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The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology

Richelson, Jeffrey T.

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ISBN 10: 0813366992 / ISBN 13: 9780813366999
Published by Westview Press, Cambridge, MA, 2001
Condition: very good, very good
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386, illus., notes, sources, appendices, index, slight wear to DJ edges. This study of the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology introduces us to key personalities who helped share the directorate: Edwin Land of Polaroid, Albert Wheelon, Carl Duckett, and others who operated secretly within the directorate such as Antonio Mendez, whose "technical service" skills helped six Americans escape Iran after the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in 1979. Presents intriguing details--many never before published--of the directorate's programs and activities. Bookseller Inventory # 55328

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA's ...

Publisher: Westview Press, Cambridge, MA

Publication Date: 2001

Book Condition: very good, very good

Edition: First Printing.

About this title


In 1956, the CIA dramatically breached the Iron Curtain when its U-2 began overflying Soviet territory to photograph that nation's military installations. Four years later, the Soviets would shoot down pilot Francis Gary Powers and his U-2, thereby ceasing these missions. Within months, however, the CIA had another, and better, technical program in operation - the CORONA satellite. Throughout the Cold War and beyond, the CIA's scientific wizards would continue to devise high-tech ways to collect and analyze information about potential adversaries. Their mission was of such importance that a new branch of the CIA was created - the Directorate of Science and Technology. In this first full-length study of the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology, author Jeffrey Richelson introduces us to key personalities who helped shape the directorate: Edwin Land of Polaroid, Albert Wheelon, Carl Duckett, and others who operated secretly within the directorate such as Antonio Mendez, whose technical service” skills helped six Americans escape Iran after the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in 1979.Richelson presents intriguing details - many never before published - of the directorate's programs and activities. For example, the CIA's wizards: Designed, developed, and operated a series of high-tech imagery and eavesdropping satellites and aircraft, including the KH-11 and RHYOLITE, which revolutionized U.S. intelligence capabilities Established ground stations in Iran, Norway, and China to monitor missile testing as well as manning embassy listening posts around the world Employed technical intelligence analysts and photographic interpreters to unravel the secrets of foreign missile and space programs and monitor developments, including Chernobyl and the Gulf War, across the globe Devised a vast assortment of equipment to support clandestine operations-from collecting intelligence to assisting the escape of Americans hiding in Iran to helping Delta Force apprehend an ally of Somali warlord Mohammed Farah Aideed Developed a key component of heart pacemaker technology and other scientific advances, which have medical or other purposes Attempted to employ psychics to uncover foreign military secrets Employed birds (and unmanned aerial vehicles that appeared to be birds) and cats as intelligence collection platforms The Wizards of Langley walks us down the corridors of Langley through the four decades of science and bureaucratic warfare, in which lives and careers were risked, that produced the CIA we have today. Based on original interviews and extensive archive research, Jeffrey Richelson sheds a piercing lamp on many of the Agency's least understood activities.


For many, the CIA conjures up a shadowy world of spies, international intrigue, and secret corridors of power. While this image may be partially accurate, the primary function of the agency is less romantic: the collection and analysis of information. To this end, the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology is indispensable. As the group responsible for creating the tools that allow the spymasters to do their jobs, the DS&T has been "a key element in the history of both the CIA and the entire intelligence community," writes Jeffrey Richelson, a specialist on American intelligence operations. In The Wizards of Langley, he traces the directorate from its inception in 1947 to the present, analyzing each aspect of its activities and responsibilities in exhaustive detail, along with the infighting and political wrangling that have accompanied its growth.

As Richelson points out, there were some missteps, such as administering LSD to scientists without their knowledge (one committed suicide as a result), employing cats as bugging devices, and the use of psychics, but overall the DS&T has made "an enormous contribution to U.S. intelligence capabilities and national security." Notably, the directorate has developed the U-2 spy plane and some of the U.S.'s most important surveillance satellites, and has been a pioneer in photointerpretation, the collection of signals intelligence, and foreign missile and space programs analysis. Some innovations have even had significant effects beyond the intelligence community, such as lithium batteries for pacemakers and methods for the detection of breast cancer. The book also offers a wealth of anecdotes, giving readers a rare look at top-secret operations and spy games of the cold war. Though the sheer amount of detail sometimes bogs down the narrative, this is a gold mine for those interested in the largely unsung heroes who have enabled the CIA to work so effectively. --Shawn Carkonen

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