1630 – Indians introduced pilgrims to popcorn at Thanksgiving.
1732 – George Washington, Commander-in-chief of Continental forces during the American Revolution and first U.S. President, is born at Bridges Creek in the Virginia colony. On April 30, 1789, George Washington, standing on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street in New York, took his oath of office as the first President of the United States. “As the first of every thing, in our situation will serve to establish a Precedent,” he wrote James Madison, “it is devoutly wished on my part, that these precedents may be fixed on true principles.” Born into a Virginia planter family, he learned the morals, manners, and body of knowledge requisite for an 18th century Virginia gentleman. He pursued two intertwined interests: military arts and western expansion. At 16 he helped survey Shenandoah lands for Thomas, Lord Fairfax. Commissioned a lieutenant colonel in 1754, he fought the first skirmishes of what grew into the French and Indian War. The next year, as an aide to Gen. Edward Braddock, he escaped injury although four bullets ripped his coat and two horses were shot from under him. From 1759 to the outbreak of the American Revolution, Washington managed his lands around Mount Vernon and served in the Virginia House of Burgesses. Married to a widow, Martha Dandridge Custis, he devoted himself to a busy and happy life. But like his fellow planters, Washington felt himself exploited by British merchants and hampered by British regulations. As the quarrel with the mother country grew acute, he moderately but firmly voiced his resistance to the restrictions. When the Second Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia in May 1775, Washington, one of the Virginia delegates, was elected Commander in Chief of the Continental Army. On July 3, 1775, at Cambridge, Massachusetts, he took command of his ill-trained troops and embarked upon a war that was to last six grueling years. He realized early that the best strategy was to harass the British. He reported to Congress, “we should on all Occasions avoid a general Action, or put anything to the Risque, unless compelled by a necessity, into which we ought never to be drawn.” Ensuing battles saw him fall back slowly, then strike unexpectedly. Finally in 1781 with the aid of French allies–he forced the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. Washington longed to retire to his fields at Mount Vernon. But he soon realized that the Nation under its Articles of Confederation was not functioning well, so he became a prime mover in the steps leading to the Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia in 1787. When the new Constitution was ratified, the Electoral College unanimously elected Washington President. He did not infringe upon the policy-making powers that he felt the Constitution gave Congress. But the determination of foreign policy became preponderantly a Presidential concern. When the French Revolution led to a major war between France and England, Washington refused to accept entirely the recommendations of either his Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, who was pro-French, or his Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, who was pro-British. Rather, he insisted upon a neutral course until the United States could grow stronger. To his disappointment, two parties were developing by the end of his first term. Wearied of politics, feeling old, he retired at the end of his second. In his Farewell Address, he urged his countrymen to forswear excessive party spirit and geographical distinctions. In foreign affairs, he warned against long-term alliances. Washington enjoyed less than three years of retirement at Mount Vernon, for he died of a throat infection December 14, 1799. For months the Nation mourned him.
1786 – In London, John Adams meets with the ambassador of Tripoli in order to negotiate a settlement to end piracy on American shipping in the Mediterranean Sea and off the coasts of Portugal and Spain. The negotiations fail.
1819 – Spanish minister Do Luis de Onis and U.S. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams sign the Florida Purchase Treaty (Adams-Onis Treaty), in which Spain agrees to cede the remainder of its old province of Florida to the United States. Spanish colonization of the Florida peninsula began at St. Augustine in 1565. The Spanish colonists enjoyed a brief period of relative stability before Florida came under attack from resentful Native Americans and ambitious English colonists to the north in the 17th century. Spain’s last-minute entry into the French and Indian War on the side of France cost it Florida, which the British acquired through the first Treaty of Paris in 1763. After 20 years of British rule, however, Florida was returned to Spain as part of the second Treaty of Paris, which ended the American Revolution in 1783. Spain’s hold on Florida was tenuous in the years after American independence, and numerous boundary disputes developed with the United States. In 1819, after years of negotiations, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams achieved a diplomatic coup with the signing of the Florida Purchase Treaty, which officially put Florida into U.S. hands at no cost beyond the U.S. assumption of some $5 million of claims by U.S. citizens against Spain. Formal U.S. occupation began in 1821, and General Andrew Jackson, the hero of the War of 1812, was appointed military governor. Florida was organized as a U.S. territory in 1822 and was admitted into the Union as a slave state in 1845.
1847 – During the Mexican-American War, Mexican General Santa Anna surrounds the outnumbered forces of U.S. General Zachary Taylor at the Angostura Pass in Mexico and demands an immediate surrender. Taylor refused, allegedly replying, “Tell him to go to hell,” and early the next morning Santa Anna dispatched some 15,000 troops to move against the 5,000 Americans. The superior U.S. artillery was able to halt one of the two advancing Mexican divisions, while Jefferson Davis’ Mississippi riflemen led the defense of the extreme left flank against the other Mexican advance. By five o’clock in the afternoon, the Mexicans begin to withdraw. The Mexican-American War began with a dispute over the U.S. government’s 1845 annexation of Texas. In January 1846, President James K. Polk, a strong advocate of westward expansion, ordered General Taylor to occupy disputed territory between the Nueces and Rio Grande rivers. Mexican troops attacked Taylor’s forces, and in May 1846 Congress approved a declaration of war against Mexico. At Buena Vista in February 1847, and at Monterrey in September, Taylor proved a brilliant military commander, earning the nickname “Old Rough and Ready” while emerging from the war a national hero. He won the Whig presidential nomination in 1848 and defeated the Democratic candidate, Lewis Cass, in November. The other hero of the Battle of Buena Vista, Jefferson Davis, became secretary of war under President Franklin Pierce in 1853 and president of the Confederate States of America in 1861.
1861 – Jefferson Davis was sworn in as the permanent president of the Confederate States of America on Washington’s birthday. Davis was sworn in as president of the Confederacy in Richmond, Va., following his inauguration in Alabama on Feb 18.
1862 – Union naval vessels entered Savannah River through Wall’s Cut, isolating Fort Pulaski.
1862 – Jefferson Davis is officially inaugurated for a six-year term as the President of the Confederate States of America in Richmond, Virginia. He was previously inaugurated as a provisional president on February 18, 1861.
1864 – Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest routs a Union force three times the size of his army in a battle that helped end Union General William T. Sherman’s expedition into Alabama. Sherman was marching an army east across Mississippi from Vicksburg to Meridian. He had captured and destroyed a vital Confederate supply center at Meridian and was planning to move further east to Selma, Alabama, another Rebel supply base. Sherman was relying on cavalry support from General William Sooy Smith, who was coming southeast from Memphis, Tennessee. Sherman directed Smith to meet him at Meridian on February 10, but Sherman did not occupy Meridian until February 14. Meanwhile, Smith dallied in Tennessee waiting for the arrival of Colonel George Waring Jr.’s cavalry brigade from Kentucky, and did not leave for Mississippi until February 11. On February 20, some of Smith’s men skirmished with Confederates near West Point, just over 100 miles north of Meridian. The Yankee troops slowly drove the Confederates back through West Point. The next day, more skirmishing flared as the troops continued south. The Confederates were led by Jeffrey Forrest, Nathan’s younger brother. The elder Forrest waited south of West Point with the intent of drawing Smith’s force into a swampy area between two rivers. Smith caught on to the plan just before it was too late and began a retreat back through West Point. On February 22, The Yankees made a stand north of West Point and fought off a Confederate attack during which Jeffrey Forrest was killed. With the older Forrest blocking his way to Meridian, Smith retreated back to Memphis. The Confederates suffered 144 men killed, wounded, or missing, while the Union lost 324. The engagement was significant because Sherman was forced to return to Vicksburg. The battle also lifted Confederate morale and enhanced the reputation of Nathan Bedford Forrest, who had taken on a much larger Union force and won.
1864 – Battle at Dalton, Georgia.
1865 – RADM Porter’s gunboats’ bombardment cause surrender of Wilmington, NC. The defenders evacuated Fort Anderson and Porter’s ships steamed up to Wilmington, which earlier in the day had been occupied by General Terry’s men after General Bragg had ordered the evacuation of the now defenseless city.
1865 – Tennessee adopted a new constitution abolishing slavery.
1870 – After arriving on USS Nipsic, and supported by USS Guard and USS Nyack, the Darien Expedition, commanded by CDR Thomas O. Selfridge, Jr., begins active operations ashore at Caldonia Bay to survery the Isthmus of Darien, Panama, for an interoceanic ship canal.
1881 – President Hayes, whose wife is nicknamed Lemonade Lucy because she serves no alcohol in the White house, declares that no alcoholic beverages are to be sold on military posts.
1899 – Filipino forces led by General Antonio Luna launch counterattacks for the first time against the American forces during the Philippine–American War. The Filipinos fail to regain Manila from the Americans. The Second Battle of Caloocan, alternately called the Second Battle of Manila, ran to February 24, 1899, in Caloocan. This counterattack failed to regain Manila mainly because of lack of coordination among Filipino units and lack of artillery support.
1900 – Hawaii became a US territory.
1902 – A fistfight broke out in the Senate. Senator Benjamin Tillman suffered a bloody nose for accusing Senator John McLaurin of bias on the Philippine tariff issue.
1909 – The Great White Fleet returned to Norfolk, Va., from an around-the-world show of naval power. 1st US fleet to circle the globe. It consisted of 16 battleships divided into two squadrons, along with various escorts. Roosevelt sought to demonstrate growing American military power and blue-water navy capability. Hoping to enforce treaties and protect overseas holdings, the U.S. Congress appropriated funds to build American sea power. Beginning with just 90 small ships, over one-third of them wooden, the navy quickly grew to include new modern steel fighting vessels. The hulls of these ships were painted a stark white, giving the armada the nickname “Great White Fleet”.
1915 – Germany began “unrestricted” submarine warfare.
1918 – Swept along by hysterical fears of treacherous German spies and domestic labor violence, the Montana legislature passes a Sedition Law that severely restricts freedom of speech and assembly. Three months later, Congress adopted a federal Sedition Act modeled on the Montana law. The roots of the Montana Sedition Law lay with the hyper-patriotic sentiments inspired by World War I and growing fears of labor unrest and violence in the state. A sizeable number of Montanans had resisted American entry in WWI, and the Montana congresswoman Jeanette Rankin (the first women elected to Congress) had voted against U.S. involvement in the Great War. Once the U.S. did become involved, though, many pro-war Montanans viewed any further criticism of the war effort as treasonous-especially if it came from the state’s sizeable German-American population. At the same time, the perceived need for wartime unity sharpened many Montanans’ distrust of radical labor groups like the socialist International Workers of the World (IWW). The Montana mining town of Butte had been rocked by labor violence in recent years. In 1914, a group of men who may have been IWW members destroyed the offices of an opposing union with dynamite. An IWW leader named Frank Little had also recently given speeches in Butte condemning American involvement in the war, claiming it was being fought for big business interests. Determined to silence both antiwar and radical union voices, the Montana legislature approved a Sedition Law that made it illegal to criticize the federal government or the armed forces during time of war. Even disparaging remarks about the American flag could be grounds for prosecution and imprisonment. Through the efforts of Montana’s two senators, the act also became the model for the federal Sedition Law of May 1918. Like the Montana law, the federal act made it a crime to speak or write anything critical of the American war effort. Later widely viewed as the most sweeping violation of civil liberties in modern American history, the federal Sedition Law led to the arrests of 1,500 American citizens. Crimes included denouncing the draft, criticizing the Red Cross, and complaining about wartime taxes. The Montana law led to the conviction and imprisonment of 47 people, some with prison terms of 20 years or more. Most were pardoned when the war ended and cooler heads prevailed, but the state and federal Sedition Laws proved highly effective in destroying the IWW and other radical labor groups that had long attacked the federal government as the tool of big business. Since many of these radicals were vocal opponents of much of the government wartime policy, they bore the brunt of the Sedition Law rebukes, and suffered sorely as a result.
1924 – U.S. President Calvin Coolidge becomes the first President to deliver a radio broadcast from the White House.
1932 – The Purple Heart award was reinstituted.
1932 – Adolf Hitler was the Nazi Party candidate for the presidential elections in Germany. The election of Hitler was supposed to mark the beginning of the Thousand-Year Reich.
1933 – Nazi Herman Goring formed SA/SS-police.
1935 – All plane flights over the White House were barred because they disturbed President Roosevelt’s sleep.
1942 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt orders Gen. Douglas MacArthur out of the Philippines, as the American defense of the islands collapses. The Philippines had been part of the American commonwealth since it was ceded by Spain at the close of the Spanish-American War. When the Japanese invaded China in 1937 and signed the Tripartite Pact with fascist nations Germany and Italy in 1940, the United States responded by, among other things, strengthening the defense of the Philippines. General MacArthur was called out of retirement to command 10,000 American Army troops, 12,000 Filipino enlisted men who fought as part of the U.S. Army, and 100,000 Filipino army soldiers, who were poorly trained and ill prepared. MacArthur radically overestimated his troops’ strength and underestimated Japan’s determination. The Rainbow War Plan, a defensive strategy for U.S. interests in the Pacific that was drawn up in the late 1930s and later refined by the War Department, required that MacArthur withdraw his troops into the mountains of the Bataan Peninsula and await better-trained and -equipped American reinforcements. Instead, MacArthur decided to take the Japanese head on–and he never recovered. On the day of the Pearl Harbor bombing, the Japanese destroyed almost half of the American aircraft based in the Philippines. Amphibious landings of Japanese troops along the Luzon coast followed. By late December, MacArthur had to pull his forces back defensively to the Bataan Peninsula–the original strategy belatedly pursued. By January 2, 1942, the Philippine capital of Manila fell to the Japanese. President Roosevelt had to admit to himself (if not to the American people, who believed the Americans were winning the battle with the Japanese in the Philippines), that the prospects for the American forces were not good–and that he could not afford to have General MacArthur fall captive to the Japanese. A message arrived at Corregidor on February 20, ordering MacArthur to leave immediately for Mindanao, then on to Melbourne, Australia, where “You will assume command of all United States troops.” MacArthur finally obeyed the president’s order in March.
1943 – The battleship USS Iowa, the first in the Navy’s 45,000 ton class, was commissioned. The ship carried Pres. Roosevelt to Tehran in Nov. and was decommissioned in 1990. Also noted as 1st in the 48,000 ton class.
1943 – A night battle develops on the front before Thala (during night of February 21-22). Both sides suffer heavy losses. At the same time, an American artillery regiment (led by General Irwin) arrives after an 800 mile march from Oran achieved in 4 days. At dawn the British, with the newly arrived American artillery support, launch a limited counterattack. The German forces pull back in the afternoon. The improved flying weather on this day is generally noted as weighing in the Allies’ favor.
1943 – The USS Campbell, CG, rammed the U-606 in the North Atlantic after the U-boat was forced to surface after being attacked by the Polish destroyer Burza. The U-boat sank before a boarding party could reach the submarine. The Campbell rescued five of the U-606’s crew. Due to the collision, Campbell’s engine room was flooded and she lost power but was towed to safety, repaired, and returned to service.
1944 – In the Marianas, Japanese bombers and torpedo planes attack the ships of US Task Force 58.
1944 – General Truscott takes full command of VI Corps at Anzio, replacing General Lucas.
1944 – US forces land on Parry Island, in the Eniwetok Atoll. There is heavy Japanese resistance.
1944 – American aircraft mistakenly bomb the Dutch towns of Nijmegen, Arnhem, Enschede and Deventer, resulting in 800 dead in Nijmegen alone.
1945 – US 5th Army makes some gains in mountain fighting high up in the Reno Valley.
1945 – The US 20th Corps (part of US 3rd Army) achieves most of its objectives in the area between the Saar and Moselle rivers.
1945 – The naval gun and air bombardment (by US Task Forces 52, 54 and 58) continues. Elements of the US 5th Amphibious Corps continue to make slow progress toward Mount Suribachi to the south and the airfield to the north (most of which has now been captured). There are Japanese counterattacks and infiltration attempts during the night.
1945 – German Ju88 bombers sink the SS Henry Bacon. This is the last Allied merchant ship to be sunk by German aircraft during the war.
1946 – George Kennan, the American charge d’affaires in Moscow, sends an 8,000-word telegram to the Department of State detailing his views on the Soviet Union, and U.S. policy toward the communist state. Kennan’s analysis provided one of the most influential underpinnings for America’s Cold War policy of containment. Kennan was among the U.S. diplomats to help establish the first American embassy in the Soviet Union in 1933. While he often expressed respect for the Russian people, his appraisal of the communist leadership of the Soviet Union became increasingly negative and harsh. Throughout World War II he was convinced that President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s spirit of friendliness and cooperation with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin was completely misplaced. Less than a year after Roosevelt’s death, Kennan, then serving as U.S. charge d’affaires in Moscow, released his opinions in what came to be known as the “long telegram.” The lengthy memorandum began with the assertion that the Soviet Union could not foresee “permanent peaceful coexistence” with the West. This “neurotic view of world affairs” was a manifestation of the “instinctive Russian sense of insecurity.” As a result, the Soviets were deeply suspicious of all other nations and believed that their security could only be found in “patient but deadly struggle for total destruction of rival power.” Kennan was convinced that the Soviets would try to expand their sphere of influence, and he pointed to Iran and Turkey as the most likely immediate trouble areas. In addition, Kennan believed the Soviets would do all they could to “weaken power and influence of Western Powers on colonial backward, or dependent peoples.” Fortunately, although the Soviet Union was “impervious to logic of reason,” it was “highly sensitive to logic of force.” Therefore, it would back down “when strong resistance is encountered at any point.” The United States and its allies, he concluded, would have to offer that resistance. Kennan’s telegram caused a sensation in Washington. Stalin’s aggressive speeches and threatening gestures toward Iran and Turkey in 1945-1946 led the Truman administration to decide to take a tougher stance and rely on the nation’s military and economic muscle rather than diplomacy in dealing with the Soviets. These factors guaranteed a warm reception for Kennan’s analysis. His opinion that Soviet expansionism needed to be contained through a policy of “strong resistance” provided the basis for America’s Cold War diplomacy through the next two decades. Kennan’s diplomatic career certainly received a boost–he was named U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union in 1952.
1952 – The U.S. signed a military aid pact with Peru.
1953 – General Mark Clark, commander in chief U.N. Command, proposed an exchange of sick and wounded prisoners. The North Koreans charged the United Nations with germ warfare.
1954 – U.S. was to install 60 Thor nuclear missiles in Britain.
1955 – In Operation Teapot’s second detonation, codenamed Moth, the total device weight was 445 lb (the lightest complete fission device yet fired); the actual nuclear system was 23 inches in diameter and weighed 375 lb. This was the first test to use an ENS (external neutron source) initiator – a compact pulse neutron tube. Predicted yield was 4 kt. Actual, only 2kt.
1962 – A Soviet bid for new Geneva arms talks was turned down by the U.S.
1963 – Moscow warned the U.S. that an attack on Cuba would mean war.
1965 – General William Westmoreland, commander of Military Assistance Command Vietnam, cables Washington, D.C., to request that two battalions of U.S. Marines be sent to protect the U.S. airbase at Da Nang. Ambassador Maxwell Taylor, aware of Westmoreland’s plan, disagreed and cabled President Lyndon B. Johnson from Saigon to warn that such a step would encourage South Vietnam to “shuck off greater responsibilities.” The Joint Chiefs of Staff, however, supported Westmoreland’s request and on February 26, White House officials cabled Taylor and Westmoreland that the troops would be sent, and that Taylor should “Secure GVN [Government of South Vietnam] approval.” General Westmoreland later insisted that he did not regard his request as “the first step in a growing American commitment,” but by 1969 there were over 540,000 American troops in South Vietnam.
1967 – Operation Junction City is launched to ease pressure on Saigon. It was an effort to smash the Viet Cong’s stronghold in Tay Ninh Province and surrounding areas along the Cambodian border northwest of Saigon. The purpose of the operation was to drive the Viet Cong away from populated areas and into the open, where superior American firepower could be more effectively used. In the largest operation of the war to date, four South Vietnamese and 22 U.S. battalions were involved–more than 25,000 troops. The first day’s operation was supported by 575 aircraft sorties, a record number for a single day in South Vietnam. The operation was marked by one of the largest airmobile assaults in history when 240 troop-carrying helicopters descended on the battlefield. There were 2,728 enemy casualties by the end of the operation on March 17.
1972 – President Nixon met with Mao Tse-tung in Peking and Chinese Premier Chou En-Lai in Beijing.
1973 – Following President Richard Nixon’s visit to the People’s Republic of China, the two countries agree to establish liaison offices.
1974 – Samuel Byck tries and fails to assassinate U.S. President Richard Nixon. Samuel Joseph Byck (January 30, 1930 – February 22, 1974) was an unemployed former tire salesman who attempted to hijack a plane flying out of Baltimore/Washington International Airportwith the intent to crash into the White House in the hope of killing U.S. President Richard Nixon. Armed with a .22 caliber revolver stolen from a friend of his and a bomb made out of 2 gallon jugs of gasoline and an igniter. All through this process, Byck made audio recordings explaining his motives and his plans; he expected to be considered a hero for his actions, and wanted to fully document his reasons for the assassination. Byck drove to the Baltimore/Washington International Airport. He shot and killed Maryland Aviation Administration Police Officer George Neal Ramsburg before storming aboard a DC-9, Delta Air Lines Flight 523 to Atlanta, which he chose because it was the closest flight that was ready to take off. After pilots Reese (Doug) Loftin and Fred Jones told him they could not take off until wheel blocks were removed, he shot them both and grabbed a nearby passenger, ordering her to “fly the plane.” Jones died as he was being removed from the aircraft after the event was concluded; Loftin survived the attack. Byck told a flight attendant to close the door or he would blow up the plane. Anne Arundel County Police officers attempted to shoot out the tires of the aircraft in order to prevent it from taking off, but the .38 caliber bullets fired from the Smith & Wesson revolvers issued to the officers at that time period failed to penetrate the tires of the aircraft and ricocheted off, some hitting the wing of the aircraft. After a standoff with police, Charles Troyer, an Anne Arundel County police officer on the jetway, stormed the plane and fired four shots through the aircraft door at Byck with a .357 Magnum revolver taken from the deceased Ramsburg. Two of the shots penetrated the thick window of the aircraft door and wounded Byck. Before the police could gain entry to the aircraft, Byck committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. A briefcase containing the gasoline bomb was found under his body. The plane never left the gate, and Nixon’s schedule was not affected by the assassination attempt.
1974 – LTJG Barbara Ann Allen becomes first Navy designated female aviator.
1984 – President Reagan, in a press conference, also said that the U.S. is committed to keeping the Strait of Hormuz open. Britain and the U.S. send warships to the Persian Gulf. Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini threatened closure of the Strait of Hormuz when Iraq started shooting at oil tankers attempting to transit the strait, but had not yet attempted this drastic step. The U.S. and Britain had three major policy objectives with respect to the crisis. One, to prevent disruption of oil shipments that would cause serious hardship for Western economies. Another is to ensure the security of oil-producing governments in the area that have been friendly to the West and have resisted Soviet expansionism in the Gulf. And lastly, to ensure that whatever the outcome of the war, the Soviet Union would not have a dominant position in either country. The Carter Doctrine of 1980 addressed the stated intention of the U.S. to intervene militarily in the region if the shipment of oil was halted or curtailed.
1990 – Former President Reagan’s videotaped testimony for the trial of former national security adviser John Poindexter was released in Washington; in his deposition, Reagan said he never had “any inkling” his aides were secretly arming the Nicaraguan Contras.
1991 – President Bush and America’s Gulf War allies gave Iraq 24 hours to begin withdrawing from Kuwait, or face a final all-out attack. Iraq denounced the “shameful” US ultimatum, aligning itself with a Soviet peace plan the US had rejected.
1991 – US soldiers were issued the drug pyridostigmine bromide (PB) to counter the effects of the nerve agents tabun and soman. The drug was prescribed at 3 pills per day, but produced a physical a rush and was abused by many service people. It was later suspected as a cause of the symptoms of Gulf War syndrome. The drug was not fully approved by the FDA and military personnel were not informed of its effects. In 1999 a 2-year Rand analysis concluded that the drug pyridostigmine bromide could not be excluded as a contributor to Gulf War syndrome. The drug was given to as many as 300,000 US troops during the Persian gulf war.
1994 – CIA operative Aldrich Ames is arrested for selling secrets to the Soviet Union. Ames had access to the names and identities of all U.S. spies in Russia, and by becoming a double agent he was directly responsible for jeopardizing the lives of CIA agents working in the Eastern bloc. At least 10 men were killed after Ames revealed their identities, and more were sent to Russian gulags. Maria del Rosario Casas Ames, Aldrich’s wife and an ex-CIA employee herself, was also charged for her role in accepting approximately $2.7 million (the most the Soviets ever paid a foreign spy) for providing the highly confidential information to the KGB. It was the Ames’ spending that finally led to their downfall, but for many years no one questioned their ability to buy expensive cars and homes (paid for with cash) on his government salary. Ames picked up the cash at secret drops in the Washington, D.C., area and in unauthorized travels to Colombia and Venezuela. Aldrich Ames was the biggest success of the Soviet Union’s reinvigorated espionage program. After the disastrous invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the Russians decided that spying was their best bet for improving their strategic position vis-ý-vis the United States. Dimitri Yakushkin was put in charge of a team called Group North. Yakushkin put more emphasis and money into clandestine operations and was rewarded when they turned Ames into a double agent. Ames, who had worked for the CIA since 1962, and whose main duties had included contacting Soviet sources, was the crown jewel for Group North. His information destroyed almost the whole American intelligence program in Russia. Later, a Senate Intelligence Committee issued a report that harshly criticized the CIA leadership for their negligence in allowing Ames to get away with his subterfuge for so long.
1995 – France accused four American diplomats and a fifth U.S. citizen of spying, and asked them to leave the country.
1995 – The Corona reconnaissance satellite program, in existence from 1959 to 1972, is declassified. The Corona program was a series of American strategic reconnaissance satellites produced and operated by the Central Intelligence Agency Directorate of Science & Technology with substantial assistance from the U.S. Air Force. The Corona satellites were used for photographic surveillance of the Soviet Union (USSR), the People’s Republic of China, and other areas beginning in June 1959 and ending in May 1972. There were 144 Corona satellites launched, of which 102 returned usable photographs.
1996 – The space shuttle “Columbia” blasted into orbit on a mission to unreel a satellite on the end of a 12.8-mile cord.
1996 – An F-14 crashed in the Persian Gulf. It was the 3rd this month and the 32nd since 1991. The navy says that record is not alarmingly high but ordered the entire fleet grounded for 72 hours to check for any common threads.
1998 – United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan reaches an agreement with senior Iraqi officials over U.N. inspections of suspected Iraqi weapons sites. The deal includes opening eight Iraqi presidential compounds to weapons inspectors, one of the major points of contention between Iraq and the U.N. Annan will now present the agreement to the U.N. Security Council for approval.
2000 – The space shuttle Endeavour and its crew of 6 returned to Cape Canaveral with over a weeks worth of radar images to map Earth.
2001 – A UN tribunal found 3 Bosnian Serbs guilty of crimes against humanity for the rape, torture and enslavement of Muslim women in Foca between 1992-1993. This was the first case of wartime sexual enslavement to go before an international court.
2003 – US Secretary of State, Colin Powell says there will be no war if Saddam Hussein leaves Iraq. An intelligence official tells The Washington Times that Saddam Hussein has started deploying his armed forces around Iraq in order to prevent the US from achieving a quick victory.
2005 – A Virginia man was charged with plotting with al-Qaida to kill President Bush. Ahmed Omar Abu Ali was convicted on all counts in November 2005.
2005 – In Belgium a NATO summit announced a 12-year program to destroy Soviet-era weapons in Ukraine. Ukraine’s Pres. Viktor Yushchenko attended.
2005 – Interim Iraqi Vice President Ibrahim al-Jaafari was chosen as his Shiite ticket’s candidate for prime minister after Ahmad Chalabi dropped his bid.
2006 – The Askariyah Mosqe in Samarra is bombed. One of the Shiite holy places, the golden dome of the mosque is destroyed. The attack is a deliberate, and immediately successful attempt, by the Sunni al-Qaeda to stir up sectarian strife in Iraq in order to hamper efforts by the Iraqi government and the Coalition to rebuild. Sectarian violence expanded to a new level of intensity following the al-Askari Mosque bombing in the Iraqi city of Samarra . Although no injuries occurred in the blast, the mosque was severely damaged and the bombing resulted in violence over the following days. Over 100 dead bodies with bullet holes were found on 23 February, and at least 165 people are thought to have been killed. In the aftermath of this attack the U.S. military calculated that the average homicide rate in Baghdad tripled from 11 to 33 deaths per day.
2007 – United States Army Sergeant Paul Cortez is sentenced to 100 years in prison with the possibility of parole after ten years for his role in the gang rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the murder of her family.
2008 – The United States warns the Serbian government that it has a responsibility to protect its assets after about 1,000 protesters set fire to the U.S. embassy in anger at Kosovo’s declaration of independence.
2012 – US troops at Bagram Base disposed copies of the Quran that had been used by Taliban prisoners to write messages to each other. As part of the disposal parts of the books were burned. Afghan forces working at the base reported this, resulting in outraged Afghans besieging Bagram AFB, raining it with petrol bombs and stones. After five days of protest, 30 people had been killed, including four Americans.
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