Zion Island 33.

Reichsarchiv.  Sipo-SD, Madagascar/Administration/Transport/Controls/Miscellaneous. 

1 July 1950. 


            The bearer, GANCWAJCH, Abraham, is permitted to operate an ambulance service within the Central Administrative District and also between Theresienstadt and Toamasina.  Vehicles and employees of the service many travel freely at all hours until further notice. 

                                                                        Signed:  Lange, Sipo-SD.

Patterns of American Foreign Policy.

Has American foreign policy been driven by a pragmatic approach to solving problems of national interest and security?  Has American foreign policy been driven by a series of ideas?[1]  The popular answer is the ideas one because there’s so much evidence that is easily found.[2] 

            For one thing, until very recent times, Americans were a religious people.  Many still are.  So, many discussions of public affairs—foreign and domestic–were couched in religious terms.  Often, they presented the United States as an agent of the Divine, or discussed conflicts in terms of Good and Evil.  President McKinley talked about America’s duty to “uplift and Christianize” the Filipinos.  Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address is explicitly religious.[3] 

For another thing, historians often take a published rationalization for doing something as the actual inspiration for doing that thing.  In the case of the Westward movement, Thomas Jefferson proclaimed the desire to create an “Empire of Liberty” and John O’Sullivan announced America’s “Manifest Destiny.”  In the case of engaging with the larger world, Alfred Thayer Mahan emphasized the “Influence of Sea Power Upon History,” and Woodrow Wilson justified American entry into the First World War as an effort to “make the world safe for democracy.” 

            Despite this eye-catching froth, most American policy has been driven by attempts to find pragmatic solutions to real problems.  The truth is that Americans had been moving Westward in ever-growing numbers since they landed on the Eastern seaboard.  High-flown talk didn’t make them go.  The practical problems were how to fend off foreign competitors (France, Spain, Mexico, Britain) and how to dispossess the Native Americans.  Similarly, by the dawn of the 20th Century, America’s economic development and population growth gave the United States an interest in world trade and made it a country to be reckoned with in international affairs. 

            The United States entered the First World War because Germany, more than Britain, threatened the principle of freedom of the seas and the idea of a world governed by law.  The idealistic war aims came later.  American isolationism in the Thirties ended with the unexpected fall of France in 1940, and the near-collapse of Britain.  The real German danger to American security shifted military, diplomatic, and domestic political positions in a hurry.  The United States adopted the policy of “containment” against the Soviet Union to secure America’s essential trading partners and military allies.  Eisenhower adopted the strategy of “more bang for the buck” to keep down the size of the military budget.  This prefigured his farewell address warning of a “military-industrial complex” that is with us yet.[4]    

            This pragmatism didn’t always have a happy outcome.  The George W. Bush administration made a correct analysis of the sources of terrorism in the Middle East: centuries of Ottoman and Arab bad government, not Western imperialism.  Then it came up with a disastrously wrong solution: knock over a dictator, declare “democracy,” put up some big-box stores, and leave.  You can’t make anything fool-proof.  Fools are too inventive. 

[1] Inspired by reading David Sanger, “Nation-Building’s Siren Song,” NYT Book Review, 1 January 2017. 

[2] The tendency of writers and politicians to say things in print got a lot of these people shot in France after the Second World War.  Meanwhile, bureaucrats and businessmen who had collaborated with the Germans went free.  See: Peter Novick, The Resistance versus Vichy: The purge of collaborators in liberated France (1968). 

[3] See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Lincoln%27s_second_inaugural_address 

[4] See: Ernest May The World War and American Isolation, 1914-1917 (1959); Ray S. Cline, Washington Command Post: The Operations Division (1951); John Lewis Gaddis, Strategies of Containment (1982).   

The Crisis of Liberal Democracy 2.

Since his election in November 2016, Democrats have been talking about Donald Trump and the Republican Party in terms of a fascist danger.  Trump broke with established policies, especially in foreign affairs.  He continually violated behavioral norms, the “guard-rails of democracy.”  He treated the bogus collusion-with-Russia investigation as if it were bogus.  He cavalierly broke with many of President Obama’s executive agreements and executive orders as if he had the authority to do so.  He escaped prosecution for his corrupt business dealings when intense investigation by Democrat prosecutors in the city and state of New York failed to turn up significant evidence.  He dodged removal from office over his efforts to use government resources to turn Hunter Biden’s business dealings into a black eye for his likely opponent in 2020, Joe Biden.  He failed to adequately condemn radical right groups, while also condemning both radical left groups and the criminals who buzzed around the edges of some of the BLM demonstrations.  The hearings on the 6 January 2020 riot are intended to get Democrats thinking about the danger posed to democracy by Donald Trump and his followers. 

            Now the views of political scientists on feeble democracy in other countries are being cited as warnings for the United States.[1]  In particular, “some scholars argue that Americans hoping to understand their country’s trajectory should look not to Europe but to Latin America.”  Peru (1992, 2000), Venezuela (1999—the present), Ecuador (2018), and Bolivia (2019) all offer examples of constitutional crises over the transfer or retention of power in politically fragmented nations.  Europe, in contrast, has few political similarities to the United States. 

            The parallels that make the comparison so appropriate in the eyes of some are two-fold.  First, the United States shares with Latin American countries a presidential system of government.   Most European countries have a parliamentary system.  In this system, the party or coalition of parties that wins the majority of votes in a free and fair election gets to form the government.  There are not alternative centers of power.  In contrast, the American constitution divides power between three theoretically co-equal branches of government.  Each seeks to maximize its power, holding the power of the other branches in check.  Extreme social and political polarization can interact with a divided government to create a deadlock over who should rule. 

            Second, in such a crisis, it is often up to “elites” to decide the fate of democracy.  These “elites” include “lawmakers, judges, bureaucrats, police and military officers, local officials, business chiefs, and cultural figures.”[2]  They need to reach some consensus on what should be done, who should keep or yield power.  They act from , unpredictable motives. 

            “We can’t go on together with suspicious minds.”[3]  Still, this analysis could suggest that people are formulating a rationale that de-legitimizes the existing constitution of the United States.  Nobody wants a government like the ones in which Latin Americans are trapped; while even Boris Johnson hasn’t (yet) discredited parliamentary government.   They are doing it before the 2024 election.  It also could suggest that it casts doubt on the reliability of elites.  It could look like preparing emergency measures to over-turn an election in defense of democracy. 

[1] Max Fisher, “During Constitutional Crises, Democracies Aren’t Always Democratic,” NYT, 19 June 2022. 

[2][2] What, in the Middle East, would be called the “deep state.”  Although what if “cultural figures” included RuPaul? 

[3] “Suspicious Minds” (written by Mark James, 1968). 

My Weekly Reader 22 June 2022.

            What’s wrong with American foreign policy?  In a nut-shell, we won the Cold War.[1]  More exactly, the problems of American foreign policy stem from what we and others made of that victory.  Talk about “the End of History and the Last Man Standing,” and a “New World Order” reflected the unfocused, ungrounded optimism of the aftermath.  Capitalist democracy offered the one viable political form.  Where it did not yet exist, it soon would.  Economic and cultural globalization would triumph.  Where it did not yet exist, it would.  Material prosperity and cultural assimilation would shift the balance of international relations from conflict to cooperation.  Where it did not yet exist, it would.  This amounted to the creation of what the political scientist Stephen Walt calls “liberal hegemony.”[2] 

            The United States became the hegemon.  Yes, in 1989-1990, the United States managed the peaceful re-unification of Germany as the Soviet Union abandoned its empire in Eastern Europe.  Yes, in 1991, the United States led a coalition that ejected Iraq’s army from Kuwait and then stopped short of invading Iraq.  However, those punctuated the end of the Cold War era’s hard-earned lessons of self-restraint.[3] 

            Subsequently, in 1999, the United States allowed the expansion eastward of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); in 2001, the United States invaded Afghanistan and overthrew the Taliban while in hot pursuit of Osama Bin Laden, but then chose to stay on in a prolonged effort at nation-building; in 2003, the United States invaded Iraq, setting off a gory civil war and anti-Western insurgency[4]; in 2011-2012, the United States took the part of street demonstrators against the traditional elites in the “Arab Spring”; in 2011, the United States provided the air power needed to bomb the government of Muammar Gaddafi out of power in Libya.  All the while, the United States espoused the cause of international human rights and democratic transitions in countries where the ruling elites rejected both.[5] 

            Inevitably, some countries began to push back.  The most obvious case has been that of Vladimir Putin’s Russia.  With NATO creeping ever-closer, Putin tried to disrupt Ukraine’s move toward the European Union and NATO.  When popular resistance blocked that effort, he seized the Crimea, fostered revolts among ethnic Russians in two “oblasts,” and now has gone to war.  Putin also meddled—in a minor way—in the 2016 American presidential election.  China, India, and a host of lesser countries have refused to comply with American-led sanctions. 

            Is there any reasonable policy to follow?  Walt advocates a return to George Kennan’s ideas.  At the dawn of the Cold War, Kennan argued that only a few critical areas needed to be defended from Communist aggression: Western Europe, Japan, the Americas.  The list has grown, but America’s range of action in recent decades has out-run its real means and needs. 

[1] The long concluding episode in the struggle against aggressive tyrannies from 1940 to 1990.  In this conflict, the United States and its allies opposed, first Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, and second, the Soviet Union and Communist China.  Yes, we got our hands dirty in this struggle, but it was, I think, a fight worth making. 

[2] Steven M. Walt, The Hell of Good Intentions: America’s Foreign Policy Elite and the Decline of U.S. Primacy (2018).  I want to thank my former student Hanna Shatuck for bringing this book to my attention years ago. 

[3] The defeat of George H. W. Bush by Bill Clinton had multiple causes.  Perhaps one of them was a desire to escape the burdens of the “hard and bitter peace.” 

[4] The invasion’s encouragement of Kurdish nationalism, turned a NATO ally, Turkey, into an American enemy. 

[5] Admittedly, most of this effort focused on smaller states.  China was another matter. 

Zion Island 33.

United States National Archives.

RG 457.2: Records of the National Security Agency/Central Security Service, 1917-1993. 


US Army, Signals Intelligence Service. 

Germany.                                                        Ref.  No.: XXXXXXXXX


                                                                        Copy No.: 137

From: Berlin.

To:  Theresienstadt. 

Date: 30 June 1950. 

Headquarters Sipo-SD, Theresienstadt, Madagascar.

For the attention of Standartenfuhrer LANGE,

State secret! 

RE: Request for information. 

            Wolfgang GRAF VON BLUCHER, Colonel of Fallschirmjager.

Born 1917, Altengotten, Thuringia.  Minor aristocracy, despite the name.  Father died in 1924; leaving the family in straightened circumstances.  Mother managed a private school education for her children.  1934: Abitur.  1935-1936: Reich Labor Service.  1936: Enlisted in Wehrmacht upon release from RLS.  1937: Transferred to Luftwaffe as a volunteer for the paratroops. 

Speaks English (very well) and French (passably). 

Wartime Service:

1939: Poland. 

1940: Belgium (Capture of Fort Eben-Emael).  Iron Cross. 

1940: Gibraltar.  Knights Cross of the Iron Cross.  Blucher was one of three brothers who all volunteered for the paratroops.  His brothers were killed on Gibraltar. 

1941: Russia.  Relieved of command; acquitted by court-martial, but transferred to Abwehr. 

1942—the present: Various tasks for the Abwehr. 

Never belonged to Hitler Jugend or to the Party. 

            Helmut ARPKE, Sergent, Fallschirmjager. 

            Born: 1917, Graudenz, Prussia.[1]  Son of an auto mechanic.  Completed high school.  Worked from youth in his father’s garage.  1935: crossed border from Poland to re-join the Reich.  1935-1936: Reich Labor Service.  1936: Enlisted in Wehrmacht upon release from RLS.  1937: Transferred to Luftwaffe as a volunteer for the paratroops. 

            Speaks Polish fluently. 

            Wartime Service:

            1938-1939: Trained as a Combat Engineer and demolitions expert. 

            1940: Belgium (Capture of Fort Eben-Emael).  Knights Cross of the Iron Cross

            1940: Gibraltar.  Iron Cross; Wound Badge. 

            1941: Russia. 

            1942—the present: various tasks for the Abwehr. 

            The two men served in different companies of the same regiment.  Their companies launched a joint attack on one entrance of the Gibraltar tunnel complex.  Despite fierce resistance by the British, the mission was accomplished. 

            It is not possible to discover at this time the nature of BLUCHER’S mission.  Will continue inquiries, but would be glad to learn whatever you discover on your end. 

You will recall the circumstances of BLUCHER’s relief in Latvia and subsequent court-martial.  Also, Governor Bach’s role.  Urge you not let past history or personal animus interfere with relations. 

            Heil Hitler! 


State secret! 

[1] This part of eastern Germany was transferred to Poland after the Great War.  Germans who remained in the “Polish corridor” after the territory transfer felt themselves to be a persecuted minority. 

Zion Island 32.

United States National Archives.

RG 457.2: Records of the National Security Agency/Central Security Service, 1917-1993. 


US Army, Signals Intelligence Service. 

Germany.                                                        Ref.  No.: XXXXXXXXX


                                                                        Copy No.: 221

From: Theresienstadt. 

To: Berlin. 

Date: 28 June 1950. 

Headquarters Sipo-SD, for the attention of SS Brigadefuhrer KALTENBRUNNER, BERLIN. 

State secret! 

Request for information. 

            Please send all available information on:

            Wolfgang GRAF VON BLUCHER, Colonel of Fallschirmjager.

            Helmut ARPKE, Sergent, Fallschirmjager. 

            The two men arrived Theresienstadt by plane today. 

Wearing civilian clothes, but carrying proper military identification. 

            Refused to declare to Arrival Authorities the purpose of their visit. 

Met by official car, driven to Headquarters of the Governor, and then to a private villa. 

            Can you determine their mission? 

            Heil Hitler! 

Commander of Sipo-SD Lange, Theresienstadt, Madagascar, Standartenfuhrer.  

State secret! 

The Crisis of Liberal Democracy.

            The American Revolution began as a “liberal” revolution.  It stayed that way.  The French Revolution began as a “liberal” revolution.  It soon went off the rails as ever more radical groups seized power and pushed their agendas.  Eventually, they went too far for almost everyone.  Then came a course correction, the “Thermidorian Reaction.”  The basic lesson to be drawn is that people can push an idea too far for anyone’s good. 

            Our recent history[1] illustrates this historical lesson.  The chosen solution to the economic crisis of the Great Depression of the Thirties came in an expansion of government responsibilities and in the power needed to meet those responsibilities.  This worked, so after 1945 the political left adopted the cause of government expansion as the solution to any problem that crossed their line of sight.  It became a kind of religious belief among people who were otherwise increasingly secular.  Their extreme optimism about the possibilities of government action ignored both the possibility of over-regulation and the limits of competence of bureaucracy.  The tumultuous Seventies (“stagflation,” racial strife) triggered a Thermidor. 

            Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan adopted a different approach.  Their economic “neo-liberalism” sprang from the thought of Milton Friedman and Joseph Schumpeter.  There were limits to economic management by the government; high taxes and intrusive and incoherent regulation choked capitalist dynamism; markets were more efficient; and the “nanny state” corrupted individual virtue and eroded personal responsibility.  This worked, so after 1980, the political right adopted the cause of government contraction as the solution to any problem that crossed their line of sight.  It became a kind of religious belief among people who were otherwise often familiar with religion.  Their extreme optimism about the possibilities of the market and the individual ignored both the possibility of under-regulation and the limits of individual action in the real world.  Essentially, “there’s no pockets in a shroud,” as my Welsh grandmother used to say. 

            The obvious course is a turn back toward some middle ground.  It is also the course not taken by angry, loud voices on the left and right.[2]  On the left, liberal democracy has been portrayed as a false front concealing the realities of what amounts to a white, male, upper-class “dictatorship of the bourgeois.”  On the right, liberal democracy has been portrayed as a false front concealing a powerful “administrative state” that panders to the interests of selected “people of color” at the expense of the “real” country.  One trouble among many others from this polarization of American politics is that the very idea of “liberal democracy” is being attacked from both sides. 

            Is there any solution to our problems?  A “9/11-style commission” isn’t likely to do much to arrive at a shared understanding.  The torrent of crises in the daily news constantly distracts attention from fundamental issues.  Changes in emotional expression–the celebration of sensitivity, feeling, and experience—are desirable.  Perhaps our greatest hope is in that no one can imagine a viable—or desirable—replacement to liberal democracy in places where it is deeply entrenched.  The changes that distress so many people have all been tied to great social and economic progress, not to decline.  So we will just have to keep trying.  Harrumph. 

[1] I’m 68, so my notion of “recent” may differ from that of other people.  “Objects in mirror,” etc., etc.

[2] Francis Fukuyama, Liberalism and Its Discontents (2022). 

Zion Island 31.

Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA)

600 Chennault Circle, Bldg. 1405

Maxwell AFB, AL 36112-6424

United States Air Force Oral History Collection. 

Interview of Major General (ret.), Samuel SIMMS, United States Air Force.


GB: General, I wonder if today we can begin by discussing your role in the development of guided weapons? 

SS: Well, let me begin by saying that it is a common-place popular belief that “arms races lead to war.”  This neglects the reality that both the approach of war and war itself stimulate rapid weapons development.  As Dr. Johnson said, “the prospect of being hanged concentrates the mind wonderfully.”  In the late Thirties, the looming prospect of war—in Europe, in the Far East—encouraged all sides to develop new weapons.  We all expected that there would be a much more dreadful re-run of the Great War.  In fact, the wars that followed were much more limited.  Still, there was an immense impetus to develop new weapons. 

GB: And was that true even in the United States? 

SS: Oh, very much so.  All of us who had gone through the Great War, who had seen what the modern technology of that time could do, were very alert to the issues. 

GB: Can you tell me what were the broad areas or categories of weapons that the Army Air forces sought to develop, and then about your own area of responsibility? 

SS: Certainly.  If we leave aside the development of new aircraft, then we sought to develop new weapons in several areas.  Bear in mind that other countries had jumped well ahead of the United States in several key areas.  The British had, unbeknownst to us, developed radar.  That, I think, enabled them to fend off Germany’s air attack in 1940 and achieve an acceptable negotiated peace.  The Germans had begun to develop guided missiles of several types.  One was the smaller plane-like weapon powered by a small jet engine.  The other was a long-range ballistic missile.  If the Germans had advanced far enough with either of these weapons by 1940, then I think that Britain would have been pounded into submission.  So, obviously, we felt the need to catch up in both of these areas.  Then there was the Manhattan Project.  I was not involved with any of these efforts at that time. 

GB: Which brings us to your own area of expertise and responsibility. 

SS: Indeed.  Beginning in 1939, my work focused on the highly accurate delivery of ordnance by means of remote controls.  Let me say, that this made me a bit of a black sheep in the Army Air Force community.  In general terms, there were the followers of Douhet and there were the air defense advocates of pursuit or “fighter” aircraft.  Some of us used to joke that our friends belonged to either “The bomber will always get through” school or to the “Not if I can help it” school. 

GB: You didn’t belong to either school? 

SS: No.  I did think that the bombers would get through the air defenses.  I just didn’t think that the bombers could inflict the kind of damage that would actually drive a country into submission.  Dropping hundreds of tons of high explosives on people would damage the targets, but the human spirit is very resilient.  Even in a bad cause.  Perhaps most of all in a bad cause.  I grew up in the South after all.  And in the process of not-quite-achieving the end-goal, you would be setting fire to grandmothers and five year-olds. 

GB: So the role of airpower would be best directed toward providing flying artillery to support ground forces? 

SS: Again, no.  I didn’t believe in just dumping ordnance on cities, even with the limited precision we could achieve with the Norden bomb-sight.  I had a different idea.  I believed that very discriminating and targeted attacks could unhinge the key elements in any modern society.  It is the infrastructure of transportation, communication, and energy that allow any highly-developed society to function.  If we could destroy bridges, power-plants, radio stations and telephone exchanges, we could put enemy military operations at a severe disadvantage.  Come to that, it is a comparatively few key decision-makers who decide the direction taken by a highly organized and bureaucratized society.  If we could strike at the enemy leadership in the same way that we struck at the infrastructure, then untold numbers of lives could be spared. 

GB: And this belief guided, so to speak, you own efforts?  Can you talk about specific programs or weapons systems intended to achieve this aim?    

SS: Of course.  There were two programs that I supervised.  The first of these sought to turn ordinary “dumb” bombs into steerable weapons that would not miss the target.  Take bridges for example.  They make difficult targets.  They don’t move, but they’re long and narrow.  The enemy defends important ones with anti-aircraft artillery.  The air defense drives the attacker higher, making targeting more difficult.  With bridges, going wide on a drop or having cross-winds shift the course of the bomb ever so slightly leads to a miss.  What we wanted was to be able to control the fall of the bomb very exactly. 

GB: Did you succeed? 

SS: Yes and no.  My men developed a tail-package that could be bolted on to the bomb in place of the normal fins.  The tail-package had rudders to steer the bomb left or right along the azimuth.  They were radio-controlled from the plane.  We had less success with ailerons to control the pitch of the bomb.  What they did manage to achieve was the installation of a gyroscope that kept the bomb from rolling on its axis in air.  Finally, it had a flare installed in the tail.  The smoke from the flare helped the bombardier keep the bomb in sight as he sought to guide it to the target.  So long as the plane was directly over the target, you had a great probability of hitting it.  Because it was steerable only to left or right on the azimuth, it was called an Azimuth Only (or Azon) bomb. 

GB: You mentioned a second project. 

SS: Yes, “Aphrodite.”  This was a vastly more complicated project.  The steerable bombs I just mentioned were intended to be dropped from a bomber directly over the target.  This solved one problem, but moved us on to the next one.  They were only heavy to very heavy pieces of ordnance: 1,000 pound bombs at first, then 2,000 pounders.  That may seem like a lot.  It is if you’re attacking a relatively soft-shelled target like a bridge. 

But the tendency from the 1920s on had been to “harden” the physical structures containing key facilities.  Our own Malinta Tunnel on Corregidor offers a good example.  We knew from intelligence reports that the Germans had constructed bunkers at Zossen outside Berlin.  These would house their signals intelligence people and their high command in case of war.  All these were buried deep in the earth and had heavy reinforced concrete roofs.  Even a 2,000 pound bomb wouldn’t do enough damage to a site like this.  Yet these were exactly the sort of places that we would need to destroy in my theory of how air war should operate. 

After much feverish work, the team attacking on this problem arrived at a solution.  It was to create a system of remote controls for an aircraft, then to pack that aircraft with a huge amount of high explosives.  As much as 10,000 pounds.  Essentially, the plane would become a flying bomb that could be directed to a target, then crashed into the target.  It would detonate on impact. 

GB: How was it controlled?  Fully or partially?  From the ground or from an accompanying aircraft? 

SS: Well, these were early days, so the system was bulky and crude.  I won’t rehash the whole history of the development of autopilot systems since 1912.  Suffice it to say that it already was possible to have an on-board mechanism fly a plane straight and level on a compass course.  From that starting point, we added refinements of the steerable bomb.  One refinement came with the placing of small television cameras—then very new—in the remotely controlled aircraft.  One camera observed the instrument panel; the other looked downward at the ground.  Essentially, these allowed us to greatly refine the course as the plane approached the target.  In addition, the new developments allowed the plane to dive onto the target. 

GB: And were these flying bombs to be controlled from the ground from take-off to target? 

SS:  No.  Again these were early days.  A pilot and flight engineer would get the plane aloft.  Then they would arm the bomb and turn-over control of the plane to a mother-ship.  After that, they would bail-out.  The mother ship would guide the plane to target, then send it into a dive. 

GB: How close did the mother ship have to be? 

SS: Oh, within about a mile, and above the bomb-plane. 

GB: so, it couldn’t be controlled from the ground after take-off? 

SS: We never tried that. 

Zion Island 30.



TO: J. Edgar Hoover, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

FROM: SAC Jeffrey Morton, Salt Lake City, Utah.

DATE: 15 January 1953. 

RE: Possible loss of plutonium from Hanford Works.   

            Bureau agents have continued their inquiries.  If we reject the Idaho-Nevada route, then alternative routes include West toward Seattle-Portland, Southeast toward Salt Lake City, and then East toward New York. 

            Agents were dispatched along each of these axes. 

            No leads were discovered along the Nampa-Seattle route. 

            Leads were discovered to the eastward of the Nampa-Salt Lake City route.  Gas station operators along Highway 80 in Nebraska and Illinois vaguely recall fueling both a large sedan and a 2.5 ton truck. 

            The Iowa State Highway Patrol reports that a 2.5 ton Army-surplus truck collided with a car on 29 December 1952.  The collision was minor: there were no injuries and little body damage to the vehicles.  A State trooper happened to be passing and stopped to investigate.  The trooper judged that the driver of the automobile, rather than the driver of the truck, was at fault.  He collected information and then sent them on their way. 

            The license on the truck was from Kentucky.  The name of the truck driver was Jack Zelig.  His driver’s license was from Ohio.  No Buick sedan was observed. 

            No reports have been received from gas station operators east of Illinois. 

            This information suggests that it is possible that the thieves are operating from eastern Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, northern Kentucky, or Western Pennsylvania. 

            We have requested information on the license plate number from the Kentucky State Police on an urgent basis. 

            Request any information on Jack ZELIG. 


Zion Island 29.




TO: J. Edgar Hoover, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

FROM: SAIC Jeffrey Morton, Salt Lake City, Utah.

DATE: 10 January 1953. 

RE: Possible loss of plutonium from Hanford Works.   

            Bureau agents conducted a wide-ranging investigation following the derailment of the UP freight train near Nampa, Idaho on 24 December 1952. 

            Bureau agents discovered the following facts:

  1. Mr. Kenneth Hashimoto observed six men in the dining room of the Dewey Palace Hotel on the evening of 24 December 1952. 
  2. Mr. Hashimoto is a prosperous potato farmer in the Nampa area and a deacon of the Methodist church.  He had brought his family to the hotel dining room before attending Christmas evening services. 
  3. Mr. Hashimoto approvingly noticed the men because they were quiet and were not drinking, which was out of character for the other male patrons of the restaurant on this occasion.  In retrospect, he believed that they were not members of the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons).  This judgement is based solely on their physical appearance.  The men “didn’t look Mormon.” 
  4. Examination of the Dewey Palace Hotel records revealed that six men had occupied three rooms in the hotel from 23 to 25 December 1952, although the clerk did not recall seeing any of the men on 25 December.  The group paid in cash in advance.  The ledger reveals only that the rooms were booked to a “Tom Smith and party.” 
  5. Hotel parking records reveal that two vehicles were parked at the hotel for the same 23-25 December 1952 period. 
  6. The parking attendant believes that one of the vehicles was a Buick sedan and the other a General Motors “deuce-and-a-half” truck.  He also recalls that both vehicles had Nevada license plates.  (The attendant is a disabled military veteran previously stationed at the Nevada Proving Grounds.)  The parking attendant kept no record of the plate numbers. 
  7. Idaho Highway 51 and Nevada Highway 11 provide the most direct route between Nampa and Nevada.  Bureau agents thoroughly questioned gas station operators and hotel managers along this route.  No one recalled the party of six or the pair of vehicles.  None recalled fueling a GM 2.5 ton truck.  These trucks have a 40-gallon fuel tank, so fueling them would have been both a time-consuming experience and a significant pay-off for a gas station operator. 
  8. We can only conclude that if the Buick sedan. GM truck, and the six men from the hotel were involved in the derailment of the UP freight train, then they did not go to Nevada by the most direct route. 
  9. Investigation continues pending further orders.