"The camera, I think, is actually going to be our best inspector." -- JOHN F. KENNEDY on television, December, 1962

"That function [inspection] can now be assumed by satellites. Maybe I'll let you see my photographs." -- NIKITA S. KHRUSHCHEV to Paul Henri Spaak, July, 1963

THE PRESIDENT of the United States and the Premier of the Soviet Union were referring to one of the strangest secrets of the Cold War, a secret which was scarcely a secret at all.


Kennedy and Khrushchev were alluding to a revolutionary tool of espionage, the camera-bearing "spy in the sky" satellite. And it was clear that neither had been fooled by the elaborate security precautions of the other.

The United States had been orbiting SAMOS spy satellites over the Soviet Union since 1961, and the Russians were known to have the capacity to track them. With similar technique and purpose the Soviets started in 1962 to send up their COSMOS satellites under the vigilant eye of the U.S. tracking system.

By 1963 aerial reconnaissance had become the most secretive operation of the Pentagon. Yet, ironically, when SAMOS was first tested in 1960, its virtues were graphically described in official pronouncements. Indeed, the electronic and optical laws upon which it was founded had long been the property of the scientific community, Russian and American alike.

Until Francis Gary Powers was shot down in his U-2 over Russia on May 1, 1960, little had been disclosed about SAMOS. But a summit meeting in Paris was being held that month and the Eisenhower Administration was emphasizing its determination to keep the Soviet Union under surveillance despite the U-2 incident. Suddenly, from the depths of the Pentagon, came a spew of previously highly classified details. By following the official disclosures over the next several months, a diligent Russian analyst could easily have pieced together the following description of the remarkable satellite:

SAMOS, the name of a Greek island, was a contraction for Satellite and Missile Observation System. The project was in an advanced state of development and the White House had given it a "DX" rating, which meant it was one of the handful of Pentagon programs with the highest national priority. Still, it was to be pushed even faster on a budget of just under $200,000,000 a year.

SAMOS was designed to be operational by 1962 and to take photographs with detail equal to what the human eye could see from a hundred feet. The satellite was launched *1 by an Atlas-Agena rocket, standing ninety-five feet high, or a Thor-Agena rocket, with a height of seventy-eight feet.

The Agena, or second stage, was made by the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, designers and producers of the U-2. It was that part of the rocket which went into orbit. The satellite weighed 4,100 pounds and was twenty-two feet tall and five feet in diameter. It circled the earth upright like a giant cigar, carrying a 300-to-400-pound gold-plated instrument package.

SAMOS was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, into a polar orbit from which it could photograph every nation in the world as the globe rotated under it. The camera could be shut off when the satellite was off target, thereby conserving power.

(By 1964 reliable reports indicated that a SAMOS was passing over the Soviet Union eight to twelve times, and over Communist China two to four times, every day.)

Orbits varied: some carried the satellite around the earth at an equal altitude of 300 miles; others were purposely egg-shaped so that the satellite dropped as close as 150 miles. From this height a telescopic camera with a focal length of 120 inches could photograph objects two and a half feet wide.

In April, 1959, Amrom H. Katz of the RAND Corporation, a semi-official research group for the Air Force, wrote that camera lenses with a 240-inch focal length had already been developed.

In April, 1960, Howard S. Stewart, a University of Rochester optics expert, indicated in International Science and Technology that it was possible to develop satellite cameras capable of "resolving two objects three inches apart from 125 miles up."

In February, 1964, the Air Force's Aerospace Medical Division reported that astronauts could readily spot missile bases, encampments and troop movements from 100 miles in space.

There were four types of SAMOS satellites: one carried television cameras for transmitting simultaneous pictures back to earth; a second carried conventional cameras for producing more detailed photographs that could be ejected on command and recovered in big nets strung from aircraft; *2 a third carried both types of cameras; and a fourth incorporated eavesdropping equipment.

The fourth version was known as the "ferret." It could pick out radar and communication centers, and pinpoint missile sites by their radio guidance signals. It could also tap microwave telephone links. The SAMOS photographs could locate enemy military targets and provide instantaneous indications of troop or supply build-ups.

The reconnaissance satellite would be subject to some of the limitations of the U-2. It could be frustrated by clouds which cover 60 percent of the earth at all times. But it could provide pictures of the northern stretches of the Soviet Union that were beyond the reach of the U-2. And it would be much less vulnerable to defensive measures. SAMOS' orbit could readily be determined by Russian tracking stations, and theoretically the satellite could be destroyed by an anti-satellite missile (the United States began experimental tests with such a system in 1963) But if it were hit by a rocket, it would burn up on re-entry into the earth's atmosphere and the evidence would be destroyed. And it would be a considerably more difficult target than a U-2 flying ten times lower.

Besides, SAMOS could carry a rocket motor which, on command from the earth, would enable it to move evasively. On the assumption that Soviet spy satellites would incorporate similar devices for evasion, the Air Force started work in 1960 on SAINT (Satellite Intercept). It was to be a maneuverable satellite which would rendezvous with an enemy vehicle in orbit and inspect it by electronic means such as television. Ultimately, it was to have the capacity to neutralize or destroy an enemy satellite.*3

Another reconnaissance system also came into view during this period. It was MIDAS (Missile Defense Alarm System), designed to detect missile launchings with infra-red sensors. MIDAS' weight and dimensions were virtually identical to those of SAMOS. It was fired into orbit by the same rocket and it was also produced by Lockheed.

By detecting the intense heat given off by rocket exhaust during take-off, MIDAS was to provide a thirty-minute warning of enemy attack. This would double the fifteen-minute alert of BMEWS (Ballistic Missile Early Warning System), a massive radar in Thule, Greenland, which would pick up an incoming ICBM halfway between launch and impact.


MIDAS' infrared instruments were so sensitive that they could detect a lighted cigarette from a distance of eight miles. During one test launching the heat sensors sent out signals set off by a coffee pot on the firing pad. (MIDAS encountered a series of difficulties which ran the research and development bill up close to $500,000,000. But in May and July of 1963 the satellite succeeded in detecting missiles launched from Florida and California.)

Another satellite launched with much public fanfare in 1960 was TIROS. Its cameras were to televise cloud cover and storm conditions in order to promote better weather prediction. Such surveillance obviously could be of great value in timing SAMOS launches for moments of minimum cloud cover over the Soviet Union.*4 But in Senate testimony in July, 1961, James E. Webb, NASA's director, denied Soviet charges that the weather satellites were for purposes of espionage. He asserted that it was perfectly lawful for satellites to be flown over foreign territory just as ships freely sail the high seas. National sovereignty extends only to air space, Webb contended, and ''as to outer space where there is no air, this is a completely open field."

The head of NASA was betraying the fears of the administration that U.S. satellites operating over Russia would be shot down by Soviet propaganda.


When President Kennedy took office, he was faced with three alternatives:

(1) to continue the semi-public practices of the Eisenhower Administration;

(2) to shut off all official discussion and disclosures about the espionage satellites; or

(3) to make the program "overt" by proposing a new "open skies" plan and submitting all satellite photographs to the United Nations.

The last recommendation was privately proposed by a group of prominent scientists at the outset of the Kennedy Administration.


They argued that there was a presumption of guilt in surreptitious activities and that the Soviet Union could play upon this as justification for shooting down a SAMOS or securing a UN resolution condemning the practice. On the other hand, they contended, if the operation were placed under the UN, the Soviets would be hard-pressed to destroy SAMOS either with rockets or words.

The Kennedy Administration quickly decided that secrecy was a safer course. When SAMOS II was successfully launched on January 31, 1961 -- eleven days after Kennedy took office -- the Pentagon prohibited the release of any details about it. This prohibition soon developed into an absolute ban on any discussion of the satellite, even in areas of prior official revelation. It was thereafter impossible to obtain official confirmation that in fact SAMOS existed.


Future announcements were restricted to such words as:

"A satellite employing an Atlas-Agena B booster combination was launched by the Air Force today. It is carrying a number of classified test components."

Since security, if any, had long since been breached by the original SAMOS disclosures, it was clear that the administration had international political purposes in mind in its new crackdown.


The likeliest explanation was that it hoped to avoid provoking the Russians into countermeasures against SAMOS. Khrushchev had known for years that the U-2 was flying over Russia, but he said nothing until his hand was forced by the Powers incident. Might he not be inclined to maintain a similar silence on SAMOS, particularly since his own satellites were the first to fly over the United States and other nations?

The answer was quick in coming. SAMOS II was hardly off the pad before the Russians protested.


Their complaint, which was formally carried to the United Nations in March, 1962, was summed up on December 3 of that year by Platon D. Morozov, the Soviet delegate to the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

"Such observation," he said, "is just as wrong as when intelligence data are obtained by other means such as by photography made from the air. The object at which such illegal surveillance is directed constitutes a secret guarded by a sovereign state and, regardless of the means by which such an operation is carried out, it is in all cases an intrusion."

The standard reply of the United States was that a nation's sovereignty extends only to the air space above it.


Officials noted that in the first three years of the space age neither the United States nor the Soviet Union had claimed its territorial sovereignty was infringed by satellite overflights. In the absence of protest or international agreement to the contrary, these officials maintained that a common law had been established, giving any nation the right to orbit satellites over another.

On January 13, 1962, the United States asserted formally that this freedom of movement in space had been endorsed by the UN General Assembly in its unanimous resolution the previous month on "international cooperation and the peaceful uses of outer space."

The resolution stipulated that international law and the United Nations Charter were to apply to outer space and that celestial bodies were not to be subject to national appropriation. The United States interpreted this as a contradiction of the Soviet argument that SAMOS violated national sovereignty.

To demonstrate its sincerity in subscribing to UN supervision of space, the United States pledged, shortly after the UN Space Registry was established in February of 1962, that it would list all of its satellites.

From time to time knowledgeable space watchers in the United States and Europe noted, sometimes in print, that more objects were in space than had been reported to the UN. Playing upon the deep secrecy surrounding the SAMOS program, the Russians alleged that the United States was concealing some of its launches.

These allegations imposed a nasty dilemma upon the United States Government. If it were to dispose effectively of suggestions that it was cheating, it would have to open up the SAMOS firings to much greater publicity. But this would run counter to the basic policy decision not to provoke the Russians.

Or the United States could publicly produce evidence that the unlisted objects in space were of Soviet origin. But this would expose the fact that the United States possessed a vast electronic network which kept a precise watch on all Soviet space operations. And the CIA and the Pentagon were opposed to providing the slightest help to the Russians in compromising the network.

Their opposition was twofold. First, if it were officially admitted that the United States was eavesdropping along the Iron Curtain, nations providing the clandestine facilities might be subjected to severe Russian pressure, as they were after the U-2 incident.

The second argument was expressed in a news conference on December 6, 1962, by Arthur Sylvester:

"We are trying to keep intelligence [secret], not only what we gather but how we gather it ... We know that lots of things that two years ago we assumed our adversaries had, they did not have. We know this by what they're spending money to get. What we are trying to do in this field is to make it as difficult as possible for them. We are trying not to wrap it up, put it on a silver platter and hand it to them. We are trying to make them spend as much time and effort as we have to."

Defense Secretary McNamara was particularly jealous of the secrecy policy.


He was incensed when Hanson Baldwin, the military-affairs analyst of the New York Times, disclosed in June, 1962 -- clearIy on the basis of SAMOS reports -- that the Soviets were erecting concrete storage "coffins" for their ICBMs. McNamara was disturbed that Baldwin's report might have given the Russians an indication of the excellence of SAMOS. He apparently did not comprehend that he himself had exposed SAMOS' effectiveness when he announced the month before that the United States was in a position to locate and destroy Soviet missile sites.

Arrayed against McNamara and the secrecy policy were those in the State Department who saw great propaganda value in destroying the myth that the Soviets could do no wrong in space and that they had suffered fewer failures than the United States. This viewpoint prevailed in September, 1962, when the government claimed that in the two previous years the Russians had failed in five attempts to reach the planets -- two to Mars and three to Venus.

In trying to substantiate the claim, the fears of the CIA and the Pentagon were realized. A Pandora's box of black electronic arts was opened. Out of it came revelations of a world that was unknown to the vast majority of Americans, if not to the Soviet leaders.

The United States had detected the Russian space failures through a surveillance system known as SPADATS (Space Detection and Tracking System). It was a complicated network of electronic fences, stretching across the United States, and sensitive radios and radars hidden along the perimeter of the Soviet Union. The network was so effective that no Soviet rocket could get off the ground without its being known within a few minutes at the North American Air Defense Command in Colorado Springs and at the CIA and the White House.

The first point of detection was a radar and communications system in the Middle East. It was centered in Turkey at small Black Sea towns such as Zonguldak, Sinop and Samsun. There, powerful radars and listening gear monitored the countdowns and rocket launchings at the main Soviet missile sites near the Aral Sea.

The radars, which went into operation in 1955, could reach at least 3,000 miles.


The scope of the listening gear was suggested by an advertisement which slipped uncensored into Aviation Week on February 25, 1963:

Modern electronic counter-measures are an important deterrent and intelligence tool for the military services. "Ferreting" ECM systems -- for the detection, location and analysis of foreign electromagnetic radiation associated with radar, missile command and communications -- are a demonstrated capability of Babcock's military products division, where operational ferreting systems are in production ...

Another indication of the potential of the eavesdropping equipment got out the following month.


Senator Barry Goldwater, a general in the Air Force Reserve, disclosed that an "electronic ear," operating in planes off Cuba, was so sensitive that it could pick up the sound of various machines to the point of detecting a small generator in operation.

At the same time, the Pentagon was perfecting super-range "over the horizon" radar and the Air Force had installed highly sensitive atmospheric pressure gear which could provide instantaneous indications of a Soviet missile launching.

After a rocket had been detected by the Middle East system, it would next be picked up by the BMEWS radar in Greenland, which kept watch over the Arctic, or by the large saucer-like radar at Shemya in the Aleutians, which tracked Soviet test rockets as they flew out over the Pacific.

The third point of detection and the most precise was NAVSPASUR (Naval Space Surveillance System), an electronic fence stretching from Georgia to Southern California. Transmitters in Alabama, Texas and Arizona created the fence by sending out a beam of radio signals which were deflected back to one of four receiving stations when an object passed through them.

By running the angles of deflection through a massive computer at Dahlgren, Virginia, it was possible to determine a satellite's orbit, position, size and weight (NAVSPASUR was so sensitive that a piece of wire one-sixteenth of an inch in diameter was detected in 1960 when it separated from a U.S. satellite). It was also possible to calculate the exact time and place of launch and predict the future path of the satellite.

Many officials felt that too much was being revealed about these secret electronic systems. Nevertheless, NASA continued until April, 1963, to list Soviet launchings in the Satellite Situation Reports it issued twice a month.

Then there was an abrupt and unexplained return to the previous practice of secrecy. The House Information Subcommittee sought an explanation, but NASA spokesmen said all they knew was that the tracking system was controlled by the Pentagon, which refused to release the information.

This prompted the subcommittee's chairman, John E. Moss, the California Democrat, to observe:

"The taxpayers certainly should not be called upon to spend billions of dollars on our space programs without being given all the facts necessary to make an intelligent judgment as to whether we are behind, ahead, or at least keeping pace with, Russian space efforts."

Despite the fact that the policy of secrecy was perpetuating a false image of United States inferiority in space, the administration held to its practice of suppressing the truth about Soviet failures.


Despite the fact that nuclear test-ban negotiations were threatened by public ignorance of the elaborate array of U.S. detection devices, the administration refused to embark upon even a modest program of education.

It was a strange anomaly, indeed. The United States was seeking to hold its tongue about secrets that were no longer secret to the Russians. In November, 1962, the Soviets, indicating their complete awareness, dropped their long-standing demand for a ban on spy-in-the-sky satellites. This opened the way to a United States-Soviet agreement on the peaceful uses of outer space. Why the Russian about-face? Electronic experts suggested the Russians were developing a spy satellite of their own and did not wish to be inhibited by international prohibitions on such devices.

Khrushchev's son-in-law, Alexei Adzhubei, the editor of Izvestia, seemed to substantiate this theory in a speech in Helsinki, Finland, on September 2, 1963.

"One Western paper," Adzhubei said, "has published a picture taken of Moscow by a satellite from a height of 750 kilometers [about 465 miles] in which the Izvestia building is plainly discernible. We do not publish pictures of this kind, but I believe that we could print a similar picture of New York taken by one of our satellites."

SAMOS I failed to achieve orbit on October 11, 1960. SAMOS II was a success on January 31, 1961.

*2 In July, 1963, the Outstanding Unit Award was presented to the 6593 Test Squadron at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. The Air Force said the squadron had achieved 70 percent success in its capsule recoveries.

*3 The project proved much more complicated than SAMOS, however, and in 1962. its operational date was extended to 1967 at the earliest.

*4 Dr. S. Fred Singer, director of the National Satellite Weather Center at Suitland, Maryland, declared in a speech on February 20, 1963 that TIROS had been so used to plan U-2 flights over Cuba during the missile crisis in October, 1962.

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THE EMERGENCE of the transistor radio in the 1950s has intensified one of the most shadowy, elusive and least-known electronic aspects of the Cold War. This is the war of words, conducted on the airwaves by combatants who are thousands of miles apart -- and who will never meet.

Daily, East and West beam hundreds of hours of propaganda broadcasts at each other in an unrelenting babble of competition for the minds of their listeners. The low-price transistor has given this hidden war a new importance. Millions of people in the Middle East, Latin America and Asia who cannot read, can nevertheless be reached by the propaganda of both sides.

The Invisible Government is heavily engaged in "black radio" *1 operations of every conceivable type. So is the Communist bloc.

United States radio activities have ranged all the way from overt, openly acknowledged and advertised programs of the Voice of America to highly secret CIA transmitters in the Middle East and other areas of the world. In between is a whole spectrum of black, gray, secret and semi secret radio operations. The CIA's Radio Swan, because it became operationally involved at the Bay of Pigs, never enjoyed more than the thinnest of covers. But Radio Swan was a relatively small black-radio operation. Other radio operations, financed and controlled in whole or in part by the Invisible Government, are more skillfully concealed and much bigger.

Some are hybrids -- broadcasting organizations that solicit funds from business corporations and the general public but also receive secret funds from the CIA. While allegedly "private" organizations, they receive daily policy direction from the State Department and take orders from the CIA.

In some cases, it is possible, indeed probable, that lower-level employees of such an organization are unaware of the true point of control of the particular activity. A secret CIA transmitter in Lebanon, to take a random example, would be run directly by CIA officers. But in a larger, hybrid operation, knowledge of financing and control by Washington might be limited to a handful of top executives.

For purposes of this book, it is sufficient to note that an inevitable by-product -- as in clandestine operations generally -- is that the American public has been beguiled by some of this allegedly "private" broadcasting work. It has contributed its gift dollars to such "private" activity, entirely unaware that it is already supporting the same broadcasting operation with its tax dollars, through the CIA.

Black-radio operations fall into two categories -- transmitting and receiving. Besides broadcasting, both sides carefully monitor each other's broadcasts to learn what the opposition is saying.

For the United States, the task of monitoring and recording foreign radio broadcasts, by friendly as well as unfriendly countries, is performed by the CIA. The intelligence agency's listening posts all over the globe capture every major broadcast of a foreign nation on tape. Daily, this extremely valuable foreign broadcast information is edited, correlated, mimeographed and distributed to a wide list of consumers from a CIA office in downtown Washington. *2 The consumers are asked not to mention the name or initials of the arm of the CIA which performs this work. However, this broadcast monitoring service, which is more or less openly acknowledged by the CIA, is about the most "overt" operation the agency conducts.

Some idea of the magnitude of the CIA's task, in monitoring Communist bloc broadcasts alone, can be gained from a speech made on January 30, 1963, by John Richardson, Jr., the president of the Free Europe Committee, which operates Radio Free Europe.

Radio stations of thirteen Communist countries, he said,

"transmit more than four thousand hours of radio programming abroad every week in sixty-three languages. Leaving nothing to chance, the broadcast languages include even Esperanto ... The Soviet Union leads this radio propaganda parade with some thirteen hundred weekly hours of radio propaganda directed abroad. Red China comes second, with almost seven hundred hours weekly, followed by East Germany ... with little Cuba in fourth place." [1]

Surprisingly, the fact that black-radio operations are conducted by the United States was indirectly admitted by President Eisenhower in his Middle East speech to the UN General Assembly on August 13, 1958:

"The United Nations Assembly has on three occasions, in 1947, 1949 and 1950, passed resolutions designed to stop the projecting of irresponsible broadcasts from one nation into the homes of citizens of other nations ... we all know that these resolutions have been violated in many directions in the Near East. If we, the United States, have been at fault, we stand ready to be corrected."

For the background to this unusual passage in the President's speech, one must look to 1956 and Suez. In the aftermath of the abortive Anglo-French-Israeli invasion of Egypt, Nasser increased his efforts to bring the entire Arab world under his domination. A major weapon in this campaign was Radio Cairo.

Up until 1956, the British-controlled Near East Broadcasting Station at Zyghi, on the south coast of Cyprus, was the most powerful propaganda voice in the Middle East. NEBS was a British black-radio operation, ostensibly under private ownership.

Beginning in 1956, Nasser's radio supplanted NEBS. Cairo spread the most violent sort of propaganda against its Arab neighbors and the United States. Its "Voice of the Arabs" was on the air from 6:30 A.M. to 1:15 A.M. the next morning, broadcasting throughout the Middle East and as far south as the Belgian Congo from two seventy-kilowatt transmitters on the Mokattam Hills overlooking Cairo, and from two other transmitters on the Nile Delta.

By 1958 Radio Cairo was openly urging bloody revolution in Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon. In February of that year Nasser had seized power in Syria and proclaimed the United Arab Republic. Iraq's King Feisal II countered by joining with his Hashemite cousin King Hussein of Jordan to form the Arab Union.

On May 2, 1958, as an example, Radio Cairo broadcast to Baghdad: "Arise, my brethren on the police force and in its army in Iraq. Stand side by side with your brothers and your people against your enemies! The freedom of Iraq is in your hands."

Since Iraq was the world's sixth largest oil producer and the only Arab member of the pro Western Baghdad pact, the CIA felt this kind of talk from Radio Cairo could not go unanswered. As a result, by 1958 the CIA had set up a series of clandestine radio stations in the Middle East and along its fringes to counteract the influence of Radio Cairo.

Meanwhile, a crisis was brewing in Lebanon over the selection of a successor to President Camille Chamoun, whose term was expiring. The CIA had helped elect Chamoun, then turned against him.

On July 14 Brigadier General Abdul Karim el-Kassem took over Iraq in a pre-dawn coup which had not been "clearly predicted" [2] by the CIA, according to Allen Dulles. In the coup, twenty-three-year-old King Feisal and his uncle, the crown prince, were murdered. Premier Nuri as-Said, captured while trying to escape dressed as a woman, was also killed.

The next day Eisenhower, in Operation Blue Bat, sent the Marines into Lebanon to shore up the Chamoun government. Two days later the British airlifted 1,000 troops into Jordan.

Radio Cairo exulted in the bloodshed in Baghdad and urged the people of Jordan to rise up and butcher King Hussein. But now, as the CIA transmitters got busy, new voices were heard on the airwaves.

This obscure dispatch appeared in American newspapers on July 23, 1958, for example:

BEIRUT, July 23 (UPI) -- A second mysterious Arab radio station went on the air yesterday calling itself the "Voice of Justice" and claiming to be broadcasting from Syria.

Its program heard here consisted of bitter criticism against Soviet Russia and Soviet Premier Khrushchev. Earlier the "Voice of Iraq" went on the air with attacks against the Iraqi revolutionary government.

The "Voice of Justice" called Khrushchev the "hangman of Hungary" and warned the people of the Middle East they would suffer the same fate as the Hungarians if the Russians get a foothold in the Middle East." [8]

On August 14 Egyptian officials charged that seven secret radio stations were operating in the Middle East, attacking the UAR and Nasser personally.


Cairo said two stations were transmitting from the French Riviera, and said others were in British Aden, Jordan, Lebanon, Cyprus and Kenya. Before the revolt in Iraq, there had been another in Baghdad, the statement said. The carefully worded announcement stopped barely short of mentioning the CIA.

The Egyptian spokesman said the Voice of America was heard regularly in Egypt also, but added:

"The Voice of America is not in the same category with clandestine stations." Asked if there was any evidence of who was behind these secret stations, the official replied laconically: "There is no way to be certain. Certainly they are too expensive for any small nations or groups to maintain without help." [4]

The Egyptian official had put his finger on one of the soft spots in black-radio operations. These operations are indeed expensive, and one of the most nagging problems for such radio stations is to explain the source of funds.

One short-wave radio station in the United States with an interesting history is WRUL, with offices in Manhattan as the World Wide Broadcasting System, Inc. In his fascinating book about Sir William Stephenson, the head of British Intelligence in the United States during World War II, H. Montgomery Hyde maintains that WRUL was penetrated by British Intelligence in the war years and subsidized by it through intermediaries.

In more recent times, WRUL has taken a more overt part in Cold War operations. As will be described, it joined with Radio Swan in broadcasting the programs of "Havana Rose."

In 1954 WRUL received a letter of commendation from the Castillo-Armas government of Guatemala, thanking the station for its services during the revolt against Arbenz. The letter was from Jose Toron, who had operated a clandestine "Free Guatemala" radio station before the Communist government was overthrown.

Thus, WRUL has been linked with at least two CIA operations -- the Bay of Pigs (through Radio Swan) and the Guatemala coup in 1954.

Not long after Cairo complained about clandestine transmitters in the Middle East, Konstantin Zinchenko, the head of the press department of the Soviet State Committee for Foreign Cultural Relations, told a news conference in Moscow that the United States had set up a whole series of secret radios aimed at making trouble for the Soviet Union. Among those he mentioned was Radio Liberation.

Radio Liberation, which changed its name to Radio Liberty in 1959, is an avowedly private organization with offices at 30 East 42d Street in New York. It broadcasts exclusively to the Soviet Union, twenty-four hours a day, from seventeen transmitters in three locations -- Lampertheim, West Germany; Pals, near Barcelona; and Taipeh, Formosa.

Its programming center is a rebuilt former airport building near Munich at Oberwiesenfeld, which was once Hitler's airfield. An official of Radio Liberty said the majority of its 1,200 employees are in Munich, but that the organization also has offices in Paris and Rome, as well as New York, Formosa and Spain.

Radio Liberty does not go to the public for funds. It says it is supported by foundations but does not list them anywhere.


It insists that it receives no government funds, directly or indirectly, but says its budget is "classified."

"We do not advocate revolution," the official said, in explaining why Radio Liberty had changed its name from the more controversial Radio Liberation. "When the revolution comes, it will have to come from within. In the meantime, we can feed them ammunition."

According to its official booklet,

"Radio Liberty is supported by the American Committee for Liberation, founded in 1951 by a group of private Americans who formed a working partnership with the free emigration from the USSR."

It first went on the air on March 1, 1953. The American Committee for Liberation also supports the Institute for the Study of the USSR, Mannhardtstrasse, 6, Munich, which describes itself as a scholarly organization that puts out a number of publications on Russia, including Who's Who in the USSR.

Radio Liberty broadcasts a heavy diet of news to its Soviet audience. In 1956 it broadcast the text of Khrushchev's secret speech to the 20th Communist Party Congress. In 1961 it broadcast the fact that the Russians had resumed nuclear tests. Neither event, of course, had been disclosed to the Russian people by the Soviet government. The Russians, in turn, have tried hard to jam Radio Liberty.

Possibly, they have taken other steps as well. In 1954 two Radio Liberty employees died under mysterious circumstances in Munich. In September, Leonid Karas, a writer on the radio's Byelorussia desk was found drowned. In November, Abo Fatalibey, head of the Azerbaijan desk, was murdered and stuffed under the sofa in the apartment of a Russian named Mikhail Ismailov.

Police assumed the body was that of Ismailov, a fellow emigre. At the last moment the coffin -- which someone noticed was too short for the six-foot Ismailov -- was opened. The body was definitely identified as that of Fatalibey, the Radio Liberty official. Ismailov had vanished. Radio Liberty does not discount the possibility that the drowning and the murder were the work of the KGB.

Another interesting case was that of Anatoli Skachkov -- a Russian emigre who joined Radio Liberty on January 1, 1957. Skachkov died on July 22, 1959. On November 5, 1962, Izvestia carried an article which accused Radio Liberty of being staffed by CIA men. It listed eight alleged agents by name. In the course of the article, Izvestia said Skachkov had fallen from favor with American intelligence:

"He was seized at his place of employment and sent to a mental hospital. The next day two Americans, Valerio and Sanker, bearing flowers and a bottle of cognac, visited Skachkov. After their visit, he died. The physicians attributed his death to poisoning."

The tale of poisoned cognac is colorful, but Radio Liberty tells a different story. According to the radio station, Skachkov was an alcoholic who developed a persecution complex. As a result, he was committed to the State Institute for the Mentally Disturbed. He died, said Radio Liberty, of "a heart attack."


Radio Liberty employed a Joseph Valerio and a Paul Sanker in its news department, but "neither Valerio or Sanker ever visited Skachkov, so the whole premise is a fabrication."

But the continuing Soviet attacks on Radio Liberty and its present and former employees provide some indication that this radio station "supported by a group of private American citizens" is reaching the Russian people in sufficient numbers to be irritating to the Soviet leadership.

By far the biggest, and from time to time the most controversial, of these radio operations is Radio Free Europe, which says it is a,

"private non-profit, non-government network broadcasting through the Iron Curtain to eighty million captive people in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria."

One distinction between Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty is that RFE broadcasts exclusively to the five satellite nations, while Radio Liberty broadcasts exclusively to the Soviet Union.

Radio Free Europe was born in 1949, with the formation of the National Committee for a Free Europe. In 1950 the committee's Crusade for Freedom fund drive was launched by General Eisenhower and General Lucius D. Clay, the hero of the 1948-49 Berlin airlift. The purpose of the fund drive was to raise money for RFE.

"We need powerful radio stations abroad," Eisenhower said in launching the crusade, "operated without government restrictions."

Clay struck the same theme. He praised the Voice of America but said:

"There seemed to me to be needed another voice -- a voice less tempered perhaps by the very dignity of government; a tough, slugging voice, if you please."

In 1950-51, the directors of the National Committee for a Free Europe *3 included Clay, Allen Dulles, C. D. Jackson, who became Eisenhower's psychological warfare adviser, and A. A. Berle, Jr., who participated in the Bay of Pigs operation a decade later.

RFE has twenty-eight transmitters at three sites. Two locations are in West Germany, at Biblis, near Frankfurt, and at Holzkirchen, near Munich. The third site is at Gloria, near Lisbon. RFE headquarters, like Radio Liberty, is at Munich. The organization employs about 1,500 persons.

"We're supported by contributions from the American people, mainly from the Radio Free Europe Fund," a spokesman said. He added that RFE is "privately managed and privately financed." However, he said "we work within the published policy of the United States Government."

Asked how it went about making sure that its broadcasts were consistent with United States foreign policy, he rep1ied: "We read the New York Times."

Are any government funds behind RFE? "No," was the reply, "but I prefer to put it positively -- we are supported by voluntary contributions." RFE's budget figures, however, are not published anywhere.

For a time, RFE dabbled in some intriguing balloon operations. In 1953 it set up something called the Free Europe Press, which began wafting rubber and plastic balloons filled with propaganda materials to Eastern Europe. For a time the balloon barrage went under the code name "Operation Prospero."

In February, 1956, the Czech Government charged that a balloon released by RFE had caused the crash of a Czech airliner on January 18 of that year in the Tatra Mountains of Slovakia. The crash killed twenty-two and injured four.

Moscow also protested the balloons, and Hungary chimed in that American balloons had caused three Hungarian air crashes. RFE replied that the balloons were not dangerous, that the "captive nations" had "attempted to shoot down balloons by aircraft and ground fire" and that Czech intelligence had tried twice "to blow up our balloon sites in Western Germany."

RFE called in its balloons during the Hungarian revolt. The program was not revived.

RFE figured in another cloak-and-dagger episode in December, 1959, when it charged that "a Communist diplomat" had put lethal amounts of atropine in the salt shakers of the radio station's cafeteria in Munich.

If taken in sufficient quantity, atropine can cause delirium, convulsions, coma or death. The U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps investigated and charged that Jaroslav Nemec, the vice-consul of the Czech consulate in Salzburg, Austria, had given the spiked salt shakers to a Communist agent "for placement in the Radio Free Europe cafeteria in Munich." The case was quietly dropped the next month, when the Munich public prosecutor said the amount of poison in the salt cellars had not been sufficient to cause serious harm.

At times, RFE has come under critical attack for the content of its broadcasts to Eastern Europe. On July 9, 1959, for example, there were news reports from Warsaw that the United States Ambassador to Poland, Jacob D. Beam, had protested RFE's broadcasts because he felt they contained misinformation and too blatant a propaganda line. At his press conference the same day, Secretary of State Christian A. Herter appeared to confirm the reports; he said any recommendations from Beam "will be very carefully studied."

But it was RFE's role in the Hungarian revolt of 1956 that brought the most criticism and controversy upon it. At the heart of the issue was the extremely touchy question of whether United States foreign policy should be aimed at the "liberation" of Eastern Europe.

"In thirteen years," an RFE executive explained, "Radio Free Europe has incurred a heavy moral responsibility. We must be extremely careful that what we say cannot lead to an ineffective uprising."

Obviously, he had Hungary in mind.

Nevertheless, a recent RFE fund-appeal booklet, Your Money's Worth, illustrates that the radio station still speaks with a militant voice.

'The captive people," the appeal said, "desire freedom and do everything reasonable in their power to obtain it ... Radio Free Europe helps the East Europeans resist Communism ... helps them keep alive their faith in freedom ... Support Radio Free Europe ... it is one of the few ways you as a private citizen can take an active part in the fight against Communism ... bring the battle to the Kremlin's doorstep."

The Soviet role in Hungary was a sickening spectacle to civilized men everywhere. In the first phase, Moscow seemed willing to grant Hungary a measure of freedom. Then Russian tanks rolled into Budapest and brutally crushed the Hungarian patriots.

In the aftermath of the blood bath, questions were widely raised about RFE's role. Had it incited the Hungarians to revolt? Had it held out false promises of Western aid, knowing that this aid would not come? Was RFE, to put it bluntly, partly responsible for the carnage in Budapest?

Various tribunals examined this question, but little was said publicly about some more subtle and basic under lying questions.

These questions began with the Voice of America, the official voice of the United States Government. It is an organ of the United States Information Agency, and it broadcasts around the globe in thirty-six languages.

The Voice spends $22,000,000 a year. Forty percent of its programming is aimed at Communist countries. (In West Berlin, a huge 300,000-watt station called RIAS -- Radio in the American Sector- -- broadcasts around the clock to East Berlin and East Germany. It is said to be under the USIA.) In 1963 work was completed on a gigantic transmitter complex at Greenville, North Carolina, giving the Voice the most powerful long-range broadcasting station in the world.

From all this, it should be obvious that news and propaganda broadcasts across national boundaries to other nations, particularly behind the Iron Curtain, are among the mechanisms of United States foreign policy. On the face of it, therefore, it would seem logical that the United States Government could scarcely allow a competing organization to broadcast, as it pleased, material that might affect relations between governments, incite to revolt, or even involve the United States in military action. It did not seem likely, in other words, that it could allow a "private" broadcasting organization to conduct the foreign policy of the United States.

Consequently, lying ominously just below the surface of the various inquiries into RFE's role in the Hungarian revolt was the larger question of whether the United States Government had erred in permitting RFE to broadcast any degree of encouragement to the Hungarians that could not be backed up by U.S. military assistance.

However, the post-Hungary inquiries were not conducted in these terms. To do so would have opened up the entire sensitive question of whether and/or to what extent RFE received policy guidance, funds and direction from the CIA and the State Department.*4

The charges against Radio Free Europe began in Moscow and soon spread to the free world, where they were picked up by Freies Wort, the organ of West Germany's Free Democratic Party. They were aired further when three revolutionary leaders who had escaped from Hungary said at a press conference in Bonn, on November 19, that RFE had broadcast "more than the troth." On November 29 Anna Kethly, the Hungarian Social Democratic leader who had escaped to the West, dealt RFE another blow when she said of its broadcasts: "The intentions were good but the results were not always happy."

In New York, RFE countered by calling Miss Kethly's statement "utterly without foundation and wholly incorrect." A spokesman said broadcasts promising Western military aid to Hungary were the work of a "Communist radio located in East Germany. These Communist programs were broadcast in the name of Radio Free Europe."

There were then three inquiries into RFE's role. The West German Government set up a commission to study the charges (since RFE was headquartered in Munich on West German soil) RFE turned over to it three miles of tape containing all its broadcasts to Hungary before, during and after the revolt.

On January 25, 1957, Chancellor Konrad Adenauer reported the results of this inquiry at a press conference. Charges that RFE had promised the Hungarians armed assistance by the West "do not correspond with the facts," he said.

"Remarks, however, were made that were subject to misinterpretation. The matter has been discussed and personnel changes have resulted. I believe we can consider the matter closed for the time being."

Adenauer's report seemed internally contradictory. On the one hand, it found the charges to be incorrect. On the other hand, it said there had been a shake-up at Radio Free Europe.

A second inquiry was conducted by a special committee of the Council of Europe, an organization of Western governments formed in 1949 to deal mainly with social problems. In its report on April 27, 1957, the committee said the charge that RFE had promised "military aid from the West was proved to be without ground." But it said one RFE news broadcast "could easily have led to misunderstandings."

The report added it was,

"regrettable that Radio Free Europe is still entirely financed by the U.S.A. ... Radio Free Europe depends entirely on American funds and is consequently a purely American affair ... actual political leadership and the last word rest with the American management."

In June, 1957, a United Nations special committee on Hungary came in with its verdict on RFE:

"Listeners had the feeling that Radio Free Europe promised help ... the general tone of these broadcasts aroused an expectation of support ... In a tense atmosphere such as that prevailing in Hungary during these critical weeks ... the generally hopeful tone of such broadcasts may well have been overemphasized in the process of passing from mouth to mouth ...

"The attitude of the Hungarian people towards foreign broadcasting was perhaps best summed up by the student ...who said: 'It was our only hope, and we tried to console ourselves with it.' It would appear that certain broadcasts by Radio Free Europe helped to create an impression that support might be forthcoming for the Hungarians. The Committee feels that in such circumstances the greatest restraint and circumspection are called for in international broadcasting."

The three cautiously phrased reports, in other words, found in varying degree that RFE's broadcasts, while they did not promise aid in so many words, "helped to create an impression," as the UN put it, that assistance might be on the way.

One RFE broadcast that might have contributed to this was a news report of Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge's words in the UN. Lodge said the Hungarian resistance had given the UN "a brief moment in which to mobilize the conscience of the world on your behalf. We are seizing that moment and we will not fail you."

Another RFE broadcast during the revolt gave instructions on how to blow up attacking Soviet tanks.

While none of the inquiries produced any evidence that RFE actually promised military aid, there is no doubt that it encouraged the revolutionary fighters. For example, one script broadcast to Hungary by RFE on November 3, as Soviet tanks ringed Budapest, said:

"The Soviet monster stands at our gates ... the eight days' victorious revolution have turned Hungary into a free land ... Neither Khrushchev nor the whole of the Soviet army have the power to oppress this new liberty ... What can you do against Hungary, you Soviet legions? It is in vain to pierce Hungarian souls with your bayonets. You can destroy and shoot and kill: our freedom will now forevermore defy you ..." [5]

In his book The Bridge at Andau, James A. Michener said that RFE did not incite the uprising,

"but this radio did broadcast messages of freedom and is presumably still doing so. Are we now prepared to assume direct responsibility for these messages? How long can we broadcast such messages without assuming direct responsibility for our words?" [6]

Michener's question is well worth pondering. The effect of RFE's words is nowhere more heartbreakingly recorded than in the broadcasts from inside Hungary in the dying hours of the revolt. Better than any UN or other investigation, they reflect how the men and women inside Hungary, whether rightly or wrongly, regarded the role of RFE.

On the afternoon of November 5, Radio Free Rakoczi broadcast this message from inside Hungary at 13:48 hours: [7]

"Attention, Radio Free Europe, hello attention. This is Roka speaking. The radio of revolutionary youth ... continual bombing ... Help, help, help ... Radio Free Europe ... forward our request. Forward our news. Help! Help!"

November 6, 13:52 hours:

"We appeal to the conscience of the world. ...Why cannot you hear the call for help of our murdered women and children? Peoples of the world! Hear the call for help of a small nation! ... This is Radio Rakoczi, Hungary ... Radio Free Europe, Munich! Radio Free Europe, Munich! Answer! Have you received our transmission?"

15:05 hours:

"... Attention, attention, Munich! Munich! Take immediate action. In the Dunapentele area we urgently need medicine, bandages, arms, food and ammunition! Drop them for us by parachute."

And, finally, on November 7 at 09:35 hours:

"Must we appeal once again?

"Do you love liberty? ... So do we.

"Do you have wives and children? ... So have we.

"We have wounded ... who have given their blood for the sacred cause of liberty, but we have no bandages ... no medicine ... And what shall we give to our children who are asking for bread? The last piece of bread has been eaten.

"In the name of all that is dear to you ... we ask you to help ... Those who have died for liberty ... accuse you who are able to help and who have not helped ... We have read an appeal to the UN and every honest man ...

"Radio Free Europe, Munich! Free Europe, Munich!"

To intelligence officers, the term "black radio" can have a specialized meaning, to describe a radio that is captured and then operated as if all were normal in order to deceive the opposition. The Germans successfully undermined the British Operation Northpole during World War II by using this technique. Parachutists dropped by British Intelligence were lured into traps by Dutch underground radios that had been captured by the Nazis. In this chapter, however, the term is used in its broader sense, to describe radio operations in general where they are controlled directly or indirectly by an intelligence apparatus.

*2 Less well known are the CIA's mimeographed summaries of the foreign press.

*3 The committee is now known as the Free Europe Committee, Inc., 2 Park Avenue, New York. The Crusade for Freedom is now the Radio Free Europe Fund. The Committee engages in a multitude of other activities. It publishes East Europe magazine (22.,000 copies a month) and works with Eastern European exile groups "engaged in the struggle for eventual freedom of their countries." The Committee has five operating divisions: RFE, Communist Bloc Operations, Exile Political Organizations, Free World Operations and West European Operations.

*4 About the furthest anyone went was Edwin A. Lahey, a veteran Washington correspondent, who said in a December 15, 1956. dispatch from Munich in the Chicago Daily News: "The United States Government probably supports RFE with 'unvouchered funds' but this has never been officially established."

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"There are three coconut palm trees on Great Swan Island at the present time," the State Department brochure discouragingly told Americans who inquired about retiring to an island paradise in the Caribbean. "There are no poisonous snakes, but the islands are infested with hordes of lizards ranging in size from only an inch to over three feet."

The vision of thirty-six-inch lizards slithering underfoot would likely deter any potential visitor who had written to the State Department for travel information about the little-known Swan Islands, which, on the map, beckon attractively as a speck in the western Caribbean near Honduras.

But the department's brochure, prepared for just such inquiries, had even more hideously disenchanting news.

"It has been necessary," it said, "to construct the few houses on the island on piers and to take other steps to keep the lizards from overrunning them."

The water, the brochure added,

"is exceptionally clear and blue and abounding in different types of fish. Ocean bathing is considered dangerous as a constant watch must be kept for shark and barracuda."

The State Department's disheartening travel folder might, just possibly, have been prompted by the fact that Great Swan Island, as late as 1964. was the site of a covert CIA radio station broadcasting to Cuba, Mexico, Central America and the northern tier of South America.

Not that any prospective tourist would have been likely to stumble on the island. There is, naturally, no commercial airline service to the CIA's airstrip. The only boat takes five days to ply between Tampa and the island and carries a pungent cargo of bananas and fertilizer.*1 And normally anyone visiting the island must have a secret clearance.

Despite these precautions, the story of the bedeviled efforts to conceal the CIA's hand on Swan Island provides an episode of comic relief.

The Swan Islands are really two islands, Great Swan (usually known simply as Swan Island), which is a mile and a half long and half a mile wide, and Little Swan. There is also a reef, called Bobby Cay. The islands are due south of the western tip of Cuba, and ninety-seven miles north of Punte Patuca, Honduras. They are said to have been named for a seventeenth-century pirate who used them as a base.

Like the lair of Ian Fleming's nefarious Doctor No, the CIA's Caribbean isle is made entirely of guano, the accumulated droppings of sea fowl. The United States has claimed the islands since 1863, but then, so has Honduras.

When the CIA received approval to mount the operation against Cuba that grew into the Bay of Pigs, it was decided first to soften up Castro's island psychologically by means of radio broadcasts.

By 1960 Radio Swan was on the air. Initially, its mission was confined to propaganda broadcasts designed to undermine the Castro regime. Gradually, as the Bay of Pigs invasion planning progressed, the radio station was assigned a more militant role. During the invasion, as has been seen, Radio Swan broadcast coded messages, appeals for uprisings among the Cuban populace and armed forces, and instructions in the art of sabotage. But back in May of 1960, there had to be some public explanation for the mysterious new fifty-kilowatt station that suddenly began to broadcast from Swan Island.

And so it was that something called the Gibraltar Steamship Corporation, then of 437 Fifth Avenue, New York, announced publicly that it had leased land on Swan Island to operate a radio station. (Officials of the line said that the Gibraltar Steamship Corporation had not owned a steamship for ten years.)

Horton H. Heath, who described himself as "commercial manager" of the station, explained that Radio Swan would broadcast music, soap operas and news.

"It is strictly a commercial venture," he announced to the press. "We plan to get advertisers. We haven't got any yet, but are negotiating."

But who owned Gibraltar Steamship?

Walter G. Lohr, of Baltimore, who said he was a stockholder, identified the president of Gibraltar as Thomas Dudley Cabot, of Weston, Massachusetts, a banker and the former president of the United Fruit Company, and the director, in 1951, of the State Department Office of International Security Affairs. Appropriately, considering his new capacity, Cabot was also president and director of Godfrey L. Cabot, Inc., the world's largest producer of carbon black.

Another stockholder was publicly identified at the time as Sumner Smith, a Boston businessman who claimed that his family owned Swan Island. Horton Heath explained that the Gibraltar Steamship Corporation was leasing the land for the radio station from Sumner Smith, who was chairman of the board of Abington Textile Machinery Works, 19 Congress Street, Boston.

When a reporter for the Miami Herald reached Smith in Boston in June, 1960, he fended off questions about Radio Swan by saying: "Speak to the government."

But the government professed ignorance of the radio station. In answer to a question at the time, a State Department spokesman had replied: "The only station that I know anything about on Swan Island is a United States Weather Bureau station." (And it was true that the United States had operated such a station on Swan Island intermittently since 1914.)

The United States Information Agency did go so far as to say it had planned a project similar to Radio Swan but had abandoned the idea because of "interference and licensing problems."

Peculiarly, the Federal Communications Commission, which is required by law to license all radio stations operating from United States territory, did not license Radio Swan or the Gibraltar Steamship Corporation.

"We don't know who owns the island," an FCC spokesman explained lamely.

The State Department suffered no such doubts. It firmly listed *2 Swan Island as a "possession," and had consistently rejected Honduran claims.

And so Gibraltar Steamship and Radio Swan were in operation. It did not take long for Havana, stung by the propaganda broadcasts, to bark back. As early as June 21, 1960, Castro's Radio Mambi, in Havana, complained that "a counterrevolutionary radio station, supported by U.S. dollars, is now active on Swan."

Things were going reasonably smoothly for the CIA, however, until the Hondurans began to get fidgety over the funny business taking place on what they insisted was their mound of guano.

The trouble had its roots in the fact that a 1960 U.S. census had been taken on Swan Island. In March of that year, a two-star admiral had been piped ashore to count noses on Great Swan. (Only birds lived on Little Swan). Rear Admiral H. Arnold Karo, the director of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, stopped off to take the census during a voyage of the survey ship Explorer.

In April, with much fanfare, it was announced in Washington that the population of Swan Island was twenty-eight, a drop of four since 1950. In Tegucigalpa, Honduras, a group of students reacted indignantly to the claim of sovereignty implied by the taking of the 1960 census. They announced plans to organize an expedition to plant their country's flag on Swan Island. And in July, thirteen armed Hondurans arrived off Swan Island. The invaders were repulsed single-handedly by John Hamilton, a Cayman Islander who was the Weather Bureau's native cook.

From their boat, the Hondurans shouted that they were coming ashore to place a marker on the beach claiming Swan Island as their own. "Leave your guns in the boat," the intrepid cook ordered. The Hondurans meekly complied. They came ashore, unarmed, sang the Honduran national anthem, took their own census and planted their flag.

In Washington, the State Department announced solemnly that the government was awaiting a report from its embassy in Tegucigalpa on the illegal landing by the Hondurans.

On Swan Island, the CIA took direct action to smooth things over. It invited the Hondurans to lunch. Horton Heath announced that all was well.

But in October the dispute got into the United Nations. Francisco Milla Bermudez, the permanent Honduran representative to the UN, told the General Assembly, on October 3, that the United States had occupied Swan Island "against the right and will" of his government.

"Historically, geographically and juridically," he declared, "the Swan Islands are and always will be Honduran territory."

But the United States claim to the islands was solidly based on guano, specifically the Guano Act of 1856. Under it, the President could issue a certificate when an American citizen discovered guano on an unclaimed island. This gave the discoverer the right to collect and sell the guano, a valuable fertilizer rich in phosphates. The President, at his discretion, could then designate the island as United States territory.

In 1863 such a certificate was issued for Swan Island to the New York Guano Company by Secretary of State Seward, who acted for President Lincoln. Shortly after the turn of the century, the company abandoned the islands. They were claimed in 1904 by Captain Alonzo Adams, an old salt who sailed out of Mobile, Alabama.

In the 1920s Honduras made several passes at the islands, but Washington warned Tegucigalpa to keep off and sent along a copy of Seward's Guano Certificate to back up its territorial claim.

For a time the United Fruit Company harvested coconuts on the island, but the 1955 hurricane swept away all but the three trees alluded to in the State Department travel brochure.

The CIA shared Swan Island with two other branches of the Federal Government: the Weather Bureau and the Federal Aviation Agency. The Weather Bureau maintained a station, staffed by eight men, to take wind direction, wind speed, temperature and humidity pressure. The FAA maintained a high-powered radio beacon as a navigational aid to pilots."

The Weather Bureau people were rotated every three to six months, since they were not allowed to bring their wives and children to Swan Island. A favorite pastime of gourmets among the government men was clonking lobsters over the head with stones in the shallow water.

The CIA set up shop in lizard-proof Quonset huts half a mile from the Weather Bureau compound. They installed their radio equipment in big trailers slung with awnings to protect the delicate electronic gear from the broiling Caribbean sun. The Cayman Islanders, imported as a labor force, lived nearby with their families in a compound called Gliddenville.

In September, 1960, Walter S. Lemmon, the president of the World Wide Broadcasting System, announced that his station, WRUL, would co-operate with Radio Swan in broadcasts to Cuba. World Wide, besides its Manhattan office, had a short-wave station at Scituate, Massachusetts. Since April, WRUL had been broadcasting to Cuba. The programs featured Miss Pepita Riera, a Cuban exile billed as "Havana Rose." Lemmon said Radio Swan would tape and rebroadcast WRUL's programs.

At the same time, Representative Roman C. Pucinski, Chicago Democrat and sponsor of an organization called Radio Free Cuba, announced that his group would also cooperate with World Wide and Radio Swan. Pucinski described Radio Free Cuba as a privately owned group that had six radio stations in Florida, including the Florida Keys, and Louisiana.

During this period, Radio Swan's programs were for the most part recorded in the New York office of the Gibraltar Steamship Corporation. Some prominent Cuban exiles taped programs for the CIA station, including Luis Conte Aguero, a former Havana radio and television commentator.

Havana Radio kept up its counter-barrage. On October 24 Castro's radio attacked the "miserable curs who speak over Radio Swan." In January, 1961, it said:

"Radio Swan is not a radio station but a cage of hysterical parrots."

During the invasion, the CIA station was on the air twenty-four hours a day, transmitting romantic- sounding messages in code. At 10:57 P.M. on April 18, for example, the CIA broadcast this cryptic message in Spanish over Radio Swan:

"Attention, Stanislaus, the moon is red 19 April."

Even after the invasion had collapsed, Radio Swan continued to broadcast mysterious orders to nonexistent battalions. On April 22 three days after the end of the invasion, Radio Swan ordered various detachments not to surrender -- help was on the way. Orders went out over the air to "Battalion Three" to advance.

"Battalion Four and Seven" were told to "proceed to Point Z."

"Mission Alborada," which means reveille in Spanish, was ordered to commence, and Squadrons Four and Five were told to protect it. At the same time, "Air Group Pluto Norte" was told to cover position "Nino Three N/S."

In the swamps and forests around the Bahia de Cochinos, some of the weary brigade survivors who heard the broadcasts as they tried to evade capture by the militia were bitter at what they felt was false encouragement by Radio Swan.

By this time, Radio Swan's cover as a private station owned by the Gibraltar Steamship Corporation had worn perilously thin. A private station that had broadcast messages in code and instructions to troops during a clandestine invasion -- well, it seemed to be time to get out of town.

And that is just what Gibraltar did. It kept an office in Manhattan, but moved the entire operation to Miami in September, 1961. The "steamship" executives moved into rooms 910, 911 and 912 of the Langford Building in downtown Miami. Fred Fazakerley, a spokesman for the Gibraltar line, told a newsman that Horton Heath would be moving to Miami to take over the office. Several pieces of luggage being moved into the suite were marked with the name "George Wass," who was identified as an official of Radio Swan. Gibraltar took this listing in the Miami telephone book: *3

Gibraltar SS Corp. Langfrd B1 371-8098.

Then, silently, by a process akin to alchemy, Gibraltar Steamship faded away and was metamorphosed into a brand-new identity -- the Vanguard Service Corporation, "consultants." Radio Swan fluttered into a CIA Valhalla, only to emerge as "Radio Americas."

Oddly, the Vanguard Service Corporation did not bother to move out of Gibraltar's quarters or to change its telephone number. The 1963-64 Miami telephone book still carried the same listing for Gibraltar, but it also carried this listing:

Vanguard Serv Corp consltnts Langfrd B1 371-8098.

With a whole new dramatis personae, Radio Americas, now managed by one Roger Butts, continued to broadcast from Swan Island.

In 1962 an elderly New England couple, Mr. and Mrs. Prince S. Crowell, decided to visit Swan Island. Mr. Crowell's father had been a chemist for a guano company, and the adventurous couple occupied their leisure time with visits far and wide to the scene of bygone guano operations.

"Mr. Crowell had set his heart on going to Swan to continue the guano investigation," Mrs. Crowell wrote later in the Falmouth (Massachusetts) Enterprise. [1]


The couple would not be put off. They contacted Sumner Smith, who agreed to write to "his caretaker, Captain Donald E. Glidden, to make plans for us ... The captain had given us into the care of Mr. Roger Butts, an executive of Vanguard Service Corporation, which manages the commercial station, Radio Americas, on the island."

The Crowells were, apparently. innocently unaware of what they had stumbled into.

Once a week, a CIA plane would leave Miami for Swan Island, and it was the only air link with the United States.

"At last arrangements were made for us to be among the few recent visitors to Swan," Mrs. Crowell wrote. "We flew from Miami in a DC-3, twenty-four-passenger plane with two pilots, the mail, medical supplies, weekly food, several wares for the store, etc. We learned later that we presented some problem. About one half-hour before we were to land, the island found out that no preparation in the line of ramp or ladder had been made to get two aged passengers from the high door of the plane. After much scurrying around and various suggestions, a solution was found. They drove a tractor with a scoop up to the door, raised the scoop, led us onto it, backed away a bit and lowered us. Every available man, woman and child was down to greet us. I was a curiosity indeed, the only female citizen of the United States on the Island."

What happened next was like a scene straight out of a Margaret Rutherford-Alistair Sim film comedy, as the charming couple was turned loose on the CIA's guano island.

"Mr. Butts gave up his home for us, a Quonset hut, five rooms and a bath with hot and cold water," Mrs. Crowell continued.

"The radio station and weather bureau were carefully explained to us, but not comprehended. We were taken swimming in the loveliest water I ever saw ... my especial joy on that trip was the birds; at least one hundred frigate birds, one hundred brown boobies, and twelve red-footed boobies ... Palm warblers ... were around our house all the time and I had an excellent view of a vittelina warbler, Nelson's (denolroica vittelina nelsoni) named for Mr. George Nelson and found only on Swan, I believe. On the runway we enjoyed daily a flock of twenty little blue herons in all stages of color, a few white ibis and one cattle egret. It seemed like home to hear and see one catbird, also one tree swallow.

"One of the technicians led us to a young white booby in its nest. We had to pick our way several hundred yards over jagged sharp coral with great cracks to be crossed."

There was no question that the CIA had gone above and beyond the call of duty to be hospitable to the delightful Massachusetts couple.

"When we reluctantly left for home," Mrs. Crowell concluded, "the pilot flew low over and around the islands as a farewell treat. We realized with grateful appreciation that no stone had been left unturned to make our unusual adventure a reality."

A year later, Radio Americas was still on the air from Swan. It called on Cubans to burn cane fields, and to carry matches to be ready for sabotage at all times. It instructed them to go into offices and telephone booths and take the receivers off the hooks to tie up communications. And it urged the people of Cuba to smash as many bottles as possible. The CIA's reported plan was to curtail the island's beer supply by creating a bottle shortage.

In Boston, Sumner Smith maintained he was not sure whether or not he was still a director of the Gibraltar Steamship Corporation. Smith, explaining his family's ownership claim, said that he had foreclosed a mortgage on the island that had been acquired years ago by his father, the late Charles Sumner Smith. Smith said he had since transferred ownership of the island to his four children, and that they in turn had leased the land to Gibraltar for operation of the radio station.

A telephone call was placed to the Vanguard Service Corporation consultants, in Miami late in 1963. "Vanguard Service," said the girl who answered. Roger Butts then came on the line. Mr. Butts explained that Radio Swan was now Radio Americas and was "currently in operation."

"It is a privately owned commercial station operating on Swan Island," he said.

"What happened to the Gibraltar Steamship Corporation?"

"Vanguard is leasing from Gibraltar Steamship on a profit basis. Gibraltar leases from Sumner Smith."

Mr. Butts identified himself as the "vice-president" of Vanguard.

"The president and treasurer is Mr. William H. West, Jr., Mr. James Hollingsworth of Palm Beach is the vice-president and Richard S. Greenlee is the secretary."

Mr. Butts was asked how the station was supported. After a long pause he replied: "By income from sponsors."

A call to George O. Gillingham, the public information chief for the Federal Communications Commission, brought this response to an inquiry about the Swan Island station:

"It's still operating. We do not license this station. Try the State Department."

Gillingham said yes, the FCC does license stations broadcasting from the United States or its possessions. That is the law of the land.

"We don't license government stations," he added.

Was he saying that this was a government station then?

"No, no, no!" the FCC man said. "We don't know what it is. All we know is that it's operating."

The boat service is operated by Hamilton Bras., Inc., a Honduran company, according to the State Department brochure.

*2 Most recently in Geographic Report, No. 4, February 7, 1963, The Geographer, Department of State. It should be understood that the State Department claimed U.S. sovereignty over the Swan Islands; this did not mean private individuals could not own property on the island, as the Smith family claimed it did. The State Department brochure on the islands said that a letter from Sumner Smith, dated February 19, 1956, "states that he, as agent, represents certain owners."

*3 There was no listing for Radio Swan.

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