Notable Deaths Elsewhere

October 19, 2009

MILAN MISKOVSKY, 83

CIA lawyer in hostage cases

Milan C. "Mike" Miskovsky, 83, a onetime CIA lawyer who quietly worked behind the scenes in high-profile hostage negotiations and also investigated the causes of racial turmoil in the 1960s, died Oct. 15 of lung cancer at his home in Washington.

Early in his career, Mr. Miskovsky was a forester in the Western United States. After graduating from George Washington University law school in 1956, he joined the CIA's legal office. As its assistant general counsel, he negotiated a prisoner exchange that freed U-2 spy plane pilot Francis Gary Powers and helped arrange the release of Cuban-Americans captured during the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. He later directed an inquiry into the underlying causes of racial unrest for the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, better known as the Kerner Commission.

On May 1, 1960, Mr. Powers' high-altitude spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union. He ejected from the aircraft and was captured on the ground. Soviet authorities interrogated Mr. Powers for several months before sentencing him to 10 years in prison for espionage.

Mr. Miskovsky, careful not to deal directly with Soviet representatives, hired New York lawyer James Donovan to handle face-to-face negotiations.

Mr. Powers was released in dramatic fashion on Feb. 10, 1962, when he walked across Berlin's Glienicke Bridge and met U.S. officials on the other side. In exchange, a British-born Soviet spy known as Rudolf Abel, who had been convicted of espionage in New York in 1957, walked across the bridge from the other direction, passing Mr. Powers in the middle. Reporters dubbed the Glienicke the "Bridge of Spies."

In April 1961, a 1,400-man force of Cuban-American exiles called Brigade 2506 launched an ill-fated invasion of their homeland, with the intent of unseating Fidel Castro.

Mr. Miskovsky is survived by sons Peter Miskovsky of Hedgesville, W.Va., Michael Miskovsky of Arlington County, Va., and Mark Miskovsky and Thomas Miskovsky, both of Washington; daughters Anne Cekuta and Ellen Kentz, both of Washington; a brother; a sister; 14 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Mr. Miskovsky's wife of 52 years, Anne Grogan Miskovsky, died in 2004.

Mr. Miskovsky retained a lifelong interest in woodlands and practiced sustainable techniques on timberland he owned in Maine.

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