Skip to comments.Lessons From Failed Cold War Spy Mission in China
Posted on 06/20/2010 10:44:06 PM PDT by nickcarraway
Detail by painful detail, the CIA is coming to grips with one of the most devastating episodes in its history, a botched cloak-and-dagger flight into China that stole two decades of freedom from a pair of fresh-faced American operatives and cost the lives of their two pilots. In opening up about the 1952 debacle, the CIA is finding ways to use it as a teaching tool. Mistakes of the past can serve as cautionary tales for today's spies and paramilitary officers taking on al-Qaida and other terrorist targets.
At the center of the story are two eager CIA paramilitary officers on their first overseas assignment, John T. Downey of New Britain, Conn., and Richard G. Fecteau, of Lynn, Mass., whose plane was shot from the night sky in a Chinese ambush.
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But...But...I thought harsh interrogation didn't work.
That being said, I had never heard of these heroes.
Fascinating story. There’s some serious cautionary lessons to be learned from that mission, and I think some of them apply to areas well beyond the world of the professional spook.
1950 : (KOREAN WAR - CONFLICT BEGINS)
1950 : (COMMUNIST CHINESE INVADE TIBET-—See DALAI LAMA) the People’s Liberation Army marched in and imposed Communist rule in 1950. - “China upholds Tibetan death sentence, “CNN ASIA 01.26.03
1950 : (ANTI-INTELLIGENCE LOBBY ORGANIZES - See LEFTIES, CPR, IPS, ACLU, ADA, CNSS, FAS, NLG, NOW, CPJ, SCLC) As suggested by President Truman’s veto of the Internal Security Act of 1950, which Congress overrode, people on the Left side of the political spectrum generally opposed legislation which sought to expand intelligence and counterintelligence operations, particularly those with a domestic focus. In the 1950s an anti-intelligence lobby, supported by diverse groups and individuals, undertook efforts to curtail or eliminate certain types of intelligence functions, and questioned their overall legitimacy. . .According to Francis J. McNamara, a former Executive Secretary of the Subversive Activities Control Board, the Campaign for Political Rights (CPR), previously known as the Campaign to Stop Government Spying, became the coordinating group for a nationwide campaign against the FBI, CIA, and other elements of the U.S. intelligence community. It described itself as “a national coalition of over 80 religious, educational, environmental, civic, women’s, black, Latino, and labor organizations” which “serves as a national information clearing-house providing materials, organizing-assistance, press and publicity advice and speaker-scheduling to organizers across the country.” This umbrella-type organization was said to have two basic aims: (1) to end all covert actions abroad, and (2) to terminate what it termed “political spying and harassment in the U.S.7
Among the CPR’s 51 member and 30 cooperating organizations were the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), the Center for National Security Studies (CNSS), the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), the National Organization of Women (NOW), the Committee for Public Justice (CPJ), and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). -——— W. Raymond Wannall, “Undermining Counterintelligence Capability”
JUNE 1950 - 1955 : (CHINA & FORMOSA) Formosa (Taiwan). In June 1950 at the beginning of the Korean War, President Truman ordered the U.S. 7th Fleet to prevent Chinese Communist attacks upon Formosa and Chinese Nationalist operations against mainland China.
JUNE 1950 - JULY 1953 : (THREE AMERICANS PUBLISH FALSE ALLEGATIONS THAT THE USA DROPPED BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS / “FEATHER BOMBS” —see KOREAN WAR, SEDITION, ANTIWAR TIMELINE, WMD) The Eisenhower administration later charged three Americans with sedition for publishing charges (in JUne 1950 to July 1953 ?) that the US dropped “feather bombs,” fleas carrying plague, mosquitoes carrying yellow fever, and rodents carrying various diseases into North Korea
NOVEMBER 1, 1950 : (2 PUERTO RICAN “NATIONALISTS” ATTEMPT TO ASSASSINATE TRUMAN; ONE IS KILLED ALONG WITH A SECRET SERVICE AGENT; THE SURVIVING TERRORIST IS LATER PARDONED BY DEMOCRAT PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER)
1951 : (USA : COMMUNIST PARTY FORMS THE AVP TO PROTEST THE KOREAN WAR; IT WOULD SPAWN THE VFP ) American Veterans for Peace (AVP), an antiwar group which the Communist Party had originally formed in 1951 to protest the Korean War.81 —————Hanoi John: Kerry and the Antiwar Movements Communist Connections
JULY 31, 1952 : (YELLOW SEA : US AIRCRAFT SHOT DOWN BY CHINESE) US PBM-5S2 from VP-731 attacked by Chinese fighters over the Yellow Sea
NOVEMBER 29, 1952 : (MANCHURIA : US AIRCRAFT SHOT DOWN, 2 PILOTS KILLED, 2 CIA AGENTS CAPTURED)
JANUARY 18, 1953 : (US AIRCRAFT SHOT DOWN BY CHINESE?) P2V-5 from VP-22 shot down by anti-aircraft fire near Swatow, China
Wow! Fascinating post. Amazing that both of them picked up the pieces of their lives after all that.
The lesson is that if you’re gonna spy on your neighbors, you better have a sound tacplan in place.