From the Shadows to the Stars: James Webb's Use of Intelligence Data in the Race to the Moon (National Aeronautics and Space Administration Administrator, 1960S) - Air Power History

From the Shadows to the Stars: James Webb's Use of Intelligence Data in the Race to the Moon (National Aeronautics and Space Administration Administrator, 1960S)

By Air Power History

  • Release Date: 2004-12-22
  • Genre: Engineering

Description

Intelligence collection has become a hot topic in the wake of September 11 and the invasion of Iraq, and some of the most scalding discussion is over the release of intelligence information to the media. There is no clear and distinct rule about how intelligence information becomes public. Sometimes individuals with access to information leak it to the media solely on their own initiative and violate laws when doing so. Sometimes they leak it with the acquiescence, or encouragement of their superiors, including the President. And sometimes information is made public as a result of a senior policy decision, often by the same people who have previously decried the revelation of intelligence sources and methods by their predecessors. Sometimes the definition of a "leak" depends upon where one sits in the government--Congress has leaked information to the press that the President did not want released, and administration officials have often leaked information to the press in order to influence congressional legislation. Sometimes information gathered through sensitive means becomes public because that is necessary for government officials to justify their actions, or gain approval for future actions or budgets. There is nothing at all new about this. It was just as common during the Cold War as it is today. Students of Cold War history can find countless examples of intelligence information finding its way into the press either with or without presidential approval. Examples include the 1957 Gaither report about strategic vulnerability--whose leak infuriated President Eisenhower--to the slick Soviet Military Power reports produced by the Defense Department during the Reagan administration and used to justify the defense buildup. At times administration officials have even gotten creative. For instance, Reagan administration officials had SR-71 aircraft re-photograph targets in Nicaragua and Cuba that had already been photographed by spy satellites because the SR-71 photos were considered less sensitive than satellite photos and, therefore, could be released publicly to justify political action. (1)