Updated Lists of Records Eligible for Indexing on Demand (IOD)

In August 2015 we announced a new program called “Indexing on Demand” which allows researchers to request records that have completed quality assurance review and are available for indexing and final withhold processing.  Below are updated lists that include series eligible for request. The lists are divided into two groups: military records and civilian records. Each list is arranged by record group and includes: Holdings Management System (HMS) ID; HMS entry number; the record entry name for the series; dates of the records within the series (not always immediately available); and the size (possibly estimated) of the series itself.

Since the roll out, we have processed 472 requests totaling just over fifteen million pages with a release rate of 80%.  We have updated our lists to remove the series that have been processed and add newly available series for request.

As before, you can correspond with us via our ndc@nara.gov email box or by replying to this blog post. You can also visit with our representative in the Archives II reference area, Jennifer Dryer, who would be happy to address your questions and requests. She can offer you an estimate on the complexity of the final processing needed as well as a tentative timeline to completion.

IOD List 5-9-2018 – Military PDF                                             IOD List 5-9-2018 Civilian PDF

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New Entries Released by The National Declassification Center

The NDC has released a listing of 134 entries that have completed declassification processing between October 2, 2017 and March 2, 2018, and are now available for researcher request. This release consists of records from both military and civilian agencies.

Highlights include:

  • Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, River Patrol Force and Interdiction Reports [Naval History and Heritage Command],
  • Department of State, Records of Under Secretary of State Philip C. Habib,
  • Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State, Indonesia, U.S. Embassy, Djakarta: Classified Central Subject Files,
  • U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Records of General George S. Brown,
  • U.S. Information Agency, Records Relating to the Voice of America (VOA),
  • Army Staff, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (Intelligence); Decimal Files, and
  • Office of the Secretary of Defense, Vietnam Task Force Files [ISA Vietnam Task Force 1964-1971]

Requests to access the newly released records or to order copies should be directed to Archives 2 Reference at 301-837-3510 or archives2reference@nara.gov. Please note that some series may contain other restrictions such as privacy or law enforcement and may require screening or a FOIA request prior to access.

(When making a request, please cite the HMS Entry and Series Title.)

 

Posted in New Openings | 4 Comments

“Reportable Information”

(In honor of Sunshine Week, I am proud to present NDC staff member England Reeder as our guest blogger today to write about a project on which he has been working that is close to public release.)

Judge Merrick Garland collected the documents in this record series while he served as Special Assistant to the Attorney General from 1979 to 1981

Transparency into the conduct of the U.S. government’s business underlines the mission of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).  The National Declassification Center (NDC) has a larger burden of service to the American people. We release all the records we can but protect all information that it still deemed classified under Executive Order 13526. In the commission of my tasks at the NDC I processed a collection of documents gathered by then Special Assistant to the Attorney General, Merrick B. Garland. He is currently Chief United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Merrick B. Garland and former President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court.

The title of this blog entry, “reportable information”, is the terminology used to define information which was brought to the attention of then Attorney General Benjamin R. Civiletti. The Daily Attorney General Reporting System instructed all Heads of Offices, Boards, Bureaus and Divisions how to determine what was “reportable information”. In a memorandum to all Heads of Offices, Boards, Bureaus, Divisions; United States Attorneys; Special agents-in-Charge; Heads of DEA Regional and District Offices; Attorney General Benjamin R. Civiletti states: “ The purpose of the system is to bring to my direct, personal attention vital information every 24 hours.” The reports and related materials were delivered daily and weekly. The system began operation in January of 1980. The following five categories of information to be reported from the various jurisdictions of all components of the Department of Justice were emergencies, serious allegations of misconduct by federal, state, or local officials, serious conflicts between government agencies and departments, serious misconceptions about DOJ actions and policies by the public or the press, and any important information within the last twenty-four hours that warranted the AG’s attention.

Some of the interesting topics in this one box series include the escape of six American Embassy personnel from Iran. The events described in these documents reflect the plot premise of the Ben Affleck movie “Argo”.  Other topics include information related to investigations of federal, state, and local government officials. Terrorism, airplane hijackings, and bombings were being reported by Federal Bureau of Investigation field offices. Hunger strikes by political prisoners, protests by groups like the Communist Workers Party, the Ku Klux Klan and citizens of Puerto Rico were also being reported.   The records also include information related to the ABSCAM case, investigations of state government officials, and cases involving conflict of interest by government officials. As the Attorney for the United States government it was important that AG. Civiletti was aware of all conflicts within the U.S. Government departments and agencies. Lastly, the escape of convicted spy Christopher John Boyce (whose story was the basis for the film “The Falcon and the Snowman”) is chronicled along with other reports from the Bureau of Prisons.

 

boyce notice

Among the documents Merrick Garland collected for Attorney General Civiletti’s attention in 1980 was this memorandum from the Director of the U.S. Marshals Service, William E. Hall, about the escape of Christopher Lee Boyce.

These materials present another look at the events of the early 1980’s from the point of view of the Department of Justice late in the Carter Administration. Note that some materials contain handwritten comments by Garland, showing his deliberations and opinions of reported information. NARA and the NDC are excited to be able soon to provide the public access to these materials. These materials will be accessible at the Archives 2 facility in College Park, Maryland at the beginning of April 2018.

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The Weapons Systems Evaluation Group

Those who work in government and in the private sector supporting government are very familiar with the term “think tank”, a slang expression dating from World War II that denoted an organization filled with “idea men” that sat around desks coming up with better and greater ways for government to operate.  During the World War II era, think tanks were usually linked to finding better ways to win the war.  That think tanks would continue after the war was inevitable given the successes that they met during the war.

The Weapon Systems Evaluation Group (WSEG) was a government think tank organization born in the early days of the newly-created National Military Establishment (NME) that later became the Department of Defense.  The WSEG performed operational research on defense matters from 1948 to 1976.  Very little is publicly known about the WSEG as its records were highly classified and difficult to declassify.  This NDC Blog article will look at the earliest of the WSEG record series maintained at the National Archives at College Park that has been recently reviewed for declassification, and from which documents will be available soon to the public.

Background

According to a 1979 Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA) history prepared for the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) found in the Defense Technical Information Center Library (http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a090946.pdf)), the WSEG was an early Defense organization created in the wake of the hallmark National Defense Act of 1947.  The NME staff was small during its two years of existence compared to later manifestations of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) , with the Secretary (in this case James V. Forrestal) acting primarily as a coordinator between the Armed Services as he had no direct authority over them.  In this decentralized defense organization, the WSEG was intended to serve as an advisory group, analyzing plans and technologies for their effect on national defense.

Initially the WSEG consisted of a joint military-civilian staff.  The military services assigned personnel to the WSEG just as they did to the Joint Staff.  The Federal civilian professionals of the WSEG worked side-by-side with the military staff on specific projects assigned within the WSEG.  The projects were established early in the WSEG’s existence by a directive that came from the Chiefs in September 1949.  From the Joint Staff WSEG history:

1. It is requested that the Weapons Systems Evaluation Group undertake immediately the following project:

a. An evaluation of the results to be expected should strategic air offensive plans be implemented.

(1) Capability of bomber formations to reach assigned aiming points in target system considering means available, probable degree of opposition, training
and logistical requirements and such other factors as are revealed to be pertinent.

(2) Degree of accuracy to be expected in dropping bomb load…

(3) Material damage and loss of life to be expected as a result of bombing, together with consideration of possible psychological effects …

(4) Resultant effect on enemy’s military capabilities or potential.

b. Certain aspects of the problem included under (3) and (4) above have been evaluated by the Harmon Committee …. It is desired, therefore, that the Weapons Systems Evaluation Group devote its attention initially to those phases of the problem listed under (1) and (2).  Should the conclusions resulting from these studies indicate its desirability, the Weapons Systems Evaluation Group is requested to proceed with a review of the findings of the Harmon Committee insofar as they pertain to the subject matter listed under (3) above.

c. Although for the present it is not intended that the scope of the study include the
subject matter listed under (4) above, the Weapons Systems Evaluation Group should keep in mind that at some later date it may be requested to cover this aspect also.
2. As rapidly as staffing capabilities permit, it is requested that the Weapons Systems Evaluation Group undertake the following additional projects, insofar as possible in the priority in which listed:

a. An evaluation of the effectiveness of present and projected antisubmarine warfare
weapons and weapons-systems.

b. An evaluation of the military worth and effectiveness of present and projected
weapons and weapons systems for airborne operations.

c. An evaluation of the effectiveness of present and projected carrier task force
weapons and weapons systems.

d. An evaluation of the military worth and effectiveness of present projected air
defense weapons and weapons systems.

e. An evaluation of the military worth and effectiveness of present and projected
ground force weapons and weapons systems.

3. Prior to consideration of each of the five projects listed in paragraph 2, a detailed outline of the procedures to be followed and the objectives of the evaluation will be forwarded to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for approval.

The first JCS topic, concerning a strategic air offensive, was of the most immediate concern as the Armed Services roles and missions debate had been in full bloom during most of 1949.  President Harry Truman had fired WSEG supporter James Forrestal in March 1949 primarily due to Forrestal’s support of the Navy’s budget position in the procurement of a new class of supercarrier (the planned USS United States). Competing with the Navy was the newborn U.S. Air Force and its monopoly of the means of delivering the only weapon the Truman Administration believed was needed for the defense of the nation–the atomic bomb.  The B-36, a massive aircraft with a maximum bomb load in excess of 40 tons and intercontinental range conceived before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, had been cast by Air Force advocates as the premier atomic delivery system.

This bitter interservice rivalry was exactly the circumstance that drove the formation of WSEG.  At the time of the debate, there was no independent analysis available to the national leadership to point the way to procuring the best weapon systems that supported an agreed national defense strategy.  With Truman and new Secretary of Defense Louis A. Johnson leading the national security team, and with an eye for significantly cutting defense costs, the odds in the B-36 versus United States debate were weighted much in favor of the Air Force heavy bomber.  The point was none too subtly made at Truman’s 1949 inauguration:

 

b-36

B-36A/B Peacekeepers overfly Pennsylvania Avenue during President Harry Truman’s 1949 Inauguration (Photo not in subject record series)

However, the point was also made that a more rational decision-making process for major weapons system procurement had to be found.

Hence the first WSEG product about the planned strategic air offensive against the Soviet Union was a step in that direction.  Known simply as WSEG Report No. 1, the work was quickly completed between the time the Chiefs’ priority list came to the WSEG in September 1949 and January 1950.  Ironically, the intense debate concerning bombers and aircraft carriers became moot six months after the appearance of WSEG Report No. 1.  The outbreak of war on the Korean Peninsula made Truman’s and Johnson’s defense budget reduction plans moot, as cash-strapped Army and Navy commands struggled to respond to North Korea’s surprise aggression against South Korea on 25 June 1950.  Unfortunately, WSEG Report No. 1 is not part of the record series the NDC is processing for declassification; however, its place in history is assured as proof of the need for a WSEG.

What’s in the records?

The WSEG prepared more than reports in the course of its work.  Unfortunately, in the IDA history of the WSEG provided to the JCS, there is no discussion of the variety of products produced by the WSEG.  We have as evidence in the WSEG series being declassified that the WSEG produced reports, staff studies, and  working memoranda, with the bulk of the series devoted to WSEG Staff Studies.  Our WSEG series consists of the following products:

WSEG Report No. 8 (15 July 1952): An Evaluation of Offensive Biological Warfare Weapons Systems Employing Manned Aircraft (Top Secret-Restricted Data), Enclosure A and Appendices A, B, and C to Enclosure A (Top Secret-Restricted Data), Enclosure B and Appendices A, B, C, and D to Enclosure B (Top Secret-Restricted Data) , Enclosure C with Appendices A and B (Top Secret-Restricted Data), Enclosure D with Appendix A (Top Secret-Restricted Data), Appendix B to Enclosure D (Top Secret-declassified), Enclosure E (Top Secret-declassified)

WSEG Staff Study No. 4 (15 August 1951): Operational Experience of Fast Carrier Task Forces in World War II (Confidential-declassified)

WSEG Staff Study No. 7 (20 December 1951): The Continental Air Defense System: An Examination of Some Aspects of the Control and Warning Facilities Available by 1953 (Top Secret-declassified)

WSEG Staff Study No. 8 (1 February 1952): The Potential Contribution to the Soviet War Economy of Areas Possibly Subject to Soviet Domination (Top Secret-declassified)

WSEG Staff Study No. 9 (11 March 1952): The Continental Air Defense System: Estimated Capabilities of Planned Army Anti-aircraft Defenses for the Continental United States as of Mid-1954 Volume I (Top Secret-declassified), Volume II (Secret-declassified)

WSEG Staff Study No. 10 (2 April 1952): A Determination of Measures Required to Maximize the Effectiveness of an Airborne Force When Employed Under the Concepts of Current Emergency War Plans Volume I (Top Secret-declassified), Volume II (Top Secret)

WSEG Staff Study No. 12 (15 June 1954): Capabilities of Atomic Weapons for the Attack of Troop Targets (Top Secret-Restricted Data)

WSEG Staff Study No. 13 (4 February 1955): U.S. Armored Divisions Defense of a Sector Against a Soviet Mechanized Army Volume I (Top Secret-Restricted Data), Volume II (Secret-declassified), Volume III (Secret-declassified)

WSEG Staff Study No. 14 (15 June 1954): The Effects of USSR Preparatory Fires Enclosure A Volume II (Secret-declassified), Estimates of Results of USSR Mechanized Army Assault of the MLR of U.S. Type Corps Enclosure B Volume III (Secret-declassified), Effectiveness of U.S. Armored Division in a Counterattack Role Enclosure C Volume IV (Secret-declassified), U. S. Type Corps in Defense Against a USSR Mechanized Army and Atomic Weapons Effects Enclosure D Volume I (Top Secret-Restricted Data), Definition of a Corps Tactical Situation Enclosure E Volume V (Top Secret-declassified)

WSEG Staff Study No. 15 (15 November 1954): U.S. Type Corps in Defense Against a USSR Rifle Army Volume I (Top Secret-Restricted Data), Volume II (Secret-declassified)

WSEG Staff Study No. 17 (1 December 1954):  Operations of a U.S. Armored Corps Against a Soviet Mechanized and a Soviet Rifle Army Volume I (Top Secret-Restricted Data), Volume II (Secret-declassified), Volume III (Secret)

WSEG Staff Study No. 27 (22 April 1954): The War Supporting Capabilities of the Soviet Bloc from 1 July 1954 Onward (Top Secret-declassified)

WSEG Working Memorandum No. 69 (15 November 1954): A Study of the Capabilities and Effectiveness of Antiaircraft Weapons Systems in the Combat Area Based Upon Analysis of Capabilities to Defend Against Attack by Single Aircraft Flying Straight and Level (Secret-declassified)

As one can see from this document listing, the WSEG was an extremely busy organization in the first few years of the 1950s, as the United States perceived itself surrounded by Communist threats worldwide.

What’s in a WSEG product?

We’ll take a look inside one of the declassified products, WSEG Staff Study No. 9: The Continental Air Defense System: Estimated Capabilities of Planned Army Anti-aircraft Defenses for the Continental United States as of Mid-1954.  Dated 11 March 1952, Staff Study No. 9 is interesting in that it looks at the effectiveness of various antiaircraft systems that were anticipated to be in service two years after the date of the study.  The date of the study is important because of the threat the continental air defense system was anticipated to meet by the middle of 1954.  The Soviet Union had exploded its first nuclear weapon only in August 1949, thus eliminating the four year U.S. monopoly on atomic bombs.  Volume 1 of the Staff Study thus defines the Soviet threat to the continental U.S. in the form of atomic weapons carried by two types of bomber. One bomber was a fairly well-known aircraft, the Tupolev Tu-4 bomber, given the NATO code name of Bull.  The Tu-4 was a reverse-engineered Boeing B-29A bomber, the donor aircraft being four specimens that were interned intact along with one crashed example after forced landings in Soviet territory following 20th Air Force raids on Japan in 1944.

tu-4

Tu-4 Bull. (Photo not in subject record series)

The second threat aircraft mentioned in the study was the enigmatic Type 31 bomber, about which little was known except the fact that it participated in a 1949 Tushino flyby.  However, the vulnerability of the Type 31 was estimated to be similar to the Tu-4, which, of course, was almost identical to the B-29.  In actuality, the Type 31 was the Tupolev Tu-85, best described as a product improved Tu-4, much enlarged to carry more fuel than the Tu-4 to give it a true intercontinental capability with a significant bomb load.  Ironically, in view of American interest in this aircraft, only two prototype Tu-85s were built, becoming the last piston-engined heavy bombers designed and built by the Soviet Union.  The Tu-85 did lead to another propeller-driven bomber prototype that flew in 1952–the incredibly long-lived Tupolev Tu-95 Bear series, examples of which still serve with the Russian Air Force.

Tu-85front

Tu-85 (Photo not in subject record series)

Against the defined threat, Staff Study No. 9 described U.S. Army antiaircraft defenses, estimated to be in mid-1954 the following:

  1. 16 90mm and 120mm antiaircraft gun battalions
  2. 11 Skysweeper battalions
  3. 4 Terrier battalions
  4. 23 Nike battalions
  5. 12 Loki battalions

 

Of the antiaircraft systems listed in the study, the 90mm and 120mm gun battalions were the survivors of the Army’s vast World War II antiaircraft artillery organization, equipped with gun-laying radars directing the fire of the weapons and using proximity-fuzed projectiles to detonate rounds within lethal distance of their targets.  The Skysweeper was a postwar antiaircraft gun development that took some years to mature.  Standardized as the 75mm antiaircraft gun M51 Skysweeper, the weapon placed gun, automatic loading system, fire control radar and computer on a single gun mount.  The M51 began to enter service only in 1953.  Interestingly, Staff Study No. 9 listed Terrier as an Army antiaircraft weapon system when it was developed as a shipboard Navy antiaircraft missile from its origins in the late 1940s.  Test firings of Terrier only began in 1953.  The Nike battalions mentioned in the study are, in fact, equipped with the Nike Ajax missile, the first fruits of a long term development process that began in 1945.  Nike Ajax first became operational in 1954.  Nike Ajax was related to the Navy’s Terrier as both utilized the same booster stage.  Loki was an interesting low altitude antiaircraft weapon based upon a World War II German antiaircraft system called Taifun.  The Loki system placed multiple small two-stage rockets in a disposable box, with the second stage being an unpowered dart with a warhead and fuze.  Loki depended on a central fire control system to aim and fire the box of rockets at approaching targets.  Unfortunately, the Loki program ran into rocket production quality control and fire control development problems and was ignominiously cancelled in November 1955.

nike_ajax_31

Nike Ajax site SF-91, ca. 1958, Angel Island, San Francisco Bay (Photo not in subject record series)

Volume I of the study laid out the positioning of these various antiaircraft systems around probable target locations nationwide with the types of defenses scheduled to be in place as of mid-1954.  Only 15 locations around the country were programmed to be defended by guided missile systems (both Nike Ajax and Terrier), while another 10 locations had guns and/or Loki for defense.  The volume also contained known intelligence information, rules of engagement, the effect of  countermeasures, and possible improvements to the systems or tactics mentioned in the volume.

Volume II did the heavy lifting with regard to the math and statistics of the efficiencies of the various systems examined.  The volume has 149 legal pages full of tables, graphs, equations, and analysis.  The end result were tables (in the case of Nike Ajax) that indicated the expected fraction of aircraft shot down in attacking area defended by Nike battalions.

The summary of all this analysis was not hopeful to national leaders in the closing days of the Truman Administration.  If the Soviets managed to fly a single bomber at high or medium altitude against any of the cities protected by guided missiles, the defenses had an 80% chance of downing the attacker before bomb release.  For the cities protected only by guns or Loki, there was little chance of downing a high altitude bomber and only a 10-50 percent chance of destroying a medium altitude bomber.  If an attacker came at low level, those localities defended by Nike Ajax or Terrier had a 10% chance of bagging the attacking bomber, while the gun and Loki defended areas would do much better; however, the summary noted that the Soviets would most likely not attack those locations at low level.  If multiple attackers penetrated the same targets, defensive effectiveness would be reduced by factors ranging from 2 to 10, dramatically highlighting the expected ineffectiveness of 1954 air defenses against more than one bomber per target.

Volume I noted that a way to vastly improve defensive arrangements was through the implementaton of what would later be known as an integrated air defense system (IADS).  There needed to be improvements in the speed and handling of communications, data, and decision making for which the technology did not exist at the time of the publication of Staff Study No. 9.  The authors could only hope that the improvements would make a big difference in the effectiveness of the proposed defenses. In fact it took another seven years after the 1952 study was completed to bring the idealized system into service.  Known as the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE), the system tied together radars, command centers, computers, interceptor aircraft, and surface to air missiles to provide a defense against Soviet bombers

Conclusion

The WSEG products are outstanding examples of think tank work.  Tasked by senior military and civilian officials to analyze and report on specific military scenarios involving the latest military technology, the WSEG staff had to use non-automated calculating tools and statistical methodology to come up with their voluminous analyses.  All this very labor-intensive work was conducted under the condition of extreme stress caused by the precarious international situation of the early 1950s.  One can easily envision lights burning late into the night at the Pentagon as dedicated military members and government employees together worked to keep the national leadership best informed about the dangerous world in which they all lived.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Aerospace Technology, Military Technology, New Openings, Special Projects | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

New Entries Released by the National Declassification Center

The NDC has released a listing of 112 entries that have completed declassification processing between June 1 and September 29, 2017, and are now available for researcher request. This release consists of records from both military and civilian agencies.
Highlights include:
• Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Naval History and Heritage Command, Political/Military Division, Primary Program Records, 1946-1980,
• Department of State, Research Project Files Relating to the Camp David Peace Process [Files Relating to the Arab/Israeli Peace Treaty: Research Project Number 1276],
• Department of State, Records Relating to the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO),
• Department of State, Central Foreign Policy Files: P-Reel Printouts, 1977-78,
• Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Subject Files Concerning Policy,
• Army Staff, Korean Message Files, and
• Army Staff, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (Intelligence), Army Attaché (A/A) Country Files
Requests to access the newly released records or to order copies should be directed to Archives 2 Reference at 301-837-3510 or archives2reference@nara.gov. Please note that some series may contain other restrictions such as privacy or law enforcement and may require screening or a FOIA request prior to access.
(When making a request, please cite the HMS Entry and Series Title.)

Posted in New Openings | 1 Comment

Djakarta Embassy Record Series Now Available Via the National Archives Catalog

The National Declassification Center is proud to announce that the contents of the newly-declassified Classified Central Subject Files of the U.S. Embassy Djakarta, Indonesia, 1963-1969 are now available via the National Archives Catalog.  This record series, digitized through the kind efforts of the National Security Archive, consists of correspondence, telegrams, airgrams, memoranda, reports, newspaper accounts, and other documents that pertain to subjects that were of interest to the Ambassador and staff of the Embassy.  This series also contains documents that were originated by or sent to the U.S. Consulates at Medan and Surabaya.  To search for the digitized embassy records please visit the National Archives Catalog at https://catalog.archives.gov/.

Approximately 30 folders, mainly pertaining to Embassy administrative matters, were not scanned and are not currently available in the Catalog.  NARA will be making an effort to digitize and load the missing folders into the Catalog at a future date.

Posted in Indonesia, New Openings, Special Projects | Tagged , | 1 Comment

NDC Releases U.S. Embassy Djakarta Records

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U.S. Consulate Surabaya Annex, 1965 (Photo not in record series)

 

The National Declassification Center, in partnership with the privately-operated National Security Archive, is proud to announce the release of  a record series that has been the object of interest for a number of researchers worldwide.  The records, formally titled the Classified Central Subject Files, U.S. Embassy Djakarta, 1963-1969, have been the object of a dedicated declassification effort that began in the fall of 2016.  Once NDC completed its initial declassification effort, which resulted in somewhat less than 30,000 pages declassified, it coordinated with the National Security Archive on the digitization of the newly-declassified records.  Given the known interest in the records in this series, it was important to the NDC that access to the declassified records should be as broad as possible, and only a digital release could make that happen.

Led by National Security Archive project leader Bradley Simpson, a rotating team of volunteers spent the better part of three weeks using IPads to scan the tens of thousands of pages involved.  Once the scanning was done, there was considerably more work performed by the Archive to make the documents text searchable.  Once that work is done, the Archive is  graciously providing a digital copy of the records to the National Archives and Records Administration to become part of the National Archives Catalog, thus granting access to an even larger pool of digital researchers.  While that digital availability may take some time, the physical records are still available to researchers who come to NARA’s College Park facility.

The 37 Hollinger boxes in the Djakarta Embassy series hold a wide range of records central to the function of a U.S. Embassy.  We have discussed only small parts of the Embassy’s functions in two previous NDC Blog postings (see “The Curious Case of Harold Lovestrand” 2/10/2017 and “Joseph B. Kennedy and the Jet-Speed Air Cushion Rail System” 3/31/2017).  While the 39 documents the National Security Archive has published so far are rightly focused on the political situation and tensions within Indonesia and the consequences of the uprising on 30 September/1 October 1965, the Embassy files contain a wealth of other information concerning social conditions, key personalities, industries and commodities, economic data and analysis, financial date and analysis, and assorted cultural topics to name just a few.

There is more declassification work to be done on the documents that were withdrawn from the Embassy record series in the course of the declassification process.  Those records will undergo further declassification processing and will be made available in a redacted form sometime in 2018.

This release marks the first time that the NDC has entered a partnership with the National Security Archive to make available to the public a specific collection of records.  We are sure that there will be further opportunities in the future to unite in our efforts to make historic classified records to the research public.

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What Happened to the American SST?

 

The golden age of American aerospace prowess had to be the decade of the 1960s.  So many advances were being made across so many fields of aviation endeavor.  The Space Race demonstrated how the United States could safely and reliably place both manned and unmanned spacecraft into low earth orbit, to the Moon, and even to the planets.  In earth’s atmosphere, superb military aircraft such as the McDonnell F-4 Phantom II series and Lockheed’s incomparable A-12/SR-71 dominated the technological race in the air.  Commercial aircraft like Boeing’s  Model 707 series and its Douglas competitor, the DC-8, ruled the air miles between major cities around the globe.  However, the decade also became known for more than its share of aerospace failures, and among those failures lies the story of the American Supersonic Transport or SST.

The President’s Advisory Committee on Supersonic Transport

Only part of this story can be told by the records the NDC will be releasing shortly.  There are five boxes from the Robert McNamara Collection at the National Archives in College Park containing documents from 1964 to 1965 that date from Secretary of Defense McNamara’s participation on the President’s Advisory Committee on the Supersonic Transport. Established by Executive Order 11149 of April 1, 1964,  the Committee’s charter appeared in Section 2 of the Order:

“The Committee shall study, and shall advise and make recommendations to the President with regard to, all aspects of the supersonic transport program.  The Committee shall devote particular attention to the financial aspects of the program and shall maintain close coordination with the Director of the Bureau of the Budget in this regard.”

As represented by much of the discussion documented in this record series, President Johnson’s concern about “the financial aspects of the program” soon became the overriding concern.

SST Origins

Although the story the MacNamara Papers tell unfolds only in 1964, the American SST program had a longer history.  The aircraft industry had been examining supersonic passenger transport designs since the 1950s.  With the onset of the new administration of President John F. Kennedy, the young President tasked the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in looking into the future of civil aviation.  As the traveling world moved at a high subsonic speed with Boeing 707s, DC-8s, and Convair 880s, it would take a considerable technological achievement to surpass the day’s commercial airliner successes.  Upping an airliner’s speed to supersonic velocities fit the bill; however, there were those within the aerospace and airlines communities who recognized the significant risks in developing and operating a supersonic airliner.

The FAA played an unusual role in the American SST saga.  Normally a regulatory agency, the FAA actually issued a contract to investigate the possibility of a supersonic airliner.  The motivation to move quickly on this ambitious project was simple–Great Britain and France announced a partnership to build their own SST in November 1962. By May 1963, Pan American Airlines, still under the leadership of the indefatigable Juan Trippe, had confirmed an option to buy the Franco-British plane, now known as the Concorde.  Pan Am, the United States’ premier overseas airline,  had been the launch customer for the Boeing 707 in 1955 and would again be the launch customer for the Boeing 747 in 1966.  Trippe’s action on the Concorde sent a clear signal to the American aerospace industry that it needed to compete in the arena of supersonic commercial air travel.

As a result, the FAA issued a request for proposals to the aviation industry in mid-1963, not long after President Kennedy announced the establishment of a National Supersonic Transport Program during his Graduation Day speech at the U.S. Air Force Academy on June 5th.  Three aerospace giants responded: Seattle-based Boeing, Burbank-based Lockheed, and Los Angeles-based North American.  Three jet engine contractors responded as well to the search for high performance engines to power the new transport: General Electric, Pratt and Whitney, and Curtiss-Wright.  The proposals appeared in Washington DC in January 1964, and evaluation began immediately.  The irony is that the FAA’s evaluation of SST proposals began before President Johnson’s appointed Advisory Committee had its first meeting.

The FAA quickly eliminated one airframe and one engine contractor–North American’s proposal based on its futuristic XB-70 Valkyrie bomber failed along with Curtiss-Wright’s engine proposal.  The two remaining competitors for airframe and engines began their work in earnest.  The engine manufacturers both relied on previous work but chose different jet propulsion concepts for their entries.  General Electric relied on its experience in producing the J93 turbojet engine for the XB-70 program.  The J93 had a good pedigree, being an enlarged version of GE’s highly successful J79 series of engines.  Pratt and Whitney initially proposed to use a turbojet engine based off its J58 powerplant that pushed Lockheed’s secretive A-12 and SR-71 to Mach 3+ speeds.  However, P&W later changed its proposal to an immature turbofan engine design in the hopes of keeping the SST’s fuel consumption figures down to achieve the desired range and payload.

The airframes were very different as well.  The Lockheed design combined a long, thin tubular fuselage coupled with a tailless compound delta win.  The four engines were underslung in individual nacelles.  The ultimate effect was to produce a design very much like its European competitor.  The Seattle-based Boeing design had been refined over a number of years.  Boeing fell for an aerodynamic gimmick that promised its design good performance through all phases of the airliner’s flight.  For an aircraft that had to approach Mach 3 in performance, the long, thin fuselage was de rigour.  Attached to that fuselage, though, was a variable sweep wing, an expensive characteristic of many high performance aircraft designs of the 1960s.  A variable sweep wing promised optimal aircraft performance throughout its entire flight profile.  However, outside of the very experimental Bell X-5 and the Grumman XF10F-1 Jaguar, both of which were hardly success stories, variable sweep wings had not proven themselves to be practical technology on a production aircraft.  The Air Force’s newest fighter bomber, the General Dynamics F-111A, also incorporated variable-sweep wings, but its first flight took place only in December 1964.

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Boeing’s Model 733-197 SST in landing configuration

What the Records Have to Say

Which brings us to the story of our records, the documents from the President’s Advisory Committee on Supersonic Transport.  The Committee had some notable members: Robert S. McNamara, Secretary of Defense; James E. Webb, NASA Administrator; Luther H. Hodges, Secretary of Commerce; Najeeb E. Halaby, FAA Administrator; John A. McCone, Director, CIA; Stanley DeJ. Osborne, Chairman of the Board for Olin Mathieson Chemical Company; and Eugene R. Black, Director, Chase Manhattan Bank.  The Executive Secretary of the Committee was Joseph A. Califano, Jr., Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense and a Deputy Secretary of Defense.  McNamara, Webb, and Halaby had already worked together on a joint DoD-NASA-FAA study on supersonic travel initiated in 1961, so the arguments seen in the minutes do not cover much new ground.  The members of the Advisory Committee met on a regular basis to determine whether an American SST program was worthwhile.  Of all the participants, Najeeb Halaby, the enthusiastic head of the Federal Aviation Administration (and later president of Pan Am), was the main proponent of the SST program.  In reading the minutes of their meetings, one gets the impression that the President appointed all the other Committee members to keep a tight reign on Halaby.  The first question before the Committee: to which airframe/engine manufacturers should an SST development contract be awarded?

From the first meeting of the Committee on April 13, 1964, economics dominated the discussion about the SST program.  An aircraft that had to carry 30,000-pound payload for 4,000 miles at Mach 2.2 or higher would be an expensive design to build and operate.  That idea brought out the skeptics in the Committee, Chairman McNamara being the strongest.  A  McNamara quote from the first Committee meeting provides and example of the chairman’s concerns:

“But I do know that the figures that have been presented to date show the unprofitability of the supersonic to be so great that I have no confidence that following down this course of design development will ever lead to a profitable airplane.”

To which  Halaby optimistically replies: “…our (FAA) analysis of that , plus what we think to be an — a realistic evolution of that (Boeing) proposal suggests that it could, in realistic progression, probably earning 8 or 9 percent on their investment.”

A second problematic issue dealt with the sonic boom associated with supersonic aircraft.  Economy of scale came into play for keeping the costs of an SST down, and with the potential for many supersonic aircraft plying the skies over the continental United States, the impact of many sonic booms over metropolitan areas could be both dangerous and expensive.  A 1961/62 study dealing with the sonic booms associated with the U.S. Air Force’s supersonic B-58A Hustler strategic bomber flying over St. Louis, Missouri, found that the city’s population was not terribly happy with regularly occurring sonic booms, although “…overpressures of 2.6 psi were not sufficient magnitude to cause damage to sound plaster and good quality glass to break.”

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Inboard profile of Boeing’s Model 733-197

 

After four meetings, the Advisory Committee came to four conclusions:

  1. The project is one of high technical risk.
  2. Financing the development, production and operation of the supersonic transport will require huge sums of money, will involve unusually heavy commercial risks, and will necessitate major participation by the government.
  3. Despite the high technical risks involved in this program, supersonic transport must show a potential over their lifetime to operate at costs and fares which equal or closely approximate those of future subsonic aircraft.
  4. The proposals submitted to the FAA failed to meet the established economic and technical standards.
  5. It is essential at this time to optimize the characteristics of the supersonic transport that affect commercial profitability.

With these very unsure conclusions came four recommendations:

  1. The Federal Aviation Agency should be authorized to place contracts with two airframe companies to examine the effect on aircraft purchase price, direct operating costs, and sonic boom of variations in the aircraft’s speed, size and range.
  2. The Federal Aviation Agency should be authorized to place contracts for component development and performance demonstration with the two engine companies preferred by the airframe manufacturers.
  3. The Department of Commerce should be authorized to conduct systematic economic studies to relate different types and sizes of aircraft, including advanced subsonic transports, to actual route  structures, future possible fare structures, and the varies consitions that airlines encounter.
  4. The sonic boom study should be expanded under the guidance of the National Academy of Sciences.

When the FAA awarded the airframe and engine manufacturers the recommended contract on January 1, 1965, it also mandated that Lockheed and Boeing evaluate a NASA design called SCAT(Supersonic Commercial Air Transport) 15F in an effort to address range/payload and sonic boom concerns.  SCAT 15F was a considerable departure from both previous Boeing and Lockheed designs, being both larger and more aerodynamic than the earlier efforts.

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The SCAT 15F model in a NASA Langley Research Center wind tunnel (image not in McNamara record series)

 

By the time of the Second Interim Report of the Advisory Committee, May 8, 1965, significant progress had been made on all four of the Committee 1964 recommendations.  The recommendations in the Second Interim Report were not all that surprising–extend the contracts another 18 months for the all of the involved manufacturers (Lockheed and Boeing for the airframes and General Electric and Pratt and Whitney for the engines).  The Commerce Department economic studies determined that the SST program was still a very risky program, and sonic boom continued to be a significant problem that had the potential to limit SST air routes to overwater ones only, which would have a tremendous impact on airline profitability.  In essence, the contracts extensions to the four manufacturers were made so that they could address the technical and economic problems through engineering and manufacturing improvements to the airframe and engines.

While the McNamara records contain documents dated later than the Second Interim Report, they act more as background information as do most of the documents in the record series.  Actual records from the Advisory Committee itself appear to be limited to the first two boxes in the five box series.   The final Advisory Committee document appears to be the Second Interim Report.

SST Legacy

The story of the American SST continues on for another desultory six years after the Second Interim Report.  A down-select of the new airliner was made in December 1966 with the declared winner being Boeing’s Model 2707-390, a variation of the earlier Model 733-197.  Continuing design problems led Boeing to give up its precious variable-sweep wing as well as to shrink the design to accommodate 240 passengers, down in size from its 300 foot-long predecessor that could seat more than 270 passengers.

During the inordinate amount of time needed to design the American SST, feelings toward the new American technological triumph cooled.  Having landed a man on the moon in July 1969, the push for expensive American aerospace accomplishments lessened.  And sonic booms, which in the mid-1960s were of moderate concern, became the focus of loud and frequent ecological protests by the early 1970s.  Although the administration of Republican President Richard M. Nixon was committed to seeing an American supersonic transport fly in the decade of the Seventies, the Democrat-controlled 92nd Congress of the United States did not share the administration’s enthusiasm.  By May 1971, both Houses of Congress cancelled funding for the SST program, thus ending the saga that began with John F. Kennedy’s speech at the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1963.

The effects on Boeing were devastating to say the least.  As Boeing had more than 120 SST orders on its books, the cancellation of the SST program along with the termination of some production lines and a general downturn in civilian aircraft orders led to the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.  Although the SST’s European competitor, the Concorde, did manage to enter commercial service in 1976, only 14 of the elegant aircraft ever flew from an order book that exceeded 100 units at one point.  Concorde proved to be economically viable in the niche market it serviced–a small and dedicated customer base that gladly paid for the more expensive ticket.  In regular British service Concorde flights cost a little more than subsonic airliner first class tickets and yet made money for the British Overseas Airways Corporation and its successor, British Airways.  For a variety of reasons Air France could not keep its Concorde operations in the black.  Both countries retired their aircraft in 2003 for a number of reasons, but the maintenance costs and issues with a 30-year-old airframe had much to do with it.  The huge Franco-British effort to design and build the Concorde proved that international efforts in aerospace design and manufacture could be quite successful and pointed the way towards a more commercially viable effort that became Airbus Industries.

The Soviet Union also developed a supersonic air transport in the 1960s, beginning their design effort shortly after that with the Concorde began.  The Tupolev Tu-144 bore a similarity to the Franco-British design, but had none of the Concorde’s luck.  To judge from the McNamara documents, the threat of a Soviet SST did not play a role in the development of the American program.  First flown in 1968 (only weeks before Concorde’s first flight) to promote a political agenda touting Soviet technical superiority, the Soviet SST had a very public crash at the Paris Air Show in 1973, and a second, improved model crashed in 1978.  As a result, the Tu-144 flew only 55 flights as a passenger aircraft, although it did fly a slightly small number of flights as a freighter.  The Tu-144 was an inferior SST,  having a much shorter range than the Concorde as well as having a significantly higher landing approach speed and component reliability issues.  Political factors overruled common sense safety considerations as authorities ordered passenger flights continued despite all of the reliability problems in order to give the impression of the Soviet Union possessing a regularly scheduled supersonic air route.   All of these factors led to the construction of only 16 examples, although many more were planned.  By 1983, the Tu-144 no longer flew in commercial service.

NASA continued to fund research into supersonic transports with a variety of aerospace firms through the 1970s, although it was clear that no manufacture of an American SST was ever intended at the time.  In more recent years interest in a second generation American SST led to the ironic situation of NASA leasing one of the Russian Tu-144 survivors for a series of tests supporting the new SST research project.  Although that 1990s effort did not result in a viable research and development program, commercial interest in both supersonic business jets and passenger airliners continues to this day.  Today there is even a private company called Boom Technologies that is looking to develop its own supersonic transport–pending the gathering of good data for (you guessed it…) predicting sonic booms.  For now the only tangible reminders of the fleeting American SST program are the remains of the Boeing 2707 mockup at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington, and the Seattle Supersonics professional basketball team, founded in 1967, back when Boeing’s winning design was considered a great American aerospace achievement.

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New Entries Released by the National Declassification Center

The NDC has released a listing of 94 entries that have completed declassification processing between January 3 and May 26, 2017, and are now available for researcher request. This release consists of records from both military and civilian agencies.

Highlights include:

  • Department of State, Records Relating to Cuba,
  • Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State, Indonesia, U.S. Embassy, Djakarta: Classified Files of Ambassador Francis J. Galbraith,
  • Joint Chiefs Of Staff, Office Of The Secretariat, Central Files,
  • Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Records Regarding the Monthly Summary of Naval Forces in Vietnam,
  • Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Naval History and Heritage Command, Submarine War Patrol Reports, 1946 – 1963,
  • Office of the Secretary of Defense, Subject and Decimal Files, and
  • Army Staff, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (Intelligence), Secret Project Decimal Files

Requests to access the newly released records or to order copies should be directed to Archives 2 Reference at 301-837-3510 or archives2reference@nara.gov. Please note that some series may contain other restrictions such as privacy or law enforcement and may require screening or a FOIA request prior to access.

(When making a request, please cite the HMS Entry and Series Title.)

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Joseph B. Kennedy and the Jet Speed Air Cushion Rail System

In the NDC’s last blog entry, readers discovered from the records of the United States Embassy Djakarta, how an embassy goes about its mission to protect American citizens living in a foreign country during times of trouble.  This entry will look at a different mission, one that tried to protect America’s overseas interests from….Americans.

Meet Joseph B. Kennedy

This story unfolds in the embassy’s 1967 files beginning with Djakarta’s Airgram A-404 dated March 3, 1967 from Ambassador Marshall Green and addressed to the Department of State.  Mr. Kennedy was introduced as president of International Sales and Services Unlimited Enterprises Ltd. (ISSUE).  ISSUE’s wide-ranging portfolio involved potential projects in exploitation and marketing of asphalt on Buton Island, exploitation of sulphur deposits on Java, food processing (a proposed process to create artificial rice from rice bran, sago, corn cobs, banana peel, and flour with other ingredients), marketing of rubber and other products of over 100 small estates in West Java, production of milk powder, fishing, forestry and road construction in Sulawesi, irrigation and flood control projects, and, finally, tourist facilities.  While ISSUE held no specific contracts for any of these projects, the company had understandings with the Indonesian government that ISSUE would have the first opportunity to initiate these projects.  A curious Ambassador queried the Department in A-404 whether the enterprise had the financial wherewithal to pull off any of the listed projects and whether the artificial rice process was viable.

The Department’s answer arrived more than a month later in its Airgram CA-8118 dated April 20.  In that response, the Department advised the Embassy that ISSUE was not an incorporated company in the state of California as had been stated.   Further investigation revealed that ISSUE did not have the financial resources required for any projects and that Kennedy’s background was in psychology–specifically in the field of marriage counseling.  The Airgram confirmed that ISSUE was involved in four Indonesian projects: an asphalt plant on Buton Island; the completion of the partly constructed 28-story Wisma Nusantara Building; an unspecified light industry project; and the P.T. Isma Company, a joint venture that would produce, process, and can beef, fruit, etc.  The Department also confirmed that the artificial rice concept was feasible and being done with other products.  The Department also requested that the Embassy would like to be kept informed as to the progress of ISSUE’s various ventures.

That there was trouble afoot with ISSUE became apparent in a letter dated April 20 from Francis Underhill, the Country Director for Indonesian Affairs back at Main State in Washington DC to the Embassy’s  Counselor for Economic Affairs, Paul McCusker.  Associates of Mr. Kennedy, Dr. Wayne Mann, the inventor of a high speed cushion rail transportation concept, and a Dr. Morris approached Underhill to discuss ISSUE’s financial difficulties.  The two visitors explained that ISSUE’s financial backers did not live up to their commitments, leaving ISSUE’s  Indonesian projects at risk of failing.  Mann and Morris claimed that Indonesia leader General Suharto approved the ISSUE projects, and with their failure, Suharto’s reputation would be in jeopardy.  Could the United States government help ISSUE financially? Underhill evidently had a busy day with the ISSUE representatives who did not understand that the US Government did not make investments with private companies for overseas adventures.  Underhill goes on to describe the situation as an international “Guys and Dolls” theatrical production with dire consequences for U.S. businesses wishing to work with the Indonesian government in the future if ISSUE’s poor project management were to be seen as an example of American business savvy.

As the summer of 1967 unfolded,  Joseph Kennedy shifted his Indonesian efforts to a new entity known as the Indonesian Development Company (IDC).  Key to Kennedy’s plans was the addition of a better-known associate, former California governor Edmund Brown, fresh off his defeat in the 1966 California gubernatorial election by Ronald Reagan .  Initially Kennedy claimed that he retained Governor Brown’s law firm as legal representation for ISSUE.  Djakarta’s Telegram 3087 of June 30, 1967 requested that the Department “…discreetly sound out Governor his awareness operations and background Joseph B. Kennedy.”  The telegram goes on to say:  “However sincere his intentions, Kennedy has consistently exaggerated his so far non-existent business accomplishments, has generated unfavorable local press comments, and has tarnished the American business image among leading Indonesians.”

The Kennedy Plan

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The pamphlet found in the Embassy folder on Kennedy was certainly an impressive read.  The publication’s opening lines reached out to grab the reader:

“A nation in transition attracts the problem solving mind.  Mr.  Joseph B. Kennedy, a man with such a mentality, an American citizen, a man with a purpose armed with the faith of a crusader has come forth with a system of endeavor, which, if effected, could profoundly influence the economic life of Indonesia.”

The pamphlet outlined six elements to Kennedy’s Plan: (capital letters in the original)

1.  The Indonesian Development Corporation–“This program is the heart of the Kennedy proposal.  It channels development so that the resources of the country are developed for the use and benefit of both the developer and the country.”

2. Consolidation of the Republic–“If the Republic is to be a truly consolidated nation, a single rapid transportation system and a highly refined communications complex are primary needs.”

3.  Bringing Tourists to Indonesia–“THE SEVEN MARVELS OF THE WORLD as a counterpart of the old “Seven Wonders of the World” with one of the new MARVELS located in Indonesia could be planned so when the new aircraft flying at speeds of 2000 mph carrying 500 passengers started operating, Indonesia would be in a position to benefit.”

4.  Bringing World Leaders to Indonesia–“This idea would entail having an organization of an international scope where SEVEN WORLD CONVENTION CENTERS would be established, the first one being located in Indonesia.  The leading companies of the world would sign up for 7 year contracts agreeing to hold their conventions AROUND THE WORLD.  Such a plan would bring INTERNATIONAL EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP to Indonesia on a continual basis where OPPORTUNITY BULLETINS could be published for wealthy visitors.’

5.  Natural Resources and Financing–“The INDONESIAN DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION shall see that the national reserves of resources of the nation be proven, and with the information plus operating facilities, the reserves can then be used as collateral for obtaining necessary funds for use by the government.”

6. Developing Harbor and Minerals–“A new unit, THE HELIDREDGE can be disassembled and flown to remote areas.  Having a capacity  of 100 yards per hour and costing much less than other dredges, it can be utilized for harbor work and in placer mining or irrigation projects.”

The pamphlet contained facsimiles of official documents complete with stamps and signatures of Indonesian Army Lieutenant General Hartono as well as Kennedy and Mann.  In addition to the paragraphs praising Kennedy and his ideas and the official documents, there was a two-page description of a concept called the Jet Speed Cushion Rail Trans-Water Transportation System, the patented invention of Dr. Mann.  There were few technical details given about this system. The impression one gets in reading about the concept is that this is was a hovercraft that could also ride on rails at speeds approaching contemporary jet airliners.  That the system was a key component of the Kennedy Plan is indicated by the presence of a small art work depicting the cushion rail vehicle on the cover of the pamphlet as well as an implied route map traced on an outline of the Indonesian archipelago.

Downfall

By September, Ambassador Green was meeting with visiting potential investors in the IDC actively discouraging them from pursuing any venture with Joseph Kennedy.  A September 13 memorandum for the files, written by Embassy Economic Counselor Joseph Harary, detailed a meeting between the Ambassador and several men led by Mr. R. D. Alexander of Santa Barbara, California.  The hour-long meeting detailed the current situation in Indonesia politically, economically, and sociologically before moving to the specifics of Mr. Kennedy’s projects. By the end of that hour, Mr. Alexander and his associates promised to steer well clear of ISSUE, IDC, and Kennedy.

Joseph Kennedy’s downfall proceeded very quickly after the Alexander meeting.  Djakarta’s Airgram A-147 of September 15 summarized Kennedy’s troubles.  While he had moved his family permanently to Djakarta to better coordinate his business deals, Kennedy was not able to demonstrate progress on the two surviving projects for which he had been given responsibility by the Indonesian government–the Buton Island asphalt works and the Wisma Nusantara high rise building project.  Governor Brown, having been warned about Kennedy’s activities and reputation, wisely steered clear of meeting the man during a state-sponsored trip to Djakarta in July, thus depriving IDC of credibility and furthering the downfall of Mr. Kennedy’s reputation.  Djakarta Airgram A-218 of October 11 pretty much sounded the death knell for ISSUE, IDC, and Kennedy’s aspirations.  In this document the Embassy’s Deputy in Charge of Mission (DCM) Lydman informed the Department that a local Indonesian newspaper published an announcement that the Indonesian Presidium circulated a letter that called on all Ministers, and heads of institutes and agencies, not to conclude any agreements with ISSUE.  This news was officially confirmed by the DCM when approached by the Mohamad Sadli, Chairman of the Foreign Investment Technical Committee.  However, the Indonesian government did not want to declare Kennedy persona non grata, hoping that the disgraced entrepreneur would take the hint and leave the country on his own.

The final mention of Kennedy in the Embassy’s 1967 files was in the Department’s Airgram  CA-3110 on October 24th to Djakarta.  The Airgram clarified IDC’s now legal California corporate status, which was verified.  However, the corporation did not have permission to issue stock.  One of IDC’s officers, one Richard Niles, the Executive Vice President, opened the IDC’s office in the World Trade Center in San Francisco.  The Airgram also mentioned that Niles was the only IDC officer known to be active in the San Francisco area.  He requested that the office be listed at the WTC as the Institute of Human Dynamics, but the WTC rejected Niles’ request as the organization name was not related to international trade.  It is at this point the that the documentary trail on Mr. Kennedy ends in the Embassy files in 1967.

The IDC situation played itself out over a span of only eight months.  As is readily seen from the existing State Department documentation, ISSUE, IDC, and Mr. Kennedy were out to get money from any possible source–private investors, the Indonesian government, and the US government–to fund projects that were quite fantastic and unrealistic in scope, while failing to succeed in near term projects that should have been much easier to complete.  Due diligence on the part of the Djakarta Embassy and the State Department ensured that potential American investors, such as Governor Brown and Mr. Alexander, steered clear of any entanglements with Kennedy, thus limiting the damage to the reputation of American business ventures in Indonesia.

 

 

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