1998 (2) Winter

An Intelligence Success Story: The U-2 Program—The DCI's Perspective

By George J. Tenet


Editor’s Note: On 17 September 1998, CIA’s Center for the Study of Intelligence (CSI) held a public symposium at the National Defense University, Fort McNair, Washington, DC. Among the other co-sponsors of this event–entitled “The U-2: A Revolution in Intelligence”–were the Department of Defense, the National Reconnaissance Office, and several US corporations that have been involved in the U-2 program–Lockheed Martin, Eastman Kodak, and Raytheon. The symposium, attended by hundreds of people, had two purposes: (1) to examine the development, operations, and policy impact of the legendary U-2 (Utility-2) reconnaissance aircraft, one of America’s most remarkable intelligence achievements, and (2) to honor and commemorate the men and women who participated in this pioneering program–often at great personal risk–either in its early years (the 1950s) or more recently. Participants in the panel discussions at the symposium included pilots and engineers who took part in the U-2 program at its inception, as well as historians, corporation leaders, government policymakers, and authors.

In the first two articles of this edition of Studies in Intelligence, we present American and Soviet/Russian perspectives on the U-2 program from two participants in the symposium. The first article consists of introductory remarks made by the Director of Central Intelligence, George J. Tenet, at the gathering. The second article discusses the U-2 as seen through the eyes of the sole Russian panelist, retired Colonel Alexander Orlov, who was a senior participant in the former USSR’s efforts to counter this formidable intelligence collection program.

To see the complete documentary collection (272 pages) go to The CIA and the U-2 Program, 1954-1974.

Download PDF of conference report to continue reading (7 pages)