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Board of Inquiry Examines Powers U-2 Case

Feb. 21, 1962 - A special board of inquiry headed by E. Barrett Prettyman, a former Federal judge, is seeking to determine whether Francis Gary Powers (pictured center) fulfilled his contract with the C.I.A. and is entitled to more than $50,000 in back pay. President Kennedy said today that so far there was “no evidence” that the U-2 pilot had failed to comply with the secret contact. The special board will complete its inquiry by the middle of next week, and Mr. Powers then will be available to Congress and the press for questioning. “Mr. Powers has been cooperating fully,” the President remarked. There has been speculation over whether Mr. Powers’ contract called for him to destroy the U-2 plane if downed in Soviet territory and to avoid capture at all costs. Questions have also been raised over whether he went beyond the contract in telling the Soviet court that convicted him as much as he did about his job as a flying spy. Government officials have reported that no criminal charges are under consideration. Mr. Powers has volunteered to take a lie detector test. There was no word on whether such a test had been administered. It is understood that Mr. Powers has told U.S. intelligence agents substantially the same story he gave at his Moscow trial. Little additional knowledge has been obtained on the crucial question of how Lockheed-built U-2 was brought down 1,200 miles inside the Soviet Union. Experts are inclined to question Soviet reports that the plane was shot down by a rocket fired from the ground while it was flying at an altitude of about 68,000 feet. In his court testimony, Mr. Powers did not say that he had been shot down. He testified that his plane began falling after a “hollow-sounding explosion” accompanied by an orange-colored flash behind him.

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