israel’s nuclear intentions” on the basis of the May 1961 visit by AEC scientists. During a meeting with Ambassador Harman, Phillips Talbot brought up again the idea of neutral visits and mentioned that Farley had some suggestions to make. Harman said that he would be happy to meet with Farley but that Israel would “prefer a visit by Scandinavian or Swiss scientists.”
Document 13: Memorandum by Robert Amory, Deputy Director of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, to Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs [McGeorge Bundy], 18 January 1962, Secret, excised copy
Source: CIA mandatory declassification review release, under appeal; original file copy at Johnson or Kennedy libraries
That the Central Intelligence Agency has kept secret important findings about the Dimona project is evident from this heavily excised report to McGeorge Bundy, which has been under appeal since 2010. Whatever the findings were, they were enough to induce Bundy to ask his aide, Robert Komer, to “prod” the State Department to arrange “another periodic check on this by scientists.” That, however, would take time.
Among other records, the CIA has also withheld in its entirety a scientific intelligence report, from early 1962, on the Israeli nuclear program; it is currently under appeal with the Interagency Security Classification Appeals panel.
Documents 14A-D: Whether the IAEA Could Be Brought In
Document 14A: Nicolas G. Thacher to James P. Grant, “Your Appointment with Dennis Greenhill and Dennis Speares of the British Embassy,” 12 February 1962, Secret
Document 14B: Memorandum of Conversation, “Israel’s Atomic Energy Program,” 14 February 1962, Secret
Document 14C: William C. Hamilton to Robert C. Strong, “Reply to U.K. Paper on Safeguards,” 9 April 1962, with British memorandum, “Israel’s Nuclear Reactor,” dated 7 February 1962, attached, Secret
Document 14D: Memorandum of Conversation, “Israel’s Atomic Energy Program,” 9 April 1962, with U.S. memorandum attached, Secret
Sources: A: RG 59. Israel, 1964-1966, box 8, Dimona Reactor, 1962-1967; B: RG 59, DF, 884A.1901/2-1462; C: Israel, 1964-1966, Box 8, Dimona Reactor, 1962-1967; D: RG 59, DF, 884A.1901/2-1462
Worried about the possibility of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, especially in light of Egyptian talks with West Germany about the acquisition of a reactor, the British wanted to find ways to meet Arab concerns about Dimona by bringing the site under scrutiny of the emerging IAEA safeguards/inspection system. The British recognized that achieving this would be very difficult – the Israelis objected to IAEA inspection because they professed to be worried about the inclusion of Soviet bloc officials on the inspection teams; moreover, the French, who had supplied the reactor and fuel elements, were also unlikely to accept international inspection of the irradiated fuel. Nevertheless, because Dimona was not yet an operating reactor (and the IAEA Safeguards Division was still being created), the British suggested preliminary, ad hoc steps, such as inspection by a “neutral” (in terms of the Arab-Israeli dispute) observer such as Canada. They believed that because of Israel’s reluctance, U.S. “pressure” would be required.
The State Department concurred with the objective of the British proposal: “we fully agree on the desirability of bringing Near East nuclear development under IAEA control.” Nevertheless, believing that Israeli and French objections were not likely to yield to “pressure,” State Department officials also favored pursuing such steps as visits by “neutral” scientists.. They believed, however, that Canada was not neutral enough because it was so closely associated with the IAEA; nor was Ottawa likely to get any more information than Washington could. Washington had been holding talks with the Swedes, but if they did not pan out, the U.S. could arrange a second visit by its scientists.
Documents 15A-E: Trying to Arrange a Second Visit
Document 15A: Robert C. Strong to Phillips Talbot, “Another Visit to Israel’s Dimona Reactor,” 22 June 1962, Secret
Document 15B: Memorandum of Conversation, “A Second Visit by U.S. Scientists to Israel’s Dimona Reactor,” 22 June 1962, Secret
Document 15C: State Department telegram 233 to U.S. Embassy Egypt, 11 July 1962, Secret
Document 15D: Memorandum of Conversation, “Proposed Visit of U.S. Scientists to the Dimona Reactor,” 14 September 1962, Secret
Document 15E: William Brubeck, Executive Secretary, to McGeorge Bundy, “Second Visit by U.S. Scientists to the Dimona Reactor,” 18 September 1962, Secret
Sources: A: RG 59, DF, 611.84A45/6-2262; B: RG 59, DF, 884A.1901/6-2262; C: RG 59, DF, 884A.1901/7-1162. D: RG 59, DF, 884A.1901/9-162; E: RG 59, DF, 884A.1901/9-1462
No documents about U.S. efforts to find a “neutral” visitor have surfaced so far, but apparently the Swedes expressed only “faint interest” in playing a role, which led Washington to decide to “undertake the responsibility once more.” As it had been over a year since the first visit, U.S. diplomats believed that if the Israelis agreed to another one it would provide an opportunity for Washington to preserve a “favorable atmosphere” in the region by making assurances about the reactor to Cairo and other Arab capitals (as long as the assurances were warranted). On 22 June, Talbot renewed the question with Ambassador Harman but the lack of response led Talbot to bring up the matter on 14 September. By then two AEC scientists were scheduled to visit the U.S.-financed reactor at Soreq in a matter of days and it made sense for them to include a visit to Dimona. Harman, however, said that no decision could be made until later in the month when Ben-Gurion was back from a European trip.
Documents 16A-B: The Second Visit
Document 16A: A: State Department telegram 451 to U.S. Embassy Egypt, 22 October 1962, Secret
Document 16B: Memorandum of Conversation, “Second U.S. Visit to Dimona Reactor,” 23 October 1962, Secret
Document 16C: Rodger P. Davies to Phillips Talbot, “Second Inspection of Israel’s Dimona Reactor,” 27 December 1962, Secret
A: RG 59, DF, 884A.1901/10-2262; B: RG 59, DF, 884A.1901/10-2362; C: U.S. Department of State, Microfiche Supplement, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Volumes XVII, XVIII, XX, XXI (Microfiche Number 10, Document Number 150)
Never making a formal reply to the U.S. request, the Israelis used the ploy of an improvised visit to evade the substance of a real visit. As noted in the introduction, decades later an Israeli source confirmed to Avner Cohen that this was indeed a trick. While the two AEC scientists, Thomas Haycock and Ulysses Staebler, did not see the complete installation, they believed that they had enough time to determine that Dimona was a research reactor, not a production reactor, which, from their point of view, made the visit “satisfactory.” U.S. intelligence did not agree because the visit left unanswered questions, such as “whether in fact the reactor might give Israel a nuclear weapons capability.”
A few weeks after the visit, just as the Cuban Missile Crisis was unfolding, the State Department began to inform selected governments about its results. U.S. diplomats told Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, during a briefing on the Cuban situation, that the visit confirmed Israeli statements about the reactor. The British and Canadians were also told about the “recent brief visit” to Dimona, without explaining what had made it so short. By the end of October, the Department sent a fuller statement to embassies in the Middle East, as well as London, Paris, Ottawa, and Oslo.
. Richard Reeves, President Kennedy: Profile in Power (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994), pp. 29-33.
. Avner Cohen, Israel and the Bomb (New York, Columbia University Press, 1998), 108-11; Warren Bass, Support Any friend, 2003, 200-02.
. In conversations Avner Cohen had with the late John Hadden, the CIA station chief in Israel during 1964-68, he made it apparent that his office was fully clear about “what was Dimona doing,” including reprocessing, and was not allowed to maintain any contact with the visiting AEC scientists. See also Israel and the Bomb 187-90.
. Avner Cohen, Israel and the Bomb, 112.
. Yuval Ne’eman told Avner Cohen about his “trick” on the visit of 1962 in many of the conversations during the 1990s and 2000s. When Cohen published Israel and the Bomb in 1998 he cited only a condensed version of Ne’eman tale—Ne’eman still considered it sensitive in the 1990s. Now, almost ten years after his passing (2006), Cohen is comfortable citing his tale in more detail.
According to Ne’eman in an interview conducted in March 1994, as the host of the two AEC scientists who had arrived to inspect the Soreq reactor (under the terms of the “Atoms for Peace” program) he “arranged” to take them for a tour of the Dead Sea. This was a well-planned pretext to bring them to Dimona on Israeli terms. So, on their way back, by late afternoon, as they were passing near the Dimona reactor, Ne’eman “spontaneously” suggested to arrange a quick visit at Dimona to say “hello” to the director whom inspector Staebler had known from the visit a year earlier, in May 1961. Ne’eman told them this was a great opportunity since their government was pressing for such a visit. The purpose was, of course, to have a much more informal and abbreviated visit rather than the formal one the US government wanted. In doing so, Israel would ease American pressure and convince the visitors that Dimona was a research reactor, not a production reactor. When the United States continued to press for a visit, Ne’eman told them, “you just did it.”
. For more information on the visit, see Cohen, Israel and the Bomb, 105-108.
. For the Kennedy-Ben-Gurion meeting, see ibid, 108-109.
. Ibid , 21.
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Reinforcing the Obama administration’s planned “comprehensive effort to declassify” historical records on Argentina’s dirty war, the National Security Archive today posted examples of the kinds of materials in U.S. government files that would most likely enhance public understanding of that troubled period in Latin American history. The posted documents, relating not just to regional developments but to official U.S. policy and operations, were declassified either through similar government decrees — thus setting a useful precedent for current administration officials — or the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.
In August 2002, the State Department released 4,700 documents on Argentina dating from 1975 to 1984. Declassified under a directive from Secretary of State Madeleine Albright during the Clinton administration, the documents were processed and delivered to the public during the administration of George W. Bush. The State Department acted in response to numerous requests in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s from human rights groups as well as from Argentine judges investigating abuses under military rule.
That release produced valuable information but was limited mostly to reporting from the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires on Argentina events. The U.S. Justice Department tried to elicit similar responses from other agencies to the Argentine judges’ requests under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), but only State chose to comply by undertaking a major declassification. The FBI, CIA and Defense Department declined to participate in the process,
Yet, in the case of other countries like Chile, Guatemala and El Salvador, declassified U.S. intelligence, defense and FBI records have been key to supplying critical information about local command structures, clandestine operations, and human rights violations. In 1999, for example, intense international pressure following the arrest of Augusto Pinochet led the Clinton White House to release over 20,000 pages of documentation on “human rights abuses, terrorism, and other acts of political violence in Chile.” Unlike the later Argentina case, that project involved several agencies: the Department of State, the CIA, the National Security Council, the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the U.S. National Archives.
These materials have had a powerful impact not only on the public’s awareness of events but on the personal lives of numerous victims and relatives of victims. For example, one of the records from the 1999 Chile Declassification posted today is a Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) information report providing details about an operation carried out by Argentine intelligence and Uruguayan military intelligence in September 1976 against the Uruguayan insurgent organization, OPR-33 in Buenos Aires.
Jorge, Maria Emilia, and their daughter Mariana Zaffaroni, were kidnapped by Argentine and Uruguayan intelligence agencies in 1976.
(Source: Sin Olvido)
As a result of this raid, dozens of Uruguayans living in Buenos Aires were disappeared. Among them were Jorge Zaffaroni and Maria Emilia Islas de Zaffaroni, and their 18 month old daughter Mariana Zaffaroni Islas. Mariana was illegally appropriated and raised by one of the Argentine SIDE officers. She was DNA tested and her identity “recovered” by the Argentine Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo in 1992, when she was 17 years old.
The documents posted here today attest to the fact that these kinds of materials have the same potential to help Argentines in their pursuit of truth, human rights and justice. Still-classified documents in U.S. files undoubtedly describe similar operations against Argentine insurgents, dissidents and opposition, and would therefore significantly advance public comprehension of another historically significant episode of military repression in the region.
Furthermore, as important as the State Department’s 2002 Argentina declassification was, those records excluded an essential category of materials: documentation on U.S. policy toward Argentina. Only through dedicated research efforts over many years by individuals, news media and civil society organizations has the public managed to gain critical insights into previously classified aspects of the Washington decision-making process.
The most prominent case is that of then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Shortly after the 1976 coup, according to declassified State Department minutes of Kissinger’s staff meetings located at the National Archives and included here, his own Latin America specialists warned him “to expect a fair amount of repression, probably a good deal of blood, in Argentina.” Kissinger, however, made clear that he wanted to show unstinting support for the new military junta (see document below). This approach, which effectively granted protective cover for major regime human rights violations, lasted until the end of Kissinger’s tenure in January 1977.
In addition to the policy process, another area of significant public interest would be what U.S. intelligence and military personnel were aware of, and what kinds of operations they conducted, during the coup and subsequent counterinsurgency campaign that started in 1976. According to Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights Pat Derian in early 1977: “The U.S. military and our intelligence agencies… [are] sending a dangerous and double message. If this continues, it will subvert our [President Carter’s] entire human rights policy.” (See document below)
It was on the basis of documented historical examples like those posted here today that The New York Times, in an editorial published on March 17, 2016, concluded that during his visit to Argentina, President Obama “should make a pledge that Washington will more fully reveal its role in a dark chapter of Argentine history.”
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Page Count: 8 pages
Date: August 1, 2011
Restriction: Law Enforcement Sensitive
Originating Organization: Department of Homeland Security, Office of Intelligence and Analysis
File Type: pdf
File Size: 238,855 bytes
File Hash (SHA-256): 0ED77BA06FE8FDDD4A05DBF4C0C8E679D52A0E03D9C973EB352BB796F947DB79
(U) Homeland Security Reference Aids, prepared by I&A, provide baseline information on a range of homeland security issues. This product is one in a series of reference aids on violent domestic and foreign extremist groups that assess the nature and scope of the threat they pose to the Homeland. This product is intended to support federal, state, local, and tribal agencies and authorities with responsibilities relating to homeland security to assist in the deterrence, prevention, preemption of, or response to terrorist attacks against the United States. To maintain timely and accurate intelligence, DHS encourages state and local law enforcement to respond with any updated information they may have concerning the status, composition, or activities of violent extremist groups in their jurisdictions.
(U//FOUO) The violent militia extremist movement in the United States is comprised of a collection of distinct, but organized, paramilitary groups that have engaged in violent criminal activities and terrorism-related plots to advance their anti-government beliefs. Individual violent militia extremists have been convicted of a range of firearms and explosives violations and criminal conspiracy charges. The violent militia extremist movement is a subset of the larger militia movement; many groups and individuals involved in the overall militia movement do not commit criminal or violent acts.
(U//LES) The violent militia extremist movement peaked in membership in 1996 and then steadily declined due to negative publicity after it was erroneously linked to the Oklahoma City bombing and as a result of increased law enforcement scrutiny. After several years of significant decline in membership and violent criminal activity, the violent militia extremist movement has rebounded in the past few years as new groups have formed and new recruits have joined its ranks.
(U//FOUO) The militia movement in the United States formed circa 1994 in response to the perceived unwarranted and overzealous aggression of federal authorities at Ruby Ridge, Idaho in 1992 and Waco, Texas in 1993. The movement’s violent fringe element emerged shortly afterward. During the mid-to-late 1990s, several violent militia extremists were arrested and ultimately convicted of multiple plots to bomb federal buildings, military bases, highways, bridges, and other infrastructure in the United States. More recently, several violent militia extremists have been arrested for possessing illegal firearms and explosives and plotting to kill law enforcement officers.
(U//FOUO) Factions within the larger militia movement and its violent fringe element often form, disband, or change names in short periods of time and are rife with internal turmoil stemming primarily from disagreements among leaders over missions, focus, and training. Militia members maintain the ability, however, to organize meetings and train within a particular militia group in their own state and to network with other militia groups in neighboring states. Despite the turmoil, some violent militia extremist groups and individuals have demonstrated the ability to instigate and support violence that targets government officials, institutions, and facilities in the United States.
(U) Ideology and Objectives
(U//FOUO) Violent militia extremists oppose most federal and state laws, regulations, and authority. Violent militia extremists have also been known to adopt anti-government belief systems found in the violent sovereign citizen and white supremacist extremist movements and form violent militia extremist groups based on this ideology.
(U//FOUO) Violent militia extremists often combine their antigovernment beliefs with various conspiracy theories. Some tout the existence of a despotic “New World Order” (see text box) or cite apocalyptic or “end times” beliefs to support their outlook. Individuals within both the nonviolent elements of the militia movement and the more violent extremist minority profess that militias are the last line of defense in protecting US constitutional freedoms against a federal government that they see as increasingly eroding citizens’ personal rights, property rights, and the right to own firearms.
(U//FOUO) New World Order
(U//FOUO) This conspiracy is described by militia members as a plot by a secret cabal of powerful individuals whose alleged goal is to create a one-world socialist government under the auspices of the United Nations. The US Government is seen as collaborating with the New World Order to strip Americans slowly of their freedoms in the takeover, which allegedly would involve establishing large numbers of detention camps for American dissidents.
(U//FOUO) Violent militia extremists have co-opted several common symbols that represent patriotism and a willingness to defend oneself against a tyrannical government. The most popular symbols include a Minuteman holding a rifle with the words “honor,” “defend,” and “liberty,” and the Gadsden Flag with the words “Don’t Tread on Me.” The Minuteman logo is a reference to the American colonial militia that battled British troops during the American Revolutionary War and symbolizes patriotism and militia successes during the war. The Gadsden Flag emerged as a symbol of the colonies in their fight against the British military during the American Revolutionary War. Both the Minuteman symbol and Gadsden Flag image are used widely outside the violent militia extremist movement, and the presence of these symbols alone does not necessarily indicate an association with a violent extremist militia.
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Truth commissioners giving the report to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff this morning. Photo Credit: National Truth Commission website.
Almost thirty years after the end of Brazil’s military dictatorship, the Comissao Nacional da Verdade [National Truth Commission] today released its long awaited report on human rights violations by the security forces between 1964 and 1985. The report, which took two-and-a-half years to complete and totals over 1000 pages, represents the first formal attempt by Brazil as a nation to record its repressive past and provide a detailed accounting of the system of repression, the victims of human rights violations, as well as the identities of those who committed those crimes.
In contrast to the U.S. Senate report on torture released yesterday in Washington which redacted even the pseudonyms of CIA personnel who engaged in torture, the Brazilian report identified over 375 perpetrators of atrocities by name.
The report contains detailed chapters on the structure and methods of the repression during the military era, including targeted violence against women and children. The commission identified over 400 individuals killed by the military, many of them “disappeared” as the military sought to hide its abuses. During its investigation, the Commission located and identified the remains of 33 of the disappeared; some 200 other victims remain missing.
The report also sheds significant light on Brazil’s role in the cross-border regional repression known as Operation Condor. In a chapter titled “International Connections: From Repressive Alliances in the Southern Cone to Operation Condor,” the Commission report details Brazil’s military ties to the coup in Chile, and support for the Pinochet regime, as well as identifies Argentine citizens captured and killed in Brazil as part of a Condor collaboration between the Southern Cone military regimes.
This report opens a Pandora’s box of historical and legal accountability for Brazilians. For now it provides a verdict of history, but eventually the evidence compiled by the commission’s investigation could lead to a judicial accounting. “The Truth Commission’s final report is a major step for human rights in Brazil,” according to Brown University scholar, James Green, “and the pursuit of justice for the victims of the state’s terror.”
In its recommendations, the Commission took the bold step of calling for a repeal of Brazil’s 1979 amnesty law which has, to date, shielded military officers from human rights prosecutions.
Those prosecutions could be aided by evidence from declassified U.S. documentation. In support of the Commission’s work, the Obama administration agreed to a special declassification project on Brazil, identifying, centralizing and reviewing hundreds of still secret CIA, Defense and State Department records from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Last June, Vice President Biden personally delivered 42 documents into President Dilma Rousseff’s hands; more recently the U.S. Embassy passed another tranche of over 100 records, many of them from the CIA, to the Brazilian government. As part of a commitment Biden made to open U.S. archives, the administration is continuing to review hundreds of additional records to declassify and provide to the Brazilian government next year.
The Commissioners presented their report to President Rousseff on International Human Rights Day. Rousseff, herself a victim of torture by electric shock during the military dictatorship, was “moved to tears” as she received the report and received a standing ovation from the crowd that had gathered for the ceremony, according to the Washington Post. In her speech accepting the report, the President stated that “We hope this report prevents ghosts from a painful and sorrowful past from seeking refuge in the shadows of silence and omission.”
Document l: Department of State, “Widespread Arrests and Psychophysical Interrogation of Suspected Subversives,” Confidential, April 18, 1973
This intelligence cable, sent by the U.S. Consul General in Rio de Janeiro, provides detailed reporting on a “sophisticated and elaborate psychophysical” method of torture being employed by the Brazilian military against suspected militants. In response to growing international condemnation of human rights violations, the cable suggests, the Brazilian torturers have adopted more modern interrogation methods that leave less visible evidence of abuses. In cases where detainees are “eliminated,” the military is also deceiving the press by claiming they were killed in a “shoot-out” while trying to escape.
The cable was declassified on June 5, 2014, only eleven days before Biden’s trip to Brazil in order for him to provide it to President Rousseff as a diplomatic gesture. But key sections of the document are redacted, presumably at the request of the CIA, that identify the military units responsible for these atrocities — information that would be of critical use to the Brazilian Truth Commission as it attempts to hold the military accountable for the atrocities of the past.
Document 2: Department of State, “Political Arrests and Torture in São Paulo,” Confidential, May 8, 1973
The Consul General in Sao Paulo, Frederic Chapin, reports on a source described as “a professional informer and interrogator working for the military intelligence center in Osasco,” an industrial suburb of Sao Paulo. The source has provided graphic details on methods of abuse, including a Brazilian form of “waterboarding” that involved putting prisoners in vats of water that forced them to stand on their tiptoes for prolonged periods of time to be able to breath. The informant also provides a description of methods of executing prisoners so that their bodies could not be identified. Prisoners would be machine gunned from head to toe — a method referred to as “sewing” the suspect up.
This document was declassified in 2005, and initially provided to the Truth Commission by National Security Archive Brazil project director Peter Kornbluh. It played a key role in enabling researchers to identify the April 18, 1973, cable on psychophysical abuses, which is cited as a reference telegram. A memorandum of conversation with the informant/torturer, however, is also cited in this document and would be of exceptional value to the Truth Commission in obtaining additional information about the torture center in Osasco.
Document 3: Department of State, “Allegation of Torture in Brazil,” Secret, July 1, 1972
U.S. Ambassador William Rountree advises the State Department that openly protesting human rights “excesses” by the Brazilian military government will be counterproductive and “damage our general relations.” Ambassador Rountree encourages the State Department to oppose a piece of human rights legislation known as the “Tunney Amendment” which would link U.S. aid to Brazil to a U.S. government certification that the Brazilian regime was not engaged in human rights violations.
Document 4: Department of State, “The Esquadrão da Morte (Death Squad),” Limited Official Use, June 8, 1971
Ambassador Rountree submits an 11-page report on death squad activity in Brazil. He advises that there has been an “upsurge” of victims of unofficial operations in recent months, believed to be the work of off-duty policemen. In Sao Paulo, the death squads are reportedly led by Sergio Fleury, who has now been charged in at least one murder. Some of the victims are common prisoners, others political figures and militant opponents of the regime. Much of the information in the report is gleaned from newspaper articles; the report appears to contain almost no intelligence information.
Document 5: Department of State, “Conditions in DEOPS Prison as told by Detained American Citizen,” Confidential, October 7, 1970
This memorandum of conversation contains a report by a U.S. businessman, Robert Horth, who was detained by the military police in an apparent case of mistaken identity. Horth relates hearing from fellow Brazilian prisoners about torture at the prison where he is held in downtown Sao Paulo. The torture techniques include the Parrot Perch — known in Portuguese as “pau de arara” — and electrical shock to all parts of the body, as well as the “telephone technique” where an interrogator stands behind the seated prisoner and smacks both sides of his/her head repeatedly, almost destroying their eardrums.
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Washington, D.C. – The National Security Archive has initiated a special project on the Chinese nuclear weapons program and U.S. policy toward it. The purpose is to discover how the U.S. government monitored the Chinese nuclear program and ascertain what it knew (or believed that it knew) and thought about that program from the late 1950s to the present. Besides investigating U.S. thinking about, and intelligence collection on, the Chinese nuclear program as such, the Archive’s staff is exploring its broader foreign policy significance, especially the impact on China’s relations with its neighbors and the regional proliferation of nuclear weapons capabilities. Through archival research and systematic declassification requests, the Archive is working to collect key U.S. documents on important developments in Chinese nuclear history, including weapons, delivery systems, and strategic thinking. To put the nuclear issue in the broader context of the changing relations between the United States and China, the Archive is also trying to secure the declassification of key U. S. policy papers that elucidate changes in the relationship.
In particular, the Archive’s project is exploring Washington’s thinking about the Chinese nuclear weapons program in the context of U.S. nuclear proliferation policy. The Archive is probing Washington’s initial effort to brake the development of the Chinese advanced weapons program by encouraging allies and others to abstain from the shipment of products that could have direct or indirect military applications. Moreover, the Archive is seeking the declassification of materials that shed light on an important concern since the late 1980s, China’s alleged role as a contributor to the proliferation of nuclear capabilities in South Asia and elsewhere. To the extent possible, the Archive will try to document the U.S. government’s knowledge of, and policy toward, China’s role as a nuclear proliferator and its efforts to balance proliferation concerns with a policy of cooperation with Beijing.
In the spring of 1996, the Archive began a series of Freedom of Information and mandatory review requests to the CIA, State Department, Defense Department, National Archives, and other agencies to prompt the release of relevant documents. Although this will take time, the State Department’s own systematic declassification review of central files from the 1960s has already made available some very useful material. Moreover, previous declassification requests by the Archive are beginning to generate significant material. This makes it possible for the Archive to display, on our Web site, some newly released documents on U.S. policy toward the Chinese nuclear weapons program.
The documents that follow are from 1964 when U.S. government officials recognized that China would soon acquire a nuclear weapons capability. As this material indicates, the degree of apprehension varied, with some officials truly worried that a nuclear armed China would constitute a formidable threat to the security of China’s neighbors as well as the United States. Others, however, believed that Beijing’s orientation was fundamentally cautious and defensive and that the political and psychological implications would be more immediately consequential than any military threat. Although China’s attitude toward U.S.-Soviet nonproliferation efforts was hostile, as far as can be determined, no one anticipated a development of later decades: the PRC’s apparent role as a purveyor of nuclear weapons and delivery systems technologies.
* * *
This briefing book was prepared by William Burr, the Archive’s analyst for the China nuclear weapons project and for a related project on U.S. nuclear weapons policies and programs. Currently a member of Dipomatic History‘s editorial board, he has published articles there and in the Bulletin of the Cold War International History Project. He previously directed the Archive’s project on the Berlin Crisis, 1958-1962 (published by Chadwyck-Healey in 1992).
The National Security Archive thanks the W. Alton Jones Foundation for the generous financial support that made this project possible. Anthony Wai, Duke University, and Matthew Shabatt, Stanford University, provided invaluable research assistance for this project.
Document 1: “Implications of a Chinese Communist Nuclear Capability”, by Robert H. Johnson, State Department Policy Planning Staff, with forwarding memorandum to President Johnson by Policy Planning Council director Walt W. Rostow, 17 April 1964.
Source: U.S. National Archives, Record Group 59, Department of State Records, Central Foreign Policy Files, 1964-1966, file DEF 12-1 Chicom.
Robert Johnson (now associated with the National Planning Association) was one of the Department’s leading China experts. Between 1962 and 1964, he directed a number of studies on the Chinese nuclear program and its ramifications, not only for the United States but also for China’s neighbors in East and South Asia. This document is a summary of a longer study which remains classified but is undergoing declassification review. In this paper Johnson minimized the immediate military threat of a nuclear China, suggesting instead that Chinese leaders were more interested in a nuclear capability’s deterrent effect and were unlikely to engage in high-risk activities. Consistent with his relatively moderate interpretation, Johnson ruled out preemptive action against Chinese nuclear facilities except in “response to major ChiCom aggression.” Johnson explored the issue of preemption in another study: “The Bases for Direct Action Against Chinese Communist Nuclear Facilities,” also April 1964. That study is unavailable but is discussed in document 5.
Document 2: Special National Intelligence Estimate, “The Chances of an Imminent Communist Chinese Nuclear Explosion” 26 August 1964.
Source: Lyndon B. Johnson Library
The timing of a Chinese atomic test was a controversial subject during the summer and fall of 1964. As this document shows, CIA officials believed that the Chinese would not test a weapon until “sometime after the end of 1964.” State Department China specialist Allen Whiting, an official at the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, thought otherwise. Like his colleagues he was unaware that the Chinese had an operating gaseous diffusion plant which was producing weapons-grade material. Yet, he made more than the CIA of the fact that the Chinese had already constructed a 325 foot test tower at Lop Nur. Whiting was certain that the Chinese would not have taken the trouble to construct a tower unless a test was impending, although CIA technical experts were dubious. As other intelligence information becomes available, Whiting estimated a test on 1 October. (Interview with Whiting by William Burr, 13 December 1996).
Document 3: Memorandum for the Record, McGeorge Bundy, 15 September 1964
Source: Lyndon B. Johnson Library.
This report of a meeting between President Johnson’s top advisers discloses the administration’s basic approach toward the first Chinese nuclear test but nevertheless raises questions that have yet to be settled. Although it is evident that the administration had provisionally ruled out a preemptive strike, it is unclear whether Secretary of State Rusk ever had any substantive discussions of the Chinese nuclear issue with Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin during the weeks after this meeting.
Until recently, paragraph 3 of this document was entirely excised but a successful appeal by the National Security Archive led the National Archives to release all but the date of the proposed “Chinat” overflight, presumably by a U-2. The date of the overflight is unknown although a number took place in late 1964 and early 1965 to monitor Chinese nuclear weapons facilities.
Document 4: “China As a Nuclear Power (Some Thoughts Prior to the Chinese Test)”, 7 October 1964
Source: FOIA request to State Department
This document was prepared by the Office of International Security Affairs at the Department of Defense, possibly by, or under the supervision of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Henry S. Rowen, who drafted other papers on the Chinese nuclear program during this period. It probably typified the “worst case” scenarios developed by those who believed that a nuclear China would become such a serious threat that it would be necessary to attack Chinese nuclear weapons facilities as a counter-proliferation measure.
Document 5: State Department Telegram No. 2025 to U.S. Embassy Paris, 9 October 1964
Source: U.S. National Archives, Record Group 59, Department of State Records, Central Foreign Policy Files, 1964-1966, file DEF 12-1 Chicom
This document provides one example of Washington’s efforts to get “hard” information on the PRC’s atomic test not long before it occurred on 16 October. In early September, several weeks before the State Department sent this cable, Allen Whiting saw a CIA report on a meeting earlier in the year between Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai and President of Mali Modibo Keita, when Zhou was visiting West Africa. Zhou told Keita that China would be testing an atomic device in October and asked him to give political support to the test when it occurred. Whiting was sure that Zhou’s statement should be taken seriously and on the basis of this and other information he convinced Secretary of State Rusk to announce, on 29 September, that a test would soon occur. (Interview with Whiting). The CIA report is unavailable but this telegram suggests that Zhou’s statement or similar comments by PRC officials to friendly governments may have leaked to the press.
Document 6: “Destruction of Chinese Nuclear Weapons Capabilities”, by G.W. Rathjens, U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, 14 December 1964.
Source: FOIA request to State Department
George Rathjens, the author of this document, was an ACDA official serving on an interagency group, directed by White House staffer Spurgeon Keeny, that assisted the President’s Task Force on the Spread of Nuclear Weapons, better known as the Gilpatric Committee after its chairman, former Deputy Secretary of Defense Roswell Gilpatric. Whether Rathjens prepared it as his own initiative or at the Committee’s request is unclear, but it may have been the latter because the Committee considered the possibility of recommending an attack on Chinese nuclear weapons facilities as part of a program to check nuclear proliferation. In this document, Rathjens summarized Roben Johnson’s still classified study of the costs and benefits of various types of attacks on the Chinese nuclear weapons complex. Apparently one of the possibilities, an “air drop of GRC [Government of the Republic of China] sabotage team” received serious consideration earlier in the year.
Taking a more bullish view of the benefits of attacking Chinese nuclear facilities, Rathjens took issue with Johnson’s conclusion that the “significance of a [Chicom nuclear] capability is not such as to justify the undertaking of actions which would involve great political costs or high military risks.” However confident Rathjens may have been that a successful attack could discourage imitators and check nuclear proliferation, that recommendation did not go into the final report, which has recently been declassified in full.
Before ACDA declassified this document in its entirety, a lightly excised version was available at the Johnson Library. Shane Maddock of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s History Department, published the excised version with stimulating commentary in the April 1996 issue of the SHAFR Newsletter.
Document 7: “As Explosive as a Nuclear Weapon”: The Gilpatric Report on Nuclear Proliferation, January 1965
Source: Freedom of Information Act request to State Department
Sections excised from previous releases are outlined in red.
Note: Since the Archive published this document, the Department of State has released Foreign Relations of the United States, Arms Control and Disarmament, 1964-1968, Volume XI, which includes the full text of the Gilpatric Report along with valuable background material.
Here the Archive publishes, for the first time, the complete text of the “Gilpatric Report”, the earliest major U.S. government-sponsored policy review of the spread of nuclear weapons. Largely motivated by concern over the first Chinese atomic test in October 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson asked Wall Street lawyer and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Roswell Gilpatric to lead a special task force in investigating, and making policy recommendations on, the spread of nuclear weapons. Owing to his extensive connections in high-level corporate and governmental circles, Gilpatric was able to recruit a group of unusually senior former government officials, including DCI Allen Dulles, U. S. High Commissioner to Germany John J. McCloy, White House Science Adviser George Kistiakowsky, and SACEUR Alfred Gruenther. Johnson announced the formation of the committee on 1 November 1964. The committee completed its report in early 1965 and presented it to President Johnson on 21 January 1965.
The report came at a time when senior Johnson administration officials had important disagreements over nuclear proliferation policy. Johnson and Secretary of State Dean Rusk were already heavily committed to a Multilateral Force [MLF] designed to give the Germans and other European allies the feeling of sharing control over NATO nuclear weapons decisions while diverting them from developing independent nuclear capabilities. This complicated negotiations with Moscow which saw the MLF as incompatible with a nonproliferation treaty; nevertheless, Johnson and Rusk gave the MLF priority on the grounds that it would secure West Germany’s non-nuclear status1. Further, some senior officials thought that nuclear proliferation was inevitable and, among the right countries, potentially desirable. Thus, during a November 1964 meeting, Rusk stated that he was not convinced that “the U.S. should oppose other countries obtaining nuclear weapons.” Not only could he “conceive of situations where the Japanese or the Indians might desirably have their own nuclear weapons”, Rusk asked “should it always be the U.S. which would have to use nuclear weapons against Red China?” Robert McNamara thought otherwise: it was “unlikely that the Indians or the Japanese would ever have a suitable nuclear deterrent2.
The Gilpatric Committee tried to resolve the debate by taking an unhesitatingly strong position against nuclear proliferation, recommending that the United States “greatly intensify” its efforts to halt the spread of nuclear weapons. Besides calling for an international treaty on “non-dissemination and non-acquisition of nuclear weapons”, the report included a range of suggestions for inhibiting proliferation in specific countries in Europe, the Near East, and Asia. The latter generally involved a carrot and stick approach: inducements to discourage independent nuclear programs but a more assertive policy if inducements failed. For example, with respect to Israel, Washington would continue to offer “assurances” against Egyptian-Syrian attack; however, “make clear to Israel that those assurances would be withdrawn if she develops a nuclear weapons capability.” With respect to the MLF controversy, the report questioned Johnson administration policy by suggesting the “urgent exploration of alternatives” to permanently inhibit German nuclear weapons potential.
Spurgeon Keeny, the Committee’s staff director, believes that the report “got to LBJ that the Establishment was really worried about nuclear proliferation and that steps could be taken to do something about it”3. Yet, however Johnson may have thought about the report’s line of argument and recommendations, his immediate response appears to have been skeptical because it challenged the Administration’s emphasis on the MLF as a means to manage the German nuclear problem. Unquestionably, this contributed heavily to his decision to bar circulation of the report except at the cabinet level. Dean Rusk fully agreed, according to Glenn Seaborg’s account of a briefing for Johnson, Rusk opined that the report was “as explosive as a nuclear weapon.” Like Johnson, Rusk worried about leaks; moreover, he opposed the report’s message on Germany as well as other countries that it singled out. Uncontrolled revelations about the report would have quickly complicated U.S. relations with France, Germany, and lsrael, among others4.
One important section of the report, on possible initiatives toward the Soviet Union and their relationship to nonproliferation goals, has been declassified for some time. In it (beginning on p. 16), the Committee called for a verified fissile material cutoff (although production of tritium permitted) and strategic arms control agreements. By recommending a strategic delivery vehicle freeze (misspelled “free” in text), significant reductions in strategic force levels, and a moratorium on ABM and ICBM construction, the report presaged (and went beyond) the SALT I agreement of 1972. Elsewhere (p. 8) the Committee called for U.S. efforts to work with the Soviets in building support for a comprehensive nuclear test ban. For the Committee, U.S.-Soviet cooperation in those areas were essential because they would help create an “atmosphere conducive to wide acceptance of restraints on nuclear proliferation.”
Participants and close observers have offered conflicting analyses of the report’s impact. Some, such as Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Glenn Seaborg, downplay its significance noting that other political developments had more influence on Johnson administration policy. Others, such as Keeny and Raymond Garthoff (who represented the State Department on the Committee’s interagency staff) believe that even if the Gilpatric report did not quickly lead to tangible policy changes, it educated the President as well as its members on the significance of the nuclear proliferation issue. Keeny further argues that the report helped prepare Johnson to give strong support to a nonproliferation treaty in 1966 after the MLF approach to the German nuclear problem had lost momentum5.
No doubt owing to classification problems, the literature on the Gilpatric Committee and the early history of U.S. non- proliferation policy is sparse6. With the report fully declassified and other related information becoming available, it should now be possible for historians and social scientists to assess the Gilpatric Committee’s contribution to Lyndon Johnson’s nuclear proliferation policy. Whatever the Gilpatric report’s immediate impact may have been, the future turned out very differently than its critics anticipated. The slowing of nuclear proliferation has proven to be possible and a major goal of the Gilpatric committee–a nearly universal nonproliferation regime–came to pass. To the extent, however, that important measures supported by the Committee have yet to be acted upon–e.g., a fissile materials production cut off–or ratified, e.g., the CTBT–the report stands in harsh judgement of current international efforts to curb nuclear proliferation.
1. For a useful overview of the MLF-NPT interrelationships, see George Bunn, Arms Control By Committee, Managing Negotiations with the Russians (Stanford University Press, 1992), 64-72.
2. Presumably, Rusk thought it better that Asians use nuclear weapons against each other rather than Euro-Americans using them against Asians. Quotations from memorandum of conversation by Herbert Scoville, ACDA, “Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons- Course of Action for UNGA – Discussed by the Committee of Principals”, 23 November 1964, National Archives, Record Group 359, White House Office of Science and Technology, FOIA Release to National Security Archive.
3. Telephone conversation with Spurgeon Keeny, 24 March 1997.
4. Glenn Seaborg with Benjamin S. Loeb, Stemming the Tide: Arms Control in the Johnson Years (Lexington, MA: 1987), 143-145. This is the only generally available account of Johnson’s meeting with the committee. Neither Dean Rusk’s nor Lyndon Johnson’s memoirs mention the report.
5. Seaborg, Stemming the Tide, 148-149, although he provides a dissent from Keeny. Herbert York, Making Weapons, Talking Peace: A Physicists odyssey from Hiroshima to Geneva (New York, 1987), also downplays the report’s significance. Telephone conversation with Keeny, 24 March 1997; conversation with Raymond Garthoff, 28 March 1997. George Bunn, Arms Control by Committee, 75-81, is useful on the negotiations but does not mention the report.
6. George Perkovich’s “India’s Ambiguous Bomb” (forthcoming Ph.D. dissertation, University of Virginia), explores the impact of the Gilpatric report on Johnson’s policy, among other subjects.
For further reading:
Willis C. Armstrong et al., “The Hazards of Single-Outcome Forecasting,” in H. Bradford Westerfield, Inside ClA ‘s Private World: Declassified Articles from the Agency’s Internal Journal, 1955-1992 (New Haven, 1995), 238-254
Gordon H. Chang, Friends and Enemies: The United States, China, and the Soviet Union, 1948-1972 (Stanford, 1990)
Rosemary Foot, The Practice of Power, U.S. Relations with China Since 1949 (Oxford, 1995)
John Wilson Lewis and Xue Litai, China Builds The Bomb (Stanford, 1988)
Chris Pocock, Dragon Lady: The History of the U-2 Spyplane (Airlife, England, 1989), especially ch. 6, “Parting the Bamboo Curtain”
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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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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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.
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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.
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
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.”
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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
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 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.
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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 Continue reading “SECRET: 60th – Anniversary of Castle BRAVO Nuclear Test, the Worst Nuclear Test in U.S. History”
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 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.”
A 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.
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.
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’s “CIA 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.”
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
This memorandum reaffirms President Clinton’s 1995 presidential determination (Document 8).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
 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.
 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.
 Ibid., p. 57.
 Ibid., p. 274.
 Ibid., pp. 274, 284. The OXCART, KEDLOCK, TAGBOARD, and SR-71 Programs will be the subject of a future electronic briefing book.
 For the SKYLAB incident see, Dwayne Day, “Astronauts and Area 51: The Skylab Incident,” The Space Review (www.thespacereview.com), January 9, 2006.
 Trevor Paglen, Blank Spots: The Dark Geography of the Pentagon’s Secret World (New York: Dutton, 2009), p. 41.
 Pedlow and Welzenbach, The Central Intelligence Agency and Overhead Reconnaissance, p. 129-130, 259.
 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.
 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Technology Transition (Arlington, Va.: DARPA, n.d., but circa 1998-2000), p. 66.
 Rich and Janos, Skunk Works , p. 96.
 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.
 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.
 Directorate of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, Soviet Work on Radar Cross Section Reduction Applicable to a Future Stealth Program , February 1984, p. iii.
 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.
 Barnes, “Exploitation of Soviet MiGs at Area 51.”
 “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).
 “Slater Lake,” Roadrunners Internationale Monthly House Six News and Gossip , October 1, 2008, p. 8.
 For an account of the TACIT BLUE effort, see Peter Grier, “The (Tacit) Blue Whale,” Air Force Magazine , August 1996.
 For an account of the BIRD OF PREY program, see Bill Sweetman, “Bird of Prey,” Popular Science , January 2003, pp. 44-49.
President Ford confers with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Deputy National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft in the Oval Office, 8 October 1974, photograph by David Hume Kennerly (Photo from Gerald R. Ford Library, Image A1274-17A)
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
A window on talking Kissinger
“Dr. Kissinger, Mr. President”
The Kissinger State Department Telcons
The Kissinger Telcons
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:
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.
The telcons of Henry A. Kissinger have a long and checkered history. 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.
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.
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.
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). 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.
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.”
 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
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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 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.
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
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pre-strike assessment photograph of the Belgrade Army Garrison and headquarters, Serbia.
Post-strike damage assessment photograph of the Belgrade Army Garrison and Headquarters, Serbia, attacked during Operation Allied Force.
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
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.
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).
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.
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.
Washington, D.C., April 26, 2013 – Since at least 1997, the National Security Agency (NSA) has been responsible for developing ways to attack hostile computer networks as part of the growing field of Information Warfare (IW), according to a recently declassified internal NSA publication posted today by the non-governmental National Security Archive (“the Archive”) at The George Washington University. Declaring that “the future of warfare is warfare in cyberspace,” a former NSA official describes the new activity as “sure to be a catalyst for major change” at the super-secret agency.
The document is one of 98 items the Archive is posting today that provide wide-ranging background on the nature and scope of U.S. cyber activities.
Activities in cyberspace — both defensive and offensive — have become a subject of increasing media and government attention over the last decade, although usually the focus has been on foreign attacks against the United States, most notably the Chinese government’s reported exploitation of U.S. government, commercial and media computer networks. At the same time, the apparent U.S.-Israeli created Stuxnet worm, designed to damage Iranian centrifuges, has put the spotlight on the United States’ own clandestine cyber efforts.
The NSA’s new assignment as of 1997, known as Computer Network Attack (CNA), comprises “operations to disrupt, deny, degrade or destroy” information in target computers or networks, “or the computers and networks themselves,” according to the NSA document.
Today’s posting by the Archive highlights various aspects of U.S. cyberspace activities and concerns going back to the late 1970s. The documents — obtained from government and private websites as well as Freedom of Information Act requests — originate from a wide variety of organizations. These include the White House and National Security Council, the National Security Agency, the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Homeland Security, the military services, the General Accounting/ Government Accountability Office, and the Congressional Research Service — as well as three private organizations (Project 2049, Mandiant Corporation, and Symantec).
Source: Department of Homeland Security (see Document 52).
Among the highlights of the documents are:
The NSA’s earlier concerns about the vulnerability of sensitive computer systems to either viruses or compromise through foreign intelligence service recruitment of computer personnel (Document 1, Document 2, Document 3, Document 4, Document 9)
The Secretary of Defense’s March 1997 authorization of the National Security Agency to conduct computer network attack operations (Document 11)
Detailed discussions of Chinese computer network exploitation activities (Document 66, Document 79, Document 83)
Analyses of the Stuxnet worm (Document 40, Document 42, Document 44, Document 88)
Extensive treatments of intelligence collection concerning U.S. technologies through computer network exploitation (Document 18, Document 55, Document 63)
* * *
Cyberspace and U.S. National Security
By Jeffrey T. Richelson
In an October 2012 speech (Document 78), then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told a group of business executives that “a cyber attack perpetrated by nation states [or] violent extremist groups could be as destructive as the terrorist attack on 9/11,” and raised the prospect of a “cyber Pearl Harbor.” In his February 2013 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama asserted that “our enemies are … seeking the ability to sabotage our power grid, our financial institutions, our air traffic control systems.” Later that month, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper led off his annual threat assessment (Document 90) appearance before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence with a discussion of the Intelligence Community’s assessment of the cyber threat.1
Stuxnet: “The world’s first precision cybermunition.” Source: Department of Homeland Security (see Document 52)
Concern about the potential damage of cyber attack did not originate in the current administration. Even before the establishment of the computer connectivity of the current Internet-era, there was concern, including in the National Security Agency, about the threat of computer viruses (Document 1, Document 2, Document 3, Document 4, Document 5, Document 6) or the vulnerability of computer systems due to recruitment efforts by hostile intelligence services (Document 9). More recently, the William J. Clinton and George W. Bush administrations focused on the connection between cyberspace and national security, issued policy directives, and considered and/or authorized both public and covert actions.
Occasionally, some of those concerns have been met with skepticism. Critiques have included the assertion that the very structure of the Internet means it is not subject to a ‘Pearl Harbor’ type attack — that is, an attack at single point. The association of power outages in the northeastern United States in 2003 and Brazil in 2007 with cyberattacks has been challenged by reviewers and experts — who point to studies that concluded there were other, more mundane, causes. One writer has asserted that cyberwar is not here, and that it is not coming. Additional issues that have been raised include the lack of disclosed evidence with regard to more extreme claims concerning the threat, the dangers of threat inflation (including facilitating the expenditure on ‘cyber pork’), and the extent to which the costs of other types of criminal activity (such as car theft) dwarf the cost of cyber crime.2 What is indisputable, however, is the dramatic increase in attention — both in the U.S. Government and private industry — to activities in cyberspace in the last decade — which has been reflected in both media coverage and the release of private and government documents.
Attacks & Exercises
Source: Defense Science Board. See Document 81.
Significant attention has been devoted, in both the classified and unclassified realms, to actual attacks as well as exercises that have sought to determine the vulnerability of key government and infrastructure systems to attack.
The Government Accounting Office (renamed the Government Accountability Office in 2004) reported (Document 6) that between April 1990 and May 1991, a period that encompassed Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, computer hackers from the Netherlands penetrated 34 Department of Defense sites. According to that report, the hackers were able to access “unclassified, sensitive information” concerning military personnel, logistics, and weapons systems development. The report also asserted that, particularly during times of international conflict, “such information … can be highly sensitive.”
In March and April 1994, according to GAO reports (Document 10a, Document 10b), the Air Force’s Rome Laboratory, in upstate New York, was targeted by a pair of hackers (a 16-year old British student and a 22-year old Israeli technician) who, using “Trojan Horse” and “sniffer” programs, managed to take control of the lab’s networks. In addition to taking all of the lab’s 33 subnetworks offline for several days, the hackers also stole air tasking order research data and gained access to systems at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, and a variety of defense contractors.
Source: Defense Science Board. See Document 81.
In February 1998, several Department of Defense networks were attacked through a commonly understood vulnerability in the Solaris (UNIX-based) computer system — the investigation of which was designated SOLAR SUNRISE. The attack involved probing Defense Department servers to determine if the vulnerability existed, and then exploiting it — entering the system and planting a program to collect data. The hackers, ultimately discovered to be two California high school students, also mounted at least a second intrusion to extract data from the penetrated computers.3
In 2003, a series of computer intrusions were directed against the U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), the U.S. Redstone Arsenal, the Army Space and Strategic Defense Command, and several DoD contractors – but they apparently went undetected for several months. That series of intrusions was labeled TITAN RAIN, and Defense Department investigators believed it to have originated in China. In June 2006, Department of Energy officials acknowledged that the names of and personal information of more than 1,500 National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) employees had been stolen due to network intrusion that apparently began in 2004.4
Another set of attacks that attracted attention (Document 27) was directed against former Soviet-controlled territories, and was widely believed to have been the work of the Russian government. On July 20, 2008, the Georgian president’s website was subjected to a denial-of-service attack. On August 8, a coordinated, distributed denial-of-service attack occurred on other Georgian government websites. At that time, Russian forces were engaged in combat with Georgian forces. Additional cyber attacks on Lithuanian and Kyrgzstan targets took place in June 2008 and January 2009, respectively. The attack on Lithuanian websites occurred three days after that country passed legislation outlawing the use of Soviet and communist symbols, while the January 2009 attack took place on the same day that Russia tried to pressure Kyrgyzstan to revoke U.S. access to the Bishkek airbase being used as a transit point for supplies to Afghanistan.5
Since that time there have been numerous reports of cyber incidents. Included have been a series of attacks on global energy targets, dubbed NIGHT DRAGON, a 2012 cyber attack on the Saudi Arabian state-owned Aramco oil company, and cyber attacks on U.S. banks and companies — attacks alleged to have been the responsibility of Iran.6
Along with the actual intrusions that have been taking place for over two decades, the United States has also conducted a number of exercises and studies in an attempt to assess the extent of computer network vulnerability. The first exercise, designated ELIGIBLE RECEIVER, was conducted over 90 days in 1997, and involved a Red Team consisting of 35 individuals. Simulated, and apparently successful, cyber attacks were made against government and private power and communications networks in Oahu, Los Angeles, Colorado Springs, St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, Washington, D.C., Fayetteville, and Tampa. The head of the Pentagon’s Joint Task Force – Computer Network Defense, wrote that the exercise “clearly demonstrated our lack of preparation for a coordinated cyber and physical attack on our critical military and civilian infrastucture.”7
A subsequent exercise, designated LIVEWIRE, was conducted by the Department of Homeland Security. In 2005, the CIA’s Information Operations Center conducted a three-day exercise, codenamed SILENT HORIZON. The objective of the exercise was to practice defending against a cyber attack that would be on the same scale as the September 11, 2001, events, and would target both governmental and private sectors.8
Intelligence and Threat Assessments
Intelligence/threat assessments concerning cyberspace include estimates of the current and projected future cyber capabilities and activities of a variety of nations and groups. They can also include assessments of the specific threats faced by government and private organizations in relation to the current state of cyber security.
In late 2012 and early 2013, several press sources reported that a national intelligence estimate focused on worldwide cyber activities had either been completed or was in the process of completion. An earlier estimate was produced in February 2004: NIE-2004-01D/I, Cyber Threats to the Information Infrastructure. An additional national intelligence product was produced for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) by the Intelligence Science Board – a January 2008 report titled Technical Challenges of the National Cyber Initiative. 9
None of those products has been released, even in redacted form. Estimates and assessments which have been released include those produced by the Congressional Research Service, the Defense Security Service, a ODNI component, and a contractor for the U.S.-China Security and Economic Review Commission. In 2007, the CRS examined (Document 24), inter alia, examples of vulnerabilities that terrorists might decide to exploit in attempting a coordinated cyberattack and ways that terrorists might be improving their cyber skills. The report, Terrorist Capabilities for Cyberattack: Overview and Policy Issues, noted different views concerning the ability of Al-Qaeda (or other terrorist groups) to launch a significant cyberattack and the related danger of a “Digital Pearl Harbor.” It also noted a CIA assessment, provided in April 2002 to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, that “cyberwarfare attacks against the U.S. critical infrastructure will become a viable option for terrorists as they become more familiar with the technology required for the attacks.”
A 2004 assessment of the intelligence threat (Document 18), particularly from nations or others seeking to conduct economic espionage was produced by the Interagency OPSEC Support Staff. One chapter focuses on ‘Computers and the Internet’. In addition to providing a history of Internet security and discussing the relationship between website content and operational security, it also explores the roots of network vulnerability and eight outsider attack techniques – including scanning, packet sniffing, and malware.
Several unclassified assessments (Document 26, Document 43, Document 63) by the Defense Security Service have focused on foreign attempts to acquire advanced U.S. technology. The most recent version (Document 63), as with previous versions, examines a variety of methods for acquiring information on U.S. technologies — including “suspicious network activity,” which was the most prevalent collection method for “entities originating from East Asia and the Pacific.”
A similar type of assessment (Document 55) was produced in October 2011 by the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, a component of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The report, Foreign Spies Stealing US Economic Secrets in Cyberspace, examines the vulnerability of US technologies and trade secrets to cyberspace operations, the threat from specific collectors (including Russia, China, and U.S. partners), and the outlook for the future (including both “near certainties” and “possible game changers”).
Key assessments of Chinese computer network exploitation that are in the public domain have been produced either by contractors in response to tasking from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission or by private organizations. In October 2009, the review commission released Capability of the People’s Republic of China to Conduct Cyber Warfare and Computer Network Exploitation (Document 30). It examined Chinese computer network exploitation activities, strategy and operations during a military conflict, key entities in Chinese computer network operations, cyber-espionage, an operational profile of an advanced cyber intrusion and a chronology of alleged Chinese computer network exploitation activities.
A second report (Document 66), also produced for the U.S.-China review commission, and released in 2012, Occupying the High Ground, focused on Chinese capabilities for computer network exploitation. It included a look at the key entities and institutions supporting Chinese computer network operations, potential risks to the U.S. telecommunications supply chain, and the risks and reality of collaboration between U.S. and Chinese information security firms. Along with the reports for the review commission, two private organizations have produced detailed reports on PRC computer espionage activities. In 2012, a research group focused on China released a study (Document 79) based on open sources and computer-based investigations, examining the roles of several PLA organizations in cyber operations, including the Third Department of the PLA General Staff Department, its 2nd Bureau as well as its Beijing North Computer Center. Early the next year, the Mandiant computer security company released its study (Document 83) on the 2nd Bureau — which discussed the tasking of the unit, its past espionage operations, attack lifecycle, and the unit’s infrastructure and personnel.
In contrast to the extensive public documents concerning China’s computer attack and exploitation activities, far less has appeared concerning similar Iranian activities. In 2012, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper did characterize them as “dramatically increasing in recent years in depth and complexity.” 10 A hearing in 2012 featured statements on Iranian cyber activities from two members of Congress and two non-governmental experts. (Document 71a, Document 71b, Document 71c, Document 71d).
Directives, Strategies, Policies, and Plans
While a number of presidential directives in earlier years addressed subjects such as communications security and information security, Presidential Decision Directive 63 (Document 12), Critical Infrastructure Protection, signed by President William J. Clinton on May 22, 1998, focused on protecting both “physical and cyber-based systems essential to the minimum operations of the economy and government.” Among the steps Clinton directed was the establishment of a National Infrastructure Assurance Plan, increased intelligence collection and analysis devoted to the cyber threat, and creation of a National Infrastructure Protection Center.
The George W. Bush administration produced a number of classified as well as unclassified documents concerning cyberspace. The first, National Security Presidential Directive 16 (NSPD-16) was reported to have been issued in July 2002 and provide guidelines for the conduct of offensive cyber operations. A public document, The National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace (Document 16), was released in February 2003 and was followed by the classified NSPD-38, with the same title, of July 7, 2004. A third classified directive, NSPD-54, Cyber Security and Monitoring, was issued on January 8, 2008. 11
President Obama has signed two Presidential Policy Directives concerning cybersecurity — the still classified PPD-20 (title unknown) and PPD-21, “Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience” (Document 86) — the latter following the failure of two proposed pieces of cybersecurity legislation to make it through Congress. Its key components are its delineation of roles and responsibilities, of officials and agencies, its identification of three strategic imperatives, and its direction to the Secretary of Homeland Security on steps to take to implement the directive. Issued the same day was an executive order (Document 87) that focused solely on critical infrastructure cybersecurity — including information sharing, reduction of cyber risk, and identification of critical infrastructure at greatest risk.
On May 8, 2009, the White House issued the results of its cyberspace policy review — Cyberspace Policy Review: Assuring a Trusted and Resilient Information and Communications Infrastructure (Document 28). It produced a plan that included establishing performance metrics, preparing a cybersecurity response plan, and instituting a national public awareness and education campaign to promote cybersecurity. In May 2011 the White House released its International Strategy for Cyberspace: Prosperity, Security, and Openness in a Networked World (Document 46), which discussed the building of U.S. cyberspace policy, the future of cyberspace, as well as U.S. policy priorities and concludes with the a discussion of the implementation of U.S. strategy. Then, in early 2013, along with PPD-21 and the related executive order, the administration released Administration Strategy on Mitigating the Theft of U.S. Trade Secrets (Document 82). Part of the strategy concerns mitigating cyber theft and describes four action items – diplomatic efforts, voluntary practices by industry, enhancing domestic law enforcement operations, improving domestic legislation, and promoting public awareness.
Numerous departments also have produced cyber strategy documents at various levels of classification. In 2006, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff produced the National Military Strategy for Cyberspace Operations (Document 23), which was classified Secret. Its introduction described it as the “comprehensive strategy of the U.S. Armed Forces to ensure U.S. military superiority in cyberspace.” Since released under the Freedom of Information Act, the document identified four strategic priorities in implementing the strategy – including gaining and maintaining the initiative to operate within adversary decision cycles and integrating cyber capabilities across the full range of military operations using cyberspace. In July 2011, that strategy was replaced by the unclassified Department of Defense Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace (Document 50) — which noted five strategic initiatives with regard to DoD operations in cyberspace. Those initiatives include treating cyberspace as an operational domain with regard to organization, training, and equipment as well as employing new concepts to protect DoD networks and systems.
The individual military services and their components have also produced their own policy and planning documents concerning cyberspace activities. In February 2010, the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command published an unclassified pamphlet (Document 33) on how cyber operations would be integrated into the full spectrum of Army operations. The next year, the Air Force produced Air Force Doctrine Document 3-12, Cyberspace Operations (Document 60), which included a discussion of the design, planning, execution, and assessment of cyberspace operations.
Civilian departments have also produced their own strategy documents — such as the Department of Homeland Security’s November 2011 Blueprint for a Secure Cyber Future (Document 58), which listed four cybersecurity goals (including reducing exposure to cyber risk and increasing resilience) and nine means for achieving those goals.
In addition to presidential directives, departmental directives also serve to state policies as well as assign responsibilities. Thus, the 2006 DoD Directive 3600.01 (Document 22), “Information Operations,” assigned the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration responsibilities with regard to computer network defense — a responsibility since assumed by the department’s Chief Information Officer.. A January 2010 directive (Document 31) focuses on protection of unclassified Defense Department information that passes through or resides on Defense Industrial Base information systems and networks.
The Department of Energy has also issued its own directives concerning cybersecurity — including a September 2010 directive (Document 36) on the department’s cybersecurity management policy, including a statement of objectives, principles, responsibilities, and implementation, as well as a May 2011 directive (Document 48) which stipulates that the department’s cybersecurity policy be based on a risk management approach.
U.S. government organizations involved in cyberspace activities (excluding those involved in evaluating programs) can be found in the Intelligence Community, Department of Defense, and several civilian departments or agencies – including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security.
The most senior U.S. official concerned with the analysis of intelligence concerning foreign cyber capabilities and activities is a member of the DNI’s National Intelligence Council — the National Intelligence Officer for Cyber Issues — a position first established in May 2011. Sometime in the late 1990s, an Information Operations Center was established within the CIA’s Directorate of Operations (now the National Clandestine Service). It absorbed some of the functions of the Directorate of Science and Technology’s Clandestine Information Technology Office. The office was officially described as being responsible for addressing “collection capabilities within emerging information technologies.” The Center’s Analysis Group is located in the Directorate of Intelligence and evaluates foreign threats to U.S. computer systems, particularly those that support critical infrastructure. 1 2
The National Security Agency’s involvement in cyber security is a consequence of its long-time role in insuring first communications and then information security for various components of the government and private sector as well as its need to insure the security of the computers it has relied on heavily for decades (e.g. Document 2, Document 3, Document 4). Its role in computer network exploitation – of gathering electronic “data at rest” is a natural extension of its signals intelligence role of gathering “data in motion.” In March 1997, according to an article (Document 11) by a former deputy director, it was also assigned the mission of computer network attack.
A major step in the organization of U.S. cyberspace activities, indicative of an upgrade in attention, occurred in late June 2009, when Secretary of Defense Robert Gates ordered (Document 29) the establishment of a unified U.S. Cyber Command subordinate to the U.S. Strategic Command. In his memo Gates noted that he would recommend to the president that he appoint the director of the National Security Agency as commander of the Cyber Command, that the command would reach initial operating capability by October 2009 and full operating capability by October 2010. He also directed disestablishment of STRATCOM’s Joint Task Force — Global Network Operations (JTF-GNO) and Joint Functional Component Command — Network Warfare (JFCC-NW) prior to the new command reaching full capability. In addition, Gates wrote that his memorandum “reinforces, but does not expand, USSTRATCOM authorities and responsibilities for military cyberspace operations.”
According to a brief fact sheet (Document 38), the Cyber Command is responsible for planning, coordinating, and conducting the operations and defense of specified Department of Defense information networks.” It also, when directed, conducts “full-spectrum military cyberspace operations.” Its current headquarters organization, as depicted in an organization chart (Document 92), was released in April 2013.
Subordinate to the Cyber Command are its component commands — Army Forces Cyber Command; the 24th Air Force (a component of the Air Force Space Command); the U.S. Fleet Cyber Command (Document 69), which oversees the Navy Information Operations Command; the Navy Cyber Warfare Development Group; the Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command; and the Marine Forces Cyber Command.
In June 2002, the Director of the FBI established a Cyber Division. The division is responsible for coordinating and supervising the FBI’s investigation of federal violations “in which the Internet, computer systems, or networks are exploited as the principal instruments or targets of terrorist organizations, foreign government-sponsored intelligence operations, or criminal activity, and for which the use of such systems is essential to that activity.” 13
The Department of Homeland Security established the National Cyber Security Division (NCSD) in June 2003 “to serve as the national focal point for cybersecurity and to coordinate implementation of the February 2003 national cyberspace strategy (Document 16). Its mission (Document 52) is to “serve as the Federal Government’s lead in assessing, mitigating and responding to cyber risks in collaboration with Federal, State and local governments, the private sector, academia, and international partners.”
Cybersecurity White Papers
The most public aspect of U.S. activities in cyberspace centers around standard cybersecurity operations. In addition to documents such as presidential and departmental directives or strategy documents that stipulate cybersecurity goals, objectives or specific activities, there are a variety of other relevant documents.
Included are a number of “white papers” which described cybersecurity efforts. In March 2010, the White House released The Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (Document 34), which described details of the initiative launched in the previous administration and provided details of a dozen different components of the effort. In February 2010, the Department of Homeland Security released a paper (Document 32) describing various cybersecurity activities — such as the operation of the EINSTEIN intrusion detection system. In July 2011 a DHS official briefed his audience (Document 52) on a variety of topics — including the department’s National Cyber Security Division, hacking activities directed at both government and private organizations, the Stuxnet worm, and the NIGHT DRAGON exploitation effort, and cybersecurity advisory activities.
Computer Network Exploitation
Computer network exploitation (CNE) has been defined (Document 22) as “enabling operations and intelligence collection to gather data from target or adversary automated information systems or networks.” Such exploitation operations can be intended to produce information about the computer systems and networks as a prelude to a network attack or as another method of gathering economic or military intelligence. 14
CNE operations are examined in a number of intelligence threat assessments, including the Defense Security Service (Document 26, Document 43, Document 63) assessments, as well as the report by the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive. (Document 55). As noted above, Chinese CNE operations are discussed in two reports (Document 30, Document 66) for the U.S-China review commission as well as the reports by Project 2049 (Document 79) and the Mandiant Corporation (Document 83). In addition, an Army War College paper (Document 72) also examines Chinese cyber, including CNE, capabilities.
Computer Network Attack
Computer Network Attack (CNA) has been defined (Document 22) as “operations to disrupt, deny, degrade or destroy information resident in computers and computer networks, or the computers and networks themselves. According to former NSA official William B Black Jr. (Document 11), on March 3, 1997, the Secretary of Defense officially delegated to the National Security Agency the authority to develop CNA techniques. Prior to U.S.-led airstrikes against the Qaddafi government in March 2011, the U.S. reportedly considered a cyber offensive designed to disrupt and even disable the Libyan government’s air-defense system.15
What is widely believed to be the product of a joint U.S-Israeli CNA operation was the worm Stuxnet — part of a U.S. CNA effort designated OLYMPIC GAMES.16 The worm was reported to have infected Iranian industrial control systems at the Natanz nuclear facility and damaged Iranian centrifuges. While there has been no official U.S. or Israeli confirmation of their involvement in the operation, it has been the subject of reports by the RAND Corporation (Document 42) and Congressional Research Service (Document 40) as well as the Symantec computer security corporation.
The CRS paper (Document 40), The Stuxnet Computer Worm: Harbinger of an Emerging Warfare Capability, provides an overview of the worm, an exploration of possible developers and future users, a discussion of whether Iran was the intended target, as well as coverage of industrial control systems vulnerabilities and critical infrastructure, national security implications, and issues for Congress. RAND’s study, A Cyberworm that Knows No Boundaries (Document 42), explores the issues raised by the Stuxnet case, the vulnerabilities exploited, the difficulties in defending against such malware, and the problems posed by organizational and legal restrictions. It also provides a short assessment of the status of U.S. defensive capabilities and efforts required to improve those capabilities.
Symantec’s initial analysis (Document 44) provided a technical analysis of the worm, exploring the attack scenario, timeline, Stuxnet architecture, installation, load point, command and control, propagation methods, payload exports, payload resources, and other topics. A subsequent Symantec report (Document 88) stated that the company had “discovered an older version of Stuxnet that can answer questions about its evolution.”
Computer Network Defense
See Document 23.
Computer network defense is defined in the DoD Information Operations directive (Document 22) as “actions taken to protect, monitor, analyze, detect, and respond to unauthorized activity within DoD information systems and computer networks.” Those actions can include counterintelligence, law enforcement, and other military capabilities. The first of these is the subject of one classified DoD directive (Document 41) — “Counterintelligence (CI) Activities in Cyberspace.” That directive makes clear that those activities include not only counterintelligence collection and support but offensive counterintelligence operations.
Techniques for computer network defense are also the subject of two Naval Postgraduate School theses. A 2003 thesis (Document 17) explores the feasibility of employing deception against cyberterrorists, where cyberterrorists are defined by two criteria – that the aim of launching unlawful attacks or threatening such attacks on computers, networks, and the information stored in them is to intimidate or coerce a government or its people in pursuit of political or social objectives, and that the activities result either in violence against persons or property or cause enough harm to generate fear.
A 2008 thesis (Document 25) examines what the author believes to be the key elements of deterrence in cyberspace – including denial, the development and demonstration of overt punishment techniques, the establishment of thresholds, and the development and articulation of national policy – and the prospects for cyber deterrence.
Audits and Evaluations
Audits and evaluations of cybersecurity and other cyberspace operations have been conducted by the GAO and the inspectors general of the Defense, Energy, Homeland Security, and Justice departments.
The inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security produced a classified report, released with redactions (Document 54), which examined the department’s capability to share cyber threat information with other federal agencies and the private sector. A subsequent classified report, also released with redactions in August 2012 (Document 75), addressed the department’s international cybersecurity program and noted areas that could be targeted for improvement — including developing a strategic implementation plan for foreign engagement and improving communications between the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team and foreign entities.
The Department of Energy’s inspector general issued a report (Document 56) in October 2011 on the department’s unclassified cybersecurity program, which examined whether that program provided sufficient protection of its data and information systems. According to the report, corrective actions for only 11 of 35 cyber security weaknesses identified in the inspector general’s 2010 report had been completed. It also reported that there was a 60 percent growth in identified weaknesses over the 2010 report. In early 2013, the department’s inspector general issued a report (Document 84) on the cybersecurity program at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The Justice Department’s inspector general produced a 2011 audit report (Document 45) on the FBI’s ability to address the national security cyber intrusion threat. It reported on the FBI’s efforts in developing and operating the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force, and the ability of the FBI field offices to investigate national security cyber cases.
The GAO also produced a report (Document 47), released in May 2011, that evaluated the extent to which the Department of Defense and the U.S. Cyber Command had provided the military services with adequate guidance with respect to roles and responsibilities, command and control relationships, and mission requirements and capabilities with regard to cyberspace operations. Other GAO reports have examined continued challenges facing DoD (Document 49) and protection of critical infrastructure (Document 51, Document 62). A 2012 GAO report (Document 70) assessed the cyber threats to federal and other computer systems and vulnerabilities present in federal information systems and supporting critical infrastructure. A February 2013 report (Document 85) focused on the challenges facing the federal government in producing a strategic approach to cybersecurity.
Some GAO evaluations have focused on cybersecurity issues with respect to single components of critical U.S. infrastructure – including the electricity grid (Document 74), and pipelines (Document 76). The GAO’s report on securing the electricity grid examines cyber threats to the grid, actions taken to prevent attacks, and remaining challenges. The office’s pipeline study cybersecurity risks, U.S. pipeline security initiatives, and the adequacy of voluntary pipeline cybersecurity.
The increasing attention to cyberspace issues has also been reflected in the examination of associated legal issues — both in law journals and government documents.17
In November 1999, the Office of the General Counsel of the Department of Defense issued a second edition of An Assessment of International Legal Issues in Information Operations (Document 13). The section “Application to Computer Network Attacks” (pp.16-23) concludes with a one-paragraph assessment which begins, “It is far from clear the extent to which the world community will regard computer network attacks as ‘armed attacks’ or ‘uses of force,’ and how the doctrines of self-defense and countermeasures will be applied to computer network attacks.” More recently, an Air Force instruction (Document 53) specifies the responsibilities of different Air Force components for legal reviews of weapons and cyber capabilities as well as the content of such reviews.
Legal issues have also been examined by the Congressional Research Service. In a March 2012 paper (Document 65), CRS explored Fourth Amendment, civil liberties, and privacy issues related to the protection of critical infrastructure and the sharing of cybersecurity information — as well as the possibility of conflicts between state and federal cybersecurity law. Another CRS study (Document 73) examines possible cyber-related changes to 28 different statutes.
The question of whether the U.S. Cyber Command had sufficient legal authority to carry out its mission was the catalyst for an exchange of letters (Document 68a, Document 68b, Document 68c), beginning in March 2012, between Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and General Keith B. Alexander, Director of the National Security Agency and the commander of the U.S. Cyber Command. In his initial letter McCain posed six questions, while in his second letter he notes a number of disagreements with the content of Alexander’s responses.
Document 1: [Deleted], National Security Agency, “Computer Operating System Vulnerabilities,” Cryptolog, VI, 3 (March 1979). Unclassified.
This article, which appeared in a classified NSA journal, explores seven common computer operating system vulnerabilities, several penetration techniques, defensive measures, and future research areas.
Document 2: Robert J. Hanyok, National Security Agency, “Some Reflections on the Reality of Computer Security,” Cryptolog, IX, 6-7 (June-July 1982). Confidential.
The author of this article argues that while computer users at NSA have been confident that the security of their systems is “ironclad and invulnerable” the reality is quite different. He then notes a number of user practices and implementation problems that make those systems vulnerable.
Document 3: [Deleted], “Computer Virus Infections: Is NSA Vulnerable?,” Cryptologic Quarterly, 4, 3 (Fall 1985). Top Secret.
This paper examines the nature of computer viruses, whether there is an algorithm to determine whether a program is infected with a virus, different classes of attack (including compromise, spoofing, and denial of service), and solutions.
Document 4: [Deleted], “A First Generation Technical Viral Defense,” Cryptologic Quarterly, 7, 2 (Summer 1988). Secret.
This paper examines a defense, involving encryption, that can be used to respond to the detection of a computer virus — and means for checking the effectiveness of the response.
Document 5: General Accounting Office, GAO/IMTEC-89-57, Computer Security: Virus Highlights Need for Improved Internet Management, June 1989. Unclassified.
The catalyst for this report was a November 1988 computer virus that caused thousands of computers, in the United States and overseas, to shut down. The report provides details on some of the networks disrupted by the virus, the means of infection, and notes the vulnerabilities highlighted by the incident.
Document 6: General Accounting Office, GAO/T-IMTEC-92-5, Computer Security: Hackers Penetrate DOD Computer Systems, November 20, 1991. Unclassified.
This testimony of a GAO official concerns his division’s investigation of the attacks by Dutch hackers on Army, Navy, and Air Force computer systems — which the official characterizes as containing unclassified but sensitive information — during Operation Desert Storm/Shield. It examines how the hackers penetrated the systems, agency responses, and the need for greater attention to computer security.
Document 7: Richard Sylvester, National Security Agency, “NSA and Computer Viruses,” Cryptolog, XIX, 3 (1992). Unclassified/For Official Use Only.
This one-page article reports NSA classification guidelines with respect to any discussion of computer viruses with regard to NSA systems. Classification of specific facts ranged from Unclassified to Top Secret/Handle Via Comint Channels Only.
Document 8: [Deleted], National Security Agency, “Global Network Intelligence and Information Warfare: SIGINT and INFOSEC in Cyberspace,” Cryptolog, XXI,1 (1995). Top Secret/Handle Via Comint Channels Only.
This heavily-redacted article extends beyond cyber issues, but does note that “sophisticated telecommunications and data networks … make it possible to deny and degrade a potential adversary’s command and control communications and sensitive commercial and diplomatic communications from great distances with little or no risk to life and limb.”
Document 9: [Deleted], “Out of Control,” Cryptologic Quarterly, Special Edition, 15, 1996. Secret.
This article, in another National Security Agency journal, discusses the threat to computer systems containing classified information via human intelligence operations directed at systems administrators. A largely redacted section is titled “”Foreign Intelligence Services Are Already Targeting Computer Personnel,” while the final section offers recommendations on how to address the problem.
Document 10a: Government Accounting Office, GAO/AIMD- 96-84, Information Security: Computer Attacks at Department of Defense Pose Increasing Risks, May 22, 1996. Unclassified.
Document 10b: Jack L. Brock, General Accounting Office, GAO/T-AIMD-96-92, Information Security: Computer Attacks at Department of Defense Pose Increasing Risks, May 22, 1996. Unclassified.
This report and testimony by a GAO official reports on an examination of hacker attacks on Defense Department computer systems, including a 1994 episode that involved over 150 attempts to access the computer systems of Rome Laboratory — which resulted in the theft of air tasking research data and damage to the laboratory’s air tasking order research project “beyond repair,” according to lab officials. The report and testimony also discuss the challenges faced by DoD in securing its computer systems.
Document 11: William B. Black, National Security Agency, “Thinking Out Loud About Cyberspace,” Cryptolog, XXIII, 1 (Spring 1997). Secret.
This article, by a senior NSA official, notes that NSA was assigned the mission of computer network attack in March 1997, and argues that the world was on the verge of a new age — “the information age” — and that the future of war would be warfare in cyberspace.
Document 12: William J. Clinton, Presidential Decision Directive/NSC-63, Subject: Critical Infrastructure Protection, May 22, 1998. For Official Use Only/Unclassified.
Source: Federation of American Scientists (www.fas.org)
The introduction to this directive notes that the military and economy of the United States are “increasingly reliant upon certain critical infrastructures and upon cyber-based information systems.” The remainder of the 18-page directive specifies the President’s intent “to assure the continuity and validity of critical infrastructures” in the face of physical or cyber threats, states a national goal, delineates a public-private partnership to reduce vulnerability, states guidelines, specifies structure and organization, discusses protection of Federal government critical infrastructures, orders a NSC subgroup to produce a schedule for the completion of a variety of tasks, and directs that an annual implementation report be produced.
Document 13: Office of General Counsel, Department of Defense, An Assessment of International Legal Issues in Information Operations, Second Edition, November 1999. Unclassified.
The introduction to this assessment notes that information operations includes information attack which, in turn, includes computer network attack. It goes on to consider the implications of a variety of domestic and international laws and treaties with regard to information operations.
Document 14: Steven A. Hildreth, Congressional Research Service, Cyberwarfare, June 19, 2001. Unclassified.
This report discusses the definition of cyberwarfare, and contains three case studies — including the Rome Laboratory incident (Document 8a, Document 8b) and two exercises — and, inter alia, reviews U.S policy and doctrine, organization, and legal issues. It also discusses selected foreign views and activities with regard to cyberwar.
Document 15: Michael Vatis, ESDP Discussion Paper-2002-04, Cyber Attacks: Protecting America’s Security Against Digital Threats, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, June 2002. Not classified.
Source: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University (www.beflercenter.hks.harvard.edu)
This paper, written by the first director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Infrastructure Protection Center, examines: the range of cyber attackers (including insiders, criminal groups, virus writers, foreign intelligence services, foreign military organizations, terrorists, “hacktivists,” and recreational hackers), types of cyber attacks, the international component of cyber attacks, the federal response to cyber attacks, Presidential Decision Directives 62 and 63, and the policy of the George H.W. Bush administration. Vatis also offers recommendations concerning cyber research and development, alert status during conflict, and identifying best practices related to cyber security.
Document 16: The White House, The National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, February 2003. Unclassified.
This 76-page document discusses the strategy’s strategic objectives (including preventing cyber attacks against critical U.S. infrastructures), the government’s role in cyber security, the anticipated role of the Department of Homeland Security in cyber security, and five critical priorities for cyberspace security (including a national cyberspace security response system and international cooperation). A classified National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD-38), with the identical title, was issued on July 7, 2004.
Document 17: Kheng Lee Gregory Tran, Naval Postgraduate School, Confronting Cyberterrorism with Cyber Deception, December 2003. Unclassified.
Source: Dudley Knox Library, Naval Postgraduate School (www.nps.edu/library)
This master’s thesis examines the possibility of using deception to defeat or mitigate the damage from cyberterrorism. It examines, inter alia, the cyberterrorism threat, the values and risks of deception, nine varieties of cyber deception (including concealment, camouflage, false and planted information, ruses, and feints) and cyber defense, and the pitfalls of cyber defense.
Document 18: Interagency OPSEC Support Staff, Intelligence Threat Handbook, June 2004. Unclassified.
Source: Author’s Collection
The scope of this handbook is broader than cybersecurity, but one section — Computers and the Internet — addresses the history of Internet security, threats to computer network security, roots of network vulnerability, outsider attack techniques, insider attack techniques, and countermeasures.
Document 19: Office of Inspector General, Department of Homeland Security, OIG-04-29, Progress and Challenges in Securing the Nation’s Cyberspace, July 2004. Unclassified.
This document reports on the inspector general’s evaluation of the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to implement The National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace (Document 14). It notes “major accomplishments” — including the creation of a Computer Emergency Readiness Team, creation of the National Cyber Alert System, and sponsorship of the National Cyber Security Summit. It also notes “a number of challenges to address long-term cyber threats and vulnerabilities” — including the DHS National Cybersecurity Division’s need to prioritize its initiatives, identify resources required to carry out its mission, and develop strategic implementation plans.
Document 20: President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee, Report to the President, Cyber Security: A Crisis of Prioritization, February 2005. Unclassified.
The two main chapters of this report, prior to the concluding chapter, address the importance of cyber security and examine federal cyber security research and development efforts. In its concluding chapter the committee states its findings and recommendations with regard to federal funding for fundamental research in civilian cyber security, the cyber security research community, technology transfer efforts, and the coordination and oversight of federal cyber security research and development.
Document 21: Donald Rumsfeld, to Steve Cambone, Subject: Cyber Attack Issue, November 04, 2005, Unclassified/FOUO .
In this “snowflake” directed to his under secretary for intelligence, Rumsfeld suggests that Cambone consider establishing a group to review organization, budgeting, and presentation issues with regard to cyber attacks.
Document 22: Department of Directive O-3600.01, Subject: Information Operations, August 14, 2006. Unclassified/For Official Use Only.
Source: Department of Defense Freedom of Information Act Release
This directive states Department of Defense policy and responsibilities with regard to information operations (defined as the integrated deployment of electronic warfare, computer network operations, psychological operations, military deception, and operations security). Among those whose responsibilities are identified is the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration.
Document 23: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, The National Military Strategy for Cyberspace Operations, December 2006. Secret.
Source: Department of Defense Freedom of Information Act Release.
This strategy document was issued to provide guidelines to the Defense Department — including military service organizations, the unified commands, and DoD components (including agencies, field activities and other entities) — with regard to planning, executing, and allocating resources for cyberspace operations. Its main chapters focus on the strategic context, threats and vulnerabilities, strategic considerations, the military strategic framework, and implementation and assessment. Several enclosures address topics such as examples of threats and threat actors, examples of vulnerabilities, and strategic priorities and outcomes.
Document 24: John Rollins and Clay Wilson, Congressional Research Service, Terrorist Capabilities for Cyberattack: Overview and Policy Issues, January 22, 2007. Unclassified.
This study examines possible terrorists’ objectives in conducting cyberattacks, computer vulnerabilities that might make cyberattack against the U.S. homeland’s critical infrastructure viable, and emerging computer and technical skills of terrorists. It also examines the cybersecurity efforts of several government agencies, changing concerns about cyberattack, and a number of additional issues concerning terrorist or criminal cyber activities.
Document 25: Ryan J. Moore, Naval Postgraduate School, Prospects for Cyber Deterrence, December 2008. Unclassified.
The author of this thesis argues that with “more sectors of critical national infrastructure [being] interconnected in cyberspace,” the risk to national security from cyberattack “has increased dramatically.” He explores the fundamentals of strategic deterrence, the evolving cyber threat, deterrence strategy in cyberspace, and the prospects for cyber deterrence.
Document 26: Defense Security Service, Targeting U.S. Technologies: A Trend Analysis of Reporting from Defense Industry, 2009. Unclassified.
This assessment of foreign attempts to illicitly acquire U.S. technologies concerns a variety of techniques, including “suspicious internet activity” — which includes, but is not limited to “confirmed intrusion, attempted intrusion, [and] computer network attack.”
Document 27: Major William C. Ashmore, School of Advanced Military Studies, United States Army Command and General Staff, Impact of Alleged Russian Cyber Attacks, 2009. Unclassified.
This monograph was written to examine the implications of alleged Russian cyber attacks against Estonia and Georgia for the Russian Federation, former Soviet satellites, and international organizations.
Document 28: The White House, Cyberspace Policy Review: Assuring a Trusted and Resilient Information and Communications Infrastructure, May 8, 2009. Unclassified.
Source: The White House (www.whitehouse.gov)
This paper reports the results of a presidentially-directed 60-day comprehensive review to evaluate U.S. policies and organizational structures related to cybersecurity. The review produced seven main conclusions which included: “The Nation is at a crossroads,” “The status quo is no longer acceptable,” “The United States cannot succeed in securing cyberspace if it works in isolation,” and “The Federal government cannot entirely delegate or abrogate its role in securing the Nation from a cyber incident or accident.”
Document 29: Robert M. Gates, Memorandum to Secretaries of the Military Departments, Subject: Establishment of a Subordinate Unified U.S. Cyber Command Under U.S. Strategic Command for Military Cyberspace Operations, June 23, 2009. Unclassified.
This memo from the Secretary of Defense directs the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command to establish a U.S. Cyber Command and that the command reach an initial operating capability by October 2009 and a full operating capability by October 2010. It also informs the recipients of the Secretary’s plan to recommend to the president that the National Security Agency director also become commander of the Cyber Command.
Document 30: Bryan Krekel, Northrop Grumman, Capability of the People’s Republic of China to Conduct Cyber Warfare and Computer Network Exploitation, October 9, 2009. Unclassified .
Source: Air University (www.au.af.mil)
This study, prepared for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, focuses largely on Chinese computer network exploitation (CNE) as a strategic intelligence collection tool. It examines Chinese CNE operations strategy and operations during conflict, key entities in Chinese computer network operations, cyber-espionage, an operational profile of an advanced cyber intrusion, and a chronology of alleged Chinese computer network exploitation events.
Document 31: Department of Defense, DoD Instruction 5205.13, Subject: Defense Industrial Base (DIB) Cyber Security/Information Assurance (CS/IA) Activities, January 29, 2010. Unclassified.
This Defense Department instruction states policy, establishes responsibilities, and delegates authority with regard to the protection of unclassified DoD information that passes through or resides on unclassified Defense Industrial Base information systems and networks.
Document 32: Department of Homeland Security, Computer Network Security & Privacy Protection, February 19, 2010. Unclassified.
This white paper describes the Department of Homeland Security’s computer network security activities, which includes the operation of the EINSTEIN intrusion detection systems — including the systems collection methods and the implications for privacy protection. It also discusses topics such as oversight and compliance, the role of the National Security Agency, and future program development.
Document 33: U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, TRADOC Pamphlet 525-7-8, The United States Army’s Cyberspace Operations Concept Capability Plan, 2016-2028, February 22, 2010. Unclassified.
This pamphlet explores how “the Army’s future force in 2016-2028 will leverage cyberspace and CyberOps” and how CyberOps (which is specified to consist of four components — cyberwarfare, cyber network operations, cyber support, and cyber situational awareness) will be integrated into full spectrum operations.
Document 34: The White House, The Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative, March 2, 2010. Unclassified.
The release of this document by the Obama White House revealed details of the cybersecurity initiative launched during the previous administration. It provides basic details of twelve different components of the initiative — which include intrusion detection and prevention systems across the federal government, coordination and redirection of research and development efforts, enhancing situational awareness, increasing the security of classified networks, developing enduring deterrence strategies, and defining the role of the federal government for extending cybersecurity into critical infrastructure domains.
Document 35: Keith Alexander, Director, National Security Agency, Advanced Questions for Lieutenant General Keith Alexander, USA Nominee for Commander, United States Cyber Command, April15, 2010. Unclassified.
This 32-page documents consists of 28 questions (some with multiple parts) posed to, and answered by, General Alexander in advance of his appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee with respect to his nomination to head the newly formed U.S. Cyber Command.
Document 36: Department of Energy, DOE P 205.1, Subject: Departmental Cyber Security Management Policy, September 23, 2010. Unclassified.
This Department of Energy policy directive covers the six components of the department’s cyber security management policy — its objectives, guiding principles, core functions, mechanisms, responsibilities, and implementation.
Document 37: Janet Napolitano and Robert Gates (signators), Memorandum of Agreement Between the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense Regarding Cybersecurity, September 27, 2010. Unclassified.
The purpose of the agreement, signed by the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Defense, is specified as establishing the terms by which the two departments “will provide personnel, equipment, and facilities” in order to increase interdepartmental collaboration in strategic planning as well as operational activities concerning cybersecurity.
Document 38: Department of Defense, Cyber Command Fact Sheet, October 13, 2010. Unclassified.
This fact sheet provides basic information about the U.S. Cyber Command — including its mission, focus, and components.
Document 39: JASON, JSR-10-102, Science of Cyber-Security, November 2010. Unclassified.
This report, by the Defense Department’s JASON scientific advisory group, was a response to the department’s request that the group examine whether there were underlying fundamental principles that would make it possible to adopt a more scientific approach to the issue of cybersecurity. The sciences they examine for possible guidance are economics, meteorology, medicine, astronomy, and agriculture.
Document 40: Paul K. Kerr, John Rollins, and Catherine A. Theohary, Congressional Research Service, The Stuxnet Computer Worm: Harbringer of an Emerging Warfare Capability, December 9, 2010. Unclassified.
This short paper provides an overview of the Stuxnet worm, an exploration of possible developers and future users, a discussion of whether Iran was the intended target, as well as industrial control systems vulnerabilities and critical infrastructure, national security implications, and issues for Congress.
Document 41: Department of Defense, DoD Instruction S-5240.23, Subject: Counterintelligence (CI) Activities in Cyberspace, December 13, 2010. Secret.
Source: Department of Defense Freedom of Information Act Release.
According to this instruction, DoD counterintelligence activities in cyberspace are to be directed against foreign intelligence services and international terrorist organizations. The two key portions of the instruction define the responsibilities of DoD components and establish procedures for counterintelligence activities. While much of the segment concerning procedures is redacted in the declassified version, the table of contents indicates three different types of CI-related activities in cyberspace: counterintelligence support, counterintelligence collection, and offensive counterintelligence operations (OFCO).
Document 42: Isaac R. Porsche III, Jerry M. Sollinger, and Shawn McKay, RAND Corporation, A Cyberworm that Knows no Boundaries, 2011. Unclassified.
The catalyst for this paper were the reports of the Stuxnet worm (Document 40). It explores issues raised by “sophisticated yet virulent malware” — including the nature of the threats, the vulnerabilities exploited and the difficulties in defending against Stuxnet-type worms, and the problems posed by organizational and legal restrictions. It also provides a short assessment of the status of U.S. defensive capabilities and efforts required to improve those capabilities.
Document 43: Defense Security Service, Targeting U.S. Technologies: A Trend Analysis of Reporting from Defense Industry, 2011. Unclassified.
This report updates the Defense Security Service’s 2009 assessment of foreign attempts to illicitly acquire U.S. technologies, and concerns a variety of techniques, including “suspicious internet activity.” It notes a high level of suspicious network activity “in the form of cyber intrusion attempts directed at cleared contractor networks.”
Document 44: Nicolas Falliere, Liam O. Murchu, and Eric Chien, Symantec, W 32. Stuxnet Dossier, Version 1.4, February 2011. Not classified.
This study, prepared by the Symantec computer security firm, provides a technical analysis of the Stuxnet malware — exploring the attack scenario, timeline, Stuxnet architecture, installation, load point, command and control, propagation methods, payload exports, payload resources and other topics.
Document 45: Office of the Inspector General, Department of Justice, Audit Report 11-22, The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Ability to Address the National Security Cyber Intrusion Threat , April 2011. Secret.
The audit which is the subject of this report was conducted to evaluate the FBI’s efforts in developing and operating the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force in response to the national security cyber threat, and assess the FBI field offices’ capabilities to investigate national security cyber cases.
Document 46: The White House, International Strategy for Cyberspace: Prosperity, Security, and Openness in a Networked World, May 2011. Unclassified.
This policy document discusses the process of building U.S. cyberspace policy, the future of cyberspace (including the preferences of the U.S. and its role in achieving its preferred outcomes), and U.S. policy priorities (with regard to economic issues, network protection, law enforcement, and several additional issues). It concludes with a discussion of U.S. implementation of its strategy.
Document 47: Government Accountability Office, GAO-11-421, Defense Department Cyber Efforts: More Detailed Guidance Needed to Ensure Military Services Develop Appropriate Cyberspace Capabilities, May 2011. Unclassified.
This study was conducted to determine the extent to which the Defense Department and U.S. Cyber Command had provided the military services with adequate guidance with respect to roles and responsibilities, command and control relationships, and mission requirements and capabilities with regard to cyberspace operations.
Document 48: Department of Energy, DOE O 205.1B, Subject: Department of Energy Cyber Security Program, May 16, 2011. Unclassified .
This Energy department order states requirements for the department’s Cyber Security Program, which requires a risk management approach. It also specifies the responsibilities of over a dozen department components or officers in formulating and implementing the program.
Document 49: Government Accountability Office, GAO-11-75, Department of Defense Cyber Efforts: DOD Faces Challenges In Its Cyber Activities, July 2011. Unclassified.
This is an unclassified version of a previously classified report. It examines DoD’s organization for addressing cybersecurity threats as well as assessing the extent to which the Defense Department had developed a joint doctrine for cyberspace operations, assigned command and control responsibilities, and identified and addressed key capability gaps involving cyberspace operations.
Document 50: Department of Defense, Department of Defense Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace, July 2011. Unclassified .
The core of this strategy document is the discussion of five strategic initiatives with regard to DoD operations in cyberspace — treating cyberspace as an operational domain with regard to organization, training, and equipment; employing new defense operations concepts to protect DoD networks and systems; collaboration with other U.S. government departments and the private sector; cooperation with U.S. allies and international partners; and leveraging “the nation’s ingenuity” through the cyber work force and technological innovation.
Document 51: Gregory C. Wilshusen, Government Accountability Office, GAO-11-865T, Cybersecurity: Continued Attention Needed to Protect Our Nation’s Critical Infrastructure, July 26, 2011. Unclassified.
The focus of this study is the federal role in enhancing cybersecurity related to the private sector’s operation of critical infrastructure. It describes cyber threats facing cyber-reliant critical infrastructures; discusses recent federal government actions, taken in cooperation with the private sector, to identify and protect such infrastructures; and identifies challenges to the protection of those infrastructures.
Document 52: Bradford Willke, Department of Homeland Security, Moving Toward Cyber Resilience, July 27, 2011. Unclassified.
Source: Pubic Intelligence (http://info.publicintelligence.net/DHS-CyberResilience.pdf)
This briefing covers a number of topics, including the origins, organization, and mission of the DHS National Cyber Security Division, hacking activities directed at a number of government and private entities (the CIA, Booz Allen Hamilton, Lockheed Martin), the Stuxnet worm, an effort designated Night Dragon that involved cyber-theft of sensitive information from international oil and energy companies, and cyber security advisory activities.
Document 53: Department of the Air Force, Air Force Instruction 51-402, Legal Reviews of Weapons and Cyber Capabilities, July 27, 2011. Unclassified.
This instruction focuses on the responsibilities of different Air Force components for legal reviews of weapons and cyber capabilities, as well as the contents of such reviews.
Document 54: Office of Inspector General, Department of Homeland Security, Review of the Department of Homeland Security’s Capability to Share Cyber Threat Information (Redacted), September 2011, Unclassified.
The Fiscal Year 2010 Intelligence Authorization Act required the inspectors general of the Intelligence Community and DHS to provide Congress with an assessment of how cyber threat information is being shared among federal agencies and the private sector, the means used to share classified cyber threat information, and the effectiveness of the sharing and distribution of cyber threat information. In addition to providing such an assessment, the Inspector General made three recommendations to DHS.
Document 55: National Counterintelligence Executive, Foreign Spies Stealing US Economic Secrets in Cyberspace: Report to Congress on Foreign Economic Collection and Industrial Espionage, 2009-2011 , October 2011. Unclassified.
This report, produced by a component of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, consists of three major sections. One is the vulnerability of U.S. technologies and trade secrets to cyberspace operations and the appeal of cyberspace collection. Another examines the threat from specific collectors, including Russia, China, and U.S. partners. The third provides an outlook for the future, divided between sections on “near certainties” and “possible game changers.”
Document 56: Office of Inspector General, Department of Energy, DOE/IG-0856, Evaluation Report: The Department’s Unclassified Cyber Security Program – 2011, October 2011. Unclassified.
The Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 required an independent evaluation to determine whether the Department of Energy’s unclassified cyber security program adequately protected its data and information systems. According to the report, corrective actions for only 11 of 35 cybersecurity weaknesses identified in the inspector general’s 2010 report had been completed. In addition, there was a 60 percent growth in identified weakness over the 2010 report.
Document 57: Department of Homeland Security, Preventing and Defending Against Cyber Attacks, October 2011. Unclassified.
This DHS paper focuses on the department’s efforts in assisting federal executive branch civilian departments with securing their unclassified computer networks. It reports on the department’s efforts with respect to cybersecurity coordination and research, cybersecurity initiatives and exercises, the promotion of public awareness of cybersecurity, cybersecurity workforce development, and privacy and civil liberties issues.
Document 58: Department of Homeland Security, Blueprint for a Secure Cyber Future: The Cybersecurity Strategy for the Homeland Security Enterprise, November 2011. Unclassified.
This blueprint contains two main components. It lists four cybersecurity goals (reducing exposure to cyber risk, ensuring priority response and recovery, maintaining shared situational awareness, and increasing resilience) — to be attained through nine objectives. Secondly, it specifies four goals for strengthening the cyber system (to be attained via eleven objectives).
Document 59: Department of Defense, Department of Defense Cyberspace Policy Report: A Report to Congress Pursuant to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011, Section 934 , November 2011. Unclassified.
This 14-page document describes the legal and policy issues associated with cyberspace, reports on decisions of the secretary of defense, and notes that there are no plans to update the National Military Strategy for Cyberspace Operations (Document 23) but that the Department of Defense Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace (Document 50) would provide strategy guidance. In addition, it describes the use and application of cyber modeling and simulation.
Document 60: United States Air Force, Air Force Doctrine Document 3-12, Cyberspace Operations, November 30, 2011. Unclassified.
This document examines cyberspace fundamentals (including U.S. national policy and the challenges of cyberspace operations); command and organization (including a description of U.S. cyberspace organizations as well as command and control of cyberspace operations); and the design, planning, execution, and assessment of cyberspace operations.
Document 61: National Science and Technology Council, Executive Office of the President, Trustworthy Cyberspace: Strategic Plan for the Federal Cybersecurity Research and Development Program, December 2011. Unclassified .
This plan specifies four interconnected priorities for U.S. government agencies that conduct or sponsor research and development in cybersecurity. The priorities are organized along four lines: inducing change, developing scientific foundations, accelerating transition to practice, and maximizing research impact.
Document 62: Government Accountability Office, GAO-12-92, Critical Infrastructure Protection: Cybersecurity Guidance Is Available but More Can Be Done to Promote Its Use, December 2011. Unclassified.
This GAO report examines the use of cybersecurity guidance in seven critical infrastructure sectors (including banking and finance, energy, and nuclear reactors) from national and international organizations. It reports that while such guidance is being employed, sector officials do not believe it is comprehensive, and DHS and other sector-specific agencies have not identified key cybersecurity guidance applicable to each of their critical infrastructure sectors.
Document 63: Defense Security Service, Targeting U.S. Technologies: A Trend Analysis of Reporting from Defense Industry, 2012. Unclassified.
The main focus of this report, by the Pentagon’s Defense Security Service, is not cybersecurity but the attempts to gather information on U.S. technologies — by whatever method. However, as did previous DSS reports (Document 26, Document 43), it does discuss “suspicious network activity” (SNA) as one acquisition method. It notes that SNA is “the most prevalent collection method for entities originating from East Asia and the Pacific,” although it is no higher than fifth with regard to collection methods associated with other regions.
Document 64: 624th Operations Center, Intelligence Surveillance & Reconnaissance Division, Air Force Space Command, Cyber Threat Bulletin, 2012 Top Ten Cyber Threats, January 9, 2012. Unclassified/For Official Use Only.
This bulletin passes along the conclusions of the McAfee computer security firm concerning the top 10 cyber threats for the coming year. The top five are attacking mobile devices, embedded hardware, “legalized” spam, industrial attacks, and hacktivism.
Document 65: Mark Mateski, Cassandra M. Trevino, Cynthia K. Veitch, John Michalski, J. Mark Harris, Scott Maruoka, and Jason Frye, Sandia National Laboratories, SAND 2012-2427, Cyber Threat Metrics, March 2012. Unclassified.
This report was prepared in support of the DHS cyber-risk and vulnerability assessment program intended to aid federal civilian executive branch agencies. It reviews alternative cyber threat metrics and models that might be employed in any operational threat assessment.
Document 66: Bryan Krekel, Patton Adams, George Bakos, Northrup Grumman, Occupying the Information High Ground: Chinese Capabilities for Computer Network Espionage and Cyber Espionage, March 7, 2012. Unclassified.
This report, prepared for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, focuses on six topics: information warfare strategy, Chinese use of network warfare against the United States, key entities and institutions supporting Chinese computer network operations (the Third and Fourth Departments of the Peoples Liberation Army’s General Staff Department), potential risks to the U.S. telecommunications supply chain, the comparison between criminal and state-sponsored network exploitation, and the risks and reality of collaboration between U.S. and Chinese information security firms.
Document 67: Edward C. Liu, Gina Stevens, Kathleen Ann Ruane, Alissa M. Dolan, and Richard M. Thompson II, Congressional Research Service, Cybersecurity: Selected Legal Issues, March 14, 2012. Unclassified.
The authors of this report address legal issues related to the protection of critical infrastructure, the protection of federal networks (including Fourth Amendment as well as civil liberties and privacy issues), and the sharing of cybersecurity information. In addition, the authors explore the possibility of federal cybersecurity law preempting state law.
Document 68a: John McCain to General Keith B. Alexander, Letter, March 29, 2012. Unclassified.
Document 68b: Keith B. Alexander, Commander, U.S. Cyber Command to The Honorable John McCain, May 3, 2012. Unclassified/For Official Use Only.
Document 68c: John McCain to General Keith B. Alexander, May 9, 2012. Unclassified.
This series of letters begins with Senator John McCain (R-Az.) writing to Cyber Command chief Keith Alexander concerning the issue of whether the U.S. government needs additional authorities to deter and defend against cyber attacks. Alexander’s May 3 letter contains responses to the six questions posed by McCain in his March 29 letter. In turn, McCain’s May 9 letter notes a number of disagreements with the content of Alexander’s responses.
Document 69: Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, OPNAV Instruction 5450.345, Subj: Mission, Functions, and Tasks for Commander, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command and Commander, U.S. Tenth Fleet, April 4, 2012. Unclassified.
This instruction specifies the authorities and missions of the U.S. Fleet Cyber Command, as well as the relationship between the commander, Fleet Cyber Command, and the commander, U.S. Tenth Fleet. It also specifies a number of Navy entities under the administrative control of the Fleet Cyber Command — including the Navy Information Operations Command (which conducts signals intelligence operations), the Navy Cyber Warfare Development Group, and the Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command.
Document 70: Gregory C. Wilshusen, Government Accountability Office, GAO-12-666T, Cybersecurity: Threats Impacting the Nation, April 24, 2012. Unclassified.
This report describes GAO’s assessment of cyber threats posed to federal and other computer systems, and vulnerabilities present in federal information systems and supporting critical infrastructure. It also describes reported cyber incidents and their impacts. It characterizes the number of cybersecurity incidents reported by federal agencies as rising and that “recent incidents illustrate that these pose serious risk.”
Document 71a: Pat Meehan, Statement to Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence and Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies, “Iranian Cyber Threat to the U.S. Homeland,” April 26, 2012. Unclassified.
Document 71b: Dan Lungren, Statement to Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence and Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies, “Iranian Cyber Threat to the U.S. Homeland,” April 26, 2012. Unclassified.
Document 71c: Frank J. Cilluffo, Director, Homeland Security Policy Institute, George Washington University, Statement to Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence and Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies, “The Iranian Cyber Threat to the United States,” April 26, 2012.
Document 71d: Ilan Berman, American Foreign Policy Council, Statement to Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence and Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies, “The Iranian Cyber Threat to the U.S. Homeland,” April 26, 2012. Unclassified.
Substantial attention has been devoted to Chinese cyberwarfare activities in the reports of private and government organizations as well as in Congressional hearings. While Iranian cyber activities were noted in the 2012 testimony of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who characterized them as “dramatically increasing in recent years in depth and complexity,” they have received less attention that those of the People’s Republic of China. These hearings, before a subcommittee of the House Committee on Homeland Security, involve assessments of the Iranian cyber threat by two Congressmen and representatives of two private organizations.
Document 72: Colonel Jayson M. Spade, U.S. Army War College, Information as Power: China’s Cyber Power and America’s National Security, May 2012. Unclassified.
Source: U.S. Army War College (www.carlisle.army.mil)
This research paper examines the growth of Chinese cyber capabilities — including those for offensive, defensive, and computer network exploitation operations. It also compares China’s capacity and potential in cyberspace to United States efforts with regard to cybersecurity. In addition, the author suggests a number of steps to improve U.S. cybersecurity policy.
Document 73: Eric A. Fischer, Congressional Research Service, Federal Laws Relating to Cybersecurity: Discussion of Proposed Revisions, June 29, 2012. Unclassified.
This analysis contains an introduction reviewing the then-current legislative framework on cybersecurity, executive branch actions, and legislative proposals. It then discusses proposed cybersecurity-related revisions to 28 different statutes — from the Posse Comitatus Act of 1879 to the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.
Document 74: Gregory C. Wilshusen, Government Accountability Office, GAO-12-962T, Cybersecurity: Challenges in Securing the Electricity Grid, July 17, 2012. Unclassified.
This testimony, by a GAO official, concerns cyber threats to critical infrastructure — including the electricity grid — as well as actions taken to prevent cyber attacks on the grid and challenges that remain. Mr. Wilshusen notes the actions taken by a number of entities (including the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission), and identifies challenges such as a focus by utilities on regulatory compliance instead of comprehensive security and the lack of electricity metrics for evaluating cybersecurity.
Document 75: Office of Inspector General, Department of Homeland Security, OIG-12-112, DHS Can Strengthen Its International Cybersecurity Program (Redacted) , August 2012. Unclassified.
This is an unclassified version of a DHS inspector general report. In addition to reviewing actions taken to establish relationships with international cybersecurity entities, the report notes four areas that could be targeted for improvement — developing a strategic implementation plan for foreign engagement, streamlining the National Programs and Protection Directorate’s (NPPD) international affairs program and processes, improving communication between the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team and foreign entities, and strengthening NPPD information sharing capabilities.
Document 76: Paul W. Parfomak, Congressional Research Service, Pipeline Cybersecurity: Federal Policy, August 16, 2012. Unclassified.
As a means of aiding Congressional consideration of possible measures to enhance pipeline security, this report examines pipeline security risks (including general security threats, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) security risks, and cyber threats to U.S. pipelines), U.S. pipeline security initiatives, and the adequacy of voluntary pipeline cybersecurity.
Document 77: Brian McKeon, Executive Secretary, National Security Staff, The White House, Memorandum, Subject: Papers Deputies Committee Meeting on Executive Order on Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity Practices, September 28, 2012 w/atts: Discussion Paper for Deputies Committee Meeting on Executive Order on Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity Practices; Draft Executive Order on Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity Practices. Unclassified.
In the face of Congressional rejection of the Administration’s proposed cybersecurity legislation, work began on producing an executive order intended to accomplish the desired objectives. The first attachment (Tab A) to the covering memo discusses the key components of the cybersecurity legislation as well as how the executive order relies on current agency authorities to accomplish those objectives. The second attachment is a draft of the executive order.
Document 78: Leon E. Panetta, Secretary of Defense, “Defending the Nation from Cyber Attack,” Speech to Business Executives for National Security, October 11, 2012. Unclassified.
In this speech, Secretary Panetta warns of the possibility of a “cyber Pearl Harbor” — which could involve the derailing of passenger trains, contamination of the water supply in major cities, or the shutdown of the power grid across large parts of the country.
Document 79: Mark A. Stokes and L.C. Russell Hsiao, Project 2049 Institute, Countering Chinese Cyber Operations: Opportunities and Challenges for U.S. Interests, October 29, 2012. Not classified.
This report, by a private organization, examines the role of several Chinese organizations — including the Third Department of the PLA General Staff Department, its Second Bureau, and its Beijing North Computing Center — in cyber operations. It also explores a number of possible reactions — including deception, an international code of conduct, an Asian cyber defense alliance, and what the report terms a “forceful response.”
Document 80: Richard Colbaugh and Kristin Glass, Sandia National Laboratories, SAND2012-10177, Proactive Defense for Evolving Cyber Threats, November 2012. Unclassified.
This technical/mathematical analysis seeks to characterize “the predictability of attack/defender coevolution” — which is then used to create a framework for designing proactive defenses for large networks.
Document 81: Defense Science Board, Resilient Military Systems and the Advanced Cyber Threat, January 2013. Unclassified.
This report (consisting of eleven chapters and six appendices) examines and evaluates the Defense Department’s defensive and offensive cyber operations. It concludes that DoD cyber security practices “have not kept up” with the tactics of cyber adversaries. It characterizes the threat as “serious” and “insidious” and objects that current Defense Department actions are “fragmented,” intelligence against targeting of DoD systems is “inadequate,” and that “with present capabilities and technology it is not possible to defend with confidence against the most sophisticated cyber attacks.”
Document 82: The White House, Administration Strategy on Mitigating the Theft of U.S. Trade Secrets, February 2013. Unclassified.
This document describes the administration strategy on mitigating the theft of U.S. trade secrets — including those stolen through cyber operations. It describes four action items — involving diplomatic efforts, promoting voluntary practices by private industry, enhancing domestic law enforcement operations, improving domestic legislation, and promoting public awareness.
Document 83: Mandiant, APT 1: Exposing One of China’s Cyber Espionage Units, February 2013. Not classified.
As a result of its investigation into computer security breaches around the world, Mandiant identified 20 groups designated Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) groups. The focus of this report is APT 1 — which the report concludes is the People Liberation Army’s Unit 61398 — the military unit cover designator for the 2nd Bureau of the Third Department of the PLA General Staff Department (also discussed in Document 79). The key elements of the report are the discussions of tasking to the unit, its past espionage operations, attack lifecycle, and the unit’s infrastructure and personnel.
Document 84: Office of Inspector General, Department of Energy, DOE/IG-0880, Audit Report, Management of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Cyber Security Program, February 2013. Unclassified.
Based on its audit of the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s (LANL) cyber security practices, the DoE inspector general observes that “LANL had made significant improvements to its cybersecurity program in recent years,” but that there were continuing concerns for several reasons – including a failure to address the full set of “critical and high-risk vulnerabilities.” The inspector general also makes three recommendations to improve LANL cybersecurity.
Document 85: Government Accountability Office, GAO-13-187, Cybersecurity: National Strategy, Roles, and Responsibilities Need to Be Better Defined and More Effectively Implemented, February 2013. Unclassified.
This study reports a 782-percent increase in cybersecurity incidents between 2006 and 2012. It examines the challenges facing the federal government in producing a strategic approach to cybersecurity and the degree to which the “national cybersecurity strategy adheres to desirable characteristics for such a strategy.”
Document 86: The White House, Presidential Policy Directive/PPD-21, Subject: Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience, February 12, 2013. Unclassified.
This directive states basic U.S. policy with regard to the protection and recovery of critical infrastructure from both physical and cyber attacks. The key components are its delineation of roles and responsibilities of officials and agencies, its identification of three strategic imperatives, and its direction to the Secretary of Homeland Security on steps to implement the directive.
Document 87: The White House, Executive Order – Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity, February 12, 2013. Unclassified.
Source: Federal Register, 78, 33 (February 19, 2013)
In contrast to PPD-21 (Document 86) this executive order focuses solely on critical infrastructure cybersecurity. It address cybersecurity information sharing, a framework to reduce cyber risk to critical infrastructure, and the identification of critical infrastructure at greatest risk.
Document 88: Geoff McDonald, Liam O. Murchu, Stephen Doherty, and Eric Chien, Symantec Corporation, Stuxnet 0.5: The Missing Link, February 26, 2013. Not classified.
This analysis follows up on Symantec’s earlier examination of the Stuxnet worm (Document 44, also see Document 40). It reports that Symantec “discovered an older version of Stuxent that can answer the questions about [its] evolution.”
Document 89: Eric A. Fischer, Edward C. Liu, John Rollins, and Catherine A. Theohary, Congressional Research Service, The 2013 Cybersecurity Executive Order: Overview and Considerations for Congress, March 1, 2013. Unclassified.
This paper identifies a number of types of individuals or groups that are considered threats to cybersecurity. It also provides an overview of President Obama’s executive order (Document 87), considers the question of the scope of presidential authority, and examines the relationship between the executive order and legislative proposals.
Document 90: James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community, Statement for the Record to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, March 12, 2013. Unclassified.
In his annual worldwide threat assessment, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper begins with a discussion of global threats, and his discussion of global threat with an examination of the cyber threat. Specific topics addressed include the risk to U.S. critical infrastructure, the impact on U.S. economic and national security, information control and internet governance, and the activities of hacktivists and cybercrimnals.
Document 91: General Keith Alexander, Commander, United States Cyber Command, Statement before the Senate Committee on Armed Services, March 12, 2013. Unclassified.
In this statement, Alexander describes the organization and personnel strength of the Cyber Command, the strategic landscape, the command’s priorities, and plans for the future.
Document 92: U.S. Cyber Command, U.S. Cyber Command Organization Chart, n.d., Unclassified.
Source: U.S. Strategic Command Freedom of Information Act Release
This chart depicts the headquarters organizational structure of U.S. Cyber Command as of April 2013.
1. Leon Panetta, Address to Business Executives for National Security, “Defending the Nation from Cyber Attack,” October 11, 2012, http://www.defense.gov; Barack Obama, “Remarks by the President in the State of the Union Address,” February 12, 2013, http://www.whitehouse.gov; James R. Clapper, Statement for the Record, Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community, March 12, 2013, pp. 1-3, http://www.dni.gov; “Senate Armed Services Committee Gets Grim Briefing on Cyber Threats,” March 20, 2013, http://www.matthewaid.com.
2. See Ted Lewis, “Cyber Insecurity: Black Swan or Headline?,” Homeland Security Watch (www.hlswatch.com), February 8, 2013; Ryan Singel, “Richard Clarke’s Cyberware: File Under Fiction, http://www.wired.com, April 22, 2010; John Arquilla, “Panetta’s Wrong About a Cyber ‘Pearl Harbor’, http://www.foreignpolicy.com, November 19, 2012; Jerry Brito and Tate Watkins, “Loving the Cyber Bomb?: The Dangers of Threat Inflation in Cybersecurity Policy,” Homeland National Security Journal, Vol. 3, 2011, pp. 39-83; Thomas Rid, “Cyber War Will Not Take Place,” Journal of Strategic Studies, 35, 1 (February 2012), pp. 5-32; Ronald Bailey, “Cyberwar Is Harder Than It Looks,” Reason, May 2011, pp. 50-51.
3. Steven A. Hildreth, Congressional Research Service, Cyberwarfare , June 19, 2001, p. CRS-4
4. John Rollins and Clay Wilson, Congressional Research Service, Terrorist Capabilities for Cyberattack: Overview and Policy Issues , January 22, 2007,pp. CRS-16-17.
5. Major William C. Ashmore, United States Army Command and General Staff College, Impact of Alleged Russian Cyber Attacks , 2009, pp. 11-14.
6. McAfee, Global Energy Cyberattacks: “Night Dragon”, February 10, 2011; “Three Saudis Sent to Prison for Stealing Info From Aramco Computer Systems,” http://www.matthewaid.com,March 19, 2013; Ellen Nakashima, “Iran blamed for cyberattacks on U.S. banks and companies,”www.washingtonpost.com, September 21, 2012.
7. Michael Vatis, Cyber Atttacks: Protecting America’s Security against Digital Threats,” ESDP Discussion Paper ESDP-2002-04, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, June 2002, p. 15, n.42.
8. Ted Bridis, “‘Silent Horizon’ war games wrap up for the CI A,” http://www.usatoday.com,May 26,2005
9. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, The National Military Strategy for Cyberspace Operations , December 2006, p. C-2.
10. James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, Unclassified Statement for the Record on the Worldwide Threat Assessment for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence , January 31, 2012, p. 8.
11. “National Security Presidential Directives [NSPD] George W. Bush Administration,”www.fas.org, accessed March 30, 2013.
12. “Sean Kanuck – National Intelligence Officer for Cyber Issues, Office of the Director of National Intelligence,” http://www.security-innovation.org/bios, accessed April 5, 2013; Jeffrey T. Richelson, The U.S. Intelligence Community (Boulder, Co.: Westview, 2011), pp. 23, 29;”The Information Operations Center Analysis Group (IOC/AG),” http://www.cia.gov, accessed April7, 2013; John Rollins and Clay Wilson, Congressional Research Service, Terrorist Capabilities for Cyberattack: Overview and Policy Issues, January 22, 2007, p. CRS-8.
13. Jana D. Monroe, Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Testimony before House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property,” June 17, 2002,www.fbi.gov/news/testimony/the-fbis-cyber-division; “Cyber Division,” http://www.fbigovs.gov/311132.asp, accessed March 31, 2013.
14. A computer virus designated FLAME has been reported to have been designed to gather information needed for the U.S. and Israel to employ the Stuxnet worm. See Ellen Nakishima, Greg Miller, and Julie Tate, “U.S., Israel developed Flame computer virus to slow Iranian nuclear efforts, officials say,” http://www.washingtonpostcom, June 19, 2012; Kim Zetter, “Meet ‘Flame,’ The Massive Spy Malware Infiltrating Iranian Computers,” http://www.wired.com, May 28, 2012.
15. Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker, “U.S. Weighed Use of Cyberattacks To Weaken Libya,” New York Times, October 18, 2011, pp. A1, A7.
16. David E. Sanger, Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power (New York: Crown, 2012), pp. 188-225; Marc Ambinder and D.B. Grady, Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry (New York: Wiley, 2013), pp. 261-279.
17. Some law review articles include David E. Graham, “Cyber Threats and the Law of War,” Journal of National Security Law and Policy , 4, 2010, pp. 87-102; Matthew C. Waxman, “Cyber-Attack and the Use of Force: Back to the Future, Article 2(4),” Yale Journal of International Law, 36, 2011, pp. 421-459; Eric Talbot Jensen, “Computer Attacks on Critical National Infrastructure,” Stanford Journal of International Law, 38, 2002, pp. 207-240.
CIA in 1977 Correctly Estimated South Africa Could Produce Enough Weapons-Grade Uranium “to Make Several Nuclear Devices Per Year”
Report on the Libyan Nuclear Program Found that “Serious Deficiencies,” “Poor Leadership” and Lack of “Coherent Planning” Made it “Highly Unlikely to Achieve a Nuclear Weapons Capability “Within the Next 10 years”
Intelligence Estimates on Argentina and Brazil Raised Questions About Their Nuclear Programs and Whether they Sought a Weapons Capability
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 423
Washington, D.C., May 2, 2013 – China was exporting nuclear materials to Third World countries without safeguards beginning in the early 1980s, and may have given Pakistan weapons design information in the early years of its clandestine program, according to recently declassified CIA records. The formerly Top Secret reports, published today by the National Security Archive and the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, are the CIA’s first-ever declassifications of allegations that Beijing supported Islamabad’s nuclear ambitions.
The newly released records, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and Mandatory Declassification Review process, indicate growing U.S. concern from the 1960s to the early 1990s about the intentions of other embryonic or potential nuclear states, including Brazil, Argentina, South Africa and Libya. Among the disclosures in these reports:
Since its inception, the U.S. intelligence community has been investigating and analyzing overseas nuclear activities, whether explicitly weapons-oriented or simply suspicious. At the heart of the earliest effort was the monitoring of the former Soviet Union and its European allies for signs of a weapons program. Beginning in the late 1950s, however with concern about France, China, Israel, and other countries mounting, the Central Intelligence Agency began to focus on global trends. While the CIA has declassified dozens of National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) on the former Soviet Union and its nuclear forces, NIEs and other detailed reports on proliferation issues have been relatively scarce, especially for the 1970s and 1980s, and often heavily excised. Nevertheless, the Agency has been taking a more forthcoming approach to nuclear proliferation intelligence and the releases are significant. NIEs have had the reputation, sometimes disputed, of