On Vietnam War – The Soldier’s Revolt

28 09 2013

The Soldier’s Revolt

Hidden Story of the Americans that Finished the Vietnam War

Excerpts and adaptation: The Soldier’s Revolt  by Joel Geier

“Our army that now remains in Vietnam is in a state approaching collapse, with
individual units avoiding or having refused combat, murdering their officers and
noncommissioned officers, drug-ridden, and dispirited where not near-mutinous
conditions exist among American forces in Vietnam that have only been exceeded
in this century by…the collapse of the Tsarist armies in 1916 and 1917.”
        –    Armed Forces Journal, June 1971





A History of America’s National Reconnaissance Office – part 3

4 06 2012

By Trowbridge H. Ford

The trouble with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) taking on heavy responsibilities in the covert war in Vietnam, and trying to shore up support domestically for its continuance is that it had the most shadowy existence and legitimacy which were highly likely to be exposed as the operations involved so many personnel, and caused so much damage, both physically and psychologically.  Operation Phoenix was an intense effort to break the political will of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese – what had started with Operation Plan 34A in February 1964 in the North – throughout the area by targeting their leadership, while NRO intercepts of communications with Cuba were intended to reveal how  Americans were using enemy funds, especially from Hanoi, to undermine the nation’s will in the war.
 
The shaky basis upon which the NRO was operating on was well demonstrated when the Pentagon finally released the Department of Defense Directive upon which it was based – a mere updating of a most short 1962 one on March 17, 1964 – what was a consequence of National Security Action Memorandum 288, issued the same day, and was intended to carry out the recommendations of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, who had just come back from Vietnam, a day earlier.  They were all seen as necessary steps of a last-ditch effort to prevent all of Southeast Asia from falling to the communists.
 
It was McNamara who recommended retaliatory actions against North Vietnam – overt high and/or low-level reconnaissance flights to locate the Viet Cong’s sources of supply, the bombing of strategic targets, commando raids on installations of tactical importance, and the mining of North Vietnamese ports – in order to insure South Vietnam’s independence.  “That objective, while being cast in terms of eliminating North Vietnamese control and direction of the insurgency, would in practical terms be directed toward collapsing the morale and self-assurance of the Viet Cong cadres now operating in South Vietnam and bolstering the morale of the Khanh regime.”  (Quoted from The Pentagon Papers, paperback ed., p. 280.)  
 
To facilitate the implementation of these recommendations, the NSAM 288 was agreed to, and the DoD Directive issued. The Directive’s legality was based upon provisions regarding maintaining the security of the CIA in the 1947 National Security Act, and as amended by the Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1958.  The Top Secret document did little more than recognize the NRO’s existence, and the duty of its director to coordinate and consolidate all the government’s satellite operations into one program, and to perform some other function whose nature was blackened out by the censor’s pen when it was declassified but whose content must have been about aerial reconnaissance necessary for McNamara’s plans. 
 
This assumption is furthered by the fact that the agencies the NRO was to work with – apparently NSA, the CIA, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, especially the Office of the Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities headed by Major General Rollen Anthis, the Military Assistance Command in Saigon, the State Department, and other intelligence agencies – were somehow missing when the document was released. The administration firmly believed that the Viet Cong was controlled and directed from Hanoi, and once its infrastructure and will was broken, the insurgency in the South would collapse.
 
Three years of Rolling Thunder air attacks in the North while increasing American ground troops in the South to protect the most fragile government in Saigon proved these assumptions unfounded – as the Tet offensive of February 1968 proved – and leading hawks in Washington, starting with SOD McNamara, began reassessing their positions, and leaving the government when their revised views went unheeded.  The still committed hawks would not tolerate any idea of settling for anything but victory, and they secretly worked behind the scenes to extend covert operations throughout the whole area because of the shortage of troops to launch a conventional offensive in the hope of breaking the infrastructure and will of the Viet Cong itself – Operation Phoenix.
 
The Operation has often been confused with other kinds of military actions – SWIFT boat patrols which encountered resistance, the results of ‘search and destroy’ campaigns by organized military forces, patrols which ended in wild firefights, and the like. The confusion regarding naval patrols was well demonstrated when former SWIFT boat sailors challenged Senator John F. Kerry when he charged during the 2004 presidential campaign that they had engaged in war crimes – what Kerry could not substantiate.  The same confusion surrounds the My Lai massacre in 1968 when Lt. William Calley’s platoon was caught shooting up a village while in pursuit of a Viet Cong force – what helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson, who died during the campaign too, stopped at gun point, and ferried the survivors to safety.
 
Operation Phoenix is usually sanitized into merely an overly aggressive search for intelligence about insurgents where torture was even resorted to.  William Blum, citing David Wise’s article “Colby of the CIA – CIA of Colby” in a 1973 issue of The New York Times Magazine, wrote this in Rogue State:  “The notorious Operation Phoenix, set up by the CIA to wipe out the Viet Cong infrastructure, subjected suspects to torture such as electric shock to the genitals of both men and women, and the insertion into the ear of a six-inch dowel, which was tapped through the brain until the victim died; suspects were also thrown out of airborne helicopters to persuade the more important suspects to talk, although this should probably be categorized as murder of the ones thrown out, and a form of torture for those not.” (p. 52)
 
Actually, Operation Phoenix was a most sophisticated system of terror where violations of  international law often took place: aassaults, ambushes and assassinations, generally at night, regularly occurred; renditions of those surviving routinely followed to places where comprehensive torture was carried out until the suspects were considered spent; and then they were simply executed.  Aerial intelligence by the NRO was absolutely essential in all its operations as it was only after it had been taken, collected and analyzed could covert operators decide what targets to assault, and how. The instrument used was increasingly satellites as their passage overhead of any possible target would not tip-off the inhabitants of what was possibly afoot.  Operation Phoenix, in short, was the ultimate when it came to death squads.
 
If anyone is still in any doubt about the brutality of Operation Phoenix, he should consider the people who really ran it, and the evaluations by competent judges of its character.  British covert operators, especially those in the dreaded SAS, considered American special forces, especially the Green Berets and Navy Seals, unnecessarily vicious in carrying out their missions. For example, Ken Connor, in Ghost Force: The Secret History of the SAS, noted that they did not live and learn from the people they were trying to pacify, preferring to “get them by the balls”  when it came to winning their hearts and minds.  “The American inability – or refusal – to distinguish between combatants and civilians led,” he concluded, “to the brutal treatment of whole sectors of the population…” (p. 145)
 
This result was hardly unexpected since the CIA operative conducting Phoenix was Ted  ‘Blond Ghost’ Shackley who had been William King Harvey’s boss in Berlin during the tunnel operation in the 1950s, and in Miami during the Missile Crisis before he became station chief in Vientiane, Laos. It was while leading a guerrilla force of 20,000 Hmong tribesmen against the Pathet Lao, allies of the North Vietnamese, that he built up the skills considered necessary for running the operation, and he spared no option in terror when making up for not having stopped communism during the Missile Crisis.  Shackley was successful enough in his efforts to become Saigon station chief after the containment of the Tet offensive in 1968.
 
The only trouble in using such an operation in saving the war in Vietnam was that it might be completely upset in Washington by the election of a peace platform, headed by a different President. In that case, everything would be for naught, so Phoenix’s domestic side, headed by Harvey in New Orleans, prepared for the worst. He aka William Wood and Bill Boxley had been in a tailspin ever since the Dallas cock-up, and had been activated by DDCI Helms to make sure that Jim Garrison’s hunt for JFK’s killers did not get anywhere.  Of course, Harvey, the massive, pistol-packing operator, had all the right connections with the Agency’s Science and Technology Division, the Mafia, especially Sam Giancana’s and Carlos Marcello’s people, and hardliners in Hoover’s FBI. 
 
Hardly had Senator Robert Kennedy declared that the war was unwinnable, and Martin Luther King organized his Poor People’s Campaign, highlighted by a march on Washington to protest LBJ’s failure to follow through on his 1964 Great Society promises – what helped lead the beleaguered President to announce a bombing halt in Vietnam, and that he would not seek re-election – than Harvey maneuvered a programmed James Earl Ray into position in Memphis to assassinate him. Then when Kennedy picked up the peace mantle, and as President would appoint an independent commission to investigate the plot which assassinated his brother, Harvey had Sirhan Sirhan programmed as a decoy in his murder while security guard Thane Cesar killed him after his crucial victory in the California primary. (For more on this, see my article in Issue Eight of Eye Spy magazine, “Manchurian Candidates: Mind-Control Experiments and The Deadliest Secrets of the Cold War,” pp. 50-55, and my articles* about Harvey, Helms, and Peter Wright in codshit.com’sTrowbridge Archive.)
 
Of course, Harvey’s tasks were to recruit people like Ray and Sirhan – persons with disassociated personalities which could be manipulated unconsciously by drugs and hypnosis – in ways which would involve no suspicions that the CIA was involved, to see that they were programmed to do what was required without any recall, and leave no tracks which could be retraced back to him and the Agency if the assassinations resulted in anything more than usual murder investigations. The essential responsibility was to get other agencies, especially the Secret Service, the FBI and other agencies – with input from the NRO – involved in ways which would keep Harvey and his colleagues informed of how affairs were developing, and at the same time providing a firewall against any blowback if plans went awry again, or serious concerns were raised about these assassinations. 
 
Given MLK’s campaign against Giancana’s exploitation of blacks in Chicago, it was easy for Momo’s lieutenant Johnny Rosselli to recruit Ray after he escaped from the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City, and made his way slowly with Raoul apparently aka Jules Ricco Kimble to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico as a Momo bagman.  In doing so, he alerted Mexican federal police that he might be involved in drug-trafficking, but they made no attempt to arrest the fugitive – indicating that he was under surveillance in a Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD) sting. In the resort, Ray was re-directed back to LA by Giancana’s people where he was checked out by Agency consultant Dr. Mark O. Freeman as to his suitability in being made a programmed assassin.
 
Then Ray was taken by Charles Stein, a criminal well-connected to Marcello, and a former resident of New Orleans, where he was checked out by Harvey for the MLK job after the operator had provided a complete cover up of the meeting as David E. Scheim indicated in Contract America:  “According to the House Assassinations Committee, Ray took the ‘possibly sinister’ trip with a specific important objective, accomplished it rapidly, met with someone in New Orleans and received money on the trip.” (p. 317) 
 
While the HAC would have us believe that Ray met some subordinates of Marcello in the Provincial Hotel to arrange MLK’s killing – what it was unable to find any evidence of – he actually met Harvey in his safe house where he was okayed for the operation.  This was proven when he got back to LA, and Rev. Xavier von Koss hypnotized him to kill King under certain specific circumstances, and subjected him to a program of psychic driving to help induce it. (For a completely false explanation of the meeting – one which provides all kinds of evidence to refute its own conclusion, see Gerald Posner, Killing the Dream: James Earl Ray and the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., p. 208ff.)
 
While this article is not a detailed explanation of either the MLK or the RFK assassination, I think that what I have written so far indicates why the FBI, BNDD, and Secret Service – and ultimately the NRO – got involved in monitoring the activities of both Ray and Sirhan. He had similar connections with the Mafia, problems with the authorities in New York and Miami because of the criminal activities by his boss Frank Donneroummas aka Henry Ramistella, and experience with drugs and hypnotists in LA too – what is grounds for thinking Harvey made him into a Manchurian candidate because of his hatred of RFK, and what he apparently did to MLK. 
 
Stein’s driving Ray to New Orelans would obviously get the BNDD involved, as he was reputedly selling narcotics in the city at the time.  Ray’s own escape from the American and Mexican authorities while on the run indicates quite clearly that they were hunting bigger game, especially Marcello.  And the Secret Service, after the fiasco in Dallas, was almost paranoid about the same thing happening to LBJ – what would make it most concerned about how the activities of Cubans, pro and con Fidel, fitted into all this.
 
And Sirhan was programmed behind a similar smokescreen.  Instead of a Mafioso like Marcello seeing, it seems, to his hiring, it was a Southern California rancher who put out a contract on Kennedy because of his support of Cesar Chavez’s farm workers, and someone overheard a subordinate of Jimmy Hoffa’s, apparently Carmine Galente, in the Lewisburg (Pa.) federal penitentiary discussing his execution in a way reminiscent to how Ray was hired and sprung by Giancana’s people to get MLK while in the Missouri one. 
 
RFK, considered America’s worst turncoat by its covert leadership, suspected that Hoffa was behind his brother’s assassination, and had had an aide recklessly inform Jim Garrison of his suspicions!  This obviously became most dangerous to RFK, increasingly seen as the next President, when Harvey infiltrated the investigation, and kept the Agency informed about developments in New Orleans, as Vincent Salandria, one of the few respectable critics of the Warren Report who claimed that the JFK assassination was the result of a government conspiracy, belatedly informed the District Attorney:  “Jim, I’m afraid your friend, Bill Boxley, works for the federal government.”  (Quoted from Jim Garrison, On the Trail of the Assassins, p. 221.)
 
Sirhan suffered from compulsive gambling, constantly involved in shady deals to pay off the consequent debts. More important, Sirhan, being a Christian refugee from Palestine who could barely speak Arabic, emigrated to the States in 1956 after a terrifying childhood, and was often complaining about their plight to the folks back home, especially to his father who had returned causing security officials concerned about where his pan-Arabism may lead, especially after Nasser’s forces had been humiliated in the 1967 Six Day War. While he was compulsively writing and saying threats about RKF – part of his programming – officialdom apparently only thought that they pertained to LBJ since the President was responsible for the help to Israel that so angered Sirhan.
 
The growing connection between what was going on in Vietnam with developments back home was enhanced by things which had nothing to do with the assassinations of MLK and RFK – just information leaking out which could cause people to make the association.  In the June 1966 issue of Ramparts magazine, Stanley Sheinbaum, who had been the coordinator of a Michigan State University project to assist the economic development of South Vietnam, provided an exposé of how the CIA had manipulated the program to serve its covert agenda, and threatened to expose more Agency interference in domestic organizations.
 
In investigating the magazine, hoping to find communist infiltration of the organization, the CIA discovered that its most outspoken author was former Green Beret Donald Duncan – whose book The New Legions, condemning the training and operations of his former colleagues, caused some of them and many citizens to gain a new political consciousness – who only promised more.  “We will continue to be in danger,” he wrote to DCI Helms, “as long as the CIA is deciding policy and manipulating nations.” (Quoted from Angus MacKenzie, Secrets, p. 17.)
 
It was Ramparts which even got Dr. King concerned about the plight of the Vietnamese, his close associate, and later public defender William F. Pepper writing an article, entitled “The Children of Vietnam,” in the January 1967 issue about the US Army’s brutal treatment of their offspring.  As Pepper wrote recently in An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King, it was his files that induced King “…not only to formally announce his opposition to that war but to actively work and organize against it in every corner of America he visited.” (p. 5)
 
It was in this context that the NRO was brought into the hunt for the communists, traitors, and drug lords by the BNDD, the Secret Service, and the FBI who were thought to be undermining the national will in Vietnam.  As NSA director Lt. Gen. Lew Allen testified in 1975 before the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities aka Church Committee, in 1967 the United States Intelligence Board tasked it to intercept all communications that Americans had overseas regarding drug trafficking, Executive protection, and foreign influence over US groups.  In the six-year period the program was working, the NRO supplied 2,000 reports regarding drug trafficking, and 1,900 ones regarding possible terrorism and foreign manipulation of domestic political activity.
 
While James Bamford has portrayed the program in Body of Secrets: How America’s NSA and Britain’s GCHQ Eavesdrop on the World as a rogue one, conceived by its paranoid deputy director Louis Tordella, which was essentially concerned with making watch lists of subversives (p. 428ff), it was authorized by the White House, and it concerned primarily what people were saying and doing about all these things. While Bamford was most concerned with what the CIA, Bureau, and the DIA were doing about the reported activities of people like MLK, Dr. Benjamin Spock, actress Jane Fonda, and singer Joan Baez, he made no mention of the BNDD, and what its requested intercepts involved – what led to all kinds disinformation which Harvey and his agents took cruel advantage of in the assassinations of MLK and RFK.
 
Of course, by the time that Watergate occurred, and covert activities by the Nixon White House started leaking out, what the NRO had supplied to the process was ancient history, and by the time the NSA was obliged to testify about its role, what its reconnaissance agency had done seemed of little consequence.  When General Allen was obliged to testify before the Church Committee, he mentioned this without the slightest response from committee members.  “NSA did not retain any of the BNDD watch lists or product.  It was destroyed in the fall of 1973, since there seemed no purpose or requirement to retain it.” (For more, see Bamford, p. 428ff.)  Independent investigators might have had different ideas, once they saw how deeply involved the BNDD was in following all the activities of the leading Mafiosos, and anti-Castro Cubans – what had cleared the way for Harvey.
 
By then, NRO director Dr. Alexander Flax, its public face, had long departed the scene.  He retired with the arrival of the new Nixon administration back in March 1969.  Apollo 8, the Lunar Orbit and Return, had safely been completed just before Christmas, and with the election of a candidate allegedly committed to achieving peace in Vietnam, it was an ideal time to go.
 
 

http://codshit.blogspot.se/2004/01/mi5s-peter-wright-cold-wars-most.html

 






A History of America’s National Reconnaissance Office – part 2

10 05 2012

by Trowbridge H. Ford

While America’s National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) was busily occupied in designing and building rockets, spacecrafts, and the like for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s effort to beat the Soviets in putting a man on the moon before the end of the 1960s – President Kennedy’s lasting legacy – it was also continuing its own intelligence work, what was increasingly signal intelligence (SIGINT) from satellites.  By the time JFK was assassinated, Washington had successfully completed the Mercury Project, the program to have man successfully circumnavigate the globe, and recover not only the astronauts but also the space crafts – what required a half-dozen missions to effect. 
 
It had all started when the newly created NRO launched the 84-pound Discoverer XIV space satellite on August 18, 1960 from Vandenberg AFB in California – what was able to collect as much coverage as four years of U-2 flights – whose twenty-four pound rolls of film did, indeed, determine that the Soviets only had four operational ICBMs, ending for all reasonable purposes CIA’s paranoia about the “missile gap”. While officials at the NRO claim that the agency itself was created to perform this task, it was formed to prevent the collection of intelligence, especially that relating to the Soviets, from again being compromised and corrupted by the Agency’s HUMINT – what had happened with the ‘downing’ of Gary Powers’ U-2 over the USSR on May Day 1960.
 
Now the task for the NRO was to help land a man on the moon, and safely bring him back to earth (Apollo Project) – what NRO director Brockway McMillan was almost completely involved in.  Of course, the agency’s very existence was still Washington’s most closely guarded secret, so McMillan’s role was completely attributed to his being an Air Force undersecretary at the Pentagon.  It was in this capacity that the most cultured administrator functioned on its Planning Board – what determined which missions with NASA would occur, and whether they would have a military or civilian purpose – while leaving the NRO’s day-to-day functioning to gung-ho Brigadier General Jack Ledford, the director of special operations at Air Force Headquarters in Washington.
 
Ledford’s normal duties required things like collecting the take from Corona satellites, and seeing to the testing of more conventional intelligence aircraft, especially the A-12s and later the SR-71 (codenamed Oxcart).  These planes were intended to fly at yet greater altitudes and speeds – up to Mach 3 – to find early warning radars deep within the Soviet Union, and to avoid its ever-increasing air defenses.  It was while pilot Ken Collins was testing one variation of the A-12 over Area 51 in Nevada on May 24, 1963 that it went into a fatal spin, and crashed.  Though Collins managed to parachute to safety, the NRO and the Pentagon were so panicked that the public would find big bits of the plane, and determine a lot of what the agency was up to that director McMillan suggested that it be immediately found, and blown up to prevent discovery.
 
Actually, the remains of the plane were strewn all over Robin Hood’s barn, so there was no need of panic. Instead teams of searchers methodically retrieved every bit of the plane they could find, but the experience figured large when Ledford had to figure out what to do with Captain Glenn Hyde’s deadly revealing U-2 aircraft after the assassination of JFK turned sour when Texas Governor was also nearly murdered. 
 
While CIA’s Porter Goss was keeping a muzzle on the press from Key West’s Public Information Office, Ledford apparently ordered the destruction of the downed plane, lying on the bottom of the Florida Straits, after the hoax at the expense of Castro and Khrushchev had proven the last thing the plotters wanted.  The destruction of the damning evidence – what ended up with there only being “minor debris” left from the flight – seemed just what the most delicate crisis called for.  This way there would never be any damaging evidence to be recovered by anyone in future.
 
Still, Ledford’s problems with the Dallas foul-up were nowhere near finished.  Thanks to his connections inside the Pentagon, all the other services had been brought into the plot, and their role had to be diffused as quickly and as well as possible – especially Lee Harvey Oswald’s apparent role as somebody’s spy, and how the various military services were going to take advantage of the President’s assassination by attacking Cuba, and forcing a general confrontation with Moscow. 
 
As Major Al Haig, military assistant to Secretary of the Army Cyrus Vance, partially described in Inner Circles, Defense Intelligence Agency claims that Oswald might well have been working for Cuba had to be destroyed (pp. 115-6), and Operation Americas, the Latin American armada to oust Castro, had to be changed into defensive maneuvers off Colombia’s north coast. CIA chief of counterintelligence James Angleton had to hush up claims from Mexico City that the KGB had recruited Oswald as an assassin when he visited there in September, and close down E. Howard Hunt’s Second Naval Guerrilla Operation’s plans to attack Cuba from Honduras. Ledford had to erase Oswald’s connections to its operations, and the military’s plans domestically to take advantage of what he had apparently done in Dallas.
 
The mere mention that Oswald had defected to the USSR in 1959, and that communist literature was found among his belongings after he was arrested foreclosed any real possibility of his being considered an American agent, and military intelligence kept mum about the cable sent by the Fourth Army Command in Texas on the evening after the assassination to the U.S. Strike Command, a joint army and air force attack unit, at McDill AFB in Florida that Oswald had defected to Cuba, and that he was a card-carrying member of the Communist Party – what was intended to trigger action.  Ledford, it seems, was the one who stopped the intended reaction.
 
Similarly, Oswald’s service in the Marines was made out to be decidedly below par, concentrating on his alleged performance with a rifle, instead of his being rather special.  After basic training, Oswald attended school to become a radar operator and an air traffic-controller.  He scored so well as an Aviation Electronics Operator – seventh out of a class of 30 – that he was assigned to Marine Air Control Squadron One at Atsugi AFB outside Tokyo, the home base of the U-2 flights over the Soviet Union, and the illegal storage depot of America’s atomic weapons in the country. Oswald, according to Anthony Summers in The Kennedy Conspiracy, knew everything about what was going on there (p. 114ff.)  – what, it seems, led air force intelligence to recruit and train him as a deep penetration agent of the USSR.
 
At this point, Oswald’s military record becomes most murky, and the hand of someone in the Pentagon seems to be the cause.  Oswald was apparently giving cause for being dismissed from the service so that he could defect more effectively to Moscow – what was dressed up after the assassination to make it look as if he were just a growing undesirable.  He was court-martialed twice but the convictions did nothing to slow his advancement.  There were unsubstantiated claims about him deliberately wounding himself, and contracting a serious venereal disease.  Then the Pentagon was most unclear about his security status, what he was being paid, and where he was serving.  “In the controversy over the alleged assassin’s true colors,” Summers concluded, “this period is pivotal.”
 
Matters became even worse when James Bamford got round to recounting the Dallas assassination and the Warren Commission in Body of Secrets: How America’s NSA and Britain’s GCHQ Eavesdrop on the World (p. 130ff.)  “That Friday was slow in the NSA Sigint Command Center,” Bamford wrote.  There is no mention of the downing of Hyde’s U-2 flight, and the disappearance of the pilot – what had taken the super powers to the brink of nuclear war when Maj. Rudolf Anderson Jr.’s U-2 was shot down over Cuba during the midst of the Missile Crisis. Even when NSA did a massive review of all its SIGINT intercepts, there was still nothing about Hyde’s whereabouts and recovering the plane, even if it was the result of an accident, but plenty about Oswald and his associates. (p. 132ff.)
 
More important, Ledford arranged, it seems, for Captain Hyde to have apparently died a hero while providing him with a new identity as one Horace Smith, name given because of Hyde’s affection for the English poet’s sonnets. – what covered up the whole mess since he was no longer available to answer troubling questions.  In May 1964, Hyde’s wife, holding infant son Joe Glenn III, was awarded his Distinguished Flying Cross for displaying “heroism while participating in aerial flights on Jan. 19″, the citation read, and what seems to have been on January 19, 1963 since he was supposedly dead a year later when NSA McGeorge Bundy tasked the NRO to make sure that the Soviets were honoring the terms of the Missile Crisis settlement despite the bad-mouthing they were receiving about LBJ regarding KGB involvement in the assassination from former Kennedy confidant Charles Bartlett. (For details, see Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali, “One Hell of a Gamble”, p. 348ff.)
 
Yet, Hyde allegedly took part in the aerial surveillance on January 19, 1964 when he was officially dead as there were no least bit threatening flights on the previous January 19th, ones during which he “obtained information of vital importance to the security of the United States.” (Quoted from The LaGrange Daily News, May 4, 1964, p. 1.)  In January 1963, Soviet-American relations were the best in years, Khrushchev having just sent Castro a conciliatory letter to patch up the long-term relationship with the island after the crisis, hardly what would merit the DFC for observing high in the sky. The point was reiterated when there was no mention of any such flight when Hyde received a Fifth Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal for “meritorious achievement participating in aerial flight as an aircraft commander between July 9 and Aug. 29, 1963, on Oct. 18, 1963, and on Nov. 5, 1963.” (Quoted from ibid.) 
 
For good measure about Hyde’s well-being, there was no mention of any Purple Heart – what any member of the Armed Forces automatically receives for being killed or wounded in any action against an enemy of the United States or by an opposing armed force of a foreign country in which American forces are or have been engaged.
 
While Ledford was helping extract the NRO from an imbroglio with Cuba which might well have resulted in a large-scale war with the Soviets because of the cock-up surrounding the JFK assassination, the agency shifted the action to the Far East where the Johnson administration was reassessing its objectives because of the rapidly deteriorating situation there, and fully committed to giving its communists a most bloody nose because of its frustrations over Castro. 
 
In February 1964, Washington started Operation Plan 34-A, a program of covert operations against North Vietnam.  “Through 1964,” Neil Sheehan wrote in the paperback edition of The Pentagon Papers - a most belated article entitled “The Covert War” – “the 34-A operations ranged from flights over North Vietnam by U-2 spy planes and kidnappings of North Vietnamese citizens for intelligence information, to parachuting sabotage and psychological-warfare teams into the North, commando raids from the sea to blow up rail and highway bridges and the bombardment of North Vietnamese coastal installations by PT boats.” (p. 238) 
 
The NRO’s reconnaissance flights, code-named Yankee Team, gathered photographic intelligence which led to a fleet of T-28 fighter bombers, carrying Laotian Air Force markings, and piloted by Air America and Laotian pilots, which attacked regularly Pathet Lao troops in Laos, and North Vietnamese targets. “An average of four flights per week have covered the bulk of Oplan 34-A targets,” State Department Assistant Secretary of State Marshall Green reported on November 7, 1964. 
 
The program was the brain-child of the Pentagon’s Lt. Colonels Al Haig, and Dewitt Smith – what Army Chief of Staff General Harold K. Johnson had ordered after a distressing trip to South Vietnam right after the JFK assassination.  “Make a list is what we did, starting out, as was the style of the Pentagon in those days, with the actions least likely to rock the boat,” Haig explained most disingenuously in Inner Circles. “They were mostly recommendations to shore up the existing effort in the South.” (p. 137)  After a year of such “routine” recommendations, though, the clueless President Johnson could not no longer stomach them, exclaiming heatedly to the General Johnson:  “Bomb, bomb, bomb. That’s all you know.” (Quoted from George C. Herring, LBJ and Vietnam, p.11.)      
 
On March 17th, National Security Action Memorandum 288 was adopted, calling for US forces to be ready to initiate a full range of Laotian and Cambodian “Border Control actions”, and “Retaliatory Actions” against North Vietnam on 72 hours’ notice, “and to be in a position on 30 days’ notice to initiate the program of ‘Graduated Overt Military Pressure’ against North Vietnam….” (Quoted from Robert J. McMahon, ed., Major Problems in the History of the Vietnam War, p. 208.)
 
To trigger such a response against the North, the destroyer USS Maddox, filled with electronic spying equipment, intruded into North Vietnamese waters at the end of July, hoping to provoke a military response by the edgy North Vietnamese.  In February, the USS Craig had carried out the first of these DeSoto missions, but it had come up empty-handed because Hanoi did not want to provide the Americans with a pretext for expanding the war at its expense.  This Desoto missions were combined with South Vietnamese commando raids on the North Vietnamese islands of Hon Me and Ngu in order to increase the possibilities of a serious incident – what would provoke a retaliatory action against the North.
 
Despite the fact that  the vessels appeared to be working together, and the Maddox was clearly trying to provoke trouble, the North Vietnamese still were most cautious in their response until the American ship came within easy range of Hon Me which was still clearing up the damage done by the South Vietnamese commandos.  By the time the Sigint operators on the destroyer determined from North Vietnamese naval messages that its ships were finally preparing to attack, the destroyer was safely out of range, its three torpedo boats allegedly firing one torpedo each at the disappearing target.   
 
Instead of forgetting about the missions, though, as SOD Robert McNamara considered them useless, a beefed-up mission took place on August 3rd, with the USS Turner Joy joining the Maddox, and the South Vietnamese using a four-boat raiding party which shelled a radar station and a security post on the North Vietnamese mainland.  In the ensuing melee the next morning, the American vessels “…issued more than twenty reports of automatic weapons fire, torpedo attacks, and other hostile action.  But in the end, no damage was sustained, and serious questions arose as to whether any such attack actually took place.” (Quoted from Bamford, p. 299.)
 
While the reports created a controversy down to the present day about what really happened, they were just another hoax to justify aggressive action – what the ‘downing’ of Hyde’s U-2 had been intended for. As Bamford indicated but did not adequately explain, an NSA analyst was relying upon intercepts they had already received from the NRO about the earlier imminent attack, the first one, upon the destroyer – one message from North Vietnamese naval headquarters in Haiphong giving a patrol boat its position, and another for patrol boats and if possible a torpedo boat to prepare for military operations – which were passed on to the captain of the Maddox. 
 
Little wonder that when McNamara was questioned about the legitimacy of taking the fight to the North, he responded that there was ‘unequivocal proof':  “…the highly secret NSA intercept reports sent to the Maddox on August 4 as a warning.” (Quoted from ibid.)  While Ledford’s people had apparently resent them to bolster the cause, the recycled intercepts worked for the Pentagon, the White House, and Congress – resulting in passage of the Tonkin Gulf resolution, giving LBJ complete power to conduct the war –  and NRO’s operational chief was duly rewarded for his services, receiving the Distinguished Service Medal when he took his leave from office early the next year.
 
While the expanded war in Vietnam greatly increased tactical operations by the NRO’s fixed-wing components, it soon created devastating leaks by NSA’s Robert Lipka, an army clerk assigned to shredding its highly secret intercepts at Fort Meade. As with B. F. Mitchell in the Gary Powers affair, the youthful Lipka became totally cynical because of what he saw, deciding that since his colleagues manipulated evidence for their own, selfish purposes, he could do likewise.  In September 1965, he walked into the Soviet Embassy in Washington, and volunteered his services to the KGB resident.  During the next two years, Lipka provided the residency through 50 contacts with so much material about America’s conduct of the war – for which he received $27,000 –  that the KGB was obliged to assign Oleg Kalugin the job of reducing it to manageable proportions.
 
And Washington did not learn of Lipka’s betrayals until after the Cold War was over.  When his term of service ended in 1967, he simply returned to civilian life, apparently only contacting the Soviets, on occasion, in the hope of obtaining from them more money because of the intelligence he had provided. And while assessing the American failure in Vietnam has resulted in almost endless volumes, almost nothing in them is about communist spying, particularly Lipka’s, though it, along with a lack of concern about security, seems most important in helping explain the defeat – as Lt. Gen. Charles R. Myer, a SIGINT officer who twice served in Vietnam, explained:  “The enemy might disappear from a location just before a planned U. S. attack.  B-52 bomber strikes did not produce expected results because the enemy apparently anticipated them.”  (Quoted from ibid., p. 304.)
 
In fact, Bamford never mentioned Lipka’s spying, though he went to great lengths to describe the consequences of the spying by another walk-in in October 1967 – that of John Walker aka James Harper whose disclosures were so helpful in capturing the USS Pueblo off North Korea shortly thereafter.  When Bamford got the chance to talk to the KGB chief of station in Washington at the time, Boris A. Solomatin, he asked him if Walker was responsible for the failure of Operation Rolling Thunder.  “Walker is not responsible for your failures in bombing in North Vietnam,” the former KGB Major General replied. (p. 307)  The information handed over by Walker, according to Solomatin, was never supplied to the North Vietnamese or any other Soviet allies – a claim that his former subordinate Kalugin understandably denied but failed to explain in a direct way – and Banford was willing to let it go at that! 
 
The fact that the Soviets neither pressured Lipka to stay on at NSA nor offered considerable sums to make the prospect more attractive indicates that Moscow had learned enough from his two years of spying to require no more, as Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin indicated in an amazing footnote in The Sword and the Shield: “A later analysis by the Centre singled out 200 documents from NSA, the CIA, State Department and other federal agencies as of particular value.  Mitrokhin’s notes, alas, give no details of their contents.” (n. 12, p. 611)  To help cover up the inexplicable failure, Andrew still volunteered falsely that Mitrokhin had identified Lipka “…as a KGB agent.” (p. 18)    
 
The documents obviously gave Moscow all it needed to know about American’s conduct of the war in Vietnam, its modus operandi – what other agents, particularly Viet Cong ones, could use and expand upon in combating the Americans – and the absence of notes by Mitrokhin speaks volumes about the inadequacy of his archive. Viet Cong SIGINT prevented very few surprises from the air because of advance warning, and on the ground because of poor security of communications by American forces.  If Lipka’s take – apparently the most successful of the American spies, despite the hoopla about agents like Ames and Hanssen, did not merit special analysis – whose did?
 
And the fact was underlined when Andrew claimed that American prosecutors were holding Mitrokhin in reserve when Lipka was finally tried in Philadelphia in May 1997 for the spying he had committed 30 years earlier. While it was quite clear that the FBI started a surveillance of him by an agent feigning to be a KGB agent in May 1993 – months before the Bureau started acting on Mitrokhin’s leads – after his former wife had charged that he had worked for the Soviets while at NSA, and had gotten the goods on him by paying a demanded $10,000 for previous services rendered to the KGB, US authorities tried to make out that Mitrokhin, “the mystery witness”, had gotten Lipka to confess.  It was all eyewash to make Mitrokhin feel better about having defected, and the public better about Lipka escaping death, as he was only sentenced to 18 years in prison with time off for good behavior.  
 
It would have been a far different result if the NSA had come clean about what he had betrayed – what Kalugin would not recall the content of because of its sheer volume, and Mitrokhin, it seems, had amazingly not gone to the trouble of making notes of, making one wonder if he ever saw anything.  Of course, for NSA to have done so would have shown the public just how crucial – even at this late date – his leaks had been to America’s withdrawal, and Vietnam’s fall to the communists. By the time Lipka left the Agency, the CIA had even concluded that carrying to war to the North (Operation Rolling Thunder) had been a decided failure, stiffening the enemy’s resistance while only achieving limited results.
 
To make sure that the public did not get wind of why the war in Vietnam was escalated, and still going so badly, Washington revived in November 1967 the allegations about the Tonkin Gulf attacks being fakes to make sure that NRO’s liberties during them did not resurface. With the national consensus about the war’s wisdom breaking down, and Senator Fulbright looking into holding Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings about what had gone wrong, John White, a naval officer on the USS Pine Island, took great umbrage at The New Haven Register‘s editorial, claiming that the anti-war movement was just helping the enemy.  White responded by stating that the “attacks” were fabricated. “I learned this by speaking with the chief sonarman of the Maddox,” he wrote on the front page of June 1976 issue of The National Exchange, “who was in the sonar room during the ‘attack’.”  White added that he was also the best source under the circumstances.
 
Once White had sent a copy of his letter to Fulbright, the former naval officer’s claims started getting national coverage on tv, in newspapers around the globe, and in a documentary, ultimately obliging him to give testimony about the affair for Fulbright’s committee in Washington.  White claimed that he had seen secret messages from the Maddox, first describing the attack, and then another one stating that it might have all been a mistake because of its malfunctioning sonar. Several months later, back at Long Beach, California, White testified that he met the chief sonarman responsible for the secret reports, and he claimed that no torpedoes had been fired during the second incident. White’s testimony helped persuade Fulbright to hold hearings on the matter in January 1968.
 
The hearings turned out to be a fiasco because White could not remember enough details of the messages, and the name of the chief sonarman and his whereabouts.  This was when support for the war was breaking down – Martin Luther King was marching on Washington to protest a war which Robert Kennedy stated was unwinnable – and the hearings could have speeded its end.  Hawkish SOD McNamara had now turned into a dove, and had resigned because the Joint Chiefs would not agree to a bombing halt, and to fight the war with just the troops there then.
 
Instead of White identifying the chief sonarman, and his coming forward to testify, the field was left open to sonar personnel who had been on the Maddox, and they completely destroyed White’s basic claim.  And he later made no attempt to find the chief petty officer after staff on the Fulbright committee informed him that it had been informed that he did exist, and that he had told another seaman the same story. Of course, it would it would have been a far different matter if White, who claimed to have seen all the SIGINT, had stated that the NRO had deliberately recycled the intercepts before the first confrontation in order to provoke the second, crucial one.
 
By this time Dr. Alexander Flax was well entrenched as NRO’s director, having taken over from Dr. McMillan in October 1965 when the Gemini Project for preparing men and space vehicles for landing and returning from the moon (Apollo Project), and LBJ’s ground war in Vietnam were well underway.  Flax was an excellent administrator who needed no operational commander like General Ledford – able to keep the Apollo mission on course with NASA, while still developing reconnaissance vehicles, especially satellites, for the NRO, and seeing that its capability was used most effectively in the field.  This was no small feat, given the fact that LBJ’s prominent hawks, especially SOD McNamara and NSA McGeorge Bundy, were beginning to seek a negotiated settlement in Vietnam, and the American public was starting to speak out against the war.   
 
While historians have generally tried to veil the cause of these unexpected results by stressing underestimations of Viet Cong and North Vietnamese strength throughout, the Johnson administration knew that something was terribly wrong – i. e., the enemy simply knew too much about what was going on – and assigned the Bureau, then the CIA, and NSA to intensify efforts to discover possible spying. The Bureau initiated Operation COINTELPRO – a program to discredit communists and radicals opposed to the war, and what I became a target of after I wrote President Johnson, criticising its expansion after he had run in the 1964 election as the peace candidate.  CIA followed suit in July 1968 with MH/CHAOS, keeping tabs on the actions by America’s political activists. (See the article in the codshit.com Archive about my confessions as a college teacher for more.)  And NSA expanded its Operation SHAMROCK – getting all the transmitters of diplomatic telegrams to hand them over to American authorities.
 
The NRO’s assignment in these matters was to intensify efforts to win the war in Vietnam before its support at home collapsed – no small duties given the scope of potential opposition, especially among the scientific community and the social elite.  The crisis occurred in the spring of 1967 when LBJ was faced with the dilemma of whether to go all out to win the war, as the Joint Chiefs recommended, or an order a bombing halt and consider rolling back search and destroy missions, as McNamara urged.  The fat was in the fire when Johnson seriously entertained, thanks to support from leading scientists, that an elaborate electronic barrier be constructed across the Demilitarized Zone in lieu of the bombing.
 
To counter the threat, Flax arranged with the CIA’s new Director Richard Helms Operation Phoenix, the program, started under William Colby in June 1967, to eliminate the Viet Cong’s infrastructure – its alleged organization of spies and political commissars – using all kinds of special forces, and NRO intelligence.  During the next five years, it killed around 35-40,000 suspected Vietnamese terrorists with secret ambushes, daring assaults, and surprise assassinations – the forerunner of todays “war on terrorism”.  The purpose of the operation was to terrorize the Vietnamese into submission.
 
Then the United States Intelligence Board tasked NSA to check on all individuals dealing with Castro, alleging that they could be engaged in drug-trafficking, plotting the President’s assassination, and aiding and abetting the communist enemy.  The White House apparently believed that Hanoi was somehow funding opposition to the war through Havana, and it wanted all the information that could be gleaned, especially by satellites, about people like former CIA agent Stanley Sheinbaum, former Green Beret veteran Donald Duncan, the backers, organizers and writers of Ramparts magazine, Congressmen George Brown, Phillip Burton, Don Edwards, John Dow, Benjamin Rosenthal, John Conyers and others, Dr. Benjamin Spock, Jane Fonda, etc. NRO’s role in all this was most troubling as it indicated that apparent law-biding citizens were engaged in treason and espionage.
 
NSA, NRO and the country would pay a high price for these illegal liberties.       
                 
While the content of what cameras and eavesdropping devices, as microwave communications became more common, gleaned during satellite flights over the USSR and other strategically important locations are almost impossible to determine, we do know that it was the most highly prized information that the United States possessed, and what it went to the greatest lengths to protect. And this was no small achievement, given the fact that the NRO is by far the largest funded intelligence agency in America, but thanks to the fact that its operations are almost all Special Access Programs (SAPs) where any oversight is at a premium, no one on the outside really knows for sure what it is doing.