How could the United States find itself at the helm of another possible war just a few years after World War II had ended? Is it possible the U.S. was jumping the gun - being too paranoid? Some would say yes, the United States overreacted when they learned the Soviet Union possessed the power to unleash a nuclear weapon. Others would say no, the United States took the necessary precautions needed to ensure the safety of not only the United States, but the entire free world. A major piece of the Cold War was intelligence. Both the United States and the Soviet Union wanted to obtain counterintelligence from one another. This information would not be considered Top Secret if it was disclosed at the drop of a hat. In an effort to keep peace, Dwight D. Eisenhower suggested having open airways which would allow flyovers, giving both sides an equal opportunity to obtain information and essentially keep an eye on the situation at hand. When the Soviet Leader, Nikita Khrushchev, refused to go along with this suggestion Eisenhower took matters into his own hands by authorizing the U-2 Spy Plane Pr ogram. Many speculations have been made about the results of this program; cover ups and denial and lack of commitment to the program being the main two arguments. The following four sources have given me much insight into the events leading up to the U-2 Plane Incident, as well as the events that occurred afterwards.
In the Memorandum of Conference With the President dated December 16, 1958 it was dually noted that the President was in fact enthusiastic about the program, but had his reserves about whether or not the information that would be obtained by these Top Secret flyovers was worth the actual risk . This concern came from the fact that the U-2 Plane is suspected to have been detected on almost all of its previous missions west of the Urals. After more discussion, being aware of any surprise attack seemed to outweigh the fear of detection and that any intelligence gained from these flyovers was highly worth the risk taken. The Memorandum was not definitive in the matter, leaving one to wonder if Eisenhower still had his reserves .
On July 8, 1959, a little over 6 months later, another conference was called. In the Memorandum of Conference With the President dated for this date, Eisenhower yet again expressed his concerns about the U-2 Spy Plane Program. Eisenhower remained very cautious with the matter, fearing that this espionage was going to get the United States involved in a very ominous situation. When Eisenhower approached Secretary Herter directly, asking his views, the Secretary assured him that the intelligence obtained was well worth any chances of being trapped by the Soviets . To help ease the mind of the President, Herter further explained that a single operation was being planned and that in an effort to not get caught, the plane would enter in one country and exit through another. As a part of the plan, they all agreed that if in case there was any question about the involvement of the United States, the defense would be complete denial of the matter. Under these stipulations and seeing the increasingly aggressive behavior and attitude of Kh rushchev, Eisenhower found himself having to decide if the operation was worth the cause of a possible war. After considering all discussions and recommendations, Eisenhower gave his consent to continue on with the operation.
May 6, 1960 the Department of State made a Press Release about the U-2 Spy Plane Incident. In this press release, they stated exactly what they had planned in th e conference dated July 8, 1959; they completely denied that this plane was being used for anything other than to collect weather data for the National Aeronautical Space Agency (NASA) . The United States admitted that the pilot was an American civilian named Francis Gary Powers. The Press Release coincided with an earlier statement that had been released by NASA on May 3, stating that the unarmed weather research plane based in Adana, Turkey had been missing since May 1, 1960 . In an effort to gain Soviet cooperation,