Agencies Of The United States


Agencies Of The United States Essay, Research Paper

Agencies of the United States

When World War II in Europe finally came to an end on May 7, 1945, a new

war was just beginning. The Cold War: denoting the open yet restricted rivalry

that developed between the United States and the Soviet Union and their

respective allies, a war fought on political, economic, and propaganda fronts,

with limited recourse to weapons, largely because of fear of a nuclear holocaust.

 This term, The Cold War, was first used by presidential advisor Bernard Baruch

during a congressional debate in 1947. Intelligence operations dominating this

war have been conducted by the Soviet State Security Service (KGB) and the

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), representing the two power blocs, East and

West respectively, that arose from the aftermath of World War II. Both have

conducted a variety of operations from large scale military intervention and

subversion to covert spying and surveillance missions. They have known success

and failure. The Bay of Pigs debacle was soon followed by Kennedy’s deft

handling of the Cuban missile crisis. The decisions he made were helped

immeasurably by intelligence gathered from reconnaissance photos of the high

altitude plane U-2. In understanding these agencies today I will show you how

these agencies came about, discuss past and present operations, and talk about

some of their tools of the trade.

Origin of the CIA and KGB

The CIA was a direct result of American intelligence operations during

World War II. President Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized the need to coordinate

intelligence to protect the interests of the United States. In 1941, he

appointed William J. Donovan to the head of the Office of Strategic Services

(OSS) with headquarters in London. Four departments made up the OSS: Support,

Secretariat, Planning, and Overseas Missions. Each of these departments directed

an array of sections known as ‘operation groups’. This organization had fallen

into the disfavor of many involved in the federal administration at this time.

This included the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), J.

Edgar Hoover, who did not like competition from a rival intelligence

organization. With the death of Roosevelt in April of 1945, the OSS was

disbanded under Truman and departments were either relocated or completely


Soviet intelligence began with the formation of the Cheka, secret police,

under Feliks Dzerzhinsky at the time of the revolution. By 1946, this agency had

evolved into the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD), and the Ministry of State

Security (MGB) both ruled by Lavrenti Beria. This man was undoubtedly the most

powerful man in the Soviet Union with a vast empire of prison camps, and

informants to crush any traces of dissent. Of considerable importance to Beria

was the race for the atomic bomb. The Soviet Union and the United States both

plundered the German V-2 rocket sites for materials and personnel. In 1946 the

MVD was responsible for the rounding up of 6000 scientists from the Soviet zone

of Germany and taking them and their dependents to the Soviet Union.

The political conflicts of the 1930’s and World War II left many

educated people with the impression that only communism could combat economic

depression and fascism. It was easy for Soviet agents to recruit men who would

later rise to positions of power with access to sensitive information. ‘Atom

spies’ were well positioned to keep the Soviets informed of every American

development on the bomb. Of considerable importance was a man by the name of

Klaus Fuchs, a German communist who fled Hitler’s purge and whose ability as a

nuclear physicist earned him a place on the Manhattan Project. Fuchs passed

information to the Soviets beginning in 1941, and was not arrested until 1950.

Also passing secrets to the Soviets were Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, executed in

the United States in 1953. The latter two were probably among the first who

believed in nuclear deterrence, whereby neither country would use nuclear

weapons because the other would use his in response, therefore there would be no

possible winner. It is generally believed that with such scientists as Andrei

Sakharov, the Soviets were capable of working it out for themselves without the

help of intelligence.

(better transition) The National Security Act of 1947 gave birth to the

CIA, and in 1949 the CIA Act was formally passed. “The act exempted the CIA from

all Federal laws that required the disclosure of ‘functions, names, official

titles, and salaries or number of personnel employed by the agency’. The

director was awarded staggering powers, including the right to ’spend money

without regard to the provisions of law and regulations relating to the

expenditure of government funds’. The act also allowed the director to bring in

100 aliens a year secretly.” The 1949 charter is essentially the same one that

the CIA uses to carry out covert operations today.

The U-2 Incident

In 1953, the CIA contracted Lockheed Aircraft Corporation of Burbank CA

to build a plane that would go higher and farther than any yet produced. Kelly

Johnson came up with the design for the U-2, a plane that would fly with a

record high ceiling of 90,000 ft. and a range of 4,000 ft. The U-2 flights are

possibly the greatest triumph achieved by the CIA since its founding. This is

because of the planes success at evading detection for such a long time and the

vast amounts of information gathered. “We’ll never be able to match that one.

Those flights were intelligence work on a mass production basis.”

On the fateful day of May 1, 1960, Gary Powers was sent up in his U-2

over the Soviet Union from the United States Air Force Base at Peshawar,

Pakistan. His mission was to photograph areas of military and economic

signifigance and record radio transmissions. The plane he flew was equipped with

cameras, radio receivers and tape recorders to accomplish this mission. In

addition to these devices, the plane was also equipped with self destruction

capabilities to blow up the U-2 if it was forced to land, and a blasting

mechanism fitted to the tape recorder to destroy any evidence of the CIA’s

monitoring of radio signals. As his plane flew over the Soviet Union, the

cameras recorded ammunition depots, oil storage installations, the number and

type of aircraft at military airports, and electric transmission lines. When the

plane did not return to its base after a reasonable allowance of time, it was

assumed it had crashed for some reason or another.

The circumstances surrounding the crash of the plane Powers flew on this

is a still a mystery today, depending on whether you believe the Soviets or the

Americans. The Soviets claim that “in view of the fact that this was a case of

the deliberate invasion of Soviet airspace with hostile aggressive intent, the

Soviet Government gave orders to shoot down the plane”, and that they shot it

out of the air with an SA-2 missile at 8:53 A.M. at the altitude of 68,000 ft.

The Americans declared that the U-2 was disabled by a flameout in its jet engine.

Whatever the truth maybe, or combination of truths, the fact remains that Powers

survived the encounter by parachute in the vicinity of Sverdlovsk. Upon landing,

he was apprehended, disarmed, and escorted to the security police by four

residents of the small town.

The fault of the incident lay with the American administration’s

handling of the situation, not with the flight itself. It was assumed that

Powers had died in the crash, and this was the mistake. The initial story

released was not widely reported and only told of a missing pilot near the

Soviet border who’s oxygen equipment was out of order. “From an intelligence

point of view, the original cover story seemed to be particularly inept… A

cover story has certain requirements. It must be credible. It must be a story

that can be maintained [no live pilots knocking about] and it should not have

too much detail. Anything that’s missing in a cover story can be taken care of

by saying the matter is being investigated.”

The further lies the State Department released about the incident only

strained U.S. and Soviet relations. These included reports of an unarmed weather

research plane, piloted by a civilian, that had trouble with oxygen equipment

going down over the Soviet Union. Under questioning by the press, Information

Officer, Walt Bonney, admitted that the U-2 had cameras aboard, but they were

not reconnaissance cameras. Rather, the cameras were “to take cloud cover”.

When it became publicly known that Khrushchev had known what had taken place all

along and had known for some years, President Eisenhower justified the presence

of a spy plane over the Soviet Union with it being “in the interest of the free

world.” Khrushchev saw through the ploy and revoked his invitation for

Eisenhower to visit the Soviet Union for a summit.

Bay of Pigs

By 1959, Fidel Castro and his rebels were able to establish their own

regime in Cuba. Americans soon became hostile to this new government when it

became apparent that Castro endorsed the Soviets. He declared his intentions of

supporting guerrilla movements against US backed dictatorships throughout Latin

America and seized US assets in Cuba. He also established friendly relations

with the Soviet Union although he was not communist. The US recognized this

threat to their interests and proceeded to form a special CIA task force that

was create an armed force of exiled Cubans, form a subversive organizations

within Cuba, and if possible assassinate Castro.

The initial plan was to discredit the charismatic man in front of his

nation. Some ideas that were considered to accomplish the task were ludicrous in

the least. The first was to spray Cuban TV studios with LSD prior to Castro

broadcasting a speech in hopes of him making a complete fool of himself. The

agency had been experimenting with the acid for some time. However, the idea was

quickly abandoned because no one could guarantee with any certainty that the

drug would have the desired effect. Further attempts were stabs at the look of

Castro himself. One idea was to doctor his famous insignia, the cigars he is

always seen with. This idea was discontinued because no one could figure out how

to get the cigars to him. From an angle of more a chemical nature, the agency

planned at one time to make his beard fall out. Scientists at the agency knew

that when thallium salts contact skin, they act as a depilatory and make hair

fall out. The idea goes further into reasoning that when Castro traveled he

would leave his shoes outside of his hotel bedroom and the salts could be

sprinkled in then. This idea became impossible when Castro announced that all

forthcoming foreign trips were to be cancelled. With these failures, the US felt

that it had no choice but to continue with the organization of partisans and

help them usurp the dictatorship of Cuba.

By the time John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960, the

development of the invasion was already in full force. Eisenhower had earmarked

$13 million and a force of 1300 men had been assembled. Cuban pilots were being

trained how to fly B-26 bombers by National Guardsmen. The operation was massive,

enough so that the public took notice. Kennedy was extremely wary of any direct

US involvement and set about a series of compromises for the Cuban exiles. The

air cover was reduced and the landings were shifted from a more favorable site

to the Bay of Pigs where it was determined that the landing force could get

ashore with a minimum of naval and air force back up.

Escorted by US naval vessels, the force landed in the Bay of Pigs on

April 17, 1961. The six B-26s assigned to the operation were clearly inadequate

and the support from within the country never fully materialized. Completely

exposed to counterattacks of the Cuban air and land forces, the whole invasion

force was either killed or taken prisoner.

When Kennedy’s statement that “the armed forces of this country would

not intervene in any way” was an outright lie. The exiles uses American

equipment. They were trained by American servicemen, and the planes flown were

Americans. The ships that carried the men to the invasion were American, with

American naval units for support. Americans were killed in operation. When

caught in his lie, Kennedy was forced to cover the US by extending the Monroe

Doctrine to cover communism. He declared that the US would remain free of all

Central and Latin American affair as long as they were not communist. This

fiasco undoubtedly led to Khrushchev’s belief that he could deploy missiles to

his newfound ally without any tangible reprisal from the Americans.

Practices of Spies

Some of the devices used seem to come straight from a James Bond movie.

Hollow rings or talcum powder cans with false bottoms were some of the items

used for hiding microfilm. An interesting method involves the use of a microdot

whereby pages of information is reduced to the size of a colon and used in an

appropriate place on a document. The process is reversed for the extraction of

information and the dot is enlarged to display all the information. Hiding

places for secret packages were imaginative to say the least and ranged from

trees, to ruined walls, to mail boxes.

Listening devices were not restricted to telephone bugs, and on one

occasion there was a handcarved Great Seal of the United States presented to the

US ambassador in Moscow by the Soviet Union. It turned out that hidden inside

was a listening device. Microwave receivers exist all over the world for the

interception of messages, the Soviet embassy in San Francisco has its own

battery of dishes erected on top of its building.

In 1978, a Bulgarian exile by the name Georgi Markov who was working for

the Radio Free Europe was fatally poisoned with a pellet most likely hidden in

an umbrella. Vladimir Kostov was killed under very similar circumstances in 1978,

and it is believed that the toxin used was ricin. This is an extremely toxic

substance derived from castor oil. Political and intelligence related

assassinations have abounded in the twentieth century with the advent of the

Cold War. The public will never know when one of murders takes place by reason

of secrecy unless it is a public figure.


The agencies discussed above are integral to the peace that exists today.

There is no other way in the age we live in today to monitor the enemy and ally

alike so as to be able to understand their capabilities and shortcomings without

intelligence agencies. The CIA and KGB by themselves cannot assure peace. With

the knowledge supplied by each to its leaders, intelligent decisions can be made

in the world’s best interest. Moreover, the status quo and power base remains

relatively stable with the East and West on opposing sides. There can never be

true and utterly complete peace, these organizations will continue to exist

contrary ignorant ideals of the public for peaceful coexistence.


Encyclopedia Britannia index page 237

KGB/CIA, Jonathon Bloch page 12

KGB/CIA, Jonathon Bloch page 21

CIA: The Inside Story, Andrew Tully page 113

CIA: The Inside Story, Andrew Tully page 119

General Thomas R. Phillips, U.S. Army, retired.

Bay of Pigs, Peter Wyden page 59

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