218. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Talking Points for PFIAB Meeting, 12:30 p.m., Thursday, December 3, 1970
The following people will be attending the luncheon:
  • Admiral George Anderson, Chairman
  • Dr. William Baker
  • Gordon Gray
  • Dr. Edwin Land
  • Franklin Lincoln
  • Dr. Franklin Murphy
  • Ambassador Robert Murphy
  • Frank Pace
  • Governor Nelson Rockefeller
  • Dr. Kissinger
  • General Haig
Intelligence Problems. You have expressed the intention of talking to the FIAB about the overall intelligence problem and of refining our current bill of particulars which is proof-positive of the deficiencies with which we are faced. I would suggest that you draw on the following points:
  • —One of the most valuable services the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board could perform would be to take a hard look at [Page 473] the entire intelligence community to see what we can do to make sure that the President and the National Security Council get the best possible intelligence support.
  • —It is a fact that, while the National Security Council process itself has been updated to make it more vital and useful to the President, the intelligence community has remained essentially the same, limping along with structure and procedures that are years out of date.
  • —Since January of 1969, there have been several very serious shortcomings surface underlying intelligence deficiencies. These include:
    The Sihanouk fiasco, which the FIAB has recently thoroughly investigated and the report on which you now hold.2 (You may wish to compliment the Board on a comprehensive, hard-hitting and most helpful report. The Board will probably want to know what remedial action is anticipated and you may wish to suggest that the President has directed some personnel changes.)
    The Soviet Strategic Threat. From the outset of our preparatory work on SALT, it became evident that the intelligence community, and especially CIA, much like the Sihanoukville case was unable or unwilling to grapple with available intelligence data and to analyze this data in a way which accurately reflected Soviet accomplishments toward the development of a MIRV, or capability equivalent to a MIRV. Only in the last few weeks has CIA finally come around to the view that the Soviets have, indeed, been testing such a weapon. This could have had the most serious implications, not only for our SALT preparations but for our whole ABM development program.
    The Middle East Ceasefire Violations. The manner in which positive evidence of Soviet/Egyptian cheating on the missiles was treated is a classic case of the incompetence of our intelligence community. It took days, and in fact even weeks, before the community ever arrived at a firm assessment of the nature and scope of the extensive cheating which had occurred. In the interim, the Israelis had chapter and verse on this cheating and unfortunately were invariably proved to be correct despite initial incredulity in our community. In this instance, the community’s failure to promptly and accurately assess the situation had serious repercussions.
    Chile Assessments. Here again, the intelligence community failed to sharply assess the full implications of the political trends in Chile or, perhaps more seriously, having assessed them with some accuracy, they permitted policy preconceptions to flavor their final assessments and their proposals for remedial action in the covert area. [Page 474] All of the foregoing suggests that there are major deficiencies in our system. Perhaps uppermost among these are the following:
    • —A tendency from the community to permit their factual assessments to be flavored by policy considerations so that factual data are distorted or omitted in favor of policy preconceptions. It is essential that a new tone of objective professionalism be interjected into the entire system and that the intelligence community be divorced completely from policy input. This is a difficult task, the correction of which will take a massive and complete effort at every level. It might be that the only solution is the reassignment of key analysts, especially at the supervisory level, who over the years have developed preconceptions which inadvertently creep into the community’s products.
    • —The 40 Committee. The scars of the Bay of Pigs and our general psychological abhorrence of interference in the internal affairs of other states has had a disastrous impact on the effectiveness of the 40 Committee. The Committee has, in effect, largely become a rubber-stamp organization whose scope of interest is limited primarily to the approval or disapproval of projects designed to make the life of our individual Ambassadors more comfortable. In essence, it has become a means by which national assets are allotted to the pet projects of our Ambassadors abroad. The Committee’s system as it is currently working does not encourage the development of a sophisticated range of covert activity designed primarily to reinforce our overall national security policies. All of this suggests a major overhauling of the means, the attitude, and the conceptual basis on which CIA’s covert programs should be carried out. Covert activity remains an essential arm of national security policies. It is, of course, a high-risk business and demands a firm Presidential control. It should not become a tool for the personal whim of our Ambassadors, many of whom are either not familiar with Presidential policy or, even in some cases, who actively oppose it.
    • —You might wish to close your remarks by noting that the President shares all the concerns you have mentioned and that you are sure he would welcome any positive suggestions from the FIAB on ways to overcome the shortcomings which exist in our national intelligence effort. You might then ask that they prepare a memorandum for you containing their views on how best to tackle this gargantuan task.
The Board may bring up the Blue Ribbon Panel’s report on Defense intelligence.3 [Page 475]
  • —You should suggest to them that Defense Department intelligence functions should be looked at as an integral part of the national intelligence picture, not as a separate, self-contained problem.
The Board may also inquire about the accuracy of press reports—and the Vice President’s statement—about the failure of intelligence on the POW raid into North Vietnam.
  • —You should point out that the intelligence accurately located the POW camp. The problem was to tell whether or not the POW’s would still be there when the operation was launched and that it is an extremely difficult problem due to the cloud cover over North Vietnam much of the time which impedes our reconnaissance efforts and to the time-lag inherent in clandestine services reports [less than 1 line of source text not declassified].
Time permitting, I am sure that the Board would benefit from your views on the situation in the Middle East, especially on the missile issue, and the situation in Cuba as well as the situation with respect to the understanding that we will conduct unarmed reconnaissance flights over North Vietnam. (All of these three topics are the source of inquisitiveness by the various members of the Board, and I think they would benefit greatly from receiving from you the party-line on these issues. It would also tend to divert their activities from these sensitive areas.)
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Agency Files, Box 276, President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, Vol. VI. Top Secret; Sensitive; Contains Codeword.
  2. Dated November 25. (Ibid.)
  3. See footnote 2, Document 211.