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Michael Todd Bennett
East Carolina University (Greenville, NC 27858-5235)
Howard Hughes, the CIA, and the Untold Story Behind Their Hunt for a Sunken Soviet Submarine

A book exploring intelligence oversight and accountability though a narrative account of the covert 1974 CIA operation to use Howard Hughes's ship Glomar Explorer to raise a sunken Soviet submarine.

What led the Central Intelligence Agency to think that it could ally with one of the world’s most newsworthy figures to secretly operate a giant ship capable of doing the impossible, all without getting caught? Based on interviews as well as newly declassified files, my book, Imagination Unlimited, studies one of the biggest covert operations in CIA history—the 1974 voyage of the Hughes Glomar Explorer, a spyship ostensibly owned by eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes, to raise a sunken Soviet submarine—to address a small group of questions that remain almost as unresolved today as they were forty-plus years ago. What is the value of intelligence oversight? Does greater accountability harm the nation by discouraging the sort of blue-sky thinking that keeps the U.S. intelligence community one step ahead of the competition? Or, does it help by placing needed limits on that community’s overactive imagination?

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Diplomatic History; History, Other; U.S. History

Public Scholars

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2018 – 12/31/2018