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tv   Josh Dean The Taking of K-129  CSPAN  December 31, 2017 5:50am-7:01am EST

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hello everyone and welcome to tonight's event. my name is grace and i'm an event associate here. we host over 500 author events a year. you can find out more about these events on our website. you can purchase them at any register the store will be closing tonight at 8:00. we please ask that you make all purchases before then. if you parked in the back i will be happy to validate he
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is here with his new book the taking advocate 129. how the cie used how her and that most daring covert operation in history. in an credible true hotel of espionage and into an engineering. the remarkable new book explains how the america's most eccentric mobile for the nuclear arms k9 29. after it have gone to the bottom of the pacific ocean. he is in your face work has appeared in popular science. rolling stone others. he is a correspondent in author of the life cofounder of ocean a privately held company offers submersible.
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including 2018 expedition of the titanic. and now please join me in welcoming josh dean and stockton rush. i think the best thing to is how did you get into this and give a little background overview of what happened to kate 129. this is a story i've been for a lifetime. one of the stolen -- intelligence stories almost a legend. it was exposed in the media and 1970s and just became the very story. gave expression of the walmart role. i decided one day i did not know anything about it. it was in my mind but i did not really know more than the broad strokes.
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what does that mean that howard is asked to be operating did he build the ship. i did a little research and decided there was not a definitive a-to-z narrative and the information had been trickling out over the years. people have started to talk to the media even though the cia never officially told him it was okay and i found enough survivors who are willing to talk. i realize there was enough there to do a book. they spent about three years on it. not straight through but the better part of three years. that's how i got interested in the ocean. i wrote a story about his company because i got really interested in deep-sea and arguably the greatest naval engineering still to this day.
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the incredible feat we will get into some of the particulars of that. they lost the submarine and we decided to recover it. basically a flyover of the story for people who don't know in 1968 a soviet submarine went out on the nuclear patrol. it sink for mysterious reasons. the u.s. navy observed this massive search in their steaming out of port really looking for something other nature of it intelligence is that we watched their sub traffic pretty closely. and when they abandon the search in the the navy said what if we can find so than the first then the first part was located it. and they did. it was 16,500 feet under the
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ocean in a regional pacific that have very little shift traffic. they have a system that was other water hydrophones that listen to submarine traffic. they were installed to spy on submarines basically. the air force tacked on something called active tech. they can go and recover these dummy warheads. they enabled the navy to import -- pinpoint the wreck. why would the cia do that. it was a political battle to some degree but the navy isn't good at doing things quickly and quietly they build aircraft carriers and planes have come off of a time during
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which it had designed and executed the spy plane that was done quietly as a black program. the pentagon hierarchy decided let's give this a cia let's see if they could do. finding the sub was wanting getting another. it's extremely complicated. there are not a lot of forces to work working her in machinery. they have to figure how to get it. new humans operate at that depth. and 68 and no one had been there. as far as doing work at that depth and actually it's one thing to go down and look. and another thing to actually go down and pick that up. by howard hughes.
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that was in between. he found it to get it but getting almost an impossible question at that time the greater greatest depth was about 200. this is 60,500. it was more complicated and they're underselling it really. but they said who would've imagined that the efforts of effort 7100 been felt. we can do anything with a blank check for the cold. we need to counter the soviet threat we can ask everybody in america is necessary. the have of engineering concepts and came up with the idea that the only way to do it was to take the list method. i can not as easy as it sounds
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and before they got to that idea they considered putting balloons on it. rocket boosters on the side of the sub the rest of the motion. how to stop it. just to keep going up into the air. also the soviets might see that. i need to find a way to pick it up and do it in secret. we think we can do it. we can come up with the system with a long still the long still half -- pipe it was sort of like those arcade games. it was like a massive version of that. in theory we think we can do this. and they found a company called global marine which said the broad strokes of that seem possible. and once they have a concept it was like we can do that
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either if we park out in the middle of the pacific with a the in winter that's not normal. you can see this thing is clearly is up to something you did explain it to the public and had to explain to the soviets. one thing they're very think they're very good at. it was initially a weather plane. they were doing all kind of research on in the decided what if we say it's an ocean mining ship because there is talk in the mining community that there are the rare minerals in the bottom of the ocean. the mining community would like to get some day. it's just not economically feasible yet. when we just say it's a mining ship there is no such thing. every explanation can be a mining ship.
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there was one more part of that which was who owns that. if it's a publicly traded corporation has either be cleared or lied too. we don't want to pretend to be ocean mining. you need a private company. what company is big enough >> that they can kill that but lawmakers are already talking about victory and they are assuring taxpayers at the benefits that this bill will bring. >> i think, no, i know everyone's lives will be better off with tax reform. because of the tax relief, the
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higher paychecks and a stronger economy and it is also bringing back jobs from overseas that if we did not an act now we continue to see headquarters and research and manufacturing leave the country. >> we are live in washington d.c. we can expect a vote this week? >> the house go first on tuesday. the senate probably wednesday and it looks like they do have the votes to pass it. marco rubio said he does want some concessions on the child tax credit although another will not vote for anything that adds one penny to the deficit. vote for anything that adds one penny to the deficit. is better off with it. although mccain is a yes vote
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and no democrats support it. >> the final version keeps the tax brackets ranging from 10% up through 37%. the corporate tax rate is down at 21%. also the individual mandate of obamacare is to be repealed. >> the highest percentage is by far so if you make 50,000 bucks. year with a couple of kids your tax cut will be about 40%. >> the standard deduction nearly doubled and so will the child tax credit. filers who itemize will lose some deductions but that is if they use those in the high tax states. >> the tax reform bill is a disaster to help the wealthiest, most powerful
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corporations and it hurts the middle class. >> bringing in so be as pedestrian as possible. who does the tax plan benefit most? >> there is a lot going on. 44% going up that black
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program. it was the normal legalese. he would hand it to people. it really made an impression. don't talk to anybody. and those guys didn't talk. they actually specifically recruited people from the south. they liked religious people
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like the southern christians even though the hughes operation was run by mormons. and it gets broken. fakeness. this is literally fake news. and if you read about it enough. you wonder what else is fakeness. who is the analog for howard hughes today. he probably wants to take cia payloads up there.
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it is a moon base. let's go back to journalism. there was not time to run through the various stages. you want to test it first. these were just regular scientists and engineers who went out on this. they didn't had time and we were too problematic. there was no submarine out there that we could test it on. they went out there and all of it worked.
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things broke during that mission. and when it came time to actually do play it. during the left of the submarine one of the fingers on the clock one of them broke. in the last part of the submarine. part of it was recovered. they were going to go back for the breast. this mission was called project devorah in. they were going to fix the claw. it would've gone back. they ran the story on anyone. they're there the oceans et cetera. in the broad strokes they were trying to steal it.
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this is happened during world war ii. it was about the purple code break or something. they were able to swelter with within day. they never got back to the japanese. what will it take for you to sit on the story. something that they would be really unhappy about. they see the cia and the director of the agency went to the editors and publishers. they all agreed to sit on it. except for one radio reporter.
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we spent half billion dollars of taxpayer money. they went on the air and announce it to america. i promise i will call them immediately. you will have my blessing. he have a list in his wallet of everybody who said it was okay. it was just blown. at that point they can't go back out. then it's really at risk. they never publicly made a stink about it. and it seems as if kissinger and secretary of state in there.
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they were embarrassed by it friendly. they did not want to tell the public. the navy was he humility. people within the soviet intelligence were probably locked up and how did you let that happen. the soviets twice sent ships out and sailed around it. there was a mutual agreement. as far as we are concerned i know there are stories in the new york times but it did not exist. we will never comment on this again. it became a situation where it was like one of their most closely guarded secrets even though i had been in the media. i did not know about that. that's how became this legend. all of these reporters were like you want to talk to us about it what happened. and they were just like what you mean.
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they started doing freedom of information request. the government agency is obligated by law to respond to it. they have to either say here what's your asking for on the account of national security. if they have done that then they were acknowledging that it have happened. and that is another loss. they are bound by the law that is saying we will never release the source of method. if they decide that the thing they have done never actually happened than they can even say we can't give it to you because as a national security reason. we can't say that we can't give it to you because it's of the national security well had to respond to them. we need something to give the reporters that is can satisfy them.
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and one that actually the same guy who ran that covert operation went back and went through some books and came up with some phrases we can neither confirm nor deny which everybody knows now. it has become such a cliché. it's called the glow market rule. the name of the ship that was the request when it was a rolling stone reporter's she got this role. they can even confirm nor do nine. she did not accept it. we accept this. and it became law. and then every agency onto
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today. when they start at the twitter account in 2014 the first tweet was we can neither confirm nor deny. it just tells you how big and a famous of a phrases became. and he gets really interesting and parts peculiar case for the agency. it was treated as if it was a seeker they never talked about. i think maybe that has happened a few other times. you to get the information from the fbi and the cia any inner resting in adults. and it have a lot of luck. and then there is something that is called the mandatory request. i use that. i got kind of know where frankly. i have a meeting and they were sort of like were not against of this project but we can't really do anything for you. how about helping me with the
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classified additional materials. there had been in 2011 redacted history that they released. it gave a i gave a lot of the dates and major events when they happened. it was a framework for the story there was not a lot of detail in there. i was trying to get i know this thing happened. i must've filed a hundred of these things. i did not get anything. they arranged a meeting with a guy who runs the office and his distant bureaucrat that works in the office. one of the most thankless jobs in government. he does sides you can imagine if that's you. all you can do is get in trouble. you are inclined to just say no to everything because as long as you say no you cannot get in trouble. the only way the counter that they have. you can take them to court. they arranged the meeting with this guy and they said i don't the gig and help you.
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there is some eight boxes of that stuff. the only chance you had is if you ask for a very specific memo numbers. i decided i was not getting anywhere. i have to use what was out there. but luckily human resources were there. and it's all built on stories of individuals who participated. i was able to find a lot of people who worked for the cia officers. and mostly for the contractors. locking martin. western gear. they were all involved. global marines. some of the key contractors are still alive. in a couple cases they were like no one ever told me i could talk about this. how bad it with the publicity be. forty years ago.
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i would say three or four times and there's a guy the web institute. a guy there who worked on that there was no computer modeling back then. with paper and pencils. he was testing. his job was to look at when the bottom of the ship opened up they have to fill it with water to equalize the pressure. and then you can bring the clause in and out. in a rough season how much pressure the wing walls could take. at what point does the ship break in half. his job was to do that modeling. him in particular i called. he said have to get my name. no one told me i could talk. what always happened even if there is a little residence up
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front. in some cases the deputy director of this office called the underwater reconnaissance office it was it within the pentagon. he was a deputy director of the navy. he is in a retirement home in massachusetts now. i guess you can. no one told me. no one told me i can't do it. and i ended up spending all afternoon with him. you use to used to be the deputy director. i feel honored and a little bit weird about that. all of these personal stories. it would come across some under academic.
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what advice would you have. i said do a straight with people still live. this was almost everyone who was a main character. arguably the main character. what the program officer. he is a legend within the cia he was one of the main program managers. he basically touched all these unbelievable programs. totally unknown guy. everybody remembered him as the mysterious figure. i was able to bring enough of him to life. on the 50th anniversary they inducted 50 trailblazers.
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the people who most influenced and he was one of them. they did a time machine. time capsule. they have not invented the time machine yet. they put one object from each decade one of the things from the 1970s was a seal the cia logo. but he put goggles on it. they made a seal out of that and they put in the time capsule. it's an incredible thing. they were never able to talk about it.
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there are still some things. who would've been very important and would've told me things that maybe would have informed other parts of the book. there were definitely cases where people said nope. i understand. if you're a security officer would be so weird to suddenly be like come on over. i'm in detail the secret. you work in these realms. how cool was this design. what they were doing what they did in the 60s between going to the moon and to do this without to say nothing. trying to locate where the have is. and with relationship to the actual submarine.
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they were using very primitive computers on there. we have not gone a lot further on the bottom of the ocean. i like to say we are more advanced. after the vietnam war the thought was we are we're going to go to the ocean. it seemed logical. budget deficit in watergate and and watergate and you name it and you went aberdeen. there were just some areas where there were great technologies. they had worked on it back then. they thought this was the next space race. we built the ship and actually global marines when they cancel this operation they have the ship. they had spent 300 or $500 million on it.
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nobody wanted it was richard anderson. i can't talk about what this was used for but it's got all of this cool stuff on it. and nobody would take it. eventually it was converted into an oil drilling ship and then it was was scrapped last year actually. at this time some of the guys who worked on the claw at lockheed it hasn't happened. when they went to the bottom of the trench in 1960. they said the worst thing about that was they won the race before it started and the never went back.
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there is a lot more emphasis in the robotics but a little bit in the manna subsidies. can you take me there. what he think is left out there. the original sub had broken into three pieces. in the 1960 it was really bad year for submarines. for subsequent down and 68. can we start going to submarine wrecks. there are some amazing racks. two just look at a u.s. navy some with the hellcat
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fighter. we did not mean to find it. if you go through a whole process. other wrecks you can go look at that. it's pretty clear. maybe considers looking and disturbing. you don't really want to get on the wrong side of the navy. there are a lot of shipwrecks. there are a number of wrecks from all the different wars. things like the scorpion that has nuclear warheads on it. i don't think they really want to any people going many people going around it. one of the great thing about this new world that they talk about the blue economy it's a big issue. and how can we expand
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environmentally conscious everything from fish farming to marine protected areas people are getting a greater awareness of that. and i think actually going and seeing this with their own eyes. it's always appealing. nobody wants to watch a video presentation if you can actually go there. if to get the russians permissions properly. does anyone even know what the safety precautions are. i assume that is the case. a nuclear warhead. this had three nuclear missiles on it. something we did not even know at that point. there is a rumor that they went back using different equipment later and recover at least the warheads.
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the water around it was fine if you touched the rack they were still radioactive. they have detonated them at the bottom. they set off each bombs with the world war ii ships. you can see a funnel cloud in the foreground. the beautiful palm trees you can see the other ships on the side. it was quite impressive. what would be the effect the first test they thought it might crack the earth open. they no idea what it would really do.
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the radio station issue is probably a challenge but there are a lot of them around. they did not even really know when they were trying to pick this up obviously the mission was led was a nuclear physicist which told you that they took that part really seriously. they weren't really told what would happen. what if we do pull this thing out. with ten seconds to go. they all went through the sub school. there can immediately start picking through this. the guys that were not cleared into that part of the process were just told don't worry about it. i talked to some of them and they said i was worried about it. i was in vienna ship with a nuclear warhead.
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everything is gonna be fine. if the soviets attack they were to be fine. they were not told what happened. the cia director was like what's our defense plan. ascii said we can't do that. that be very obvious if they come on board. there is a chance we can pretend. how do you hide the marines. that's kind of conspicuous. they basically overruled him. i insist that there be some weapons on board. the security guys and ellie start buying rifles at the equivalent of walmart. i talked to 70 people and nobody could tell me what the plan of the contingency plan was.
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he went on one of the most powerful guys in the pentagon later. he said he was not even really sure. pete cert radio space in the head to the side do i want to
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because he basically save the planet. he decided not to fire torpedoes. he had nuclear-tipped torpedoes and they could have sunk basically three american ships and block their path. they were running out of food. they were running out of food and it was really hot and he was like do we fire or do we not fire? that's quite a position to put an american sub captain in. basically with the plan was let's just hope nothing happens. it's a miracle. nobody wanted to start a war and this is what all this came down to bury the pray to point everything during the cold war was detente and nuclear assured destruction and let's not raise tension. that's where you need something like this. you are trying to learn as much about them so you know we have equal or better capacity but in the process of learning about that we have to do things that are upsetting.
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>> is as this is qualified legal essentially against international law with other countries military gear that the pentagon lawyer said the russians look for it and they searched it and abandon it so they really push the ownership of it so technically we have a loophole here. it wasn't like the russians agree to that. >> there are some conspiracy theories about this. any of them were the most interest? >> the nature of the reaction to it when it became public was it opened up the possibility of all kinds of conspiracy theories because it wasn't like anybody was going to say that's right. it's basically whatever you guys said so the book actually came out in the 90s i think it was an appositive this theory that
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this was like a red october theory at a red -- rogue submarine that have been taken over by kgb crew that wasn't taken orders from policy. basically it was going to launch a nuclear attack on hawaii and start a war. it's a very convoluted theory about china and vietnam. blame it on the chinese. the book arrested on this premise that the location given by the cia was roughly was a liar and the ship was closer to why. the submarine would have had to be within missile range of why in the fact that it wasn't, it was fit team out -- 1500 miles away well outside of the range. they were a 1000 miles and i know the location and it's correct because i've seen the classified notes from meetings. guys on the shipper like trust me i know where we were so
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people still believe it. i've been asked that in interviews. it's not true. maybe it was headed that way but it certainly wasn't ready for launch. the other conspiracy theory is way more plausible. the american sub that it was trailing accidentally ran into it. every time the story comes up when the book came out russian media picked it up and the american sub and not purposely, accidentally ran into it and maybe covered about. it's been covering it up for 40 years. now i have a hard time believing that because nobody has talked in 40 years? there were 100 submariners on that sub. people higher up would have known about it. >> it's not that easy. >> especially since they are moving. the theory was if the russian
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sub was clearing and trying to find its blind spot if they were being trailed maybe the accident accident -- the americans accidentally ran into them. there are some very convincing people about this. but certainly no one in the navy came close to affirming that. the repairs don't match up and is too far from the site. that's one i think that is worth looking into but the prevailing theory is that some kind of accident occurred when it was either a firing exercise bike practicing what it would look like in one of the missiles caught fire and the earned a
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hole in the whole. it seems whatever happened to fill with water before it exploded because otherwise it everything inside would be grass. that's a question the may never be answered. >> we should maybe get some questions if anybody has a question. >> i was wondering if the hatch was open and how long it would take to make the sub go down. >> very fast. if you look at the fire hoses and things like that you can get thousands of gallons from a full-size hatch very quickly and then it gets worse. as soon as it gets deeper you get even more pressure. >> i think that's also true of fire. if something caused the fire on
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the sub it just goes like crazy. for a lot of reasons they have segmented chambers but it seems like the idea that a flooded makes the most sense because if you have a closed chamber when you get down to 16,000 --. >> one of the photographs i haven't seen a photograph that some of the guys in the mission said they had seen it. >> the guy with that was wearing and clement weather gear as if he would have been preparing from atop which again would suggest it was on the surface or a snorkel though. >> they recovered a number of bodies. >> they did. three intact bodies and several others. they buried them. they were very careful. they prepared for that
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eventuality. we will bury these guys in a respectful manner. >> very prescient for bin laden. >> exactly. >> how far off the mainland was the submarine? >> 1500 miles northwest of hawaii. what is the range? >> this pickup was in the illusions and it was definitely definitely -- it turned out it was the aztec incident. i don't know if that's the sensitivity of how they are calibrated but the sosa's readings, they didn't see it but the air force let's look at aztecs also. i don't know if aztec was more sensitive or the range was further out.
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the anomalies were. clear. i talked to the acoustic analyst for the navy and he said it's very clear when you see an anomaly because it sounds like the ocean. those systems were the first thing that ever heard the sounds of the blue whale. we didn't know what an undersea animal sounded like. we started hearing these things and it's like oh that's a whale. an implosion or fire was really clear on the sensors. >> was there one of pacific beach here? >> putin is escalating the submarine barrier. we thought it was over. obviously we would continue to maintain submarine spent putin was building advanced subs and the soviets -- the russians were making these electric subs again and they are bigger and faster. i would expect a cousin that we
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are spending a lot of money on underwater subs. [inaudible] >> i ask you don't know who did this sonar. lockheed did everything on the claw and the telemetry most of that was done out of the helicopter which was a covert originally. so there was a lockheed office and unmarked lockheed office where they did the work, the electrical work. so i don't know actually. >> what became of the parks that were recovered? >> nobody knows. if somebody knows no one would tell me. most likely if it's dry a secret
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remote and in f. r. 71 was built there. the science and technology director that was essentially their west coast base. i would guess that's where the analysis went but they actually did a lot of salvage and recovery picking apart at the rec on the ship. most of the pieces had been picked out them boxed up and when he came into hawaii people showed up. certain things were taken right away and other parts were taken back lockstep and big trucks pulled up in crates for now. i would guess those things went to the area 51. really sensitive things like they have books that were in a quarters so it would have been a battle plan perhaps or firing instructions. those things probably went back to langley. where the torpedoes would go i'm
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not sure. it was really a total package. actually this is a question that came up in the pentagon meetings about whether we go forward or not. the number one thing on the list they wanted to get crypto machines in the keys. number two was the warheads on the icbms. they were interested in everything from fissile material to the detonation packaging and the guidance system. and then some of the navy guys i talked to said we were only interested in the whole construction at what the belts were. didn't know anything about what they are, where the subs are told. one thing they learned was they were cutting a lot of corners and this is when they start to suspect that we were running their military economy into the ground and they were having
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trouble keeping up. i think they found 2 x 4's. they were good at some things that definitely cutting corners and they have a lot more access than we did. it was not as big of a deal because for instance when this woman down they didn't tell the families would have happened. they were given combat pay and they were declared lost in an accident and they got maker settlements. the families, the widows for decades fought for recognition and finally the navy got more proper treatment. but it was really a package of things. they considered it as a rare opportunity to gain for five things we never would have gotten in one package. >> how long did the soviets -- it came up awfully quickly. >> it was weak but there's only so much you can do. the ocean was three miles deep so they were essentially looking
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on the surface. they just didn't see any signs of it and i think at some point it's three miles down. we don't know what their capability is to search. clearly they didn't have what we had and i didn't mention earlier this special project was sent out. it was very secretive. maybe special projects and it went out a nuclear sub that toad these cameras on 15,000-foot strings essentially and they were able to film the rack. i don't think the soviets had that capability. that came out of the branch, very small highly secret branch of the navy that was doing some deep-sea work but admiral rickover, he was the guy. they had almost tied it from him him. my subs only go to 200 or
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300 feet and everything under that is a relevant. they almost had to quietly work on an office that he didn't know about. when he found out he was like why are you wasting would have my submarine's? i think this soviets couldn't find it essentially. >> they did have an idea where to start. they just said they were on a mission to get xyz and it was a last call. it might be harder to identify a rough area. >> five years to the contractors. the ship was built in the in little over a year. things happen they happen very quickly. >> how many russian sailors were there? >> 98. like i said they brought up three bodies and parts of others. i'm not sure once they found out where the site was it's unclear
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favor went back and recover the bodies. i'm not sure. imagine the u.s. would not have accepted no explanation we would have wanted to have made every attempt possible. it's just really hard to operate operate. they had numerous submarine's. they were still losing. i think this is the law. the sad thing about the crew was they were supposed to go out. it was a cool twist from their perspective that the sub had come in from other combat duty and i don't know what surely does. there's a guaranteed period of leaf but the sub to go out on the next duty and mechanical issue and they wouldn't yell to get on line and tied so they basically said you have to go back. half the crew was unavailable
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but the captain ordered them to do it. the crew was young and inexperienced. which i don't think that had anything to do with the accident that may be. one guy was his last mission and he was going to get lumped up and command. >> maxwell would never have a last mission. >> if you watch the youtube of the funeral was touching because the mission director give the eulogy and his speech is really poignant. he basically and i'm paraphrasing but he says like just because our nations are or we respect these men as much as we respect aren't we hope someday the stones happen because we are are forced to do the thing we are doing. we do want to be here and then want to fight with us and we do want to fight with them. sometimes we have to do things they don't want to do.
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when the director of the cia went to moscow in 19 into after the wall fell he took a copy of the diving belt and the submarine as tokens of friendship or whatever. just to show we treated you guys well. >> did they recover the bodies then? >> no, three and parts of others others. unidentifiable. they had been down there five times. they were buried. >> after was public knowledge they were covered it once the russians knew we had it they would change everything in the submarine. >> they gave us the keys anyway it would have been assumed that when the sub sank they change
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the keys but it's still valuable because you can see what kind of machines they are using so they can reverse engineer the crypt no sort of like enigmatic purple during the war. would have given us a look at the kind to my sharon and also we can do is go back and look at the intercepting from the year before savannah say is picking all the chatter of all the time and they keep them in case someday we need to read them. you could go back and you would learn a lot. he would know all about how often they were communicating in the kinds of things they were telling each other. it would be valuable. >> any other questions? >> what happened to the people that had clearances that you talk to. the 80-year-old man in the nursing home did he get a call from anybody? >> he did not. >> did you put anybody in jail?
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>> i did not put anybody in jail jail. not yet anyway. it was really nothing that is still a sensitive. if there was a collision they te been covering up and somebody told me that ' i -- get a guy in trouble. maybe i should say is much more reticent about the rules and they still don't talk about it. the uss film the rack and that crew never spoke to the media. i was in communication with a couple of them in a warlike it's not worth it. >> did anybody review the book? >> no. they would love to. the only thing they tried to do in a couple of cases retired cia officer always get their interviews approved especially if it's on a sensitive subject so there were a few cases where
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they called public affairs at langley and asked permission to talk to me because they knew i had met with langley and there was quasi-approval. in those cases what they were told was unique to ride what you're going to tell them. that would take years basically prevailed, a back and say -- i would say you don't know what i'm going to say how -- so how would you write out your answers. >> nobody read the book? >> some engineers who wrote the contract made sure i wasn't screwing up the engineering because i was very technical but nobody read it. >> were you ever able to find somebody that was connected to howard hughes to talk to? >> no but the howard hughes
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archives at american university has a lot of material. the writers of one of his big biographies gave me access 2000 i was a treasure trove. everything that i needed was in there. i guess i didn't answer earlier how much he was involved remained a mystery. that was his living at the top of the desert and stage soiling himself in watching tv all day. like the blind drawn howard hughes. he had a group that they called the mormon mafia which were four or five very important leaders of this group. he trusted mormon specifically. the cia at that time was a working leadership as they were extremely patriotic and very loyal. hughes had all these people
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involved in this project the rall mormons. the guy who ran the front he was essentially an actor. his job was to go out and be like i'm the mining guy and i'm going to come to your conference bag with the story broke in the media they were at a conference. the story was told to me they had given some speeches and there was a break in the conference and he was going to be up next or whatever and he finds out and he's like i am out of here. there's no point in me doing this anymore. howard died within a year. very shortly afterwards he died. this was the last big thing that happened in his lifetime. no one confirmed that he had -- they had ever seen him. they wrote couple of meetings and hotels were a guy would
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leave the room and come back and maybe go next door but nobody saw him. >> no was the ankle with the mormons? they seem to have a better way of protecting secrets? >> i don't know. they were considered to be very loyal, very trustworthy and loyal. i don't know. in that period they were very involved with the cia. not any of the directors at that point that there were a lot in the cia. like i said there was a crew and they were christians from the south. maybe something about an extra layer of patriotic -- and certainly mormons don't drink so you were more likely to spill secrets at the bar so maybe that had something to do with it but i don't know.
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>> did you get a chance to find out what the russians were involved? >> i did go to russia. the answer is no but i went there. luckily i was able to do something else when i was there but one of the widows was supposed to be with me and one of the admirals was supposed to be with me and there were a handful when i got there. i was taking it out to her town and she called my translator and canceled and when we got there she said i don't trust americans. you could have told me that before i got on the train pitches that i will do it for $1000 i was like, no. i was like come on. i came all the way here. you should have told me don't trust me before i got here. but that woman her husband was the xo and she was instrumental. trying to get the leadership to acknowledge honor and pay them
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what they deserved. she was pretty better all around and i think she felt like again she took could have told me that before i got there. >> i think even "the news york times" wrote articles about it. >> all but that's not unusual. there were so many accidents with ships and subs. there isn't a responsibility like we have. we see this a little bit now. it might take a while but we ultimately feel like we need to tell people what happened to their family members. this is bigger than you. and she was very brave. i wish i would have been able to be there. i got my translator book and i haven't heard anything back. all right, thank you. >> are you going to sign some
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books? >> sure. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
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>> that all happened tonight on c-span2's booktv, 72 hours of nonfiction authors and books this holiday weekend. television for serious readers. hi, everyone. welcome to the 22nd annual texas book festival. thanks for coming out to support our authors and great writing in literacy. after the session here, ellen will sign books in the tent down the way. the books are for sale here courtesy of bookpeople, our great local, independent bookseller and i encourage you to support local

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