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botched project. After all, the U-2 program had virtually no secrets left.
For four years the Russians had been tracking each flight over and along
their country. They now had a pilot, who had given them a signed
confession and was talking. And sitting on display in Moscow's Gorki
Park were major parts of the plane, largely intact. Included were the
damaged camera and NSA eavesdropping gear, as well as pictures made
from the exposed film showing the quality of photography. Visitors to the
exhibit could even listen to the spy plane's intercept tapes giving off the
beeping signals of Soviet radar installations. Tapes once destined for
Nor was the public release of sensitive information an issue. The
testimony was to be taken entirely in secret by the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee, which as a matter of course heard highly classified
testimony concerning such topics as intelligence operations and nuclear
weapons. Furthermore, to ensure security, the CIA itself was to be in
charge of censoring any information that was eventually to be made
public, and the stenographer's tapes were to be put through a shredder.

Rather, what Eisenhower feared most was the leak of politically
damaging information to the American public during a key election year.
Powers's capture was the most serious national security blunder in more
than a decade, one that caused the collapse of an important summit and
plunged the country into an enormous crisis with Russia. Eisenhower
was at the epicenter of the debacle, the man pulling the strings from the
beginning. On top of that, at a time when his vice president was in a
heated neck-and-neck race for the White House, his administration had
been lying to the public and to senior members of Congress for weeks
about his lack of personal involvement.
The U-2 affair was now part of the political landscape. Even before
Eisenhower had returned from Europe, two-time Democratic rival Adlai
E. Stevenson began throwing brickbats. "We handed Khrushchev the
crowbar and sledgehammer to wreck the meeting," he huffed. "Without
our series of blunders, Mr. Khrushchev would not have had the pretext
for making his impossible demand and his wild charges." Mike
Mansfield, the Senate Democratic Whip, said the committee should
"trace the chain of command, or lack of it" that controlled the May Day
flight and get to the bottom of the "confusing zigzags of official
pronouncements." But Republican Senator Barry Goldwater thought the
Senate should stay out of the matter: "What the CIA has done was
something that had to be done," he argued. Goldwater, however, was in
the minority.
On May 26, the morning before the start of the probe, Eisenhower
made a quiet last-minute plea to senior leaders in Congress to stay away
from sensitive areas in their investigation. Over eggs and toast with the
leaders of both parties in the State Dining Room, Eisenhower almost
laughably said how he "heartily approved of the inquiry." Then he said
how he "was worried that members of Congress in conducting the inquiry
would try to dig into the interior of the CIA and its covert operation." He
added that he was sure the leaders of Congress realized that "such
attempts would be harmful to the United States." A little more than a
dozen years later, Richard Nixon would also attempt to use the rubric of
"national security" and "CIA intelligence operations" to hide his personal
involvement in a politically damaging scandal.
The members asked a few polite questions but never quizzed
Eisenhower about his own role. Senator Mike Mansfield asked, "What
would the President think if there were to be established in the Congress
a joint congressional committee which would oversee the activities of the
CIA?" The thought no doubt horrified Eisenhower. "The operation of the
CIA was so delicate and so secret in many cases," he said, "that it must
be kept under cover."
The next morning the doors to the Foreign Relations Committee Room
were shut and guarded. Chairman J. William Fulbright gaveled the

Senate hearings to order. Seated along the broad witness table, each
administration official followed Eisenhower's instructions and dodged,
ducked, or lied outright about the president's involvement in the U-2
program. Allen Dulles chose to stonewall. "I don't discuss what the
president says to me or I say to the president." Years later, Under
Secretary of State C. Douglas Dillon referred to the testimony given the
committee as "just gobbledy-gook" and admitted, "Our testimony was not
totally frank because we were defending”we were trying to hide the
White House responsibility for this."
But Dillon's boss went much further than gobbledy-gook. When asked
point-blank by Fulbright if there was "ever a time" that the president
approved each U-2 flight, Secretary of State Christian Herter simply
swallowed hard and then told a bold-faced lie. "It has never come up to
the president."
In the hearing room, overseeing the testimony for the CIA and making
sure no secrets were released to the public, was Richard Helms, who
would later go on to become the agency's director. Years later, he would
look back on the testimony and say: "They were all sworn. Knowing what
they knew and what actually went on, if it isn't perjury I don't
understand the meaning of the word."
Richard Helms had reason to be interested in the perjury over the U-
2. In 1977 he was convicted in federal court and sentenced to two years
in prison for a similar offense. Questioned by the chairman of the same
Senate committee about the CIA's involvement in a coup in Chile, he lied
to Fulbright and claimed there was none. Although Helms would later
assert that his oath of secrecy to the CIA permitted him to lie to
Congress, federal judge Barrington D. Parker strongly disagreed. Telling
Helms, "You now stand before this court in disgrace and shame," the
judge went on to ridicule his claim that lying to Congress to protect
secrets was acceptable.

If public officials embark deliberately on a course to disobey and
ignore the laws of our land because of some misguided and ill-
conceived notion and belief that there are earlier commitments and
considerations which they must observe, the future of our country
is in jeopardy.
There are those employed in the intelligence security
community of this country . . . who feel that they have a license to
operate freely outside the dictates of the law and otherwise to
orchestrate as they see fit. Public officials at every level, whatever
their position, like any other person, must respect and honor the
Constitution and the laws of the United States.

Despite his stern lecture, Parker suspended Helms's sentence and
added a $2,000 fine.
Although Fulbright treated the president's men with kid gloves and
Eisenhower's role never emerged, there was great bitterness within the
administration over the hearings. Dulles told Herter that he was "very
disturbed" by the action, then added, like a gangster in a Mafia movie:
"We should have kept our mouths shut."1

At NSA, the implications of the latest intercepts were clear. Cuban
bomber pilots were now being trained within the Soviet bloc.
On January 19, 1961, Washington was caught in the icy grip of the
coldest weather in memory. Carpenters, bundled like Inuits, hammered
away on the grandstand for the next day's inauguration. An artist
carefully dabbed white paint on the last few stars surrounding the great
seal emblazoned on the presidential reviewing box. Opposite, in the
White House, two men took their places at the highly polished table in
the Cabinet Room. Dwight David Eisenhower, looking tired, sat for the
last time in the tall leather chair from which he had led so many
momentous discussions over the past eight years. With the Cold War still
as frozen as the rows of stiff rosebushes outside his tall windows,
Eisenhower's early dream of amity with Russia was dashed.
Seated beside the president was John Fitzgerald Kennedy, tan and
youthful. Like a storeowner whose family business has been seized by
the bank, Eisenhower briefed his successor on a wide assortment of
pending business. Oddly, although sitting on his desk were the plans for
a massive, highly secret U.S.-sponsored invasion of Cuba, primed and
ready to go within weeks, Eisenhower barely mentioned the island during
the lengthy foreign policy briefing. The subject came up, in a sort of by-
the-way manner, only during a discussion concerning Laos: "At the
present time," Eisenhower said, "we are helping train anti-Castro forces
in Guatemala." He added, "It was the policy of this government to help
such forces to the utmost."
In his last hours as president, Eisenhower issued what sounded to his
successor like an order. "In the long run," he insisted, "the United States
cannot allow the Castro Government to continue to exist in Cuba." At
almost that same moment, across the river in the Pentagon's Gold Room,
the Joint Chiefs had come to a decision of their own. The only answer,
Joint Chiefs chairman Lyman L. Lemnitzer concluded, was for an all-out

As for Powers, a Soviet court found him guilty of espionage and

sentenced him to ten years in prison. But in 1962 he was set free as part
of an exchange with the United States for the Russian master spy
Colonel Rudolf Abel.

U.S. military invasion. War.



Early on the morning of January 20, 1961, Washington lay buried
beneath half a foot of freshly fallen snow, as if sleeping under a down
comforter. The nation's capital had been pounded by a juggernaut of
Arctic cold and freezing precipitation that had rolled over the Northeast
and Mid-Atlantic states. Throughout the region, schools, business, and
factories were shut down, and airports diverted inbound flights. It was
the coldest winter in a quarter-century.
By daybreak, the military began their takeover. From Fort Belvoir, a
heavy armored division of more than a hundred snowplows, front-
loaders, dump trucks, and road graders crossed into the city to attack
the ice and heavy drifts. A cordon of one hundred troops, wearing red
brassards, began taking positions around the Capitol Building. A
thousand more troops stretched out along Pennsylvania Avenue, and
sixteen ambulances were positioned at key locations to care for anyone
In a temporary military command post set up on the corner of East
Executive and Pennsylvania Avenues, Northwest, Army Major General C.
K. Gailey directed the invasion. Through the lazy, swirling snow, heavy
transport vehicles rumbled across bridges over the Potomac and headed
toward Capitol Hill. On the backs of the long trucks were Pershing
missiles with warheads as pointed as well-sharpened pencils. Convoys of
tanks, howitzers, and armored personnel carriers followed. Thousands of
soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines checked their weapons and
assembled at designated locations near the White House. Codewords
were assigned: Red Carpet for the radio network, Blueberry for the
closed-circuit television network, Battery for the assembly areas, and
Greenland for the dispersal areas.
From the broad front windows of Quarters 1, the official residence of
the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Lyman L. Lemnitzer
watched as his military quietly took over the nation's capital. Lemnitzer
had perhaps the best view in all of greater Washington. The house was

perched atop a steep hill on Fort Myer in Arlington, Virginia. As he stood
in his living room, on the highly polished parquet floor, a taupe overcoat
covered his formal blue uniform and a white scarf hid his four-in-hand
tie. Nearby, framed by an American flag and the official flag of the
Chairman, hung an oversize oil painting of the general, appearing serious
and in command. Below him, the city looked like a child's snow globe,
shaken to produce a cascade of gentle snowflakes over the great
monuments, all within view. In the foreground the Potomac River, gray
and frozen, wrapped the city like a silver ribbon on a belated Christmas
present. Beyond, he could clearly see the massive white dome of the
Capitol, where his official limousine was waiting to take him.
In just a few hours, John Fitzgerald Kennedy would be inaugurated as
the thirty-fifth president of the United States. Unbeknownst to the
public, the ceremony would largely be a military operation. In addition to
his Secret Service contingent, the new president would be guarded by a
cordon of two dozen military men surrounding the Presidential Box, and
as he traveled to the White House, an escort of military vehicles would
lead the way.

To some who watched the tanks and missiles roll through the city in
preparation for the inaugural parade, the idea of an actual military
takeover was appealing. Just below the surface, it was a dangerous time
in America. For many in the military, the distrust of civilian leadership
ran deep, to the point where a number of senior officers believed that
their civilian leaders had been subverted by international communism. It
was a belief exacerbated by the election of Kennedy, a socially liberal
Democrat. "The presence of a benign and popular General of the Army in
the White House had a calming influence on people and kept the
Rightists' audiences small," said one account at the time. "John F.
Kennedy's election buttressed their worse fears."
On U.S. military bases around the world, senior officers were
spreading fear that card-carrying Communists were in place in high
offices throughout the federal government. Among these officers' key
targets was Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
During a televised meeting of Project Alert, a right-wing anti-Communist
group, Colonel Mitchell Paige, a retired Marine Corps Medal of Honor
winner, told the TV audience that Chief Justice Warren should be
Even before the election, some senior officers attempted to
indoctrinate their troops into the "correct" way to vote. One of those was
Major General Edwin A. Walker, who was stationed at the U.S. Army
base in Augsburg, West Germany, home to a key NSA listening post. In
October 1960, as his soldiers were preparing to send home their

absentee ballots, Walker counseled them to first consult the voting guide
of the archconservative Americans for Constitutional Action. Walker, who
considered himself a "superpatriot," even set up a special hot line for
troops to call to get "guidance" in voting. In addition, Walker would
frequently address his soldiers and their dependents on the perils of
Communist subversion and pass out John Birch Society propaganda. A
newspaper circulated to the troops in Germany, The Overseas Weekly,
charged that Walker had called Eleanor Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman
"definitely pink" and journalists Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, and
Eric Sevareid pro-Communists.


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