Archive for '- Spies and Espionage'
The reports were among the thousands of pieces of paper waiting to be processed in a group of 100 boxes. But a few pieces of paper—with schematics that looked like they were right out of a 1950s sci-fi flick—were destined for a featured article in Popular Mechanics.
But first the documents were spotted by Michael Rhodes.
Rhodes is an archives technician. His hands are the last pair—in a long chain of National Archives staff—to touch formerly classified documents before they are released to the public. Rhodes was working on part of the final push to clear a backlog of 366 million pages.
His assignment: finish processing over 100 boxes of Air Force records. He got to work.
As he checked each record to be sure that it was in good condition and ready to be released to the public, he noticed something unusual. The box of records didn’t seem to be in any order, just reports and more reports, but Rhodes, who is interested in aviation and aerospace history, noticed an odd detail.
“What caught my eye was the icon of the saucer-looking shape,” he explains. The icon—a blue saucer over a red arrow—was in the corner of test flight reports and contracts with a Canadian company. And the strangest record of all? A drawing that Rhodes says “looked just like the flying saucer … [ Read all ]
Today’s guest post is from Samuel Rushay, senior archivist at the Truman Presidential Library and Museum, who is featured in our newest “Inside the Vaults” video about the adventure of John Paton Davies.
“…I stood in the open door of that miserable [C-46, Curtis] Commando and decided—`Well, if nobody else is going to jump, I’ll jump. Somebody had to break the ice.’ So I wheeled out and dove.” John Paton Davies (Excerpt from letter to Flossie [September 22, 1943], John Paton Davies Papers, Truman Presidential Library and Museum).
The date was August 2, 1943.
Twenty-one men, including John Paton Davies, second secretary of the American embassy in Chungking, China, and journalist Eric Sevareid of CBS, were aboard a C-46 transport plane. Their mission was to carry supplies from India to China in support of Chiang Kai-shek’s forces fighting the Japanese during World War II. They were flying over the “hump,” as mountainous Burma was known, when engine trouble developed, a not uncommon problem for the newly developed C-46.
In The American Journey of Eric Sevareid by Raymond Schroth, when it became clear the plane was going to crash, Davies maintained a calm demeanor and remarked, “Just kids, kids running this thing” (he was 35 years old), and jumped. He was the first person to leave the plane. The others followed.
The plane crashed into the Himalayan Mountains of … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on August 2, 2011, under - Spies and Espionage, - World War II, Myth or History, Unusual documents.
Tags: Chiang Kai-Shek, choo-choo, Foreign Service, headhunter, John Paton Davies, Nagas, Truman PResidential Library
If you opened the the New York Times this morning in 1971, you would have seen the first part of the secret ”Pentagon Papers” that the newspaper published—without authorization from the government.
Today in 2011, the National Archives and the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon Presidential libraries will release the entire official Report of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Vietnam Task Force (commonly referred to as the Pentagon Papers).
Although the unauthorized publication of the Papers fueled opposition to the Vietnam War and provided historians with unique insight into the U.S. policymaking apparatus, today’s release will finally provide the American public with unimpeded access to this historic text.
The release will feature over 2,300 pages of previously undisclosed material not included in the Senator Gravel Edition of the Pentagon Papers, the most commonly referenced compilation of the Papers.
So what were the Pentagon Papers?
Following the 1954 Geneva Accords, the United States assumed a substantial role in the political and military development of South Vietnam. In order to prevent the new nation from falling into the communist sphere of influence in Southeast Asia, the Eisenhower administration provided the government of Ngo Dinh Diem with billions of dollars in economic and military aid. Presidents Kennedy and Johnson continued authorizing similar assistance prior the introduction of U.S. combat troops in 1965.
In 1967, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara commissioned the … [ Read all ]
Posted by Gregory Marose on June 13, 2011, under - Cold War, - Presidents, - Spies and Espionage, - The 1960s, News and Events.
Tags: Daniel Ellsberg, John McNaughton, Johnson Presidential Library, Kennedy Presidential Library, Leslie Gelb, Morton Halperin, national archives, Nixon Presidential Library, Pentagon Papers, Senator Gravel Edition, The Boston Globe, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Vietnam Study Task Force, Vietnam War
Today’s guest post comes from David Coleman, associate professor at the University of Virginia and Chair of the Presidential Recordings Program at the Miller Center of Public Affairs.
On April 28, W.W. Norton will publish volumes 7 and 8 in the Miller Center’s Presidential Recordings of Lyndon B. Johnson series. (The original tapes are in the holdings of the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum.) The volumes, which span June through July 4, 1964, were edited by Guian McKee, Kent Germany, and David Carter.
At 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 28, the National Archives will host Dave Coleman, the editors, and Pulitzer Prize–winning author Taylor Branch to discuss these latest books.
“That’s a good bill, and there’s no reason why you ought to keep a majority from beating it. If you can beat it, go on and beat it, but you oughtn’t to hold it up. You ought to give me a fair shake and give me a chance to vote on it.”
—LBJ to House Minority Leader Charles Halleck, 6:24 p.m., June 22, 1964
Behind-the-scenes discussions between the White House and Capitol Hill can be an essential piece of the puzzle in understanding how and why legislation was passed, rejected, or changed, or even a government shutdown averted. But they’re typically obscured from public view.
It’s easy enough to imagine what might have been
Posted by Hilary on April 26, 2011, under - Civil Rights, - Cold War, - Presidents, - Spies and Espionage, - The 1960s.
Tags: David Coleman, debt ceiling, JFK, LBJ, Miller Center, President Johnson, secret tapes, White House
The Civil War was a spy’s dream come true. With a porous border between the Union and the Confederacy, and little way to distinguish between friend and foe, spies were everywhere. Both sides used ciphers. Both tapped telegraph wires. Stories of aristocratic schmoozing abound so much that James Bond would be jealous of all the cocktail cloak and dagger that occurred in the Civil War. But for all the espionage that happened in Richmond, the Union quickly learned that one of the best places to hide their spies wasn’t in a veil of aristocracy, but beneath the Confederate’s own prejudices. Thinking African Americans uneducated and illiterate, Confederate officers would speak of military maneuvers in front of their slaves and servants without a second thought.
Nowhere is this more clear than in the case of a man named Dabney and his wife. The two had crossed over into Union lines in 1863, and Dabney took up work as a cook and body servant at General Joseph Hooker’s Falmouth encampment along the Rappahonnock River. Dabney’s intimate knowledge of the terrain across the river made him an intelligence asset, and soon he was leading troops into battle as a scout—in one instance he allegedly led Union troops directly against his old master.
It wasn’t until his wife crossed back across the river and took up the job of … [ Read all ]