Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Gary Francis Powers

I followed instructions and will follow instructions again. On May 1, 1960, an American U-2 high altitude reconnaissance aircraft was shot down over central Russia, forcing its pilot, Francis Gary Powers, to bail out at 15,000 feet. The CIA-employed pilot survived the parachute jump from his crippled aircraft, but was picked up by the Soviet authorities, who immediately arrested him. On May 5, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev announced the capture of the American spy, and vowed that he would be put on trial. After initial denials, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower admitted on May 7 that the unarmed reconnaissance aircraft was indeed on a spy mission. In response, Khrushchev cancelled a long-awaited summit meeting in Paris, and in August, Powers was sentenced to ten years in a Soviet prison for his confessed espionage. However, a year-and-a-half later, on February 10, 1962, the Soviets released him in exchange for Rudolph Abel, a Soviet spy caught and convicted in the United States five years earlier. Upon returning to the U.S., the CIA and the Senate cleared Powers of any personal blame for the incident. On March 8, 1962, he spoke with the press for the first time.


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