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Jim DiEugenio's Upcoming appearances and radio Interviews:
April 13th, Barnes and Noble, Metro Pointe,
901 B South Coast Drive Ste 150, Costa Mesa,
May 4th, Barnes
and Noble, Orange Town & Country
791 South Main Street Suite 100,
NEW DATE! May 18th, Barnes
and Noble Bookstore in Manhattan Gateway Shopping Center 1800 Rosecrans
Avenue Building B, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
October 16-19th Passing the Torch Conference, at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh
November 21-24, November in Dallas, at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas
JFK: The French Connection, by Peter Kross Review by Seamus Coogan
on Lunch with Arlen Specter on January 4, 2012
KENNEDY & ME: A Very Good Book With A Few Pages of Trouble
Jim DiEugenio analyzes and summarizes Larry Hancock's
interesting and unique new book Nexus:
The CIA and Political Assassination
Jim DiEugenio reviews the work of Chris Matthews on the life and death of President Kennedy, including his latest biography, "Jack Kennedy: Elusive hero".
IN DALLAS: LBJ, the Pearl Street Mafia, and the Murder of President
The Connally Bullet Powerful evidence that Connally was hit by a bullet from a different assassin, by Robert Harris
Joseph Green on the late Manning Marable's new full scale biography of Malcolm X.
JFK and the Majestic Papers: The History of a Hoax by Seamus Coogan
- and -
Wikipedia? by JP Mroz and Jim DiEugenio (3 part series)
is Anton Batey?
Exclusive excerpts from Mitchell Warriner's long
awaited new book on
Oswald and the U2 Program:
Gary Powers at trial with model U2
According to his testimony before the Warren Commission, Oswald's former commanding officer Lieutenant John Donovan stated that Lee at the very least knew radio call signs, logistics and strengths for all squadrons; authentication codes to enter protected airspace; and the range for all radar stations. Not much could be done about changing the range of radar or reallocating fighting capabilities, but according to Donovan all of the the radio call signs and authentication codes had to be changed after it was learned that Oswald defected. The man hours invested and money spent to make the appropriate security changes would have been extremely costly, and Oswald's handlers would have had to have know this from the outset.
Any reasonable person can acknowledge that a proper intelligence mission is mostly likely not a spur-of-the-moment decision run by a man who shows up at your Marine Corps barracks and says, “I'm from the CIA. Who wants to volunteer to go to Russia?” So again, knowing that you have some pretty meticulous planners at your disposal, I asked myself why would the CIA send anyone to the Soviet Union considering the costs? Now some think that Lee was part of a plan by hardcore cold warriors to undermine relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. That could very well be. But at the time of Oswald's defection, there would only have been a chance that the info he possessed would be capable of helping the Russians down a U2. Most assuredly, only certain CIA personnel connected to the U2 would have had access to the U2's specific transponder frequency and tracking equipment; not a Marine unit which would only need to know enough to prevent other planes from crashing into a U2 while it was taking off and landing.
So the real question is: if you are a calculating SOB who wants to subvert the effort of America and Russia to make nice, would compromising your home defenses be really worth only a small chance that you might poo-poo the meeting between Eisenhower and Khrushchev? After all, there was always the slim but possible chance that even with a downed U2 that the two leaders could push ahead and make amends. So would that narrow, short-term goal be worth compromising your country's defenses? I wasn't convinced.
I wanted to know more about the U2 program at the time of Oswald's defection. I wanted to take the assassination out of the equation and really look at what was really happening with the spy plane people thought was “untouchable.”
THE “UNTOUCHABLE” U2
Interestingly enough, an extensive history of the U2 program comes from an unlikely source...the CIA itself. Available as a free download on the CIA's website [see end notes] is the book, The CIA and the U-2 Program. The book is a fascinating read, partly because of the redactions. In 1992 it was originally published for Agency personnel only, and even held a security classification of SECRET. The 1998 version was made available to the public with redactions eliminating common sense things like the names of pilots, temporary U2 bases, and names of key personnel, among other things. Any researcher of the Kennedy assassination is used to this, but I suppose that's the charm of the subject matter. Regardless, the book reveals a side of the U2 that most people never knew. Most people are aware that Gary Powers' U2 was shot down over the Soviet Union on May 1, 1960, but I don't think anyone ever gave it a thought how close the Russians had come to downing a U2 before then. Pretty darn close actually.
On Wednesday, July 4, 1956, the U2 known as Article 347 began the first overflight over the Soviet Union . Before the U2 even took to the skies, project director Richard Bissell had estimated that the U2 could fly over the Soviet Union undetected for at least two years . Although the Russians didn't understand what exactly was flying over them at 70,000 feet, their radar was still able to track the mystery object. The Soviets were so preoccupied with missiles, rockets and the “space race”, that they overlooked the ability to dominate the atmosphere we reside in, but they adapted quickly.
The plane thought invisible to radar was repeatedly tracked, and the Russians threw everything they could at the high flying planes. Although the U2 could be tracked, it was relatively out of harms way...for a while. When the first U2 flights began, the Soviet technology just could not account for a plane flying at such a high altitude. Surface-to-air-missiles didn't have a 70,000 foot range at the time, and the maximum altitude for their intercepting aircraft, the MIG-15 and MIG-17, topped out at only 55,000 feet . However, the next generations of MIG raised the hair on the back of the necks of many U2 pilots beginning in 1957. MIG-19s and MIG-21s were capable of reaching a cruising altitude of 65,000 feet, and while 10,000 feet still sounds like a nice buffer it was most definitely not the case. The following is an excerpt from The CIA and the U-2 Program :
The Soviet technique that most concerned U2 pilots was the “snap up” or the power dive and zoom climb. In this maneuver, ground-based radar operators would direct the intercepting aircraft along the same flight path as the U2. When the MIG pilot achieved the same compass heading as the U2 flying more than 10,000 feet above him, he would put his aircraft into a shallow dive to pick up speed, apply full throttle to the engine, then pull back on the stick and zoom as high as he could. In this manner the Soviet pilot hoped to come up directly beneath the U2 so he could use his guns and missiles against the shiny U2 etched in silver against the dark blue-black of space. Using this maneuver, some MIGs were able to climb as high as the U2 but seldom got very close....U2 pilots often spotted MIGs that reached the apex of their zoom climbs and then fell away toward the Earth. The U.S. pilots' greatest fear was that one of the Migs would actually collide with a U2 during a zoom climb .
Lockheed and the CIA tried everything they could to get the edge back for the U2 squadron. Project Rainbow (the navy's effort to render ships invisible to radar) was even applied to no avail . The added weight of the radar-absorbing material cost the nick-named “dirty birds” 1,500 feet of maximum altitude with no noticeable decrease in the Soviet ability to track the planes. In the end, the only improvement which had any positive impact in inhibiting the Russians from hitting the U2 was one of the cheapest fixes possible...a coat of paint. In late 1957 All U2s were coated with a blue-black paint that would camouflage them against the background of space . But for the “untouchable” spy plane, the writing was printed very neatly on the wall.
It is at this time that the destiny of the U2 program crosses paths with Lee Harvey Oswald. In 1957 the 17 year old Marine was just coming out of boot camp right about the time that the MIGs were getting close to the U2. Several authors and researchers have cited Marines who served in Oswald's Marine Corps unit stationed at Atsugi, Japan and they recall describing the aircraft with its blue-black paint job. But before we can fully appreciate what potential role Oswald may have had in any intelligence operation, we must look at the mindset of the decision makers at the CIA. There would be a solid two years before Lee Harvey Oswald showed up at the U.S. embassy in Moscow, and a lot would happen in the interim.
PROJECTS GUSTO & OXCART
The CIA knew that the U2's days were numbered from its first missions in 1956. Only a few months later, towards the end of summer, discussions began with several aviation companies about a successor aircraft to supersede the current spy plane; this endeavor was designated GUSTO . In the fall of 1957, and after MIG pilots began to perpetually give U2 pilots close calls, the Agency realized that they had to move quickly and set up a committee to evaluate the proposals from several aircraft contractors. The bar was set pretty high by Clarence “Kelly” Johnson of Lockheed:
It makes no sense to just take this one or two steps ahead, because we’d be buying only a couple of years before the Russians would be able to nail us again….I want us to come up with an airplane that can rule the skies for a decade or more. 
The specifications proposed by Johnson were staggering: a top speed over Mach 3 with a cruising altitude of 90,000 feet. To put the speed in perspective, that's as fast as a high-powered rifle bullet. Although Lockheed took the lead, other contractors presented proposals, and the “Skunkworks” faced stiff competition from the Convair aircraft company, which was already developing a supersonic bomber for the Air Force. Lockheed nicknamed their project “Archangel” which was a play on their working title for the U2, “Angel.” Conversely, the Convair project became know as “Kingfish.” For the next 19 months numerous proposals were presented to and rejected by the evaluation committee. Once Kelly Johnson stated that this plane should “rule the skies for a decade or more,” no one wanted to settle for anything less.
The two firms submitted what would be their final designs
to a selection panel with members from the Department of Defense, Air Force
and CIA on August 20, 1959 . The Convair Kingfish and
the Lockheed A-12 (Archangel-12th version) were the two most advanced aircraft
designs ever conceived. After little over a week, the committee chose the
A-12 on August 29th . Project GUSTO had come to an end.
The new program to further develop and build the A-12 became project OXCART.
An interesting curiosity arose from OXCART. Say the phrase “A-12” to anyone with even the mildest interest in aviation and you'll probably get a blank look. But if you show them a technical drawing of the A-12 from 1959, those same people will recognize it instantly as the SR-71 Blackbird. The plane designed in the late 50s and built in the early 60s lived up to the vision of the man who created it. To this day, there is no aircraft (that we know of) that has even come close to achieving the marks which the SR-71 set in the 1960s.
Right about the time that Lee Harvey Oswald joined the Marines,
the CIA was not only concerned about the vulnerability of the U2, they reached
the conclusion that they needed a new plane that would far exceed it. I think
it would be reasonable to believe that Bissell, Cabell and Dulles thought
that it would be only a matter of time, as of 1957, when the Soviets would
be able to down the U2 and then down it again. Follow that train of thought,
and it makes sense that the CIA would want to milk the U2 program for everything
it could. Take the knowledge that the U2 is most likely going to get hit at
some point and build a counter-intelligence mission around it. There
was plenty of time to develop assets for the operation while the numerous
project GUSTO proposals were being evaluated, over a period of 18 months in
fact. And there is circumstantial evidence to support that project GUSTO was
the foundation for the possible counter-intelligence operation that Oswald
may have been a part of.
When you line up the dates of GUSTO with Oswald's timeline, some incredible coincidences occur. Oswald filed for his dependency discharge from the Marine Corps on Monday, August 17, 1959. The final proposals by Convair and Lockheed were presented to the evaluation committee only three days later, on Thursday, August 20th. The committee made its choice for the new aircraft on Saturday, August 29th, and the order for the new plane was placed with Lockheed. Five days later on Thursday, September 5, Lee Oswald was detached from his unit and transferred to company headquarters until his discharge was finalized. The next day, Oswald applied for his passport which he received a week later on Thursday, September 10. Passport in hand, the Marine Corp dutifully discharged the CI operative to begin his clandestine mission.
The prospect of Oswald offering limited information
about the U2 (a plane which the CIA knew to be already compromised) to the
Soviets in hopes that they would accept him as a genuine defector and possibly
entrust him with state secrets, thisnow seems a more plausible objective.
Some authors offer evidence that there was a leak in the U2 program from the
beginning. If there was any mention of that in The CIA and the U-2 Program,
it was hidden behind the redactions or contained within the pages which have
been removed entirely. But this author is of the opinion that since the Soviets
were able to track the U2 from its first missions, suspects for those leaks
would not have included Lee, as he was only 15 when the first overflights
began. However, that is not to say the peripheral part of his mission would
have been to root out the U2 mole. Regardless of Oswald's mission/objective/goals,
the U2 was already on its way to being replaced as of August 29, 1959 when
the order for the A-12 was placed with Lockheed – two months before Lee set
foot in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.
Still, the potential for a continuous and long-term yield
of information filtered through Oswald as an inserted asset would be worth
the short-term sacrifice of changing call signs and code names which we discussed
earlier. The value of the continuous intelligence he possibly could provide
surpasses the value of possibly debunking relations between the U.S.
and Russia. Which is something that the rightwing Cold Warriors like Allen
Dulles, Bissell, and Jim Angleton would want to do anyway. That may be my
opinion, and a value judgment which may reflect differently among different
researchers. But to my knowledge, I have offered here new information about
the quite finite lifespan of a spy plane which, in most of the literature,
was considered invincible. It turns out, that this was far from the case.
Therefore, having Oswald offer up any secrets to it as a counter-intelligence
ploy would not have been as costly as first imagined. Since, as noted above,
when Oswald was being discharged, the order for the A-12 was being first sent
I will be the first to admit that this is speculation on my part. And to quote one of my favorite authors, John Newman, “...I might be wrong, or a little wrong, or, perhaps right.” However, in the Kennedy case, coincidence is so commonplace that it is attributed to the M.O. of the CIA. Nevertheless, I encourage anyone reading this to do their own research and decide for themselves.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Prior was raised in upstate New York and spent most of his life in Atlanta, Georgia. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Georgia Southern University in 1998. He currently lives in Los Angeles, California where he works as a writer.
1) “The CIA
and the U-2 Program” by Gregory Pedlow and Donald Welzenbach, 1992 (declassified
if links do not work, copy the link and paste it into your browser for
2) Ibid, p.148
3) Ibid, p.148
4) Ibid, p.148-149
5) Ibid, p.129
6) Ibid, p.149
7a) "Archangel: CIA's Supersonic A-12 Reconnaissance Aircraft” by David Robarge, 2007 https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/books-and-monographs/a-12/index.html (note: if links do not work, copy the link and paste it into your browser for best results.)
7b) Robarge, From Drawing Board to Factory Floor https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/books-and-monographs/a-12/from-the-drawing-board-to-factory-floor.html (note: if links do not work, copy the link and paste it into your browser for best results)
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Enemy of the Truth: Myths, Forensics
and the Kennedy Assassination
by Sherry G. Fiester
Forensics can be a complicated subject, yet Fiester provides the reader with easily understood, accurate, information. Enemy of the Truth: Myths, Forensics and the Kennedy Assassination is so comprehensive in its approach, this work should be used in the instruction of all new crime scene investigators nationwide. William LeBlanc, CFCSI