5. KAL 007 AND 269 INNOCENT PAWNS IN US-USSR SPY
On September 1, 1983, a Soviet jet shot down Korean Air Lines flight
007, killing 269 men, women, and children, including 61 Americans.
The two superpowers reacted as expected. The Soviet Union first denied
and then grudgingly admitted it had shot the airliner down. President
Ronald Reagan responded with righteous indignation saying the brutal
event was "an act of barbarism, born of a society that wantonly
disregards individual rights and the value of human life." He apparently
forgot that Israel committed a similar act ten years earlier.
While the U.S. press provided massive coverage to Russia's foolish
denials, the U.S. outrage, and the unsuccessful search for survivors,
it suddenly dropped the story when the search for the "black box"
was abandoned. This also was when serious questions concerning U.S.
responsibility in the disaster were being raised.
It is now known that U.S. intelligence had an overriding interest in
Soviet military activities in the area overflown by the Korean airliner.
Ernest Volkman, national security editor for Defense Science Magazine,
reported that Korean Air Lines planes regularly overfly Soviet airspace
to gather military intelligence. A U.S. official, with close ties to
military intelligence, said that some foreign government-owned airliners
are fitted in this country with cameras and other devices for intelligence
collection. Two former Air Force communications intelligence specialists,
charged that the U.S. government could have interceded in the attack
on the Korean jet.
Despite administrative denials of any culpability in the tragedy, it
seems that the American people did not "buy" the official
version. A New York Times/CBS News poll at the time revealed that nearly
two thirds of the respondents believed the government was "holding
back information that people ought to know."
It is tragic enough that 269 innocent people became pawns in a superpower
spy game; it is inexcusable that our own government professes righteous
indignation while covering up facts which seem to indicate we were not
so innocent ourselves.
San Francisco EXAMINER, 9/4/83, "Aviation experts don't rule out
possibility KAL jet was spying," by Knut Royce; Denver POST, 9/13/83,
"U.S. spy plane capable of interceding in attack on Korean jet,"
by Tom Bernard and T. Edward Eskelson; Chicago TRIBUNE, 9/20/83, "Public
isn't buying government's line, by Bob Greene; THE PROGRESSIVE, October
1983, "Collision Course;" THE GUARDIAN of London, 12/17/83,
"KAL 007: Unanswered Questions. ," by R. W. Johnson, reprinted
in WORLD PRESS REVIEW, March 1984.