282. Memorandum From the Director of the Net Assessment Group, National Security Council (Marshall) to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig)1


  • HAK’s Intelligence Needs

You and I should get together again soon to review strategy toward the intelligence community. I have been proceeding down the course we discussed in our last meeting. In addition I would like your reactions to some views of HAK’s needs sketched below.

Unless we can supply the intelligence community with clearer guidance as to HAK’s intelligence needs, it will not be possible to get him improved products. I am now trying to put together a picture of those needs. For example, I am putting together his views of the changing nature of the world environment, the nature of top level decision-making, the role of key leaders, etc. I have attempted to characterize the nature of his day to day problems.


My understanding is that Henry does not read much of the material put out by the intelligence community. There is a good flow of current intelligence material to him, and the NSC staff/Sit Room daily [Page 639] report gives him a very useful product. Most of the rest of the intelligence output is less satisfactory. Most reports are too long, given the time pressures he is under. Latimer provides good summaries for them.2 But most of the output is not focused on his real needs, and the analysis in many cases is mediocre. Moreover there are numerous presentational problems. Some products are written using a kind of Delphic writing; the aim is to be not caught out rather than to clearly communicate with the reader.

What sorts of things, then, does HAK need? I suggest the following:3

  • —Solid, factual daily news.
  • —Specialized material that would help him in the tactical management of people and of situations; for example, personality studies of foreign leaders, information on the major players and the state of play in the decisionmaking processes of a foreign government, etc.
  • —In depth studies on key problem areas, governments and nations, that provide new insights into the likely evolution of the Soviet missile programs, the decision processes of foreign governments, the context within which foreign leaders operate and decide, etc.

The material he is getting is satisfactory in terms of the daily reporting, but it is not helping with the really big issues. For example, the intelligence community has not yet supplied, in my opinion, a well researched, thoughtful analysis of Soviet SALT policy. Nor is it helped with the tactical problems HAK has; for example, by supplying first rate studies of the decisionmaking processes or behavior patterns of governments he and the President are trying to influence, etc. The level of the analysis of governments and of political leaders is pretty much at a journalistic level. The U.S. intelligence organizations do not often supply kinds of expertise, kinds of judgments that he cannot obtain elsewhere, or produce out of his own experience.

What are the Community’s Problems in Perceiving and Responding to HAK’s Needs?

First, I believe they do not perceive the nature of the game that Henry and the President are engaged in. Moreover, they do not take account of the alternative sources of information available to Henry and the President through their contacts with ambassadors, with our embassies, etc.4 They have not undertaken a diagnosis of their comparative advantage:—what is it that they can do better than anyone else for Henry and the President? They tend to vacillate between acting as universal pundits and supplying fragmented details.

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The community does not appear to be reacting to the changing world environment as HAK perceives it, nor to the changing focus of top level problems. However urgent the continuing need for good intelligence on Soviet-Chinese military forces, the need for political and economic intelligence will increase relatively. The kind of world that HAK believes we are moving into requires more complex political maneuvering and skillful balancing in games with three, four, five and more players. Information on friends and allies will be as valuable as that on the Soviets in many situations. In the economic area (where I feel Henry should be more interested than he is) there will be recurring currency and trade issues, and looming in the future is the energy and raw materials crisis. This will have an impact not only on the U.S., but on our allies. It may be a major factor in determining their behavior in the international area.

What I am Doing About it

Henry says that he cannot tell me what he wants and needs, but can recognize it when he sees it. In part my strategy is to produce experimental products of possible interest to him. I have something going in the following areas:

  • —Sample products using a new way of communicating uncertainties in intelligence judgments and estimates. A set of products giving numerical betting odds with regard to specific events in the Mid East (produced by DIA) should be available in about four to six weeks.
  • —Psychiatric personality studies of leading foreign leaders tailored more specifically to his needs. He expressed interest in products of this type.

I made a partially successful effort (April 1970–September 1971) to get CIA to produce an in depth study of the evolution of the SS–9 program. The objective was to pioneer a new type of intelligence analysis that would give us more insight into the multiple interest groups and organizations influencing that program. I have never surfaced it for Henry because it did not fully succeed. I will try to produce studies with similar objectives, as soon as the CIA has on board some new people with appropriate backgrounds.

I will call you soon. Let’s try to cover:

  • —Strategy vis-à-vis the community.
  • —Your views on HAK’s needs and diagnosis of the major problems in the community’s products.
  • —Your ideas as to useful areas for experimental products.5

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Name Files, Box 825, Marshall, Andrew, Vol. II. Top Secret. Haig initialed the memorandum and wrote on the first page: “Andy we still need to get together, hopefully Tues or Wed next week.”
  2. Haig put a check in the margin next to this sentence.
  3. Haig put a check in the margin next to each of the three items that follow.
  4. Haig put a question mark in the margin next to this sentence.
  5. Haig wrote below this sentence: “Good, let’s try.”