1960s: Spies, Lies and Sunken Subs

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Critical Thinking and the Cold War

Short URL: http://is.gd/sunkensubs   PPT Slides (4/14)

Spring 2017, 5 Thursdays: 4/20-5/18 1:30-3:30 PM; The Huntington at Nashua, 55 Kent Lane, Nashua

A series of events from 1968 though 1975, and ongoing disclosures, books, freedom of information act revelations create an interesting opportunity to consider critical thinking, reading between the lines, etc.  What we do know is that for many years the facts related to the 1968 loss of the Soviet K129 sub, the effort to raise all or part of it and the relationship, if any, to the 1968 loss of the USS Scorpion involve mis-information, cover stories, and lies from many if not all of the persons with information about these.  Evaluating the information available over the years as disclosures emerged, gives us an interesting opportunity to ask key questions such as "what did happen?", "Why",  and perhaps most useful "how would we know the real story?" 

First Class -- 2 hrs

View "Azorian" movie (100 minutes)
Identify questions to research

Assignments -
read books, Google, Wikipedia etc. information on  (See bibliography)
Be aware that some of the information is deliberate lies, other may be misinformed or not well considered.
  • K129 - Soviet Golf class missile sub lost in March 1968
  • Glomar Explorer - CIA/Hughes Project to raise K129 in 1974
  • Loss of USS  Scorpion, May 1968
A few critical thinking questions to consider as you research these sources:
  • Does this seem believable?
  • For given "facts", how solid are they? Which are clearly well founded, which need confirmation?
  • How might you confirm specific information?
  • Are there obvious flaws in the source that might indicate other errors as well?
    (Note: spelling, grammar, and such all affect perception and credibility)
  • What experience does the author/source have that might add credibility?
  • What interest conflicts might the author/source have that might undermine credibility?
  • How would the author/source "know" that?
  • Is the author holding back information or misleading in some area and acknowledging it?

Second Class -- 1.5 Hours   -- Full Class Presentation

  • Feedback from research -- what are we finding out?
  • What are the stories about the K129?
  • What are the stories about the Scorpion?
  • What are the "right" questions?
  • Are there some other resources we should use to find answers?
  • Back to the research process .... swap books, pointers, suggestions ....

Third Class -- 1.5 Hours

  • Feedback from research -- what are we finding out?
  • What are the stories about the K129?
  • What are the stories about the Scorpion?
  • What do we think we know now? 

Fourth class -- 1.5 Hours

  • Feedback from research -- what are we finding out?
  • Are there more general observations about sub activities and governmental operating models?
  • How has this changed since the "end" of the cold war?
  • also perhaps the background on the Triple Nickel, sub 555 and it's nuke friend(s?) NR-1, and maybe NR-2
    (see RAND Nr-2 reports for example)

Fifth class -- 1.5 Hours

Another sub story .... The Cuban Missile crisis
The Man Who Saved The World; Oct. 23, 2012 Secrets of the Dead -- Subs and the Cuban  Missile Crisis

Research these --for Cuban Crisis - who knew what when and how did it affect the outcome?


Questions

  1. Why did the Soviet Diesel Nuke carrying K129 Sub sink?
  2. Where did it sink?  Google Map with various reference points.
  3. Was it on the surface when it sank, and if so, why?
  4. What was it doing when it sunk?
  5. Who has taken pictures of the K129 debris field, and when?
  6. What artifacts were recovered? (Number of bodies, ships bell, missiles, ...)
  7. Was the USS Scorpion sunk in retaliation? 
  8. What was the Glomar Challenger doing during the Glomar Explorer exercise?
  9. What would/should the Soviets/Russians know about these two subs and when?
  10. What would/should the US know about these?
  11. Why might the Soviets and/or US wish to maintain secrecy "forever"?
  12. How might "compartmentalization" of information as a security practice have affected events at the time? And our understanding now?

Resources:
  1. Clyde W. Burleson, The Jennifer Project ; Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1977
  2. Roy Varner and Wayne Collier, A Matter of Risk ; New York: Random House, 1977
  3. Seymour Hersh, "C.I.A. Salvage Ship Brought Up Part of Soviet Sub Lost in 1968, Failed to Raise Atom Missiles”, The New York Times, March 19, 1975;
  4. "The Great Submarine Snatch," Time, March 31, 1975, pp. 20-27;
  5. Seymour Hersh, "Human Error Is Cited in '74 Glomar Failure,"  The New York Times, December 9, 1976, pp. 1, 55.
  6. CIA's review of Clyde Burleson's book in John Milligan, "The Jennifer Project," Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 23, No. 1, Spring 1979, p. 45.
  7. Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew, Blind Man's Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage; New York: Public Affairs, 1998, 83-84, 180, 198.
  8. Jeffrey T. Richelson, A Century of Spies: Intelligence in the Twentieth Century; NY: Oxford University Press, 1995, p. 352n, citing William J. Broad, "Russia Says U.S. Got Sub's Atom Arms," The New York Times, June 20, 1993, p. 4;
  9. "CIA Raising USSR Sub Raises Questions," FBIS-SOV-92-145, July 28, 1992, pp. 15-16.
  10. John Pina Craven; The Silent War; New York: Touchstone; 2001
    (John was a principle, Chief Scientist for the Navy Special Projects office)
    Craven suggests that K129 might have been involved in a missile launch.
  11. Kenneth Sewell and Clint Richmond; Red Star  Rogue; New York: Pocket Star Books; 2005
    (This book suggests a highly controversial theory - a spoofed Chinese nuclear attack on Hawaii)
  12. Ed Offley; Scorpion Down; New York: Basic Books; 2007
  13. Craig Reed; Red November; NewYork: Harper; 2010
    (Craig was not directly involved in K129 related activities, but was active in the US Silent Service)
    This book has well presented information on the Cuban Missile Crisis (Reed's father was involved, as was Sanders Associates)
    It suggests the Soviets took out the USS Scorpion, then backtracks on that as a mid-2010 revision
    Reed also suggests that the CIA got all of the sub portion being raised, and did not lose most of it.
  14. Norman Polmar and Michael White, Project Azorian – the CIA and the Raising of the K-129; MD: Naval Institute Press, 2010
  15. Azorian: The Raising of the K-129, Michale White documentary, maybe available from Netflix
    shows text which indicates long/lat; shows the 5 US Air Force timestamps of the two sinking events for K129, and many "authentic" pictures
  16. David Sharp; The CIA’s Greatest Covert Operation; Kansas: University of Kansas Press; 2012
    (David was a CIA project manager for the Glomar Explorer project)
    Sharp disclaims knowledge of why K129 sunk, and says he does not want to know
    Interesting appendix on mis-information.
  17. http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/nukevault/ebb305/index.htm - George Washington University methodically pursues FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) release of information on various historical subjects.  This site outlines what they obtained early in 2010 about Project Azorian  -- References 1-9 are from this site (why they leave out references 10 to 12 is unclear, the others were published later)
  18. ongoing news: Aug. 2012:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2185831/Declassified-170million-Cold-War-Stealth-boat-snapped-2-5million-condition-scrap-parts.html documents the sale of the Hughes Barge (used to transfer the "claw") and the Sea Shadow - a stealth navy ship.
  19. Cuban Missile Crisis (somewhat of a sideline, but 4 Soviet subs involved-- see Red November)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19b0A7sBR4U Pannel discusses how close we were to Nuclear war in 2010
    http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB75/index2.htm GWU FOIA evaluation "Submarines of October"
    Robert McNamara describes 1992 conference with Castro in Havana where the US learned there were 170  Nukes in Cuba
    as part of a presentation to the World Affairs Council in 2005.
  20. The Missiles of October, docu-drama from 1974 available online via Youtube and other sites
  21. Thirteen Days; docu-drama from 2000 on the Cuban missile crisis
  22. Rule, Bruce; Livingston, Eric; Why the USS Scorpion (SSN 589) Was Lost: The Death of a Submarine in the North Atlantic; 2011
  23. PBS Oct. 2012
    The Man Who Saved The World; Oct. 23, 2012 Secrets of the Dead -- Subs and the Cuban  Missile Crisis
    Documentary on Cuban Crisis ...Three Men Go to War
  24. Sewell, Kenneth; All Hands Down; 2008
  25. Vyborny, Lee & Davis, Don; Dark Waters; (NR1) 2003
  26. Dunham, Roger; Spy Sub; 1996 ("Viperfish" = SSN Halibut)
  27. Seir, Gary & Boyne, Walter; Rising Tide: the untold story of the russian submarines that fought in the cold war; 2003
  28. 2014 information http://io9.com/that-time-the-cia-and-howard-hughes-tried-to-steal-a-so-1561583789
  29. Nixon State Dept History Info at http://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/nixon-ford -- Inncludes National Security Policy with info on Glomar Explorer
  30. CIA's Studies in Intellegence
    1. 1978 story (reads more like a story than a real report)
    2. The Glomar Explorer in Film and Print (2012)
For current context, this 30 minute documentary on an Ohio class boomer is interesting.

Subpages (1): SpiesLiesPresentation
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