(U.S. Air Force/Wikimedia Commons)
The C.I.A. In The ’60s
From its creation in 1947 to 1959, the C.I.A. was a well-oiled foreign intelligence machine, but in 1960s, Dulles led the agency through a series of mistakes that put the group in the crosshairs of the media and the public. At the time, their biggest win was getting a copy of Nikita Khrushchev’s secret speech that denounced Stalin and passing it along to the New York Times to “de-Stalinize” the Soviet Union. However, that was just the preamble to one of their most major missteps.
On May 1, 1960, the Soviets took down a C.I.A. U-2 near the city of Sverdlovsk in interior Russia, bringing an end to the agency’s unblemished record of slipping seamlessly in and out of foreign countries. The loss of a U-2 forced Kennedy to call off rocket flights for 45 days, leading to a “photo gap” in the Soviet Union and the Soviet-friendly Cuba. Obviously, there were already major problems between the United States and the Soviet Union, but having America’s spy organization front and center in the news was the last thing that the agency wanted.
As much as this was a huge failure that reverberated catastrophically throughout the next few decades, the C.I.A. has carried on with their original mission statement: “collecting intelligence that matters.”