Corrections to the blogosphere, the consensus, and the world

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Our Man in Havana was a documentary

Reading Neil Sheehan's A Fiery Peace in a Cold War - a history of the US nuclear missile program.

One interesting snippet. One officer in the program -
"After the budget for his rocket engine program was originally decimated in mid-1950 by the more immediate needs of the Korean War, Hall decided to fake an intelligence report of a monstrous Soviet rocket engine to frighten the Air Force into leaving his money alone. He would provide a design drawn in what was known of Russian style of an engine rated at one hundred metric tons of thrust. His friend was then to slip it in to intelligence channels as a genuine report picked up in the Soviet Union.  A drawing of Hall's bogus Soviet whopper engine was duly submitted.
Later, a senior colonel entered his office and castigated him for failing to press hard enough to retain my program for large rocket development. The program was saved!"

The thing being that Sheehan sees nothing wrong with that - indeed, he sees it as a feather in Hall's cap, a clever ruse.  At a time, mind you, when there were live suggestions around the American military to bomb Russia before they could develop a missile program, suggestions that this fake would strengthen.

When Wormold submitted the plans of a Soviet missile base in Cuba - was it really that foreseeing? anyway, it looked, as I recollect, very much like a vacuum cleaner - the ready acceptance by London was probably because it supported the views of one faction in the British Blue Streak program.

"At one point, he decides to make his reports "exciting" and sends to London sketches of vacuum cleaner parts, telling them that those are sketches of a secret military installation in the mountains. In London nobody except Hawthorne, who alone knows Wormold sells vacuum cleaners, doubts this report. But Hawthorne does not report his doubts for fear of losing his job. In the light of the new developments, London sends Wormold a secretary, Beatrice Severn, and a radio assistant codenamed "C" with much spy paraphernalia."

The Guinness movie is difficult to find on DVD - oh, no, there it is.  Add to cart.


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