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Aerial Intelligence During the Cold War

 

These documents focus on aerial intelligence operations during the Eisenhower Administration. The documents date from November 1954 to September 1960 and provide an overview of the nature of the cold war atmosphere which existed during Dwight D. Eisenhower's presidential years. A glossary, chronology and list of key individuals follows the document list for reference. A select bibliography is included for further reading on the subject matter.

Memorandum authorizing special project (design and production of the U-2 airplane), November 24, 1954 [DDE's Papers as President, Ann Whitman Diary Series, Box 3, ACW Diary November 1954 (1); NAID #186476]

Memoranda for the Record re reconnaissance projects and possible tracking by Soviets, July 5, 1956 and July 10, 1956 [Office of the Staff Secretary, Subject Series, Alphabetical Subseries, Box 14, Intelligence Matters (2); NAID #12008417 and 12008418]

Memorandum for the Record re possible repercussions of reconnaissance project, October 3, 1956 [Office of the Staff Secretary, Subject Series, Alphabetical Subseries, Box 14, Intelligence Matters (2); NAID #12008420]

Memorandum of 1/17/57 special meeting in the President's office re organizing the U.S. intelligence program for efficient and effective operations, January 18, 1957

Memorandum between Killian and Land discussing reconnaissance satellite with President, February 10, 1958 [Office of the Staff Secretary, Subject Series, Alphabetical Subseries, Box 14, Intelligence Matters (4); NAID #12008421]

Memorandum and attachment re Soviet note discussing violation of Soviet state border, April 22, 1958 [Office of the Staff Secretary, Subject Series, Alphabetical Subseries, Box 14, Intelligence Matters (5); NAID #12008422]

Memorandum and attachments re security of Project Corona, cover plan summary and proposed press release, November 5, 1958 [Office of the Staff Secretary, Subject Series, Alphabetical Subseries, Box 14, Intelligence Matters (6); NAID #12008424]

Memorandum in which President questions PFIAB about risks and benefits of continued U-2 intelligence collection over the Soviet Union, December 22, 1958 [Office of the Staff Secretary, Subject Series, Alphabetical Subseries, Box 15, Intelligence Matters (7); NAID #12008567]

Memorandum in which President questions his civilian and uniformed defense chiefs on risks and benefits of current and future aerial intelligence operations over the Soviet Union, February 12, 1959 [Office of the Staff Secretary, Subject Series, Alphabetical Subseries, Box 15, Intelligence Matters (8); NAID #12008570]

Memorandum in which President questions his science advisors on new, less-risky aerial intelligence technology soon to come on-line, discusses risks and benefits of continued U-2 operations, strength of U.S. missile deterrent, February 13, 1959 [Office of the Staff Secretary, Subject Series, Alphabetical Subseries, Box 15, Intelligence Matters (8); NAID #12008571]

Paper on Project CORONA (satellite-based overhead surveillance) program progress, March 11, 1959 [Office of the Staff Secretary, Subject Series, Alphabetical Subseries, Box 15, Intelligence Matters (9); NAID #12008628]

Case file re vulnerability of U-2 to Soviet interception, production and deployment of Soviet ICBMs, risks of intelligence operations, and information gained from intelligence operations, March 31, 1959 [Office of the Staff Secretary, Subject Series, Alphabetical Subseries, Box 15, Intelligence Matters (9); NAID #12008631]

Memorandum re lack of intelligence on progress of Soviet ICBM program, military and political risks of overflights of the Soviet Union versus potential benefits, April 3, 1959 [Office of the Staff Secretary, Subject Series, Alphabetical Subseries, Box 15, Intelligence Matters (10); NAID #12008652]

Memorandum re President's concerns about grave risks posed by U-2 overflights; questions whether intelligence gained is worth the potential damage to negotiations with Soviets, April 11, 1959 [Office of the Staff Secretary, Subject Series, Alphabetical Subseries, Box 15, Intelligence Matters (10); NAID #12008670]

Case file re CIA reports to Department of Defense on progress of, and plans for, CORONA intelligence project, May 4 and 5, 1959 [Office of the Staff Secretary, Subject Series, Alphabetical Subseries, Box 15, Intelligence Matters (11); NAID #12008900]

Memorandum in which President discusses with his advisors the risks and benefits of additional U-2 flights over the Soviet Union given fluid political situation within the Soviet Union, need for negotiation with the Soviets, July 8, 1959 [Office of the Staff Secretary, Subject Series, Alphabetical Subseries, Box 15, Intelligence Matters (12); NAID #12008907]

Memorandum re proposals for development of new spy plane to replace the U-2, July 20, 1959 [Office of the Staff Secretary, Subject Series, Alphabetical Subseries, Box 15, Intelligence Matters (12); NAID #12008916]

Memorandum re President's meeting with his Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board on authorization of further U-2 flights, extended debate about risks versus benefits, February 8, 1960 [Office of the Staff Secretary, Subject Series, Alphabetical Subseries, Box 15, Intelligence Matters (13); NAID #12008917]

Memorandum with Presidential authorization of one more flight prior to May 1, April 25, 1960 [Office of the Staff Secretary, Subject Series, Alphabetical Subseries, Box 15, Intelligence Matters (14); NAID #186630]

Cover story that the missing U-2 was on a scientific weather mission over Turkey, May 2, 1960 [Office of the Staff Secretary, Subject Series, Alphabetical Subseries, Box 15, Intelligence Matters (14); NAID #594364]

Memorandum of discussion on all forms of aircraft intelligence reconnaissance operations, including U-2s, RB-47s, other aircraft, and types of intelligence derived from these operations, undated (summer 1960) [White House Office of the Staff Secretary, Subject Series, Alphabetical Subseries, Box 15, Intelligence Matters (18); NAID #12008923]

Memorandum in which President discusses the military and diplomatic risks of all forms of overhead and peripheral aerial reconnaissance, but authorizes continued operations, August 10, 1960 [Office of the Staff Secretary, Subject Series, Alphabetical Subseries, Box 15, Intelligence Matters (17); NAID #12008941]

Memorandum listing all U-2 overflights of Soviet bloc from 1956-1960, August 18, 1960 [Office of the Staff Secretary, Subject Series, Alphabetical Subseries, Box 15, Intelligence Matters (17); NAID #12008946]

Memorandum re security system to control intelligence from aerial intelligence operations, August 26, 1960 [White House Office of the Staff Secretary, Subject Series, Alphabetical Subseries, Box 15, Intelligence Matters (18); NAID #12008951]

Memorandum with Presidential authorization of continued peripheral reconnaissance operations seeking electronic information (ELINT), September 6, 1960 [White House Office of the Staff Secretary, Subject Series, Alphabetical Subseries, Box 15, Intelligence Matters (18); NAID #12008953]

Memorandum of discussion with British officials about critical diplomatic issues and need for U.S. to coordinate closely with U.K. on aerial reconnaissance of Soviet Bloc, President regrets how the U-2 incident cover story was handled, September 28, 1960

Aerial Reconnaissance Image

Images in the audiovisual collection relating to CORONA

For additional information please see:

Glossary

Chronology

Key Indviduals

Bibliography

U-2 Spy Plane Incident

U-2 Incident and the Paris Summit Subject Guide

Project CORONA Subject Guide