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December 22, 2016
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December 7, 2011
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April 21, 1985
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STAT 3 Declassified in Part - Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2011/12/07: CIA-RDP90-00965R000706630015-7 K' 21 April, 1985 PAi! BOOK SECTION Theories and Conspiracy ones BLACK BOX !CAL 007 and the Superpowers. By Alexander Dallin. 130 pp. Berkeley: . University of California Press. $14.95. KAL FUGHT 007 The Hidden Story. By Oliver Clubb. 174 pp. Sag Harbor, N.Y.: The Permanent Press. $16.95. By Philip Taubman MORE than 18 months after Korean Air Lines flight 007 was shot down by a Soviet jet fighter and vanished into the Sea of Okhotsk, killing all 269 passengers and crew mem- bers, the plane's passage over Soviet territory remains one of the most puzzling and provocative mysteries in aviation historyDid the plane stray over the Kam- chatka Peninsula and Sakhalin island as-it headed from Anchorage to Seoul because of mechanical problems or pilot error? Was the flight path, which took the plane hundreds of miles north and west of normal interna- tional air traffic lanes, an. intentional deviation : de- signed to save fuel or time? Or was the plane on a spying mission for a South Korean or American intelli- gence agency? There are also questions about the response of the United States and the Soviet Union when the plane drifted off course. Did Soviet air defense authorities knowingly order the destruction of a-commercial airlin- er? Or did they, as.Moscow later asserted, think the Ko- rean jumbo jet was an American surveillance Plane? Assuming the United States did not send the South Ko- rean plane on an intelligence-gathering mission. did American intelligence agencies nevertheless know that it was straying dangerously off course and that Soviet jets were in pursuit, but make no effort to alert the crew - or civilian aviation agencies? After the plane was downed on Sept. j, 1983, did the Reagan Administration distort and withhold information about the Soviet attack to gain political advantage from the incident? Because the Boeing 747's flight recorder, or black box, was never recovered, aviation experts were unable to reconstruct the final hours of flight 007. The recorder, a nearly indestructible device installed on airplanes to preserve flight data, probably would have revealed whether the navigation equipment malfunctioned or was improperly programmed by the crew. Tape record- ' ings of cockpit conversations might have shown whether the pilot knew he was off course. during such flights, would have shown the Kamchatka Philip Taubman is a Washington correspondent for , land mass passing below. The New York Times. Continued T HE lack of hard information has spawned many theories, some far-fetched, others plausible, most politically slanted, and all unsubstantiat- ed. There is the suggestion, for example, that the Russians electronically lured the plane off course and shot it down so they could kill one of the passengers, Congressman Larry P. McDonald, Democrat of Geor- gia, chairman of the John Birch Society. Another propo- sition is that the pilot of flight 007, a former Korean Air. Force officer, violated Russian airspace as a favor to American intelligence agencies that wanted to monitor the the reactions of the Soviet air defense system. assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the fate of flight 007 has been used by all sorts of groups and people' to prove preconceived points. Oliver Clubb, a professor of political science at Syracuse University, adds little to the discussion in "KAL Flight 007: The Hidden Story." He makes the case for a spying mission with great passion and impre- cision. Taking the most sinister view of the flight, one that cannot be sustained by the facts or even a reason- hbleddgl'ee'bf i yh[ci'snn; Wr. Clubb asserts that the Ko- rean plane was on a suicidal intelligence mission de- signed by a clique of right-wing officials to poison Amer- ican-Soviet relations. His book is a polemic, and not a very good one. In "Black Box: KAL 007 and the Superpowers," Alexander Dallin, a Soviet expert and professor of his- tory and political science at Stanford University, does an admirable job of assembling the available informa- tion and dispassionately examining the' theories. His is an important book on several counts. For one, Mr. Dal- lin, through careful, nonideological analysis of the known facts, reaches the disturbing conclusion that me- chanical or human error alone -almost surely did not cause the plane to stray. Even if the three inertial navi- gation systems aboard the plane had malfunctioned, the crew would have known they were off course from other flight data, including weather radar which, when placed in ground-mapping mode, a routine procedure Declassified in Part - Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2011/12/07: CIA-RDP90-00965R000706630015-7 Declassified in Part - Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2011/12/07: CIA-RDP90-00965R000706630015-7 Mr. Darin finds that none of the other proposed ex- planations fit. all the known facts. A calculated attempt by the crew to save fuel or time seems unrealistic be- cause the potential savings were limited. Hijacking, jamming by the Soviet Union, and crew incapacitation seem even less likely. The idea that the plane was on a mission to take photographs or record radar images of Soviet military bases appears senseless because sophis- ticated satellites can do the job. Yet Mr. Dallin cannot rule out the possibility that spying was involved, perhaps in an effort to stimulate the Soviet air defense system, short of having the plane shot down. Although he cannot identify what the exact motive or mission might have been, he concludes, "This possibility must not be ruled out simply because of the political embarrassment which its validation would oc- casion. In fact, it must be acknowledged that with the passage of time this argument, unlike all others, looms stronger than before." American officials have strenu- ously denied any involvement with KAL flight 007. Mr. Dallin moves from the particulars of the flight. to a look at the quality of crisis-management in Wash- ington and Moscow following the plane's destruction. He finds little to cheer about. "The crisis over the down- ing of KAL 007," he says, "thus served as a sort of politi- cal Rorschach test which made manifest each elite's propensities, and especially its fears and images of the adversary. Alas, the images on both sides were seri-'- ously wide of the mark. If the Soviet image of the United States was close to a caricature, the American.image of the Soviet Union - both among government spokesper- sons and in the media - revealed an amazing lack of knowledge, feel and understanding of the Soviet scene." Without excusing Soviet conduct, Mr. Dallin sug- gests that historical and cultural-conditioning may have guided each government's response. He says that the Soviet attack on the plane and the efforts to justify, it flowed out of the Soviet Union's historical insecurity and paranoia about its frontiers, hair-trigger.sensitivi- ties that have not been eased by American intelligence efforts to probe Soviet defenses in recent years. With an American RC-135 surveillance plane operating in the skies off the Kamchatka coast in the hours just before the Korean airliner passed over Soviet territory, flying at one point within 75 miles of the commercial, plane, Mr. Dallin concludes that the Russians, at least initial- ly, had good reason to question the identity and inten- tions of flight 007. . - . The author believes the American handling of the crisis, particularly the strong denunciations of Soviet behavior by President Reagan, reflected national as- sumptions about the Soviet Union, including a tendency to expect the worst from Moscow. There was little effort to understand what led the Soviets to act as they did. If anything, he says, the Administration ignored indica- tions that Soviet ground controllers and pilots never knew the plane was a commercial jet. If the reactions of the United States and the Soviet Union during the crisis over the KAL plane were any indication of the super- powers' understanding of each other, as Mr. Dallin clearly feels they were, then the affair offers little en- couragement for a substantive improvement in rela- tions despite a recent cooling of cold war rhetoric. 0 Declassified in Part - Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2011/12/07: CIA-RDP90-00965R000706630015-7