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The cold war

ۥ-nd the Ministry of State Security (MGB) both ruled by Lavrenti Beria. This man was undoubtedly the most powerful man in the Soviet Union with a vast empire of prison camps, and informants to crush any traces of dissent. Of considerable importance to Beria was the race for the atomic bomb. The Soviet Union and the United States both plundered the German V-2 rocket sites for materials and personnel. In 1946 the MVD was responsible for the rounding up of 6000 scientists from the Soviet zone of Germany and taking them and their dependents to the Soviet Union.[1]

The political conflicts of the 1930's and World War II left many educated people with the impression that only communism could combat economic depression and fascism. It was easy for Soviet agents to recruit men who would later rise to positions of power with access to sensitive information. 'Atom spies' were well positioned to keep the Soviets informed of every American development on the bomb. Of considerable importance was a man by the name of Klaus Fuchs, a German communist who fled Hitler's purge and whose ability as a nuclear physicist earned him a place on the Manhattan Project. Fuchs passed information to the Soviets beginning in 1941, and was not arrested until 1950. Also passing secrets to the Soviets were Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, executed in the United States in 1953. The latter two were probably among the first who believed in nuclear deterrence, whereby neither country would use nuclear weapons because the other would use his in response, therefore there would be no possible winner. It is generally believed that with such scientists as Andrei Sakharov, the Soviets were capable of working it out for themselves without the help of intelligence.

(better transition) The National Security Act of 1947 gave birth to the CIA, and in 1949 the CIA Act was formally passed. "The act exempted the CIA from all Federal laws that required the disclosure of 'functions, names, official titles, and salaries or number of personnel employed by the agency'. The director was awarded staggering powers, including the right to 'spend money without regard to the provisions of law and regulations relating to the expenditure of government funds'. The act also allowed the director to bring in 100 aliens a year secretly."[1] The 1949 charter is essentially the same one that the CIA uses to carry out covert operations today.

The U-2 Incident

In 1953, the CIA contracted Lockheed Aircraft Corporation of Burbank CA to build a plane that would go higher and farther than any yet produced. Kelly Johnson came up with the design for the U-2, a plane that would fly with a record high ceiling of 90,000 ft. and a range of 4,000 ft. The U-2 flights are possibly the greatest triumph achieved by the CIA since its founding. This is because of the planes success at evading detection for such a long time and the vast amounts of information gathered. "We'll never be able to match that one. Those flights were intelligence work on a mass production basis."[1]

On the fateful day of May 1, 1960, Gary Powers was sent up in his U-2 over the Soviet Union from the United States Air Force Base at Peshawar, Pakistan. His mission was to photograph areas of military and economic signifigance and record radio transmissions. The plane he flew was equipped with cameras, radio receivers and tape recorders to accomplish this mission. In addition to these devices, the plane was also equipped with self destruction capabilities to blow up the U-2 if it was forced to land, and a blasting mechanism fitted to the tape recorder to destroy any evidence of the CIA's monitoring of radio signals. As his plane flew over the Soviet Union, the cameras recorded ammunition depots, oil storage installations, the number and type of aircraft at military airports, and electric transmission lines. When the plane did not return to its base after a reasonable allowance of time, it was assumed it had crashed for some reason or another.

The circumstances surrounding the crash of the plane Powers flew on this is a still a mystery today, depending on whether you believe the Soviets or the Americans. The Soviets claim that "in view of the fact that this was a case of the deliberate invasion of Soviet airspace with hostile aggressive intent, the Soviet Government gave orders to shoot down the plane"[1], and that they shot it out of the air with an SA-2 missile at 8:53 A.M. at the altitude of 68,000 ft. The Americans declared that the U-2 was disabled by a flameout in its jet engine. Whatever the truth maybe, or combination of truths, the fact remains that Powers survived the encounter by parachute in the vicinity of Sverdlovsk. Upon landing, he was apprehended, disarmed, and escorted to the security police by four residents of the small town.

The fault of the incident lay with the American administration's handling of the situation, not with the flight itself. It was assumed that Powers had died in the crash, and this was the mistake. The initial story released was not widely reported and only told of a missing pilot near the Soviet border who's oxygen equipment was out of order. "From an intelligence point of view, the original cover story seemed to be particularly inept... A cover story has certain requirements. It must be credible. It must be a story that can be maintained [no live pilots knocking about] and it should not have too much detail. Anything that's missing in a cover story can be taken care of by saying the matter is being investigated."[1]

The further lies the State Department released about the incident only strained U.S. and Soviet relations. These included reports of an unarmed weather research plane, piloted by a civilian, that had trouble with oxygen equipment going down over the Soviet Union. Under questioning by the press, Information Officer, Walt Bonney, admitted that the U-2 had cameras aboard, but they were not reconnaissance cameras. Rather, the cameras were "to take cloud cover". When it became publicly known that Khrushchev had known what had taken place all along and had known for some years, President Eisenhower justified the presence of a spy plane over the Soviet Union with it being "in the interest of the free world." Khrushchev saw through the ploy and revoked his invitation for Eisenhower to visit the Soviet Union for a summit.

Bay of Pigs

By 1959, Fidel Castro and his rebels were able to establish their own regime in Cuba. Americans soon became hostile to this new government when it became apparent that Castro endorsed the Soviets. He declared his intentions of supporting guerrilla movements against US backed dictatorships throughout Latin America and seized US assets in Cuba. He also established friendly relations with the Soviet Union although he was not communist. The US recognized this threat to their interests and proceeded to form a special CIA task force that was create an armed force of exiled Cubans, form a subversive organizations within Cuba, and if possible assassinate Castro.

The initial plan was to discredit the charismatic man in front of his nation. Some ideas that were considered to accomplish the task were ludicrous in the least. The first was to spray Cuban TV studios with LSD prior to Castro broadcasting a speech in hopes of him making a complete fool of himself. The agency had been experimenting with the acid for some time. However, the idea was quickly abandoned because no one could guarantee with any certainty that the drug would have the desired effect. Further attempts were stabs at the look of Castro himself. One idea was to doctor his famous insignia, the cigars he is always seen with. This idea was discontinued because no one could figure out how to get the cigars to him. From an angle of more a chemical nature, the agency planned at one time to make his beard fall out. Scientists at the agency knew that when thallium salts contact skin, they act as a depilatory and make hair fall out. The idea goes further into reasoning that when Castro traveled he would leave his shoes outside of his hotel bedroom and the salts could be sprinkled in then. This idea became impossible when Castro announced that all forthcoming foreign trips were to be cancelled. With these failures, the US felt that it had no choice but to continue with the organization of partisans and help them usurp the dictatorship of Cuba.

By the time John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960, the development of the invasion was already in full force. Eisenhower had earmarked $13 million and a force of 1300 men had been assembled.[1] Cuban pilots were being trained how to fly B-26 bombers by National Guardsmen. The operation was massive, enough so that the public took notice. Kennedy was extremely wary of any direct US involvement and set about a series of compromises for the Cuban exiles. The air cover was reduced and the landings were shifted from a more favorable site to the Bay of Pigs where it was determined that the landing force could get ashore with a minimum of naval and air force back up.

Escorted by US naval vessels, the force landed in the Bay of Pigs on April 17, 1961. The six B-26s assigned to the operation were clearly inadequate and the support from within the country never fully materialized. Completely exposed to counterattacks of the Cuban air and land forces, the whole invasion force was either killed or taken prisoner.

When Kennedy's statement that "the armed forces of this country would not intervene in any way" was an outright lie. The exiles uses American equipment. They were trained by American servicemen, and the planes flown were Americans. The ships that carried the men to the invasion were American, with American naval units for support. Americans were killed in operation. When caught in his lie, Kennedy was forced to cover the US by extending the Monroe Doctrine to cover communism. He declared that the US would remain free of all Central and Latin American affair as long as they were not communist. This fiasco undoubtedly led to Khrushchev's belief that he could deploy missiles to his newfound ally without any tangible reprisal from the Americans.

Practices of Spies

Some of the devices used seem to come straight from a James Bond movie. Hollow rings or talcum powder cans with false bottoms were some of the items used for hiding microfilm. An interesting method involves the use of a microdot whereby pages of information is reduced to the size of a colon and used in an appropriate place on a document. The process is reversed for the extraction of information and the dot is enlarged to display all the information. Hiding places for secret packages were imaginative to say the least and ranged from trees, to ruined walls, to mail boxes.

Listening devices were not restricted to telephone bugs, and on one occasion there was a handcarved Great Seal of the United States presented to the US ambassador in Moscow by the Soviet Union. It turned out that hidden inside was a listening device. Microwave receivers exist all over the world for the interception of messages, the Soviet embassy in San Francisco has its own battery of dishes erected on top of its building.

In 1978, a Bulgarian exile by the name Georgi Markov who was working for the Radio Free Europe was fatally poisoned with a pellet most likely hidden in an umbrella. Vladimir Kostov was killed under very similar circumstances in 1978, and it is believed that the toxin used was ricin. This is an extremely toxic substance derived from castor oil. Political and intelligence related assassinations have abounded in the twentieth century with the advent of the Cold War. The public will never know when one of murders takes place by reason of secrecy unless it is a public figure.


The agencies discussed above are integral to the peace that exists today. There is no other way in the age we live in today to monitor the enemy and ally alike so as to be able to understand their capabilities and shortcomings without intelligence agencies. The CIA and KGB by themselves cannot assure peace. With the knowledge supplied by each to its leaders, intelligent decisions can be made in the world's best interest. Moreover, the status quo and power base remains relatively stable with the East and West on opposing sides. There can never be true and utterly complete peace, these organizations will continue to exist contrary ignorant ideals of the public for peaceful coexistence.

[1]Encyclopedia Britannia index page 237

[1]KGB/CIA, Jonathon Bloch page 12

[1]KGB/CIA, Jonathon Bloch page 21

[1]CIA: The Inside Story, Andrew Tully page 113

[1]CIA: The Inside Story, Andrew Tully page 119

[1]General Thomas R. Phillips, U.S. Army, retired.

[1]Bay of Pigs, Peter Wyden page 59

Source: Essay UK -

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