Created: 1/1/1962

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General Dwight D. Eisenhower



Dear General

Pursuant to our telephone conversation ofave requestedoncise account of the events and circumstances attendingncident befor transmittal to you.

The information and details outlined in the attached documents are all in the public domain and there are no security restrictions attached. Nevertheless, theyactual and, we believe, accurate presentation of the events that transpired prior to and during the fateful mission0 and the difficult days that followed.

I trust that this data from the record will satisfy your requirement. However, if there is any additionalormationjha^wffl-be of use to you, please do noto coupon me.rfU.be privileged to be of service. V


John A. McCone


4 consultation wag initiated on new intelligence collection techniquesroup of highly competent technicians in and out of government. From these discussions emerged the conceptigh-flying, high performance reconnaissance plane. In the then state tof the art of aeronautics, it was confidently believedlane couW be designed to fly unintercepted over the vitally important closed areas of the Soviet Union, where ballistic, nuclear, and other militaryagainst us were being made.

We also believed,esult of these consultations, that the art of photography could be so advanced as to make the resolution of the. pictures taken, even at extreme altitudes, of very great significance. On both counts the accomplishments exceeded expectations.

While the developmental work for this project was in process, pursuant to Presidential directive, there came the Summit Conference of

Here, in order to relax the growing tensions resulting from the danger of surprisehe President advanced the "open skies" proposal. Moscow summarily rejected anything of this nature, and Soviet security measures continued to be reinforced.

Accordingly,roject was pushed forward rapidly, andear later, in Junehe firstverflights of the Soviet Union took place. For almost four years the flight program was carried forward successfully.

Onhe Soviets publicly protested the overflights but the protest was rejected by the U. S. Government.

8 the Soviets again protested, through confidential channels, an overflight8 and specifically identified the aircraft. Again, the protest was rejected.

It was recognised at the outset thatroject had its risks andimited span of .life due to improvement of countermeasurcs;elatively^fragile single-engine plane of the nature ofight onelame-out or other malfunction in the rarefied atmosphere in which it had to travel. If that resultederious and prolonged loss of altitude, it was recognised that thereanger of failure and discovery. It was also understood, however, that this operation was one of the most valuable intelligence collection operations that any country has ever mounted at any time, and that it was vital to our national security.

Although, in its initial concept,rogram wasife span ofonths, it was, in fact, successfully employed for almost four years over the Soviet Union.

iloted by Francis Gary Powers, was loat in the vicinity of Sverdlovsk. hronology of events leading up to final approval of this mission is as follows:

pril: The Ad Hoc Requirements Committee (COMOR) submitted three geographical groupings of highest priority targets in the USSR for consideration of Operations. Coverage was designed to provide critical information on the status and deployment of Soviet ICBM's.

pril: Mr. Dulles briefed the Secretary ofproposed missions, one of which would be accomplished.

pril: Mr. Hugh Cumming advised the Acting Chief, DPD, CIA. that Secretary Herter had concurred in the three mission proposals.

Page 3

p_ril: Brigadier General Andrew Goodpaster of the White House Staff, advised Mr. Richard Bisaell that approval had been granted by the President for the execution of one of the three missions.

Subsequent toay incident, in his testimony before the Senate Armed Forces Committee, Mr. Allen Dulles stated as follows:

'!On the afternoon ofpril last, after carefully considering the field report on the weather and other determining factors affecting the flight then contemplated, and after consultation with General Cabell and other qualified advisors In the Agency, and acting within existing authority tolight at thatersonally gave the order to proceed with the flight of May first.

"There was no laxity or uncertainty in the chain of command in obtaining the authority to act or in giving the order to proceed. With respect to the flight authorized onhe samo careful procedures were followed as had been followed in the many preceding successful flights.

The chronology of events which transpired subsequent to the loss ofas described in detail by Mr. Dulles to the Armed Forces Committee as follows:

ill now deal with the 'cover story1 statements which were issued following May 1.

lane is overdue and the fact of its takeoff and failure to return is known, some statement must be made, and quickly. Failure to do so, and. under normal conditions, toearch for the lost plane, would in itselfuspicious event.

"Thus, whenisappeared on May first and did not return to its base within the requisite time period after its takeoff, action was required.

"For many years, in fact since the inception of the operation, consideration has been given to the cover story which would be used in the case oflane which mightterritory.

"Because of its special characteristics,lane was of great interest to the U. S. weather services and to the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the predecessor of NASA. NASA was very much concerned with the scientific advances which operations ofs could make towards greater knowledge of the upper atmosphere and for other scientific purposes. As alreadys have now undertaken many weather and related missions and their functions in this respect have been publicized by NASA, and this publicity has been distributed freely to the world.

"It was therefore natural that NASA's operations be used to explain the presences at various bases throughout the world, although NASA did not participate in the development of intelligence devices, nor did they participate in the planning and conduct of any intelligence missions.

"Accordingly, when the May first flight was lost, an initial statement was issued on May 2nd by the Base Commandant at Adanaircraft, engaged in upper air studies and operating from the base was down, and oxygen difficulties had been reported. This was

identified in the pressASAearch for tho plane was initiated in the remote areas of eastern Turkey.

"On Mayarly in the day by our time, Khrushchev made his claim that "an American aircraft crossed our frontier and continued its flight into the interior of ouras shott that time, Khrushchev gave no further details of significance.

"Apparently as an attempt at deception, Khrushchev followed up his speech the next day byile of junk according to experts, pieces of an old Soviet fighter planeossibly for the purpose of making us think thatlane had been effectively destroyed. Since the fake wreckage was quickly identified for what it was, this particular ruse had no effoct.

"The NASA statement which followed the Khrushchev speech ofeveloped somewhat further the original coverlso on Mayhe Department of Stateurther release which generally followed the cover story. Mr. Dillon has covered this in his testimony before this Committee on

"At thise still did not know whother the plane or any recognisable parte of it or the pilot were in Sovietr whether the pilot was dead or alive. Furthermore, then we did not know whether Khrushchev desired to blow up the incident as he later did, or put it under the rug and spare his people the knowledge that we had been overflying them.

"Hence, in this situation, there seemed no reason at that time to depart from the original cover story.

"These two press releases attributed to NASA were worked out in consultation between CIA and NASA and

after con/erring with the Department of State.

"These statements did not come out of any lack of forethought or attention to their preparation or lack of coordination. The basic cover story had been developed some years ago for the exigencyailure, and this original cover story was onodified to meet our then estimate of what was best to say in the light of what little wo knew about the details of thelight failure.

"Subsequently, on May 7. Khrushchev adduced evidence that he had the pilot alive, and quoted his purported statements. He also produced certain of the contents of the plane and later various parts of the plane itself. Thie clearly disclosed the true nature of the missionwhich the plane was engaged.

"The cover story was outflanked.

"The issue then was whether to admit the incident but deny high level responsibility, or to take the course that was decided upon and clearly expressed in Secretary Herter's statement ofnd in the President's statement ofnd his address of

"In Mr. Herter's appearance before this Committee, he has dealt with the statements which were issued during the period after Mayxcept for the two statements involving NASAave covered.

ould only add that in my opinion, in the light of all the factors involved, the decision taken to assume responsibility in this particular case was the correct one. Denial, in my opinion, over the long run would have been tortuous and self defeating.

"Those who took this decision knewas ready to assume the full measure of responsibility and to cover the projectechnical intelligence operation carried out on my own responsibility as Director of CIA. Thla .titernative, too, was rejected because of the many elements making it hardly credible over the longer run."

The foregoingeasonably comprehensive account of the circunv stances attending the incident Attached at Tab A, is the official report of the Board of Inquiry which was convened subsequent to the return of Mr. Powers in February


Since hi* return from imprisonment by Soviet Russia, Francis Gary

Powers hasost intensive debriefing by CIA and

telligencc specialists, aeronautical technicians, and other expertswith various aspects of his mission and subsequent capture by Thisfollowedomplete review byoard ofover by Judge E. Barrett Prettyman to determine ifwith the terms of his employment and his obligations as The board has submitted its report to tho Director

Certain basic points should be kept in mind in connection with this case. The pilots involved inrogram were selected on the basis of aviation proficiency, physical stamina, emotional stability, and, of course, personal security. They were not selected or trained as espionage agents, and the whole nature of the mission was far removed from the traditional espionage scene. Their job was to fly the plane, and it was so demanding an assignment that on completionission physical fatigueazard on landing.

The pilots'-contracts provided that they perform such services as might be required and follow such instructions and briefings in connection therewith as were given to them by their superiors. The guidance was as follows:

"(a) If evasion is not feasible and capture appears imminent, pilots should surrender without resistance andooperative attitude toward their captors.

"(b) At all times while in the custody of their captors, pilots will conduct themselves with dignity andespectful attitude toward their superiors.

"(c) Pilots will be instructed that they are perfectly free to tell the full truth about their mission with the exception of certain specifications of the aircraft. They will be advised to represent themselves as civilians, to admit previous Air Force affiliation, to admit current CLA employment, and to make no attempt to deny tho nature of their mission. "

ir captors

They were instructed, therefore, to be cooperative with the; within limitations,-to use their own judgment of what they should ai.arr.pt to withhold, and not to subject themselves to strenuous hostile interrogation. It has been established that Mr. Powers had been briefed in accordance with this policy and so understood his guidance. In regard to the poison needle which was prominently mentioned at the trial in Moscow, it should be emphasized that this was intended for use primarily if the pilot were subjected to torture or other circumstances which in his discretion warranted the taking of his own life. There were no instructions that he should commit suicide and no expectation that he would do so except in those situations just described,mphasize that even taking the needle with him in the plane was cot mandatory: it was his option.

Mr. Powers' performance on prior missions has been reviewed, and it is clear that he was one of the outstanding pilots in therogram. He was proficient bothlyer andavigator and showed himself calm in emergency situations. His security background has been exhaustively reviewed, and any circumstances which might conceivably have led to pressure from or defection to the Russians have also beenreviewed, and no evidence has beer, found to support any theory that failure of his flight might be laid to Soviet espionage activities. The same is true of the possibilities of sabotage.

Accordingly, Mr. Powers was assigned tffXhe-mission thaton Maynd accepted the assignment wiUinglyT" Itparticularly grueling assignment across the heart of Soviet Russia and

It was necessary toaltitude at heights at which no other plane butad So far as can bo ascertained Mr. Powers followed theplan,rescribed turn to the northwest when nearingof Sverdlovsk where he was directly on course. According tohe had settled on his new course and had Sverdlovsk in sight,

perhapsriles away, when he felt and heard something he describesush or feeling of acceleration on the plane accompaniedull noise unlike the sharp soundigh explosive. This caused him to look up from his instruments, and he saw surrounding him, or perhaps reflectod in his canopy, he is not sure, an orange or reddish glare which seemed to persist. He felt this phenomenon to be external to the plane but says he cannot be sure. oment the plane continued to fly normally, then it dipped to the right but he found he was able to control this dip and level the piano with his normal controls. Shortly thereafter, however, the plane began to nose forward, and Mr. Powers states that as he drew back on the stick he felt no control as if the control lines had been severed. The

plane nosed sharply over and went into violent maneuver, ac which point he believes the wings came off. The hull of ths plane then turned completely over and he found himself in an inverted spin with the nose high revolving around the center of the fuselage so that all he could see through the canopy looking ahead was the sky revolving around the nose of thehis motion exerted g. forces on him which threw him forward and up In the cockpit. At this point he stated he could have reached tho destruct switches which would have set off an explosive charge in the bottom of the plane. However, he realized that this charge would go off Ineconds and he did not yet know if he could leave the plane. He stated that ho tried to draw himself back into the seat to see if he could activate the ejection mechanism, but the g. forces prevented him from recovering his position. Being forward and out of the seat, even If he could have used the ejection mechanism, which was below and behind him. it would have seriously injured him if activated. He recalled that it was possible to open the canopy manually, and shortly thereafter he was able to do so and the canopy disappeared. His last recollection of the altimeter was that he was ateet and descending rapidly. To see if he could get out of the cockpit, he released his seat belt and was immediately thrown forward out over the cowling of the cockpitosition where he was held only by his,oxygen tube. He tried to pull himself back in tho cockpit to the destruct switches which take four separate manipulations to set and found himself unable to do so because of the g. forces, the inflation of his pressure suit, and the fogging up of his face mask which totally obscured his view. By pushing he tore loose the oxygen tube and fell free, whereupon hts parachute opened almost immediately, indicating that he was probably ateet or below at this time since the automatic mechanism was set for this height. In connection with Powers' efforts to operate the destruct switches, it should be noted that the basic weight limitations kept the explosive chargeounds and the purpose of the destruct mechanslm was to render inoperable the precision camera and other equipment, not to destroy them and tho film. After he landed he was taken by commercial plane to Moscow the same day.

In the processing into tho prison he wasypodermicay well haveeneral immunization, and there is no evidence of the use of truth scrums or other drugs. From then until the time of the trial,ays, he was kept in solitary confinement and subjected to constant interrogation, sometimes as long asray, but on the average considerably Less than this. He had no access to anyone but his Russian guards and interrogators despite repeated requests for contact with. Embassy or Ms family and friends. He states that the Interrogation

was not Intense in the sense of physical violence or severe

and that in some respects he was able to resist answering specific quvttio. As an example, his interrogators were interested in the names of people participating in the project, and he states that he tried to anticipate what names would become known and gave those, such as the names of his commanding officer and certain olhor personnel at his home base in Adana, Turkey, who would probably be known in any case to the Russians. However, they asked him for names of other pilots and he states that he refused to give these on the grounds that they were his friends and comrades and if he gave their names they would lose their jobs and, therefore, ho could not do so. Ha states they accepted this position. It Is his stated belief, therefore, that the information he gave was that which Ln all probability would be known in any case to his captors.

At his trial he had only the advice of his Russian defense counsel to go by, and he advised that unless Powers pleaded guilty to what the Russianslear violation of domestic law and expressed penitence, matters would go hard for him.ossible death sentence. These actions were consistent with his instructions from CIA. After the trial and sentencing, Mr. Powers states that there was only intermittentof little importance and that on the whole he was wall treated, adequately fed, and given medical attention when required.

All the facts concerning Mr. Powers' mission, the dcaceht'of his plane, his capture, and his subsequent actions have been subjected to intensive study. In the first place. Powers was interrogated for manyebriefing team of experienced interrogators, one of whose duties was to evaluate Powers' credibility. They expressed the unanimous view that Powers was truthful in his account. Secondly, an intensive inquiry was made by Government officials into the background, life history, education, conduct, and character of Powers. This team included doctors, specialists in psychiatry and psychology, personnel officers, his former colleaguos in the Air Force and onroject. All these persona were of the view that Powers is inherently and byruthful man. Thirdly, Powers appearedoard of inquiry and testified at length, both directly and under cross-examination. The board agreed that in his appearance he appeared to be truthful, frank, straightforward, and without any indicated attempt to evade questions or color what he was saying. In the board's judgment he reflected an attitude of complete candor. In the fourth place, when during his examination before theuestion was raised as to the accuracy of one of his statements, he volunteored with some vehemenco th.it, although he disliked the process of the polygraph, he would like toolygraph test. That test was subsequently duly administered by an expert and in it he was examined on all of the factual phases which the board considered critical in this inquiry. The report by the polygraph opcr-.tor

is that he displayed no indications of deviation from the truth in llu course of that examination. In the fifthtudy of thef the debris of the plane and other information concerning the plane revealed in the opinion of experts making the study no condition which suggested an inconsistency with Powers' account of what had transpired. The board noted the testimony of Russian witnesses at the trial in Moscow

which dealt with the descent and capture of Powers and with technical

features of the plane and the incident.

The testimony was consistent with the account given bys able topotmall village where he thought he had landed. This location checked with prior testimony given by Powers as to physical features, directions, and distances and alsowith earlier independent information not known to Powers that certain of the persons who captured him lived in this same small village. Some information from confidential sources was available. Some of it corroborated Powers and some of it was inconsistent in parts with Powers' story, but that which was inconsistent was in part contradictory with itself and subject to various interpretations. Some of this information was the basis for considerable speculation shortly after thepisode and subsequent stories in the press that Powers' piano had descended gradually from its extreme altitude and had been shot downussian fighter at medium altitude. Oa careful analysis, it appears that the information on which these stories were based wasof varyinghe board came to tho conclusion that Lt could'hotoubtful interpretation in this regard which was inconsistent with all the other known facts and consequently rejected these newspaper stories as not founded in fact.

On all the information available, therefore, it is the conclusion of the board of inquiry which reviewed Mr. Powers' case and of the Director of Central Intelligence, who has carefully studied the board's report and has discussed it with the board, that Mr. Powers lived up to the terms of his employment and instructions in connection with his mission and in his obligations as an American under the circumstances in which he found himself. It should be noted that competent aerodynamicists and aeronautical engineers have carefully studied Powers' description of his experience and haveon the basis of scientific analysislane damaged as he described would perform in its descent in about the manner he stated. Accordingly, the amount due Mr. Powers under the terms of his contract will be paid to him.

Original document.

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