Framed: America's Patsy Tradition
"It Shall Be the Duty of the Agency:
to Advise, to Coordinate,
to Correlate and Evaluate and Disseminate
and to Perform Services of Common Concern..."
ADMIRAL LUTHER H. FROST, FORMER DIRECTOR of Naval Intelligence, paid a very open and informal visit to Indonesia in 1958, at the same time that his boss, Chief of Naval Operations Arleigh A. Burke, found himself in a most ambiguous position. U.S. Navy submarines were operating clandestinely close to the southern coast of Sumatra, the main island of Indonesia, putting over-the-beach parties ashore and providing certain supplies and communications for the ClA-led operation against the Government of Prime Minister Sukarno. At the same time, Admiral Burke balanced his unenthusiastic support of the CIA by putting his close confidant and able intelligence chief on an informal and social temporary assignment to Jakarta.
Then to further bracket the situation, Admiral Burke assured for the Navy the chairmanship of a high echelon committee set up by the Secretary of Defense for the purpose of providing support to the CIA during this special operation by placing a three-star admiral on the committee, while the other services were represented by officers several grades junior to him. The Air Force had a retired general working with the CIA as a coordinator of all air action in this operation, and the Army had a number of generals, some on active duty and others either on assignment with the CIA of called up from retirement for similar reasons. But no service so ably circumscribed the moves of the CIA as did the Navy under its most able CNO, Admiral Burke.
Although this was an operational activity carried out in deep secrecy, it may be used as an example of how the intelligence community functions. Over the years it has become customary to speak of the various intelligence organizations within the Government as members of "the community". This word is quite proper, because there is little cohesion and homogeneity within this vast infrastructure which has cost so much and which performs so many varied and separate functions. The members of the community are the CIA, the Army, Navy, and Air Force as separate divisions; the Defense Intelligence Agency; the FBI; the Atomic Energy Commission; the State Department; and the National Security Agency. All are by law brought together by the Director of Central Intelligence, or DCI. His title is not "the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency" -- although he does head that Agency for the purpose "of advising the NSC in matters concerning such intelligence activities of the Government departments and agencies as relate to National Security." This is the DCI's first duty as prescribed by law. He is to advise the NSC of the activities of the other departments and agencies.
Partisans may take sides as they wish, but it is quite clear that it was the intention of Congress that the role of the CIA was to coordinate all of this intelligence and then to advise the NSC, including the President. There is nothing in this language that would suggest that the Agency should become operational or that it should enter the collection business itself. Although the CIA has, during the past quarter-century, usurped powers that are not included in the law, it is this literal interpretation of the law that permits all of these disparate intelligence sections to operate with a high degree of independence. Thus we find strong leaders such as Admiral Burke using his own intelligence arm his own way, while at the same time the Navy was rendering support to the CIA in an operation that was very much on the other side of the coin. It was not in the interest of the Navy to become covertly engaged in Indonesia.
In addition to its independence, the intelligence community does not have its own pecking order. Much has been written about the behind-the-scenes friction and massive power struggle between the CIA and the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency). The director of the DIA sits on the board with the rest of the community under the chairmanship of the DCI; but this does not in any manner mean that he works for and is subservient to the DCI or to any part of the CIA. The DCI serves at the direction of the NSC and the President, and the director of the DIA is responsible to the Secretary of Defense, who is by law one of the members of the NSC and in that capacity is also one of the DCI's bosses.
As recently as September 1971, during a meeting with a prominent and important member of the House of Representatives, I was asked, "What is the chain of command to the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency?" From this man, who serves as chairman of a key unit of Congress, this was no artless or idle question. And other than citing the obvious, that the director of the DIA serves the Secretary of Defense, there is no other way to answer that question, if anyone would try to find a niche for that director under a hierarchy headed by the DCI, he would be wasting his time. We find then, nearly twenty-five years after the creation of the CIA, that it has remained as the coordinator of information and little more -- as long as we are talking about intelligence as an advisory and staff function. When we come into the field of clandestine operations and the inner and more secret pecking order of the ST, we find a totally different situation. This is as Allen Dulles planned it. His biggest cover story of all was the fact that he served as the DCI and that his most able agents were not in the field waging an active campaign against the enemies of the United States but were serving inside the Government of the United States and inside of many greatly influential non-government areas, to create a ST that dominated the entire operational activity of the U.S. Government in peacetime.
The use of the word "peacetime" in this context is fraught with danger and does not mean what might be expected. There are those who say that we have been "at war" since 1945 in a great worldwide cold war struggle against Communism and other enemies of this nation. But that is not the way the term peacetime is used in the ST's clandestine activity dictionary. The rules of war are traditional and are quite clear and uncontroversial. When the nation goes to war legally by Act of Congress and in accordance with these rules, there can be no question about the pecking order and who is in charge of things. The President is the Commander in Chief, and everyone else from the President on down to the private in the uniformed services and the industrial and civilian defense worker has his neat role and position in the chain of command as the emergency law may prescribe. But when this nation is not at war, there are no such rules. Historically, if the nation is not at war, it is enjoying peacetime. Therefore, in time of peace, all foreign planning, foreign policy, and foreign operations are supposed to be the responsibility of the Secretary of State and are managed in accordance with overt political and diplomatic guidelines. To avoid complications on this theme, we shall accept that there are many other departments of the Government that have strong and vital international roles during peacetime, such as the Department of Transportation in the areas of world aviation and commerce, the Department of Labor, the Department of Agriculture, Treasury, and so on. But at the heart of the matter, the Secretary of State is the single Government official primarily responsible for the foreign policy of this nation, and the ambassador who serves under the Secretary of State is the single senior official and head of the country-team in each country throughout the world.
In accordance with custom, International Law, and social tradition, when a country is not at war it is at peace, and the rules of war, which include certain considerations of the necessity for clandestine operations, do not apply. However, in the Cold War era that has persisted since the end of World War II, there is the feeling that we are engaged in a life-and-death struggle with world Communism that verges on real war. At least this is the doctrine of those activists who make a career of promoting anti-Communism. Before World War II there was a wave of anti-Communism, but it was more an expression of choice between the Fascism of Italy, Germany, and Japan or the Communism of Russia. It was fanned to a strong flame during the Spanish Civil War, when the loyalists were for the most part on the side of Communism and the rebels were the supporters of General Franco's version of one-man rule. Since World War II, Communism has become a term that is often applied to almost anything, anyone, and any nation, which in the eyes of the zealous pro-American, is opposed to his views of what is American. Thus "anti-Communism" is an epithet hurled at all kinds of opponents, real and imagined, and at all kinds of targets, from groups of people to individual political foes. Thus, to these activists, we are living in a special state of war.
Inside the ST this kind of thinking has created the phrase, "peacetime operations", which has its own meaning. A peacetime operation is almost always what anyone else would call a "peacetime military operation", or since this is an obvious anachronism, a clandestine operation. By using this special term, the ST keeps the command and direction of such operations from the military, where it would be if it were a real and not a covert operation; and keeps it from the State Department by putting it in the classification of a military activity, even though calling an operation in peacetime a "military operation" does not make sense.
All of this explanation may sound to the uninitiated like a lot of muddy logic or contrived magic. But in spite of the difficulty that exists in trying to explain how the ST rationalizes itself into a position of power, this narrative would be less than honest and less than complete if an effort were not made to delineate the unusual and very contrived paths of reasoning that have been built up through the years.
Perhaps this can best be described by an example. Since the early post-World War I days, the king of Jordan had been served by an elite guard, usually trained by the British. Several years ago, the few remaining British departed and King Hussein found himself in the precarious position of having to trust a close in personal palace guard, not only to protect himself but also to assure compliance with his orders and commands to his military and government officials. In a manner quite normal in many other countries since the end of World War II, King Hussein accepted military aid from the United States, and with it he had in Amman a small number of U.S. military officers whose task was to see that his men were properly trained on the equipment that was given to him. These men worked to raise the standards of competency of his elite troops and recommended that they be given paratroop training so that they could be used anywhere in the country quickly in an emergency. The King was pleased with this proposal, and some U.S. Air Force C-130 transport aircraft were detached from the European Command to support the training program. Selected American Army and Air Force officers arrived to set up the training that would be required. They worked closely with the King, who is a good pilot, and especially with his trusted palace guard.
In Washington, the State Department was informed of this program and approved it as a worthwhile project to increase understanding between the two countries, especially at a time when United States and Arab relations were badly strained. The Department of Defense was pleased to promote this program, because it provided a much-needed contact in the Arab world that might bolster the sagging Middle East defense structure. But neither the State Department nor the Department of Defense, except in very limited offices, knew that among the "military" training personnel were a number of CIA military and paramilitary experts.
As recent history has proven, this high-caliber training for the palace guard has paid off, and undoubtedly was responsible for saving the life of King Hussein, or at least for making it possible for him to remain in the country and in command of his armed forces during the critical refugee uprisings of 1970.
In the case of such operations, the State Department is told that this special training program is part of the Military Aid Program, and unless the ambassador happens to have his suspicions aroused by something unusual, nothing more will be said of it. Most ambassadors never attempt to look into any of these things. They take the view that what they don't know won't hurt them, and even if someone did try to brief the ambassador, he would probably ask not to be told anything covert because that would not be his responsibility; it would be the responsibility of Washington. This usually results in Washington's thinking the ambassador knows what is going on; so it does nothing. And the ambassador thinks the Washington desk knows what the CIA is doing, so he does nothing. The covert activity takes place, then, with no awareness on the part of the Department of State, in spite of what some DCIs have said.
In the Defense Department, the CIA will have asked for support of a training project in Jordan, without much elaboration. Then they will go to the Air Force for planes and to the Army for men and perhaps to both for the equipment they plan to use. In this manner, the CIA gets involved in a peacetime operation that really is not clandestine in the regular sense of the word, because the King will know that this was not part of his regular Military Aid Program, and he will have been contacted by a man who identifies himself as being from the CIA. In most cases, this pleases the King or other principal, because he knows he will be getting something special and usually a lot better and a lot easier than what a comparable Military Aid Program would cost him if it were to be done in the normal manner. So this project is not covert in Jordan. The King will not tell his military leaders what he has agreed to, but that part of the project would not be clandestine anyhow.
This project could be covert to keep it from the Israelis, from other Arabs, or from the Russians. But when considered realistically, this is not so, because aircraft like the C-130 are too big and too peculiar to be seen operating in Jordan for months without giving away the fact that something special was under way. Anyone observing their coming and going would know that the U.S. Air Force was involved in something in Jordan. So the usual classification criteria do not apply. This is where the term "peacetime operation" is most aptly employed. It is simply a device used within the U.S. Government itself to make something appear more highly classified than it really is, in order that it may be directed by the ST and not by State or Defense, where it might normally be assigned.
Of course, to give itself a reason for getting into such activities, the CIA will state that the men it has in Jordan on such an exercise are really there on intelligence business and that their activities as training personnel are simply their cover arrangement. Thus the CIA is always able to provide a story for any exercise it wishes, once it has obtained the charter to collect intelligence and to enter into secret intelligence operations. This example serves to show the unusual nature and usage of the term "peacetime operations". This is no smalltime business, and though this example pertains to the kingdom of Jordan, there have been similar projects in countless other nations.
Any attempt to unravel the chain of command of the Secret Team and more explicitly, of the intelligence community, must take into consideration that it is not what it seems to be and it is not what it was supposed to be. Certain of the most important activities which occur are so concealed within security wraps and so disguised within the intricacies of the special usage of language, such as "peacetime operations", that the uninitiated and inexperienced person has no way to interpret what he finds. Only the dominant elite know what they mean, and what their objectives are when they talk about foreign military training programs, or what they mean by a reconnaissance project or a satellite activity. Beneath all of this, the sinews and nervous system of the whole system run through the entire government almost effortlessly.
So while the intelligence community continues to function as a loosely knit group with each component serving its own master, it does come together at the top and does provide the DCI, and through him the NSC and the President, with advice in matters pertaining to the national security. Under this cover arrangement, the CIA gives lip-service to this mechanism while it goes along a channel it has carved out for itself in the direction of the peacetime operations of the Government. The CIA has an unsurpassed group of dedicated and devoted intelligence experts within its Directorate of Intelligence (DD/I). However, even these men and women feel sometimes that they are not part of the real CIA, so remote is their attachment to the major part of their own organization.
I have spoken to DD/I men many times about certain areas of interest -- careful to protect the security boundaries set by their DD/P (Clandestine Operations) brothers -- to find that the men in DD/I knew nothing at all about things that were under way in another wing of the building. Nothing has underscored this distinction more than the chance release of the Pentagon Papers.
Coordination of Intelligence, the Major Assigned Role of the CIA
The second major duty of the CIA as prescribed by the law is to make recommendations to the NSC for the coordination of intelligence activities. This has been a continuing concern of the Presidents who have been in office since the passage of this act, including President Truman. And it has been a major concern of most of the other members of the NSC since that time. It has also been the subject of many special committees and other groups assigned to study the intelligence community and to come up with such recommendations themselves. However, even to this day there has been little real coordination of intelligence activities, and it seems that at this late date there is going to be less coordination instead of more. In 1948, President Truman asked Allen Dulles to head up a committee of three to report to the President on the effectiveness of the CIA as organized under the 1947 Act and the relationship of CIA activities to those of other intelligence organs of the Government. The other two members of this committee were William H. Jackson, who had served in wartime military intelligence, and Mathias F. Correa, who had been a special assistant to the Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal. The Dulles-Jackson-Correa report was dated January 1, 1949, and was submitted to President Truman upon his re-election. No report on the broad subject of intelligence in this country has ever been more important than this one was. The report itself was published and bound in either ten or twelve copies. (Not too many years after its publication, efforts were made to collect the few copies that were not then in the CIA, and they were destroyed.) One copy remained in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for many years; but it was typical of such important and such controlled documents that the access sheet that had been with it since its initial distribution contained only the names of various administrative personnel who had handled it during top secret inventory reviews and of a very few others, none of whom were really in top level decision-making offices. It is interesting to note that William H. Jackson was appointed deputy director of Central Intelligence after his work on this report and that Allen Dulles followed him as deputy DCI in 1950. Mr. Dulles remained with the CIA for the next eleven years. It is much more interesting and pertinent to note that this report, which was originally chartered to study the "effectiveness" of the CIA and the "relationship of CIA activities to those of other" members of the community, really did not waste much time on those mundane subjects. This report laid the groundwork for the entrance of the CIA into the "fun and games" of special operations, peacetime operations, and all the rest. And in leaving this brief discussion of the second duty of the CIA, one may come away with the distinct impression that the CIA has never made a very high score for its recommendations to the NSC for the coordination of intelligence activities.
Correlation, Evaluation and Dissemination of Intelligence:
Heart of the Profession
The third duty of the Agency is one that has been done well and which, if it had received the priority that has been given to the "fun and games", would have provided the President at all times with the best intelligence in the world and would have made the CIA of great importance and of real value to the other members of the Security Council. The law charged the CIA with the duty "to correlate and evaluate intelligence relating to the National Security and to provide for the appropriate dissemination of such intelligence within the government... provided that the agency shall have no police, subpoena, law enforcement powers or internal security functions".
There is no questioning the fact that this country has the best intelligence capability in the world. It also has the best collection system in the world, and all members of the community span the scope of information-gathering to such an extent that we ought never fear the existence of an intelligence void. Yet there have been gross oversights, and there have been many poor estimates and analyses of situations. With all that the intelligence community has going for it, it is remiss in not applying itself more to intelligence, to coordination, and less to special operations. Here also, the community's preoccupation with senseless security measures has reduced the area of study and review of many subjects to small groups that do not represent the most qualified men available. Furthermore, these small groups are shot through with irresponsible individuals whose primary interests are not related to the production of quality Intelligence. On top of all this, the Intelligence professionals have to cope with monumental masses of raw product, much of which is excellent. As a result, vast quantities of this material are buried in security-locked warehouses and have never been looked at and never will be.
During the past twenty years there have been many times when the Secretary of Defense or other military official has stated that the United States needed to go ahead with the development of a new bomber, a new submarine, or even a new missile system, because Intelligence had acquired information which indicated that the Russians had such a bomber, submarine, or missile and that if we did not get moving to stay ahead or to close the gap, our defenses would be less than the best. Such a comment has recently been made by Secretary of Defense Laird with respect to a new supersonic bomber the Russians have. Since Mr. Laird believes that the Soviets have such a bomber, he believes that Congress should authorize the Department of Defense to go ahead with a new B-l supersonic bomber for the U.S. Armed Forces. Years ago, some of these estimates were found, upon review, to have been somewhat premature. (Critics have pointed out that the military often gave the appearance of working up some story attributed to intelligence in support of a weapons system they wanted or to support the annual budget, which may have been under consideration at the time of the release of the new information.)
This whole area is one in which billions of dollars are involved, and in the final analysis, our very defense posture is involved. Yet the facts are seldom revealed, even to Congressional committees, and huge expenditures have been made on partial information. In the past this may have been necessary, but at the present time there can be no excuse for the withholding of such vital information. Any objective and practical reflection upon this subject would confirm the conclusion that such secrets either were not really secret in the first place or that they cannot be kept for very long if they had been secret.
Since Gary Powers went down in the Soviet Union in 1960 the whole world knows that we have been operating high altitude photographic aircraft. The follow-on XR-1 has been photographed and shown to the public many times. At various times U-2 photographs that have been shown reveal the capability of the cameras of these planes.
It is no secret that the United States has been launching satellite observatories for many years and that one of the primary purposes of these missiles has been to take real, not television, photographs of the earth's surface. We know that the film capsules are regularly recovered, usually in the Pacific Ocean areas. We also know that the Russians are doing the same thing, although their photography may be limited to television-type transmittal and reception. But in any event, there can be little in such a mechanical process that warrants the withholding of this vital information from Congress and from the public for alleged security reasons. If Mr. Laird says that the Russians have a supersonic bomber and that it has been observed, then he should show actual, incontrovertible pictures and evidence of such a plane. Certainly, a development project that will cost $11 billion is so important that it should be initiated on real and valid facts and not on some estimate alone.
This is one area where the ST has held to itself and its own devices, information that should be made public, when there is no actual need for the control of such information. The problem is even deeper than this. The information that is obtained by the many intelligence organizations of the United States is so voluminous that not even a small portion of it is properly evaluated. It is possible to read-out mountains of information by a computer scanning process, and most of the photographic material that does see the light of day, from that which was originally obtained by aircraft or satellites, has been so processed. But there is so much more that never even gets looked at.
Satellite pictures are very good, and yet they have some very real limitations. For example, the big Chinese nuclear plant up in north central China has huge open drying flats south of the plant. When the plant is in full operation, most of these large areas are wet and in a photograph can be seen darkened by water. When the plant is shut down or operating at a reduced rate, fewer drying areas are wet, and the change can be observed. Thus, a programmed pattern of satellites scheduled to orbit over this nuclear plant at regular intervals can produce accurate information about the operation of the facility. The photographs themselves are much more accurate than this. It is possible to enlarge these pictures in such a way that small areas no bigger than a bridge table can be identified. For a camera operating in an observatory 110 miles over the target area, this is good photography. Since this photography is so good and since it is easily and abundantly available, there can be little excuse for not making it available to Congress and to the public in order that an informed public -- and especially an informed Congress -- may know better how to deal with the real facts of the modern world. The law does say that the CIA is responsible "for the appropriate dissemination of such intelligence within the government". If more time and much more money and effort were spent in correlating and evaluating this type of information and then in making proper distribution of the product, we would know a lot more about the rest of the world than we do now, and what we know would be based upon solid supportable fact and not someone's estimate. The work of Intelligence professionals, although hindered by the misplaced emphasis on special operations, has accomplished remarkable things. The diversion of operating funds to clandestine activities has been serious but it is almost insignificant when weighed against the losses which have taken place because of overemphasis on security. If the legislators of this country, and if the general public could only know the things which Intelligence has learned, and which could be used to keep the Free World versus Communist World struggle in proper perspective, we could be confident in our achievements, proud of our successes and understanding of international affairs. One of the best examples of how much we have been able to accomplish in this field of Intelligence is the field of aerial reconnaissance.
The Iron Curtain doctrine played right into the hands of the aerial reconnaissance intelligence system. Not long after Churchill had sealed off Europe, the curtain was extended all the way from the Arctic Sea on the one end across Europe, thence across Greece and Turkey over the Northern Tier, including Iran, Pakistan, and India and on to the Pacific Ocean, skirting the Bamboo Curtain south of China. With the Communist world thus neatly hemmed in, the intelligence community was given the task of penetrating this curtain as much and as far as they could. One of the first things done was the establishment of a perimeter flying capability.
At a busy airport just outside of Frankfurt, Germany, and on the nearby Weisbaden Airport, an assorted fleet of planes was accumulated; these planes had the ability to fly for miles along the border of the Iron Curtain, taking pictures of the denied areas by slant-range or oblique photography. These planes were also equipped with electronic intelligence equipment designed to listen to as many wavebands of information as possible. All of this was taped and read-out when the plane landed. At that time, there was a close relationship between the intelligence units in the field and the Psychological Warfare Offices that were spread through the European Command. The psychological warfare folks wanted to use these same planes to drop leaflets into the denied areas. They would get together with the CIA units and with the meteorological offices along the routes to be flown and study wind currents. When they found a favorable wind they would send out a plane that was going to take pictures and listen for electronic information (ELINT), and then piggy-back their equipment and leaflets aboard. Sometimes they would carry these leaflets for very long distances into the Communist world and at other times the fickle currents would swirl around and drop them in all the wrong places.
In this world of gray secrecy one idea begets another, and soon the Psychological Warfare people were tying leaflets to small balloons and letting them fly deep into the denied areas, wafted by the winds and a small amount of hydrogen in each balloon. The small-balloon-phase did not last long. The weathermen with whom these psychological warriors were working told them about the huge weather balloons they sent up regularly for high altitude weather analysis. This opened new vistas, and the potential of huge balloons carrying thousands of leaflets deep into the heart of Russia captured the imagination of these clandestine operators. Soon the CIA was using more weather balloons than the weather services, and they were launching them with every turn of the winds, hoping to sprinkle all sorts of leaflets behind the Iron Curtain.
Meanwhile, border flying was getting more sophisticated, and some of the most modern planes in the Air Force and the Navy had been converted to do this legal border snooping. These aircraft, modified for long flights and equipped with electronic sensing equipment and other gear, would leave primary bases in Germany or England, fly to forward bases in Norway, Greece, and Turkey for refueling, and then fly border-skirting routes to gather information. Some of the most bizarre headlines of the 1950s were made by the loss of some of these planes, which strayed too close to Soviet territory or became lost in a wind shift that took place in bad weather and then were shot down by Soviet fighters.
Although border flying, if properly carried out, was perfectly legal, attempts were made to keep these flights secret, and all kinds of cover stories were created to attempt to explain the missions of these units. At times, a marginal penetration was flown in an attempt to photograph some target or to get a rise out of some suspected radar that was known to be in the area but had not been pinpointed. Other flights were flown in the Berlin Corridor, utilizing hidden cameras and concealed electronic equipment. But none of these efforts were really big game.
The balloon projects led to a strange development. It was learned that the very high altitude winds over the Soviet Union blew from east to west and that they were reasonably predictable. Very large high altitude sounding-balloons were tested on launches from the Pacific areas and then were relocated over the Atlantic and even over North America after having drifted across Asia.
The next step was to equip these huge balloons with cameras and other sensing devices. This whole project was an extension of the other border sounding projects and seemed to offer potentialities not found before. A large number of these very large balloons were launched, carrying cameras and other devices. Some of them made the trip and were recovered, others fell in the Soviet Union, and others just circled around, coming down almost anywhere. The information gathered by such unpredictable devices was at best of very little use. No one knew ahead of time when to activate the cameras, and even if they could have been activated on some predictable schedule, the weather was a serious factor. But these strange spy balloons did serve a real and most meaningful purpose. They had softened up the authorities to whom the ST would turn to make the next requests by laying a foundation for covert border crossing.
Once border crossing had become accepted, even though it had been accomplished on the wings of the unpredictable winds of the upper altitudes, it was not as difficult to present a program for a better upper altitude information-gathering system. Thus, all that had been done with aircraft, leaflets, psychological warfare, electronic equipment, and cameras came together in the U-2 project. Like so many things that the ST has done, there was not a plan so much as it was that opportunity knocked and the team took it from there.
The Air Force had a very successful early jet fighter called the F-80. As the F-80 got older, other types of planes and newer equipment seriously outdated it. The Lockheed Corporation, manufacturer of the F-80, came up with an F-90 -- a more advanced version of the tried and true F-80. But as so often happens, the timing was not just right, and the Air Force did not order the F-90. There were several other planes in the air at the time, and the newer Century Series planes were on the way. However, Lockheed had done well with the F-9O and had made a trainer from that plane known as the T-33, which outsold all others of the time. At the same time, Lockheed had been successful in selling an F-94 interceptor to the Air Force for the Air Defense Command. So Lockheed dropped the F-90; but Kelly Johnson, the shrewd vice president of Lockheed, hated to see all that work and development effort go by the wayside. He made one more pitch to the Air Force. He proposed that a highly modified "glider" version of the F-90, with a new high altitude engine, would make a superior high altitude reconnaissance aircraft. He brought his high-powered, very successful briefing team to the Pentagon and gave his pitch to Air Force Operations.
The Air Force was sold on this idea, and its reconnaissance personnel were delighted at the prospect of having a special all-reconnaissance plane developed for once, rather than having to convert other types of planes for that purpose. But as this "hot" briefing worked its way up through channels, it became apparent that the Air Force could not locate the funds to purchase a reconnaissance plane, because the Air Force did not have anything it could do with the plane at that time. It was one thing to take a strategic bomber B-47 from the Strategic Air Command and fly it along a border in the "open skies" for the purpose of getting some electronic information input; but it was an entirely different deal to develop a brand new plane for a mission which at best would be clandestine, except in time of war, and even then would be most hazardous.
However, many of the reconnaissance officers of the Air Force had been working closely with the CIA on these border flights, and they knew men in the CIA who might want to hear about Kelly Johnson's proposed new "glider". A top-level Air Force team gave the CIA a briefing on the plane, and during this briefing it was brought out that this ultra-high-altitude plane had the capability to fly across Russia at an altitude that would most likely be above the ability of the Russians to do anything about, even if they did happen to find out it was there. The rest is history. The Air Force agreed to develop the plane, and the CIA agreed to operate it. As a result, most of the money, the people, and the facilities that went into the project were contributed by the Air Force. The CIA operated the project as a "peacetime operation". This was a classic example of how a project that should have been military, because it was too large to be clandestine, became covert simply as an expedient. The reasoning was that in peacetime it could not be military, because it was clandestine, so it was to be directed by the CIA, the typical Secret Team tautology.
A really magnificent camera capability was developed for this plane, along with an entirely new engine, and before too long the U-2 was operational. The Air Force and the CIA went through all the motions of keeping the whole project a secret; but all over the world, wherever it was seen, this strange plane with the big drooping wing attracted attention. The minute something new in the field of advanced aviation is discovered, all the experts -- intelligence, military, and manufacturing -- go after it; it would have been most unlikely that anyone who wanted to know about the U-2 did not know all he needed to know by 1955 at the very latest.
Sometimes, little things turn out to have a big and unexpected impact on such a project. It was known that a plane that flew so high would have a most difficult time if the engine should ever flame out, i.e., if the flame, which continually burns the fuel, should be extinguished for any one of several reasons. Since "flame-out" was such a major concern, it was then most important that every effort be made to keep the flame burning. It was discovered that if a small quantity of pure hydrogen was trickled through the engine's burners at all times, this would keep it burning, and the danger of flame-out would be much reduced. This meant, then, that everywhere the U-2 operated, provision would have to be made for the availability of liquid hydrogen. This gas, which is so common in its natural state, is most uncommon when liquid, and to remain liquid, it must be kept in a cryogenic state at some 240° Centigrade below zero. As a result, it is not easy to provide liquid hydrogen wherever in the world one might wish to fly a U-2 or two.
The Air Force had the job of provisioning the U-2, and it went to elaborate measures to assure the availability of liquid hydrogen. Although the movement of these planes and of their crews and other special paraphernalia was most highly classified, no one had thought to classify the movement of these special quantities of liquid hydrogen. Not too many people were actively involved in the movement of this most volatile material, but it did require the special efforts of a good number, and they soon realized that every time they were asked to deliver some liquid hydrogen to a certain remote area, the U-2s would be operating there. To a lesser degree, the same was true of the crews. They were a special breed of Air Force personnel who had agreed to be sheep-dipped and then had taken "civilian" jobs in the program. This altered status -- from military pilot to civilian pilot -- made them stand out everywhere they went, because nowhere is there a more closely knit clan than that of the fighter pilot. Once others saw them in Germany or in Japan, the fact that they must be flying something special could scarcely be hidden. Their old buddies knew they were not about to be flying some charter airline's slow transport. Thus it was that even the pilot situation made concealment of this project very difficult.
At this point, the U-2 project, under the very capable Richard Bissell, became a very large, very active, and really global program. However, it was still maintained as a small clandestine operation, because if it were not a controlled clandestine operation it would have had to have been a military program, and everyone knew that the military could not operate such a military program in peacetime. By this time, the ST was getting powerful enough to control major projects, even though there was no chance of calling them truly clandestine and "plausibly deniable", as the old directives had said.
In spite of all this, the U-2s did gather some of the best information ever acquired on a gross basis. The photography obtained by the U-2 camera system is in many ways still unmatched. When some really good pictures are needed anywhere in the world even today, it is probable that the U-2 will be given the mission.
I had attended a meeting in the old headquarters of the CIA one day shortly after I had returned from a special Rand Corporation presentation on missiles. Not long after the "missile-gap period", the Rand Corporation had been asked to put on a full missile orientation course for top echelon officials of the Government. There was so much about this new age of missiles that was not known. With all the emphasis the Government brought to bear in that field, it was realized that not too many top military officers and other high officials knew much about these new weapons and the new technology involved in their manufacture and operation. When Rand had this course ready to go, that excellent organization decided to give it a dry run for the benefit of the instructors and administrative staff who would support it. A list of officers was made for the purpose of attending this dry run, and I happened to be one of those selected. The course was excellent, and later was given to a great number of people; then the whole curriculum, properly censored, was entered into the Congressional Record. Many unusual things happened during those missile-gap days.
Having just returned from this course and having attended a meeting with the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, who at that time was General Cabell, I got into a discussion with him about the advisability of having certain high level CIA officials take that course. In the discussion, and more or less to make my point, I suggested that the CIA ought to move their cameras from the cockpit of the U-2 into the nose cone of a missile in order to place them in a surveillance orbit. I doubt that I could claim to have originated the idea, but only a few days later he called me and asked that I see about getting some spaces in the course for officials from the CIA. Not too many years later, the satellite observatories were a fact.
Because of the height at which they orbit the earth, their pictures require very special treatment, but they do have the advantage of taking pictures through very clear space until they reach the heavier layers of the atmosphere and weather below. However, on that score they have no more trouble than high altitude aircraft, because most of the obstructions are no higher than sixty thousand feet. The principal problem with the use of satellites is that they enter a fixed orbit as soon as they are launched, and they transit certain predetermined sites on a rather random schedule. Nothing can be done to change this orbit and the schedule they fly once they are put in orbit. (There could be some limited repositioning by using additional burst of rocket power to accelerate or decelerate the satellite.) As a result, satellite observation from any given platform will not suffice to take a picture of any target at any time. The pictures must be taken at a time determined by the prearranged orbit and the time of day or night, and with some consideration of the weather. But these problems are being overcome, and it may be possible to get some information from almost any part of the earth at any time, day or night, weather or no weather, as the canopy of observation platforms increases in size, scope, numbers, and versatility.
Missile technology places a great responsibility upon the Agency to collate all information from so many sources and capabilities. The read-out problem is massive, and once these data are put in some readable form they must be indexed and made accessible through some form of retrieval system. As we pass from an era of agent activity into the newer era of machine technology, there should be little information we need that is not available to us at all times. With this as a firm prospect, the responsibility falls upon the system to prepare the data properly and to disseminate it as broadly as possible. There is a tendency within the intelligence community to over classify and to hold information from all but a few readers. As a result, much that would be useful to many is never known in time or at all. This tendency must be corrected and put to work for the country as a whole. A free society cannot remain free if information is locked from it by its own government.
Services of Common Concern: An Attempt at Efficiency
The fourth duty of the Agency is "to perform for the benefit of the existing intelligence agencies, such additional services of common concern as the NSC determines can be more efficiently accomplished centrally". These are the functions that serve all the components of the intelligence community and can best be undertaken centrally. To more or less sum this up, the principal responsibility of the Agency is to gather information that relates directly to national security. The distinction is made between information and intelligence: "Intelligence" refers to information that has been carefully evaluated for accuracy and significance. The difference between information and intelligence is the important process of evaluating the accuracy and assessing the significance of such information in terms of national security. In this context, when a raw report has been checked for accuracy, and analyzed and integrated with all other available information of the same subject by competent experts in that particular field, it is "finished intelligence". When, in addition, it represents the conclusions of the entire intelligence community, then it is "national intelligence.