Posts Tagged ‘V-1 Rocket

13
Jun
09

On This Day, June 13: The Pentagon Papers

June 13, 1971

“Pentagon Papers” damage credibility of Cold War policy

The New York Times begins to publish sections of the so-called “Pentagon Papers,” a top-secret Department of Defense study of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. The papers indicated that the American government had been lying to the people for years about the Vietnam War and the papers seriously damaged the credibility of America’s Cold War foreign policy.

In 1967, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered his department to prepare an in-depth history of American involvement in the Vietnam War. McNamara had already begun to harbor serious doubts about U.S. policy in Vietnam, and the study–which came to be known as the “Pentagon Papers”–substantiated his misgivings. Top-secret memorandums, reports, and papers indicated that the U.S. government had systematically lied to the American people, deceiving them about American goals and progress in the war in Vietnam. The devastating multi-volume study remained locked away in a Pentagon safe for years. In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg, a Defense Department employee who had turned completely against the war, began to smuggle portions of the papers out of the Pentagon. These papers made their way to the New York Times, and on June 13, 1971, the American public read them in stunned amazement. The publication of the papers added further fuel to the already powerful antiwar movement and drove the administration of President Richard Nixon into a frenzy of paranoia about information “leaks.” Nixon attempted to stop further publication of the papers, but the Supreme Court refused to issue an injunction.

The “Pentagon Papers” further eroded the American public’s confidence in their nation’s Cold War foreign policy. The brutal, costly, and seemingly endless Vietnam War had already damaged the government’s credibility, and the publication of the “Pentagon Papers” showed people the true extent to which the government had manipulated and lied to them. Some of the most dramatic examples were documents indicating that the Kennedy administration had openly encouraged and participated in the overthrow of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963; that the CIA believed that the “domino theory” did not actually apply to Asia; and that the heavy American bombing of North Vietnam, contrary to U.S. government pronouncements about its success, was having absolutely no impact on the communists’ will to continue the fight.

“”Pentagon Papers” damage credibility of Cold War policy,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2697 [accessed Jun 13, 2009]

 

On This Day

1777 – The Marquis de Lafayette arrived in the American colonies to help with their rebellion against the British.

1866 – The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed by the U.S. Congress. It was ratified on July 9, 1868. The amendment was designed to grant citizenship to and protect the civil liberties of recently freed slaves. It did this by prohibiting states from denying or abridging the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States, depriving any person of his life, liberty, or property without due process of law, or denying to any person within their jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

1888 – The U.S. Congress created the Department of Labor.

1898 – The Canadian Yukon Territory was organized.

1912 – Captain Albert Berry made the first successful parachute jump from an airplane in Jefferson, Mississippi.

1920 – The U.S. Post Office Department ruled that children may not be sent by parcel post.

1944 – Germany launched 10 of its new V1 rockets against Britain from a position near the Channel coast. Of the 10 rockets only 5 landed in Britain and only one managed to kill (6 people in London).

1966 – The landmark “Miranda vs. Arizona” decision was issued by the U.S. Supreme Court. The decision ruled that criminal suspects had to be informed of their constitutional rights before being questioned by police.

1983 – The unmanned U.S. space probe Pioneer 10 became the first spacecraft to leave the solar system. It was launched in March 1972. The first up-close images of the planet Jupiter were provided by Pioneer 10.

1989 – U.S. President George Bush exercised his first Presidential veto on a bill dealing with minimum wage.

2000 – In Pyongyang, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Il welcomed South Korea’s President Kim Dae for a three-day summit. It was the first such meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea.

June 13, 1807

Thomas Jefferson subpoenaed in Aaron Burr’s treason trial

President Thomas Jefferson receives a subpoena to testify in the treason trial of his former vice president, Aaron Burr, on this day in 1807. In the subpoena, Burr asked Jefferson to produce documents that might exonerate him.

Burr had already been politically and socially disgraced by killing former Treasury secretary and Revolutionary-era hero Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804. After killing Hamilton, Burr, still Jefferson’s vice president, went into hiding to avoid prosecution for murder. (The charges were later dropped.) Burr then concocted a seditious plan to enlist the help of Britain and Spain to create a separate nation in the southwestern reaches of the American continent, including parts of Mexico, over which Burr would rule. The outrageous plan failed miserably when one of Burr’s co-conspirators, General James Wilkinson, betrayed Burr and alerted Jefferson to the plot. Burr was hunted down and arrested in 1806 and indicted for treason.

Jefferson expressed in his personal papers that he felt no love or loyalty to Burr despite their former political relationship. Burr had run a close and contentious election against the republican Jefferson in the 1800 campaign. After the election resulted in a tie, the vote went to the House of Representatives. Only after Alexander Hamilton reluctantly lobbied for Jefferson did the House select Jefferson for the presidency instead of Burr. This was only one of the many grievances Burr held against Hamilton that led to the fatal duel.

Jefferson refused to appear in Burr’s defense and released only a few of the documents Burr had requested, invoking his presidential right to protect the public interest. If Jefferson’s intent was to help get Burr convicted, his refusal to supply documentation backfired. In the end, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall found Burr not guilty by lack of evidence.

“Thomas Jefferson subpoenaed in Aaron Burr’s treason trial,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=656 [accessed Jun 13, 2009]

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16
Nov
08

On This Day, 11-16-2008: From Peenemeunde

November 16, 1945

German scientists brought to United States to work on rocket technology

In a move that stirs up some controversy, the United States ships 88 German scientists to America to assist the nation in its production of rocket technology. Most of these men had served under the Nazi regime and critics in the United States questioned the morality of placing them in the service of America. Nevertheless, the U.S. government, desperate to acquire the scientific know-how that had produced the terrifying and destructive V-1 and V-2 rockets for Germany during WWII, and fearful that the Russians were also utilizing captured German scientists for the same end, welcomed the men with open arms.

Realizing that the importation of scientists who had so recently worked for the Nazi regime so hated by Americans was a delicate public relations situation, the U.S. military cloaked the operation in secrecy. In announcing the plan, a military spokesman merely indicated that some German scientists who had worked on rocket development had “volunteered” to come to the United States and work for a “very moderate salary.” The voluntary nature of the scheme was somewhat undercut by the admission that the scientists were in “protective custody.” Upon their arrival in the United States on November 16, newsmen and photographers were not allowed to interview or photograph the newcomers. A few days later, a source in Sweden claimed that the scientists were members of the Nazi team at Peenemeunde where the V-weapons had been produced. The U.S. government continued to remain somewhat vague about the situation, stating only that “certain outstanding German scientists and technicians” were being imported in order to “take full advantage of these significant developments, which are deemed vital to our national security.”

The situation pointed out one of the many ironies connected with the Cold War. The United States and the Soviet Union, once allies against Germany and the Nazi regime during World War II, were now in a fierce contest to acquire the best and brightest scientists who had helped arm the German forces in order to construct weapons systems to threaten each other.

“German scientists brought to United States to work on rocket technology.” 2008. The History Channel website. 16 Nov 2008, 11:27 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2486.

V-1

A copy of a German V-1 Rocket, which can be found at the US Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio.

On This Day

1776 – British troops captured Fort Washington during the American Revolution.

1864 – Union Gen. William T. Sherman and his troops began their “March to the Sea” during the U.S. Civil War.

1907 – Oklahoma was admitted as the 46th state.

1933 – The United States and the Soviet Union established diplomatic relations for the first time.

1952 – In the Peanuts comic strip, Lucy first held a football for Charlie Brown.

1969 – The U.S. Army announced that several had been charged with massacre and the subsequent cover-up in the My Lai massacre in Vietnam on March 16, 1968.

1973 – Skylab 3 carrying a crew of three astronauts, was launched from Cape Canaveral, FL, on an 84-day mission.

1973 – U.S. President Nixon signed the Alaska Pipeline measure into law.

1998 – In Burlington, Wisconsin, five high school students, aged 15 to 16, were arrested in an alleged plot to kill a carefully selected group of teachers and students.

1998 – The U.S. Supreme Court said that union members could file discrimination lawsuits against employers even when labor contracts require arbitration.

2004 – A NASA unmanned “scramjet” (X-43A) reached a speed of nearly 10 times the speed of sound above the Pacific Ocean.

November 16, 1961

Kennedy decides to increase military aid to Saigon

President John F. Kennedy decides to increase military aid to South Vietnam without committing U.S. combat troops.

Kennedy was concerned at the advances being made by the communist Viet Cong, but did not want to become involved in a land war in Vietnam. He hoped that the military aid would be sufficient to strengthen the Saigon government and its armed forces against the Viet Cong. Ultimately it was not, and Kennedy ended up sending additional support in the form of U.S. military advisors and American helicopter units. By the time of his assassination in 1963, there were 16,000 U.S. soldiers in South Vietnam.

“Kennedy decides to increase military aid to Saigon.” 2008. The History Channel website. 16 Nov 2008, 11:45 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=1489.

November 16, 1970

Ky defends South Vietnamese operations in Cambodia

South Vietnamese Vice President Nguyen Cao Ky, speaking at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, says Cambodia would be overrun by communist forces “within 24 hours” if South Vietnamese troops currently operating there are withdrawn.

Ky described the Cambodian operation of the previous spring (the so-called “Cambodian Incursion,” in which President Nixon had sent U.S. and South Vietnamese soldiers into Cambodia to destroy North Vietnamese base camps) as the “turning point” of the war. He said that as a result of that operation, the enemy had been forced to revert to low-level guerrilla warfare. Ky also reported that his government was concerned that the Nixon administration might be yielding to the “pressure of the antiwar groups” and pulling out the remaining U.S. troops too quickly.

“Ky defends South Vietnamese operations in Cambodia.” 2008. The History Channel website. 16 Nov 2008, 11:45 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=1488.

On This Day in Wisconsin

November 16, 1957

Ed Gein kills final victim Bernice Worden

Infamous killer Edward Gein murders his last victim, Bernice Worden of Plainfield, Wisconsin. His grave robbing, necrophilia, and cannibalism gained national attention, and may have provided  inspiration for the characters of Norman Bates in Psycho and serial killer Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs.

Gein was a quiet farmer who lived in rural Wisconsin with an extremely domineering mother. After she died in 1945, he began studying anatomy, and started stealing women’s corpses from local cemeteries. In 1954, Gein shot and killed saloonkeeper Mary Hogan, piled the body onto a sled, and dragged it home.

On November 16, Gein robbed Worden at the local hardware store she owned and killed her. Her son, a deputy, discovered his mother’s body and became suspicious of Gein, who was believed to be somewhat odd. When authorities searched Gein’s farmhouse, they found an unimaginably grisly scene: organs were in the refrigerator, a heart sat on the stove, and heads had been made into soup bowls. Apparently, Gein had kept various organs from his grave digging and murders as keepsakes and for decoration. He had also used human skin to upholster chairs.

Though it is believed that he killed others during this time, Gein only admitted to the murders of Worden and Hogan. In 1958, Gein was declared insane and sent to the Wisconsin State Hospital in Mendota*, where he remained until his death in 1984.

“Ed Gein kills final victim Bernice Worden.” 2008. The History Channel website. 16 Nov 2008, 11:49 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=1190.

*This is somewhat inaccurate.  Gein was initially incarcerated at Central State Hospital in Waupun, Wisconsin until it was converted into a prison and then Gein was transferred to Mendota.  http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Ed_Gein




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