Secret empire : Eisenhower, the CIA, and the hidden story of America's space espionage



Transcription of Annotations

Notes on endpapers provide information on the U-2 spy plane, the Corona reconnaissance satellite, and the WS117L satellite program. Other notes mention Eisenhower's concern about the threat of a surprise attack and Trevor Gardner's role in calling attention to the need for better intelligence. Because of bandwidth problems, the Americans had to rely on Russian maps at the beginning of the war in Afghanistan, and only 15% of satellite pictures could be called up on computers, the rest had to be transformed into black-and-white photographs. At a cost of $4 Billion, the Future Imagery Architecture (FIA) is identified as the most expensive spy project in history. -- Annotations by Brian Lamb in the margins and underlining of pertinent phrases throughout the book. -- Examples: p. 90: "Eisenhower once told Land, "Oh, I'm so grateful to you fellows who are out of town! You can't think in Washington. You go away and think and then you tell me what you've been thinking. There's no way to think if you live here."" - p. 109: "CIA contingency reserve - a secret fund; Aquatone." - p. 166: "But in the 1950s, before the disclosure of CIA abuses and other spy agencies, the delay in informing Congress about the U-2 was not unusual." - p. 365: "Still, it was as though the government had developed a sleek, beautifully engineered racing car and then hitched it to an ox to haul it around the track."


Taubman, Philip, “Secret empire : Eisenhower, the CIA, and the hidden story of America's space espionage,” One Book. One Author. One Hour., accessed February 2, 2023,


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Secret empire : Eisenhower, the CIA, and the hidden story of America's space espionage


Taubman, Philip


Program air date: April 13, 2003


In a brief period of explosive, top-secret innovation during the 1950s, a small group of scientists, engineers, businessmen, and government officials rewrote the book on airplane design and led the nation into outer space. In an effort no less audacious than the creation of the atomic bomb, they designed, built, and operated the U-2 and supersonic SR-71 spy planes and Corona, the first reconnaissance satellites - machines that could collect more information about the Soviet Union's weapons in a day than an army of spies could assemble in a decade. "Their remarkable inventions and daring missions made possible arms control agreements with Moscow that helped keep the peace during the cold war, as well as the space-based reconnaissance, mapping, communications, and targeting systems used by America's armed forces in the Gulf War and most recently in Afghanistan. These hugely expensive machines also led to the neglect of more traditional means of intelligence gathering through human spies." "Philip Taubman follows this dramatic story from the White House to the CIA, from the Pentagon to Lockheed's Skunk Works in Burbank, from the secret U-2 test base in Nevada to the secret satellite assembly center in Palo Alto and other locations here and abroad. He reveals new information about the origins and evolution of the projects and how close they came to failing technically or falling victim to bureaucratic inertia and Washington's turf wars." "The incredibly sophisticated spies in the skies were remarkably successful in proving that the missile gap was a myth in protecting us from surprise Soviet attack. But in some ways, the failure to detect the planning for the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, can also be attributed to these powerful machines as the government became increasingly dependent on spy satellites to the neglect of human agents and informants. Now, as we wage a new and more vicious war against terrorism, we will need both machines in space and spies on the ground to fight back."--BOOK JACKET.


"United States. Central Intelligence Agency--History--20th century."
"Aerial reconnaissance, American--History--20th century."
"Space surveillance--United States--History--20th century."
"U-2 (Reconnaissance aircraft)."
"Cold War."


Brian Lamb Booknotes Collection
Gift of Brian Lamb, 2011.


Simon & Schuster
George Mason University. Libraries. Special Collections & Archives


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