You are hereINT-1988-12-07


Doc Type: 
Intelligence Report
MacEachin, Doug, Bob Blackwell, and Paul Erickson
Full Title: 
CIA Testimony to Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Soviet Task Force
Language Type: 


This remarkable closed-door testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee by the top three CIA analysts of the Soviet Union occurs at the precise moment that Gorbachev is speaking to the United Nations on December 7, 1988.  MacEachin opens his testimony by saying "in about 15 minutes or so we may find out if one of my analytical judgments is going to turn out to be correct," referring to his prediction that Gorbachev will have to cut the proportion of Soviet resources that go to the military.  At the same time, MacEachin disparages the "plausible but totally unfounded story of very large cuts."  (page 3)  Later (page 32) he says that "Blackwell just went down the hall to watch some" of the U.N. speech on television, and (page 36) he mentions the "news bulletin" of the 500,000 troop cut, calling the discussion "analysis on the fly."

Most striking is the way this testimony illustrates the rifts within the U.S. government between Gorbachev skeptics like Robert Gates and the new national security advisor Brent Scowcroft on one side, and the career analysts like MacEachin on the other.  MacEachin remarks (page 37) that "if Gorbachev is successful he will cause major social displacement in the United States" because "[t]here are not many homes for old wizards of Armageddon, and it is kind of like old case officers trying to find employment."  And MacEachin offers a true confession in the extraordinary passage on page 38, which demonstrates how prior assumptions about Soviet behavior, rather than actual intelligence data points, actually drove intelligence findings:

"Now, we spend megadollars studying political instability in various places around the world, but we never really looked at the Soviet Union as a political entity in which there were factors building which could lead to the kind of – at least the initiation of political transformation that we seem to see.  It does not exist to my knowledge.  Moreover, had it existed inside the government, we never would have been able to publish it anyway, quite frankly.  And had we done so, people would have been calling for my head.  And I wouldn't have published it.  In all honesty, had we said a week ago that Gorbachev might come to the UN and offer a unilateral cut of 500,000 in the military, we would have been told we were crazy.  We had a difficult enough time getting air space for the prospect of some unilateral cuts of 50 to 60,000."   


From National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book 261