Saturday, November 7, 2009

Letters to Langley

By far the greatest number of crank contacts are by mail. In the first eight months of Fiscal Year 1965, 1,143 letters addressed simply to CIA were identified as from cranks. This does not count those addressed otherwise--to the DCI by name or to specific field offices.

Neither does it include some unsolicited letters which may be helpful, pathetic, or merely misguided but are not from cranks. The following examples are all from March 1965: An ex-Marine sent a possibly practical suggestion for guerrilla warfare. A 17-year-old Thai girl asked how to get training in police investigation. A German student asked for help in locating his father, who had been captured by the Soviets in World War II. A 14-year-old boy asked if there were really such organizations as SMERSH and U.N.C.L.E. All such writers receive courteous replies.

But in the same month there arrived elaborate greetings to the DCI from a Maryland woman who thinks she is Catherine III, Empress of all the Russias, and who had previously sent a 5,000-word report on how she insured the successful invasion of Europe by entertaining Hitler privately for 12 hours on D-Day. Also in March 1965 came the advice that "now is the time--to train 100 of the top CIA men to penetrate every possible beauty parlor and Chinese restaurant . . . the results will amaze and constantly astound your organization." On 13 March a New York correspondent informed us that Rudolph Hess, from his cell in Spandau, was controlling ten leading Southern segregationists by long-distance hypnotism. And on 25 March a woman wrote to the Director from Massachusetts: "As near as I can make out there normally is a grey cloud at the base of the psyche. When the cloud backs up you go out of focus. But after taking Alka Seltzer and sodium bicarbonate I can sing Hokus Pokus you're in focus."

A 1964 letter was addressed to "Snuffy McDuffy, Top Floor, Closed Door, CIA, Washington, D.C." Perceptive mail clerks sent it to the Director's office, where it was found to contain a fairly reasonable suggestion for propaganda. The letter ended: "P.S. If you don't take appropriate action I'll write to the President and tell him you're chicken."

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