U-2 pilot captured by USSR in 1960 to receive posthumous Silver Star

Francis Gary PowersBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
An American Central Intelligence Agency pilot, who was criticized during the Cold War for allowing Soviet forces to capture him alive during the 1960 U-2 incident, is to be posthumously awarded a military decoration for valor. Francis Gary Powers was one of several pilots who participated in Project HOMERUN, a joint effort by the CIA and the National Security Agency that surreptitiously gathered signals and photographic intelligence on Soviet military sites. The program, which has been described by some historians as one of the most successful intelligence projects in US history, relied on the U-2’s ability to fly beyond 70,000 feet over the Soviet Union, thus avoiding detection or attack by Soviet forces. But this impression was false; in reality, Soviet radars had been able to detect nearly every U-2 flight over Soviet territory. Eventually, on May 1, 1960, Soviet forces were able to shoot down one of the U-2 flights using a surface-to-air missile. Shortly after the USSR announced that an American plane had been shot down over Soviet territory, the US administration of President Dwight Eisenhower pretended that the plane was a NASA weather research aircraft that had “drifted into Soviet airspace” when the pilot had “lost consciousness”. At that point, however, Washington had no idea that the CIA pilot, Francis Gary Powers, had been captured alive by Soviet forces. This was later announced by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, who scored a major diplomatic coup for the Soviets. Following his arrest, Powers spent nearly two years in a Moscow prison before being exchanged for Soviet KGB spy Rudolf Abel, who had been captured in the US in 1957.  Recently declassified documents show that some CIA analysts had refused to believe that the USSR was capable of shooting down a U-2 aircraft, and thought that Powers had voluntarily defected to the Soviet Union. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #532

Viru Hotel

Viru Hotel

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A new exhibition in Tallinn, called The Viru Hotel and the KGB, showcases the Soviet KGB operations in the Estonian capital’s most prestigious Soviet-era hotel. According to the curators, the 23rd floor of the hotel served as the KGB’s operational center in the city. The exhibition focuses specifically on KGB bugging technology during the last stages of the Cold War. Speaking of the Cold War, The Oak Ridger hosts an interesting interview with Francis Gary Powers Jr., son of the CIA pilot who was shot down over the USSR and later captured by the Soviets in 1960. Powers insists his father “never divulged America’s secrets” during his two-year imprisonment in Moscow. Interestingly, declassified documents from that time show that the CIA doubted Powers’ plane had been shot down by the Soviets, and believed the pilot had willingly defected to the USSR. In Canada, meanwhile, a new report to parliament by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s (CSIS), claims that cyber-spying is fastest growing form of espionage in the country. The report also states that, as a matter of policy, CSIS views some private-sector cyberattacks as a national security issue.

News you may have missed #451 (history edition)

News you may have missed #341

  • Russian court rejects ‘spy’ scientist’s appeal. A Russian court has rejected an appeal for the release of academic Igor Sutyagin, former division head in the Russian Academy of Sciences’ USA and Canada Institute, who is serving a 15-year sentence for allegedly passing state secrets to foreign officials.
  • Ex-CIA agent’s arrest in VA was eventful, say sources. We reported earlier this week that Andrew M. Warren, the CIA’s Algiers station chief, who is accused of having drugged and raped two Algerian women at his official residence, was arrested at a Norfolk, Virginia motel, after he failed to show up for a court hearing. It now appears that Warren “had a gun in his waistband […] and officers used a taser to subdue him”.
  • Documents show CIA thought Gary Powers had defected. Declassified documents show the CIA did not believe that Gary Powers, who piloted the U2 spy plane shot down over Russia in 1960, causing the U2 incident, had been shot down. Instead, the agency spread the rumor that Powers “baled out and spent his first night as a defector in a Sverdlovsk nightclub”!

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