235. Editorial Note

On September 19, after making several substantive changes, the Intelligence Advisory Committee concurred in Special National Intelligence Estimate 30–5–56, entitled “The Likelihood of a British–French Resort to Military Action Against Egypt in the Suez Crisis.” The text of the SNIE as approved is printed infra; no copy of the earlier version has been found in Department of State files. According to the notes taken at the IAC meeting, the following discussion concerning SNIE 30–5–56 took place:

“There was considerable discussion on the statement of the problem. General Lewis requested clarification as to the exact period meant by the phrase ‘during the next few weeks.’ He expressed the view that the Estimate was valid if, by this phrase, one or two weeks was meant, but that if it meant any longer period, the Estimate would then not be reliable. Mr. Armstrong said he took it as meaning a period of less than a month and that for such a period the Estimate was valid. Mr. Smith indicated his view that even if no time angle were put in at all, the conclusions of the Estimate would be reliable. As a way out of the impasse, it was agreed that a footnote should be added indicating that the fluidity of the situation made precise estimation difficult.

“With respect to the conclusions, there was significant discussion on the second. General Lewis felt that, as drafted, this paragraph underplayed the likelihood of war. The Chairman noted the possibility that the policy people reading this paragraph might feel that it applied to a period beyond the few weeks covered by the Estimate. Mr. Armstrong suggested that a time angle be introduced [Page 525] into this conclusion to indicate that it applied only to the present stage of the crisis.

“Discussion on Conclusion 3 centered on use of the word ‘provocations’ Mr. Armstrong pointed out that the Egyptians might consider certain acts as defense of their position rather than intentional provocation to the West. Mr. Armstrong also moved for the deletion of the last part of the Conclusion as it implied a U.S. course of action contrary to that which it has been publicly stated we will follow. Adjustments were made to meet Mr. Armstrong’s objections.” (Notes on IAC Meeting by McAfee, September 19; Department of State, INR Files: Lot 58 D 776)