SECRET: NSA- The Dag Hammarskjöld case; missing sound files.

Gabriela Uweis filed this request with the National Security Agency of the United States of America.
Tracking #

F-2014-14595

Status
Completed

Communications

From: Gabriela Uweis

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:

Operation Celeste- The documentary

If this really is true, if The Secretary of The United Nations really was assassinated by a sinister nexus of big powers working in collusion, it could be the most important and shocking story ever told. It is John Le Carré meets Graham Greene meets Robert Ludlum, i.e. the most intense political thriller possible. The geopolitical reverberation of Dag Hammarskjöld's death in the jungles of Ndola in present day Zambia can still be heard and felt today, yet somehow his untimely death has always been overshadowed by the clear cut assassinations of iconoclastic heads of states, such as Gandhi, John F. Kennedy and Oluf Palme. But now a critical mass has assembled itself, and the time to make an indisputable argument for the likelihood, that Dag Hammarskjöld’s death was not a simple plane crash – which several investigations have concluded – is ripe. Now, thanks to Göran Björkdahl, a Swedish man working for Sweden's national foreign service in Africa, who began investigating the case himself, local, African stories can be told, and these statements lead to a whole other and much more disturbing conclusion about what caused the death of Dag Hammarskjöld. At the same time, Göran Björkdahl, working with other researchers, has data mined archives at universities and ministries around Europe and elsewhere, unearthing documents and witnesses that underpin his thesis; Dag Hammarskjöld was murdered. Following in the footsteps of Göran Björkdahl, from Stockholm, to London, Moscow and Washington, to the jungles of Ndola and ballistic laboratories of Los Angeles, not to forget tracking down a sinister private intelligence network once headquartered in South Africa, "Operation Celeste" will present itself as a captivating and intriguing political thriller, with the ice-cold and mathematical structure of a perfect logarithm.

We want to find following from NSA:

(a) Any recording or transcription of radio traffic intercepted or received by the US National Security Agency at its Cyprus station or any other station, on the night of 17-18 September 1961, appearing to relate to one aircraft firing upon another;

(b) Any radio message intercepted or received by the NSA between 2130 GMT on 17 September 1961 and 0030 GMT on 18 September 1961 concerning the landing or approach of an aircraft at Ndola, Northern Rhodesia.

Reference only part of the full commission report:

Report of the Commission of Inquiry
on whether the evidence now available would justify the United Nations in reopening its inquiry into the death of Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, pursuant to General Assembly resolution 1759 (XVII) of 26 October 1962

The Hague
9 September 2013

Page 47 out of 63

The maze
15.1 We reiterate that the foregoing report, albeit detailed, contains no more than a selection from what is now a very large body of evidence, all of which we have considered in the course of our work. Much of it has become known only in recent years, and it is still capable of being added to – indeed it has been augmented during the writing of this report. This alone, without embarking on the limitations of the three original inquiries, answers the
47
Report of the Hammarskjöld Commission 2013
initial question: does significant new evidence about Dag Hammarskjöld’s death exist? Undoubtedly it does.
15.2 The major question which follows is whether the extant evidence warrants the reopening of the UN’s own inquiry. This is not a simple question. It has caused us in particular to consider whether there is any realistic prospect that a resumed or fresh inquiry could do more than continue to move the numerous pieces now on the chessboard, with little prospect of any outcome but a stalemate. If there were no other realistic prospect, our answer to the question posed in our remit, despite the importance and intrinsic interest of the material, would have to be ‘No’. The maze of evidence would remain there for others to attempt to find their way through, but no outcome justifying the resumption of the official UN inquiry could be expected.
15.3 If, on the other hand, there were a golden thread in the maze, our answer would be ‘Yes’. For reasons to which we now turn, we think this may be the case.
A golden thread?
15.4 There is persuasive evidence that the aircraft was subjected to some form of attack or threat as it circled to land at Ndola, which was by then widely known to be its destination. Accepting, as we do, that there is – as the experts advise – no need for such an explanation to account for the crash and that it is capable of being fully explained as a controlled flight into terrain, we nevertheless consider that the possibility that the plane was in fact forced into its descent by some form of hostile action is supported by sufficient evidence to merit further inquiry.
15.5 For reasons which we hope emerge from section 12, we do not consider that the sabotage claim is capable of verification, even though it leaves some tantalising questions unanswered. This is not the same thing as saying that it is untrue; only that there is in our judgment no present prospect of ascertaining whether it is true or not. Accordingly we do not recommend that the sabotage evidence be further investigated for the present by the United Nations, even though this may (we cannot know) mean closing the door on the facts.
15.6 The aerial attack claim, by contrast, whether it is considered to have caused the descent of the plane by direct damage or by harassment, or to have triggered some form of disabling harm to the plane, is in our judgment capable of proof or disproof.
15.7 Both from the specific evidence of a physical US presence at Ndola airport with radio monitoring equipment, and from the broader evidence of the US National Security Agency’s worldwide monitoring activities in and about 1961, it is highly likely that the entirety of the local and regional Ndola radio traffic on the night of 17-18 September 1961 was tracked and recorded by the NSA, and possibly also by the CIA.
15.8 If the suggested attack or threat in reality occurred, the live cockpit narrative, whether in the form attributed by de Kemoularia to the pilot Beukels (section 13.45 above) or in the form of the recorded cockpit narrative recounted by Southall (sections 13.25-26 above),
48
Report of the Hammarskjöld Commission 2013
should in the ordinary course of events have been monitored, recorded (as indeed Southall testifies it had been), logged and archived by the US National Security Agency. It is likewise to be expected that any dialogue conducted by the Ndola control tower, and any messages or signals transmitted or received by the Albertina, were monitored and logged by the NSA.
15.9 Authenticated recordings of any such cockpit narrative or radio messages, if located, would furnish potentially conclusive evidence of what happened to the DC6. Thus, for example, if US records corroborate either or both of Beukels’ and Southall’s accounts, the inquiry will be close to an answer to the question of how those aboard the aircraft met their deaths, and some way towards allocating responsibility for it. Equally, however, if Beukels’ reported account is pure fiction and Southall’s recollection wholly mistaken, the eyewitness evidence alone still makes it appropriate to know what was overheard and recorded by the intensive surveillance of regional radio traffic which was undoubtedly maintained by US (and possibly other) security agencies on a night when it was known that the Secretary- General of the United Nations was flying to Ndola on a mission of international significance.
15.10 Thus any archived recording covering the last minutes of the Albertina, whether or not it corroborates a particular account or allegation, is likely to assist in explaining why the aircraft crashed. If, by contrast, an otherwise comprehensive log or archive contains no such recording and can be established never to have contained it, it will go a long way to answer the claim that the plane was attacked or threatened from the air.
Next steps
15.11 Freedom of Information Act requests made to the National Security Archive at George Washington University, DC, on behalf of the Commission have accordingly included a request for
(a) Any recording or transcription of radio traffic intercepted or received by the US National Security Agency at its Cyprus station or any other station, on the night of 17-18 September 1961, appearing to relate to one aircraft firing upon another;
(b) Any radio message intercepted or received by the NSA between 2130 GMT on 17 September 1961 and 0030 GMT on 18 September 1961 concerning the landing or approach of an aircraft at Ndola, Northern Rhodesia.
15.12 The NSA’s initial response indicated that two out of three documents “responsive” to the Commission’s request appeared to be exempt from disclosure by reason of “top secret” classification on national security grounds. On 19 July 2013 Dr Mary Curry, the Archive’s Public Service Coordinator, wrote to the Commission:
“.... please note that according to Dr John Prados, our expert on the CIA, National Security Agency intercepts have always been highly guarded by declassifiers. He said for the entire Cold War period there are only a few instances (some of Korea, some of Gulf of Tonkin, a
49
Report of the Hammarskjöld Commission 2013
few on Vietnam negotiations, some on the Six Day War) where we know messages have been released. Notwithstanding, we have filed Freedom of Information Act requests for the intercepts for the dates listed....”
An appeal against the continuing classification of these documents, which the Commission understands to be subject to a qualified 50-year rule, has been lodged.
The possibility of reopening the UN inquiry
15.13 This appears to the Commission an appropriate point at which to conclude its work.
15.14 The Commission respectfully considers that the United Nations, deploying authority which the Commission does not possess, would be justified in reopening its 1961-2 inquiry for the initial purpose of confirming or refuting, from intercept records, the evidence indicating that the descent of the Secretary-General’s plane was brought about by some form of attack or threat. Such records appear, on the evidence currently available, to be held, if anywhere, in the United States. The Commission’s investigations have reached a point at which this line of inquiry appears capable of producing a clear answer, and it is appropriate that the process should now pass into the hands of the General Assembly.
15.15 Whether any larger investigation is justified will then fall for decision depending on what, if anything, the proposed initial inquiry has revealed. If this point is reached, we see no reason why it should not be feasible to restrict further investigation to what then appears realistic and relevant.
15.16 The Commission accordingly neither recommends nor anticipates the resumption of the UN inquiry at large. It would respectfully propose a focused and staged resumption, potentially concluding at the first stage but, if it continues, restricting itself to what will by then be identifiable as the key issues. What these may be are indicated in our report; but we recognise that events can confound predictions.
15.17 It is thus possible that the last half-century, far from obscuring the facts, may have brought us somewhat closer to the truth about an event of global significance which deserves the attention both of history and of justice.

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as I believe this request is in the public interest. The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

In the event that fees cannot be waived, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Gabriela Uweis

From: National Security Agency

The request has been rejected, with the agency stating that the information or document(s) requested are exempt from disclosure.

From: National Security Agency

A copy of documents responsive to the request.

From: National Security Agency

A cover letter granting the request and outlining any exempted materials, if any.

Files

pages

Close