Commentary on NSAM #271 and NASA by Nathan Gant

Here are excerpts from JFK's speech to the UN, as published in Vital Speeches of the Day:

"...Finally, in a field where the United States and the Soviet Union have a special capacity -- in the field of space -- there is room for new cooperation, for further joint efforts in the regulation and exploration of space. I include among these possibilities a joint expedition to the moon."

"Space offers no problem of sovereignty; by resolution of this assembly, the members of the United Nations have forsworn any claims to territorial rights in outer space or on celestial bodies, and declared that international law and the United Nations Charter will apply."

"Why, therefore, should man's first flight to the moon be a matter of natural competion? Why should the United States and the Soviet Union, in preparing for such expeditions, become involved in immense duplications of research construction and expenditure? Surely we should explore whether the scientists and astronauts of our two countries -- indeed of all the world -- cannot work together in the conquest of space, sending some day in this decade to the moon, not the representatives of a single nations, but the representatives of all of our countries."

On Sept. 23, 1963, President Kennedy wrote a reply Rep. Al Thomas, who asked the President to clarify the national space effort to the moon(as stated in the Presidential Address to Congress on May 25, 1961) as opposed to an international effort he now had proposed before the UN on Sept. 20, 1963:

"...I am very state my position on the relation between our great current space effort and my proposal at the UN for increased cooperation with the Russians in this field..."

"As you know, my idea of cooperation in space is not new...our willingness to cooperate in a moon shot was an extension of a policy developed as long ago as 1958...[o]ur specific interest in cooperation with the Soviet Union...was indicated to me to Chairman Krushchev in Vienna in the middle of my letter to him of March 7, 1962, which was made public at the time...[s]o my statement at the UN is a direct development of a policy long held by the US Government."

"This great national effort and this steadily stated readiness to cooperate with others are not in conflict. They are mutually supporting elements of a single policy. We do not make our space effort with the narrow purpose of national aggrandizement...our readiness to cooperate with others enlarges the international meaning of our own peaceful American program in space."

But almost immediately after the UN speech, it was NASA which became uncooperative. There was serious foot-dragging within their upper ranks. For example, Dr. Robert C. Seamans(Associate NASA Administrator) had (privately) threatened to resign rather than cooperate in a joint US-USSR lunar flight. Moreover, a former head of NASA's moon flight program, Dr. B. Holmes, publically stated in an ABC television interview in Sept. 1963 that a Soviet-American mission to the moon would be, "a very costly, very inefficient, probably a very dangerous way to execute the program."

On the other hand, on Sept. 29, 1963, the Soviet responses to his speech were all quite favorable. See the NY Times article(included as file NYT1.TXT). Later on Oct. 25, 1963, at a Kremlin press conference in another positive response to Kennedy's joint space initiative, Premier Krushchev emphasized that there would not be any kind of 'moon race' against the Americans. And really from that point on, the Soviet govenment no longer made any sort of plans for a lunar landing on its own.

It would be a great distortion of the historical record to suggest that the contest to send humans to the moon was against the Soviets. The US military-industrial complex deceived the American people into believing that a race to the moon against the Russians was real when in fact the US was the only one in the race. The Russians had officially withdrawn from the 'space race' in Oct, 1963. It is important to know this because a lot of the 1960's rightwing propaganda must be exposed for what it really was all along, a big lie.

Incomplete portrayals of this historical record continues even today. Read the June 1994 issue of the Scientific American article, "Was the Race to the Moon Real?" Among other things, the author's fail to even seriously discuss the close collaboration between Dryden and Blagonravov during that time.

Let's put this all into perspective by discussing these two people at length.

At 21, Hugh L. Dryden was the youngest person to receive a Ph.D. in physics at John Hopkins University. He played a major part in the early days of NASA, having been appointed by Pres. Eisenhower as the NASA Deputy Administrator in 1959. Dr. Dryden's efforts in behalf of US-USSR space cooperation were substantial in that critical time period of 1962-1963.

Anatoli A. Blagonravov was a scientist who specialized in artillery armaments. He held the rank of lieutenant-general in the Red Army. Since 1943, he was a member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. He was appointed as the chief Soviet negotiator for matters of space cooperation because he was an internationally-recognized expert in the space field and he already held top positions in space-related institutions in Russia.

The Dryden-Blagonravov talks concerning matters of cooperation in outer space began in March, 1962 at the UN. Pres. Kennedy had appointed Dr. Dryden to represent the US in technical talks with his Soviet counterpart.

From these talks arose the Dryden-Blagonravov Agreement on space cooperation. The two countries agreed to work in 3 specific areas: meteorological satellites, mapping the earth's magnetic field, and a communications experiment on the US satellite Echo II.

By early 1963, the US and the Soviet Union were becoming more friendly in matters of space cooperation. Thus, there was no great change in US space policy when Pres. Kennedy outlined a joint mission to the moon with the USSR in Sept., 1963.

It would have been impossible to justify a war against communism on the ground in 1964 if we were already peacefully co-existing with them in outer space. It was absolutely critical for his enemies to have him removed from power immediately and at once after NSAM 271 was issued in order that they could have a 'space race' to the moon(with America the sole participant) in place of his UN project. NSAM 271 which was issued from the White House ten days before the assassination in Dallas. NSAM 271 specifically instructed NASA Administrator James Webb to take personal initiative and responsibility for substantive cooperation in space with the USSR. Pres. Kennedy personally toured Cape Canaveral, Florida the week before his assassination in Dallas.

if the foot-dragging by NASA to cooperate with the Russians had continued long enough, Pres. Kennedy may not have have signed off on the NASA appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 1964 when it would have been submitted to his desk in Dec., 1963. He could have used for his argument the fact that the Pelly Admendment was in place, a rider which passed the House on Oct. 10, 1963. The absurd, anti-communist clause read:

"No part of any appropriations made available to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration by this act shall be used for the expenses of participating in a manned lunar landing to be carried out by the US and any Communist, Communist-controlled, or Communist-dominated country, or for expenses of any aeronautical and space activities...which are primarily designed to facilitate or prepare for preparation in such a joint lunar landing except pursuant to an agreement hereafter made by the Presiedent and with the advise and consent of the Senate..".

However, some historians insist that the Pelly Admendment never seriously affected US-USSR space cooperation one way or another since it was generated by the most extreme, reactionary members of Congress in a furious response to Kennedy's UN speech of 20 Sept. 1963 and thus it reflected little of the public sentiment in matters of outer space which was already held by at that time between the two countries.

And theoretically at least, this Pelly Admendment is still in force even today, yet nothing was said of it to prevent the the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975, or any of the Space Shuttle missions involving the Russian cosmonauts since then. Thus, it was and is simply a venomous piece of hysteria of no merit whatsoever. No reasonable, peace-loving person could possibly honor the Pelly Admendment in spirit or in deed. It is best left in the dustbin of history where it remains today.

But it must be noted that there was in fact serious debate about whether NASA should continue to receive funding at all, especially for the 'moon-doggle' as it was being referred to, and this made NASA's future to be very uncertain indeed prior to LBJ taking office.

For an example of the typical sentiment of the day, read "The Moon-Doggle", by Amitai Etzioni, 1964, Doubleday & Co., NY (LC number TL 789.8 U5 E8). (Mr. Etzioni is an organizational sociologist by profession. Incidentally, his son co-designed with Erin Selberg the 'MetaCrawler' search engine found on the World Wide Web today). In Amitai Etzioni's book, he proposed that NASA be completely abolished and replaced with the Science for Development Agency(SDA) which would concentrate on real-life problems that plague America, from the civilian use of nuclear energy, air pollution, unemployment, ect. All NASA personnel would be given the option of transferring into SDA or going out to work in private industry.

But it was in fact LBJ who signed, with some hesitiation, the NASA appropriations bill that December, 1963 and committed the country to a purely national space effort as opposed to Kennedy's international program. Just as he committed American ground troops to SE Asia, which was never Pres. Kennedy's intent.

Clearly, under the Kennedy Administration, we would have had no national space effort or any war in Vietnam. We would have had a joint US-USSR mission to the moon and a withdrawal of all military forces in Indochina. Vietnam would have become a socialist country in 1964 instead of 1975, without all the millions of casualties on both sides. Under the Camelot vision, we would have entered a far more peaceful world with a bright future.

Moreover, if you examine LBJ's first speech to the UN in Dec. 1963, you will not even find a single word mentioning 'space' in the entire text. What a drastic difference in policy we have here!

Once LBJ committed the country to the national space effort, one can almost think of the Vietnam war in the same terms. The national moon missions were, in a sense, cosmic struggles against the eternal forces of nature in outer space, and the ground war in Vietnam to which LBJ committed the nation was a national assault against the 'evil' forces of communism in SE Asia.

The so-called "Nixon Doctrine" originated from a public TV speech in which Pres. Nixon authorized the military to pursue the enemy beyond the Vietnamese lines and into Cambodian territory, an extremely, belligerent act which certainly helped to intensify the war on both sides. Operation Dewey Canyon/Lam Son II was perhaps the most bloodiest episode in the entire Vietnam war on the ground; approx. 50% of the entire South Vietnamese army were wiped out in the fierce battles initiated in that campaign. Notes: 10 lunar landings were originally planned. Apollo 13 failed for technical reasons and 3 were cancelled by Pres. Nixon during the political crisis(Watergate) that followed the 1972 elections. Total budget was $25 billion dollars. Now let's move ahead a few years for a sidelight to all of this.

On Nov. 4, 1984, Dr. Arthur Louis Hugo Rudolf received NASA's highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal, at an official ceremony in the Reagan White House. He supervised the production and operation of the Saturn rocket booster which was a key component to NASA's manned moon missions during the 1960's. Interestingly, Rudolf's Saturn rocket-booster manufacturing plant in Gentilly, south of New Orleans, also housed a CIA station at the same time.

Almost immediately after he received that honor, he renounced his US citizenship and returned to Germany that year. His past was finally catching up on him. Government investigators were preparing to charge and deport him as a war criminal based on incriminating evidence in the National Archives. He joined the Nazi party in 1931 and the SA Storm Troopers in 1933. He was a close colleague of Wehner von Braun at the Mittlewerk Dora slave-labor factory in Harz, Germany where the V-1 and V-2 rockets were assembled.

Rudolf and von Braun were closely associated with General Walter Dornberger, chief of the German Rocket Center in Peenemunde. Dornberger faced the hangman's noose at Nuremburg for his war crimes. But the notorious war criminal instead became the Director of Research and Development at Bell Aircraft in Texas, via 'Operation Paperclip'.

The German Nazi immigrations into the US is documented by the British historian Tom Bower in his book, "The Paperclip Conspiracy", Little, Brown: Boston, 1987 (Library of Congress number: D810.S2 B69).

If you recall, it was Michael and Ruth Paine who befriended Marina and Lee Oswald in Dallas/Ft. Worth. At the time, Michael Paine's occupation was with Bell Aircraft as a liason to the Defense Department. This job required security clearances. So what would Oswald, the 'defector' and 'communist', be doing in the company of Michael Paine? Paine's boss at Bell Aircraft was of course Gen. Dornberger. And it turned out that Bell Aircraft would later have the contract for supplying the US Army's helicopters in the Vietnam war. A war which Kennedy was going at great lengths to avoid in 1963.

In the House Select Committee Investigation on the JFK assassination, I found it to be rather interesting that the official trajectory analysis of the so-called "single bullet theory(SBT)" was performed by a reactionary NASA engineer, Thomas Canning. His conclusion only restated the Warren Commission's findings, that a single bullet fired by Oswald hit both Kennedy and Connally, and the 6th floor Texas Book Depository was the most likely firing position. But as Col. Prouty has pointed out, there are more fragments left in Connally wrist than are missing from the recovered 'magic bullet'.

David Ferrie drove to Dallas with several other characters on the night of Nov. 22, 1963. Upon his return to New Orleans, he was questioned by the FBI for unknown reasons. What are in these FBI files are still classified. One of his colleagues on that trip left immediately for Cape Canaveral, Florida to work with NASA special operations(Melvin Coffey). Strangely, NASA claims it has no records on him, because he worked as an 'independent contractor'. If you recall in Garrison's book, Oswald was talking about working for NASA in New Orleans in 1963. I believe some of the NASA-related material was brought up in Garrison's book, "On the Trail of Assassins".