Dwight D. Eisenhower's public image was that of a president who preferred to play golf rather than to actively engage in areas like foreign policy. In reality, however, he was highly involved in building an effective and technologically advanced intelligence organisation to face the challenges of the Cold War.
When Eisenhower became president, he had very few reliable intelligence sources with which to assess Soviet strategic capabilities or to monitor an international crisis. Faced with this serious limitation in intelligence, he took action to utilise all available resources and to spur the development of surveillance technology.
While a wide variety of intelligence gathering steps were initiated and discussed under Eisenhower's directive, few provided current information. So Eisenhower relied on the Technological Capabilities Panel for reconnaissance recommendations and they proposed the concept of the high-altitude, surveillance air craft known as the U-2. A contract was let and 8 months later it was a flying machine, a feat unparalleled in aviation history. Five U-2 flights over Soviet long-range bomber bases in a month in 1956 dispelled the bomber gap. Subsequent flights provided a wealth of data on Soviet missile and nuclear efforts. Eisenhower used this U-2 derived data in dealing with the Suez, Lebanon, Chinese Off Shore Islands, Tibet, Indonesia, East Germany, Hungary, Vietnam/Laos and Cuba crisis.
Drawing on his CIA career as one of the world's premier experts on aerial and spatial reconnaissance, best-selling author Dino A. Brugioni presents the inside story about Eisenhower's aerial espionage program.
Dino A. Brugioni is a retired CIA analyst and worked as one of the founders of the National Photographic Interpretation Center established by the agency in 1955. In that capacity he served as Senior Officer and briefed Presidents from Eisenhower through Ford. He was involved in the exploitation of U-2, SR-71, and satellite imagery, and discovered and analyzed World War II aerial photography taken of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. He is the author of the bestseller, Eyeball to Eyeball. He lives in Fredericksburg, VA